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 after, of all things, my daughter’s 10th birthday party in early 2011. 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 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.
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, are allergenic; we only use essential oils and organic, natural flavour oils.
We add additional ingredients such as Tussah silk, kelp, cleansing clays, oatmeal 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 for 2014 and chamomile for 2016) 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.
We don’t use palm oil in our products due to the adverse environmental impact of palm plantations on the rainforest. Despite the stipulations of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), it is not always easy to guarantee that its guidelines are adhered to by member plantations or that a source of palm is truly sustainably grown. 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.
The majority of our soaps contain Tussah silk. It is hydrolysed (broken down) into its consituent amino acids during the soapmaking process and confers an extra luxurious silkiness to the soaps. Tussah silk is only harvested once the silk moths have emerged from their cocoons, unlike conventional silk harvesting where the pupating silkworm caterpillars are boiled alive inside their cocoons.
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, for each soap we sell that contains honey or a floral essential oil, we are going to be donating a percentage of its sale price to the BBCT.
Tanya Bainbridge, founder and owner of The Stonesfield Soap Company along with her cat, Troy