Ingredients truly make your soap all it can be. I’ve spent the last few months evaluating how they impact soap’s smell, lather, and skin feel (how skin feels after being washed). Honestly, some highly regarded ingredients came up short while other humble ones shined. Here is what I found:
For lather, the combination of olive, coconut, palm, and castor oils is bubbly wonderful. The addition of goat milk, coconut milk, or buttermilk reduces the volume of bubbles, but enriches its creaminess. Oatmilk (rolled oats and water blended, hulls and hard bits strained out so only the silky oatmilk remains) also lends a creaminess to lather without reducing bubbles. The addition of honey, beer, or clay to my four oil formula did not seem to make a noticeable impact on lather.
Skin feel was most impacted by the base oil formula and the addition of clay. The bar that left skin most supple is known as Baby Bastille, created by Anne-Marie Faiola, aka the Soap Queen. It is made with mostly olive oil that is combined with coconut oil and buttermilk. (Though the lather is a bit slimy and takes getting use to.) My four oil formula with or without milks was similar to the Baby Bastille, but left skin slightly tighter with a very clean feel. (They also had luscious lather and stayed firm in the shower.) The bars with the addition of French clay or activated charcoal were the most drying and a good match for oily complexions.
Honey, while greatly loved for skin care, did not seem to impact skin feel. Beer also did not make a noticeable difference, and soap made with beer appeared softer than milk, oat, or other soaps.
Essential oils are known to fade over time, but several created memorable lasting scents alone or in combination. Unscented soaps also had a pleasing fresh smell that was slightly impacted by their ingredients.
The results of my testing is guiding the selection of the soaps that will become the signature ones that stay in stock year round at Sweetland Soap. In all honesty, my testing showed that a limited list of humble ingredients yields the best soap. Instead of making what sounds great, I am going to focus on making sure every bar of soap is honestly fabulous.