The Stonesfield Soap Company
is situated in a small village in rural Oxfordshire, on the edge of the beautiful Cotswolds.
What we do:
We make a range of pure, hand-made artisan soap, carefully crafted from natural plant oils and butters, using the traditional cold-process method.
We also make a natural range of body and bath products such as lip/body balms and body butters, individually crafted from pure plant butters and oils, and bath salts, bombs and melts, all fragranced with pure essential oils and/or natural aromas and flavours.
How it all started…
My interest in home-made soaps and skin care products came about from a combination of two things: my daughter’s 10th birthday party in early 2011 and my dry, sensitive skin. She wanted a ‘Spa Science’ party, so I investigated the new world of ‘melt and pour’ soap, lip balms (albeit from a commercial children’s kit) and bath fizzy powder (bath bomb mix). The party was a great success, I found that I had really enjoyed it and wanted to find out more about ‘home-made’ bath and skin-care products.
Three things then happened:
- – my interest led me into the world of cold-process soaps, natural balms and creams;
- – by taking more of an interest in skin care labelling, I became far more aware of just what I was putting on my skin – it came as rather a nasty shock;
- – I found that my dry skin actually preferred the natural products I had tried making.
From that, I became determined to find out as much as I could and started to make more cold-process soaps and balms. Friends commented on them and asked to try them. Their positive feedback, and requests for more samples, encouraged me to take the (very!) big step of becoming fully safety assessed, EU compliant, and setting up my own company. Whilst very daunting, I have never once regretted it. I have found something I believe in, love doing and am keen to share with others.
Much of what we buy for skin care today contains a multitude of artificial ingredients, some of which can be skin irritants. Some well-known commercial beauty soaps or ‘beauty bars’ are not true soap at all, but a synthetic detergent full of unnecessary chemicals – just one look at the list of ingredients will be quite a revelation. Most other commercial soaps have been stripped of their precious glycerine, for use elsewhere in the beauty product industry (the ‘milling’ process) and are made with cheaper and, in many cases, ethically questionable palm oil.
Our skin-loving soaps are gentle and nourishing, being rich in naturally occurring, moisturising glycerine, and contain no harsh detergents, parabens, sulphates or other such additives. Many synthetic fragrance and flavour oils, commonly found in commercial products, can be allergenic and besides offering a pleasant fragrance, they impart no other benefits to the skin. The essential oils we use for our blends are chosen for their inherent aromatherapy properties so we can thus tailor soaps to skin type.
We add additional ingredients such as cruelty-free Tussah silk, botanicals, clays, herbal oil macerates and animal / plant milks, as well as a range of nutrient oils, to pamper your skin.
Where possible, we try to source local ingredients, such as the virgin rapeseed oil, honey and goatmilk used in many of our soaps. Our lavender, calendula and borage flowers are all home-grown and pesticide-free. We are aiming to increase our range home-grown flowers (cornflowers and chamomile) and to include home-grown, or locally-sourced, fruits and vegetables. Additionally, the majority of the flowers we grow provide excellent food sources for pollinators such as honey bees, bumble bees and solitary bees; we always grow lavender, borage, cornflowers and calendula as much for the benefit to pollinators as well as for their value in infusions. When harvesting the flowers, we ensure that the bees have plenty left to provide them with nectar and pollen.
Of great concern to us is the environmental and ethical impact of widespread deforestation occurring in Indonesia due to the expansion of the palm oil industry. The catastrophic effect on the orangutan population and other indigenous wildlife, and the hardships faced by local villagers, While sustainable-grown palm is available, it is hard to source the genuine product – there are too many companies who flout the regulations set in place by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) – so we have decided not to use palm oil and palm oil derivatives (which includes many cosmetic emulsifiers). You can find out more about the environmental and ethical costs of palm oil here and here. We have therefore made the choice to be completely palm-free and support a local, Oxfordshire-based organisation, the Sumatran Orangutan Society; a donation will be made to SOS for each bar of soap sold. We recently made a bespoke soap for SOS – ‘Sumatra‘ – with half of its sale price going directly to SOS.
Stonesfield Soap Company also supports the Bumblebee Conservation Trust which does excellent work in supporting, and raising awareness of, our native bumblebee species, many of which are in worrying decline. To this end, we make our ‘Bumblebee’ range of soaps of which a significant percentage of each sale goes directly to the BBCT. One of these soaps can be seen here, the bilberry bumblebee.
Tanya Bainbridge, founder and owner of The Stonesfield Soap Company along with her cat, Troy