Specializing in hypoallergenic soap is one thing, but there is such a thing as too niche a specialization. There are Castile soapmakers who do nothing but olive oil soap. While I thought I would join their ranks, I find pure olive oil soap to be a little frustrating. The reason for this has to do with cure time.
All cold process and hot process soap needs time to cure. (Yes, even HP–the link explains that very nicely.) The reason why making pure olive oil soap is frustrating is because until the soap is 6-8 months old, the lather from olive oil soap just doesn’t feel as nice as other soaps. Unfortunately, this means that if I run out of stock in a certain kind of soap, I’m out of business for 6-8 months. The alternative is to release soap at 4-6 weeks. The soap is safe to use, but you really don’t get the absolute best experience with young olive oil soap that you do with well-aged (over 6 months) olive oil soap.
So what’s a responsible soapmaker to do? For allergy-related reasons, I refuse to use coconut, palm, corn, or soybean oils, and I am still committed to keeping my soap vegan, so lard and tallow are out. Other oils tend to have shorter shelf lives, so soap made with these oils have a higher tendency to spoil sooner. However, there are still so many other vegetable oils out there!
I currently use shea butter and cocoa butter in my soap on occasion. I will be adding other oils like safflower oil, canola oil, sweet almond oil etc to that list. Don’t worry–I will always label the soap clearly and make sure that it is tagged correctly, so that you can still find soap you can use without fear of triggering allergies. (Some of these are not ingredients I was using before, so there aren’t any tags for them at the moment… but there will be as soon as I am done writing this post!)
I will still be using my dual lye and sugar method–I find that it really helps the feel of the lather.
As always, if you have questions, comments, concerns… just ask!