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View Full Version : Handmade Soaps on Etsy?



tice75
07-18-2011, 03:48 PM
I've noticed a lot of handmade shaving soaps and creams on http://www.etsy.com. I'm curious to know if anyone in the B&B community has purchased any of these soaps and what your thoughts are of them.

gaj90027
07-18-2011, 04:53 PM
I've noticed a lot of handmade shaving soaps and creams on http://www.etsy.com. I'm curious to know if anyone in the B&B community has purchased any of these soaps and what your thoughts are of them.

You are correct, there are a lot. Best bet would be to ask about specific brands to see if anyone has used them. If they are not mentioned or reviewed favorably here you should probably not buy them unless you are feeling adventurous or have money to burn.

Not trying to slam the etsy soap makers as there are actually a few decent ones. Most however just throw some clay into an olive oil soap mix and call it a shaving soap which just doesn't cut it.

tice75
07-18-2011, 05:53 PM
You are correct, there are a lot. Best bet would be to ask about specific brands to see if anyone has used them. If they are not mentioned or reviewed favorably here you should probably not buy them unless you are feeling adventurous or have money to burn.

Not trying to slam the etsy soap makers as there are actually a few decent ones. Most however just throw some clay into an olive oil soap mix and call it a shaving soap which just doesn't cut it.

Great feedback Garry...ManCave1 is the only vendor I've been repeatedly looking at, and I'd like to know if anyone has used their products. I am also open to suggestions if anyone has had a great experience from any vendor on Etsy with a shave soap/cream purchase.

JPDyson
07-18-2011, 06:35 PM
Great feedback Garry...ManCave1 is the only vendor I've been repeatedly looking at, and I'd like to know if anyone has used their products. I am also open to suggestions if anyone has had a great experience from any vendor on Etsy with a shave soap/cream purchase.

What about a "meh" experience? Avoid Madame Scodioli.

Edit: Quote from ManCave1: "Extra glycerin and bentonite clay are added" this smacks of common melt & pour soap base being doctored up for shaving. Never turns out well.

Deacon Frank
07-18-2011, 09:09 PM
I've had good luck with Red Leaf. I love the English Coast scent! The Black Tea is okay. The owner will package the soap in a tub for you if you prefer that to the bare cube. Price is good for the amount you get (about $12 for an 8oz tub).

I find that these soaps lather better in a bowl than on my face. The lather is cushiony and slick -- not as rich as others (Palmolive, Pre de Provence), but I can almost relather my face with my hands after the first pass. This is some slick stuff!

bkfist
07-18-2011, 10:32 PM
I've tried a few different "artisan creams" and haven't been impressed, at all. Seems to require about 4X the amount of cream to get the same amount of lather as something like TOBS, C&E, Musago Real etc.

I can't comment on any soaps, as many (most?) artisan soaps seem to be either melt & pour, or some cold-process soap that's been doctored up to be a "shave soap".

Look at the ingredients of the better "commercial" soaps out there, and you will see very VERY few start with any real "oil", most start with a refined stearate base, so that the final results can be more closely controlled. Not that the stearic acid they start with is in any way "unnatural", not at all... But, the results are more consistent and controllable.

You don't see many of the top performing commercial soaps using straight mixtures of oils like olive, palm, etc... Yes, they often contain some, but the stuff that gives really superb lathers, often start with controlled oil sources, because "all natural" oils can vary widely in their actual makeup from season to season, year to year, one geographic location to the next...

From what I see from *most* "artisan" soap makers isn't an emphasis on the performance of their soaps, but rather on the

"All natural, cruelty free, no animal, all vegan, hug a bunny and if you don't happen get a great shave, at least some poor cow didn't have to die to give you that nasty razor burn, and our product didn't use any genetically modified ingredients that might confuse the honey bees, and there were no pesticides used, so no swamp mosquitoes or leaches were harmed in any way in the making of this soap, and by buying and using our products, global warming will be averted and our sun won't expand to encompase the earth's orbit in another 5 billion years, so you have just contributed to saving all of humanity! Yippee, give me a big hug, dude!! " attitude.

