Sometimes in life we are faced with a problem or dilemma where it seems that there is no solution or answer. Some just toss up their hands in the air and give up, while others do something to fill the gap.

This is our first interview of 2017.

Meet Dana Rakus and Shann Bosnell founders of the ManSoap. They are proof that drive, initiative and resilience can lead to great things.

Filling the gap - Bernardi Beauty Blog (2)Website:

ManSoap Company | Made in Canada

Tell us a little about how the ManSoap came to be.

Like many businesses, we actually came up with the concept of ManSoap by filling a personal need we had for our family. We have 2 teenage girls, Anika 15, and Kianna 14. Both have been experiencing normal teenage issues with acne. Dana and I both experienced this ourselves growing up and understand the extra weight it adds to an already awkward growing period.

We had tried the well known off the shelf systems like Proactiv with very little results. So, we started doing some research and found that most retail based soaps you buy are not actually natural soap at all, but detergents. Many with harsh chemicals that you wouldn’t even wash your car with!

Based on this, we found an ancient recipe for very basic, all natural soap. Within 2 months time, the girls skin had greatly improved. In fact everyone in the house noticed that our skin was less dry, looked significantly healthier and overall we just felt much better.

Friends and family started asking about it and before we knew it we were making batches of 50 / month just to satisfy those needs. Our first soap was born – the Mint Condition Bastille Cold Process Soap.

After sitting and discussing we knew there were others like us, tired of using detergents on our skin. It became apparent quickly that while there are a number of all natural soap companies there were not many that focused on the needs of men. Lots had a single bar of soap, “the man cleaner, or other catchy names” but none where we targeted some specifics that men were looking for. Even then though, we wanted our soaps to be unisex, and have maintained that with our soap product lines. In fact our All Natural Coffee and Oatmeal lines of soap are predominately purchased by women as a natural face exfoliate for make up.

As we started to grow ManSoap, we looked at other areas of men’s care. From beard oils and balms, to wet shaving soaps. Our product lines have attempted to fill those areas of men’s hygiene that are often overlooked, or are not readily available in an all natural form.

Walk us through the products you offer.

As a company called ManSoap, of course our focus is on making really, really good all natural soaps. Yet, as I already mentioned we wanted to target other areas of men’s hygiene. After our first bar of soap was born, we made a conscious decision to do things a little different. Instead of making 20 different types of soap, each with a different scent we decided to come up with 3 signature scents that we apply to our entire stocked product line.

In creating our signature scents, it was also critically important to us that we stayed with our mantra of all natural.

Some scents, just don’t naturally occur in nature so they were off the list immediately. Based on this ideal, and only using essential oils for our scents, we came up with 3 signature scents. Mint Condition is our most popular scent and contains both Peppermint and Lavender. True Grit, is our most “traditionally manly” scent, with a musky undertone with Cedarwood, Red Thyme and Rosemary. For those looking for a light scent, we created Sixth Gear. This has a citrus scent with hints of Pink Grapefruit and Bergamot.

Today, we stock at all times our Beer Soap, made with local craft brewery – Bicycle Craft Brewery’s Velocipede. Coffee and Oatmeal Natural Exfoliate Soap, using local roaster Happy Goats Yirgacheffe. And of course our first soap, our All Natural Bastille Cold Process Soap.

We also now produce Liquid Soaps, which takes our Bastille soap and dilutes it down to a liquid available in both 50ml purse or gym bag sized foaming hand dispensers, and our 250ml kitchen or bathroom sink size.

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Our other product lines consist of Beard Oils and Beard Balms, Moustache Wax, and a pre-shave oil. We have all natural, non burning After Shave. We are also starting to see a lot more interest from barber shops and have recently introduced some all natural hair products, using locally sourced bees wax. These come in a Pomade, a Hair Cream and a Hair Clay with Bentonite Clay for extra hold.

We also make 100% natural bees wax and Shea Butter lip balms. These have been a huge hit for us, with many people moving away from a popular bees wax based lip balm stick. We use our Mint Condition scent with these and the peppermint adds a bit of tingle to the lips which people really love.

Our last stocked item is our extreme moisturizing cream.

We named it The Mansturizer!

Today it is only available in our Mint Condition scent, but it is one of the most moisturizing, none greasy hand and foot creams available. Very, very high in Shea Butter and Jojoba and a bit of beeswax to help it absorb into the skin it has been a huge success for those with cracked hands and feet. Those who get very dry, ashen type skin over the winter months as well have moved to this due to that heavy moisturizing quality.

Filling the gap - Bernardi Beauty Blog (4) Throughout the year, we also have special edition soaps. From November till December, we had a soap we called the Lump of Coal which people loved! It was black, which came from the use of activated charcoal, and smelled of cinnamon and eucalyptus. We were completely unprepared with the reception it got and the team had to make 3 more large batches before the end of the holiday season. We didn’t even end up with any for ourselves! Haha.

For Valentines Day, we have brought back the same scent we used for Lump of Coal, but have put it into our first soap using multiple colours. This white Bastille Soap has a natural red swirl through it. We have named this Valentines Day soap – The Faint of Hearts and is available now on our site and our stockist network. We are coming up with ideas for other holidays including St. Patrick’s day. A stout based beer soap? Maybe!

