All of my soaps begin with vegetable oils good enough to eat! The quality of the soap originates from the integrity of the basic ingredients. I use only food-grade oils that nourish and pamper your skin. My special blend of oils crafts the perfect bar of soap—moisturizing, long lasting and luxurious lathering.
All Soapworks Studio soaps begin with the base oils of olive, coconut, palm, hemp seed and shea butter. The soaps are created using the "cold process" method, which means they are made from scratch in the time-honored method that has been passed down for generations. The basic recipe is "super-fatted" meaning that there is an additional portion of emollient oils which are not saponified in the soapmaking process and remain in the bar for their superior moisturizing properties. This creates a gentle soap for all skin types and conditions, and produces a rich creamy lather, all while lasting twice as long as most commercial bar soaps.
During the soapmaking process, sodium hydroxide, also called lye, is added to the fats. This is called "saponification." Relax - the soap is made with lye, but doesn't contain lye - big difference. This is the active ingredient that magically transforms the fats into a completely new substance (the lovely bar of soap) and no lye remains once the cooking is complete. There is no possible way to make soap without lye and there is no soap bar on the planet that hasn't been saponified in this way.
Glycerin, a terrific skin softener and emollient, is present in every bar. It occurs naturally as a by-product during the soapmaking process. Glycerin is a humectant, meaning that it draws water from the air. Commercial soap manufacturers remove this glycerin for more profitable uses in cosmetics and lotions. Some of the fancier soap manufacturers add some glycerin back to their soaps in order to claim it as an ingredient. Don’t be fooled by soaps claiming to be all glycerin - read their ingredients. They usually have a long list of chemicals like alcohol, wetting agents, preservatives and fragrances.
“Melt and pour” soaps are not made from scratch but made with a pre-made base that contains an extra amount of glycerin in order to make them soft enough to melt and cut into cute shapes. These soaps dissolve very quickly in the shower, becoming more mushy in the soap dish too. Many cottage soap businesses in the market today are using only these pre-made soap bases to "craft" their soaps instead of making them by hand from the raw ingredients themselves. Don't be afraid to ask, because the quality of the soap is quite different.
All Vegetable Oils
Soapworks Studio soaps contain only food-grade vegetable oils and plant materials, always and forever. Most commercial soaps are made from melted down animal fats. Look at the labels (even Dove) for "sodium tallowate", which is tallow or animal fat. I've even been told of commercial soap manufacturers utilizing leftover cooking oils (bacon fat! french fry grease!) to make their products. That just doesn't seem clean to me.
Olive oil has been used for centuries as the finest vegetable oil for soapmaking. It is one of the few oils that is closest to human's own skin lipids, which allows it to absorb nicely, without clogging pores or feeling heavy and greasy, plus is naturally hypo-allergenic. As a moisturizer, olive oil acts by attracting natural moisture from the air and holding it close to your skin. The oil also forms a breathable barrier that helps your body retain its own moisture, yet it doesn't prevent your skin from performing its own naturally healthy functions.
A tropical odorless oil obtained from dried coconut meat, it is ideal for skin care because coconut oil acts in two ways: it protects against damaging free radical formation and also promotes healing. It penetrates the deeper layers of the skin and strengthens underlying tissues. It's single greatest asset in soaps, however, is it's creation of a truly creamy lather. Any soap without this oil just isn't quite as rich or luxurious.
The trio of olive, coconut and palm oils work together so perfectly in combination that it is almost impossible to replicate the end result with any variety of other vegetable oils. Palm oil, while the smallest component, provides a harder, longer lasting bar that lathers superbly in both hard and soft water.
Hemp seed oil
Hemp seed oil, a rich nutrient oil, is pressed from the seeds of Cannabis sativa, and it is free of THC. It is one of the world's richest sources of polyunsaturated fats, including both of the essential fatty acids (Omega 3 and Omega 6) and GLA (gamma Linolenic acid), which make it an excellent natural emollient and moisturizer. Hemp seed oil can reduce skin discomfort by soothing & restoring dry or damaged skin and increasing the natural moisture retention capacity. It can also help slow down the effects of skin aging and leave the skin smooth, soft and moisturized.
Dark green in color with a light, nutty odor, hemp seed oil is made up of 80% essential fatty acid, the highest amount of any other plant. Hemp seed oil prevents moisture loss on a physiological level; it does just not merely "coat" the skin as do other oils. It contains the ideal ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 based on our cells needs. Hemp so closely matches our own skins lipids it is able to penetrate inside our cells and lubricate the surface between them, thus bringing the EFA's within our body. For this reason EFA's have been proven to play a preventative role in skin aging and a healthy moisture balance.
Not only does Hemp seed oil contribute greatly to the barrier function and appearance it also has other skin benefits such as offering relief to acne, minor abrasions, psoriasis and eczema.
Extracted from the fruit kernels of the Shea-Karite nut tree which only grows in the tropics of Africa. The unique benefits of shea butter has been know for centuries - used for moisturizing skin and hair, protection from the sun, as a balm for minor burns, muscle aches and more.
Shea Butter nourishes the skin with Vitamins A, E and F. Vitamins A and E help maintain the skin and keep it clear and healthy, and is particularly helpful for sun damaged skin. These vitamins also help prevent premature wrinkles and facial lines. Vitamin F acts as a skin protector and rejuvenator. It soothes rough, dry or chapped skin and helps soften dry or damaged hair. Shea Butter is high in unsaponifiables, typically 7-12%, which is twice as high as other similar vegetable oils, and makes it so effective in soap and cream formulations. Also, Shea Butter easily penetrates the skin allowing the skin to breathe and not clogging pores. Shea butter has a high level of cinnamic acid, a natural sun screen, so it provides some degree of protection from the sun. Shea Butter is also anti-inflammatory making it useful in treating rheumatism and other conditions.
Shea butter is like a "super food" for skin - a premier emollient and moisturizer for all skin types and conditions.
Textures, additions and natural colorants
Soapworks Studio soaps contain only natural textures or scrubby bits, and coloring agents. Organic herbs, spice powders, grains, mineral clays and sea vegetables make lovely colors - even pumpkin flakes and tomato powder. To add a bit of texture, I add oatmeal, natural seeds, or grains. Fresh goat milk, buttermilk, raw honey or other natural ingredients are sometimes used for their nourishing, healing, soothing or therapeutic skin care qualities. No preservatives, germacides, fixatives or fillers are ever used. No bad stuff. Just good stuff.
All-natural essential oils are obtained from plants and carry the scent and beneficial properties of that particular plant. They create wonderful fragrances and infuse the soaps with healthy or therapeutic herbal benefits too. Soapworks Studio uses primarily natural essential oils for fragrance - look for the "100% natural product" tag.
I also use some synthetic fragrance oils in a few of my bars. These are cosmetic-grade oils, meaning they are specifically tested for use in all skin care applications. Whenever possible, I make sure they are phalate-free too. I test them scrupulously, and choose only the highest quality suppliers and scents. Using fragrance oils opens up a whole new world of scent, beyond the limited list of plant-based essential oils, and life is so much more fun with more options.
Soapworks Studio soaps are cruelty-free. I test my soaps on myself, my family, and eager friends too.
"Food nourishes the body but flowers heal the soul." - Old Proverb