Why is handmade soap so expensive?
Why would anyone pay for handmade soap? I can get a 12 pack of regular soap for the price of one bar of your soap?"
I've heard those comments many times - even from my own family.
It's important to know why handmade soap is more expensive so that you can make wise choices as a consumer.
Handcrafted Soap is made in small batches
Commercial soap is made in large batches - whereas, most handmade artisan soap makers make small batches of soap. While many soap makers try to purchase their materials in large quantities, it's still short of the train load of ingredients that commercial corporations are able to buy.
Small batches of handmade soap don't allow for the lowest, rock bottom price. But they do allow for a more carefully, curated soap that is skin friendly and better for your body. Handcrafted soap is often times done in small batches - 8-10 bars at a time.
Ingredients are better for your skin
The main ingredient in handmade soap is olive oil, and sometimes even grass-fed and grass-finished tallow, avocado oil, shea butter, even cocoa butter. Finding sustainable ingredients that are raised or harvested ethically and sustainably is indeed more expensive.
Big soap companies use fillers and foaming agents to make their soap - these fillers and foaming agents can have long lasting, often times harmful effects on the skin.
Handmade soap hydrates your skin
Have you ever wondered why you need lotion after you shower or bathe?
Commercial soap makers go through a process to remove the naturally occurring glycerin in their soap to turn around and use it on lotions and creams.
Glycerin is a humectant - a natural skin emollient that attracts water from the air to moisturize your skin. It's prized in soaps, lotions and creams to help maintain moisture in the skin through the day. During the soap making process, the fats/oils blend together with the lye/liquid to form soap - the natural glycerin settles in between the soap molecules. Too little glycerin and the soap is drying to the skin. Too much and it becomes mushy and short lasting.
Store bought soaps have had the glycerin removed; the glycerin is then placed into lotions and creams. Instead of the consumer buying one item that will clean and moisturize (soap), they are now buying two products to serve that purpose.
Which means an increased profit to the company.
Handmade Soap does not use Fragrance Oil
Fragrance oil is a very scary thing. The FDA does not require fragrance ingredients to be disclosed on the label. That means that your fragrance could contain hundreds of chemicals without your knowledge.
Even skin safe fragrances can be irritants that contain harmful substances. Fragrance oils are traditionally a cheaper way to scent soap, attract appeal to customers, but also put profits over consumer health in the long term.
Handmade soap takes time
Hand crafted soap takes considerable time - the process isn't quite as easy as making soap and slapping on a label.
- You must develop a recipe
- Test the recipe
- Purchase the ingredients (which are costly unless you buy in very large quantities)
- Measure the ingredients
- Line the molds and prep the lye solution
- Heat the oils to the correct temperature to make the soap
- Let soap sit for 24-48 hours
- Un-mold and cut the soap
- Cure the soap for a minimum of 4 weeks (Castile soaps must cure for six months or longer)
- Bevel and stamp the soaps (if needed)
- Take pictures of the soap for the website
- Add listing to the site and make labels for the soap
- And wait for the soap to sell.
You pay for the expertise
When you purchase handcrafted soap, you are paying for someone who has taken a great deal of time and energy to develop recipes that are based on ingredients that are visually appealing while also great for skin.
Each soap is unique, but each has an extensive story - the ingredients used in the correct proportions that will be advantageous to skin. A skilled sooap maker can modify their soap recipe too produce characteristics that would be appealing to the customer and better for skin.
For example: for a harder bar of soap with a more generous lather, add more tallow, honey or use raw milk. Commercial soap companies use synthetic chemicals to acquire a better look or feel.
When you buy handcrafted soap
When you buy handcrafted soap, you are supporting someone who will put that money back in their own community.
A cup of coffee at your favorite coffee shop can run upwards of $5 ~ a handcrafted bar of soap at $7 - $8, can last upwards of a month, sometimes even longer.
The truth is, that lesser priced, commercial soap in store will not hydrate and care for your skin the same way that handcrafted soap will. In the end, you'll slather lotion on parts of your body that you may not necessarily need lotion for.
Brand name soap companies spend millions each year on misleading advertising. Typical store bought, or commercial soaps are labeled as natural when in fact they are actually detergents that include chemical hardeners, foaming agents and artificial fragrances.
As consumers, we are responsible for understanding that what we put on and in our bodies requires us to ask questions, read labels and support those that strive for ethically and responsibly sourced ingredients.