Category Archives: All-Natural

Luxe Naturals

Citrus Cypress – This is the same as the Japanese Indigo Soap I made earlier this year, minus the indigo, and with the addition of Australian red clay and bamboo charcoal for a new look.  I still plan on doing more experiments with indigo but using clear-colored essential oils.  This soap has cypress, petitgrain, lemon 5-fold, orange 5-fold, cajeput, and basil – too yellow to use in an indigo soap, but perfect with the current look.  I really love the smell – so fresh and uplifting!

Citrus Cypress _1

Citrus Cypress

Orange Ylang Ylang – I was a little bit apprehensive when I made this.  Ylang ylang is known to accelerate trace or even seize soap.  Luckily, everything went smoothly.  Pure ylang ylang is so strong that a little goes a long way.  I blended it with lavender, orange 5-fold, copaiba balsam and ginger, and anchored them with kaolin and French pink clays.  This soap has olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, cocoa butter, orange wax, fresh yogurt, and goat’s milk.  If this soap were a woman, she would be someone confident and sexy, yet down to earth. 🙂

Orange Ylang Ylang 3

Orange Ylang Ylang

Shikon and Bamboo Charcoal – This is a remake of the one I made last February.  The only difference is that I lessened the amount of shikon.  I found the first batch too dark; I think this new batch looks better.  But knowing me, I will probably continue to tinker with the recipe.  This has lavender, rosemary, cajeput and patchouli for their restorative properties.  The smell is herbal, a bit camphoraceous, and earthy.

Shikon Charcoal

Shikon and Bamboo Charcoal

 

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Triple Mint Dead Sea Mud

I love all things minty.  Inhaled, I find it soothing, comforting and at the same time energising. My taste buds have a thing for it, too.  I was in mint heaven when I visited Australia a few years ago.  They have a mint version of almost all their chocolates!  Have you seen mint KitKat before? I was so thrilled to discover it, and of course, I had to have my stash to take home.  🙂

I already make several soaps with mint, but I am always thinking of more variations.  This latest one is a Dead Sea Mud soap, aimed at acne-prone skin, yet none-drying.  It contains more than 50% olive oil, with coconut oil, cocoa butter, and castor oil making up the rest.  It also has fresh yogurt for its skin refining qualities.  For a spa-like scent, I used essential oils of Japanese Mint (mentha arvensis), spearmint (mentha spicata), peppermint (mentha piperita), cajeput (melaleuca cajeputi – a cousin of Tea Tree), Siberian fir (abies siberica), and dark patchouli (pogostemon cablin).  

Dead Sea Mud 1

Dead Sea Mud Collage 2

Rice Water Fil-Castile

A friend of mine introduced me to making porridge with glutinous purple rice, and ever since then, I would buy a small pack whenever it makes its sporadic appearance in the supermarket. The high amount of amylopectin is responsible for its sticky quality –  yielding a thicker and richer porridge compared to one made with regular rice.

As I was preparing to cook some glutinous purple rice last month, I remembered reading somewhere that rice water, or the water used for washing rice, was good for the skin and has been used by Chinese and Japanese women for centuries.  Without doing much research, I went ahead and soaked rice in distilled water at a 1:1 ratio.

Purple Rice 7

Purple rice water

I also had some shikon roots going through a second infusion. It was much lighter than the first infusion so I thought if I used it together with the purple rice water, I might get a lavender-colored soap.  Wanting to keep things simple, I decided to use these 2 ingredients in my 2-oil Fil-Castile formula.  And instead of my usual unscented Fil-Castile, I added essential oils of lavender and rosewood (all-natural blend since the real thing is endangered and too costly.)  At the last minute, I added bamboo charcoal to have some kind of design for the top.

