At Hopi we make a small range of soap for use by people with sensitive skin who like to feel good. They are used throughout New Zealand in homes, as corporate gifts and in tourist accommodation. Our range is available through this website and a small group of stockists.
My family has always had sensitive skin that causes eczema on our face and bodies. I have been using soap substitutes of one brand or another since I was sixteen. When we had children I quickly realised that they could not use any over the counter ‘baby soaps’. The soap substitutes suggested by our family Doctor didn’t keep their skin moist or free of eczema and didn’t seem to clean much either. Looking at friends whose children had the same problem, I saw I wasn’t alone. I stopped using soap and soap substitutes while I asked around for something that worked. Our youngest child in particular spent much of his early childhood bathing in just warm water. This worked well but wasn’t a long term solution (actually I have a relative who hasn’t used soap for years due to skin problems and can definitely say he doesn’t smell).
Bath soap wasn’t the only problem. I quickly learnt that I needed to add a cup of white vinegar to the final laundry rinse to make sure all soap was removed from clothes before they could touch my children’s skin.
It took me a while longer to realise that the ingredient I was actually avoiding was detergent (sold as ‘soap’), and even longer to realise that many ingredients in the substitutes we used were as bad for us as detergent, if not worse. Liquid detergents and 'soaps' were the worst - it turns out they have additives that many people prone to contact dermititis find irritating.
Over an 18 month period I experimented with handmade soap recipes and eventually came up with one that is gentle and can be repeated on a small commercial scale. It was tested on numerous friends and colleagues with skin issues (thank you!), but has never been near a lab. I use it to clean our cat and our neighbours have used it on their dog, so you could say it’s tested on animals.