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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What actually IS Soap?
    Simply put, soap is the result of combining an acid with an alkali. The alkali used to make a bar of soap is lye (aka caustic soda, aka sodium hydroxide) and the acid is any oil (coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter etc). Oil + Lye = Glycerine + Soap. This chemical reaction is called saponification. All the lye is transformed into soap during the process, so none remains in the final bar. Once made, the bars cure and dry out for about 4 weeks before they're ready to use. ​ Soap works because a molecule of soap has a water-loving end and a dirt-loving end, so when you mix soap and water and massage it onto your skin, the soap grabs onto the water and the dirt. When you rinse the soap off, the dirt goes too. It’s so simple – we don't need masses of chemicals to do the same job! Glycerine: Glycerine is a naturally-occurring substance in real soap. It is a wonderful thing for skin; it is deeply moisturising, nourishing and is an excellent skin softener. But did you know that many commercial soap manufacturers actually extract the glycerine from their soap so they can make lots of money selling it on to the cosmetics industry? They then have to stuff their soap with other (cheaper) ingredients to make the soap sellable again - sometimes even putting glycerine back in, which just sounds crazy to me! You can make soap with any oils (animal or vegetable – my soaps are 100% vegetarian and all but one are vegan), but since they all have different properties and qualities, getting the right blend is where the skill comes in. For example, coconut oil is an amazing cleanser, creates great lather and a good hard bar of soap, but it’s far too drying to be used on its own. On the other hand, sunflower oil on its own would make a very soft bar of soap that probably wouldn’t last five minutes! Some oils produce bubbly lather, some will make the lather more creamy. (One thing I must mention here – properly-made natural soap lathers beautifully! Some people I’ve spoken to seem to assume that if you ditch the SLS you also have to say goodbye to a good lather. That simply isn’t true!) Then there’s additional ingredients such as fragrances, colourants and botanicals. If you have very sensitive skin, even a natural essential oil fragrance might irritate, so a soap free from any fragrances or colours is the one for you (try my Pure and Simple Soap or my Fragrance/Colour Free Shampoo) . You can make natural soap using two methods - hot process and cold process. Hot process uses heat to speed up saponification and produces a rustic-looking bar. All my soaps are made completely from scratch using the cold process method, which uses no extra heating and therefore the essential oil fragrances are better retained. Cold process soap looks smooth and refined in comparison to hot process. Fragrances: Many commercial soaps use artificial fragrances – a cocktail of chemicals could be hiding behind that single word “Parfum”. Also, “nature-identical” fragrances are not natural - they’ve been made in a laboratory and for that reason I do not include them in my soap. I only use sustainably-sourced pure essential oils. Colourants: There are a lot of very colourful handmade soaps on the market. They can look amazing (if sometimes a little gaudy), but they’re made with synthetic pigments such as oxides and ultramarines. I use only 100% natural botanicals to produce the subtle colours in my soaps: powdered lemon peel for yellow, paprika for orange, alkanet root for lilac/purple, madder root for shades of pink and green from powdered nettle leaves. It’s so much more fun than buying a packet of ci74160 (phthalocyanine blue) or ci77019, ci77891, ci77491, ci77742 and ci77861 (pink mica pigment)! I just don’t need to use these manufactured pigments to make a luxurious and beautiful bar of soap. So they’re out. Botanicals: In addition to the above natural botanical colourants, I also use activated charcoal and kaolin clay (the kind they make face masks out of), which both help to draw out impurities from problem skin. Kaolin also gives a lovely silky feel (called "slip" in the trade) to a bar of soap, making it an ideal ingredient in my Shaving Soap Bars. Botanicals can also help anchor the fragrance in a soap, making it last longer.
  • Why 100% Natural Soap?
    I started using 100% natural soap back in 2016 because I was fed up with having dry, itchy skin - due in no small part, I discovered, to the ingredients in the commercial soaps, shower gels and shampoos I'd been using. Two of the most common culprits are sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulphate (SLES). Both are surfactants, which mean they create a synthetic cleansing foam which lifts dirt. Unfortunately, both are also known skin irritants. As well as these, many commercial products contain palm oil (so-called sustainable or not, I still don't want to use it), synthetic colours (one well-known commercial brand uses 6 just to make their bar "ivory"!!), talc (which I believe is used as a bulking agent!) - and some still use the animal fat tallow! Whether or not some of these ingredients are harmful, all of them are unnecessary. So I sourced some natural soaps and shampoo bars containing as few unnecessary ingredients as possible and noticed the difference straight away - my skin had never felt so soft and my scalp didn't itch! However, there weren't that many natural brands available back then and many still contained ingredients I wasn't entirely happy about putting on my skin. So I decided to make my own- complete control over every single ingredient! 100% natural oils and botanicals can produce soap which is really effective and gentle with loads of lather - you don't need anything else!
  • Do You Use Palm Oil?
