This may come as a huge shock, but natural soaps… are made of all-natural ingredients.
In fact, they’re often customizable, so there’s no standard answer to what you’ll find in a natural bar of soap. Every bar is unique! So you’re sure to find your skin’s soul mate soap.
What Is Natural Soap?
Just like “normal” soap, it starts out with lye and oil as its base. Soapmakers mix those two ingredients carefully, then let them “saponify,” creating a hardenable sudsy base. But that’s where the similarities end. From here, commercial soap manufacturers toss in artificial fragrances, yucky-for-your-skin preservatives, cleaning detergents, and more synthetic agents.
On the flip side, a natural soap, also known as a handcrafted soap, only adds natural ingredients to the saponified base. Or no extra ingredients at all! The benefit here is that it’s much easier to find a pure natural soap for sensitive skin.
You can spot this difference visually by reading your soap ingredient list. In fact, take a look at the packaging of whatever bar you have in your shower right now. Can you pronounce all the ingredients on that list? If not…that’s not necessarily a bad thing…but it’s also not necessarily a great thing…
You should easily recognize every ingredient on a natural soap’s label—no strange chemical compounds, no rash-inducing detergents, and no mystery-allergy fragrances.
What Ingredients are in Natural Soap?
Natural soap ingredients sound like the recipe to a kid’s magic potion. A dash of charcoal, three rose petals for flavor, and essence of aged fruit for scent. The difference is that natural soap ingredients are fabulous for your skin, whereas you probably don’t want to get anywhere near your nephew’s “special soup.”
To be a bit more specific, some common natural soap ingredients include:
Added as an oil or shredded. This yields that classic coconut scent, but it also works as a light exfoliant and moisturizer, depending on how it’s combined. Coconut is also a key ingredient to natural soap’s cleansing properties, and it can even curb acne. It’s a great substitute for palm oil.
If you’re suffering from horribly dry skin, natural avocado soap is the way to go. It “superfats” the soap, making it a heavy-duty moisturizer.
Petals or Tea Leaves
Beyond sounding pretty, petals and leaves give natural soaps their subtle scent and work as a gentle exfoliant. If you want to smell casually outdoorsy, tea leaf soap is a great option.
Or, if you want to impress an overnight guest, let’s be honest…flower petals in soap? It’s just downright romantic.
These are the heavier exfoliating soaps for flaky skin. They’re also great for scrubbing and lathering. For normal skin types that only need exfoliation once a week, you can keep the seed bar on standby and use a moisturizing bar for the daily scrub.
These make natural soaps smell really good, but they also create a mini aromatherapy shower session. Some scents are proven to release chemicals in your brain that can help you de-stress.
Why Are Natural Soaps Better?
The list is long! You can read a more complete explanation of natural soap benefits here, but to sum up a few reasons:
Remember our ingredient list? All of those natural additives are not only meant to smell good and look pretty, but they’re also there to benefit your well-being.
Soothers like oatmeal and avocado can help keep skin conditions in check. Seaweed soap works as a toner to minimize bumps and stretch marks. Essential oils provide a mini spa experience, helping you unwind in the shower.
You’ll get none of these benefits with a manufactured, grocery store soap. They just don’t compare to natural soaps.
Lots of first-time natural soap buyers are surprised by how heavy one bar feels. When we say natural soaps are dense, we mean they’re dense.
Commercial soap manufacturers are known for watering down their bars. This means that the soap breaks down much more rapidly, and it has a higher chance of turning to mush in your shower or dripping scum all over the tile.
By comparison, natural soap makers create heavier bars with a higher concentration of yummy ingredients. This way you’re getting the most out of your bar of soap.
Natural soaps leave behind a much smaller carbon footprint. They come with less packaging, are often animal-friendly, and the soap additives are all-natural, so you’re less likely to find an unethically sourced natural bar of soap.
That’s a feel-good factor! You’re getting all the benefits of a natural soap, and you’re minimizing your environmental impact.
Is Natural Soap Better For Your Skin?
Yes! People with eczema and psoriasis will back me up here.
Commercially produced soaps are packed with surprise allergens and acne-causing chemicals. If you find yourself breaking out in unusual places, it might be your store-bought soap that’s messing up your skin.
Natural soaps have no added preservatives, detergents, or artificial colors. This means you’re less likely to suffer from short-term or long-term skin conditions. As always, you should do a patch test to make sure you’re not allergic to any of the natural ingredients. You’ll fare much better with a natural bar than a commercial bar.
Is Natural Soap Good For Your Face?
Yes, but the caveat is that you should still look for a facial bar.
Natural soaps come in a much wider variety than commercial soaps. You can find bars meant for your body, face, and even your hair. The trick is that you need to lather it first, then apply that lather to whichever body part you’re washing.
That’s especially important if you’re using a natural facial soap. I’ll repeat: lather first, then set aside the bar and rub the suds against your skin. Scrubbing your face directly isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it sure does sound uncomfortable (and it’ll be less effective).
Because of all its skin benefits, natural soap is fabulous as a facial soap. If you don’t feel like you can invest in a bar of natural soap for the shower, I’d at least encourage you to get a natural facial soap. It’s much, much more skin-friendly than that bottle of liquid soap that you’re probably eyeing right now. Your acne situation will thank me later.
Why Is Natural Soap So Expensive?
The real question you should worry about is why is grocery store soap so cheap? The answer: it’s puny at best, detrimental at worst.
When you buy commercially produced soaps, you’re paying for off-putting scents, hormonal imbalances, breakouts, and sticky skin. In fact, you might not even be paying for soap. By the FDA’s standards, most “cleansing bars” that you see along the grocery store aisle don’t have enough soap ingredients to label themselves as soap. If that sounds like a ripoff, then you’re starting to catch my drift.
If a soapmaker is doing their job correctly, then it’s an expensive process, but the output is invaluable, packed with rich ingredients that go above and beyond the bare “cleaning” requirement.
So what is natural soap made of? It’s made of the ingredients that soap is supposed to contain. And the benefits of natural soap are priceless.