So True Naturals Soap

soaps22It’s been well-documented on this site how much I love soaps (need proof? Click here, here, or here), so you can imagine how excited I’ve been to put this post up.

I have always been curious about what goes into making these bars of bathing joy. So when wonder-woman and owner of So True Naturals, Mia Rocha-Lauchengco, invited me over to photograph her soap-making process, I jumped at the chance.

So True Naturals makes only 100% olive oil Castile soaps. They are so gentle that they can be used on young and old alike. Each hefty bar smells delicious and lasts for quite a while. Bath time can’t get much creamier than this.

soaps20I asked Mia to share a bit about what makes her soaps different from most while she made a special batch exclusively for some of my lucky readers to try. Please find out how to join at the bottom of the post.

Hi Mia! Can you share with my readers what you you do?

Good question! I think like any other woman, I wear many hats. So first, I am wife to Raymond. Second, I am mother to Natalie (who is five) and David (who is three). Third, I am a soap maker (and everything else it needs me to be) at SoTrue Naturals. Fourth, I am a freelance writer who writes feature articles, PR pieces, and AVP and corporate event scripts. My current, ongoing favorite writing job is writing love letters to my daughter, who has just discovered that writing letters is a lot of fun.

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soaps15How did you get into Castile soap making?

I’m an info junkie. When Natalie was born, I had researched every little thing about having a baby. I knew all the websites on breastfeeding, and I could open a pregnancy book on the page with the information I needed on the first try. Much of the stuff I read spoke about the toxic chemicals found in items found in any given person’s home. So I was quite vigilant about that.

Then Nat developed eczema, before she even turned a year old. I could tell it made her uncomfortable, and she was forever scratching. So I did more research. Switched to skin care products that were supposedly mild. Nothing really worked on her, unfortunately.

Then I found out about Castile soap, and that ‘true’ Castile soap is also called the newborn soap because it was mild enough to use on newborn skin. It’s been said it’s the mildest soap there is. So I made a batch for Nat, then another for us, then another for family and friends…

soaps19What exactly makes a true Castile soap? 

A true Castile soap is made purely from olive oil. It got its name because they were first made in the 1500s, in the Castile region of Spain, using olive oil. These days the term ‘Castile soap’ is loosely used to describe soaps made from other vegetable oils, such as coconut oil or palm oil.

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100% premium grade olive oil.

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A bit of lye (which is fully evaporated once soaps are saponified).

What separates SoTrue Naturals from other soap brands in our local market? 

I make true Castiles, meaning I use only olive oil. I don’t even use pomace, which is solvent-extracted and cheaper. Olive oil makes for a very conditioning soap.

I won’t lie to you, there are many handmade soaps out there, and I’m sure you can pick out any one of them and you will have soap of much better quality than those you buy off a supermarket shelf. But I’ve stuck to the original, centuries-old recipe of a true Castile, because I want to offer a truly luxurious, mild and conditioning soap.

The SoTrue promise is that we would use only ingredients I wouldn’t think twice about using on my own kids. It’s important to me to know where my supplies come from, and who my suppliers are. I could use something labeled ‘essential oil’ and enjoy a better profit margin, but that wouldn’t sit well with me when I have doubts about its quality. In a way, I’m glad my brand is called SoTrue, it forces me to make decisions based on principle and not on cost.

While they’re definitely not the cheapest soaps in the market, I can guarantee that you get what you pay for. I use only quality olive oil and pure essential oils or phthalate-free fragrance oils to scent it.

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soaps5Let’s talk fragrance. What types are there? What does phthalate-free mean? 

There’s natural, and there’s synthetic. Natural fragrances are usually essential oils–extracted from plants. Synthetic fragrances are man-made, usually called fragrance oils.

Essential oils are volatile, meaning they evaporate quickly. This is why if you bathe with a soap scented with lavender essential oil, you won’t smell the lavender on your skin after you rinse off. So it’s really more of the experience in the bath. Some essential oils, especially the citrus ones, are VERY volatile…so by the time a soap cures (the time needed to dry up and lower its pH level), the scent is gone!

