Is it the right product for me? about handmade soaps and natural creams

When I searched for a natural handmade soap, organic cream, chemical free lipstick and natual cosmetic products that we use on our face body and lips (which unknowingly we consume all the time), it was overwhelming to see so many varieties of products available. The most colorful, attractive designs, fancy swirls, exotic additives, what not and what not.

Now, the question was, is it right for me? Well, it all depends on what you are looking for.

I would rather say, what you SHOULD be looking for.

Why does anyone look for handmade soap? For me and for everyone, it’s the most basic, pure soap, if scented, with natural and pure essential oils which rejuvenate not just our body, but also the mind and the soul. Pure soap cleans and repairs the skin without ripping the natural sebum produced by our skin, if formulated correctly. Essential oils are capable of healing and working on our chakras, both emotionally and physically and even to the extend of working on the immunity issues. That’s also the essence of aromatherapy

So ask questions and even more questions. Do not take my word for it, search, google, ask and look up from many sources, after reading this completely.

1. Is the soap made of natural and organic oils and butters

other than the seeds used for extraction not grown with growth boosters  and pesticides, the oils and butter should also be extracted naturally, for example cold pressed, wood pressed etc . If you take olive oil, there is extra virgin which is the first pressed oil. Pomace olive oil is the remaining  oil in the olives extracted using chemical solvents.

Likewise Shea butter is extracted from shea nuts and the the extraction process matters a lot. Natural raw, unrefined shea butter is yellow in color, only this gives the maximum benefit. The processed white shea loses most of its properties

So when used in soap or creams it should be the raw unrefined shea to reap the original benefits of shea

I can go on and on about this.

2. Does the soap have fragrance oils and has a strong fragrance?

Fragrance oils are lab created synthetic chemicals to mimic the chemical signature of the natural aroma. However they do not contain the healing properties of pure essential oils.

The fragrance oils are used in many handmade soaps and commercial soaps so that the beautiful fragrance does not fade away.

On the other hand, the essential oils are mild but very pleasant and they tend to fade after a few months as they keep evaporating. That’s how the beautiful aroma is able to be perceived during aromatherapy.

But even if the aroma is mild, the base healing properties still remain in the soaps.  Would you rather prefer the no benefit fragrance oils?

3. Is it melt & pour or cold processed?

Melt and pour soaps can’t be called handmade, for they are made by melting an already made soap and by adding additives. So what goes into the base is very questionable. Moreover a chemical is added to make it melt and pourable again. Soap is not one size fits all so the  base has to be bought for each type, without even knowing how it works. Fresh ingredients cannot be added in melt and pour for the saponification is already complete and hence will not be protected by the lye reaction

Cold processed soaps are made from scratch, after making the formula, weighing out the oils and butters and lye and other additives, essential oils. Here the soap maker has the full control of the entire process of the soap from concept to completion.

4. Do the soaps contain artificial /chemical / unethically sourced colorants?

Firstly there is titanium dioxide, a chemical, added for a white soap. Naturally, soap cannot be whitest white (even milk soaps are slightly creamy colored)

Next there are of course micas, pigments and oxides which are all called natural by the soapers. But did you know that the natural micas are prohibitively expensive and only given available to electronics industry and the cosmetic grade mica is well processed with chemicals?  If I soap with natural mica, I may have to sell each soap at a high price.  Same goes with oxides and pigments and there is always a raging debate about whether or not they are natural, in the soapers’ community. And there are many reports which say that they are chemically processed for use in cosmetics industry.

Even worse, some of these are carcinogenic (cancer causing) and classified so in some countries like Canada, UK etc

5. Are the soaps cured properly?

This is something that the handmade soap market in India doesn’t care about. I have had a customized handmade soap delivered within 3 days of making.

Curing is a process in which  not only the soap hardens after the water evaporates slowly for a long lasting bar, the last couple of percentage of lye reaction is complete during the curing. Even though the soap can be technically used after 3-4 days, the soap may sting, irritate and sometimes even creates rashes. You get a gentle soap only after proper curing based on the recipe of the soap, for the Ph value of the soap comes down with each week passing.

Why would I want a handmade soap which is expensive than the commercial soap if they have all these chemicals, even as a trace? It defeats the very purpose of natural handmade soaps, which is to avoid chemicals which cause stress to our biological system and cause diseases like cancer.  I may as well cut costs and buy the commercial soaps. If one says I buy the fancy colored, and it does not matter if the ingredients are not the pure & the best, or they have fragrance oils,  as  atleast I have my eyes pleased, nose pleased and only lesser chemicals, that is  few rather than 10 or 15 chemicals, I can only take pity.

On the matter of creams, there is no saying at all.  The lightest cream which doesn’t leave any oily trace, contains 80% water. There are other inexpensive ways to buywater isn’t it? And more importantly, water is the host to mold, fungi, bacteria etc and to prevent it preservatives are added. Even the most organic product with a water based cream has to a preservative which is not natural. The food grade preservative bezoic acid converts as  carcinogen with vitamin c. The oils and butters have a natural vitamin c content, so there goes..

If the creams have aloe vera, or any natural additives and gels, they definitely need preservatives. Have you used a fresh aloe vera from the plant and then tried to refrigerate for three days ? Try it and see how it decays. If the label reads that there is a shelf life of more than 2 weeks, then there is a preservative. There may be a

very few natural preservatives in development but they are not available in India. Vitamin E, beeswax etc are not preservatives. I did read about some promising ones, but they have not been tested enough.

Only the oil based creams do not need preservative and even so should be used with clean hands or a stick.

Choose carefully and wisely, and more importantly ask questions to know more, because everybody is entitled to a chemical free life. Especially our children.

Peace and happiness.

This article has been reprinted with approval from the Author.


Author: svastikrtu ( Uma Srinivasaraghavan Chaari)

Banker, astrologer, reiki healer, and a soaper. Singer

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Disclaimer : The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the views of Handmade Adda. 

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