I was at a craft show two weeks ago and a fellow soaper, whose company will not be named, came to my booth to check out my products. She laughed at my prices, saying, “I sell my bars for $2.50.” I asked her what was in them. She said, “what they don’t know won’t hurt them.”My Irish feathers got ruffled at that. “Handmade” should mean “Quality,” not “Cheap—Therefore Buy More.” I take great pride in my soaps. I know they can improve the condition of your skin, plus the full lather and wonderful scents get your day off to a good start.
I decided a blog was needed on the quality of carrier oils. These are the oils that bind together with sodium hydroxide (lye) to make soap, and all oils are DEFINITELY not created equal.
The next time you buy a bar of soap, you can be a more savvy shopper just by remembering a few things about soap.
Here they are:
1). Some oils are designed for lather, others for their conditioning qualities and ability to improve damaged skin.
2). Each oil has a shelf life. If you make small batches, like I do, you don’t have to worry about carrying inventory past the point where the soap will no longer be good. However, if you make large batches, a 3-month oil is NOT as good as one that lasts 9 months.
3). The best soaps mix liquid oils (like Castor oil) with those that come in a solid form (Shea Butter, for instance). This blend makes for a more balanced bar that both conditions and lathers. It’s also a harder bar, one that will last longer in the shower and not turn into a gooey mess when wet.
Here are a few common oils, their shelf life, and their characteristics:
Avocado oil, 1 year, contains Vitamin B, A & E for skin repair and UV protection
Castor oil, 1 year, humectant (keeps moisture in your skin), anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, creates lather
Coconut oil, 2 years, skin anti-aging properties, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, moisturizing
Hazelnut oil, 1 year, contains high levels of Vitamin E for moisturizing and softening, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-itching, and anti-dry skin properties (See my Aloe Vera and Green Tea Moisturizer).
Olive Oil, 1 year, good for post sun exposure, humectant (moisturizer), anti-inflammatory
Palm oil, 1 year, creates lather and a hard bar.
Rice bran oil, 9 months-1 year, anti-oxidant, helps with skin damage
Sweet Almond oil, 9 months-1 year, anti-inflammatory, loads of Vitamin E for skin repair
Sunflower oil, 3-6 months, creamy lather, moisturizing
Grapeseed oil, 3-6 months, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory
The next time you buy soap, read the ingredient label. Two or three of the longer-lasting oils should be included.
Here is the ingredient list for my latest soap, Christmas Swirl: Olive oil, Palm oil, Coconut oil, Avocado oil, Castor oil.