How Sorrel’s Fresh Blend was started:
I was first introduced to soap making as a quick and fun craft project using melt and pour bases. I had no idea at the time that it would develop into a passion for making soaps and balms from scratch! When I first began, I discovered that many of the melt and pour bases available at craft stores have sulfates in them. I am allergic to sulfates and I know that they can be harsh on people’s skin even if they are not allergic, so I looked around for a company that sold sulfate-free bases. After trying soap that was made with more natural ingredients, I was shocked at how much the condition of my skin improved. I started doing research into why there was such a difference and I found out that most commercial brand soaps use harsh detergents and animal fats in their soaps (look for sodium tallowate- that’s saponified animal fat). That’s when I shifted my focus from making soaps purely to be pretty, to making soaps that I felt would be better for the skin (but I think they are still pretty). I strive to use the best ingredients I can find and I promise never to use animal fats or sulfates in my products. I hope that you will find products from Sorrel’s Fresh Blend to be the perfect blend of science, nature, and art!
A short statement on “natural”:
I try to use ingredients that are as natural as possible. I will never use anything that requires animals to die to get (like beef fat or dyes made of animal parts), but I do use some animal products that don’t require killing and I feel add benefit to soaps and balms (like honey and goat’s milk). Most of the colorants I use are industry referred to as “nature identical” meaning that they are identical to the natural item but manufactured in a lab to eliminate contaminants (to keep you safe).
A long statement on “natural”:
I could talk about what it means to stamp a product “Natural” or “All-Natural” all day. What many consumers don’t realize is that “natural” is NOT a black and white term and does not guarantee safety. Like many others out there, I am wary of ingredient lists containing lots of chemicals and would like to use natural products on my skin. However, “natural” isn’t always good. Take for example animal fats, cochineal, and spirulina which are all used by some soap makers and can all be defined as “natural”. I have heard some people say that soaps containing animal fats are more likely to clog your pores, but I don’t know of any scientific research to support that. My objection to animal fats it that I think it’s incredibly gross to rub dead cow parts on my body in the shower. The same goes for the dyes spirulina and cochineal/carmine. Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae. It may only be a single celled organism, but it was still a living being that was killed to make a colorant. Carmine is a dye made from the parasitic insect cochineal. Yes, it may be “all natural,” but do you really want insect parts in your soap? The plant derived colorants tend to be unpredictable and ultimately turn into various shades of brown. Most of them are ugly and don’t add anything to the soap. As stated above, I tend to use mainly “nature identical” colorants. These are oxides and ultramarines made in labs because the ones found in nature were banned from use by the FDA because they tend to be contaminated with heavy metals like arsenic (hey, arsenic is all natural too!).
How to fragrance my soaps and balms was the most difficult decision for me because I don’t feel like there is a good compromise between natural and safe. On the one hand, essential oils are 100% natural, but they can also be skin irritants, skin sensitizers, and/or phototoxic (which means that application can make you highly likely to get a sunburn). On the other hand, fragrance oils are considered safe for skin use, but the ingredients are considered proprietary and therefore not available. So, essentially all I can say is that they are phthalate-free, because that is what the company that I use has told me. And since I trust perfumes enough to wear them even though they also do not list their ingredients, I decided to use fragrance oils for some of my soaps. I also use essential oils for some of my soaps and balms, but I carefully research them to make sure to the best of my abilities that they will not cause any adverse reactions.
Why Sorrel’s Fresh Blend?
Because Jen is too common, Melley’s Soaps sounds too much like Smelly’s Soaps, and I refuse to use my maiden name. So I chose Sorrel, because Wood Sorrel is a plant that I have always identified with. Yes, it’s a weed but that’s one of the things I like about it. Go ahead and cut me down, I’ll just keep coming back ;)