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In Search Of: Handmade Soaps & Apothecary


A few years ago, I slowly started to discover that I had major sensitivities to chemicals and fragrances, especially those found in body care products like soaps, lotions and shaving cream. It’s taken some time to find suitable replacement for all of the products in my personal collection, but it finally happened. (By the way, deodorant was the hardest. This is the one that works for me. If you know of another one, let me know.) Fast forward to today and I’m happy to see so many makers creating handmade soaps and apothecary items that are good for the skin and good for the earth.

Since I’ve decided to start focusing on handmade soaps, apothecary and body care goods on the LAB, I thought I’d round up a list of makers for you to explore in this ever-expanding category. Some, like Keats Botanical, Live By Being, and A Banker’s Secret, I’ve already featured and others I hope to do so soon. One of these brands, Midnight Collective, hasn’t launched yet, but I wanted to put it on your radar. Then there is PELLE, who are known for their gorgeous lighting, who are also creating handmade soaps that can easily be described as works of art.

This is a great big post with some of the top makers of handmade soaps and apothecary out there, so I hope you explore their shops for yourselves. I’m sure I’m missing some, so please leave a link to your favorite in the comment below and I’ll check them out.


In-Search-Of Handmade Soaps and Apothecary

Discover: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

About the makers:

  1. A Banker’s Secret: “As a therapeutic past-time, Quynh Le started mixing and blending at home to create what later became our first-ever product: Sea Salt & Turmeric Body Scrub. A few of jars gifted around the office later, she was requested to make more for sale. A design nerd as Huy Anh has always been, he requested that the product should have a name, hence A Banker’s Secret. Then it should have a logo, then it should have proper packaging & label. One thing led to another. We started to research and learn more about the art of esthetics. We started stocking more and more ingredients in our small apartment. Quynh Le worked double time to experiment and create more recipes and products for nearly 1 year; before both decided to take the plunge.”
  2. Molly Muriel: “Molly Muriel LLC lifted off the ground in 2002, but it was much earlier that the inspiration began. In 1995, on a whim, owner Branda Tiffany decided to enroll in a candle making class. She had no idea that this one decision would change the course of her life. She was immediately enamored with creating lovely products by hand, in her own kitchen. Her creations quickly evolved to include handmade soaps, salves, lip balms, and bath bombs. After years of this “hobby”, and with the help of many willing friends and family members to test these products, Branda launched her small business and Molly Muriel was born. It has grown to include a wonderful team of people helping to supply the world with natural products.”
  3. PELLE Designs: “The Soap Stones are handcrafted glycerin soap intended for both use and display. Consisting of all natural, vegetable-based soap ingredients, the Soap Stones are made and hand cut in our Brooklyn studio.”
  4. Meow Meow Tweet: “We are a small-batch skin care company that creates vegan products with pure, all natural and organic ingredients.  We develop all of our goods as if they were modern culinary dishes, from the sourcing of ingredients to the beautifully scented, healthful and efficacious final products. As makers and purveyors, we hope to encourage small changes in the lives of our customers through the physical, emotional and ecological healthfulness of completely natural goods for the face and body. With MMT, we hope to make that experience accessible and our process transparent. All products are made with organic, unrefined plant oils and butters, steam-distilled and cold-pressed essential oils and organic and wild-crafted botanicals. We pride ourselves on being a vegan brand, and use no animal-derived ingredients. Meow Meow Tweet is Leaping Bunny cruelty-free certified.”
  5. Formulary 55: “At Formulary 55 we make not only our products, (wholesale is about 70% of the business) but also sell and showcase lines we love, made by people a lot like us. In April of 2014 we decided to shake things up and move the business from our long time home of Seattle to sunny Colorado.  We bought a 115 year old brick building and Anthony left his job at Microsoft to oversee the renovations of our new manufacturing facility.  In August 2014, the first floor was complete and ready for us to move operations to Colorado.”
  6. Moon River Naturals: “Named after our son, Rivers, and homestead in Hawkins, TX, Moon Rivers Naturals is our attempt to share the beauty we’re enlivened by via our products. We keep it simple, pure, organic, wild, new, and adventurous, and are always looking for new scents, new combinations, and new experiences. We believe your daily routine should begin and end with our products, carrying you through the day regenerated by the natural essential oils and moisturizers.
