Interview with Jacqueline
What's your drive?
I love the alchemy of soap, the fascinating way in which nature's goodness is transformed through an exothermic reaction to produce soap that is 100% natural. This soap is a must have beauty product as it is super-kind to skin, protecting the epidermis with a layer of natural glycerine that helps to keep the skin hydrated all day long. Ideal for all the family and respectful of the planet too.
I adore the delight in creating soap art by using natural substances and plant extracts to unleash a stunning colour palette that transforms soap into something luxurious and beautiful, a pure moment of delight.
I'm passionate about teaching others the ancient art of cold-process soap-making; that's why I established the Centre de Formation SAF (Saponification a Froid which is french for cold-process soap making) where a range of dynamic courses are on offer at all levels.
You say your soap is natural but isn't Sodium Hydroxide a chemical?
One of the key elements of cold-process soap-making is the use of sodium hydroxide, an akaline chemical substance that reacts with acidic plant based oil and butters to create soap.
Without this alkali, soap can't be made and the trick is to ensure that no sodium hydroxide remains in the finished soap as it will be caustic and dangerous.
When formulating a recipe, a reduction between 5 and 8% is calculated to achieve a lower quantity of sodium hydroxide needed. What this means is that between 5 to 8% of the plant oils and butters used in the formula remain "free" and unsaponified. This reduction is called "super-fatting" and gives the finished soap super skin hydrating and nourishing properties. The exothermic reaction stops once all of the sodium hydroxide has been "consumed"
You talk about real soap so what's the difference between shop bought and yours ?
Great question ! When is a soap not a soap? When it is industrially processed from cheap vegetable oils, such as palm oil, and/or animal fats with added petro-chemical derived surfactants and other such poo.
These products, such as your shampoos, body washes and house-hold cleaning products are DETERGENTS and as such, they cannot, by law, be marketed as SOAP.
Heres an example : take the DOVE brand of "soap" from Unilever. Notice that on the box, this detergent is cunningly concealed as A BEAUTY CREME BAR. Now take a look at the ingredients listing (in latin) in a tiny font and you'll see some strange, unpronouncable product names that translate into chemical additives, many of which are petro-chemical based.
Detergents not only dry and damage the skin (and hair) sometimes leading to irritated and cracked skin and in extreme cases, dermatological issues such as acne.
Only soap, such as produced by small artisan soap makers through the traditional method of cold saponification, can be marketed as soap.
What's your view on organic ?
I'm not a fan or organic products and whilst many of my raw materials used in my soap formulations have organic provenance, I am not convinced that such materials are 100% organic and here's why:
Bees, insects and other small beasties cannot distinguish between organic and non-organic fields. They fly where they want, they crawl where they want. The potential for cross contamination during pollination is therefore high.
Rain falls on organic and non-organic fields. The run off from an non-organic field into an organic field cannot be prevented (unless you tell me otherwise) thus the running water has the potential to contaminate.
Many of my competitors offer 100% organic products and some have certification from organisations such as SLOW COSMETICS or NATURE et PROGRES to attest to such, for a fee.
You will have your own opinions about the organic movement, but I don't subscribe to the ideology (not yet, anyway) hence why I never promote my soap as having an organic provenance.
Can you tell us about how you fragrance your soap ?
I prefer to use natural cosmetic fragrances over essential oils for many reasons but the key reason is this:
During saponification, an exothermic reaction occurs that reaches very high temperatures to "cook" the soap.
Essential oils have delicate molecular structures that do not survive such extremes resulting in their beneficial properties being destroyed. What you actually have is a soap that is fragranced with essential oil and NOT a soap that contains the therapeutic benefits of essential oils.
When soap is fragranced with essential oils, the fragrance will diminish quickly whereas natural cosmetic fragrances continue to stimulate the senses until the last morsel has disappeared, giving you better value for money.
And finally, why are allergens listed on your product labels?
Soap is classed as a cosmetic product and under strict EU regulations, every cosmetic product placed on the market must include a Composition Listing showing the ingredients used in the product
Not everything that is natural is good for you. Essential oils contain chemical molecules in their structure and it is these molecules, such as linalool, citronellol etc., that give the oil its scent. Some people can be sensitive to such molecules and that's why these allergens are listed on the product label.
Unlike essential oils, cosmetic fragrances are scientifically analysed and strictly controlled and are supported with a comprehensive technical guide for use by artisan soap makers. This guide includes a listing of all allergen compounds found in the fragrance which informs the product label.
This strict control of cosmetic fragrances gives consumers increased confidence in the finished product compared to products fragranced with essential oils as no scientific analytical controls of essential oils exists governing quality, authenticity and safety of use etc.
Thanks, Jacqueline. I imagine that many people reading this may be inspired to learn how to make soap or even buy your products. What's their next step ?
I'm glad that this interview has been useful ! All courses are bookable through this site and whilst the course outlines are in french, a full programme of the courses offered through the Centre de Formation SAF is available in English here.
Buying is easy through our site Boutique. In just a few clicks, your soap will be with you in 2-5 business days, depending where you live. Our Returns and Exchange policy gives 100% customer confidence in the highly unlikely event that the consumer is dissatisfied.