How are your soaps made?
Our face and body bars are lovingly made by hand with sumptuous, skin-loving ingredients. We take the good stuff from Nature — like plant oils and essences, natural pigments, flower petals, seeds, clay — and through the beautiful alchemy of a 7-step cold process, turn mere ingredients into heavenly concoctions.
Is there a way to make soap without lye?
We hate to break it to you, but not everything you call soap is actually soap. According to the legal definition (did you know there was a legal definition?), soap has to consist mainly of fats and alkali (i.e. lye). Those white bricks you buy at the supermarket are not actually soap; they’re — gasp! — synthetic detergents, which is why they can do a number on your skin.
If the idea of scrubbing lye all over your body doesn’t sound appealing, don’t worry. When fat meets lye, it saponifies, rendering the lye totally neutral, harmless and actually quite likeable.
What does saponify mean?
You know how if you mix wheat and water you get glue, but if you add sugar, you get cookies? Saponification is kind of like that. It’s the magical transformation that happens when an acid (fat) meets a base (lye) and creates a salt (soap).
Do you use any synthetic colors or fragrances in your products?
Nope. We much prefer the muted, earthy colors you get from natural plant pigments over the false brightness of artificial dyes. And while synthetic fragrances are the last holdout for a lot of products labeled “natural,” we hold ourselves to a higher standard.
Close your eyes, take a whiff of one of Smart by Nature’s soaps, lotions or bath salts, and you’ll experience a whole new level of sensory delight. Everything we make is scented with pure essential oils — the distillations of flower and wood and peels down to their very essence. We spend a ridiculous amount of time crafting elegant blends of essential oils to create a full-bodied scent experience that will rock your socks off.
Are your soaps glycerin soaps?
Yes, but that may not mean what you’re thinking.
Glycerin is a wonderfully moisturizing ingredient that, lucky for us, is created in the process of making soap. By nature, any real soap — soap made through that charming reaction of fat and lye — is a glycerin soap. So yes, all Smart by Nature soaps are glycerin soaps.
Now, frequently soaps marketed as “glycerin soap” are transparent. That doesn’t mean they necessarily contain any more glycerin than other real soaps. They’ve just undergone some extra steps — including being heated at some very high temperatures, which we’re not so fond of.
Are your products tested on animals?
No, and they never will be! However, our friends, family, and fans love to test out our “beta”versions until we get them just right. We are working through the paperwork to get our Cruelty Free certification now, which is lovingly called ‘Leaping Bunny’!
How do you define “natural”?
Darn good question. Unlike “soap,” there’s no legal definition for the word “natural.” (Weird, right?) Luckily, some enterprising natural care companies, collaborating with the Natural Products Association, have made up their own definition, called The Natural Standard for Personal Care, and we say “hear, hear!”
All of us believe products labeled “natural” should meet four criteria:
The Natural Standard for Personal Care acknowledges that sometimes even natural products might need a pinch of synthetic ingredients (that have no suspected human health risks, of course) to protect against mold and other not-so-nice things you wouldn’t want to see in your refrigerator. But they cap it at 5%. So, natural products should be made with at least 95% all-natural ingredients.
Which ingredients do you recommend avoiding in skincare products?
Trying to find 100 percent natural skincare products can be a daunting task, just like trying to eat 100 percent organic all the time. Setting the bar that high might even make you want to throw up your hands and give up! Rather than trying to avoid any trace of synthetic ingredients in your skincare products, we suggest starting by avoiding “the big three.” You won’t find these ingredients in any Smart by Nature products!
Parabens – On the bright side, parabens are effective preservatives that prevent the growth of mold and fungus in products that contain water — like lotions, shampoos, and creams. But these synthetics have a serious downside. Scientific research has shown parabens can act as endocrine disrupters, meaning they mess with your hormones. Specifically, they mimic estrogen, so they may negatively affect your reproductive system. Not cool! That’s why they’re banned for use in products carrying the Natural Seal of the Natural Products Association (NPA).
It’s not easy to find close-to-natural alternatives to parabens, but we’ve researched this issue inside and out and feel comfortable with our decision to preserve our lotions with phenoxyethanol, a synthetic version of a natural substance found in green tea that is approved for use in natural products by the NPA.
For more information on parabens, here’s the BBC’s 60 Second Guide:
Sulfates – Ah, sulfates. These synthetic ingredients make your shampoo, bubble bath, and toothpaste lather. And we Americans love our bubbles! Unfortunately, sulfates are skin irritants and can cause skin allergies in lots of people. Because they’re so ubiquitous, it’s hard to live without products containing some variation of sulfates. So short of that, at least avoid the most irritating ones: sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate. The NPA specifically prohibits using sodium lauryl sulfate in products bearing the Natural Seal.
Phthalates – These synthetics, which are plasticizers commonly used as fragrances, really are nasty and should be avoided at all costs. Like parabens, they’re endocrine disrupters, so they confuse your body by acting an awful lot like estrogen. Oh and they might cause cancer. (The link isn’t definitive yet, but initial studies are pointing in that direction.) Even the EPA regulates phthalates as water and air pollutants. Ew! No wonder the Natural Products Association won’t let products with phthalates wear the Natural Seal.
Why did you choose the name SMART BY NATURE?
No one can argue that Nature is smart. If you need evidence of this fact, check out some pictures of the amazing camouflage techniques those crazy insects have developed.
We like to think that both our products and our customers are smart by nature! Our products, because they work better (and smell better and feel better) than industrially produced ones. And our customers, because the more we help educate them about the wonders of natural ingredients, the smarter choices they make about what they put on their bodies.