Confessions of a Soap Slinger
Some say, “a dirty mind is a terrible thing to waste” and I could not agree more. (Warning some PG13 content follows). While my mind might be slightly soiled I want my skin to be clean, healthy, glowing, and dare I say youthful. Recently I came across some old pictures from my senior prom. It occurred to me these pictures were taken 25 years ago. I would be remiss to mention how noticeably different my skin has changed. At 18 years old I had glorious soft supple skin, liberally dusted with freckles from head to toe, and nary a wrinkle or breakout.
If only I had known it wouldn’t last; I might have appreciated it more. Somewhere around age 30 after two kids, a divorce, mounting debt, and a healthy dose of bitterness and rage…my skin, my armor, my youthful shell turned on me. Oh my skin didn’t betray me necessarily, admittedly the decadent decade of my twenties probably had something to do with it. Sure I made a lot of great memories in this skin of mine, and even some great “can’t quite remember memories” 😊.
Skin that was once smooth became bumpy and dry. Skin so dry the desert was jealous. Skin so dry it would over produce oils to compensate. Thankfully I missed out on the prepubescent acne stage. However karma being the little bitch that she is, wicked acne and inflammation plagued me throughout my 30’s. And let me not forget an intense rabid itching that would drive me bat shit crazy mostly at night. My outer shell became so sensitive to just about everything, and sometimes nothing at all. Scratching became almost orgasmic. Not even a dermatologist could cure me for long. Topical treatments, special expensive face and body wash, trading out laundry soaps, prescription medication…I’ve tried it all. Interesting how the largest organ of the human body can be so temperamental.
Time marches on and it was marching right across my damn face. In the blink of an eye my family grew three-fold. Soon we were well on our way to adapting to a more self-sufficient, sustainable, and healthier way of living. We grow and raise a lot of our own food. We burn wood for heat. We recycle, reuse, and repurpose as much as possible. This homesteading lifestyle, as it’s called, has brought us joy and hardships, a sense of pride and humility, but most importantly we have gained lifelong skills that we hope to pass along to our children and grandchildren. With that being said, my interest in homemade soap making really began with the most selfish intentions. It is the result of a long-fought war with my skin. By the time I reached my 40’s I was fed up spending hundreds of dollars on bullshit products marketed by some corporation to make me think I look better but not actually help me feel better.
This is my second blog post and my narrative of “why” I make homemade soap. My first blog post delves into the history of soap making. Full disclosure…I’m a total nerd. When something interests me or tickles my curiosity I will spend countless hours learning about my new-found obsession. Can I just say…. Thank you baby Jesus for things like Google, YouTube, Pinterest, and Facebook groups? I am sometimes still amazed at the wealth of information at my fingertips. How did we ever survive with Encyclopedia Britannica and the library’s card catalog?
I can honestly tell you that homemade soap is what my skin has been missing. After learning the difference between handmade soap and commercial soap I was sold. I found a couple easy recipes for simple and gentle soap using regular items I already had in the kitchen. Homemade soap making started out innocently enough. A year prior I had become very interested in the world of essential oils but then quickly lost interest. Now with soap making I found that I can incorporate those essential oils and voila. I was ready to make myself some gentle smelly good soap for my finnicky skin. Making soap for myself is satisfying and rewarding. Making soap for other people is awesome!
This is the point in the story where the crazy train officially started racing down the tracks and off the cliff. Homemade soap making possibilities are infinite. I couldn’t wait to experiment with this oil or that design. This recipe makes a bubbly bar and that recipe makes a creamy bar. Sure…soap is soap and ultimately, I just wanted soap that would get me clean, be kind to my skin, and not cost a fortune. Then something magical happened. I fell in love with making soap. There is a sexiness in the ability to create.
Soap making is utilitarian, but it is unlike making dinner for your family or even canning your garden harvest for preservation. Soap making is this outward expression of oneself for oneself. I am not an artist. I have never been the artsy fartsy type, but making soap is like my art form. There is something so rewarding in sharing my life with another person through soap. While happy little accidents or unintended outcomes happen all the time, soap making starts out very intentional. From choosing the oils and butters to choosing a scent, the maker is putting a great deal of thought into the final creation. For me, I am always picturing how a finished bar will look and feel on my skin. With every bar of soap that finds its way into someone else’s shower I hope to invoke the same visceral emotion in them that I put into making it.If I love making soap so much why sell it…. why not just give it away? There are some secrets to soap making kept only between the maker and their Amazon delivery person. What I am trying to say here is making one or two simple batches of soap is cheap and easy. Look here…this girl may be easy but she ain’t never been cheap 😊 When my innocent interest in soap making morphed into an all-out obsession with soap the game changed. If I want to expand and take over the world…oops I mean share homemade soap with the world I need cover the cost of the materials to do so. Think of me as your favorite soap whore. Not because I want to make a sale or get rich (HA as if) and this is not my retirement plan. I want people to experience homemade soap because I truly believe it is better. Sharing handmade soap is my way of connecting. In this sometimes-shattered society we live in finding a way to connect to another human being might just be our saving grace. So with that my dear friends…keep your mind dirty and your skin clean.