How do you make your soap?

Cheeks Boutique specializes in cold-process soapmaking. This old-fashioned method consists of taking natural oils and butters, and combining them with an alkali, such as sodium hydroxide (or lye) and in the end you have soap!

Wait, lye?? Yes, lye! Though this may sound intimidating (and you absolutely need to be careful when using it!) no sodium hydroxide remains in the final product, after a process called saponification. Just good, clean soap.

 We have spent a long time researching and experimenting to develop a recipe that is all around friendly, both to our skin and our planet. We use only high-quality, natural oils and butters from well-known, reputable vendors. For our soaps, we use a combination of coconut, sunflower, olive, castor, and soybean oils, as well as cocoa butter, shea butter, and of course water and lye. We also use a range of natural clays and skin-safe additives. The majority of our bars contain sea salt, a generous amount of colloidal oatmeal, kaolin clay, and sodium lactate. But here is a complete list of our extras:

  • activated charcoal 
  • brazilian red clay
  • brazilian purple clay
  • cambrian blue clay
  • colloidal oatmeal
  • french green clay
  • ginger root
  • kaolin clay
  • organic brown sugar
  • rosemary extract
  • sea salt
  • sodium lactate
  • turmeric

We test (and frequently enjoy!) all of our products on ourselves, NEVER on animals, and wouldn’t put forth a product we weren’t absolutely confident in. We avoid things like glitters, irresponsibly sourced micas, phthalates, parabens, palm oils, and detergents.

What is Sodium lactate?

Sodium lactate is the sodium salt of lactic acid, derived from the fermentation of sugars, such as corn or beets. This humectant is naturally occurring in our skin, and helps to retain moisture, keeping our skin hydrated. You could see then, why it would be a great addition to our skin-care products! Sodium lactate is commonly used as a food preservative as well. This perfectly safe additive it is really helpful in making a harder (and longer lasting) bar that feels great on your skin!

Do you use natural colorants in your products?

We use a mix of both natural colorants and skin-safe, ethically sourced micas to beautify our bars. Some of the natural colorants we use in our soap bars include:

  • activated charcoal
  • alkanet root
  • annatto seeds
  • brazilian red clay
  • brazilian purple clay
  • cambrian blue clay
  • cocoa powder
  • french green clay
  • indigo root
  • kaolin clay
  • madder root
  • rose clay
  • spinach powder
  • spirulina
  • turmeric

It’s important to note that these natural colorants fade much quicker than micas, so some bars might appear different or lighter in color after their cure time than when they are first cut. This is especially true for those pesky greens! We also use skin-safe, ethically sourced micas to color our bar soaps. We only ever use micas from well-known, highly reputable sources with clear-cut ethics statements. We have reached out to these companies personally to confirm that their mica is ethically harvested WITHOUT any child labor or exploitation, and that they have the certification to back it… and they do! These micas are not harvested from areas that have known ethical transgressions, such as India, and they are transported by only major chains, such as FedEx and UPS, eliminating the risk of forced child labor, even in transit. 

Why don’t you use palm oil?

We are and will always be palm free! The palm industry tears down our rainforests to make way for oil palm plantations, thereby displacing and killing wildlife, including the critically endangered orangutans. Once these trees are torn down, they are burned to make room for more profitable trees, increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Displaced orangutans who inevitably  return to the plantations are seen as environmental pests and are killed in extremely inhumane ways. And these are only a few of the problems associated with palm oil. We have a more detailed post on palm oil woes here if you’d like to read more. Palm oil is inexpensive, makes a harder soap bar, and increases lather, so it is widely used in the bath and beauty industry. Considering this, and though at a higher price point, we have decided instead to use a larger amount of coconut oil in our recipe, as it gives a lot of the same benefits, without any of the guilt.

Why don’t you use glitters in your soaps?

