Frequently Asked Questions
Why Natural Skincare?
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.
Apart from the presence of harsh chemicals, many commercial products contain palm oil (so-called sustainable or not, I still don't want to use it), synthetic colours (one bar has 6 just to make their bar "ivory"!!), talc - and some still use the animal fat tallow!
So I started using natural products and noticed the difference straight away - my skin had never felt so soft and my scalp didn't itch! But still many products on the market contained things I'd rather not use, like palm oil (so-called sustainable or not, I don't want to use it) and synthetic fragrance and colour (one well-known brand uses 6 artificial colours just to make "ivory"!!). Also, some household names still use animal fat (tallow) to make their soap, which I didn't realise.
I realised the only way to source soaps and shampoos I was totally happy with was to make them myself - complete control over every single ingredient! The result is soap which is effective, gentle and moisturising, but above all doesn’t contain a single “nasty”!
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 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 4-6 weeks before they're ready to sell.
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 take the glycerine out of 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 saleable again - sometimes even putting glycerin 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 so!) Then there’s additional ingredients, which fall into three categories – 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) .
All my soaps are made with the cold process method, allowing the heat which is naturally produced by the saponification process to take the soap to "gel phase", which intensifies the colour.
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
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 don’t think they’re necessary – so I don’t use them. I use only
100% natural botanicals to produce the subtle colours in my soaps:
powdered lemon peel for yellow and orange,
alkanet root for lilac and purple and
madder root for shades of pink. I get browns from
cocoa powder and
turmeric 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: I’ve already mentioned the natural botanical colourants I use in my soaps. Other botanicals I use are 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.
Do You Use Palm Oil?
No. Nope. No way, never.
Palm oil is bad news. 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 can’t do very much, and I’m not naïve enough to think change is easy, but (another great quote coming up), as the highly-respected naturalist Chris Packham put it recently in his documentary “In Search of the Lost Girl” – “If I try to remove it from my weekly shop, is it really going to undo all of this damage? Well,
palm oil has destroyed so much rainforest, that I just can’t forgive it”. Neither can I, so 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 Products Vegetarian and Vegan Friendly?
All my soaps are 100% Vegetarian and cruelty free. All except the Honey and Oatmeal are also Vegan.
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 (cardboard boxes don't grow on trees!) and that takes resources. So I keep all my packaging to a minimum. For physical shop stockists I have all the necessary information on a separate leaflet, which the customer can choose not to take (information such as ingredients, bar weight etc. must be available to the customer by law) and every bar of soap carries its own batch code stamped on the side. My new range of moisturisers will be packaged in aluminium tins with no plastic lid liner.
Online orders are simply wrapped in tissue paper to protect them in transit and posted in 100% recyclable Green Jiffy bags.
Larger orders to my stockists are packed in suitable reused cardboard boxes. Void fill is almost always reused recycled paper, although sometimes I receive goods delivered with void fill "peanuts" made from vegetable starch, which is 100% compostable and even dissolves harmlessly in water, so of course I'll reuse that.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
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!