Halloween is over and the big slide into the holidays has begun. Chances are you will be a guest in someone’s home or need some original gift ideas for under the tree. Right here in Reston, residents are toiling away making products the old-fashioned way—small batch items infused with their passion for the process.
The Soap Engineers are one such duo—engineers by day and soap-makers by night. Their wide variety of soaps, scrubs and bath truffles are engineered to be super moisturizing. Unlike commercial bars that may leave skin feeling tight and squeaky, their soaps leave your skin incredibly soft. They have several year-round scents like Sexy Man (a flirty, mysterious, indulgent scent), Calming Lemongrass (an enchanting mix of top citrus notes with a floral base), and Green Tea and White Pear (an all-around clean and refreshing scent). Also, they have several upcoming holiday scents including Pumpkin Patch, Apple spice, Winter Wonderland, and Yummy Hot Chocolate!
Janette was gracious enough to give us a bit of backstory for The Soap Enginners:
How did the Soap Engineers get their start?
The Soap Engineers started initially started with three people – Janette, Brooke and Puja. Puja left for work reasons so we roped in Brooke’s husband, Andrew, who became our chief procurement and financial guy. This left Brooke and I free to focus on developing new products and enhancing current recipes.
The whole idea for the company started with bath truffles. I had just moved into a new house with a huge bath tub and was spending loads of money on bath bombs. Commercial bath bombs are made to fizz. If I wanted a more moisturizing bath I had to spend additional money on a bath melt. So I thought to myself, “I’m an Engineer! I should be able to reverse-engineer this and make the product I want!” So I did.
It took me 27 tries to get the final recipe that I love so much. I added a generous amount of shea butter, loads of Epson salt, kaolin clay and essential oils. Finally, I arrived at a bath bomb I wanted. I decided to call it a bath truffle!
Soon after, I realized my co-worker, Brooke, made lotions and melt-and-pour soaps. We decided to pool our raw materials and try this out as a business. We have only one rule – approach all products from a scientific and engineering standpoint – starting from the development, right down to the testing. And, as a bonus, we get to use everything we make! It’s a win-win situation.
How are The Soap Engineers different from other soap-makers?
We are actually giant nerds at heart. We refuse to follow existing recipes, instead, we love to understand the chemistry behind the products we make and use that knowledge to create something new. Brooke is a Chemical Engineer and I am a Materials Engineer. Between the two of us, we have a great knowledge of the chemistry of each raw material, as well as the characteristics and behavior of them. This is extremely useful when developing soap and emulsified scrubs recipes.
During the development phase, instead of randomly testing different variations of each recipe, we employed statistical methods like the Design of Experiments. This allowed us to characterize interactions between each ingredient and the final product properties.
When making scrubs, the quantitative feedback received from our testers allows us to chart and quantify the direction of where the scrubs need to go (more sugar, less sugar, more moisture, less moisture, etc.).
The soap making process includes blending essential oils, adding certain colors, and filling molds. The Soap Engineers take great care in creating beautiful and interesting designs for each flavor of soap. The Citrus Starbust bar has a “whipped cream” top layer and is finished with a star.
The Bath Truffles are individually hand formed and topped with a sprinkle of raw ingredient.
The Soap Engineers have also created a line for men that includes muskier scents like Sandalwood. There is also a line of Shaving Soaps that work in combination with a shaving brush for a rich lather. Sexy Man, Cool Musk and All-Natural Citrus Shaving Soaps are each sold as a set with a shaving brush.
Their latest product line is their Raw Bar, where they sell raw ingredients in their natural state. They currently have several different essential oils such as Lavender, Eucalyptus, and Lemongrass for aromatherapy and other uses. For the winter months, they will be featuring 8.0 oz of pure Organic Shea Butter. Shea Butter can be used in your bath for a nice moisturizing experience, before bed as an extreme lotion, for chapped lips, etc.
For the holidays, The Soap Engineers have curated indulgent gift baskets for the soap lovers in your life. You can order items from their Etsy shop or stop by their booth at the Reston Farmers Market on Saturdays.
Do you know of any other artisans producing in Reston? We’d love to feature them!
Also, check out our feature of the Organic Butcher of McLean for artisan and local meats.