Nourished by Nature

What is the difference between Handmade Soap and Store Bought Soap?

This is one of the most common questions I get from people that I meet at events.  It is surprising to most to hear that most larger brand-name soap companies spend millions of dollars a year on misleading advertising.  Typically store bought or "commercial" soap that may even be labeled as "natural" are actually considered detergents.  They can also include chemical hardeners and extra foaming agents.  They can get away with doing this because unlike the word "organic" which is regulated by the USDA the word "natural" is not.  There is no set of standards for one to meet to be counted as natural.  As consumers, we are responsible to understand what we put in and on our own bodies and the best way to do this is by reading the labels and asking questions. 

While I am no skin care expert, I have spent a lot of time researching and studying the different properties that different oils and butters possess.  Below is a list of the oils and butters that I most commonly use in my products to help you get a better understanding of how it actually helps your skin. The properties listed have been studied by scientists for years, however, our products are not meant to be replacements for any doctor prescriptions that you may have. Hope this is helpful!


Commonly Used Oils & Butters in Beauty Products

1.  Glycerin 

Glycerin is a natural skin softener that attracts water from the surrounding area. During the soap making process, the fats/oils and lye water solution blend together to make soap while glycerin maintains its integrity settling between the soap molecules.  Typical store bought soaps have had all of the glycerin removed so it can be placed into other products such as lotions and creams. This leads the consumer to have to purchase multiple products from a company.  This also leads to  the store bought soap stripping your skins moisture away.  This will lead to dry skin which is vulnerable to cracking and flaking. 

2.  Coconut Oil

In a nutshell, Coconut Oil has lots of great benefits for your skin.  Starting with its natural cleansing properties.  It is also wonderful for moisturizing dry skin, including people with conditions such as eczema.  This amazing oil also promotes wound healing, along with other properties such as being antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral. It can also help with reducing inflammation.  And who doesn't love the nutty tropical smell!

3.  Olive Oil

Olive oil has been used for cosmetic use as early as the 7th century BC despite its great expense at the time.  Olive oil has many benefits, such as it is a great skin moisturizer and can help reduce the signs of aging.  It helps increase collagen, as well as cleanses the skin.  It is also thought to lower the risk of acne, while also promoting wound healing.  This marvelous oil is also know to have anti-inflammatory properties. 

4.  Shea Butter

Shea Butter has so many great benefits for not only skin but also hair.  It works as a skin conditioning agent that helps retain moisture by forming a protective barrier on the skins surface, which helps reduce the loss of water and keeps your skin hydrated.  It is a great ingredient for people with sensitive skin.  Thanks to the fact that it contains both vitamins E and A, shea butter is also beneficial for treating irritated skin.  It is also thought to help minimize the appearance of scars.  If you struggle with any skin condition such as eczema, rosacea or psoriasis, the fatty acids in shea butter will help ease the inflammation.  According to some doctors, shea butter slows the production of inflammatory cells that contribute to irritation and skin conditions.  But wait! There is more! This amazing butter can also make you appear more youthful! Thanks to the vitamins A and E Shea butter helps promote cell regenerations, which can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles!  Against a common misconception, shea butter will not clog your pores.  It can be absorbed into the face without clogging the pores, making it an ideal choice to use on acne-prone skin.

5. Grapeseed Oil

Technically, grapeseed oil is a byproduct of winemaking! Currently there are no large scale studies that prove the skin benefits of grapeseed oil so the perks are considered theoretical.  However, the individual ingredients that grapeseed oil contains- such as omega fatty acids and vitamin E- are well studied, so the assumption is that grapeseed oil can provide similar benefits to the skin.  Grapeseed oil contains high levels of linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid that helps controls acne by decreasing clogged pores.  It is also anti-inflammatory and anit-microbial which is great to help fight against breakouts. Thanks to the fatty acids found in grapeseed oil, it can be determined that it helps moisturize and balance the skin.  Meanwhile, vitamin E replenishes lipids that have been lost, which helps maintain the protective barrier and holds onto moisture. In addition to all of these wonderful benefits of grapeseed oil, it also contains polyphenols, which helps fight premature aging! Polyphenols have been known to slow the aging process and reverse signs of aging like sun spots, fine lings and wrinkles.  The oil contains natural astringent properties too, which results in firmer looking skin. 

6.  Sunflower Oil

Sunflower Oil also has a lot of great benefits for you skin.  All good things are grown in the garden! Sunflower oil has been around for thousands of years and is free from nasty chemicals and toxins.  Sunflower oil is an emollient, meaning it adds hydration and smooths.  It is also rich in vitamin E, a protective antioxidant.  Sunflower oil also contains vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and vitamin D, which helps to protect from environmental stressors that can cause premature aging. This smooth, nourishing oil is non-comedogenic, meaning it won't clog pores.  Sunflower oil can actually be used to help decongest pores by clearing them of dead skin cells and creating a refreshed appearance.  Sunflower Oil is also known for its ability to soothe irritated skin.  It works for all skin types and provides gentle moisture and protection.  Sunflower oil can actually alleviate temporary redness in sensitive dry skin.  Since it is so easily absorbed into the skin, sunflower oil can even out the look of your skin's surface and even temporarily shrink the appearance of pores.  For those who have sensitive skin, sunflower oil is a good choice since it contains gentle, calming properties with the ability to soothe.  

