It has become increasingly more popular to use more natural and eco-friendly cosmetics – from body soap to shampoo. This means that more and more people are becoming aware of what they use on their bodies, as well as the impact that the products they use have on the environment.
Natural soap and other handmade cosmetics differ from industrial counterparts that we are used to seeing in most stores for many reasons – the main reason being their lack of harsh chemicals.
The raw materials used to make handmade soaps are very different – as a rule, these are raw-pressed oils of seeds and nuts, solid oils – coconut, cocoa and shea butter. The main reason why these oils are used in handmade cosmetics is that they allow you to take care of your skin. For industrial soap, this is not relevant because of the methods of manufacture. The processing makes it impossible to keep the substances used in a living form.
The soap base of handmade cosmetics is oils or decoctions of herbs saponified with lye (prepared wood ash). In factory soap, they use sodium salts of fatty acids, which are obtained as a result of the treatment of fats with alkali. Handmade soaps tend to be lather-free, or have very little lather if a natural foaming agent such as soap nut is used. But for industrial pieces, the ability to lather and foam is very important. This property is provided to them by sulfates – SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate) or SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulfate), but in addition to joy in foam, they bring with them allergies, irritations, dry skin and removal of its natural oils.
As for the method of manufacture itself: the traditional way of making soap in factories is to boil for several days at high temperatures. Handmade soap is prepared in a hot way from 2 to 4 hours, we cook in a cold way, that is, without heating above 40 degrees, in order to preserve the main ingredients.
To make the soap fragrant, the industry uses fragrances and various perfume compositions. For handmade soap (now, of course, we are talking more about our types), essential oils and herbal infusions are used, which gives the soap its scent.
And perhaps most importantly, the difference is energy. Something that can only be felt: what stamped soap carries in itself and what is handmade, not a single piece of which is repeated … but perhaps this is not important for everyone. Yes, hand soap is more expensive, and in addition to the main property – to wash, it contains a whole range of other qualities. And it is created for those to whom these qualities are important.
What washes natural cosmetics?
The chemical cosmetics market has long taught us that if the product foams, it means that it washes well. But natural cosmetics, unlike the mass market, do not foam at all. No soap, no shampoo, no laundry and dish detergent, but does this mean they do not work?
In natural cosmetics, the main detergent ingredient is lye – which was the main ingredient used until the end of the 19th Century when it came to making cleaning products. Lye is an infusion or decoction of wood ash that was used for washing the head and body, dishes, washing clothes, house cleaning and dressing fabrics.
How is Lye made
Previously, people made it themselves in every home, so that it was always at hand for them when they needed it. Even children knew how to make it. Wood ash is mixed with clean water, floating particles are removed, and the rest is left to stand for at least three days. To speed the process up, you can put the container on heat, 10 hours is enough, and if you put it on a fire or high heat, it will be ready in an hour. The water will turn slightly yellowish and soapy to the touch. It must be carefully drained so that ash does not come through with the mixture. This is the lye. Before use, the lye is diluted with clean water 10-15 times, otherwise it will greatly dry out the skin or clothes in its very concentrated, pure form.
Lye is typically prepared from birch ash, or extreme cases from alder, aspen or linden. It is not possible to make lye from coniferous trees, because they contain resins and therefore are not suitable for such purposes.
It is becoming more and more apparent that constantly exposing the hair to parabens and sulphates does more harm than good – this is why natural shampoo has become so popular. Here are some plus sides to using natural shampoo as opposed to shampoo containing chemicals:
- it is naturally non-allergenic due to the ingredients that are used
- they don’t strip the hair of its natural oils
- they benefit the environment – no harsh chemicals going down the drain into the water systems
- naturally moisturising due to the ingredients that are used
No matter what your motivation for switching to natural products is – one cannot deny that the benefits outweigh any downsides or hassles you might face when switching over. Less exposure to harsh and even toxic chemicals, gentle and nourishing products that enhance the bodies natural processes, eco-friendly and cruelty free with minimal impact on the environment – we know there is little regret when changing ones habits to natural ones.