    No. Nope. No way, never. Palm oil is bad news, I think we all know that by now. From an ethical perspective, I try to avoid buying anything containing palm oil (which is really hard because it's everywhere). As far as soapmaking is concerned, there are so many wonderful oils with beneficial qualities to choose from that don't harm the planet. The only thing palm oil brings to a soap recipe is that it's really really cheap, meaning manufacturers can make huge profits - but at a devastating cost to the planet. As Rainforest Rescue says, “Palm oil is literally everywhere – in our foods, cosmetics, cleaning products and fuels. It’s a source of huge profits for multinational corporations, while at the same time destroying the livelihoods of smallholders. Displacement of indigenous peoples, deforestation and loss of biodiversity are all consequences of our palm oil consumption. How could it come to this? And what can we do in everyday life to protect people and nature?”. Well, I'm just one person, I can’t do very much, and I’m not naïve enough to think change is easy, but I can't forgive the palm oil industry for all the harm it's doing. That’s why you won’t find any palm oil – so-called “sustainable” or otherwise - in my soap. Some things are more important than profit.
  • Are Your Ingredients Ethically Sourced?
    Yes - I use trustworthy suppliers whose products are all ethically-sourced
  • Are Your Products Vegetarian and Vegan Friendly?
    My soaps are all Vegan with the exception of the Honey & Oatmeal body bar, which is Vegetarian (they're all cruelty free too!)
  • How Are Your Products Packaged?
    Hatton Handmade Soap products are 100% plastic free. But I go further than that. All packaging - whether recyclable or not - needs to be manufactured (tissue paper and envelopes may be made from trees but they don't grow on them!). That uses resources such as water and electricity. So I keep all my packaging to a minimum. Every bar of soap is sold unwrapped - naked as the day it was made! It has its own batch code stamped on the side (to comply with cosmetic safety laws) and all ingredients are clearly shown on the website. This means I don't have to use paper, cardboard or printer ink to produce packaging which goes straight in the bin as soon as you get home. Online orders are simply wrapped in tissue paper to protect them in transit and posted in 100% recyclable Green Jiffy bags. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
  • When Can I Expect to Receive My Order?
    When you place your order, you can choose from Royal Mail 1st Class or 2nd Class small parcel post. I will always endeavour to get your order posted out within 2 working days of receipt. You'll get an acknowledgement from me that I've received your order, then another notification when your parcel has been posted. If it's urgent - last minute gift, or you've run out of shampoo - message me, I'll do all I can to help
  • My Order Hasn't Arrived - What Should I Do?
    If your soaps haven't arrived within 2 or 3 days of the expected delivery date, let me know and I will be able to use Royal Mail tracking to check whether they have attempted delivery yet or not. Sometimes they get things wrong and deliver to the wrong house, or put in the wrong safe place, or forget to leave a card - thankfully this is very rare though! It's more likely that your parcel is simply delayed; keep me posted (no pun intended!) but if it hasn't turned up after 10 working days' delay (Saturdays are not counted as working days) then I can submit a claim and send you a replacement order.
  • Why Isn't Your Household Soap 100% Natural?
    Creating natural products is really important to me - but it's not always possible to be 100% natural and still create a product which works. My Household Soap would be 100% natural and very effective if I just used coconut oil - but it would be so drying it would ruin your hands. Adding aloe vera juice makes the soap usable, but the juice itself needs a preservative, namely citric acid, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate. These 3 components together total just 0.03% of the final product. All things considered, I truly believe using this 99.97% natural household soap instead of single-use plastic bottles of chemical-laden detergents is well worth the compromise of not being able to say it's 100% natural!
  • Do You Sell Wholesale?
    Short answer - No. Apart from one stockist, Forage and Fill in Lincoln, I am no longer selling my soaps wholesale. Demand had got so high (about 800 bars a month - quite a lot for a tiny cottage industry!) that it was taking over my whole life and affecting my mental health too. So I've dialled it back and ditched wholesale to concentrate on the website, occasional craft fairs - and enjoying life!
  • Can I Use Shaving Soap as a General Body Soap?
    Absolutely, yes! My shaving soaps are made with the same base recipe as my body soaps - it's simply the addition of kaolin clay which gives them extra "slip" and makes the lather extra creamy and therefore suitable for shaving. If you like rich, creamy lather then you'll love these bars!
  • What is a Shampoo Bar?
    A shampoo bar is simply a solid bar of soap where the balance of base oils is designed specifically for the hair and scalp. This balance is critical to get the hair clean yet neither strip too much of the hair's natural oils nor leave a residue, which would make the hair heavy and lank. The main additional oil which you find in shampoo bars is Castor oil, as its creamy conditioning lather is great for hair. Since everyone’s hair is different - and even the hardness of water you use affects results - I can’t say it’ll work for everyone, but I believe it will suit most hair types.
  • Why Use a Natural Shampoo Bar?
