Loving The Skin You’re In

Artisan Handmade Vegan Bar Soap

Finding Craftsmanship in Personal Care

I met Katie Centrella while attending a retail buyers show in Philadelphia. I had been planning to feature a local candle or soap artisan in my retail store for nearly two years and felt the time was right to move on the idea. My requirements were that they be 100 percent local to the area, handmake their own products and practice slow fashion methods in their production. I wanted to find an artisan whose candle and soap products really stood out as exceptional in craftsmanship, visual design, and product quality. Lastly, they had to be a good complement to my leather goods, have great potential for future collaborations and have a strong appeal to my customers.

I assumed I would have to find different artisans for candle and soap. When Katie began showing me the KC Essentials line, I knew that she had something special. Her story is indeed inspiring, but she backs it up with exceptional quality and design in her products. As a fellow artisan and maker, I know how challenging it can be to stick to your principals when launching a line of products. Standing firm on your use of quality natural ingredients such as essential oils, plant-based glycerin's, quality plant fragrances without…chemical dyes and preservatives, yields a much more expensive product. The product must deliver results that shine through.

Artisan Handmade Vegan Bar Soap Skin Care

Listening to Your Skin:

As a leather artisan I work with paper, fabrics, leather, paints, and adhesives all day. I am constantly washing my hands and handling materials that absorb oils from my skin. Having rather dry hands benefits leatherwork in that one is not transferring unwanted lotions onto fine leathers and hardware. However, I tell my customers all the time that conditioning and moisturizing their leather goods is critical toward extending the life of their investments.


Female African American Leather worker in studio with leather skins


Without proper care hard dry leather cracks and fades, ruining the finished product. Using the wrong type of conditioners on leather items can rob the item of needed protection or cause permanent discoloration. The same is true for our bodies, but unlike a fine calfskin bag, our skin is alive.  Our skin is a constantly changing breathing organ. Skin is the largest organ our body has, and usually the first to tell us when something is wrong internally.  From puberty’s presentation of pimples to the well-earned wrinkles of middle-age, we seem to be in a constant battle to tame our skin.


Artisan Handmade Vegan Bar Soap natural sensitive skincare

I’ve always had mildly sensitive skin when it came to commercial cosmetics, resulting in my reluctance to test new skincare products. I’ve had allergic reactions that involved everything from sketchy skin creams to washed fruits so farmed with pesticides and preservative chemicals they had breached the outer skin of the fruit.

Those early experiences made me cautious when it comes to makeup or non-organic fruit. However I never put as much focus on soap or body washes. I have used higher end commercial body wash and soaps from brands like Neutrogena or Honest, they smelled great, were easy to lather and seemed to have the blessing of upscale hotel chains so I didn’t have to bring my own when traveling. I had always noticed that I would need to apply moisturizing lotions or creams to prevent tight, dry or itchy skin a few hours later. I had always blamed those aftereffects on hard water, hot shower temperature (though cool water showers didn’t fix it) or dry hot summers.

It was only after having a conversation with Katie Centrella about the ordeals of eczema we had both seen in our children at a young age. I was truly inspired by her story of pursuing and finding a solution for treating her sons skin challenges. Her discovery of his sensitivities to so many of the ingredients commonly used in today’s soaps and body washes motivated her to find a solution.

Katie Centrella of KC Essentials Exfoliating body scrub Artisan Handmade Vegan Bar Soap natural sensitive skincare

Upon deciding to carry her line in my store, I wanted to try the products so that I could give a firsthand account to my customers on how they performed. Since my daughter also suffers from eczema, I was hoping the KC Essentials products would be helpful for her. I decided to give each of the products I would stock a try. As anyone with brown skin can tell you, we have a much harder time masking skin dryness. Dry, ashy skin shows up much more pronounced and sometimes unexpectedly for us. Those of you how love getting a summer tan have probably noticed this phenomenon as well.

Artisan Handmade Vegan Bar Soap Natural skincare for dry ashy sensitive skin. Trying KC Essentials Products

I decided to test bathing with the vegan bar soap for seven days. I would still use regular commercial hand soap for washing my hands throughout the day. This would give me a way to compare the outcomes.

  • After the first use:

    • The KC Essentials bar soap creates a rich creamy foam that easily rinses off.
    • The fragrance lasts and gives the shower a pleasant aromatherapy.
    • My skin did not have the ultra-slippery feel that usually occurs with expensive body wash.
    • My skin had more of a squeaky-clean feel to it.
  • Over the next three days:

    • I forgot to lotion due to rushing out the door on day three. By lunchtime I noticed that my ankles and legs were not dry and ashy as they normally would be after a shower.
    • My skin felt smooth but not itchy, which is the usual case on extra hot days.
    • My hands (which I was still washing with regular soap) became ashy and dry after a few hours.
  • After 10 days:

    • Inspired by the results I saw on day three when I forgot lotion, I decided to continue to go without lotion for the rest of the test period and see if the usual dryness showed up.
    • I had gone an entire week without needing lotion to combat my mildly dry skin, even on the hot days.
    • The hard water of my shower no longer seemed to be causing itchy skin.
    • My skin maintained a smooth, clean feel without looking ashy throughout the entire day.
    • I wasn't experiencing the usual skin tightness after using the bar soap on my face, and it felt smother.
    • I saw a decrease in the patchy dry areas on my face and did not need as much moisturizer.
  • Finding my Shower Superpower: KC Essentials body scrub with vegan bar soap

    • The exfoliating body scrub was easy to use, did not feel sticky and had an amazing fragrance that was light and airy. I used the exfoliating body scrub first and followed up with a shower. The foamy lather of natural bar soap leaves skin feeling light, silky, and invigorated. No need for heavy lotions, just towel, dress, and go.
  • Creating a Spa Bath Experience: KC Essentials soy candles

    • I was a quick convert to using KC Essentials Chakra candles during my home yoga practice, but adding to her candles to my weekend home spa routine created such a wonder aura of relaxation that I’m hooked. There is light but intoxicating fragrance immediately relaxes you without causing sensitivities to you eyes or sinuses.


Loving The Skin You’re In

I have now been using KC Essentials personal care products and candles for over a month and have fallen in love with everything. I haven’t had to use body lotion since I started using the vegan bar soap. No dryness, itchiness, or ashy skin. I know feel like my night creams and facial moisturizers are working better because they are not fighting thru a film of fake soap and fragrance. Months ago, you would not have been able to convince me that my commercial body wash was covering my skin in cheap silicones, surfactants and preservatives that were drying out my skin.  Sometimes you must try something new, to you realize you deserve better.

 Artisan Handmade Vegan Bar Soap natural soothing skincare for dry itchy ashy sensitive skin

You can find the KC Essentials collection of products below . We also now feature Katie's products in our Wilmington Delaware flagship store. You will find Katie Centrella’s product listed in our Home & Beauty department.


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