If we can’t make a product naturally, and allow it to be purchased at a reasonable price, we won’t make it.

I always buy products by the way they smell. I love lavender – it is so soothing. Give us a brief 101 on essential oils.

Many scented products today use ingredients that are thought up in a lab. These chemical concoctions are so potent that they need to be shipped in hazardous shipping containers. While our desire to utilize all natural products did limit us to using essential oils, this is 100% the right decision for our company.

Essential oils are derived from crushing or distilling plants to extract the oils that make up their scents. These are highly concentrated and some are very expensive. If you have ever bought oils for an air diffuser or massage you know what I’m talking about. Often, 15ml of essential oils will retail for around $20.00. However, we can be 100% sure of our products by using these essential oils. Beyond this though, essential oils often many health benefits beyond just the calming effect of their scent. Lavender is an amazing essential oil, and one of our favorites. It has also been shown to be a natural disinfectant, has been shown to be a topical pain reliever and the scent helps the body to naturally increase blood flow, and even helping to sooth sun burns.

We use many essential oils in our products, and have spent a lot of time analyzing the benefits of each, just beyond the scents. Each one we use helps enhance the inherent benefits of our products.

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Essential Oils versus Fragrance Oils – ManSoap Blog

It’s not just hipsters. Interest in beards, barbershop-style services and men’s skincare have reignited a growing worldwide interest in shaving and grooming products specifically designed for men.

Globe and Mail

The men’s grooming industry is making a comeback. I have always loved the feel of an old school barber shop. Why do you think there has been a resurgence in the market?

The resurgence of the barbershop is amazing. Instead of just going to any old chair and getting a $15.00 cut, barbershops in a lot of ways are spas for men. Not only can you go and get an amazing cut from a highly qualified barber, but wet shaves are making a comeback. If you have never had one, I urge you to go.

Right. Now.

There is simply no better feeling then getting out of the barber chair with a fresh cut and shave. You will feel like a million bucks! Barbershops are a place of conversation as well. Sports, cars, politics. It’s all talked about and you can find a lot of people with similar interests.

When sitting in the barber chair, we all want the products they use too. They smell amazing and work really, really well. I think in a lot of ways, men are just taking better care of themselves. Both mentally and physically. And the barbershop is a great place to help on both those fronts.

Melinda Farina aka the Beauty Broker – said that the bar soap is poised for a major comeback in 2017. I think that beauty routines should be consistent and simple. I don’t believe you have to spend hundreds of dollars on beauty products to get the best results. What is the biggest misconception people have about all natural beauty and grooming products?

I think a lot of people think that all natural products are very expensive. And while a natural bar of soap might have a slightly higher cost then some “pharmacy bars”, a natural bar of soap can last weeks. The trick with all natural soap is to make sure you keep it dry when not in use. As there are no harsh preservatives it is very important to use a soap dish, that rises the soap above water. Beyond that, all natural soap is very hydrating and moisturizing for skin. You find people who use detergent based soaps often need to use a skin moisturizer as well. The scary truth is this is done on purpose by these large companies.

All natural soap is very high in glycerin. Glycerin helps to regulate the skins pH level and retain the good oils that natural occur. Beauty bars found in pharmacies, etc. are often chemically stripped of glycerin during the manufacturing. This glycerin is then resold back to companies who make skin care and moisturizers. So, you are essentially paying for 2 products that you can accomplish well with an all natural bar of soap.

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Can you offer some beard grooming tips for men?

First – find an amazing barber! They will be able to help you to form your beard into any length you want to achieve and look good doing it. They are the mechanics of the beard world.

All lengths of facial hair need some help to look good and feel good. Each hair on your face has a small gland called the Sebaceous gland which is responsible for removing old skin cells, preventing dry skin and keeping the hair follicle moisturized. The issue is these glands can only create so much natural oil. As you grow your facial hair this supply of oil, called Sebum will not be sufficient to provide the right amount of moisturizing. This leads to an itchy face and that hard scratchy beard. Even with a 1 week growth, it is highly recommended to use a Beard Oil. Once you have gotten to a length where you can twist the hairs together, it is time to move on to a Beard Balm.

Beard Balm has all the natural benefits of a Beard Oil, but introduces a holding agent. At ManSoap, we use 100% all natural bees wax, sourced locally. I drive a Harley in the summer and before I used Beard Balm my facial hair would be all over. When I get off my bike now, I can push it down, or use my beard comb to get it back under control. Both Beard Oil and Beard Balm are amazing products that should be in every man’s regime if you are growing facial hair. Your beard will have a nice sheen to it, look more full and be softer to the touch.

Your significant other will thank you too.

Not all products are created equal though, just like soap. Pay close attention to the ingredients in your Beard Oil and Balm.

You should be able to pronounce each word.

Be cautious of anything that says ethanol, as that will actually have a drying effect. For ManSoap, we use 100% all natural oils. We made a conscious decision to use the common names of our ingredients on our labels.

In fact, if it’s not on our labels, its not in the product.