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How Beneficial is Soap Really?

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TheGecko

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So I am taking a break and watching a soap making video on You Tube and the person is describing all the benefits of the oils, butters and additives they are using and I was thinking how folks here have cautioned new soapers against using really expensive ingredients because soap is a wash on/rinse off product, so my question is, beyond making a balanced soap...one that lathers and is lasting, what ‘benefits’, if any, remain of the ingredients that we have carefully chosen?

I think I have a good recipe: 30% Olive Oil, 20% Coconut and Palm Oils, 10% Cocoa and Shea Butters, and 5% Castor Oil; I also add Sodium Lactate and Kaolin Clay. It lathers nicely, it’s long lasting and it doesn’t dry out my skin like commercial soaps did. But is it because of the ingredients or because I haven’t butchered the ingredients like commercial manufacturers do?
 

Kcryss

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I personally believe that you are making a "balanced" bar of soap and it's natural so the glycerin is still there. Commercial soaps generally have the glycerin removed and often, when not a natural (lye based) soap, they add harsh chemical detergents.
 

Misschief

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No matter what oils you use, soap is soap is soap. It gets you clean. The oils in the soap don't stay on your skin long enough to do anything; besides, they're changed during the saponification process. When you have a good bar of soap, it doesn't strip your skin of the natural oils that protect it. It just gets you clean.
 

Zing

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My basic recipe is very similar to yours minus the clay. All I know is my skin has never felt better since I started using my own versus store bought. Due to major life transitions this year I haven't soaped as much and had to go back to store stuff and could immediately tell a difference. I don't spend a lot of ingredients, once in awhile I'll splurge for jojoba or kukui oils.
 

SideDoorSoaps

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We started making soap because the soap we use to buy, Pure & Natural, stopped being sold in stores near us. It was the only soap that didn’t irritate my husband’s skin (he has eczema and just sensitive to perfumes). It didn’t have anything special in it. We tried other people’s handmade soap before we made our own checking out the different ingredients and how they felt on our skin. The only soap we made that felt different than our base recipe is the soap with almond oil and cocoa butter. The lather is just creamier and felt silkier on our skin. Is that a benefit?

I don’t like using expensive ingredients in my soap because I know that there is very little left of the original fat and its benefits being altered by the saponification process.
There are a lot of people who say different though. I’d like to read a study about what SF is really left after and how it affects soap performance/perception.
 

shunt2011

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I make and use my soap as it's made my skin better than any store bought soap. It cleans without totally stripping all the natural oils. Soap cleans period. Everyone's skin is different therefore people use and prefer different recipes. I don't use expensive oils/butters as I've found it doesn't make much difference in a well balanced bar.
 

gloopygloop

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I also dont think there is any point in using expensive ingredients in soap. Like everyone says a well balanced recipe does it all, some luxury butters added for creamier lather I do find nice but they dont actually benefit me other than a feel good creamier / richer lather IMO. The glycerine thing I am not sure about, I dont think that glycerine in soap makes it anymore, mmmm well better/moisturising/conditioning, does it not just make the bar a little softer and adds humectancy to the actual bar. I have not found adding stearic to soap which does not give added glycerine any nastier on my skin than without it. Just a thought on that one as again glycerine is water soluble and would rinse away, no?
 

Kcryss

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Just a thought on that one as again glycerine is water soluble and would rinse away, no?
Wow, never really thought of it that way before. That's a good question. If the oils ect. wash away, does the glycerin also wash away? If that is the case, then how helpful really is the glycerin?

Anyone know the answer to this question?

