This is the number one sore spot for me in the soap making world, and major retailers are starting to join my stance. I personally will never purchase a certain type of soap for my personal use and vowed to never have it as a major part of any of my collections.
The soap I'm referring to is "Melt and Pour" or "MP" soap. I loathe it, and it's everywhere.
"What are your problems with it?"
I believe that when stores open up with the claims that their products are "Handmade" or "Homemade", it should be just that. What I don't believe is "Handmade/Homemade" is something that's opened out of a package, cut into pieces, microwaved, colored & scented, then poured into molds, packaged and sold. To me, this is how you make a TV dinner, not a homemade meal. The first step for any handmade product shouldn't be "open your mass produced product base you bought". That is the process for the aptly named "Melt & Pour".
Imagine finding out your local in-house handmade bakery is using boxed mixes for their cakes and prepackaged dough for their other pastries that are selling for $8 apiece. Wouldn't you feel cheated? Just because it came out of their oven doesn't make it handmade! I expect all artisanal goods I buy, imagine this, to be made from scratch. This doesn't mean I expect the bakery to have its own wheat fields and dairy farms, but I do expect a baker to be responsible for measuring out the ingredients of their own recipe, determining rising agents, whisking and mixing and piping and toiling away in the early morning for the daily treats. That's the artisan I want to support with my handful of dollars to make their life. My fear is that Handmade/Homemade/From Scratch are no longer synonyms in the artisanal world. For a product that is being advertised as homemade or handmade, it better be from scratch.
"Ok you don't like the fact it's mostly premade, but there seems to be more to the story."
There are, sadly, many more things about MP soap that I cannot stand. Without the perfumes added, it smells legitimately rancid and would never sell as "unscented"; it turns slimy and snotty once it starts to harden but have no fear - just pop it back into the microwave!; and because of its ease and fail-safe product base it's a fun craft for kids birthdays and hobbyist afternoons. Why on earth would I (or anyone!) want such a nasty product applied and massaged into their skin on a daily basis? When made with pure ingredients, soap doesn't ever have the rancid chemical smell, can't be "re-melted", and is likely not a "family safe" activity.
"...So is there ANYTHING you like about Melt and Pour soap?"
Actually, yes. I do love that it fills intricate molds very easily, making very cute decorations on top of cold process soaps. Like leaves, flowers, snowflakes, even perfectly round gumballs. They're wonderful for embeds as well because the hot goo is so liquid that it fills every nook and cranny, giving sharp lines and staying true to mold shape. It allows for more artistic MP soap molders to make really cool designs like landscapes or black cats on top of a fence, or even add a translucent moon to a star studded bar. This is one thing that Melt and Pour does much better and much easier than cold process soap (and why lots of cold process soap makers use it to make their mini decorations). Another thing that MP is better at, much to my chagrin, is fragrance retention. This "benefit" is kind of two edged for me - yes, their soaps tend to be able to hold more fragrance, but only because there's no saponification happening (where oils get turned into soap via reaction with lye) which often times mutes even the strongest fragrances.
In short, I don't want MP being the main element of my bar of soap because it's not handmade, but a few store bought sprinkles on top never hurt a handmade cake!