We have always been environmentally conscious and were both fed up with the large amount of packaging that inevitably seems to come with any purchase. One Christmas, Lizzy was given a solid shampoo bar as a present from her sister. This got her thinking about making her own. She loved the idea of plastic free shampoo, and as one of her New Year's Resolutions was to cut down on single use plastic consumption - the idea was born. After getting her mum on board we both started work in earnest. It was a steep learning curve; several of our initial bars being complete disasters.
Three years later, a million years wiser, with endless weekend formulating in the kitchen, googling ingredients, learning about surfactants, sustainability and environmental impact of raw materials we have produced a Ph balanced luxurious bar free from sulphates, PEG, dioxane, phthalates, silicone, parabens,colourings and petrochemicals.
Our development of the bar was put on hold during the pandemic as Lizzy was pulled into a whorlwind of working during the holidays planning online learning, how to support key worker children and working out how to socially distance 4 year olds (not easily is the answer), while Tina worked at a local hospital on a Covid rehabilitation ward. But we were both genuinely pleased that we were able to contribute.
We feel that our big achievement is our use of bio-fermented ingredients. From our research we were keen on adding bio-surfactants to our bar. At the time of starting there was no cost effective commercial production of bio-surfactants, but one advantage of being so slow in developing our bar was that they came into commercial use in time for us to add them! Our biosurfactants go one step futher than being simply plant based. Making use of the fermentation process rather than a chemical reaction, our bio-surfactant ferments rapeseed oil and glucose to produce a cleanser known as a sophorolipid. Being naturally made this cleanser is exceedingly mild, it is also the greenest way to produce surfactants, being vegan and 100% biodegradable. The end products of the fermentation process being sophorolipids (the cleanser), water, carbon dioxide(much less of this than in conventinal surfactant prodution) and a biodegradable yeast bi-product which can be converted back into animal feed.
The journey of the shampoo bar starts with ethical sourcing of the raw materials (both in terms of human and environmental impact). Each step of the process has been carefully considered. From the packaging and transporting of the bars, to the way raw ingredients have been grown, along with ensuring worker's rights have been supported. Each decision about the bar has been carefully made based on scientific evidence and research papers.
We have found a small family-based company in the UK to manufacture our bar on a commercial scale so keeping the bar UK based.
To date we have made our first bar- called our Back to Basics bar. But watch this space, we are planning on expanding to cover a full range of shampoos as well as conditioners.
It has been a long journey, but Rome wasn't built in a day and at the end of it all, we think that we have developed something really special.