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      The Soap Opera Blog

      Healthcare Heroes

      Healthcare Heroes

      We are so happy to be providing our health care heros with items that help make their day! From necessary soaps & lotions to relaxing bath bombs we can get it to those on the front lines day after day.

      If you would like to order items from us to donate to either SSM health or Meriter hospitals here in Madison, please contact with details on what you would like to get to them. We will simply ask for any literature you’d like to add to your donation, and send a secure invoice to be paid. We will then do all the leg work to get the items ready and in these heros hands.

      Are you a health care working looking for some relaxation or necessary items? We would love to offer you 10% off online orders of $10 or more through June 30th! Simply use code healthcareheros at check out.

      Best Vegan Moisturizers

      Best Vegan Moisturizers

      How to keep your skin, and furry friends, happy.

      Many face & body moisturizers on the market use animals or animal products to enhance their moisturizing powers. For those of us who are vegan, environmentally-conscious, and/or animal-cruelty conscious; finding great moisturizers can be a challenge. To help, we’ve put together a list of some products, ingredients, and advice on getting the best feeling and looking skin – guilt-free!

      The more moisture in the soap, the more in your skin.

      This may seem like a no-brainer, but with ingredient lists reading like a chemistry textbook, it can be hard to know if the soap you just bought is going to do a good job cleaning and moisturizing your skin. A lot of commercial cleaning agents can leave your skin feeling fresh and clean, but also tight and dry. If you want to be animal-free, then the challenge is two-fold because animal-derived ingredients aren’t labelled as being “derived from animals.”
      The big moisturizing ingredient to watch out for is lanolin. This ingredient is derived from sheep’s wool. A vegan alternative to lanolin would be vegetable-derived glycerin soap. Glycerin is a gentle cleaning agent that keeps the moisture in your skin. Glycerin can also be scented to create many varieties to please many types of preferences.

      Here’s just a few below. (pictures of products with link embedded in pic)

      One example of a vegan, organic soap available at The Soap Opera.

      Head-to-Toe Moisture

      Whether you apply before bed, after a shower, or before exercising; body creams are a great way to add moisture to your body. Thankfully, there are many vegan alternatives to common milk and animal fat moisturizing ingredients.
      Instead of using products that have turtle oil, mink oil, lanolin, or other animal fats, people can use oils derived from plants. There’s a plethora to choose from, so take your pick. Sunflower oil. Cotton oil. Avocado oil. Almond oil. And jojoba (pronounced ho-ho-bah) oil all nurture your skin and leave it feeling soft and renewed.

      Great moisturizers start with a great base. Our vegan moisturizing cream is packed with vitamins and can be scented in a variety of ways. Multiple size options shown.

      Pick Your Spots, Hands, Face, Feet…

      Different people have different problem areas when it comes to dry skin. Your skin also changes between different areas (the skin on the back of your hands is much different than the skin on your face). So while you might be tempted to buy just one moisturizer, buying particular moisturizers for certain parts of your body will give you better results.

      To keep it vegan, check these 3 common active ingredients.

      •  The butter is derived from plants like shea, cocoa, or kukui.
      • The oils are derived from plants such as hemp, avocado, or jojoba.
      • Humectants are plant based such as aloe vera, plant-derived glycerin.

      Find dedicated lotions to use on your problem areas to have the best results.

      The Soap Opera Vegan and Organic Hemp Lotion.
      Add lotion to the many uses of hemp! Our hemp-based lotion is great at reviving those rough spots.

      Vegan Mindstate

      An irritated, flaky, itchy scalp can ruin a perfectly good day – not to mention what it can do to not-so-perfect days! Your scalp is an especially important part of your body that needs to be treated independently of your other skincare routines.

      That hardest part about finding vegan shampoos is that many companies do not list on the bottle that they test on animals and they also may not list that an ingredient is animal derived.

      Here are some well-known animal-derived ingredients that are used to treat common issues and vegan alternatives:

      • Hyaluronic acid, used to moisturize hair, is usually animal derived, but it can also be made through biofermentation (you’ll have to check with the manufacturer to be sure).
      • Bee’s wax and other products (like honey) can be replaced by plant-derived glycerin.
      • Animal fats like squalene and caprylic acid can be replaced by plant oils.
      • Keratin, used to increase hair strength, can be replaced by plant-proteins like panthenol.
      The Soap Opera house brand vegan and organic shampoo and conditioner
      Vegan options are also commonly sulfate and paraben free making it a great choice for sensitive skin.

      With all the great vegan options on the market today, having a vegan skincare routine means having a better skin care routine. While it may take a little digging, vegan product prices are usually comparable, and the removal of preservatives and other extraneous ingredients make them better suited for sensitive skin.

