Let's Talk Natural, Then I'll Give Some Stuff Away!
Here's the conversation. I feel very passionately about avoiding the use of chemicals in my soaps. It's been quite a learning curve, and I take great care to ensure that I'm 100% transparent and my customers know EXACTLY what they're getting, so I'm writing this to save you the time, effort, and disappointment required to learn all of this on your own.
To my knowledge, there are ONLY TWO of us soapmakers in Ottawa that truly make ALL-NATURAL VEGAN or VEGETARIAN soaps and soap products. Sadly, in Ottawa and across Canada, I have found that MOST soapers that claim their products are natural are making false claims; some of them are doing it knowingly and very blatantly, and that really makes me hurt for the customers. So I'm opening the curtains and showing you what you need to look for if you want a truly natural soap or body product:
- MICA: is NOT a natural ingredient. It its made in a laboratory. It does occur in nature, but it has so many heavy metals in it, it would poison us, so it's created in a laboratory. There are two ways to know if the soap you're looking at has mica in it - one, it will say that it contains mica - and two, it will be a very bright, unnatural color. Not harmful, but NOT natural.
- Lakes: are NOT natural ingredients. Again, they are colorants, but they are usually used in bath bombs. Again, not harmful; but not natural.
- Oxides: Oxides are another colorant similar to mica, which occurs in the natural world, but are lab-created to avoid contamination with bacteria and other elements. As above, not necessarily harmful, but, not natural.
- Fragrances: Essential oils are NATURAL. FRAGRANCES are NOT. FRAGRANCE OILS are not. In general, if it has a floral or fruity scent, it's probably artificial.
- Endangered Tree Oils and difficult to harvest oils: The following 5 oils are endangered, and therefore are very, very expensive: Sandalwood is so expensive that if one were to use it in a soap or any other product, it would be too expensive for anyone to purchase. Other at-risk trees whose oil we love include the Rosewood, Frankincense, Spikenard, Agarwood, and the Atlas Cedarwood. You'll notice that I actually use Cedarwood and Rosewood in a few of my products; as carefully as I research my oils, I'm going to have to go back to better understand the issues with these oils; my understanding is that they are safe to purchase as long as you do NOT buy them 'wildcrafted;' yes, yet again, that's for another blog post.
-Oils that are far too expensive to use: Jasmine, about $306/oz. Neroli Essential Oil - $354/oz. Sandalwood - $492/oz. Rose Essential OIl - $700/oz. Agarwood (Oud) Essential Oil Rolls in at $850/oz; Hemp Essential Oil, $946/oz, Frangipani, a very lovely floral oil, just $1,482/oz, Tuberose $1645/oz. Beware of products that claim to have used these oils in soaps that are priced the same as other soaps that use common oils (such as Lavender oil) or other body products that are clearly too affordable for the oil claimed to have been used.
Do a little digging. Inform yourself. I've decided to try to do mostly natural products (the Down the Garden Path line), with some products that use either artificial color, fragrance oil, or flavor (lip balm) (the Artisan line) for some of my customers who have allergies to essential oils. The truth is, people do develop allergies to essential oils just like they can to fragrance oils. So I chose to offer both.
There's one last thing I wanted to mention with regard to ingredients - safety. Those of us who really care about our customers do a LOT of late-night research (it's 2 in the morning right now). Some oils are NOT meant to be put on our skin OR our lips. NEVER, EVER use soap or other products on your skin that have CINNAMON EO or CINNAMON LEAF EO in them - this oil is considered a 'hot' oil, and it WILL burn your skin. Cinnamon has been BANNED for use in soap and all other body products in several areas of the world, and are not recommended for topical use. Bergamot will ALSO cause burns, especially upon exposure to the sun, even if diluted. Citrus oils CAN be used on the skin, but they will make you photo-sensitive, especially during summer months - but not to the degree that Bergamot does. Avoid using peppermint on babies and children as it can cause breathing problems; and Clary Sage should never be used on or around pregnant women as it can cause contractions.
So here's the part where I give some stuff away!
I want you guys to do the digging. Check out other soapmakers who claim to make all-natural soap/body products - one in Ottawa, and one somewhere else in Canada. Decide whether they're ACTUALLY making natural products. If so, tell me how you know. If not, tell me how you know. I'll enter your name into a draw to win 3 products of your choosing! I'll be giving away 3 of these prizes, so spread the word - if you've been referred to this contest by a friend, make sure you read the blog post, then email me your answer and who referred you! Contest ends on January 31st!