Purple Rice 1

Purple Rice 3

In stark contrast to the dark purple colour that I got with my Shikon and Bamboo Charcoal Soap, this second-infusion batch had a greenish hue when it was wet, and dried out to a greyish bone colour.  The colour I had hoped for was not there, but it smelled nice and expensive. 😀

Purple Rice 2

Purple Rice 4

I finally got to test a bar a few days ago.  It was slimy, pasty, and barely bubbly.  If I really wanted to, I could create a little lather by coating my hands with wet soap and rubbing them together for a few seconds.  But if I just glided the bar on my body, there was no lather and the soap was so slippery that it kept jumping out of my hands. Because I like using soap with a good lather, this soap rates low in usage pleasure, but it leaves my skin feeling very soft.  My conclusion is that I used the wrong type of rice, but rice water is certainly good for the skin.

As for my sticky purple rice porridge, it was delicious. After cooking it and adding enough water to make it into the consistency I wanted, I seasoned it with a little himalayan salt, added coconut milk for richness, and coconut nectar for sweetness. I forgot to include it in the photos, put I also like to sprinkle it with toasted Japanese sesame seeds, either the white or black variety. Yum.

Purple Rice 5

Glutinous purple rice, coconut milk, coconut nectar/syrup, himalayan salt

Purple Rice 6

Glutinous purple rice porridge.

 

 

Shikon and Bamboo Charcoal Soap

Sitting in a dark corner of my pantry, I had shikon roots macerating in olive oil since November. It was huddled together with my collection of various infusions: calendula, mugwort, chamomile, stinging nettle, guava leaf, papaya leaf, moringa, and turmeric.  A few of them have been there for over a year.  Not forgotten, mind you. 🙂  The shikon infusion, with its deep rose-burgundy hue, got me the most curious.

Shikon is Japanese for Lithospermum erythrorhizon, also known as red-root or purple gromwell.  It belongs to the same borage or Boraginaceae family as the alkanet – a popular natural blue/purple colorant for soaps.   But more than its pretty colour, shikon is known for its medicinal properties. According to Plants for a Future:

 “It is used internally in the treatment of irritant skin conditions, measles, chicken pox, boils, carbuncles, hepatitis and skin cancer. Externally it is used to treat nappy rash, burns, cuts, wounds, abscesses, eczema and haemorrhoids. The plant is an ingredient of commercial skin care creams.”

Whether any of its skin healing properties is retained after saponification is arguable.  Nonetheless, I wanted to create a luxurious soap with the shikon and bamboo charcoal powder from Maya. If you have been following my blog, you would know that Maya had generously given me a bunch of soaping ingredients to experiment with.  (One of them was  Japanese Indigo.)

It was my first time to soap with shikon and it was fascinating to see the colour change in every step of the process.  The infusion had 60 grams shikon root and 450 grams olive oil, which, after straining, formed part of a batch with a total oil weight of 1500 grams.  It consists of olive oil, coconut oil, macadamia oil, shea butter, fresh yogurt, goat’s milk, and and an essential oil blend of lavender, rosemary, cajeput and patchouli.

Shikon Color Changes

1. The colour of shikon-infused oil is a rich rose-burgundy. 2. Infused oil mixed with the other oils, yogurt and goat’s milk – before the lye was added. 3. As soon as the lye was mixed with the oils, the colour changed to a very dark purple. The white specks are from the milk, before it was properly mixed. 4. From purple, the soap batter turned into a very dark blue, nearly black.

Shikon Soap wet & dry

In the mold, the blue-black soap batter had morphed into blue and stayed that way even after it had dried. The black portion is coloured with bamboo charcoal.

Seeing how dark blue the soap batter was, I had serious doubts that it would turn to purple or that it would lighten up.  In fact, I was having second thoughts whether to continue with my plans of making bamboo charcoal swirls.

When I cut the soap, it was still blue and the inside was a muddy gray.  I was honestly disappointed with the colour.  But after a few minutes, I noticed that the outer edges were starting to turn purple. Half a day later, the colour had stabilised into a deep, dark purple-grey.

I have just started using a bar and I love the way it feels rich and creamy, with pretty good bubbles.  It is quite hard considering that it contains more than 50% olive oil.  There’s no salt but I added sodium lactate. The scent is soothing and fresh, and while it makes the bathroom smell wonderful, it does not linger on the skin.

