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by Fiona McBryde October 07, 2019

We use organic essential oils to fragrance our soaps. If you are used to synthetically fragranced soaps, which as a rule, most soaps are, then you will find our soaps gently scented in comparison. Synthetically fragranced soaps are long lasting and consistent, so a soap can sit on a shelf for a year without the scent diminishing. Essential oils, on the other hand, evaporate when exposed to light and air. From the moment a cold process soap is made, essential oil will begin to fade. The older the soap, the weaker the fragrance. That’s not to say an older soap has no value, far from it. A soap with a long cure time, will have a fantastic mild creamy lather.

There isn’t much that can be done to stop a soap from fading. We can’t add any more scent, as that’s capped by strict cosmetic regulations. In the EU, this is between 2 - 3% depending on the essential oil. Some soapmakers use a cellophane wrap to trap the essential oil, but cold process soap prefers to breathe. Some scents evaporate quicker than others - citruses, which are often referred to as top notes, will fade quicker than the heavier base notes of Patchouli, Frankincense and Ylang Ylang, which linger. Base notes however are tricky customers, they are either cost prohibitive (Rose, Vetiver) are difficult to source sustainably (Frankincense, Sandalwood) or just not everybody’s cup of tea (Patchouli, Ylang Ylang).

Remember though, the essential oils fades from the outside in. The essential oil hasn’t actually gone anywhere, just the outer 1 - 2 mm. This is why many people find the scent returns once the soap is in use. 

If you like strong scent that lingers on the skin, then synthetically fragranced soap might be the best soap for you. You’ll miss out on the secondary benefits that essential oils have to offer. 

The golden rule is if you prefer soaps naturally scented with essential oils, then please use them, don’t put them in your sock drawer.

Fiona McBryde
Fiona McBryde

Founder. Soap maker. Never finishes a cup of tea.

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