Are there any artisan soaps on ETSY that are actually GOOD soaps, I'm sure there (probably) are, but be careful... Unless the artisan is emphasizing the fact that some animal had to die and have it's fat rendered to give you a great shave, or there is absolutely NOTHING said about "all natural" ingredients, I'd be very leery about coughing up your money for the product.

tumtatty
07-18-2011, 10:44 PM
I've got the cedarwood (used to be called Hemingway, but its changed its name to Lost Generation) from The Shave Library (http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheShaveLibrary?ref=ss_profile)on Etsy. I like it a lot. Good lather. He has a youtube vid to show you how its done. He gives a buck off to B&B members as well.

http://ny-image1.etsy.com/il_570xN.254323697.jpg

gaj90027
07-19-2011, 08:23 AM
I've got the cedarwood (used to be called Hemingway, but its changed its name to Lost Generation) from The Shave Library (http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheShaveLibrary?ref=ss_profile)on Etsy. I like it a lot. Good lather. He has a youtube vid to show you how its done. He gives a buck off to B&B members as well.

http://ny-image1.etsy.com/il_570xN.254323697.jpg

I don't have personal experience with The Shave Library but have heard good reviews. This soap maker is also a member here 'drewmac' and I will be trying one of his soaps soon.

CaptainK
07-19-2011, 11:37 AM
Look at the ingredients of the better "commercial" soaps out there, and you will see very VERY few start with any real "oil", most start with a refined stearate base, so that the final results can be more closely controlled. Not that the stearic acid they start with is in any way "unnatural", not at all... But, the results are more consistent and controllable.

You don't see many of the top performing commercial soaps using straight mixtures of oils like olive, palm, etc... Yes, they often contain some, but the stuff that gives really superb lathers, often start with controlled oil sources, because "all natural" oils can vary widely in their actual makeup from season to season, year to year, one geographic location to the next...
I don't believe this is accurate. Most of the better commercial soaps do have either Palm Oil or Tallow as their main ingredient, and mixtures of oils are quite common.

I put together a spreadsheet here (https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AsaOLksoxyMxdHFwLUZjSEQ2M2VSYVEtNXJRSGFfb Hc&hl=en_US), based on data found here (http://www.theshaveden.com/forum/showthread.php?t=4780). Of the 22 well-known soaps listed, 11 list Palm Oil as their main ingredient, 6 list Tallow, and only 5 list a stearate as their main ingredient. 5 soaps contain nothing from pure stearic acid at all. This is not to downplay the importance of stearic acid; after all, tallow is 15-20% stearic acid.

This is not a jab, just honest curiosity: what is your definition of a "controlled oil" vs. an "all natural oil?"

bkfist
07-19-2011, 12:06 PM
I don't believe this is accurate. Most of the better commercial soaps do have either Palm Oil or Tallow as their main ingredient, and mixtures of oils are quite common.

I put together a spreadsheet here (https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AsaOLksoxyMxdHFwLUZjSEQ2M2VSYVEtNXJRSGFfb Hc&hl=en_US), based on data found here (http://www.theshaveden.com/forum/showthread.php?t=4780). Of the 22 well-known soaps listed, 11 list Palm Oil as their main ingredient, 6 list Tallow, and only 5 list a stearate as their main ingredient. 5 soaps contain nothing from pure stearic acid at all. This is not to downplay the importance of stearic acid; after all, tallow is 15-20% stearic acid.

This is not a jab, just honest curiosity: what is your definition of a "controlled oil" vs. an "all natural oil?"

First, I agree with the Tallow... and when I was writing that, I had a paragraph on that, and I apparently edited it out... (Trying to send a long post via cell phone is a PITA.)

By controlled I mean consistent makeup of the fatty acid chains. By "natural" and I mean un-refined (not necessarily unfiltered) as would probably be meant by someone saying "all natural ingredients"...

Almost any vegetable, or even tallow, source is going to contain a mixture of many, many different chains of oils. Palm oil is not pure "palm oil", it contains chains of fatty acids, the most predominant being what is *technically* palmitate - which is where "palm oil" get's it's name - or vice-versa... Just for quick example, here is a cut & paste from wikipedia on approximate break-down of palm...

Palm oil, palm kernel oil and coconut oil are three of the few highly saturated vegetable fats. Palm oil is semi-solid at room temperatures. Palm oil contains several saturated and unsaturated fats in the forms of glyceryl laurate (0.1%, saturated), myristate (1%, saturated), palmitate (44%, saturated), stearate (5%, saturated), oleate (39%, monounsaturated), linoleate (10%, polyunsaturated), and linolenate (0.3%, polyunsaturated).


Those percentages are NOT set in stone, they can and *will* vary from one plant to the next, one growing region to the next, one year to the next depending on weather and growing conditions etc.

Each of those individual fatty acids provides a different type of lather, different properties etc.

