Clean & Green . . . but what does this really mean?



Natural is a word we are drawn to. If it is made by nature, it must be good for you. Why would we want anything that was created any other way?

I do strive to keep my products as simple and "natural" as possible, however natural is not always best for the environment.

There is much debate when it comes to using essential oils versus fragrance oils in soap. As a former scientist, I am not dazzled by buzz words, and prefer to do a bit of research into something before I decide if it is what I want to use.

Essential oils, at face value, would appear to be the preferred choice when it comes to scenting soaps but, in some cases, there are reasons why they are not as ethical as one might think. As demand increases for "all things natural," so does the strain on natural resources. It takes many, usually hundreds of, kilos of plant material to make a relatively small amount of essential oil. It takes about ninety kilos of lavender to make half a kilo of lavender essential oil and almost a ton of rose petals to make half a kilo of rose essential oil!

The upshot of this, is that there are many plants and trees that are endangered because they are being over-harvested for essential oils e.g. Frankincense, rosewood and cedar wood. Natural? Yes. Good for the natural world? No. Imagine if every soap, cosmetic and candle maker insisted on using essential oils for all of their products? Could the planet cope with such demand?


The Magic of Aroma


 Unlike the refreshing scent of pine above, many beautiful scents cannot be imitated with "all natural" essentials oils. Scents are personal to people. They can enhance a certain mood, represent a secret extravagance, or transport you to special place and time. The smell of sandalwood reminds me of my childhood in the Middle East and trips to the Souk with my mother. However, I won't buy the essential oil.  I use sandalwood fragrance oil in my body bars and soap. This is because the sandalwood tree is in decline, owing to it being over-harvested for the essential oil.

The fragrance oils that I use are made for soaps and are safe to use in a variety of skincare products. When I smell sandalwood, I get the same wonderful memories but I am not impacting on the survival of the sandalwood tree. It is owing to its impact on rainforests and their inhabitants that I choose not to use palm oil, even though palm oil is natural!

It is also important to remember that essential oils are potent organic chemicals. People can have allergic reactions to essential oils, just as they can to fragrance oils. Whether created in a lab or by the natural world, chemicals are chemicals. Just because something is natural doesn't mean it's good for you, as conversely, something that is artificial is not necessarily harmful.

I use essential oils where appropriate and fragrance oils when I want to use a replacement for a natural scent that is endangered, or simply just because I want create a unique soap or one that inspires me. Because my soaps are made with either sustainable essential or fragrance oils, there is something for everyone. If you are unhappy by the idea of fragrance oils then you will find a soap that is made with an essential oil just for you and one that is not having a negative impact on the environment.


Beautiful Natural Colours


My philosophy also goes for the colourants I use. I love how soaps look when coloured naturally. The colours of nature are earthy and subtle. Brightly coloured soaps don't appeal to me, but that is a personal preference. I like to use my own herbs and flowers mostly, but love the colours that clays and spices produce. There is one exception to this preference however, and that is my "I love the Sea" soap. I use a cosmetic grade soap dye for this soap. I have tried to use natural blues such as gardenia, but the results have been a grungy grey sea rather than a Mediterranean blue! So I have gone back to the soap dye. It is a dye specially formulated for soap, so like with the fragrance oils I use, it is perfectly safe for the skin.

Everybody is different and I think it is important for everyone to have their own beliefs and codes that they wish to live by. There is a soap here for everyone, whatever your preference. Because Soapernatural products are made by me, I have to be happy about the things I make and feel good about them. I am, and I do, and hopefully you will like them too!