Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Welcome to the Wellness Guide! Today, we are going to talk about the best handmade soap options for you to moisturize, and cleanse your skin, with helping to treat possible irritations and imbalances.

Handmade soaps have been increasingly sought after for their therapeutic potential. They can be used on babies, children or people with sensitive skin. In addition, they are much less harmful to the environment than conventional soaps.

But, facing the numerous possibilities of fragrance, functions, types and formats, which handmade soap to choose? In this review we will look at the main advantages of buying handmade soap. We will also look at the best options you can find on the market and what to consider when choosing the perfect type of handmade soap for your needs, always evaluating the therapeutic functions and ingredients.




First things first

  • Handmade soaps are produced on a small scale, which confers greater exclusivity. Their use is linked to the therapeutic potential of the ingredients used, such as oils and clays. They usually have an exfoliating and antiseptic action. For your choice, consider your specific needs.
  • Skin type, therapeutic potential, functions and fragrances of the product are some characteristics to be considered at the time of purchase.
  • There is a lot of price variation for the product, which is mainly due to the choice of the soap ingredients. It is possible to find versions for R$ 14, and the most sophisticated ones can cost up to R$ 48.

The Best Handmade Soap: Our Picks

Buying Guide

The choice of the ideal handmade soap is guided by preferences and intended use. Handmade soaps are not products solely made for daily hygiene but also many other functionalities. That is why it is important to weigh up all the benefits in relation to your purchase.

The comparison only by price can lead to a not so wise choice. Take into consideration your well-being, health and good for the environment. To help you with this decision, we have prepared this Guide to finding the perfect handmade soap for your needs today.

Artesã vendendo sabonete artesanal para consumidor em loja de produtos naturais.

When buying your handmade soap consider looking at the ingredients the formula contains. (Source: Katarzyna Biaasiewicz / 123rf)

What is handmade soap?

Handmade soap is a product used for hygiene, cleansing and moisturising the skin. Handmade soaps usually activate some extra therapeutic function in the body and hair, and sometimes they also promise activation in the mind and soul.

This is because in their production, great part of their components are natural plant extracts, of vegetable origin, aromatic plant substances and essential oils. This characteristic gives the product its therapeutic potential and diminishes the negative impact on the human body and the environment.

Handmade soaps are generally made from natural plant extracts

Being chemical-free, their main differentiation tends to be the addition of glycerine. This component is generally removed from industrial soap formulations for its high added value. But, there is yet a line of natural soaps, with no artificial addition of glycerin.

In the composition of these handmade soaps all the special touch is given to vegetable oils. Like any soap, a portion of oil or fat is necessary in the production of soap. The natural soaps abuse of natural oils such as olive oil, palm, babassu coconut, palm kernel, shea butter, buriti, avocado oil, etc.

You will also notice that there are other labels for handmade soaps such as "free from", "vegan" and "clean label". These terms have to do with brands' transparency and sustainability initiatives.

Free from" soaps are those free of parabens and petroleum derivatives. The "vegan" ones are those which do not contain raw materials of animal origin. The "clean label" products are characterized by evidencing simple and accessible formulations and compositions, said to be "clean".

What are the advantages of using handmade soap?

We have listed the main advantages and disadvantages of handmade soaps and industrial soaps.

By now you have understood that handmade soap is made on a small scale, by producers with skilled labour. This product is usually made without the use of machinery and this small-scale production tends to increase the price of the unit product.

Handmade soaps are also made in a more customizable and exclusive way, meeting the specific needs of consumers. These needs can be in relation to the type of skin, the treatment of some skin irritation or, yet, the therapeutic potential through essential oils.

It is the essential oils actively used in the handmade soaps that attribute the therapeutic qualities, besides the vegetable oils and clays. Essential oils aromatize and balance skin, hair and body. They are extracted from plants, flowers and tree bark. They are believed to have therapeutic powers over the physical, mental and emotional body.

An extra differentiation in the artisanal process is the colouring of the soaps. In their composition, the ingredients used for colouring add not only colour, but vitamins and nutrients for the skin. These are clays, charcoal, powdered spices such as paprika, cinnamon, clove, cocoa, turmeric, flowers such as marigold, acai powder and others.

The components of soap can add colour, vitamins and nutrients to the product

These additives are also primarily responsible for deep moisturising and improving skin healing. In the conventional industry the preservatives, dyes and other chemicals strip away the natural oiliness of the skin, also removing the extreme moisturizing potential.

An important point to be highlighted is that handmade soaps, in their vast majority, do not use parabens and petroleum derivatives in their composition. This product is used in the beauty industry for its use as a preservative.

Parabens are components that protect against bacteria and fungi. On the other hand, they can be commonly related to allergies and sensitivity. In addition, they harm the environment because their composition is not easily degradable precisely because they are derived from petroleum.

Finally, a notable differential is that many handmade and natural soaps can also be used on hair and beards, commonly called "shampoos".

Besides, handcrafted products usually leave fewer doubts about the ingredients used, since many use the "clean label" resource. The composition is clear, without the use of its chemical version.

Advantages
  • They are more exclusive and customizable
  • Paraben-free
  • Hydrates the skin more naturally
  • Has therapeutic potential
  • Helps skin healing
  • Does not harm the environment
  • Greater clarity regarding the ingredients
Disadvantages
  • Has a higher value
  • More difficult to find for purchase

Handmade soap with or without glycerine?

Choosing your handmade soap is much easier now, but there is still one question: to decide for a soap with or without glycerin? When choosing your soap, this question is fundamental.

Glycerine refers to a commercial form of composition, with a purity above 95%. Glycerine or glycerol is a liquid organic compound, colourless, viscous and with a sweet taste. There are two types of handmade soaps: those which add glycerine, or glycerinates, and those which produce natural glycerine, in the saponification process.

