Friday, 22 March 2013

All in a Lather

No Two Soapmakers are Alike

Handmade soap varies just as much as baker’s products vary or restaurants quality varies. The steps for making soap is basically the same however recipes vary and raw material quality can vary.  Over the 16 years I have been doing this I have heard some strange things from other soapmakers…  I heard one woman boast how she would use crayons to colour her soaps, another who used perfume from the bottle to scent her soaps. SCARY!  

I have participated in swaps over the years where soapmakers each send in a set amount of bars, let’s say 20, and then receive 20 different bars from the other participants so I’ve had the chance to try a lot of soap from other makers over the years. I sometimes swap at shows etc too. Some soap is fantastic! Others have been absolutely terrible. It has made me realize that people are right to complain about using a soap made by someone else and they have hated it. 

I’ve used some that leave my skin feeling oily which in all fairness – the bar could have been designed in mind to be a highly moisturizing bar which my skin may not have needed at the time. I have used some soap that have not lathered at all, others that have crumbled, others that were actually lye heavy – and could cause some skin damage. Again tho I will state that I have used some supremely fantastic soap from other soapmakers too. 

The problem with handmade soapmakers is that anyone can claim to make it. Anyone can also claim to be a baker – does it mean they bake in a clean environment? Does it mean they use fresh high quality ingredients? Does it mean they measure ingredients correctly? Have they enough knowledge and research behind them? No… and thus lies the problem with soapmakers too.  I was recently at a show and strangely enough the organizer placed me near another soap vendor. I could overhear the vendor telling prospective clients that this was her first show and these were the first batches she had ever made…. Ummm my alarm bells instantly went up.  First batches – no one but herself had ever tried…. EEEK! Alas just like other industries there are always fly-by-nighters who fail to spend the time learning and practicing. 

Did you know that soapmakers need to register each and every product with Health Canada? Unfortunately a lot of soapmakers don’t… again tho it’s a simple lesson that can be learned if one researches properly. 

Experience should count. Then again I know of some soapmakers who have been in the biz for a long time with subpar product so experience isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. And same goes for lack of experience.  Everyone has to start somewhere. I just hope they start out right. 

To the consumer – all I can suggest is try, try and try… find what you like for you and your skin. Ask them questions – see what their knowledge base is and ask how they test their products. If you find you don’t really like how a product leaves your skin – then ask the maker if they have something different. They may or may not but if you don’t ask you won’t know. I know when I make products I do try to make a variety that suits all skin types.  And honestly if you don’t like a chocolate cupcake one baker makes – does that mean you are never going to try another chocolate cupcake from another baker? I think not…  ask for a sample. Just don’t be cheeky and cheap and try to ask for a whole pile of samples.

Here at Wylde Rose, we test all of our products on willing testers – I almost always have to turn away testers due to the volume of willing participants. We use the highest quality of ingredients.  Something else that I think is important – even tho I have been doing this for 16 years now – I still research, research and research more. Some ingredients that were once deemed safe 16 years ago are not what I consider to be safe now – researching led me to change my recipes more than a decade back. New ingredients are discovered all the time with fantastic benefits to pass along to my customers so if I didn’t research I wouldn’t know about them. It's a constant evolution and growth!
Our soap lathering up!
I have tried to not be sanctimonious with this posting but I am afraid I am on my proverbial soapbox from time to time with topics such as these, ones that I feel are important.

Stay on the look-out for a fantastic giveaway coming for the month of April to celebrate our "Sweet Sixteen" years in business!

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