Here, at the Bottega Zero Waste School, we obsess over student success. Every month we celebrate a new Maker with a truly inspiring story. If you are not on our mailing list make sure you subscribe here for a chance to submit your story and be featured as one of our upcoming Maker of the Month!
Today I am delighted to introduce you to Rose, a Zero Waste Haircare student who foundered her own soaps brand, Soaps for Change, to fight for social justice...read her interview and story below!
Hi, my name is Rose! Soap making started out as a creative outlet for me, which I began after my brother gifted me soap making ingredients during the holidays. I started making soap in the new year, just before the pandemic hit.
When I found myself stuck inside weekend after weekend, it became my go to activity, and allowed me to formulate my own zero-waste products for me and my partner (who has sensitive skin!).
Founding Soaps for Change
I was motivated to scale up soap making amidst the national protests around police brutality and structural racism this past year in the United States, following the murder of George Floyd. I started out by holding fundraising campaigns, where I would encourage people to donate by sending them soaps as a thank you for their donations.
The campaigns were so successful, and so I decided to scale up the project into a more formal business this year. Now, I sell handmade soaps and soap-based shampoo bars in an online store and at local markets, and donate the profits to social justice organizations.
So far, Soaps for Change supporters have contributed over $12k in donations to thirteen different organizations! Donations from sales made in June will be sent to The Okra Project, a collective that provides healthy, home-cooked, culturally specific meals to Black trans people.
Formulating my favourite handmade soap bar
Since founding Soaps for Change, I have formulated many soaps, including face soaps, dish soaps and even salt bars! You can check out the full soaps range on the Soaps for Change website.
My favorite soap that I've developed is "Ponderosa Pine", a soap inspired by the ponderosa pine tree. Ponderosa pines have a sweet, vanilla, nutty-smelling bark! The soap doesn't quite smell like the bark itself, but it blends woodsy and sweet scents into a unique blend that I find so soothing.
Want to formulate your own soap recipes?
Soap Bars for Acne Prone Skin
One of the biggest challenges I have faced in my soap making journey so far is formulating soap bars for acne prone skin. "Acne-safe" soap needs to include ingredients with with comedogenic values of only 0 and 1.
This was quite daunting, since many oils and butters with low comedogenic values also make soft soap bars. I couldn't use olive oil or coconut oil, which make up the largest fraction of many of the soaps I've formulated soaps!
How to create a soap bar for acne prone skin
After some formulating and research (I used a form from Skin Salvation to look up other comedogenic factors beyond those listed in Botanical Soaps), I found that I could substitute coconut oil with babassu oil.
I also found that I could stretch the percentage limits with a few of the other oils and butters. I used a large water discount and some other tricks to make as hard of a soap bar as I could given the ingredients.
I'm in the process of testing it myself to see how it does with acne-prone skin! So far, so good, but I may need a couple more test runs before I arrive at the final recipe.
Having the confidence to formulate my own recipes
I am currently enrolled in Zero Waste Haircare, the Bottega Zero Waste Online Course. I’ve loved the course and make shampoo and conditioner bars to use at home for now.
Although I do not sell hair care through Soaps for Change (other than soap-based shampoo bars), the course has given me so much more confidence in formulating my own recipes and better understanding the part that each ingredient plays in a recipe.
Taking the course gave me the confidence to make the soap I mentioned in my entry that used oils and butters with comedogenic factors of 0 and 1 as well!
If you'd like to continue to follow my making journey, follow me on Instagram @soapsforchange!