We’d like to give a little love to the customers that make the handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry go round this week; without these customers, this industry would not exist, so thank you!
If you are in the market for new and incredible bath and body products, you might have a few questions for your local Handcrafter, and we want to help clear up a few things so that you as a consumer can take the sweet-smelling leap into the world of handmade fabulousness.
What does “handcrafted” mean?
Handcrafted can mean different things to different people. Making a handcrafted soap and/or cosmetic requires a lot of time and effort, and all of the moving parts are determined by the maker. These moving parts include formulation, packaging, production and much more. Depending on the methodology of the individual, some of these steps are done by hand using a pre-fabricated base to express a creative vision, or all of the steps might be done by hand with raw ingredients from scratch. The HSCG considers a product to be handcrafted if:
A majority of the time, energy and processes used in its creation by the handcrafter are “by hand”, and
A minimal use of mechanized equipment is employed, and
The product manufacture is overseen manually, not by an automated system.
As you can see, creating a handcrafted soap and/or cosmetic is a labor intensive process that involves a blend of science and creativity; trust that when you are picking up a handcrafted product, countless hours have been dedicated to the final, refined item you hold in your hand.
Does handcrafted soap go bad?
We see you, recipient of gifted handcrafted soap who insists it is “too pretty to use” and uses it as a decoration instead of a fabulous bath experience. Whether a soap “goes bad” and how quickly it does so is really dependent on the ingredients used in the soap’s formulation. In the handcrafted soap and cosmetic world, you’ll hear the term “D.O.S” used to describe a soap gone bad; this stands for “Dreaded Orange Spots”. These soapy chicken pox are caused by oil rancidity, and may have an unpleasant odor. Though your soap will be a little less lovely, it is still usable-but we hope you’ll start using your soap before it gets to that point. A good rule of thumb is to ask your local Handcrafter what she or he used to make the soap, and get an idea of their timeline for use. They will be only to happy to guide you-after all, they want you to use the pretty soap!
What makes a bath bomb fizz, and is it harmful?
The only thing explosive about bath bombs are the metaphorical fireworks it creates at bath time! The fizzing reaction you see is a result of a chemical reaction between the water in your tub and the citric acid and baking soda (or bicarbonate of soda). Fizzy carbon dioxide is the result of this reaction, and a fabulous smelling bath is the end result of you + a bath bomb.
Are handmade products really safe?
As with any product, the safety of the item depends on three things: the manufacturing process, the label and the consumer. Although handcrafted soap and cosmetics are often dismissed because they are handmade, and not produced in huge factories, the vast majority of handcrafters are even more meticulous than their automated counterparts. Formulation and handling are crucial to a Handcrafter-after all, a small business owner is completely responsible if a product is poorly made, and will not risk their own personal reputation.
Safety also depends on the accurate labeling of the product. Now, those of you that regularly follow our blog are bracing yourself to be smacked with the Labeling Stick again, but it’s so important! As Handcrafters we have the responsibility to market products fairly and accurately-stick with reputable sellers and stay away from people who make fantastic claims to avoid being sold a product that isn’t up to par.
Lastly, the customer has a responsibility to know their allergies and sensitivities. If you know that you are sensitive to a certain fragrance and your Handcrafter does not list their specific fragrance on their package (as many will not, this is proprietary), don’t be afraid to ask if a specific ingredient is present in the product. Your local Handcrafter doesn’t want you to have an unpleasant, preventable experience!
I thought soap making was a Fight Club thing.
Making handmade soap is real, and business is booming. There are an estimated 300,000 Handcrafters located in the United States alone! It’s not nearly as dramatic as Hollywood makes it out to be…save for one enterprising artist who really did put his soul into his soap. Or, at least, a few pounds of unwanted fat.
In 2013, performance artist Orestes De La Paz decided to put his recently removed extra pounds to good use and made 20 bars of soap that eventually went on display at Miami’s Frost Museum. At a price of $1,000 per bar, we don’t suspect you’ll be purchasing any of this particular soap at your local market any time soon!
Handcrafted soap and cosmetics raise the bar on luxurious self care products by blending quality ingredients that you can pronounce with the care and knowledge of a member of your community. Make the switch: check out our Handcrafter Directory here: https://www.soapguild.org/consumers/find-soap-cosmetics/search.php