Fragrance oils are more stable. Unfortunately, fragrance companies do not disclose what’s in their fragrances, and they usually contain phthalates. These are the chemicals that help scents stick to your skin long after you apply them, and studies have shown that phthalates are endocrine disruptors (they affect the way your hormones work in your body, and affect young children–boys, especially–the most). Because of this, fragrance companies have been forced to address the demand for phthalate-free fragrances, and I’ve found some really nice ones for my soap.

The scent from a phthalate-free fragrance oil will not last as long as fragrances that have them, but because they are more stable, their scent will last longer than essential oils would.

soaps5What are some of the other ingredients you mix into your Castile soaps? What are their benefits?

Aside from the olive oil saponified with the use of sodium hydroxide (which is completely used up once the oil is turned into soap), I put in fragrance, this is where essential oils and phthalate-free fragrance oils come in. Essential oils are generally antibacterial and have a lot of benefits, but I like adding them primarily for the scent it imparts. Some soaps have additives such as oatmeal or ground cinnamon. Oatmeal is soothing to the skin, and is a gentle exfoliant. So is ground cinnamon, which also helps promote circulation. I used to think aromatherapy was nonsense, but I have to be honest–whenever I make soaps, I feel really good.

I use iron oxides, too, because they make my soaps look cute (laughs).

A note regarding iron oxides: They are made in a lab. In the 70s, the US FDA banned the mining of iron oxides because of contamination issues (traces of lead, arsenic and other toxic chemicals were usually found in them). So since then, iron oxides have been made in a lab to ensure that all you get are iron oxides are nothing else. It’s the same molecular structure as those found in nature, just made with another method. Iron oxides are the colorants used in mineral makeup.

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Adding essential oils for fragrance.

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Pouring first layer into molds.

I understand that true Castile soaps don’t lather and have a tendency to get slimy, what’s the best way to use/store them?

Contrary to popular belief, lather has nothing to do with a soap’s ability to cleanse. Soap molecules have two different ends–one is attracted to the oily muck on our skin, and the other end is attracted to water. So when you apply the soap to your skin, one end attaches itself to the grime, and is washed away with water when you rinse.

When you use a true Castile, you get a creamy (okay, maybe slimy), not bubbly, lather. It’s just the inherent property of the soap. The more conditioning it is, the creamier it feels.

Castile soaps are also very high in glycerin, which is what attracts moisture to it. If you leave your soap in a puddle, no matter how small, the soap will absorb it and you will end up with a gooey mess. Same thing will happen if you leave your soap in a part of the shower where water will get to it. So it’s very important to keep it as dry as possible between uses.

Some clients cut the bar in half, then use one half for one shower and another half for the next. I use a really good soap dish that efficiently keeps water away from the soap. It may seem high-maintenance, but I like to think it’s just a matter of taking care of something that takes care of you.

And if you end up with a gooey mess anyway, it’s still good soap! Just think of it as bath gel!

Synthetic iron oxide

Only a pinch of iron oxide is needed for color.

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Everything needs to be precise.

Do you recommend using your soaps on just your face or body?

Our soaps are designed for the body, but I do use them on my face. Just remember that the skin on our face is a lot more sensitive than the skin on our body, so be sure to use a moisturizer afterwards. They’re excellent for washing makeup off!

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soaps11If someone wanted to try your soaps for the first time, which bars would you recommend? 

Any soap whose scent appeals to you. If you have very, very sensitive skin, I’d recommend the unscented and non-colored ones, like the True Castile or the Oat Castile. If you can’t live without fragrance, but have very sensitive skin, try the Lavender Oatmeal.

What skin types would best benefit from using a true Castile soap?

Because of its mildness and conditioning properties, it’s good for all skin types.

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Pouring the second layer.

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Soaps are then required to age for at least a month. The longer the better.

Can you share a success story from one of your loyal clients?

Oh, I have quite a few!

I often get mail from moms who tell me that my soap helped soothe their baby’s eczema and what not. Those really make my day. Some of them make me cry! But perhaps the most dramatic story is Kyla’s. She’s 14. We were traveling together early this year and while chatting with her I was looking at her skin, amazed at how smooth it was. It was as smooth as a baby’s bottom, no exaggeration. And I was thinking, wow, for a girl her age it’s unusual that she wasn’t breaking out. Then as if she read my mind, she said, ‘Tita Mia, you know, I really love your soap! I was super breaking out and I tried all sorts of soap and it only cleared up with yours!’ The soap she used was Peppermint Cinnamon.