7.  Avocado Oil

Dermatologists love Avocado oil for skin! In addition to vitamin E, avocado oil contains potassium, lecithin and many other nutrients that can nourish and moisturize the skin.  The skin easily absorbs these nutrients which help to form new skin.  The antioxidants and vitamins found in avocado oil may help to heal the dry irritated and flaky skin associated with eczema and psoriasis.  Avocado oil is also known to prevent and treat acne.  Avocado oil may help wounds heal more quickly.  A study found the fatty acids and oleic acid in avocado oil can promote collagen synthesis, which is the process of creating new connective tissue.  The antioxidants in avocado oil may help ease the symptoms of sunburn.  

8.  Canola Oil

Canola oil has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which help in preventing skin infections.  Also the fatty acids that are present in canola oil can help soothe dry and irritated skin.  Canola oil contains a high level of essential fatty acids which also help moisturize the skin and enhance the strength of skin tissue.  It is also rich in vitamin K, which helps keep the skin supple and smooth.  The linoleic acid that is also present in canola oil helps to form a barrier on the skin to keep moisture from escaping.  

9.  Rosehip Oil

The many fatty acids in rosehip oil make it an excellent option for hydrating dry, itchy skin.  The skin also easily absorbs the oil, allowing its antioxidants to travel deep into the skin's layers.  Rosehip oil is also great for its ability to keep skin moisturized.  Natural exfoliation with rosehip oil can help reduce dullness and leave you with glowing, vibrant skin.  Rosehip oil is high in vitamin A and C.  Vitamin A, or retinol, encourages skin cell turnover. Vitamin C also aids in cell regeneration, boosting overall radiance.  The vitamins found in rosehip oil are necessary for the production of collagen.  Rosehip oil is also rich in both polyphenols and anthocyanin, which may help reduce inflammation.  The vitamin E, found in rosehip oil, is known for its anti-inflammatory effects.  The vitamins and antioxidants have been shown to combat visible sun damage. Rosehip oil is rich in vitamin A, Vitamin A is made up of several nutritional compounds, including retinoids.  Retinoids are known for their ability to reduce hyperpigmentation and other visible signs of aging with regular use.  Rosehip oil is rich in essential fatty acids and antioxidants, which are integral for tissue and cell regeneration in the skin.  This helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles in the skin.  Rosehip oil also improves scar color and inflammation.  

10.  Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil also benefits oily skin.  Tea tree essential oil may help relieve dryness.  As a result of its anti-inflammatory effects, tea tree oil may also help reduce itchy skin.  Due to its antibacterial properties, tea tree oil may help speed up wound healing.  Tea tree oil contains terpenoids, which may have some benefits for the skin.  Due to the terpenoids it is believed that tea tree oil is also anti-fungal and an antiseptic.  

11.  Jojoba Oil

Jojoba oil is lighter than other face oils and easily absorbed into the skin.  It deeply penetrates to soothe and soften while providing an excellent moisturizing effect and adding a healthy glow.  Jojoba oil provides a substantial long-acting layer of moisture.  Jojoba is full of nutrients like vitamin E and B, as well as antioxidants and minerals like chromium, copper, and zinc, which all nourish and protect skin.  Because of its moisturizing properties, jojoba oil can slow down the appearance of aging and help fade fine lines and wrinkles.  Because Jojoba oil is very similar to human skin oils, it can trick the skin into thinking it has produced enough oil and thus balances the oil production without promoting acne or other skin problems.  Jojoba oil also naturally deters microbes, helping prevent the growth of bacteria on skin.  Jojoba oil is recommended  for people with sensitive skin. 

12.  Cocoa Butter

Cocoa butter is high in antioxidants, which help fight off free-radical damage, which can cause skin aging, dark patches and dull skin.  Many women claim that the regular use of cocoa butter kept stretch marks at bay both during and after pregnancy.  Cocoa butter is reputed to help heal scars.  It is also high in fatty acids and hydrates the skin deeply.  Again, no guarantees, but cocoa butter has been noted by some to help skin irritations such as eczema and dermatitis. 


Because there’s always a possibility of an allergic reaction when trying new products, it’s important to patch test any new product when first using it.

In conclusion, Handmade soap is simply amazing for your skin!  The process of making soap preserves the integrity of the oil, fats and butters.  In doing this the ingredients are able to maintain their vitamins, minerals and skin loving qualities in the final product!  A skilled soap maker can modify their recipe to produce characteristics in the soap naturally instead of adding chemicals.  But why take my word for it? The best way to find out is to put it to the test!