When you are starting with a refined and homogenized product like a commercial "stearic acid" with a lab analyzed and controlled content of a specific molecule that you are going to react with your potassium and sodium hydroxide, you can control the end result *much* more closely and precisely than you can from an "all organic" source.

I'll pretty much guarantee you that the members on ETSY are not getting chemical analysis of each batch of organic palm oil, and making adjustments to the lye and/or other ingredients to compensate for variations in the percentages of the various fatty acid components.

I'm also NOT saying that they would HAVE to do that to make a very good product, don't get me wrong on that. I was just saying that by starting out from a solid, refined base were all the fatty acids were the same molecule, you can then adjust your soaps formulation for consistent, great results. Look at MdC as an example in simplicity of ingredients. I'm not saying it's "organic", just saying it's an absolutely top-tier product when it comes to lather, gentleness on the skin, shave quality etc. (Ignoring price, especially delivery charges.)

What I'm saying is the really good performing soaps use a *specific* fatty acid, Stearic Acid, Potassium Palmate, Sodium Palmate, Potassium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Palm Kernelate etc... Not "Palm Oil" which is a mixture of more than a half dozen different chains.

Re-reading my original post, I could have typed it better, because it reads like I meant it hat to be specifically stearic acid, and in fact could be any refined/separated oil base. (again, hard to get the full picture on a little 4 inch screen, and I apologize for that.)

OUFINNY
07-19-2011, 01:14 PM
^^ Good post. I am going to read reviews on this soap from one of the B&B members, I like some of the scents that he sells and the price looks quite fair.

CaptainK
07-19-2011, 02:12 PM
(Trying to send a long post via cell phone is a PITA.)
Wow - I'm surprised you did all that on a cell phone - good job! :001_smile


Almost any vegetable, or even tallow, source is going to contain a mixture of many, many different chains of oils.
Yes, all fats/oils are made up of fatty acid chains. Common ones include lauric, myristic, palmitic, stearic, oleic and linolenic acids. (Not a complete list.)


Palm oil is not pure "palm oil", it contains chains of fatty acids, the most predominant being what is *technically* palmitate
Not palmitate, but palmitic acid. Palmitate would be a salt of palmitic acid. Saying that Palm Oil is not pure "palm oil" is a little misleading. Palm Oil is defined as the oil derived from a palm, and it is naturally made up of several fatty acids. More accurate would be to say that Palm Oil is not pure palmitic acid.


Those percentages are NOT set in stone, they can and *will* vary from one plant to the next, one growing region to the next, one year to the next depending on weather and growing conditions etc.
Very true. However, I doubt the variation would be significant enough to require analysis and adjustment of the hydroxyl to get a consistent result. Especially since the recipes good soapmakers use are a little superfatted.


When you are starting with a refined and homogenized product like a commercial "stearic acid" with a lab analyzed and controlled content of a specific molecule that you are going to react with your potassium and sodium hydroxide, you can control the end result *much* more closely and precisely than you can from an "all organic" source.
Agreed. But, while I've heard of stearic acid being available as a stand-alone ingredient, I've never heard of any of the other fatty acids being available or used in that form.


I was just saying that by starting out from a solid, refined base were all the fatty acids were the same molecule, you can then adjust your soaps formulation for consistent, great results.
True, but AFAIK stearic acid is the only one available in a pure, refined form. And, since it's saponified stearic acid that produces such a great lather, a lot of soap makers who don't want to use tallow use pure stearic acid to reaps its benefits.


What I'm saying is the really good performing soaps use a *specific* fatty acid, Stearic Acid, Potassium Palmate, Sodium Palmate, Potassium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Palm Kernelate etc... Not "Palm Oil" which is a mixture of more than a half dozen different chains.
OK, there's seems to be a couple misunderstandings. The "-ate"s are not specific fatty acids; they're the combined salts produced by the saponification of the fats/oils. Potassium Palmate is Palm Oil saponified with Potassium Hydroxide. It's not an individual fatty acid, or even the salt of an individual one. Likewise, Sodium Palmate is Palm Oil saponified with Sodium Hydroxide. And Sodium/Potassium Palm Kernelate are the saponified forms of Palm Kernel Oil. (Tallow => Tallowate, Coconut Oil => Cocoate, etc.) Yes, Palm Oil is a mixture of several fatty acids; likewise is Sodium and/or Potassium Palmate.


