It was the 9th of November of the year 2000 when, with (almost) trembling hands, I poured a jug of scorching hot lye solution into some melted fats to set off my very first batch of natural soap. As it has always happened for any crucial event in my life, I clearly remember that day in every particular —even the sky’s colour out of my window that morning! It was a little step that changed my life forever and that I have never regretted doing.
My story as a soaper can be roughly divided into two different phases, the first one being the only-for-fun stage and the second one the critical-thinking phase. I have turned from being an eager, restless explorer of every pigment, fragrance and fussy additive you can dream up, to becoming a minimalist soaper who truly enjoys just unscented, uncoloured, pure natural bars.
At a certain point, what contributed to changing my attitude, together with the lucky and happy encounter with Marina, was the consciousness that making my own soap would really have an impact on my ecological footprint. Doing it yourself instead of buying ready-made, industrial soap, is a choice of freedom and a practical step to foster downshifting and sustainable growth. You can choose exactly the ingredients you like, you can buy them locally to help small-scale businesses and protect natural landscapes, you can reduce packaging and waste, you can avoid putting dozens of unwanted chemicals on your skin…
But most importantly, while making natural soap, you can start thinking critically about your way of consuming and try to adjust it to a more ethical, sustainable, healthy pace.
Last but not least, I wish to express my gratitude to natural soap because it has opened my mind and has been gently pampering my skin —and also because making my own soap has given me the invaluable opportunity to get to know a wonderful bunch of people around the world. To them and to those who have stood by my side all these years, I wish to dedicate my commitment and my thoughts.
People often ask me, why do I bother making my own soap. I have a short answer and a long answer.
The short answer is that I love great soap.
The long answer goes back many years, to the time when, still at school, I first came into contact with the early Ecology movement. I was then in my teens: so it was no accident, I suspect, that my desire to follow environmentally sound practices ended up shaping my tastes for perfumes and cosmetics. I was already in love with soap back then: its scent, texture, colour and bubbles attracted me a million times more than those (then) brand new bubble baths and shower foams, which felt so totally false to me.
But there was a snag. All my love for soap bars could not make me enjoy them in action, because no matter how good they looked, smelled and promised to be, they were all way too harsh for my super-sensitive, allergy-prone skin. How frustrating that was!
For years, before discovering handmade soap, I had to make do with using the smallest amounts of soap, followed by generous slatherings of conditioning lotions to restore moisture. And then, in the early 1990’s, a friend taught me how to make my own as natural as possible skin care serums. It was a revelation: it did not take long to discover there was a lot more to bring to light. With invaluable help from the talented communities of soaping enthusiasts I met on the Internet (back when the ‘net was all young and friendly and genuine…!), tracing my own way to healthy, great, skin-loving and eco-friendly soap was all downhill from there.
I never looked back. My soap has healed my skin and that of uncountable friends, relations, customers. I use nothing but my own soap —not only for personal applications, but for all my cleaning needs.
Making my own soap is the best way to protect my skin, while keeping the world clean and green. Having a shower in the morning, with a bar of my handmade soap, is a great way to start a day: cleansed and purified, I feel I can face the world with a clean body and a clear conscience, as nothing “bad” went down the drains while I was washing myself.
It is a wonderful feeling, and my heart is still full of gratitude for those who gave me this opportunity by sharing their knowledge: I hope sharing mine with you will give you as much!