Shikon 1

Shikon 2

The actual colour is a much darker and duller greyish purple than what the photos depict.

Inspired by Gordana’s body butter, I also whipped up a batch for myself, colouring it a baby pink from what I could squeeze out after straining the shikon infusion.  This recipe contains 70 g. raw shea butter, 10 g. guava leaf-infused coconut oil, 10 g. calendula-infused coconut oil, 10 g. shikon-infused olive oil, and a few drops of cajeput. The consistency is that of a rich buttercream!  l like using it on my legs and feet, just before going to bed.

Shikon Body Butter

Naturally pink body butter with shikon infusion.

If you are interested to see the different shades of purple one can achieve with shikon, here are some links:

https://infusionsblog.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/purple-natural-dye-for-soap/

https://infusionsblog.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/shikon-soap/

https://infusionsblog.wordpress.com/2012/09/24/here-comes-the-next-autumn-soap/

http://mojsapun.blogspot.com/2013/02/shikon-soap.html

 

Japanese Indigo Soap

Last October, I had the pleasure of meeting Maya of Infusions (you can read about it here). She gave me some precious gifts and soaping ingredients, and one of them was Japanese indigo powder.

Indigo 4

Japanese Indigo: raw powder and in soap

I love the colour of indigo and have always been curious to try it in soap, but had never been in possession of it until I met Maya. Now that things have quieted down after the holiday rush, I have the time to experiment with new formulae and ingredients.

Other than Maya’s post on soaping with Japanese indigo, I could not find much material on the subject. She had explained to me how to use it, but just to make sure I’m using it correctly, I emailed her. I don’t want to miss anything, so I thought I’d share her exact instructions:

As for the indigo, I have used it after making water infusion and as powder, added directly to the soap batter and also to the lye.

I used 1/2 teaspoonful of indigo powder for 12 ml hot water, infused for a couple of hours. I used about 2/3 (8 ml) of the infusion but what looked to me like a medium color may be considered dark by others. I think it is best to see the color of your batter and decide when to stop adding indigo-infused water as the color of the soap does not change much after the soap hardens. You can enhance the color by letting the soap gel.

The second method, adding dry powder directly to the soap gives you a speckled look. I do not remember how much I used but you can decide the amount of powder on the go.

Two things to keep in mind:
1. The color morphs to a very dark bluish gray if the powder is added directly to lye. It is best to add the indigo (in whatever form) at medium trace, after the saponification has advanced and the NaOH molecules have bonded with the oil molecules and cannot react with the indigo.
2. If you use EV olive oil, you will get a deep greenish blue due to the color of the olive oil.

Generally speaking, the indigo color is relatively stable in CP soap but it still fades a little with time. You need to keep it in a dark place to help the retention of color.

I decided to go with the first method, i.e. make a water infusion, and to add colour as needed after reaching trace. I ended up using all of my preparation, including the sediment that collected at the bottom of the glass. As you can see, the resulting colour is a bluish grey.  Indigo 1

I used olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil and cocoa butter with 2 milks:  yogurt and goat’s milk. For the essential oil blend, I used cypress, petitgrain, lemon 5-fold, orange 5-fold, cajeput, and basil.   It was only after mixing the EOs that I realised how yellow it was and that it would certainly have an effect on the colour. I thus used more of the EO in the uncoloured portion containing kaolin clay.  Predictably, it turned yellow.

It is not very obvious in the photos, but the indigo-coloured portion bleeds into the uncoloured part. The next time I make this, I will make it a solid colour. But because of the EOs, it will probably turn a greenish blue – which I don’t mind, because seriously, it smells fantastic!

Indigo 2

Indigo 3

 

Thank you, Maya, for letting me have this opportunity to soap with Japanese indigo. 🙂

Coming up next is another Japanese ingredient from Maya. Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week ahead! 🙂

 

 

Moringa Infusion with Charcoal Swirl

I have been making Moringa Tea Tree soap regularly but I usually make it a plain solid green from infusing powdered moringa in oil. A lady who always orders it requested for something with design. Wanting to keep it all-natural, I chose charcoal for the contrasting color of the swirls.  I must say I really like the new look and I hope it pleases her, too. 🙂

I had 4 batches of moringa powder steeping in olive oil since November but I needed 5.  I thus ended up making one batch with a week-old infusion.  I was a bit worried that it would come out a lighter green, but at the same time I was curious if there would be any difference.  You know what, the lone batch made with the one-week infusion was just as green as the ones with the 2-month infusion! I could not detect any difference at all!