Re-reading my original post, I could have typed it better, because it reads like I meant it hat to be specifically stearic acid, and in fact could be any refined/separated oil base.
Again, stearic acid is the only fatty acid I know that's available in its pure form. I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm wrong.


Look at MdC as an example in simplicity of ingredients.
I'd love to look at some! Got any you could send me?! :laugh:


(again, hard to get the full picture on a little 4 inch screen, and I apologize for that.)
No apologies necessary - I applaud you for pulling it off! :thumbup1:

kingfisher
07-19-2011, 02:46 PM
..
Edit: Quote from ManCave1: "Extra glycerin and bentonite clay are added" this smacks of common melt & pour soap base being doctored up for shaving. Never turns out well.

I disagree with the general statement that a bit of glycerin and bentonite clay added to a common melt and pour soap base can't "turn out well." Depends on the quality of the original soap base. I have personally had a lot of good shaves using soaps that pretty much meet your definition. Benton Clay soaps, for example, are made from a commercially available melt-and-pour soap. Dave does a wonderful job with additives, especially with outstanding fragrances, that make these soaps very nice.

Long story short, I would not be that quick to dismiss all slightly doctored melt-and-pour soaps. Some of them are very good shaving soaps.

tehtimmeh
07-19-2011, 07:47 PM
Simple answer: No.

CaptainK
07-19-2011, 07:55 PM
Simple answer: No.
If that was the simple answer, what was the simple question? :laugh:

man00ver
07-19-2011, 11:39 PM
Applause, CaptainK, for delivering a gentlemanly and good-natured educational post, rather than a heavy-handed beatdown. :clap:

JPDyson
07-20-2011, 07:06 AM
I disagree with the general statement that a bit of glycerin and bentonite clay added to a common melt and pour soap base can't "turn out well." Depends on the quality of the original soap base. I have personally had a lot of good shaves using soaps that pretty much meet your definition. Benton Clay soaps, for example, are made from a commercially available melt-and-pour soap. Dave does a wonderful job with additives, especially with outstanding fragrances, that make these soaps very nice.

Long story short, I would not be that quick to dismiss all slightly doctored melt-and-pour soaps. Some of them are very good shaving soaps.

Upon reconsidering, I'm still inclined to disagree. Fair enough, you can get some really good soap bases and add some high quality additives and come up with a soap that many will find wonderful. I find a categorical difference between those, and soaps that are developed from the raw materials with shaving soap in mind. I did a homemade soap from melt and pour base with additives, and I got very usable lather, but it didn't hold a candle to the likes of Tabac or La Toja and the like.

_MementoMori_
07-20-2011, 07:13 AM
From what I see from *most* "artisan" soap makers isn't an emphasis on the performance of their soaps, but rather on the

"All natural, cruelty free, no animal, all vegan, hug a bunny and if you don't happen get a great shave, at least some poor cow didn't have to die to give you that nasty razor burn, and our product didn't use any genetically modified ingredients that might confuse the honey bees, and there were no pesticides used, so no swamp mosquitoes or leaches were harmed in any way in the making of this soap, and by buying and using our products, global warming will be averted and our sun won't expand to encompase the earth's orbit in another 5 billion years, so you have just contributed to saving all of humanity! Yippee, give me a big hug, dude!! " attitude.

This is hilarious! I get the exact same impression when I look at the artisan soaps (and grooming/beauty products in general) on etsy.

CaptainK
07-20-2011, 07:40 AM
OK, I stand corrected. (Well, I'm actually sitting, but ... )

I did a little research, and it seems that all of the individual fatty acids (stearic acid, palmitic acid, lauric acid, etc.) are available in individually refined forms. Not from soap making suppliers, but from chemical suppliers. However, these are not used in commercial soaps, or you would see ingredients like "sodium palmitate," not "sodium palmate." Small difference in spelling, big difference in meaning.

CaptainK
07-20-2011, 07:46 AM
I find a categorical difference between those, and soaps that are developed from the raw materials with shaving soap in mind.
There are high quality melt & pour soap bases that are developed from the raw materials with shaving soap in mind.


I did a homemade soap from melt and pour base with additives, and I got very usable lather, but it didn't hold a candle to the likes of Tabac or La Toja and the like.
If you used a melt & pour soap that wasn't intended or developed as a shaving soap as your base, I can completely understand. But, even if you did, this is one of those YMMV things.

gaj90027
07-20-2011, 10:26 AM
I have read a lot more posts from people being disappointed with shaving soaps from unknown ebay/etsy soap makers than I have people being thrilled. When it comes to good shaving soaps most gents here are not shy and will eagerly post favorable reviews if they stumble across something great in the wild.

