Tag Archives: Rosemary

Job’s Tears and Calendula Soaps

As much as I enjoy making soaps with fragrance oils and pigments, my first and true love has always been natural, therapeutic soaps. I get really excited discovering and experimenting with new ingredients that may offer any kind of skin benefit.

I have been soaping like crazy since I came back from Taipei two weeks ago. I made mostly fragrance oil-scented soaps, but I managed to make two all-natural ones using some of the ingredients I stuffed my suitcase with.

With so many choices, it was hard to pick which ingredient to use first. I finally settled on calendula, a very popular herb among soap makers, but it was my first time to use it.

Dried Calendula Petals

Dried Calendula Petals

Instead of steeping the petals in oil, I made a concentrated tea and let it steep overnight. Since we don’t have calendula in the Philippines (maybe we do, but I am not aware of it), I didn’t want to throw away the petals.  I wanted to use everything so I separated most of the liquid and proceeded to blitz the remaining calendula with reconstituted goat’s milk powder.  I mixed all the liquid with the blended petals into my oils – coconut, olive, palm, rice bran and cocoa butter – before adding my master-batched 50% lye solution.

To intensify the yellow color, I used 2 parts blood orange e.o. and 1 part litsea cubeba, totalling 4.2% of my oils. Next time I will increase the essential oils to at least 5% because at 4.2%, the scent is barely there. I wanted to add some interest so I tried doing a pencil line for the first time. I really like the effect but I think I was a bit heavy handed with the activated charcoal.

Calendula 2

Calendula and Goat's Milk Soap

Calendula and Goat’s Milk Soap

The second ingredient I decided to use was Job’s Tears powder (coix lacryma jobi). It is also known as Chinese pearl barley, but it has nothing to do with the common pearl barley that most of us are familiar with.  In China, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan, it is eaten as a grain or cooked into a drink.  It is also used in traditional Chinese medicine for its cooling and anti-cancer properties, and for its stimulating action on the spleen, kidneys and lungs. Beauty-wise, it is reputed to remove blemishes and make the skin softer. (Click here to read more on the benefits of Job’s Tears)

Job's Tears powder

Job’s Tears powder

Job's Tears in Chinese

Job’s Tears in Chinese

I still have some lard that I carefully rendered with salt and water a few months ago. I plan to just finish what I have and no longer use it in the future. It is just too tedious to make and I don’t think it would appeal to people even though it makes for a gentle and hard bar of soap.

I needed the extra hardness for the facial soap I had in mind, so I incorporated a little bit of lard into my recipe containing coconut, olive, avocado, rice bran, pili and castor oils.  I also added 2% salt and 1.5% sodium lactate, less than what I used for my Charcoal Neem Soap.  For a richer and creamier soap, I used coconut cream, and to keep it all natural, I used essential oils of blood orange, rosemary and tea tree. I mixed the essential oils with Job’s Tears powder along with kaolin clay and turmeric powder to anchor the scent, before adding everything into the soap batter at light trace.

Job's Tears & Coconut Cream

Job's Tears 2

Job's Tears 5

Job’s Tears & Coconut Cream Soap

I love that the soap is completely ash-free and the texture is so smooth and creamy.  I think the powders, partly acting as anchors for the essential oils, worked, because I could smell the blood orange amidst the strong tea tree. I hope the scent stays after cure!

Tomato Rosemary Soap

It’s really hard for me to make plain soap with just oil and water.  I always want to add something, whether it be a different liquid, dried herbs and spices, charcoal, clays, or fruits and vegetables.  Tomato has long been on my to-do list and last weekend I finally made soap with it!

I used a yogurt soap base made with olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, rice bran oil and cocoa butter.  I used tomato paste for the bottom layer, ground rosemary and green chrome oxide for the second, and a touch of titanium dioxide for the top layer (I think the cocoa butter and the rosemary oleoresin extract I use as an antioxidant for my oils give off a yellow tint).

I love how this soap turned out! Now I know tomato paste is the key to a natural orange color.  I used annatto before, and while the powder is a deep orange, the outcome in soap is yellow.  The tomato paste sets the soap batter quickly once poured into the mold, so it’s just perfect for a layered design with straight lines.  I scented this with rosemary and litsea cubeba essential oils.  It smells like fresh lemongrass to me.

Tomato rosemary 1tomato rosemary 2

tomato rosemary 3

Left to right: charcoal green tea, tomato rosemary, rosemary eucalyptus

Discovering the Celine Swirl

Last week, as I was going through Jenny’s I’d Lather Be Soaping blog roll, I clicked on Summerfield Soaps and found this stunning creation.  Apparently, the technique used was invented by Celine Blacow, a very talented soaper from Dublin, Ireland, who’s also known as the swirl queen! I’ve stumbled upon her blog before (check out her dazzling soaps!) but had never watched any of her Youtube videos until the one in Summerfield’s post.

I have not done a whole lot of swirling, and the few times I did, most of them fell flat because either the batter was too thin or too thick.  An exception would probably be my entry to last month’s Soap Challenge Club featuring the Holly Swirl.  I tried the technique 3 times, and got lucky with my second try.

It seems like the Celine Swirl has been around for some time, but since I just started making soap a little bit shy of 5 months, it is totally new to me.  After doing some research on the Celine Swirl, I also learned that Celine started the popular hanger swirl.  Again, I’ve come across mentions of it but never really paid attention to it. At the same time I was learning about the Celine Swirl, I also finally saw a video of the hanger swirl.  The results are so cool!  But that’s for another time, and today it’s all about the Celine Swirl.

The first one I made was with my favourite ingredients, charcoal and yogurt, and scented with neroli f.o.  I really love how this turned out!

yogurt charcoal

yogurt charcoal 1

Buoyed by the success of my first Celine Swirl, I made a second one with the same yogurt soap base.  This time I made it with ground rosemary and green chrome oxide, and scented it with lavender and eucalyptus.

Rosemary eucalyptus 1rosemary eucalyptusI don’t see any recent activity over at Celine’s blog, Soaperstar, but I would like to shout out a big thank you, wherever you are, for generously sharing your swirling technique.  I think I will be stuck here for a while since I am simply having too much fun with it!