One of the reasons I so enjoy making soap is because of the differences between them all. There are the differences between batches of the same soap, which can occur simply based on the fact that I make each and every batch by hand. So my swirl pattern will change with every loaf of soap I pour, and colors can alter slightly just based on mixing techniques or even because of uncontrollable influences, such as temperature and humidity of the surrounding air. There are also the more obvious differences between the different types of soap that we offer in the shop. We try to give good descriptions on our product pages to help you during your shopping experience, but it can still be difficult to make a decision based on photos and words on a screen. (Come on, computer techies...when are you going to allow us to be able to SMELL through our electronic devices?)
I love the different colors, the various scents, and the variance in the more undetectable ingredients—the ones that can actually make a real impact on the feel and appearance of your skin. Now I cannot make any medical claims or tell you that a certain bar of my soap will cure all that ails your skin, but I can most certainly tell you which ingredients are known to help with certain issues, as well as what I have found to be true with my own, personal results. For instance, my husband and I absolutely love to use the Cambrian Blue Clay Salt bar on our faces. The Cambrian blue clay, which is mined from Siberian salt lakes, is known to have natural healing properties that nourish the skin, reducing blemishes, acne, and even eczema. We both find that our complexions are brighter and imperfections are fewer when we are actively using this soap.
Essential oils are known to have natural combatant properties when it comes to many different concerns. Our Tea Tree Shampoo bar obviously contains tea tree essential oil, which is an antiseptic, and is known to help with issues such as dandruff and head lice. We have been lucky so far in our household (knock on wood), and have not experienced head lice, but whenever I hear of an outbreak at our girls' school, you better believe I pull out the tea tree products, hoping to ward off those little buggers. Our Rosemary-Mint Shampoo bar is just as good for this preventative purpose, as peppermint essential oil is also known to fight dandruff and head lice, and rosemary essential oil is known to strengthen the circulation of hair follicles as well as help on the dandruff front. But, honestly, I use both of these shampoo bars on a regular basis just because I love how clean they leave my hair feeling. And then you have the effects the scents have on your mind and well-being. This is one of the reasons I am so set on using essential oils over fragrances (you can read more about that here). I like knowing that what I am smelling is real—that it actually came from a plant in nature. And I enjoy really taking in these real, true scents and soaking them in, allowing them to relax my mind, as would be the case with the lavender essential oil in our Lavender Goat Milk soap, or awaken my senses, as seems to happen with soaps that contain brighter smells, such as Orange-Juniper soap.
Shea butter is an amazing ingredient that has a long history of medicinal use, such as in wound care and even treating leprosy. With its concentration of natural vitamins and fatty acids, it is incredibly moisturizing and nourishing for the skin. It has also been found to reduce inflammation and provide skin smoothing, with its oleic, stearic, palmitic, and linolenic acids that protect and nourish the skin to prevent drying. It even offers natural UV protection (of around SPF 6)! This makes soaps, such as our Honey and Shea soap super appealing to those in search of a really gentle bar with some wonderful soothing and healing properties. And the natural scent of honey is just oh so lovely.
And, if you read my blog post regarding the use of lard in our soaps, you know where I stand on that issue. Lard offers such amazing moisturizing and conditioning properties for our skin, and in a super mild manner. And the lather created from soaps used with lard is just so luxuriously silky and smooth. So our soaps that include lard in their ingredient lists are some of my absolute favorites: Lumberjack soap, Grapefruit-Litsea soap, Orange-Juniper soap, Lavender Goat Milk soap, Yellow Roses soap, and Bee Pollen & Honey soap. And if you are shopping for vegetarian or vegan options, you will know that these are the soaps on our site that you want to steer away from—but we have several other options that are perfect for you!
So, I think about these things when I am thinking about a new soap to make and offer to you all. I think about their ingredients, and how they might be beneficial for your skin, or how their smell might have the ability to brighten your day. And I think about them in a visual sense—are they appealing to the eye? Is this a bar of soap that I would be okay with having sitting out on my guest bath's soap dish? I consider all of these elements, and then I hope to bring a collection of soap to the table that is as appealing to you as it is to me, with a variety that is sure to, in some way, suit each and every one of us.