Have you ever had to cook something and gotten oils or even shortening on you hands then noticed how soft you're hands felt afterwards? Me too.
That is one of the benefits of handmade soap. Soapmakers build their recipes around moisturizing the skin, cleansing and sometimes exfoliating. Many soap makers go beyond that by decorating their soaps into some beautiful bars. I watch several on YouTube that I admire a great deal, but that's another post for another day.
In order to make soap moisturizing it's necessary to superfat your recipes. If you weren't to superfat every oil/butter molecule in your recipe would saponify into soap with no extras to linger behind for the moisturizing properties we like. I have a Castile For Real bar that isn't superfatted and made with olive oil. It's great for making laundry detergent because there is no extra oils that will get into your clothes. It could also be used for people with extra oily skin.
The percentage of superfatting isn't as tricky as it sounds because so many people have made soap that there are some general rules of thumb. Most soapers start recipes at no less than 5% extra oils and adjust from there. I generally soap at 7-9% depending on the recipe. If you superfat too high, it results in a soft bar of soap that will turn to mush when used.
So handmade soaps are generally more moisturizing to your skin.
Why else is handmade soap great? Depending on the soap maker, there's not extra crud added. Some people add micas and fragrance oils to their soaps, I don't consider them crud. When you do this you can pretty much know what your soap is going to consistently look and smell like. There are some beautiful bars of soap out there!
Other soapmakers stick to natural ingredients, and while everything pretty much comes from nature, some things are altered by humans. Changed chemically, mixed with other things that have little resemblance to what they were in nature, then don't tell you exactly what it is. This.
If I can't make an informed decision on what I'm adding to my soaps, how can I list the ingredients for people who may have allergies?
I don't purchase certain brands of essential oils for this same reason. One of the things that first grabbed my attention here was when I was looking for vanilla essential oil. I don't think it would be financially sound for a company to sell (what they say is) 100% vanilla essential oil for $13 for a 4 ounce bottle. Any reputable company will tell you that it is blended with another oil and tell you what that oil is (in my case it's coconut oil and it will be listed as such in my ingredients).
If I can't tell my customers each ingredient, I wouldn't feel right about putting it in my soap. It's the same with colorant. Micas are beautiful and add gorgeous colors to soap but not knowing exactly what is in the mica, I can't list those ingredients in my soap.
In all honesty I've never heard of anyone having a reaction to micas and most people learn through trial error which fragrance and essential oils they are allergic to. There are a multitude of people who will react in a multitude of ways to a multitude of things so for me, personally, I'd rather keep things simple.
I hope that doesn't sound like I'm complaining about soapmakers who use these things because I'm not. Just trying to explain why I choose to keep my soaps simple.
The best thing to me about handmade soaps, isn't so much about the things I leave out, but rather, the things I put in. Oils and butters have so many beneficial properties as do essential oils (even though we're not allowed to say that).
I've had people tell me if they have to use store bought soap after using my soap their skin gets dry to the point that it's itchy. I've had others tell me they no longer have dry, scaly skin. And even a few claim that using my soap got rid of rashes that were still there after taking prescriptions. I will never claim my soap fixes or cures anything. I think its possibly a blend of things that's left out of my soap that may be in store bought soaps. Dyes, perfumes, preservatives that maybe their bodies reacted to without them knowing what the exact problem is.
It does my heart good to hear such things though because that's what it's all about for soapmakers. People who find something that feels good on their skin. Something they love and gives them great results.
I highly advise that everyone try handmade soap, even if it isn't mine. Our skin is our largest organ so it's just as important to care for it as it is the insides of our bodies.