Moringa Charcoal 1W

Moringa Charcoal 2W

Moringa Charcoal 3W

 

 

 

 

 

Hanger Swirl with Natural Colorants

When I like something, I tend to keep on repeating it. That’s the way I listen to music – looping the same set of songs over and over again. I may not be sick of it yet, but others unfortunate enough to hear my music for the nth time are bound to complain! 😀  It’s no different with my soap making, but I hope no one is about to complain!  Since acquiring a wire hanger, I’ve been swirling away with it whenever I could. In my previous post, I used micas, oxides and ultramarines for the swirls. Here, I used all natural colorants.

Moringa and Pink Clay

I used 1 Tbsp (8 grams) French Pink Clay mixed with 10 grams of water for 750 grams of carrier oils to get a nice pastel pink colour. In a previous moringa soap I made, I strained out the moringa powder and used only the infused oil.  It yielded a lovely avocado green colour but it started to fade after 6-7 weeks. Here, I included the powder that has been saturated in oil for a month.  I am sure it will fade eventually, but I think it will stay longer than the one with the infused oil only. The moringa powder provides mild exfoliation while the upper pink part provides a slippery contrast. It is scented with lavender, peppermint and eucalyptus E.O.s.

moringa pink clay 1

moringa pink clay 4

moringa pink clay 2

moringa pink clay 3

Moringa and Pink Clay

Double Eucalyptus

Remember this?

The net yield is very low. Most of it are too tough and fibrous  to be made into a powder with a coffee grinder.

Powdered eucalyptus leaves (left).

A while back, I made my own dried botanicals and infused them in oil. The eucalyptus powder made a green oil infusion, but when I soaped with it, it instantly turned tan, and upon unmolding, it had turned brown. There was no gradual discolouration like most natural green colorants.

double eucalyptus 4

My original plan was to do a charcoal pencil line  The batter was pretty thin and as I was adding the top layer, I knew I was not going to achieve a straight line.  I ditched my original plan and went for my hanger. I am glad of the change of plans because I love the way this came out!  Aside from the oil infusion and eucalyptus powder, it is also scented with eucalyptus and grapefruit E.O.s.

double eucalyptus 2

double eucalyptus 3

double eucalyptus 1

Double Eucalyptus

Remakes

There was a time when I hardly repeated anything I made, but after more than a year of soaping, I find myself remaking soaps that I like and what’s popular. I am slowly narrowing down what I would like to form as my core products.  I am a scent addict and I have fragrances and essential oils that I have not even used, and I still continue to purchase new ones (it’s really hard to stop!).  Because of this serious addiction, naturally I will always be making something new – it’s part of the thrill of soap making!  And let’s not get started on the colours. I came in a bit late on that but am sure catching up!  Don’t you just love the jewel-coloured micas? 🙂

Here are some of my recent remakes vis-à-vis their old versions.

1.  Tea Tree and Spearmint with Activated Charcoal

Tea Tree Spearmint

Old

Tea Tree & Spearmint

New: the batter got thick so I was not able to do a fluid drop swirl like the old version

2. Fir and Eucalyptus with Activated Charcoal:

Fir and Eucalyptus

Old

Fir and Eucalyptus

New: ITP swirl; I used the wrong stamp for this!

3. Berries and Violets

Berries and Violets

Old

Berries and Violets

New: a different shade of green and violet

4. Bora Bora

Bora Bora (old)

Old

Bora Bora

New: very similar to the first version; the blue is a bit lighter.

5. Flamenco

Flamenco 2

Old

Flamenco

New: the batter was thinner than the old version so the coloured swirls went down farther.