What Is Artisan Soap? (EXPLAINED)

Sure, it sounds posh and probably smells good, but what is artisan soap? And is the fanciness worth the price?

What Is Artisan Soap?

Artisan soap is handcrafted by a soap maker. The classic sales pitch here is, “No bar turns out the same, because we make each individually with love.” 

But the cool thing about artesian soap is that the sales pitch is pretty accurate. Artisan soap makers are often masters in their field, and they add lots of natural, great-for-your-skin ingredients to their bars.

You might opt to buy an artisan soap for the same reasons you’d go to a local family-run restaurant rather than a chain joint. The ingredients will be fresher, you’ll actually know who’s making your food (or soap), and the experience feels more authentic and unique.

And the best part about buying artisan is that it goes above and beyond the basic “get rid of dirt” soap requirement. 

How is Artisan Soap Made?

It’s made like any other soap! The real difference isn’t in the process, but often in the ingredients. Unlike generic, mass-produced store brands, an artisan bar is usually all-natural, and soap makers use fewer artificial ingredients to add scent and color.

But just in case you’re still curious, here are the most common artisan soap-making methods:

Cold-process soap

A cold-process soap is made from scratch using oils and lye as its base. Soap makers combine all the essential ingredients, add in color and scent, and leave the soap to do its thing. The ingredients will react on their own as long as the soap has enough time to sit and cure in its mold.

This, alongside hot-process soap, has a reputation of being “more artisan” than melt and pour or rebatched soaps. Since it’s a method that starts with pure ingredients, soap makers have more control over what goes into your soap.

With that said, when it comes down between

Hot-process soap

Hot-process soap is a close cousin of cold-process soap. The real difference here is that the oil-lye base is heated up to create a faster reaction. 

Alongside that, the colors and scent are added after the base has saponified, so they never touch the lye. The soap also doesn’t have to sit around and cure for a long time after it’s finished. (Though some soap makers let it cure anyway.)

When it comes to the final bar, hot-process soaps are rougher than cold-process soaps—which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but simply an aesthetic choice. The color and scent also tend to be closer to their original forms, since they’re not present during the chemical reaction between the oil and lye.

WARNING!

Be wary of “melt and pour” or “rebatched” soaps trying to label themselves as artisan. Those two soap-making methods don’t start with raw ingredients; rather, they’re the kitchen-friendly, DIY methods of the soap world. 

Lots of casual soap makers start out in the world of melt and pour or rebatched soaps. They have less control over the soap ingredients, so it’s rarely an “artisan” experience.

Artisan Soap Benefits?

It will feel like a match made in heaven. Your skin will sing—it’ll feel like angels kissed you clean. Well, maybe not that dramatic. But, compared to normal soaps, you’re definitely more likely to find an artisan soap that just works well with your skincare needs.

Artisan soapmakers often pair lye with an all-natural oil to either moisturize dry skin or combat oily skin, while still creating a bar that smells great. They might also throw in a natural exfoliant or some essential oils. Every ingredient will be handpicked and carefully paired. 

Compare that to commercial soaps. Your average supermarket bar is usually mass-produced in a “one size fits all” kind of way. In fact, those soaps are likely to include detergents and synthetic agents in their ingredients list—you shouldn’t put chemicals like that on your skin!

The right artisan bar will be all-natural and feel like it’s made perfectly for you.

Why You Should Pamper Yourself With Artisan Soap

The answer to that question you’re about to ask is yes. An artisan soap is going to cost slightly more than “regular” soap.

On the low end, one bar is about five dollars, a small bar pack hovers in the $10-30 range, and high-end artisan soaps often sell in bulkier packs anywhere from $40 to over $100.

But in terms of value, that’s a steal. Think about how long grocery store soap lasts for you—maybe three or four weeks, if you keep it dry? But generic store-branded soaps have few to none of the benefits of an artisan bar.

We often think “expensive!” when we hear the word “pamper,” but really artisan soap allows you to pamper yourself on a reasonable budget. For just a few dollars more than regular soap packs, you can purchase an artisan bar that does a significantly better job of cleansing, moisturizing, and scenting.

How Do You Use Artisan Soap?

Just like any other soap! When you’re first looking to buy an artisan soap, get picky with what you want from it. Do you have dry or oily skin? Are you looking for a heavier moisturizer, or a heavier cleanser? What would you like—a face, body, or hand soap?

As we’ve already mentioned, handmade artisan soap varies noticeably from bar to bar. Knowing what kind of benefits you’re looking for will help you find the right choice for youself.

If you’d like the bar to last longer, you can use a soap saver or a soap sock to stretch out its lifespan. Store it in a dry area, and let the moisture drain between use.

But really, artisan soap doens’t require any extra care. A solid artisan bar should last as long as a normal bar, while going above and beyond in skin benefits. 

Artisan Soap vs. Normal Soap

Here’s a fun little exercise: go find all the soaps in your bathroom (handsoaps, body soaps, bar soaps, liquid soaps, etc…). Check the labels. How many of them actually say the word “soap” somewhere on the packaging?

You’ll probably find a handful with labels like “foaming facial scrub,” “cleansing bar,” or, my personal favorite: “beauty bar.” None of these are soaps.

These “normal” soaps we buy from the supermarket contain too many synthetic agents, detergents and chemicals to be considered a soap by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s standards. In fact, on their website, the FDA specifically says that “there are very few true soaps on the market” today.

So what we consider “normal soap” isn’t all that great for anything beyond cleansing…and it’s not even soap.

A true artisan soap is always going to be a “real” soap. This means it’s made by combining oils and lye as a base, at a bare minimum. But most artisan soaps go above and beyond, adding in natural scents and moisturizers.

An artisan bar skips out on those detergents and synthetic agents that make a normal bar of “soap” not so great for your body. It’s one of the few real soaps you’ll find on the shelf.