Am I really understanding the tone of this thread to mean that most of these ebay/etsy shaving soap makers are good at it and you can confidently send them money knowing you will be satisfied?

CaptainK
07-20-2011, 12:00 PM
I have read a lot more posts from people being disappointed with shaving soaps from unknown ebay/etsy soap makers than I have people being thrilled.
"Unknown" is the pertinent keyword here. When it comes to this market, I have faith in natural selection; those who can't do it well won't last very long and will remain relatively unknown until they fade away completely.


Am I really understanding the tone of this thread to mean that most of these ebay/etsy shaving soap makers are good at it and you can confidently send them money knowing you will be satisfied?
If that's the impression you got from me, I do apologize, for that's not what I'm trying to say. I'm just saying that one should not categorically write a shaving soap off simply because it's artisan made and offered by an eBay or Etsy seller. Good artisan shaving soap does exist out there, both from folks who have their own websites (and are likely vendors here), and those whose use eBay, Etsy or similar storefronts. Sometimes I find it fun to explore the offerings.

I think you gave the best advice regarding this earler:


If they are not mentioned or reviewed favorably here you should probably not buy them unless you are feeling adventurous or have money to burn.

Better advice could not be given. And, I must admit, sometimes I feel adventurous! :001_smile

gaj90027
07-20-2011, 04:00 PM
@CaptainK - I think we are both on the same page then. I just wanted to make sure that we weren't advising someone new (OP has 12 posts) to just go ahead and buy any old shaving soap from etsy and expect good results. Research on the soap maker (searching or asking on B&B) is strongly advised for the new guys.

With your experience at least you would know that if a new unknown soap from etsy doesn't lather properly that it's probably the soap at fault and not your brush or your bowl or your water being hard, etc.

tumtatty
07-21-2011, 09:17 AM
I received some "artisan" soaps in the mail last night from a fellow B&B member and one of the brands was Madam Scodioli's "Fiji Mermaid."

It has a great oceanic smell, but I wondered how it would perform. The soap itself is pretty soft and I squeezed the bar into one of my tin shaving soap containers with easy.

http://antiquemilitaryshooter.com/forums/mermaid1.jpg

Whilst in the shower I let some hot water sit in the container and in a bowl for my Omega brush
http://antiquemilitaryshooter.com/forums/mermaid2.jpg

Within about 10 swirls of the brush I had the beginnings of a nice lather going
http://antiquemilitaryshooter.com/forums/mermaid3.jpg

Without much effort the Fiji Mermaid went from a solid green bar to white sea foam and I must say that I had a fantastic BBS 3 pass shave with my Otto Deutsch's "Hans!"
I'm no chemist, but for $8 per bar, this soap performed as well as any in my shave den. Well Done Madame Scodioli!
http://antiquemilitaryshooter.com/forums/mermaid4.jpg

http://antiquemilitaryshooter.com/forums/sotd7_21_11_small.jpg

gaj90027
07-21-2011, 11:04 AM
I received some "artisan" soaps in the mail last night from a fellow B&B member and one of the brands was Madam Scodioli's "Fiji Mermaid."

It has a great oceanic smell, but I wondered how it would perform. The soap itself is pretty soft and I squeezed the bar into one of my tin shaving soap containers with easy.

http://antiquemilitaryshooter.com/forums/mermaid1.jpg

Whilst in the shower I let some hot water sit in the container and in a bowl for my Omega brush
http://antiquemilitaryshooter.com/forums/mermaid2.jpg

Within about 10 swirls of the brush I had the beginnings of a nice lather going
http://antiquemilitaryshooter.com/forums/mermaid3.jpg

Without much effort the Fiji Mermaid went from a solid green bar to white sea foam and I must say that I had a fantastic BBS 3 pass shave with my Otto Deutsch's "Hans!"
I'm no chemist, but for $8 per bar, this soap performed as well as any in my shave den. Well Done Madame Scodioli!
http://antiquemilitaryshooter.com/forums/mermaid4.jpg

http://antiquemilitaryshooter.com/forums/sotd7_21_11_small.jpg

Madame Scodioli's soaps have been discussed on B&B and are not unknown. If I recall correctly people had a great lather and shave but some people had a reaction to the strong scents. I usually don't have reactions to strong scented soaps and I would certainly give her soaps a try if I was in the market.