All of my soaps are made with vegetable oils, and natural colouring agents and fragrances. I use essential oils rather than synthetic fragrance oils, with a very few exceptions – like the Belgian chocolate fragrance in my chocolate soap. And I don’t use palm oil because of the castrophic effect the monoculture oil-palm plantations have had on the environment and on biodiversity.
Here are photos and descriptions of some of the soap I’ve made ……
This soap was made in support of the annual poppy appeal, which is on 11 November in aid of current and former military personnel. The technique I used was an adapted wall pour, to create 2 red petals and the dark grey centre of the poppy. Natural colourants used were kaolin (white), activated charcoal (for both shades of grey) and 2 different red ochres (1 from Provence and the other from Bourgogne). It is scented with a gender neutral blend of essential oils, including cedar wood and cypress.
This soap really does contain quince fruit, as well as quince pectin which I prepared by boiling the core of the fruit in some water, and filtering the resulting solution of quince. I also added some pureed quince (which had been steamed briefly to soften the fruit) in the lower layer, which is why it’s such a different colour. The only colourant added to this soap was a little cocoa powder, which I used as a line between the layers to accentuate the differences in colour.
Rooibos tea soap – ghost feather swirl:
This soap was made with rooibos tea (thè rouge) instead of water, using only different amounts of rooibos to get the pattern in the soap. The soap with a higher amount of rooibos (or water) heats up more shortly after the soap is made, causing it to gel – which gives rise to the darker colour of the pattern in the soap. It contains no colourants or essential oils – so just pure, natural soap. I’m proud to say that this soap was the winner of an international Soap Challenge run by Great Cakes Soapworks!
Almond milk and chestnut honey:
This soap was made with almond milk instead of water. Almond milk is a wonderful moisturizer, so a great addition to any soap. In addition, half of the soap contains chestnut honey – which colours the soap a creamy yellow. Honey is a humectant (which means it attracts moisture), so this together with the almond milk should make this soap ideal for dry skins in the winter! The only colourant added was a fine line of cocoa powder to accentuate the difference between the 2 halves of the soap.
Silk Spice soap:
This is a silk soap which is scented with a touch of spice (cinnamon and bay essential oils) – and topped with star anise. The natural colourants used were French red clay (Argiletz), cocoa powder for the brown, and activated charcoal for the dark gray. The soap was made using a technique called the “one pot” or Japanese swirl.
Charcoal and honey soap:
My objective for this soap was to create a bar that would be suitable for using on the face – so it should be mildly cleansing, but it shouldn’t strip the skin of the protective sebum layer. The skin-friendly oils used were olive, castor and avocado, along with mango butter. Activated charcoal was an easy choice as an additive for this soap because it adsorbs impurities, without causing stripping or drying of the skin. And honey adds to the creaminess of the lather and acts as a humectant, which leaves the skin feeling moisturized. No fragrances were added to this soap, to ensure that it’s suitable for sensitive skin.
Rosemary and mint soap:
This soap was made for the Soap Challenge Club competition, using a technique called the Taiwan swirl which gives beautiful feathery swirls throughout the soap bar. The colours in the bar are intentionally subtle and “misty”, with the green and blue colours intended to match the fragrances from the rosemary and peppermint essential oils respectively. With the small amount of green clay, and the conditioning oils used in the soap (olive, rice bran and sweet almond oil, along with some shea butter), it is suitable for all skin types.
Orange juice soap:
This soap was made with fresh orange juice, and scented with a blend of sweet orange, pink grapefruit and litsea cubebis (May Chang) essential oils. The pink swirls in the soap are coloured with French pink clay (Argiletz). The sugar in the orange juice really seems to add to the creaminess of the lather, and the citrus / orange scent is lovely – so it’s great in the morning shower to get the day off to a good start! The soap is suitable for all skin types.
Coffee kitchen / gardening soap:
This soap is a “must have” in the kitchen if you like cooking with garlic and onions, but don’t like the smell they leave on your hands! It’s made with seriously strong coffee, and has ground coffee in the soap – which acts like a scrub. So it’s great at reducing or removing the odour from working with aromatics like garlic, and also works well at cleaning really dirty hands after working in the garden. I’ve been tweaking the recipe with each batch, to improve the hardness of the bar but maximise the conditioning for hard-working hands – and I think that this new batch is spot on. It has cocoa and mango butters as well as olive and rice bran oils for conditioning, and all of these oils also make for a hard, long-lasting bar. (The coffee grounds make it quite abrasive, so I wouldn’t use this bar in the shower.)
