How Can Natural, Handmade Soap Compete against the cheap supermarket brands? How does it compare to the mass produced product?
I was in the supermarket today...waiting patiently at the checkout and just gazing around as people are want to do when standing in a line. My gaze happened to catch the latest Big Brand Natural Soap promotion decked out beautifully and placed strategically at eye level...and then I saw the price...$2 for two bars!
I couldn't resist going over to the display and check out the ingredients on the back of the Natural Beauty soap wrapper. This is what I read:
Natural? I can't even pronounce most of the ingredients!
I shook my head and then compared it to the ingredients in one of my bars of soap, where anyone could list the ingredients on one hand, and understand what they were! Here goes...
How can any mass produced soap with ingredients that need a dictionary and thesaurus be marketed as natural?
How could I possibly compete against the brand, the price and the marketing? How could any natural soap crafter? There is no way a soap maker, crafting cold process or hot process soap, could possibly sell their bars for $1 each!
My answer came to me very quickly, while I handed my credit card over to the girl at the checkout...I couldn't!
I could never compete on price, and point of purchase sales, and neither could I compete with branding...the only thing that would sell my product is:
A Closer look at Petrolatum one of the Natural Ingredients in the 'Natural Beauty Bar"
Petrolatum is more commonly known as petroleum jelly, mineral oil jelly or mineral oil, and Vaseline. Petrolatum is a petrochemical derived from crude oil. It may run the risk of being contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs),1 which are possible human carcinogens found in crude oil and its byproducts. The Environmental Working Group labels petrolatum as a low to moderate hazard, but with the potential for contamination from PAHs, it becomes high risk.The European Union, has banned petrolatum for use in cosmetics unless the manufacturer can show a full refining history and prove that the petrolatum wasn’t produced from carcinogenic substances. Meaning, manufacturers have to prove the product isn’t contaminated by PAHs.2
The following is a quote from the David Suzuki Foundation, "But this petrochemical can be contaminated with cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The European Union considers it a carcinogen and restricts its use in cosmetics. Download our wallet-sized Sustainable Shopper's Guide so you can avoid petrolatum and the other eleven toxic ingredients commonly found in your soap, shampoo, and deodorant."3
While researching Petrolatum, I did find one website that promoted its use as a moisturiser, (and also advertised for Vaseline), however, Petrolatum is an occlusive moisturiser and keeps moisture in your skin. This website concluded by stating that Petrolatum is not petroleum – and cosmetic-grade petrolatum is, by and large, safe.4 By and large safe? What does that mean? It's mostly safe or it can be a little bit unsafe?
So what should the natural soap crafter do against such odds?
Perhaps the small scale soap crafter, like myself will never be financially viable...but does that mean we should stop producing what we know to be better for our skin, your skin and the environment?
I have been thinking on this and trying not to feel totally defeated by something so ubiquitous as large companies, with countless resources and funds, who use key emotive words like natural, organic and beauty, while peddling off an inferior product.
No...I will keep creating my soap because I know that it is better!
Download the Sustainable Shopping Guide from David Suzuki.org
Hi! Welcome to my Soapy Conversations about Soap and AllSorts of other Topics! I live in NSW Australia and I am a mother of five, Grandmother of Five and I sponsor seven children through Compassion Australia. I love making soap, reading, teaching English, and being an Advocate for children and women living in poverty.
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