Hand made soaps are usually made in small batches using traditional methods and plant-based ingredients. Because they are made in small quantities they are fresh and can be made from seasonal ingredients. Hand made soaps are high in glycerin. Glycerin is a neutral, sweet-tasting, colourless emollient and when mixed with water it will soften and moisturise your skin. It has a natural antiseptic quality and because it is so gentle it is especially good for tender skin and children.
Glycerin is a natural by-product of the soapmaking process and while commercial manufacturers remove the glycerin for use in their more expensive lotions and creams as well as other industries (it is used to make nitroglycerin for explosives), handcrafted soap retains glycerin in each and every bar.
A number of oils are blended when making soap by hand to ensure that the skin is left feeling soft and that the soap is sufficiently hard whilst at the same time bubbly.
Palm oil, for example, has emollient and antioxidant properties for skin. Olive Oil is High in Vitamin E and known to be the very best oil to use in soap for sensitive skins. It is a fantastic skin softener and moisturizer.
Cocoa butter contains natural antioxidants and is a natural preservative. It has a smooth texture, sweet fragrance and moisturising properties, hence it is frequently recommended for prevention of stretch marks in pregnant women, treatment of chapped skin and lips, and as a daily moisturizer to prevent dry, itchy skin.
Coconut oil will absorb easily, keep the skin soft, and yet without feeling greasy. It will help to reduce chronic skin inflammation within days and be soothing and healing to wounds, blood blisters, rashes, etc. It is an excellent ingredient to use in healing salves and ointments. Psoriasis and eczema suffers often find coconut oil to be very helpful.
Favourite hand crafted soaps include Honey and Oatmeal, which when curing smells just like flapjacks! Gorgeous. It is great for all skin types and when combined, honey and whole oats exfoliate skin and encourage regeneration of new cells.
Honey is also a great natural anti aging skin care product. Throughout the centuries, legendary beauties like Cleopatra have used raw honey as part of their skin and hair care treatments to keep them looking youthful. This natural healing agent is a mild antiseptic, includes antibacterial agents and is also a natural moisturizer. It is has the ability to attract and retain moisture, and to rebuild the moisture level in the skin without making it oily. It helps replenish necessary skin moisture, especially during the winter months. This is why honey is a popular anti aging skin care ingredient . And because it's so gentle, it is suitable for sensitive skin and baby care products.
Oats are also highly absorptive, hypoallergenic, and help to soften skin. They have the best amino acid balance of all the cereal grains (amino acids work as water-binding agents in skin care products). Oats have also been clinically shown to help heal dry, itchy skin.
Of course, many essential oils can be used to perfume hand made soaps. Orange oils contain high level of Vitamin C, which is proven to be an effective antioxidant. Antioxidants are a critical natural defence against "free radicals," unstable molecules that age the skin as a result of pollution, smoking and sun exposure. Yet another benefit of Vitamin C is its ability to enhance the synthesis of collagen: a critically important skin protein that strengthens structural support and resilience of the skin.
Other fruits such as strawberries make a gorgeous soap - the alpha-hydroxy acid in strawberries help clear up acne and oiliness, removes dead skin cells to make skin look younger and smoother. Strawberries are wonderful combined with vanilla. Did you know that Vanilla is one of the oldest and one of the most expensive spices as well as one of the most familiar. Among the purported health benefits of vanilla by ancient peoples was that it could act as an aphrodisiac. More recently, aromatherapy tests carried out on different aromas showed that the one that aroused most men was vanilla! So make yourself irresistable this Autumn and treat yourself to a hand made soap. You will never look back.