      If there’s a vegan skincare solution you love, leave a comment and let others know how it can  help them.

      The Soap Opera Circa 1974!

      The Soap Opera Circa 1974!

      We got a wonderful email and photo from our previous owner Chuck Bauer! Check out State street circa 1974!!

      “In this, our second location, 1974 – 1982 for your archives – 312 State St – mid 1970’s (we were your age at the time and if anyone had told us – even remotely suggested – all that lay ahead – well, you know what I mean. Anyway, I hope your next 40 years are as good to you.) Chuck Beckwith and I designed and built the exterior sign which some say still looks pretty stylish forty-five years later. We were, however, clueless when it came to installation and took ridiculous risks, managing to drop a huge extension ladder over the sidewalk and into the street. By a stroke of luck both were empty. We had dodged our first bullet.

      All the best,

      The store may look a little different, but the love and atmosphere is still here.

      Our Commitment to Being Green

      Our Commitment to Being Green

      When was first opened in 1972, the business was created to have a special presence in the community, but also wanted to ensure we served the environment. Selling Eco-friendly products and doing all we can to support the wonderful Earth we live on, is something our owner is very passionate about!

      With that being said, we know many of you are being “smart consumers” and researching the places you spend your money at.  We think this a great idea and as consumers ourselves, we also do this when making our own purchases for products we sell in our shop.  Here are a few reasons why we would love for you to shop with us, if you care about the environment:

      • We have switched to 100% Green renewable energy in our physical retail store AND our website. What does that mean? It means we will saves 17 TONS of carbon dioxide from filling our air per year, and it will also stop 16,241 pounds of coal from being burnt in just our store alone. Via our website we use the #1 Green Energy web hosting provider in the world.  We put 3 times the power we use (which is made via clean energy) back into green energy sources such as solar panels. 
      • You can re-fill any of our house products to stop the use of one-time use plastic, AND get a discount for doing so! We have everything for bathing & grooming! Body wash, shampoo, lotion, etc that you can have re-filled over and over again, so you are not contributing to the problem of plastic in our world today. Plus all of our house items are extremely natural and/or organic, and can come unscented or custom scented to your liking. If you have your own container you’d like to fill with our house products, we are happy to do so, and give you a discount for doing this!  The container MUST be 2oz, 4oz, 8oz, or 16oz however.  
      • In 2017 we switched all of our old light bulbs out and replaced them with eco-friendly LED bulbs!
      • We sell Eco-friendly products. From candles that are completely clean burning, with recycled packaging, with soy ink for printing on the package, to shampoo bars wrapped in recycled paper you can trust the products you’re getting from us have been researched with the environment in mind.  
      • When you purchase from us online we recycle packaging! When our orders come in they use many boxes and other packing materials to get their wonderful goods to us. So, instead of throwing them into a landfill, we repurpose those materials to ship out the great products you buy from us!
      • Receipt paper is not recyclable, so opting to an emailed/text receipt, or non is a great alternative we offer! We use to hold onto thousands of receipts per year, for every single transaction run in the store. We have since digitized all of these records as of 2016, and have you sign with your finger on a screen, rather than on a paper receipt.  

      Going completely green is such an easy and affordable thing to do. It gets the stigma of being ” hard and expensive” but trust us, it doesn’t have to be! We are totally committed to being and staying green as a company, and as consumers.  We hope you not only join us, but help support us in our mission by being a customer.

      New Eco-Friendly Packaging

      Starting in 2022 we are presenting new biodegradable and earth-friendly packaging for our house products! From biodegradable wheat straw bottles to reusable frosted glass jars with bamboo lids. We wanted to take a step toward being more earth friendly by avoiding plastics and materials that harm the earth. They contain the same product you know and love, just with updated packaging and a fresh new look!

      Helping the Environment

      Since we started in 1972 the health of the environment and recycling has always been a huge part of our business model. We want to reduce plastic waste, reuse shipping materials in good condition, and provide quality products, made from amazing ingredients from our earth, that in return will not harm our environment when put back into it.

      ANY of our house brand products can be brought back in and we will refill the bottle for you. You save $0.25 every time you do it as well (discount does not apply to perfume or essential oils in glass vials). No need to get a new bottle every time, when the old one works just fine!

      We can help you be a smart consumer as well. Shop small, spend your money with a business supporting a cause, and know that what you are purchasing you will truly enjoy. The Soap Opera has been a small locally owned shop since the beginning. We support several non-profits and causes every month with different events, as well as the environment with our products and recycling program.  With many rave reviews you can trust, when you purchase something at The Soap Opera, you will love it. If you don’t, that’s alright too! We are happy to refund of exchange the product for you.