I'm off to look for soap science info! :)
 

TheGecko

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I also dont think there is any point in using expensive ingredients in soap. Like everyone says a well balanced recipe does it all, some luxury butters added for creamier lather I do find nice but they dont actually benefit me other than a feel good creamier / richer lather IMO. The glycerine thing I am not sure about, I dont think that glycerine in soap makes it anymore, mmmm well better/moisturising/conditioning, does it not just make the bar a little softer and adds humectancy to the actual bar. I have not found adding stearic to soap which does not give added glycerine any nastier on my skin than without it. Just a thought on that one as again glycerine is water soluble and would rinse away, no?
If you're talking about adding additional glycerin, I would agree that it adds no extra benefit. But one of the biggest differences (IMHO) between commercial soaps and artisan soaps is that commercial soap manufacturers removed the glycerin...adding a small amount back in and then selling the rest, while artisan soap retain all the natural glycerin.

But when I talked about the 'benefits'...what prompted was a soaper who was making a special soap with ingredients like Activated Charcoal, Bentonite Clay, Witch Hazel, Aloe Vera, and Tea Tree and Rosemary EOs and she talked about the 'benefits' of these items and how great they were for your skin blah blah blah. But 1) do any of those 'benefits' remain after saponification and 2) how much 'benefit' are you getting from something that is on your skin for only a minute or two?

Does Cocoa Butter and Shea Butter really add anything to my soap other than 'label appeal'? I use a few EOs, but I use them for the scent, not for any 'properties'. And it's much the same with my colorants...clays, oxides, AC...I use them for the coloring aspects.
 

DeeAnna

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I don't have a definitive answer about whether glycerin washes entirely off the skin.

I have read some reports that show soap with glycerin is less irritating to sensitive skin, so there is some truth in the idea that glycerin adds mildness to soap. How much added mildness is probably based as much on how sensitive or delicate the person's skin is as on the presence or absence of glycerin.

Remember most dermatological studies are done on people with sensitive skin, not normal skin, because they're trying to measure differences. Sensitive skin is ... well ... sensitive to slight differences, and normal skin is not as sensitive.​

Glycerin also improves the sensory feel and longevity of soap lather. One way it does this is by stabilizing the soap bubble film, so the bubbles last longer.

I know in the shave soap I've made, adding a reasonable amount of glycerin (10% to 15% ppo) makes the lather feel thicker and slicker compared to the same recipe without added glycerin. Kind of like the difference between whipped cream and beaten egg white. Both are fluffy, but cream is thick and slick; egg white is thin and more watery. The recipe I use has quite a bit of stearic acid which doesn't create any glycerin when saponified, so the 10-15% added glycerin compensates for this lack plus a bit extra.​
 
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Kcryss

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But when I talked about the 'benefits'...what prompted was a soaper who was making a special soap with ingredients like Activated Charcoal, Bentonite Clay, Witch Hazel, Aloe Vera, and Tea Tree and Rosemary EOs and she talked about the 'benefits' of these items and how great they were for your skin blah blah blah. But 1) do any of those 'benefits' remain after saponification and 2) how much 'benefit' are you getting from something that is on your skin for only a minute or two?
Not sure about the other ingredients you listed, but if Tea Tree and Rosemary EO's are added after the cook in HP and after cooling to below 120, the properties remain (or at least that's my belief, I've not had it lab tested or found any articles regarding quantifiable lab tests). This is based solely on my current knowledge of botanical EO's and soaponification.

I have read some reports that show soap with glycerin is less irritating to sensitive skin, so there is some truth in the idea that glycerin adds mildness to soap. How much added mildness is probably based as much on how sensitive or delicate the person's skin is as on the presence or absence of glycerin.

Glycerin also improves the sensory feel and longevity of soap lather. One way it does this is by stabilizing the soap bubble film, so the bubbles last longer.​

I know in the shave soap I've made, adding a reasonable amount of glycerin (10% to 15% ppo) makes the lather feel thicker and slicker compared to the same recipe without added glycerin. Kind of like the difference between whipped cream and beaten egg white. Both are fluffy, but cream is thick and slick; egg white is thin and more watery. The recipe I use has quite a bit of stearic acid which doesn't create any glycerin when saponified, so the 10-15% added glycerin compensates for this lack plus a bit extra.​
Makes sense. Thanks DeeAnna!
 