That made me feel really good, because I know what it’s like to have breakouts at that age. And to make a difference in a young girl’s life in that way? I know it sounds trivial, but really, it isn’t.

Do you ship internationally? How can people purchase your soaps? 

We have a online store, where one can view all our products and buy them. We ship worldwide.

Locally, our stockists are Holy Carabao and Bungalow 300Itsie-bitsie Boutique (Manila & HK) and b+b studio starting this October.

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You’ve just seen how they’re made, now try them for yourself. So True Naturals is giving these gorgeous limited edition bars of soap we like to call ‘Zen’ to eight lucky Cat JL readers from anywhere in the world!

1 Leave a comment letting us know why you’d like to give them a try. Deadline is September 30.

2 So True Naturals will choose eight readers at random and let you know via email first week of October.

3 Open to all readers worldwide (a minimal shipping fee will be required if chosen)

For more information about So True Naturals  email them at sotruecastilesoap@gmail.com or check our their websiteThey are open to stockist inquiries for anywhere in the world. 

They will be opening online stores for South East Asia, the US, and Canada in the very near future too!

(Update: Winners have been selected. Thank you for joining!)

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Comments

  1. Hi there Ms. Cat! I’d love to try this soap because I have never tried using one! The soap I’m using always comes from supermarket shelves! 🙂

  2. thank you for sharing the process!!!!! absolutely FASCINATING!!!!!! – i helped Mia with packaging 🙂

  3. I love Castile soap! I first tried them in the US with the Dr. Bronner brand. Healthy Options carried them for a while but stopped because the supplier couldn’t keep up with the demand. I have since resorted to having relatives bring me huge bottles back from the States. I would love to try a local version and I’m glad one exists!

  4. You know I love soap as much as you 🙂 Would be happy to try! They look so pretty too! It might just help with Natalia’s skin. She’s perpetually scratching and our current oatmeal soap doesn’t seem to be working!

  5. Hi! I have been using So True Naturals’ soaps everyday for 5 months now.

    One of the good things I’ve discovered whenever I’d take care of the Castile Soaps I buy is that they don’t shrink that fast.

    I cut each bar into 20-gram pieces and use only 1 piece at a time per Castile soap (I had 2 bars when I started). Because I keep them dry, even the ones that have been used, each 20-gram block lasts a month for me. I use each piece at least once a day. (NOTE: but I’m quite short. The daily consumption may not necessarily be the same for others).

    Also, since I keep the rest of the pieces in my cabinet, they make my cabinet smell nice.

    P. S.
    If majority of those who will join have not yet tried the soap, no need to count this comment as an entry 😉

  6. You had me at phthalate -free and 100% quality olive oil.. I have skin asthma, my daughter has rough, dry patches on her skin and my infant son has very very sensitive skin. We’ve been on the lookout for soaps that would work for us and I hope this is it. Thanks for the very informative, visual feast post!

  7. My son had atopic dermatitis when he was a baby. He very rarely has flare-ups now, but I still try to be careful. Would love to give this a go! 🙂

  8. I love soaps, esp natural ones. I have a very dry skin so i need a soap to moisturize everyday! Would like to try So True Naturals 🙂

  9. I’m so excited for this soap! I would love to try some – will get mum to bring some over when she comes for Christmas.

  10. I’m so excited to read they will be opening an online store in the US! I’ve had terrible eczema all my life and spend everyday examining my baby’s skin hoping that she hasn’t inherited it (so far so good). I’d love to try this on both of us.

  11. kat atillo-cruz says:

    i’d love to give this a try for my baby who i think has sensitive skin. 🙂

  12. Pia Congmon says:

    Caterina! I would love to try the Peppermint Cinnamon for my son Waki’s breakouts. Will take a ‘before and after’ photo. 🙂

  13. I’m expecting my baby very, very soon — and I think she will love this! Would appreciate a sample. 🙂