About Our Handmade Soaps
Handmade soaps can be luxurious, decorative, and fun! Our handmade soaps are crafted in small batches with high quality ingredients and care. Because they are handcrafted to be gentle soaps, preservatives, hardening agents, and detergents are not included in the ingredients. We test all of the soaps that we make...on ourselves! Our commitment to our customers is simple: We won't sell anything to you that we don't trust and love.
The soaps that we make and sell are made using a few basic components: oils, lye, and sometimes colorants and fragrances. Many of the oils we use are typical household staples: olive oil, coconut oil, and other vegetable oils, as well as some oils that are less common for cooking but have great properties for soap making like castor oil, meadowfoam seed oil, palm oil, and sweet almond oil. The lye (sodium hydroxide) is a very basic (high PH) material that was once made from wood ashes. When we mix the lye and the oils together a reaction occurs and the resulting products are soap molecules and glycerin.
The oils used to make your soap such as rice bran oil, olive oil, sweet almond oil, and meadowfoam seed oil are skin-loving and decadent. Castor oil provides the big bubbles that make a soapy lather. Coconut oil and palm oil are great for making a harder bar of soap that will last longer. Natural additives such as clay, flower petals, and seeds can provide additional moisturizing or scrubbing power!
The colorants that we use include natural colorants like parsley powder and lemon peel. The vibrant colors in many of our designs come from minerals and micas. To fragrance our soaps we use essential oils as well as fragrance oils. We are 100% committed to phthalate-free fragrances, and consider the ingredients in each fragrance oil blend.
In addition to our online store, you can find our products at Loudoun Valley Homegrown Markets Cooperative Farmers Markets and Arts & Craft Shows throughout the northern Virginia area. For a listing of our events, checkout our calendar! We happily accept orders in advance of our events, so that you can pick up your products at the market or show - just let us know!
Ingredients in Our Products
The ingredients in our bath and body products are carefully considered. Sometimes common ingredients found in skin care products can sensitize skin or dry skin, while others may carry trace amount of carcinogens. Often these ingredients can be replaced with an alternative (and usually more expensive) ingredient or left out altogether. At Dogwood Blossom Gifts we are dedicated to understanding and researching the most up-to-date information, and applying it to our formulations. We have three considerations in selecting our ingredients:
Purpose. For example - it is important that soap cleans!
Human impact. Is it non-toxic, non-carcinogenic, and non-sensitizing for humans?
Environmental impact. We look for sustainability and "green" alternatives.
Here are a few ingredients we don't use...and why.
SLS and SLES - Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate are sodium salts with great cleaning properties. They are left out of our work because they can be irritating/drying and potential allergens. This is a result of the way the surfactant is made, and its unstable composition. We have chosen fantastic bubbly alternatives, called Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate and Sodium Cocoyl Isothionate (also sodium salts with excellent cleaning properties) because they are derived from coconut oil and are well known to be gentle and non-drying.
Parabens - Parabens are included in many bath and body products because they do an excellent job preventing the growth of mold, yeast, and bacteria. There is concern that parabens may be toxic to human reproductive and developmental health. Luckily there are excellent perservative alternatives to parabens that do not pose the same concerns.
Phthalates - Phthalates are used to make other ingredients less brittle, and sometimes soluble. They are also frequently used as a fixative in fragrances/perfumes. All of our products are phthalate-free because of their possible links to birth defects. To improve the scent retention in our soaps, we use 100% natural, skin-friendly ingredients that have good oil absorption properties: kaolin clay, rose clay, and activated charcoal.
Other considerations we use when selecting our ingredients are sustainability in sourcing and an emphasis on plant-based ingredients. For example, we only use palm oil from farmers who use sustainable farming practices and refrain from deforestation, but pay them a fair wage to do so. We use plant-based oils in our soaps, creams, and facial products because they have so many skin-loving properties and are a renewable resource. We make bath and body products because we are passionate about every aspect of the art and science. We are dedicated to our research of high quality ingredients because we want you to be able to focus on the enjoyment of a beautiful and useful bath and body product. We hope you enjoy some good, clean fun!