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Soapy Goodness – body & conscience cleansers

May 2018, posted by Emma


Over the past few years we’ve become more aware of the environmental impact of palm oil production. It’s in about half of all household products we buy; soaps, cosmetics, biscuits and margarines to name a few. The problem isn’t with palm oil itself, but that rainforest, notably in Indonesia and Malaysia, continues to be destroyed to make way for increasingly huge palm oil plantations.

The environmental effects of this are devastating – endangered species including orangutans, rhinos and tigers, alongside multitudes of other plant, animal & insect life, are increasingly at risk. In addition, the deforestation is causing soil erosion and air pollution. Many experts now also link it to climate change. Despite this, global demand for palm oil is growing; production has doubled over the past decade and the wildlife charity WWF estimate that it will increase another two-fold by 2050.


So what’s this got to do with Materia Aromatica? Well, quite a lot, because we’ve just launched our first palm-oil free soaps!

We have replaced the palm oil with organic cocoa butter, also adding extra shea butter at trace (just before the mixture turns solid). These changes in our formulation have transformed our soaps that have become even softer on the skin and silkier.

Our soaps are hand-made from start to finish, with no machinery involved, using only certified organic ingredients - a carefully chosen blend of vegetable oils and butter fragranced with our organic essential oils. We follow a cold-process method which involves mixing water, vegetable fats and lye. This is the only process that preserves the therapeutic value of the ingredients. Nothing is removed - the soaps keep the glycerin that is naturally produced during the curing. And nothing is added other than our pure essential oils and dried botanicals.

Our manufacturing schedule follows the demand so our customers receive the freshest batch always. The fragrance of a freshly cured batch is amazing and unique.

The soaps come in 4 sizes

  • A square bar of about 100g
  • A rectangular small bar, half the size of the above - about 50 gr
  • A guest soap size - a small square a quarter of the size of a large bar - These are ideal for B&Bs, guests rooms, wedding favours….

(Weight may vary slightly due partly to the water content which reduces as the soap dries and the water evaporates; an partly due to the fact that all the proceses are carried out by hand, including the cutting which is not as accurate as what a machine would produce).

They are beautifully wrapped (also all done by hand) and make a stylish gift

They come in 4 fragrances

  • Joie de Vivre - our signature blend and best-seller
  • Lavender & laveder flowers
  • Tea Tree & Lemongrass
  • Geranium & rose petals


Geranium essential oil (Pelagonium X asperum) is a much-loved skin care ingredient. Its name part-derives from the Greek for stork (pelargos), as its delicate seed heads are thought to resemble those of the birds. A great quote from the 16C herbalist Nicolas Culpepper recommends geranium for healing “…old ulcers in the privy parts, or elsewhere”* - it’s an oil that is still recommended for wounds, both physical and emotional.

Tisserand tells us that Geranium oil has strong anti-inflammatory actions, making it useful for a range of conditions. When inflammation is present pain almost certainly is too. Reducing inflammation is key to alleviating pain, so Geranium is an oil is turn to when treating sprains, strains and many soft tissue injuries. With skin care it’s a friend to reach for when presented with inflamed eczema, psoriasis and rosacea.

Emotionally, Geranium is a highly versatile oil, with an ability to cool, calm and lift the spirits. As such, it can be fantastic to aid stress and anxiety, agitation and low mood. A 2016 Iranian study looked at the anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects of inhaling geranium oil, in this case through face masks, on patients who had suffered heart attacks (acute myocardial infarction). The patients who inhaled the essential oil for 20 minutes on 2 consecutive days reported significantly greater reductions in anxiety levels than those who smelt the placebo.

So I recommend a hot bath with Geranium palm-oil free soap, to unwind, calm and sooth after a long day at the office, massage couch or school-run-plus-homework-supervision duties. Geranium is an oil I add to my own bathwater when my stress levels are rising, or if I’m feeling emotionally spent.

While you wait for your soaps to arrive you might like to make your own bath blend. This is a massage oil I designed with a client to support her through labour. She called it ‘Strength and Calm’, to reflect how she wanted to feel. Her partner massaged it into her back before she gave birth to a healthy baby girl. I love the name of this blend, which is a great way to describe geranium alone. You don’t have to be about to give birth to enjoy this blend!

20 ml Sunflower oil 20ml with 10ml jojoba oil, or use 30ml of our Body Wash
Essential oils:-
4 drops True lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
5 drops Cypress (Cypressus sempervirens)
3 drops Geranium (Pelargonium X asperum)

Thoroughly mix the essential oils into the base oils / Body Wash and add a glug (or approx. 1 tablespoon) to your bath water. Enjoy your bath oil paired with your chosen Guest Soap, knowing that your conscience environmentally clean when it comes to bathtime. If you’re not sure if geranium is the right aroma for you then why not buy our lavender and Joi de Vivre soaps too, just to make sure you get the soap you need.

Emma Charlton

• Howard E & Moulds J (2014),
10 things you need to know about sustainable palm oil, accessed 30/04/18, available from https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2014/nov/26/10-things-you-need-to-know-about-sustainable-palm-oil
• Johnson AT & Smith HA (1972) Plant Names Simplified, Abingdon: The Hamlyn Publishing Group
• Shirzadegan R et al (2016),
Effects of geranium aroma on anxiety among patients with acute myocardial infarction: A triple-blind randomised clinical trial, accessed 30/04/18, available
• Tisserand R (1977) The Art of Aromatherapy, Vermont, Healing Arts Press
• Tisserand R (2015) Essential Oil Chemistry and Pharmacology: the actions of aromatic compounds in the body (seminar notes), London: ITHMA
• WWF / Compost A (2016) Environmental and Social Impact of Palm Oil Production, accessed 30/04/18, available from http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/footprint/agriculture/about_palm_oil/environmental_impacts/
*Culpepper quote cited in Tisserand R, referenced above.