Do you know what is in your soap?
One of the reasons I decided to start our Henbit Homestead bath and body line is because it is so difficult to find a truly natural, non-toxic, line of products. Everywhere I look I see things from cringe-worthy (and regulation violating) claims, to soap (and other bath and skincare items) labeled as being "natural", and everything in between. Over the next few blog posts, I will cover exactly what to look for when you are purchasing these items and help you to understand exactly what the products you are buying contain, starting with soap. Here at Henbit Homestead we believe you should not only know what is in your skincare, but also that it is safe.
Five things to look for when buying handmade soap:
1. Is it cured? Curing is the process of allowing saponification to complete and for the soap to completely dry. Many people will argue that cold process soap only needs to cure for a few days, and that hot process soap is ready to use when it is finished cooking, HOWEVER… when a soap isn’t cured, it can be very harsh and drying on skin as well as have the potential to have some parts of the soap not saponified, which means you could have an adverse reaction or irritation on your skin. Not only is this unsafe, but this totally defeats the purpose of purchasing a handmade bar of soap. Uncured soap also has a high water content, making it dissolve much faster in water, which means your bar of soap does not last. This is not a process that can be rushed by using a dehumidifier, etc. No cure = harsh, expensive soap. We at Henbit Homestead cure our soaps a minimum of four weeks.
2. What are the Ingredients? – A true soap (most "soaps" sold in stores these days are not soaps, but detergents) is exempt from FDA cosmetic regulations, which means the packaging only needs to contain the name of the product, net weight, and name/address of the manufacturer. The ingredient declaration is not required. This means without asking, or without the soap maker voluntarily listing ingredients on their label, you have no way of knowing what is in your soap. For example, we use lard as a large portion of our soaping oils and without a customer asking, or us listing our ingredients, our vegan and vegetarian customers would have no idea. As a consumer, if a soap maker does not volunteer what goes into their soap, don’t be afraid to ask. Any good soap maker should be transparent in this information.
3. Does it contain fragrance oils? – Many soap makers will use fragrance oils instead of essential oils to scent their soaps because the scent is much stronger, you can achieve man made scents that are not possible with essential oils, and the cost of using fragrance oils is a fraction of the price of essential oils. Many people also have sensitivities and allergies to fragrance oils, and fragrance oils are known endocrine disrupters and contain carcinogens. Just because a soap is lavender scented does NOT mean it is scented with lavender essential oil. It could be scented with lavender fragrance oil. This is another reason to ask exactly what goes into your soap.
4. How is it colored? – Most bright colors used in soap are from mica powders. These mica powders, while FDA approved, are frequently harvested in inhumane conditions using child labor and chemical processing. Did you know one in five mine and quarry workers are children? Chances are, if you see a cosmetic product or bar of soap that has a bright hue to it, it is colored with a mica powder. In our soap making, we only use plant based ingredients to color our soaps, many of them grown here at Henbit Homestead or from local farms.
5. What claims are they making? – Last but not least, the only claims that can be made about a soap are 1) That it is a soap and 2) That it cleanses. If a claim is made that a soap is acne fighting, contains vitamin c, etc, then it is no longer a soap but considered a drug by the FDA and subject to much stricter regulations.
So remember ya’ll, your skin is your biggest organ, and we at Henbit Homestead believe that what you put on your skin is just as important as what you put in your body, and that is worth asking a few questions for.