There's good news and bad news for Cleveland, Ohio area residents: a certain super-fancy mall has a large assortment of soap shops for bath & body aficionados - including some I hadn't seen before. Every mall has at least one, but I counted six bath and body stores, and one shaving store, so there's something for everyone - almost everyone anyway. If you're sensitive to sodium lauryl sulfate, you might need to look elsewhere.
I was specifically interested in checking out one store - the one that is known for handmade items. Certainly the store looks the part, with signs that appear to be hand lettered, and displays that are reminiscent of something you'd see in a grocery store showing off fresh produce. The array of items is impressive, and the scents are very nice (a bit strong for my tastes, but pleasant overall). The ingredients are listed on the signs, where I saw something that is a major source of criticism for this particular brand - chemical ingredients, particularly sodium lauryl sulfate, a detergent used in many commercial "soaps".
Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is a surfactant - it basically enables oil and water to mix, so that the oil can be carried away by the water. It is also an effective foaming agent, enabling the soap-like concoctions that use it to bubble nicely. It is generally regarded as safe for humans, but it is also generally regarded as a skin and eye irritant.
It is also inexpensive, which is the reason why I was initially outraged that a 3.5 oz chunk of this "soap" cost almost $8. My bars of handmade soap, which are SLS free, cost about half as much. I've noticed that some other companies that make and sell handmade soap take on an angry tone and rant a bit about products similar to this mall store's offerings. I've heard that the environmentally friendly and natural values touted by such companies are really a marketing facade.
Whatever the truth is, these products seem to satisfy and work for a lot of people. There are also a lot of people for which these products don't work. What I mean is, a lot of people, including members of my family, can't use products with these and some other chemical ingredients. I'm not necessarily afraid of chemicals. As I've explained before, there are some situations where chemical substitutes are appropriate. If you want a jasmine-scented soap for example, you'll either pay a fortune for the natural scented version, or you'll make do with the more reasonably priced artificial version. Also, consider the fact that some natural ingredients can aggravate allergies. Some of my customers must be careful of ingredients derived from nuts, for example.
The lesson here is, find out what you like and what works for you, and use it - natural, chemical or whatever. If you want don't mind detergents in your soap or the additional premium for ambiance or the other ingredients, or you don't have moral objections to the use of detergents, have at it. If SLS irritates your skin, and you like the luxurious, creamy lather that actual soap can provide, then find yourself a source for handmade, real soap. Of course, I highly recommend mine.