    In a nutshell, because it's gentler on your hair and scalp, kinder to the environment and kinder on your pocket! Commercial shampoos often contain chemicals which not only strip excess oil and dirt from your hair but also strip your hair’s natural oil – sebum – along with it. These chemicals cause two problems – 1. they’re too harsh, which can cause itchiness and irritation, and 2. they actually cause your scalp to produce more sebum in a desperate attempt to compensate for the harshness of the chemicals. It’s a vicious circle which the manufacturers love, because it means you have to wash your hair more often, which means you buy more of their products! We all know we need to cut down on plastic. Using my packaging-free shampoo bars means never having to buy another plastic shampoo bottle ever again! A solid shampoo bar is also much easier to take on holiday - no risk of messy spillages. And since my shampoo bars can just as easily be used on face and body as well as hair, one bar may be all you need in the shower! Think how many plastic bottles a year that could save! Also, commercial shampoos are mostly made up of water. So mostly what you're paying for is water and a plastic bottle! My shampoo bars are very cost-effective, lasting up to 5 times longer than a bottle of shampoo. As with all solid soaps, allowing the bar to dry out between uses is important if you want to avoid a sludgy mess!
  • How Do I Use It?
    Wet hair thoroughly, then apply by smoothing the whole bar over your hair from root to tip. Some websites recommend lathering up in your hand and then applying it to your hair, but I've never found that works as well and just takes longer. Lather up as you would with a conventional shampoo. There should be plenty of lather - if not, smooth the bar over your hair a couple more times. Every head of hair is unique and there are no set rules. After a few uses you'll know how much your hair needs. Rinse and repeat. After the final rinse, you should be able to run your fingers down your hair and it should feel "squeaky clean". Condition with apple cider vinegar (ACV) if required (see separate FAQ).
  • Can I Use a Shampoo Bar on My Skin?
    Absolutely, yes! All my shampoo bars work really well on hands, face and body as well as hair. They are slightly less superfatted (see FAQ) than my body bars but contain castor oil and cocoa butter, which the body bars don't. Personally, I find these shampoo bars are working well on my 50-something skin right now.
  • What is the Transition Period?
    If you're using a natural shampoo bar for the first time, you may experience what's known as a "transition period". Commercial shampoos are harsh and strip your hair of its natural oils (sebum), causing your scalp to over-produce sebum to try to compensate for this (making your hair greasier, meaning you wash it more frequently - a vicious circle the commercial companies must love!) When you switch to a gentler natural shampoo it takes your scalp about a week to realise it doesn't have to do this any more and your hair may therefore look a bit lank for a few days. Don't panic! You can help the process by not washing your hair more than twice a week and brushing your hair well twice a day to distribute the natural oils - this is what true natural shine really is! For some people the transition period is a bit longer than a week - again, every head of hair is unique so there's no guarantees, I'm afraid. All I can say is, stick with it - it's really worth it and you're going to love the result! In the meantime, you can always wear a hat!
  • What About Conditioner?
    You may not need to condition as often when you use a gentle, natural shampoo bar like mine. Some people find they don't need to condition at all. However, most will still want to condition occasionally. I recommend using an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse after shampooing - once a week or 10 days is probably enough. Mix one part ACV with four parts water - you'll need about a cupful, depending on hair length and thickness. Pour over your clean damp hair, work it through with your fingers, as you would a conventional conditioner, then rinse out. I find this works really well (and you don't end up smelling like a chip shop)! The bar conditioners that I've seen on the market fall into two categories; either they contain non-natural ingredients (such as behentrimonium methosulfate) to make them effective or they are no more than lotion bars - just a combination of oils blended together into a solid bar. The former is a non-starter as my products are 100% natural and the latter are too impractical to use - so tricky to apply just the right amount evenly without ending up having to wash your hair all over again. The ACV solution IS the solution, in my opinion! It really works, it comes in a glass bottle, which is one of the most easily recyclable materials, and it's by far the cheapest option too. What's not to love?
  • Do You Make Shampoo for Dogs?
    Yes, I make a 100% natural Dog Shampoo which has been tested and approved to human cosmetic safety standards. In fact, I believe this may be the only Dog Shampoo on the market that can make that claim (let me know if you know different). Did you know that dog shampoos don't need any kind of safety assessing? You could put anything you liked into a dog shampoo and sell it legally. When I realised that I was horrified. It's been a few years since I've owned a dog but I will always be a "doggie person" (don't tell the cat!) It really matters to me that I only use the most gentle natural products on my skin - so why should it matter any less what I put on my dog's skin? Don't they deserve the same care? My shampoo bar for humans is about as gentle as you can get, so when I was thinking about creating a dog shampoo, I used that base recipe as a starting point for my research. And although there were a few other ingredients I considered using, when it came to it, I realised I just wanted to keep it simple. So my Dog Shampoo is exactly the same base recipe as the human version, with no fragrance and no colour. All I've added is some oatmeal for a bit of extra grip. Keep It Simple, For Dogs' Sake!
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