Glitter no doubt adds beauty to anything it touches. Unfortunately, it is terrible for our planet. It is a type of microplastic made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), or Mylar. This plastic pollutes our landfills and oceans, and is present in even the deepest parts of our waters. Plankton swallow these plastics, which are swallowed by fish, which are then swallowed by birds, and the often fatal cycle goes on.  “Eco-glitter” exists, which is made of modified regenerated cellulose (MRC), however this cellulose is actually coated in a thin layer of plastic, and studies show that it has identical effects on ecosystems (find out more here). We don’t want to contribute to this extensive problem, so instead we’ve decided to use eco-friendly, organic matter to decorate the tops of our soaps.

beautiful, no? 😉
We use a range of dried botanicals to dress our soaps, including:

  • calendula
  • chamomile
  • chrysanthemum 
  • cornflower
  • hibiscus
  • lavender
  • lemongrass
  • rose
  • rosemary
  • safflower 

Some other extras include:

  • beach sand
  • coffee beans & grounds
  • cranberry seeds
  • dehydrated fruits
  • dried herbs (lemon balm, nettle leaf, rosemary)
  • peppercorn
  • poppy seeds
  • sea salts
  • …and sometimes even pearls.

As we grow, we will continue to expand our creativity, while still only ever using biodegradable, skin-safe, and planet loving ingredients. 

Can I choose what bars go in my sample pack?

At this time, we are unable to take requests for specific bars in our sample packs. Samples are cut from regular bars in our batches, so we have limited quantities of each. This may be a possibility as we continue to grow, so stay tuned!

Is your packaging eco-friendly?

We take pride in our sustainability at Cheeks Boutique! All of our packaging is either recyclable, biodegradable, and/or compostable. Here is a list of what we use to package our soaps. 

  • glassine paper bags
  • recyclable paper band labels
  • compostable, eco-friendly sticker labels 
  • plant based glue
  • biodegradable cellulose tape
  • corrugated cardboard mailers
  • crinkle-cut paper fill
  • 100% compostable poly mailers (suitable for at-home composting)
  • 100% compostable thermal shipping labels (suitable for at-home composting)
  • our products are packaged in mailers with minimal empty space, making for a smaller presence on delivery trucks, ultimately lowering emissions

We believe you can offer cute, aesthetically pleasing packaging without contributing to the world’s plastic crisis. We believe in clean. It’s why we sell soap, and it’s why we are eco-friendly!

How do you help local businesses?

We know first hand all of the effort required in starting a business, and have such great respect for those who have chosen that path. We also understand the importance of supporting local vendors in our community as often as possible, which is why we’ve decided to incorporate this into our business practices. We source our ingredients locally, for a couple of reasons.

  1. We’re proud to be from New England, so why not show off what we have to offer? 
  2. We believe in supporting the small businesses within our community

By purchasing our kombucha from Plymouth, MA, we are helping to support a smaller brewery (with great boocha and beer btw). By getting our organic oranges from the local health food store in New Bedford, MA, we are helping a family run business to grow instead of feeding supermarket chains. By using honey harvested in Dighton, MA, we are benefiting those who have turned their passion into proceeds, just like we’re trying to do. Our mission is to reinvent the buyer/seller model. Of course we will continue to offer quality products, made with heart and the intention to sell, but we would like to recycle some of that income and “share the wealth”, so to speak. Think of it as, one hand washing the other (no we didn’t make that up but it definitely works here). So, by supporting our small business, you are helping to support many others, and together we can strengthen our ecosystem and support our community. Here are some companies you’ll be helping to support:

  • Deans Beans, Orange, MA – where we get our coffee beans!
  • Independent Fermentations, Plymouth, MA – where we get our kombucha!
  • Down to Earth, New Bedford, MA – where weget our oranges!
  • SalterieOne, Duxbury, MA – where we get our sea salt!
  • Honey Maple Farms, Taunton, MA – where we get our honey!
  • Paperworks, Pawtucket, RI – where we get our paper!

And this is only the beginning. As we grow, we intend to grow our inner circle, and then our outer circle, and beyond that! And we invite you to join us. (If you would like to find out more on our mission of sustainability, click here.)