I absolutely buy soap from others, but consider it economically advantageous. While I do make my own, I do not sell. This limits the myriad of things that I can practically try. More importantly, it can be disproportionately costly and time-consuming to make a single bar to test. It takes almost as much time as making a batch and is annoying to order ingredients to "try".
I employ the same logic in eating out. I find it to be easier and cheaper to simply purchase novel menu items. If a restaurant is known for it's tuna burger, I'll try it there first. If I find that tuna is simply not a meat that I enjoy in burger format, I have saved myself the time and effort of deciding on a recipe, grocery shopping, and preparing a meal that I end up hating. If I love it, I have a more informed opinion about how I want to tweak my version.
Likewise, there are sometimes new ingredients in soap making that I have not played with. Auntie Clara has a bile soap in her shop that fascinates me. She claims that it is a superior stain remover. I cannot even imagine how much of a PITA it would be for me to figure out where I can get bile from or what it would cost if I did. Even if I randomly had some floating around in my pantry (which would raise a lot of eyebrows), there is bound to be a learning curve to working with a strange ingredient and formulating a recipe. That takes time, effort, materials, etc. It only makes sense to try hers first, expensive postage and all.
If it is soapy magic, it gives me a benchmark to strive towards. I'll gladly spend months trying to replicate or improve on her version. If I hate it, I am only out the cost of the one bar of soap. Even if it is really expensive soap, I cannot imagine that that is not a significant savings. There is nothing I hate more than making a herculean effort to get lackluster results. Whether it's a soap, meal, or other DIY project...it just feels like such a waste of materials, time, and money.
I know that there is value in the learning experience, but feel that trying out others' products hones my editorial process. It also gives me a measurable metric for my results. Otherwise, I might go running around thinking that I was the best at everything:grin:.http://www.soapmakingforum.com//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/extension/