Glycerines are commonly used in craft soap making, but have been left aside because glycerine soaps can strip your skin of its protection, leaving it open to bacteria and microbes, cause itching, allergies and dermatitis. Glycerine soap is usually even cheaper than natural soap, which is made with natural oils extracted from plants and seeds.

The glycerine base can be bought at handicraft shops and generally has animal origin. It may still contain detergents, preservatives and antioxidants. However, there are many artisans who produce their own glycerine base, in a more natural way.

Natural soaps, on the other hand, certainly have their formula made with greater exclusivity. The craftsmen choose all the ingredients, from the base of the soap to the herbs that will provide the therapeutic properties.

With glycerin Without glycerin
Price Cheaper Tends to be higher
Animal origin May contain Does not contain
Formula exclusivity Usually has industrial base ready It is totally handmade

How much does a handmade soap cost?

The price of a handmade soap can be completely different depending on the material it is made of. The rarer and more exclusive its composition, the higher the price.

All the models shown here can be found in a range of $ 5 to $ 20.

Sabonete artesanal de aveia com farelos de aveia em uma colher.

In the composition of handmade soaps, ingredients such as oatmeal provide greater hydration to the skin. (Source: Natallia Khlapushyna / 123rf)

Purchase Criteria: Factors to qualify the types of handmade soap

Skin is the largest organ of our body and deserves attention and care. Therefore, let's get a better understanding of the items that differentiate handmade soaps for you to choose your ideal one.

We will present some characteristics that you should pay attention to when choosing a product:

  • Skin type
  • Functions and therapeutic potential
  • Fragrances
  • Durability

Before you get excited about the countless possibilities in the world of handmade soaps, check out these items below.

Skin type

While it's pretty obvious to choose a soap that's right for your skin, in practice it's not always that easy. In the conventional industry it is already usual for the packaging to have this specification. But, with handmade soaps you need to understand a little more about the ingredients and analyse if they are suitable for you.

The products listed here contain alternations for dry, normal and sensitive skin. The more moisturising the soap is, the better it is for dry skin. Special soaps, such as goat's milk, can be used to treat skin diseases.

It is important to remember that some types of soap can also be used on hair and beards

Functions and therapeutic potential

Handmade soaps are made by skilled workers who study the specific needs of consumers. Their therapeutic potential is usually linked to the use of clays, essential oils and natural oils, such as coconut, olive, cupuaçu, almond and many others.

We will address the main actives used in the products for you to evaluate the compositions always thinking about your needs and ideal use.

Several handmade soaps can contain the addition of wonder algae that presents remineralizing, revitalizing and emollient activity. Another component widely used is aloe vera which is healing, emollient, soothing, tissue regenerator, anti-dandruff and anti-fall.

The almonds are moisturizing, emollient, moisturizing, healing and toning. The oats are restorative of tissues, remineralizing, smoothing and softening, besides being moisturizing. Hazelnut works in a very similar way, but also has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity.

Ervas aromáticas em pote de vidro e sabonete artesanal de argila verde com ervas.

There are a multitude of resources, plants, herbs and flowers used in handmade soaps. (Source: Paul Gaudriault / Unsplash)

Great for babies, calendula is healing, soothing, cooling, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and photoprotective. Chamomile is soothing, healing, tonic, emollient, refreshing, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and whitening hair.

Often used in handmade soaps, clays of all colours promote deep cleaning on the skin surface, acting on the pores, removing residues. The green clay has an anti-inflammatory function and neutral pH, which is why it is highly recommended for skins with acne.

White clay is recommended for sensitive skin that needs a lot of hydration. Red clay is used to moisturise and prevent skin ageing. Black clay has anti-inflammatory and anti-stress actions. It acts as a rejuvenator for all skin types.

The essential oils will be listed in the "Fragrances" section.

Fragrances

The choice of fragrance used to be an item entirely dedicated to the sense of smell. But, essential oils allow functions and uses that go beyond the luxury of smell. The production of handmade soaps benefits from aromatherapy to add more value to the product.

Many essential oils have antiseptic properties, protecting against bacteria and other infectious organisms. Thinking also in the therapeutic potential of each type, we will list the most used in handmade soaps.

  • Lavender: Promises to combat stress. As it is hypoallergenic, it can be used in baby baths. It is soothing and relieves pain.
  • Melaleuca or tea tree: Great for almost all types of infections. Excellent for combating skin problems, especially those caused by fungus.
  • Rosemary: It stimulates the circulation and prevents hair loss, indicated for those who have dry hair.
  • Orange oil: Stimulates the cellular metabolism and digestive functions, acting as a stomach tonic. It is suitable for use in children and for hair, strengthens brittle hair.
  • Mint: Relieves stress, is antiseptic and soothing.

Sabonete artesanal com frasco de óleo de oliva e rosas.

In handmade soaps, the use of ingredients extracted from nature gives several functions and special berries (Source: Silvia Rita / Pixabay)

Durability

There are some quarrels about the durability of handmade soaps. As they can be made with a multitude of materials, their durability depends basically on the components.

This is also true for conventional, industrial soaps. But in general, glycerine soaps tend to last less than natural soaps and even less than industrial soaps.

This is due to the product's water absorption. As it is highly emollient, it melts faster. Industrial soap contains less emollients, more preservatives and therefore lasts longer.

But on the other hand, a well crafted handmade soap can last a long time. Especially if it has the right balance of oils. The main components that give hardness and durability to handmade soaps, especially natural ones - those without a ready-made glycerin base - are palm oil, coconut oil and other oils that are commonly called "hard oils".

(Featured image source: Allie Smith / Unsplash)

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