The latest installment in our Deep Dive product closeup series is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of our Dead Sea Spa Body Bar. As you might suspect from the name, this luscious body bar features rare and beneficial Dead Sea clay, but that’s only the beginning.
The Deep Dive series touches on the reasons why we created our products, and what problems they address. We will talk about the art of product formulation, as well as some of the ingredients that we use for each product, and why. Ayr Skin Care is a small artesian company, so a great deal of thought is put into each handmade batch. Read on to learn more about this process with our Dead Sea Spa Body Bar!
For as nourishing and exotic as the Dead Sea clay is, we didn’t begin with the name. The first step in developing a new product is always asking ourselves “What problem will this solve?” With the Dead Sea bar, the problem was twofold:
No Synthetic Fragrance
First of all, I personally cannot use any synthetic fragrance, and yet like most women I love beautiful scents. I wanted a spa scent. Something that would remind me of those beautiful escapes that happen every now and then on vacation, where I can disappear into a spa and get a massage or facial, and forget about the rest of the world. There is a definite “spa air” smell, and I wanted something that smelled like that.
Since I could not use synthetic fragrance/perfume, I created a delicate blend of essential oils that would transport the soap user to a beautiful point of relaxation.
No Synthetic Color
The second problem was the soap color—and this is where the Dead Sea clay actually enters the picture!
I love color in soaps, and beautiful swirls. In fact, as a member of the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild (HSCG) I have many friends who create beautiful soaps with intricate designs. The problem is that many of these beautiful designs are made by using mica.
Mica is a funny ingredient. There are soap makers who swear by it and those that scratch their heads. It is largely understood to be minerals that come naturally from the earth. The only problem is that they are then colored with lab-created soap colorants. For example, if you see pink and blue soap for sale, and the manufacturer has listed “mica” with no color numbers, then that soap is probably not labeled correctly in the eyes of the FDA. Anything that is colored has to be labeled with the color numbers used to color the mica, and those colors are lab-created synthetics. Although mica soaps can be beautiful, sensitive skin can become irritated and red with synthetic soap colorants and scents.
The Natural Color Answer
So, how do we get lovely colors without mica? The answer is going to natural soap colorants, like Dead Sea clay (yes, it’s a coloring agent too!), other clays and indigo. The added ingredients cannot simply be there for color; they have to have an active role in the formula, or else the FDA will question why they should be there. Only registered colors (synthetic) can color cosmetics. Fortunately, there were no problems here! I already knew what qualities I wanted the soap to have, and the clays and indigo were necessary for those properties.
Cambrian Blue Clay
The Dead Sea Spa Body Bar has intricate swirls of color that come from three different mixtures. The first swirl is from Cambrian blue clay, sourced from the salt lakes of Siberia. An ancient sea-bed, this clay is filled with rare minerals. Also included is indigo, which comes from the shrub of the same name, which survives in many desert climates and has been used for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Dead Sea Clay
The second swirl of color is from our Dead Sea clay, from the famous Dead Sea between Jordan and Israel. The mud found in this lake is considered the most beneficial mud on the planet, and has wonderful skin-softening qualities in its 21 essential minerals. We add a touch of charcoal, to help with drawing toxins from the body.
White Kaolin Clay
The third swirl of color comes from white kaolin clay, which is the most common clay in skincare for a reason. The lovely, pure white clay is skin softening, contains phytonutrients that refresh the skin, exfoliating gently without drying the skin.
All of these clays work together and because each batch of soap is hand-poured, each bar has swirls and patterns that are completely unique. The result is natural beauty perfection!
What Makes Handmade Soap Unique?
With all of these lovely clays, each one a beautiful soap colorant in its own right, you might think that this soap would be drying to the skin, but no! We include fair trade, organic Shea butter to help increase collagen production and to smooth and moisturize skin.
The addition of quality oils, like our sustainable palm oil, organic coconut oil, organic rice bran, and organic castor oil are one of the things that sets us apart. Handmade soap, unlike conventional soaps on the market, contains naturally-occurring vegetable glycerin. Many times in commercial soaps, glycerin, a side product, is sold off to other cosmetic manufacturers. In handmade soap like this, the glycerin, which is a powerful humectant, stays in the bar.
The combination of shea butter, glycerin, the minerals from the mud, and the quality oils, together make for the softest bar of soap you have ever experienced.
And the Dead Sea clay, well, not only is it good for your skin and a beautiful source of color: The name conjures up luxury, mystique, and relaxation in an exotic realm.
Creating the Bars
In our workshop, the beautiful Dead Sea Spa Body Bar is carefully weighed, measured, mixed, and hand swirled. It is poured into large molds, a special swirl is added to the top of the bars, and it is put away for 48 hours. After 48 hours, the mold is opened, and we use a log splitter to cut our block of soap into logs. The logs are then cut using a bar cutting tool and we have bars of soap!
The Long Rest
But the bars are not finished yet!! After they have been cut, the bars are set out on drying racks for at least six weeks to cure. Once cured, the bars are hand beveled, so that the edges are beautifully even, and then they are put into their specially designed soap boxes, with batch numbers and expiration dates labeled on each box. It’s a long time to wait for a bar of soap, but we know it is worth it!
The Total Package
For the ultimate spa experience, give yourself over to the Dead Sea Spa Body Bar. From the initial aromatherapy of the essential oils, to the natural swirling soap colorants with Dead Sea clay and other rare clays and minerals, you will be swept away. Isn’t that what we are all looking for?
Until next time,