July 15, 2021 5 min read

The short answer is yes! Natural, handmade soap is better than commercial store-bought soap for many reasons. You can read the details below or click here to shop our collection of natural handmade bar soap.


What’s the big deal about handmade soap vs our modern-day commercial soap? Is natural soap better than commercial soap? Let’s take a deep dive to look at each so you can decide for yourself.

handmade natural soap with great lather
(Pictured: Lathering our Frankincense & Myrrh bar soap)

 

What's so bad about commercial store-bought soap?

1) Many commercial soaps aren’t soap. Yes, you read that right. They are preserved synthetic detergents.

Detergents originated in 1917 in Germany. The commercial store-bought “soap” we know today came into existence during WWII. Detergents are synthetic, often petroleum-based, cleansers that strip your skin of its natural oils. The problem is your body needs its natural oil to keep your skin healthy. These preserved detergent "soap" bars can lead to skin disorders, rashes, and allergic reactions.

 

2) Commercial soaps contain toxic chemicals.

Even if you happen to find a bar of real soap at the store, it might not be all that great for you. Many commercial soaps contain chemical-based colorants, dyes, fragrances, lathering agents, preservatives, and other “things” we can’t pronounce. The synthetic ingredients in them dehydrate and age skin, cause allergic reactions, and have been linked to various forms of cancer.

Some commercial “soaps”, toothpaste, and body washes even include triclosan (FDA.gov article), which can promote cancer. Pretty scary stuff.

 

3) Commercial soap lacks moisturizing properties.

With all of the work commercial soap manufacturers put into adding “stuff” to their product, you wouldn’t think they would spend time removing "good stuff" from it, but they do. Glycerin is a naturally occurring byproduct of the saponification process — that’s the chemical reaction that we call soap making. Glycerine draws moisture from the air to your skin, leaving your skin soft and moisturized.

So what do commercial soap manufacturers do with the glycerin they remove from their soap? They sell it separately, or use it in a second product—moisturizer. Yup, they take one good bar of soap, extract the moisturizer, and then sell it to us as a second product — both of which may contain harmful chemicals.

balancing hemp facial soap bar
(Pictured: Balancing Hemp Facial Bar)

 

What's handmade soap?

1) Handmade soap is natural and good for your skin.

There's a lot of chemistry that goes in to making soap. At the most basic level, it's a chemical reaction. In order to make soap via cold process method, skin-loving butters and oils — or fats — and lye are combined in a process called saponification. One of the main benefits of cold process soap making is having complete control over ingredients. Cold process soap has no added detergents, which strip the skin of its natural oils. Additional ingredients may be added to increase the skin-loving benefits. And, real handmade soap contains glycerine. You won’t find any soaper out there extracting all the goodies from their soap to upsell you the 2nd product. 

 

2) Hold up, is lye natural?

Some people are afraid to use soap made with lye. However, if lye wasn’t used, you couldn’t make soap. All you would have is a puddle of oils. In fact, there’s no lye left over after the saponification process—it’s been turned into soap! Lye is purchased by its chemical names: sodium hydroxide (NaOH) used for making hard soap, or potassium hydroxide (KOH) which is used for making liquid soaps.

 

3) What goes into Cayman + Company handmade soap?

Handmade soap is the real deal – water, lye, butters, oils, non-toxic fragrance (or essential oils), and natural colorants called mica. Each of the ingredients used in our soaps is chosen based on their effect on the final bar - moisturizing, exfoliant, odor removing, lathering, etc.

When buying from other makers, be sure to read ingredients - or ask - and beware of added fragrance oil and colorants. If you're not sure if the fragrance is non-toxic, reach out to them and ask before you buy. Same thing with colorants.

wild lavender natural soap bar
(Pictured: Wild Lavender Bar Soap)

 

How to know whether the handmade soap you're buying is natural and free of toxins.

1) Check the ingredients.

As with all products, read the label. If it’s a real soap bar, there will only be a few ingredients, and you will be able to pronounce everything. While you’re reading, make sure you are not allergic or sensitive to anything in the soap like coconut, peanut oil, or some of the essential oils.

  • If you are vegan, all our our products - soap and soy candles - are vegan, non-toxic, and cruelty-free.
  • Those with a shea butter allergy can enjoy our selection of bar soap that is shea-free.
  • Currently, all of our bar soap uses coconut oil. It's a common oil many soapmakers user. If you are allergic to coconut, check with your soapmaker before you purchase.

    2) Ask about cure time.

    Cure time is the amount of time it takes for the bar to fully mature, and to be a long-lasting bar of soap. During this time the water used in the recipe evaporates. Cured soap has a firmer texture and lasts longer in the shower. A good soaper will tell you that their cure times can vary based on the ingredients of the soap, but each bar will typically take between 6-8 weeks.

     

    3) Beware of colorants and fragrances.

    Here at Cayman + Company, we color our bar soap with mica powder or spinach powder. Both are natural and completely safe for skin.

    Mica is a natural stone mineral with shiny flakes. When mica is ground into a powder, you get mica powder. Because it is naturally produced, it's a particularly well-loved ingredient among organic and natural beauty brands, and is safe to use on all skin types with no side effects.

    We use spinach powder to add color and antioxidants to our balancing hemp facial bar. It's packed with vitamins C, E, and A are especially great for your skin. Spinach contains antioxidants that fight against all types of skin problems.

    As far as fragrance, we choose to use fragrance oils specifically formulated for use in candles and handmade soap. All of our products and fragrance oils are non-toxic, vegan, and animal cruelty-free. Another advantage of using fragrance oils is it allows for more unique and complex scent profiles. So, you won't find any single note fragrances in any of our products.

    When in doubt, always ask your soapmaker what they use to color and fragrance their soap with. Many synthetic dyes and fragrances may contain toxins and cause allergic reactions.

     

    4) Talk with your soapmaker.

    Talk with your soapmaker and let them know what you want your bar of soap to do. They will be able to help you find the right bar for exfoliating your feet, and to moisturize your skin.


    Want to talk to us about soap?
     

    You can probably tell we could geek out all day talking about soapmaking. Send us a message or use the live chat, and we’ll help you find the perfect bar.

     

    Looking for coupon codes to save money at checkout? Go to WeThrift.com.

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