This soap was made with the colours of the South African flag, shortly after I learned about the death of Nelson Mandela in December 2013. The design didn’t work out exactly as I’d planned, but I think that the soap looks beautiful anyway – and it smells fantastic too! I used a blend of amyris (West Indian sandalwood), orange and lavender essential oils to get a fresh, slightly floral scent. The soap is coloured with clays (green and red Argiletz, and kaolin for the white), indigo (for the blue) and yellow ochre. It should be suitable for all skin types, as it’s packed with conditioning oils and mango butter.
Romantic rose soap:
This soap was made for the Soap Challenge Club competition, using a pouring technique to achieve the pattern of colours throughout the soap. And each bar is unique, as you can see from the ones displayed here. The colours were achieved using French pink clay (Argiletz), kaolin (for the white) and a small amount of activated charcoal (for the gray). It is scented with a rose Maroc dilute (a diluted essential oil, as rose absolute is extremely strong – and very expensive!). The conditioning oils and the white and pink clays used to make this soap, mean it will be suitable for all skin types.
This soap was made for The Soap Challenge Club competition, using a special technique to swirl the colours in the soap bar. It didn’t win, but I’m proud of it anyway! The soap was inspired by memories of the Kalahari desert in southern Africa, and is coloured with rhassoul clay, French red clay (Argiletz rouge), kaolin (white clay), calendula petals and activated charcoal. It is scented with a blend of essential oils and has a woody/spicy fragrance, so it’s suitable for men and women. The rhassoul clay gives this soap a slightly scubby texture, so it’s a good exfoliating soap for all skin types.
This is a silk soap made using the same technique as the “Kalahari” soap. It was inspired by nature’s early autumn colours – from greens, through yellows to red and brown. It is coloured with French green clay (Argiletz verte), turmeric, paprika powder and cocoa powder, and scented with a floral-based blend of essential oils. This is a silky, moisturizing soap with gentle exfoliation from the spices, and is suitable for all skin types.
This soap was intended to look and smell exotic! It is coloured with French red and green clays (Argiletz) and activated charcoal, and lightly scented with a blend of essential oils, including ylang ylang. This soap is best suited to a normal to oily skin.
This soap is a favourite of mine! It’s a gentle, conditioning soap containing natural yoghurt and has a very faint vanilla scent. It contains a high proportion of shea butter, which is moisturizing and luxurious. This soap is suitable for most skin types, and I like to use it as a facial soap.
This soap contains dried calendula petals, and is made with calendula-infused water which gives the soap a pale yellow colour. The soap is scented with a blend of essential oils, and has a light floral/woody fragrance. It is suitable for all skin types.
“Hibiscus & Coconut”:
This soap contains dried hibiscus petals and coconut milk, as well as mango butter – which is said to have anti-aging benefits. Although as soap is a wash-off product, the main attributes which the mango butter adds to the soap bar are hardness, and a creamy, luxurious lather. No fragrance was added to this soap, but it has a light floral scent from the hibiscus petals and mango butter. It is suitable for all skin types.
As we near Christmas, I wanted to make a beautiful green and white soap that smells like a Christmas tree! The soap is round, and I made it in two colour varieties – one with green centre in white and the other with a white centre in green. It is coloured with kaolin (white clay) and French green clay (Argiletz verte), and scented with a pine-based blend of essential oils. Green clays can be a little drying, so this soap is best suited to people with oily to normal skin.
This soap is one of the few I make using a synthetic fragrance – because there is no essential oil that smells like chocolate, and the scent of cocoa or cocoa butter does not last in the soap. The brown half of the soap is coloured with cocoa powder, and swirled into the creamy, uncoloured half of the soap. This soap contains a high proportion of cocoa butter, which makes a creamy, moisturizing bar of soap. So it’s most suitable for normal to dry skin, and is great to use in the winter!