Family-Owned Ohana Soaps Creates Healthy Skin

Keeping Clean––Naturally

Ohana Soaps

In a country focused on healthy eating and organic foods, there is a surprising lack of attention on using healthy products. There’s a nationwide focus on what goes in the body, but most people neglect what goes on their bodies—namely, what goes on the skin. The skin is the largest organ in the human body. It’s the thick coat that protects us from disease and the elements—so why shouldn’t we take extra measures to keep our skin fresh and healthy?

Ohana Soaps makes handcrafted soap and body products designed to pamper your skin and bring a healthy balance to your body. This family-run business creates small-batch bars in a variety of enticing scents, including Black Raspberry Vanilla, Chamomile, English Tea Rose and Oatmeal. Made with real extracts and essential oils, Ohana’s soaps don’t just smell heavenly; they also do amazing things for your body. We interviewed co-owners Susan and Kasey Gresowski—the mother-son team behind Ohana Soaps—about their business, quality soaps and keeping your skin healthy.

Ohana Soaps

How did you get involved in the bath and body industry?
Susan Gresowski: I found that when using commercially-made soaps, when the weather changed, my husband’s skin would be dry and itchy… I created the Lavender Geranium soap—I added shea butter, avocado oil, sweet almond oil, vitamin E and jojoba for their skin nourishing properties. My husband enjoyed it so much that I started making more... a lot more. We now have more than 40 different types of soaps and 34 other bath and body products that are available on our online store. 

You handcraft all of your products. What’s the process like?
SG: Our naturally-processed soap is made by mixing different oils with lye, causing it to saponify—violà, you have soap. Each oil adds a different characteristic. Some add amazing moisture, others cause the lather to be creamy or bubbly, others make the bar harder.

When you make soap, it produces glycerin in the soap that is a natural humectant. A humectant pulls  moisture from the air, leaving your skin soft and moist. When coupled with quality ingredients formulated to be gentle, you get a superior product that is good for your skin. We never use animal fats in the making of our soaps.

Ohana Soaps

Tell me about the different scents, herbs and extracts you use, and what are some of the health benefits?
SG: In our Active Charcoal soap, we add hardwood charcoal, Mediterranean sea salt and essential oils. Charcoal is wonderful for removing impurities, while sea salts are moisturizing and full of minerals that are beneficial to the skin and help with healing. In our Avocado Peppermint soap, we add fresh pureed California avocados and peppermint essential oil.

Kasey Gresowski: Our Lavender Geranium soap uses essential oils to help calm and heal the skin. If a soap is made with a fragrance, we only use phthalate-free. [Phthalates] are a group of chemicals, most commonly diethyl phthalate, or DEP. DEP’s known risks for human health include reproductive disorders, allergies and cancer. All of the fragrances we use, when there is not an essential oil blend available, are phthalate-free. Unfortunately, this is not the case with all handcrafted and commercial products. 

What should people keep in mind when it comes to bath and body products?
SG: Always remember that your skin is porous and absorbent. It absorbs whatever it comes in contact with, much the same as sticking something in your mouth. 

KG: Store-bought soaps, beauty bars, etc. are engineered to create the need for you to buy store-bought lotions and creams that contain glycerin, but also contain harmful ingredients, so instead of buying one product from the store, you now need to buy two or more products to serve the same purpose… thus increasing the commercial company’s profit. That’s great for companies but bad for you and the environment.

Where can people find you?
KG: You can always find us at local farmers markets in Rancho Santa Fe on Sundays and at the Oceanside Night Market on Thursdays. Or [find us] online at

SG: In farmers markets, [people] are overjoyed to talk to the person who makes their food, prepares their soaps [and]sews their clothes. It creates a village-like atmosphere, a connectivity to the things we bring into our homes, and promotes healthier attitudes, healthier environments and healthier families. 

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