In 1993, Alexis Souders made her first batch of soap, hoping to find something that would be gentle on her son’s skin.

Her son, Ben, was a baby then. Regular soap “would make him very dry and itchy and flaky,” Souders said. “He’s a screaming redhead and everything affected his skin.”

That first 5-pound batch was a disaster. “It did make soap, but it was so harsh you could have scoured the concrete with it,” Souders said.

She kept experimenting, using hypoallergenic avocado oil that is high in oleic acid thus good for the skin. After three years, she came up with a formula she liked – a hard (and thus long-lasting) soap that was mild but made a great lather – and she founded the Prospect Harbor Soap Co. Now she makes the soaps in scents such as lavender, rosemary mint, tart lemon and Acadia pine, using avocado oil and a blend of other oils.

“Each oil imparts its own characteristics,” Souders said. “For example, you use coconut oil because it makes great lather, and rice bran oil is higher in antioxidants than vitamin E, and palm oil creates a hard bar, a long-lasting bar.”

A version of the soap targeted to gardeners contains exfoliants to help scrub off dirt and odors. (Lemon-Cornmeal Soap is the company’s bestselling product.)

The soaps are sold on the Prospect Harbor Soap Co. website, on Etsy.com and on Amazon.com. The bath soaps cost $5.50 for a 4-ounce bar; the gardeners’ soaps are $5.50 for a 5-ounce bar and $9.50 for a 9-ounce bar. She also sells them in shops all around Maine; see her website for a complete list.

Souders has expanded her line to include a variety of other products, including a “hunter’s soap” that uses anise essential oil to mask the human scent. Her “Foot Freshies” – cotton bags filled with cornstarch, kaolin clay and lavender and peppermint essential oils – absorb the nasty odors that build up in your stinky shoes.

She’s now expanding what she calls her “manly man” line of beard balms, mustache waxes and shaving kits. She tests those products on members of a hirsute barbershop chorus in Boise, Idaho.

— MEREDITH GOAD