  7. Live By Being: “BEING is a handcrafted line of small batch, organic and vegan bath and body products based out of the Pacific Northwest. BEING was born out of an intention to help people claim their right to take care of themselves. In this volatile world with ever-surging responsibilities, it’s easy to put yourself last and become disconnected. BEING is about taking the time and space to perform ritual, whether it’s mindfully treating the skin or feeling the embrace of fragrant hot bath waters, as ritual leads to being present. When being present, life isn’t just something that’s passively observed, but experienced fully, allowing you to have a sense of purpose and the clarity of mind to achieve it. Nutrient-rich ingredients of the highest quality have been thoughtfully selected for their curative properties using a holistic approach designed to indulge the senses and responsibly care for the skin. This means that unlike other bath and body products that may only include one or two active ingredients and fillers for the rest, every ingredient in each BEING product has a purpose. These ingredients work in tandem as part of a greater composition to release a fortified dose of plant and mineral-based nourishment with every use, aiding in vital skin functions and overall state of being.
  8. Midnight Collective: “Midnight Collective is a natural fragrance studio & luxe apothecary line inspired by time-honored beauty rituals for the modern world. We work with only the finest botanicals carefully selected with imagination, conscience, and heart.”
  9. H is for Love: “H is for love is about sharing nature’s most wonderful gifts.  Each ingredient is pure, every product made by hand, either to order or in very small batches to ensure peak quality.  Cruelty-free and almost entirely organic and wild-sourced, only natural preservation methods are employed.  Designed with purpose and care, each element has already withstood the ultimate test: time. Whether this is familiar territory or your first step in the process of moving toward a more natural lifestyle, our hope is that you will experience the rich liberation that comes from using nature’s vast and sufficient resources; from what you use to fuel and recharge your body to how you care for and protect it.”
  10. Herbivore Botanicals: “We bring you products that are safe, non-toxic, and highly effective. We believe in tangible results you can see and feel, and we believe in the power of nature to bring these results. Every ingredient that we include in our products is there for a specific therapeutic reason. We do not use fillers of any kind, meaning that almost every ingredient in our products is an “active” ingredient. This results in pure, highly concentrated, and effective formulas that are a rarity in the skincare and cosmetics world today. All of our formulas are original, created and tested by us, on real people — never on animals and always from scratch. All of our products have an emphasis on organic, high quality, and food-grade ingredients.”
  11. Keats Handcrafted: “Our love of the natural world was instilled at a young age (thanks, mom & dad!) and creating natural skincare products is our love letter to the healing power of plants. All natural. Unrefined. Organic. In selecting high quality and whole ingredients, we provide your skin with essential nutrients that revitalize function, restore balance, and encourage resilience. Produced by hand and in small-batches, our products retain a vibrancy and potency that serve the body well. We create our goods for body + spirit. In particular, we create our goods for our favorite kind of human beings: those who have stories, journeys, and feats large and small that define (and redefine) the true meaning of beauty. This is our love letter to you.”
  12. Fig and Yarrow: “FIG+YARROW is an artisan line of handcrafted botanical products formulated for health and handsomeness.”
  13. Hand-Meyd: “My entire bath and body product line is hand mixed, individually poured and labeled by me in my home.  No artificial preservatives are used in my formulations…freshness is key!  Each bottle is made to order — no mass production or big batch mixing here.  I also have set maximum order quantities to maintain a high level of care and attention to all products that go out to my customers.  My two hands craft every bottle. My bath products contain a careful balance of oils and natural emulsifiers, leaving skin smooth but not overly greasy once dry.  My entire line contains high quality carrier oils blended for maximum absorption and hydration.  To each base formula I add a carefully balanced ratio of wood, herb, floral and citrus essential oils based on product application.  My blends are about more than just natural fragrance; I select oils traditionally used for their regenerative and soothing properties on the hair & skin and anti-depressant qualities on the mind.  No artificial fragrances are used in any of my products.”


handmade soaps and apothecary





Handmade Skincare from Harlow


All you have to do is read the rave reviews to know that Chrystal Macleod’s Harlow Skincare is beloved by lovers of handmade skincare from around the globe. Her carefully crafted collection has been on the back of my brain for a while now, so I’m thrilled to introduce it to LAB readers. There are so many of us who are turning to naturally-made skincare products. Trying hard to avoid the artificial is a big challenge these days, so it’s wonderful that there are makers like Chrystal who care enough to give us the options we desire.

