Treat Yourself to Artisanal Soap
Soap is one of those things that we use on a regular basis without really thinking about it: most of us tend to just pick up the bottle with the prettiest color or the coolest fragrance. If you’re like most, you haven’t made a habit of reading the ingredient list in your shower gel or used an actual bar of soap in years.
Artisanal soaps, or as it used to be called in the good old days: soap, are soaps made by hand that are free of chemicals, and are made with natural ingredients. These soaps have been cured for a long period of time. Artisanal soap looks just as pretty and smells just as good as the shockingly chemical-laden bottles of liquid soaps and the mass-produced bar soaps.
Per FDA regulations, what we commonly call “soap” cannot be called or marketed as soap if it isn’t made the old-fashioned way and has something like glycerin or lye as the sole cleaning agent. A lot of the products we know as soap actually use harsh detergents, chemicals, and other non-cleaning agents in their product.
The good news is that all the ‘additives’ soap companies put in their soaps to give it extra qualities, like moisturizing, aren’t found in artisanal soaps. The typical ingredients in handmade soaps already have moisturizing compounds within them that do that. Companies will add lotions and take out glycerin for no reason; glycerin is a natural moisturizer produced during the soap-making process, and will hydrate your skin much better than the harsh “moisturizing” shower gels that dry out skin.
While there certainly are commercially produced soaps that qualify as soap and these too are made with all natural ingredients that won’t harm your skin. Nothing, however, beats being able to shake the hand that literally made your handmade soap. Artisanal soaps are called artisanal because they are made by local artisans and small business owners. True, either of these options are likely to cost more than the non-soaps you can buy at the drugstore, but they come with so many positive qualities that you can forgive the price and treat yourself to a small square of luxury.
In addition to supporting small businesses and local artisans by buying their soaps at the farmer’s markets, you will get all the benefits from within the natural handmade soaps as well. As already mentioned, artisanal soaps include a naturally-occurring moisturizer called Glycerin. These soaps smell great because soap-makers use essential oils that add scents to their soaps, not chemical scents or synthetic concoctions to make you smell like “summer rain.” You’ll still have a wide array of scents to choose from, because there are dozens of essential oils or other strong, natural scents that can be added into the handmade soap. Your skin is considered to be the largest organ on your body, so doesn’t it deserve a little attention? Artisanal soaps are a good start.