Handmade soaps have been in use since the 8th century. For centuries, soap makers worked on perfecting their recipes and trying out new ingredients. With the advent of the 20th century, soap making moved to machines and the race to produce cheap soap began. The downside was that quality was lost in the pursuit of quantity, and soaps increasingly became full of harsh additives as expensive moisturizing ingredients were jettisoned in favor of substandard alternatives. Handmade artisanal soaps fell by the wayside until the 1990s when they experienced a huge resurgence in popularity. Whether filled with the zing of espresso beans or the fruity flavor of coconut oil, there is seemingly a handmade soap for every taste.
That irritating feeling
Buying handmade soap can help consumers avoid the harsh additives that many soap companies put in their machine-made soap. Unlike their mass-produced counterparts, handmade soaps are available in a huge variety of scents, shapes and textures. Rather than overloading the soaps with dyes, handmade soaps are usually made with natural plant products like lavender or shea butter and feature a more delicate smell. An added bonus is that many handmade soaps are fragrance-free, making them perfect for the allergy-prone.
Dry as dust
Handmade soaps can provide a gentler wash with natural ingredients that do not increase dryness of the skin. Since handmade soaps contain the softening ingredient of glycerin and most mass-produced soaps do not, handmade soaps will almost always provide a more moisturizing wash.
Saving the animals
Handmade soap companies are more ethical in their treatment of animals. Many of the big soap brands use the remnants of slaughtered cows and pigs to make the tallow for their soaps. Vegans and vegetarians worried about the exploitation of the animals can rest easy with handmade soaps such as Castile soap that use olive oil instead. Another popular animal friendly option is goat milk soap which does not harm the animal.
Handmade soaps are much better for the environment than commercial soaps. Most commercial soaps contain hard syndet which is not biodegradable and can remain in streams and rivers for years. Handmade soaps also tend to be enclosed in more minimal packaging than mass-produced soaps. Cardboard boxes and label packaging are more recyclable than the plastic bottles and excessive plastic wrap that many typical commercial soaps are contained in. Likewise, both the wrappings and ingredients of mass-produced soaps are petroleum byproducts, an anathema to responsible consumers wishing to decrease the world's dependence on oil.
When it comes to choosing a soap, health concerns should also be considered. Mass-produced soaps have potentially dangerous ingredients in them such as triclosan which has been tentatively linked with cancer. Studies show that plain handmade soaps are just as effective at bacteria control as cheaply made processed soaps. In fact, the action of the water used when washing seems to be more crucial than the actual soap in preventing sickness and disease. The scare tactics of the soap industry's antibacterial soap movement are only a marketing ploy that really have little genuine impact on health.
The essence of soap
Handmade soap is made with more care and quality control than can ever be achieved in an impersonal factory. Each batch is made with carefully selected and balanced ingredients, achieving a soap of a caliber that mass-produced, detergent-laden soaps can never hope to match.