Live Better With: “I was determined to fight cancer with every ounce of strength I possessed”

 Soap and glory for Irish  entrepreneur Deborah Neill

Deborah Neill

We’re always on the lookout for new, innovative, and most importantly helpful products to add to our growing catalogue. A new addition to our site is Deborah Neill Handmade Soap, beautiful handmade soap created by a cancer survivor to help soothe irritated skin that has been affected by cancer treatment.

Here, soapmaker Deborah recalls why launched her handmade soap brand and why she recommends her soaps to fellow cancer patients:

“My career has been predominantly in the beauty industry where I specialised in aromatherapy and natural facials and ran my own salon for almost 30 years.

Life was busy – I was married, had a child and ran the salon. Then in 2013, I was diagnosed with breast cancer which had spread to my lymph nodes – my world fell apart and it was as though I was dreaming it or watching a film about somebody else!  Within a few weeks, I had undergone surgery – a mastectomy and was preparing for both chemotherapy and radiotherapy!

From the start I looked upon cancer as something which I was determined to fight against with every ounce of strength I possessed – I took up running and researched everything I could find about how to build up my body so that it could withstand the onslaught of treatment and become stronger!

Juicing became a daily must along with gentle morning yoga and my running.  I prepared all meals from fresh, seasonal produce and made sure I got lots of rest.  (These are still things which I continue with today and I feel have totally re-energised my body and mind).

It was at this point I decided to make some of my soap which I had been making just for the family for several years, as I found that commercial soaps and washes irritated my skin.  I tried some ‘new recipes’ and enjoyed creating the different bars aimed at giving both a gentle cleanse to the skin but with the added benefit of blended essential oils to work on the senses.

Handmade soap by Deborah
Deborah makes all her soaps by hand using the cold process method

My ethos was to create a completely natural product which worked in synergy with my body and was free from chemicals. To this end, I only use food grade oils and butters to create my soaps and any colours are from food sources such as paprika, cinnamon and vanilla pod.  I also decided not to use palm oil as it mostly comes from unsustainable sources and I feel that we should look after the earth as well as ourselves!

Each ingredient in my soaps is included because it gives a value to the final bar such as hydration, nourishment, softening and this makes the soaps unique and different.  I make each batch fresh, by hand using the cold process method which keeps the skin-loving benefits of the oils and butters intact and also creates glycerine which is wonderful for nourishing the skin.”

The full soap range

handmade soap
The Deborah Neill collection includes eight natural soaps

Pure – Unscented and extremely gentle – perfect for during your radiotherapy treatment and for the whole family – also makes a wonderful facial cleanser. BUY IT HERE.

Spa – Skin nourishing and moisturising with an extremely relaxing scent of neroli, lavender & geranium – when you feel stressed simply breathe in this scent for the count of 4 then slowly exhale for the count of 6 – repeat 3 times to bring about calm – good before chemotherapy! BUY IT HERE.

Energise – Hydrating and moisturising with an uplifting scent of may chang and ylang ylang. BUY IT HERE.

Exfoliate – Full of bamboo grains to remove the top layer of dead skin with the invigorating scent of peppermint and lemon.

Seaweed – this is enriched with our local Dulse Seaweed which we eat as a snack and is full of minerals and great for sensitive skin – I created this scent to include cypress, clary sage and rosemary which reminded me of walking along the beach in the fresh air.

Bloke – Not just for the men, this nourishing soap has crushed vanilla pods and the warming strengthening blend of sandalwood, patchouli and vetivert essential oils – this would be my favourite soap for nighttime and also makes a great gift for men who can also use it to wash their hair and shave!