My objective with this soap was to use 2 natural skin loving ingredients – almond milk and honey – to create a beautiful and creamy, moisturizing soap for the winter.
Both almond milk and honey are well known for their cosmetic benefits, but here’s a little of what I learned about the properties of almond milk ……
Cosmetic benefits of almond milk:
I’m a little sceptical about all of the unsubstantiated claims about some cosmetic ingredients, but I absolutely love using almond milk because the skin benefits are obvious and immediate. In fact, just squeezing the last of the milk out of the almond pulp left my hands feeling soft and moisturized for the entire morning! Even after I’d washed my hands a few times ….. so I’m totally sold.
Almonds are tree nuts and are rich in proteins and nutrients, much like most types of nuts. In addition to proteins, almonds are a good source of antioxidants, flavonoids and plant phenols (which are protective when applied to the skin). In fact, some dieticians suggest that they’re one of the best sources of vitamin E.
If you’ve not made almond milk before, it’s quick and easy – and tastes MUCH better than the store-bought alternatives (at least the ones I’ve tried). The best way is to soak the almonds in some water overnight (or for up to 2 days), because the resulting milk is much creamier than if you blend unsoaked almonds. Interested? This is the recipe I use from The Kitchn.
Almond milk has great moisturizing properties, and it contains a number of antioxidants, including vitamin E, plant phenols and selenium. It is considered to be a superfood because of its many health benefits and high vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids and mineral content (including minerals like potassium, phosphorus, zinc, calcium, magnesium, selenium, copper and manganese).
Here’s how I made my almond milk and chestnut honey soap:
While I’ve made almond milk before and used it in cold process soap, I’d generally added a little almond milk (either as the milk, or sometimes even with the almond pulp which acts as a light exfoliant) at emulsion or trace. So this was the first time I’d made the lye solution with 100% almond milk.
Because I want the soap to be as light and creamy in colour as possible, I froze the almond milk (which isn’t necessary if you just add some at trace), and added the lye very slowly in an ice bath to keep the temperature as low as possible. The smell was awful (I mean REALLY awful!!), and the milk seemed to curdle or split as it melted with the heat of the lye. But as I added the lye it gradually seemed to come together again, and I ended up with a thick, creamier looking lye solution. (On reflection I realized that the curdled look was probably the result of saponification of some of the oils in the almond milk …… It’s clearly been too long since I made a milk soap!)
Adding honey to soap does a few things: its high sugar content increases the richness of the lather, and honey is a humectant (which means that it attracts moisture, and in doing so it leaves the skin feeling moisturized). And it also slightly changes the colour of the soap to a rich, creamy honey-yellow colour – which can be lighter or darker, depending on the type of honey you use. On this occasion I wanted max contrast between 2 layers of soap, so I went with the darkest honey I had: chestnut honey.
Usually when I add honey to my soap, I mix it with a little water to make it more fluid and easier to mix evenly through the soap. But because I was shooting for a total replacement of the water, I even mixed the honey with a little of the almond milk before adding it to half of the soap. The other half of the soap was left as is – so the paler coloured soap is pure almond milk soap.
Because I wasn’t exactly sure what colour the soap would be using almond milk to replace all of the water, I decided that I’d use a cocoa pencil line to accentuate the contrast between the 2 halves of the soap. And I think it worked quite well!
I poured the honey soap in first, then textured the surface with a spoon to get a wavy effect in the pencil line. Then carefully spooned on the plain soap, before folding in some remaining honey soap with a spoon swirl to get a textured top.
Here are a few more photos of some of the bars:
Overall I’m really pleased with how the soap turned out – and very relieved that it now smells good too! Like almond, strangely enough ….. with perhaps a hint of honey.