Dawni

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Thank you @DeeAnna! My first soapy lesson for the new year :)

Does Cocoa Butter and Shea Butter really add anything to my soap other than 'label appeal'?
Hardness and longevity.... If palm, tallow and lard aren't options hehehe

I'm gonna go on a limb here and say that I think they do, but I won't go as far as saying you absolutely need them, and won't be able to tell you what exactly lol. One of my mom's friends has tried several of my soaps - she buys my sample sized bars at cost to help me she says - and has now decided that the triple butter one is the best for her. She has spread the word to others in their group and some who have tried n used my other soaps have converted to this one. Must be something in the butters then, no?
 

gloopygloop

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Another thing with comparing shop bought soaps and home made, is that comparing apples to oranges? I feel and I have zero proof of this that shop bought soaps probably have a far higher % of CO as it is perhaps a more cost efficient option which as we do know is far more drying on the skin.

Just going back to my mention regarding glycerine, I didn't mean adding it into a soap batter or HP as we do with shaving soap where I totally agree with DeeAnna regarding the change in lather, it was just if you added stearic to a regular soap recipe which I have done to get hardness ( lets not go off topic here regarding those difficulties) I did not notice a perceivable difference in soap quality other than it was harder with a more meringue like lather. I dont personally believe other additives including butters, oils and Eos to have any benefits personally even though the idea is lovely and I did start out thinking that when I was far more naive.
 

DeeAnna

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"...if you added stearic to a regular soap recipe which I have done to get hardness ( lets not go off topic here regarding those difficulties) I did not notice a perceivable difference in soap quality other than it was harder with a more meringue like lather...."

I agree with you. From what most people say about adding stearic acid to regular bath soap, they're only using 2-5% stearic from what I recall. The reduction in glycerin from this small dab of stearic is not all that big.

I don't ever add glycerin to regular bath soap, to be clear -- just to shave soap that contains a lot of stearic (50% more or less). I think there's enough glycerin from saponification in regular bath soap without adding more.

I can see why my shave soap example might not be the best way to explain what I'm thinking, but I can't think of an example of a soap that's more "normal" that I can use to explain myself.
 

lenarenee

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My 2 cents:

I think glycerin almost instantly benefits the skin. Why? We get some single digit humidity levels here. I've spent hundreds of dollars on every possible lotion and they don't help much. Started spraying glycerin water on my skin and within seconds I have new skin. Can go hours without reapplying.

As for what shea or cocoa butter adds: shea is very high is unsaponifiables. Many people have said that adds.....something....that affects skin feel. (moisture, layer of oil)
 

gloopygloop

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"...if you added stearic to a regular soap recipe which I have done to get hardness ( lets not go off topic here regarding those difficulties) I did not notice a perceivable difference in soap quality other than it was harder with a more meringue like lather...."

I agree with you. From what most people say about adding stearic acid to regular bath soap, they're only using 2-5% stearic from what I recall. The reduction in glycerin from this small dab of stearic is not all that big.

I don't ever add glycerin to regular bath soap, to be clear -- just to shave soap that contains a lot of stearic (50% more or less). I think there's enough glycerin from saponification in regular bath soap without adding more.

I can see why my shave soap example might not be the best way to explain what I'm thinking, but I can't think of an example of a soap that's more "normal" that I can use to explain myself.
I think your example explains perfectly. and I too am only thinking that adding Glycerine to shave soap and not to bar /bath soap would make the big difference.

My 2 cents:

I think glycerin almost instantly benefits the skin. Why? We get some single digit humidity levels here. I've spent hundreds of dollars on every possible lotion and they don't help much. Started spraying glycerin water on my skin and within seconds I have new skin. Can go hours without reapplying.

