Greetings, Friends –
Last Sunday we had a lovely afternoon of soap and salve-making with myself and Jackie of The Wright Soapery. The most important thing about making your own skincare products is the empowering knowledge you gain about the ingredients you’re actually putting on your body. Our skin is our largest organ and absorbs the substances that we put on our bodies. Rosemary Gladstar, famed herbalist, says, “If you can’t eat it, it doesn’t belong on your body.” Here’s a quick overview of The Dirty Dozen to Avoid In Your Skincare. It is also helpful to be aware of the differences between Essential Oils & Fragrance Oils in your skincare products.
This class demonstrated additional benefits of making your own skincare products. When you begin acquiring ingredients to make soap or salve, you are building an arsenal of ingredients that can also be used for many other things such as lip balms, lotions, shampoo and conditioners, body butters, +. So, these ingredients are good investments in addition to being better for you and your body.
Another benefit about making your own soap and salve is that you can adjust the ingredients to best suit your particular needs: what scents to you most prefer? how do you want your product to feel? what quantity do you like to have for yourself and for sharing with others? what physical & medicinal properties best support your body’s needs? You can invest as much as you want into growing or purchasing high-quality ingredients and this does not necessarily mean that it will cost you more than store-bought products. Making your own products typically saves you money.
Jackie provided all of the materials and equipment for each participant to craft their own 6 oz. loaves of soap. Most soap ingredients can be found at your local grocery store (ie, olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil), however, some ingredients are harder to find locally (ie, lye, shea butter, castor oil, essential oils) and might take a trip to a specialty store or an online order. There is a great deal of information about the varying qualities, both physical and medicinal, of body-care ingredients – Magnolia Hill Soap Co has a nice overview here – and it is easy to find more at your local library.
For the soap-making, Jackie uses SoapCalc – an awesome free tool – to provide guidance on the soap you want to craft. You can type in the ingredients you have on hand and it will automatically give you the appropriate ratios for your recipe. It will ALSO give you ranges for the soap bar quality (conditioning, cleansing, creamy, hardness+)…really cool! Like all new recipes, it is helpful to start small in order to see what the product actually feels like to you and then apply your lessons-learned to future batches.
After we completed the soap-making, I demonstrated the process of making your own salve. The ingredients for salve are generally more straightforward than that of soap – the most basic salve uses only 2 ingredients: oil & beeswax. We used 5 ingredients for this batch: calendula-infused olive oil, comfrey-infused olive oil, beeswax, lavender essential oil and vitamin E. The oils and beeswax are melted together on low heat and then the essential oil and vitamin E are added once removed from heat. This mixture is then poured into the desired (non-plastic!) vessel for future use. Voilà! This creates a general purpose salve that is great for bug bites, stings, bruises, wounds, and dry or tired skin.
I grow calendula and comfrey at my farm and it is an awesome benefit to use these herbs for my physical self-care in addition to my garden’s ecosystem. Growing your own herbs is a great way to begin crafting your own body-care products and developing additional self care practices. For example, calendula and comfrey can both be used for lotions, balms, teas, tinctures, salves, soaps, shampoos, conditioners, bath salts, flower essences, +. It can all begin with planting one plant!
A little bit of handmade soap will wash away your fears… but perhaps not your tears: