Last year I blogged about how, as a result of having friends and family with eczema and sensitive skin, I got into making products at home with a view to helping to soothe and heal their skin complaints as I hated to see the suffering that eczema causes and how very often over the counter products and even many prescription medications seemed to add to the problem rather than solve it.
I made some Lavender, Camomile and Tea Tree melt and pour soap which proved to be very helpful at the time and was a pleasure to use.
However, there is currently another eczema flare-up within the family and so its been time to get soap-making again!
I made soap once again using the melt and pour method, with an SLS free, vegetable based glycerin melt and pour soap base (plenty of suppliers can be found online). SLS is an ingredient found in the majority of shop/supermarket bought soaps as its used to give soap its lather, but its a detergent and so can easily irritate the skin - so it doesn't make sense to be rubbing something into your skin which is likely to dry it out and irritate it if it is already feeling sensitive to start with (or even if it isn't feeling sensitive).
I kept the recipe really simple to start with, and only added some olive oil and some kelp powder to the soap base. Olive oil being a gentle but effective moisturiser and sea kelp is also considered to be helpful for irritated skin conditions. I also added a touch of natural yellow colouring (the sea kelp powder alone colours the soap brown). To be honest (thanks to the kelp), the soaps didn't smell particularly pleasant, but this isn't noticeable once they are being used.
I then made a version with the addition of cedarwood essential oil - which is said to relieve itching and has the added benefit of smelling nice (a very popular fragrance in masculine products).
When there's a flare up, its best to go back to basics with everything - looking at products used on the skin, diet, changes in soap powder, daily activities, contact with animals etc. Then, once things start to heal, with trial and error, changes can be made and things added back again.
My final version included dried lavender flowers (a good exfoliator and the floral smell also hides the smell of the sea kelp!). I made these in striped layers in heart shaped molds - the prettiest versions in the batch.