Great skincare starts with great soap. So what makes a great soap?
Milled soap bars are notoriously drying to your skin, stripping the good oils and washing away the protective barrier that helps lock moisture in. We've known this for years and while some people persevere with soap, others have switched to facial cleansers and body wash in an attempt to avoid damaging their skin.
But why are they so drying?
Milled soaps are made from a purified soap "noodle". These noodles are created by boiling the ingredients together and then adding salt water to the mix. This salt bath causes the pure soap to separate and rise to the top of the pot where it can be skimmed off. The resulting pure soap is easily dried by machines and is then stored to be sold to soap finishing plants in the future. Due to the refining process the soap noodle has a long shelf life. There is no glycerin to potentially attract moisture during storage and no free oils that can go off. These, and other components known as "unsaponifiables" are now in the salt water and are later refined for use in moisturisers and other products.
The pure soap noodle is eventually sold and is used in a soap finishing plant. In this stage it is possible to add back some of the lost ingredients. Up to 3% additives (fragrance, colour, and other ingredients) can be included in the soap. For comparison, a cold process soap contains around 3% fragrance, 9% glycerin, 6-8% extra oils and 0-4% unsaponifiables (things like antioxidants, vitamins, squalene) depending on the ingredients used.
Small batch cold process soaps are not boiled nor refined. Makers simply add lye to oils, stir to combine and pour into a mould. Over time chemistry takes care of the rest. The resulting soap is rich in glycerin - a natural humectant that draws moisture into the skin - and extra oils in the soap help to stop moisture from evaporating. These components are clingy and don't wash away as you wash.
At Inga Ford Soapmaker we've created a soap recipe that is high in unsaponifiables and we've sourced our ingredients in a way that is both socially responsible and environmentally sustainable. Combined with the traditional cold process method of soapmaking we create a range of soap bars for every body and every budget. From no-frills Square-ish bars for everyday to the ultra giftable Art of Soap range our bars are time tested, free from compromise and made just the way nature intended.