Handmade Soap vs Commercial Soap; what's the difference?
Updated: Feb 28, 2021
This is the question I am often asked, and I simply love to discuss with individuals about what I studied and know and sharing the good properties of my natural handmade soaps.
What is the difference between Handmade Soap and Store Bought Soap?
With brand-name soap companies spending millions each year on misleading advertising, it's understandable why a consumer may question. Today there are very few true soaps on the market. Typical store bought or "commercial" soaps that may be labeled as "natural" are actually detergents that include chemical hardeners, synthetic lathering agents and artificial fragrances which some of these ingredients can be drying or irritating on the skin.
Detergent cleansers are popular because they make suds easily in water and don't form gummy deposits. Some of these detergent products are actually marketed as "soap" but are not true soap according to the regulatory definition of the word.
And it's not only big-brand store-bought soaps that can be misleading. Artificial fragrances are being put in a large amount of handmade soaps can be harmful to human health as well. Chemicals found in man-made fragrances include phthalates, which are endocrine disruptors, and benzene derivatives, aldehydes, and toluene, which are known carcinogens.
A great way to know you are getting the real good soap is to ask what method the soap maker uses to make their soap, what ingredients they use and what they use to scent their soaps.
Reason #1: Handmade Soap Contains Glycerin.
Glycerin is a natural skin emollient (skin softener) which attracts moisture from the surrounding air. Because of this important reason, glycerin is highly prized in soaps, lotions and creams for maintaining moisture in the skin throughout the day.
During the soap-making process, the fats/oils and lye blend together to form soap while the natural glycerin maintains its integrity as glycerin and basically settles in between the soap molecules.
However, many commercial soap manufacturers will have this natural glycerin removed and use it to create other products such as moisturizing lotions and creams. The reason being is instead of purchasing one product that can clean and moisturize, you will now have to purchase two products; soap and lotion. This is another way companies are able to increase their profits.
Reason #2: True Handmade Soap does not use "Fragrance"
The FDA does not require the ingredients used to develop a company's trademark "fragrance" to be disclosed on the label. This means that your "watermelon" or "cherry blossom" scented soap could contain hundreds of harmful chemicals without your knowledge. As mentioned earlier on, some of these chemical concoctions have been found to be skin irritants and known carcinogens.
Traditionally made all natural soaps are scented with pure essential oils and not the synthetic fragrance oils. When you use soaps scented with only essential oils, you not only benefit from the lack of harmful chemicals, but you actually benefit from the therapeutic properties of each essential oil used in the soap making. Not to mention the smell is amazing!
Soaps used with Tea Tree EO for example will have anti-inflammatory properties which is great for normal and dry skin. With handmade soaps, you are able to chose a soap based on your skin needs.
Reason #3: Soap is made the Old-Fashioned Way
Our ancestors knew what they were doing, and did it for thousands of years - Why would we need to change the process? Traditionally, handmade soap is made one of two ways. Either Hot-Process or Cold Process. Both end with the same result, but the method we use at SOAPERLIS is Cold Process.
With this process, Lye (Sodium Hydroxide) is mixed with water, then blended together with oils (plant based). Essential oils are also added for their wonderful scents and skin loving properties. The mixture is put into a mold and goes through a process called Saponification. This process takes about 24 hours. Once this step is completed, the soap is removed from the mold, cut into bars, and placed on a rack to further cure for an additional 4-6 weeks. While it is a long process, the end results are worth it.
This cold process method of handmade soap is in contrast to commercial bought soap.
Commercial soap is formulated especially for large scale production in factories. They use ingredients/chemicals including both Sodium Isethionate (a foam enhancer) and Dipropylene Glycol (a chemical solvent).
I personally enjoy every soap-making process as it requires a certain amount of love and attention to making every batch of soap and making sure high quality soaps are produced. Not to mention, the soaps smell uniquely amazing!
Reason #4: The Oils Used In Handmade Soap Are Great for your Skin!
One of the best qualities about handmade soap is the preservation of oils that go into each bar of soap. When you put in Olive Oil into the mix, Olive Oil comes out. This is the same for Coconut Oil, Jojoba Oil etc.. All the Fats, Butters, Oils maintain their skin loving qualities in the final product.
Handmade soaplovers and crafters like myself are able to experiment, study and modify recipes by means of different oils to produce particular characteristics and qualities in the soap without adding any chemicals. To make a harder bar of soap that will last longer, I would add hard oils such as coconut oil. To make a soap more nourishing, I would add soft oils such as olive oil. Varieties of soaps are created in SOAPERLIS to meet all clients needs and skin types.