Category Archives: Bath & Beauty

Choices; why do we choose the way we do?

There is no doubt that the choices we make in life are a fundamental part of who we are and what we want to be, as well as how we want to be perceived by those around us. But are all our choices made by us alone, and if not, are we aware of how deep other influences go?

Changes we make to our surroundings take place over the short, medium and long term. We may buy things for our home for a relatively small amount of money that potentially make quite big changes. A small lamp for example, can change the mood of a room, or a deep pile rug can create a cosier feel in front of the sofa. Other choices are bolder and need greater consideration and, often, input from those around us. A £3000 work of art to hang on the wall makes a bold statement about us and can change a room far more dramatically than a rug ever could. These choices are personal, perhaps influenced by those close to us and our own upbringing and environment.

We make consumer choices by where we decide to shop. Is it Asda for you, or would you only ever contemplate Waitrose, or M&S? These choices will have quite an impact on the products we eventually walk out of the store with – and the amount we spend! We might make those choices through quality, preference of certain standards, or maybe we need to do the weekly shop within a strict budget.

Subliminal Suggestions

Then there are the choices we are not aware of; perhaps, there is a level of subliminal suggestion from covert sources. Did your last smartphone purchase really come from a consumer choice that you alone made? How much was your choice affected by your peer group or TV advertising? Be honest now! And what of branding? How much do we need to associate with the suggested level of luxury in a product and how much of that choice is made for us, not by us?

There is another, some may say, sinister level to this; a subconscious change in what we choose. We perhaps don’t even notice the slow adjustment in our choices, yet our new choices, our new buying habits, somehow just seem to fit right in with how large companies want us to behave. This gradual transition goes by largely unnoticed. So much so that we don’t believe we have been influenced at all, or if that is even possible?

This is where I think Soap is a great example. Back in the 1980s, we had the first few products of liquid soap. At that time, these products could still be called ‘soap’ as they contained ingredients that were formed using a process called saponification, i.e. the chemical creation of soap salts.

Liquid soap was a very popular product. Sales grew quickly. Back then we had no concerns about the plastic container, it was, after all, easier and more convenient to use. Of course, the manufacturers were keen for us to make the change. Making soap in this way was quicker, cheaper and simpler. Soap bars need to dry, cure and then be separately wrapped. How much faster and less expensive it was to make a soap that just slides into the plastic pot before a machine pops a lid on. The manufacturers also wanted to remove certain elements that were naturally created during the soap making process, to sell on as commodities of their own. Glycerine for example; its removal from soap caused little change in the product’s consistency for us, the consumer, but made a nice by-product for the manufacturer to sell on. Glycerine offers a protective effect against irritating substances, has a therapeutic value and can aid a bruised or swollen skin.

In came the chemists

Some ingredients, like oils and butters used in the making soap were (and still are) quite expensive and mainly produced outside of the EU. So, even when buying by the tonne, price was harder to control. Chemists were able to create artificial substances that behaved like soap. They looked like soap, foamed up like soap, but, sadly, were not soap.

Once chemists had discovered these artificial substitutes, price was easier to control and the consumer was given an even cheaper product than before. The situation seemed to be ‘win/win’, so consumers became regular buyers. But the label of ‘Soap’ had gone. It was now ‘Hand Wash’ and nobody noticed.

Once they had got their teeth in, further developments were made. Ingredients began to be made from mineral oils (such as paraffin oil) and petroleum based alcohols, which, in my opinion, was a disastrous choice. Some elements of liquid and gel washing products were just a few steps away from anti-freeze, and some contained very little of anything that could be called natural.

All of this was happening without any real information being given to the consumer, they had already made a choice, and the manufacturers were happy to keep the sales rolling in. The cost of production was dropping and their profits became more and more secure, but, at the same time, some of these synthetic ingredients were being banned from use due to toxicity levels. Consumers were largely unaware of this, so their choices, remained unchanged.

The right choice?

Liquid gels and hand wash still out sell bar soap by around 8 to 1. Consumers still believe that these liquids have superiority over solid soap. It saves time, after all. And it’s less messy. Corporates have sold us this idea. They have hijacked our choices with a drive for higher levels of profit. We began with a choice of something good but this choice has been exploited. So, is it still the right choice?

Our Way – Naturally

At the Hertfordshire Soap Company we make soap using methods that date back centuries, using ancient techniques that now have all the control of a modern, clean and highly controlled environment. Soap made this way has an extremely low carbon footprint. It contains only natural plant material and chemicals that are naturally occurring on our planet. The quantities and purity of ingredients are strictly controlled under EU cosmetic regulations which ensure the finished item is nothing but the best that can be achieved.

There are no chemical preservatives. No wasteful packaging, no artificial colourings and the ingredients are all responsibly sourced, often organic and completely biodegradable.

Real soap is a more effective cleanser than its imitation counterpart. It can nourish and condition the skin, and it does this in a wholly natural way. It helps restore the skin Ph far quicker and it lasts longer, so is therefore cheaper overall and far better for the environment. Those that have decided to change to real soap, notice a distinct difference in the way it reacts on their skin. They are surprised how pleasant it is to use, and they all have come back for more, enjoying the variety of over 12 different soaps we have currently on offer.

Our soap isn’t ‘claggy’ or slow to dry out in the dish. It holds up very well in the shower or bath and is just as effective at sanitation as any liquid or gel alternative.

The average 40 year old will have washed with a detergent of some kind over 43,800 times, should we be concerned about the chemical residue each wash leaves behind?

So, what will your next choice be? To continue buying the liquids and gels?

If you are still undecided, don’t take my word for it, do a quick internet search of the ingredients on the products label or your recently-bought gel or liquid. Then make a better informed choice.

Or, perhaps, consider trying a bar of good old-fashioned ‘modern’ soap. Made properly, that way it should be, and see if you notice the difference.

We are starting a soap revolution in Hertfordshire, come and join us and make a better choice for you and your family’s skin and the environment.