What is Artisan Soap?
I think the term “artisan soap” can be confusing. Those unfamiliar with the soap world (which would be most of us, really), see these pretty slices of soap with their bright colors and fun patterns and assume that they are paying for the artistry that goes into the soap, not necessarily getting a product that will change their lives (or at least their skin). Art, right? It’s right there in the name. Thus the pretty little soap in front of you goes straight to the “novelty” section of your brain and, let’s be honest, if you’re going to buy a novelty item you’re going to head over to thinkgeek.com and buy something cooler than soap.
This was my first experience with artisan soap. I was at a street fair and was drawn into the soap booth by the amazing smells dancing in the breezeway. I picked up a bar. Gave it a sniff. Ahhhhhhmazing. It was purple. I love purple. I looked around for a price. $10. Wait, what? $10? For a bar of soap? I don’t even use soap!
I looked for the booth owner, who was screwing around on her phone, otherwise engaged, and then left. Having received no information from the soapmaker, her pretty little soaps became novelty items in my mind. Pretty but not useful. And I was wrong. So, so wrong.
Artisan soaps are pretty, yes. But they are also extremely useful, in a lot of ways! I’m going to give you four, because that’s how many minutes I have left to type before the Soap & Clay kidlets start flinging their breakfast across the kitchen.
Artisan Soap is real soap
In the simplest of terms, artisan soap is real soap. Commercial stuff? Not so much. They don’t even label it as soap. Because it’s not soap. It’s a detergent! Akin to the stuff you put in your dishwasher or washing machine. Who wants that on their skin, every day, multiple times a day? Commercial soaps are filled with synthetic lathering chemicals and detergents and pressed into bars after being pumped full of preservatives to ensure they have a shelf life that will survive nuclear fallout. They’re drying, irritate the skin, and leave behind a film that continues to wreak havoc on your skin’s natural ph level.
Artisan soap doesn’t contain fillers, preservatives, or synthetic lathering agents. All of the bubbly goodness in handcrafted soap comes directly from the responsible soapmaker’s recipe of carefully balanced oils and fats and how they interact with the liquid and lye necessary for all soapmaking. Artisan soaps naturally moisturize, cleanse, and lather; no synthetics needed!
Commercial bars are missing the absolute best ingredient found in real soaps: the glycerin. Manufacturers actually remove this natural moisturizer from their bars and use it in high-end skin care product lines. So you’re left with nothing but a watered down, chemical laden block of synthetics. Boo!
A proper artisan soaper does not use synthetic bubblers or preservatives; the former isn’t needed as handcrafted soaps are full of natural lathering agents and the latter is usually omitted to keep the soaps chemical and irritant free. Further, artisan soaps are absolutely loaded with glycerin as it is a naturally occurring byproduct of the saponification process. This yields a super cleansing, gentle, moisturizing , irritant free soap. Now, doesn’t that sound better than washing your face with laundry detergent?
High Quality ingredients
Artisan soapmakers tend to take their ingredients very seriously. At Soap & Clay, we splurge on ingredients, ensuring that each and every bar we create is made from high quality, stable, uncontaminated oils and fats. We also put extra (natural!) goodies into our soaps to up the skin loving, super cleansing, moisturizing, and exfoliating properties of our products. As an example, each and every bar of soap in Soap & Clay’s Hey Girl line contains rice bran oil, which is known to be a natural antioxidant and anti-aging ingredient. We care about your skin, and work hard to deliver a quality bar of soap that promotes your skin’s health.
Low Impact/No Harm
Unlike large commercial facilities, artisan soap makers work in small batch form with little to no equipment. This means a minimal environmental impact and no overseas sweat shops. And you have the added benefit of buying from a peer and thus promoting small business. I recently read on the interwebs that 68% of money spent with a small business goes right back into the community, promoting economic stability and growth for everyone. Can large corporations say the same?
So sudsers, there you have it. Artisan soap is more than just pretty, it’s pretty awesome. Head over to Soap & Clay and check out our lines. Your skin will thank you!