As for what shea or cocoa butter adds: shea is very high is unsaponifiables. Many people have said that adds.....something....that affects skin feel. (moisture, layer of oil)
Yes I agree that glycerine is indeed very humectant and a spray of water/glycerine would indeed make a difference, but then you wouldn't be washing that off as you would with a soap which was my point, well I dont think so anyhow?
True I think about the unsaponifiables in some of the butters and they may well as a little oil slick after rinse off which on dry skin such as my own could be very welcome ( although lather can suffer so discretion on those I guess or adjust SF) but other than that I dont think they add any other
" benefits " which the OP started the discussion with.
 

amd

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so my question is, beyond making a balanced soap...one that lathers and is lasting, what ‘benefits’, if any, remain of the ingredients that we have carefully chosen?
I try a lot of soap - whether it is new recipes I'm testing out or someone else's soap... I can feel a difference. Most notably between vegan and non-vegan, and those who use large amounts of CO and those who use none (or it's on the lower end of their ingredient list). Probably more important is how my skin reacts to it. In addition to super dry skin, I'm extremely prone to cystic acne. Some handmade soaps will cause me to break out horribly, others not at all - but other people in my house (we have 3 teenage boys and one pre-teen daughter, in addition to my husband who has really oily skin) have no problems with those soaps that cause my breakouts. So my answer is a bit conditional - yes, some people will benefit from a certain ingredient list. For my face, I can't use vegan soap - even some I've formulated myself where the only difference was replacing tallow with palm... I start looking like a regular pizza face. The no side of this: I haven't seen any difference when high end specialty oils are added to a soap (I'm talking jojoba, argan, or higher end butters). The same with adding clay, I don't see a difference in my skin with or without them. Silk was something I added with an old formula I was using because I did feel a difference, but then I got better at formulating and now I don't need it. So my no is conditional to formulating. You can make a really nice bar of soap from basic ingredients if you're willing to experiment and play. Adding milks, aloe, and other things to our soaps is totally a soapmakers delight in the change in lather. I personally haven't experienced any difference between any of those soaps other than that [lather quality], it still cleans the same.
 

lenarenee

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I think your example explains perfectly. and I too am only thinking that adding Glycerine to shave soap and not to bar /bath soap would make the big difference.




Yes I agree that glycerine is indeed very humectant and a spray of water/glycerine would indeed make a difference, but then you wouldn't be washing that off as you would with a soap which was my point, well I dont think so anyhow?
True I think about the unsaponifiables in some of the butters and they may well as a little oil slick after rinse off which on dry skin such as my own could be very welcome ( although lather can suffer so discretion on those I guess or adjust SF) but other than that I dont think they add any other
" benefits " which the OP started the discussion with.

The skin cells absorb the moisture, so you can't wash it off . (Assuming I'm correct that it happens as quickly as I've experienced. )

Ex: step in shower, rinse, use soap, soap sits on skin long enough for glycerin to attract moisure to it, skin absorbs water. Even is scrubbing with a loofah, you can't scrape the moisture out of the cells.

I have Dunn's book here somewhere: wonder if he covers this...
 

gloopygloop

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The skin cells absorb the moisture, so you can't wash it off . (Assuming I'm correct that it happens as quickly as I've experienced. )

Ex: step in shower, rinse, use soap, soap sits on skin long enough for glycerin to attract moisure to it, skin absorbs water. Even is scrubbing with a loofah, you can't scrape the moisture out of the cells.

I have Dunn's book here somewhere: wonder if he covers this...
Would be interesting to know, I am dubious about that theory personally as much as I would like it to be true. I do find water plumps up the skin yes ( I am a male by the way so perhaps use stuff in a slightly different way) but that does disappear reasonably fast. Any glycerine on the skin in my experience has had a tacky feel IMHO, but to know what actually happens scientifically would be interesting. Going back to the OP saying about a U Tube vid stating about all the benefits of the ingredients in soap, that I dont go with and there are many out there, great sales hype but I dont think its founded is it?
 
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