The shelf life of soap is determined by the recipe. Many things affect the longevity of a bar. This information pertains to only my recipes, my fragrance usage etc. Every artisans soap is unique and that artisan will need to determine shelf-life for themselves. There is no regulated shelf-life for soap.
Some soap artisans superfat their bars. This is a process by which some fats are left unsaponified or free floating. These fats are hydrating for the skin, but like any oil sitting open on a shelf, they can do bad.
My bars are perfectly calculated to not need a superfat to be moisturizing. Rather than leave free floating fats, I spent months creating, testing, listening to client feedback and refining my recipe. My recipe creates bars that are moisturizing, have a creamy & bubbly lather and are long-lasting. My artisan bar recipe is used for everything from my regular bars to cupcakes. Molded soaps are different and we will get to those!
My artisan bars are comprised of 5 base oils, including coconut, olive, canola, soybean and grapeseed. Bars like my avocado, peanut butter and a few others have additional oils and butters introduced as well.
Because I don’t superfat my bars don’t risk rancidity. They’ll never spoil or go bad. They will begin to lose their fragrance after a time. Essential oil bars hold their fragrance for approximately 4-6 months after their initial 4 week cure time. The time varies by the amount used and potency of each. Fragrance oils usually last longer, more like 6-9 months and even up to a year if they are anchored with a bit of natural clay. Colors will also begin to fade and some natural colorants may discolor after 12-18 months. I have coffee bars and cocoa powder bars from 12 months ago and they are rock hard, but still pretty. The edges are most definitely more brittle.
The soap is always still great! Even if the soap becomes discolored after months and months and the fragrance fades, don’t forget what it is! AWESOME SOAP!
If I had to give my soaps a shelf-life I would day 12 months for peak fragrance, smell and visual and (best by) and they never expire.
Molded soaps are made using an SLS/SLES all natural melt and pour base. I recently switched to Stephenson’s all natural base after the last awesome supplier I had sold and the quality tanked immediately.
This base is excellent, pricey, but well worth it for the natural base! Molded soaps are also not superfatted and won’t spoil. However they are glycerin enriched. That’s what makes them easy to melt and pour into molded styles. That glycerin is also great for your skin because it’s a natural humectant. Both of those things we need for this soap, easy to melt and pour, good for the skin. The only downside is that if you don’t wrap it in plastic, in humid conditions, like a bathroom, your soap will attract moisture from the air. This is glycerin dew. It’s harmless and can be washed right off. It does sometimes surprise folks though! Glycerin dew is nothing to panic over. Wipe with a clean, soft cloth or give a super quick rinse in cold water. Air dry in front of a fan and your display soap is good as new. You can use your soap with dew! It’s just beaded up water pulled from the air that won't damage your soap. Don’t be shy about using your glycerin dew covered soaps.