Enjoy this glimpse into the world of Harlow. Afterward, be sure to check out the collection for yourself. If you seek body butters, candles and elixirs made with the good stuff, this is the collection for you.

Handmade Skincare by Harlow via

Handmade Skincare by Harlow via

What inspired you to begin your handmade skincare collection?
In the beginning, Harlow was born out of a personal need for conscious alternatives to my everyday rituals. I just couldn’t find anything that I liked entirely in terms of body or face moisturizer..I love the the whole bathroom regime ..I wanted something whole and natural but I also wanted something that looked good. Turns out, other people had been looking for the same thing!

Describe your creative process. Where do you start?
I always start with what I need or want and then expand it from there. I have a background in makeup, skincare and training.. having been face to face with countless women and their personal preferences as well as specific skin types helps me come to certain decisions about what oils or scents to choose for a specific formulation. The whole process for me is pretty fluid but also very internal.

Handmade Skincare by Harlow via Handmade Skincare by Harlow via Handmade Skincare by Harlow via

How do you maintain your creative drive?
It’s pretty tough sometimes to maintain a creative spark when it’s on all the time but I do it in downtime, I love what I do and I want to continue to do it and love it so I must take time to do me. The creativity is spurred from that down time, it keeps me feeling fresh and motivated. It also helps being around essential oils all the time, they can do so much for body, mind and spirit.

What materials do you love to use?
I love oils! I love discovering the properties of an essential or precious oil.. finding out what it does and why, then to apply that to a specific formula is really my favorite part.

Every product has a story. Is there a story behind one of your pieces that stands out to you?
Yes, the face elixir. It’s an oil moisturizer and one of the first products I developed for myself. I wanted a face moisturizer that was natural, simple, balancing, hydrating and not going to make me break out. It possesses all of those qualities and more, become one of our best sellers.

Handmade Skincare by Harlow via Handmade Skincare by Harlow via

Do you have a dream collaborator?
I do.. I have a secret dream to collaborate with Juniper Ridge or maybe to just go on an excursion with them in the mountains to learn, absorb and get real dirty.

What are some of the challenges that you face as a maker?
There are a handful for sure.. at the top of the list I would have to say stock and supply. It’s tough to manage inventory and stock as well as unforeseen supplier issues. I would also say emails..emails can be a big job and I’m not a huge fan of the computer. lol

Handmade Skincare by Harlow via

Our mission for clean skin began as a personal project for CEO and Creative Director, Chrystal Macleod.  She quickly realized that Harlow stretched far beyond skin.  It’s primary purpose of course is to leave you intoxicatingly soft and smooth, smelling of enchanting botanicals and deep wilds however Harlow also represents health and well being, acting as a small tool designed to promote a shift in personal awareness toward a more sustainable future.  

Maintaining a fascination with ingredients and how they relate to our bodies, we believe that our skin ceremony should be a therapeutic ritual where we can freely indulge and not have to worry that what we’re putting on will do harm.  We care about our future self and believe that we can help bridge the gap by providing conscious alternatives to our everyday routines without sacrificing the little things we love.   

About The Brand, Harlow Skin Co. 

Handmade Skincare by Harlow via

How do you use social media and blogging to promote your work?
Social media, especially Instagram has been so instrumental in building the business, I really don’t know where we would be without it. We use it to showcase and educate as much as we can and we’re working on getting a blog going about everything that we can’t fit on Instagram.

Handmade Skincare by Harlow via Handmade Skincare by Harlow via Handmade Skincare by Harlow via

Where do you see your handmade skincare collection going?
A brick and mortar shop one day is part of our goal but we’d like to just keep the brand growing with intention and integrity.

What are you working on right now?
We’re working on Spring releases and Capsule tradeshow prep!

Harlow Skin Co.:

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handmade skincare


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