      Chuck Bauer & Chuck Beckwith: The Soap Opera duo work hard at old-fashioned customer service

      Chuck Bauer & Chuck Beckwith: The Soap Opera duo work hard at old-fashioned customer service

      By Cayce Osborne

      Skin care can be a complicated issue. Can that expensive body lotion really do all it claims? Are the ingredients beneficial, or are all those scientific-sounding concoctions listed on the label doing more harm than good? The decision on what to buy and how much to spend is often difficult, and having a trusted friend to recommend a product is how many of us find our lifelong favorites. Thanks to Chuck Bauer and Chuck Beckwith, shopping at The Soap Opera is like entering a store where your best friend has tried each and every product. The shelves are lined with products Bauer and Beckwith believe in and have actually tried. With a staff who is similarly informed, it’s hard to go wrong with anything you’ll find at this venerable State Street institution.

      Having been influenced by small European specialty boutiques, Bauer and Beckwith opened a small cart on the Library Mall as art students in the 1970s. They soon moved to a permanent storefront and kept upgrading their retail space, eventually purchasing their current location at 319 State St. in 1982. “We really wanted something independent that we could do in the nature of a small business,” says Beckwith. “We both grew up internationally and realized that smaller stores could be pretty great. In the ’70s, retail was not that exciting, and nobody had small stores.” Body care items were relegated to drug stores or supermarkets, and because of this they were able to hit upon an underserved niche. The Soap Opera has been a success ever since.

      Their achievement has been no accident, however. They’ve put in long hours, created a warm and welcoming environment, and above all, provided peerless customer service.

      “Our products are personal,” explains Bauer. “So we have the intimacy of a small space and a counter with a lot of personal service. There’s hardly any of that left.Kind of like bookstores used to be: small, personal, where the people had read everything and could talk books.”

      Product lines like Crabtree & Evelyn, Roger Gallet, Maja and their in-house brand have been favorites since the store’s inception, and they seek out new additions — like decadent MOR soaps—when the inspiration strikes or because of a customer request or recommendation.At the same time, they are careful not to become slaves to trend, as those products often come and go.

      “There’s always that temptation to purchase every new thing that comes along, like towels and shower curtains,” says Bauer. “Pretty soon you become foggy in the mind of your customers. We’ve always prided ourselves on keeping our focus really sharp, and if they’ve bought something here before, they can very likely get it again.We are loyal to the lines we carry.”

      Because of this loyalty, you’ll often overhear customers telling personal stories about their favorite products — maybe reminiscing about when their mother used to shop here, or that their favorite European brand isn’t carried anywhere else and they’re so happy to find it again. Shopping at The Soap Opera is an engaging experience,with a knowledgeable staff who always puts the customer first.

      Counter service will never be interrupted by a phone call, for instance. “You know how it is — if the phone rings, that comes first. It’s like someone is being allowed to butt in front of you in line.Why is that? We never, ever let that happen here,” says Bauer. All calls and e-mails are handled by Bauer in the downstairs office, while you’ll most often find Beckwith upstairs working with customers or creating a window display, a division of labor that has evolved over the life of their partnership and works perfectly for both of them.

      While Beckwith calls good customer service “an old-fashioned value,” at the same time their attention to detail meshes well with the modern consumer’s demands. They maintain an extensive Web site that allows customers to order online or over the phone, and packages are shipped out the same day the order is placed.

      With all this focus on the store, it’s a wonder the two have any free time, but in addition to traveling — during which they often stumble upon new products for the store — they maintain two local households, and Bauer enjoys plein air painting. Their Madison home in the University Heights neighborhood is often a stop on local architectural or garden tours, and is indeed a marvel of design. Working with the architect who first revamped their storefront, they handed over a 200-item wish list and three years later, the house was done.

      “We consider it a great place to share with people. It’s a wild house,with 11 levels in it, so we’re constantly on the stairs. But we’re thrilled with it,”says Beckwith. Another project is their second home, a farm near New Glarus, and while Beckwith refers to it as “their little weekend getaway,” it also boasts an impressive 18 acres of planted prairie and an oak savannah restoration.

      It could be said that Bauer and Beckwith actually have three homes—if you include the store itself. They are proud to own a building on State Street and to be part of the downtown community — something they have become well known for and that has been well documented.But when asked what we might not know about them, Bauer responds, surprisingly, by bringing up the issue of retirement.

      “No one has ever asked us about it.We would like to say that there are so many intangibles about working, but the rewards are ongoing.” With a hard-working staff, for which both men are grateful, they have the flexibility to put energy into their homes and their hobbies. As for making any changes to the rewarding life they’ve carved out for themselves, Bauer puts it simply: “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it!”