By Emily Glory Peters
Soap making is an age-old practice. Evidence of soap-like substances has been traced back to the ancient Romans, Egyptians, even the Babylonians, all whipping up mysterious emulsions of oils, salts and Mother Nature’s other odds and ends to get squeaky clean.
That magic continues today, albeit with a considerable ingredient upgrade. Founded in 2003, The Soap Kitchen in Pasadena serves up high quality scrubs, butters, cleansers and soaps designed to nourish—not strip—your skin.
“The biggest misconception is that people think bar soaps are harsh and drying,” says Dali Yu, who runs The Soap Kitchen with her mom. “Ours are packed with saponified oils and the natural glycerin that occurs when you make soap from scratch like we do. Glycerin draws moisture to your skin, so you won’t feel tight and dry after using our soaps.”
Yu refers to her scents as “flavors,” which makes sense as her soaps derive their fragrances, textures and colors from all natural ingredients like shea butter, goji berries, green tea, lemon, rosemary, essential oils—the list goes on. And like soap chefs before her, she prefers going old school.
“We make soap the old-fashioned way with lye and fats—mainly olive oil along with other vegetable oils, no animal fats,” says Yu. Free of parabens, sulfates and synthetic fragrances, her massive, 100-pound soap batches (she makes four at a time!) are molded and insulated for two days. After curing for three weeks, they’re beautifully wrapped and ready for sale.
“It’s quite the process, but the end product is so worth it,” she says.
The appeal of The Soap Kitchen isn’t new—even the famed Huell Howser featured the shop several years back—but Yu notes that awareness is shifting.
“Some people think natural beauty products don’t work as well as, say, antibacterial soap. But that’s not true!” she says. “The FDA has actually announced that regular soap and water is just as effective at removing bacteria, with none of the health risks of chemical laden antibacterial soaps.” Customers are also switching from liquid to bar soap to benefit more than just their own bodies.
“People are becoming plastic-waste conscious and are moving towards zero waste. We love and stand behind this,” notes Yu. She even has a tip on how to get the most out of your purchase.
“I like to press any remaining slivers of our different bars together while they’re still wet, then let them dry and fuse together,” she laughs. “It’s like getting the benefits of multiple soaps in one.”
With fifteen years in the kitchen, Yu and her mom have certainly earned their spot in the soapmakers constellation. They’ve got a few exciting new products they’re working on, too—but will always turn towards planet earth for what our bodies need.
“Everyone wants to take care of their skin, and with so much information out there and people pushing their products and making claims about how good they are, it’s hard to filter out the noise sometimes. My philosophy is to keep the ingredients simple and go back to basics,” she says. “If you’re good to your skin and good to the environment, you’re on the right track. The Soap Kitchen makes it easy for you to do both.”
The Soap Kitchen is located at 25 N. Fair Oaks Avenue. in Old Town Pasadena. To learn more, contact Dali and The Soap Kitchen team at www.thesoapkitchen.com | 626.396.9996 and follow The Soap Kitchen on Facebook @thesoapkitchenpasadena and Instagram @thesoapkitchen.