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Counteracting Coconut Oil Dry Skin

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AndyRoo

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Hello all,

I've been refining my recipe to fewer and fewer ingredients over time; I started with 8 ingredients, and I am now down to 4: Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, and Castor Oil - but I am finding the soap drying on my skin.

I ditched Palm Oil for ethical reasons ages ago and switched to Babassu Oil instead, which was great, but I was told it was effectively just an 'expensive' Coconut Oil, so I switched to Coconut instead. At this point my recipe ended up roughly 45% Coconut Oil. It's made my skin go all flaky, so without switching back to Babassu oil, is there a way to counteract how drying the Coconut Oil is?

The new recipe I am proposing is:

Olive Oil - 45%
Coconut Oil - 35%
Shea Butter - 20%
Castor Oil - 5%
Superfat - 5%

Will that be enough? I was thinking I could increase the superfat to 8% or so?

The other alternative is that I just ditch the Coconut Oil and spend the extra few £s to get Babassu oil.

Any ideas will be appreciated.

Thanks,
Andy
 

lsg

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You can always raise the superfat. I usually don't use over 25% coconut oil. If you are not adverse to using animal fats, try adding some lard to your recipe.
 

AndyRoo

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You can always raise the superfat. I usually don't use over 25% coconut oil. If you are not adverse to using animal fats, try adding some lard to your recipe.
Would an increase from 5 - 8 % be noticeable? Or should I be aiming to increase to 10%?

I don't use animal products as I am vegetarian. I can decrease the CO to 25% and increase the OO, but then you get far fewer bubbles. According to my "customers" (friends and family) bubbles are really quite important to them.
 

Susie

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I would decrease the CO to 15-20% and add the remainder to the olive oil. Then add sugar at about 14 g/500 g of oil to the water to boost the bubbles.
 

GemstonePony

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I'd also drop the coconut oil to 15-19% and add sugar, but I'd bump the Castor to 8% and the Shea to 30% and drop the remaining percent to Olive. Sugar means more bubbles, and upping both the Castor and the Shea helps the bubbles stick around longer. 3-5% SF, SF kills bubbles.
ETA: what are you using for liquid? Aloe Vera Juice or boiled alcoholic beverages instead of water are an excellent way to boost bubbles. And if you don't mind a slightly tan tint and can get your hands on some, I'm seeing very nice results with heating my oils with slippery elm bark.
 
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lsg

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I agree with Susie. Decrease coconut oil and add sugar to water used for lye. Be sure that the sugar is dissolved in the water before adding lye.
 

AndyRoo

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The bubbles aren't pivotal, I guess. The main thing I'd rather it do is not dry the skin.

So now I'm thinking maybe:

50% Olive Oil
30% Coconut Oil
17% Shea Butter
3% Castor Oil

I'm reluctant to increase the castor oil because I got told that makes a 'sticky' bar of soap, and I've had problems in the past when I use too many butters that the batter seizes.

Curse the science of this! I just want to make pretty things. lol
 

Todd Ziegler

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I have never had a problem with 7%-8% castor oil but I have never used over 40% olive oil either but I do agree with the others that increasing the castor oil will be beneficial.

I would also suggest using some sodium lactate to help harden your bar while it is in the mold. Just a suggestion.
 

AndyRoo

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I'm trying to avoid putting in anything that absolutely does not have to be there. I'll see how the above comes out and then try reducing the OO content. The thing I mostly don't want to happen is to have the CO dry people's skin out.
 

Zany_in_CO

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I'm trying to avoid putting in anything that absolutely does not have to be there.
I hear that! I'm on the same page. I can make perfectly good soap without additives that, IMO and IME only add expense to the finished bar without adding anything of value. LOL

If my bar isn't hard enough, I fiddle with the amount of saturated fats to increase hardness. In the case of Coconut Oil, you can use a lot less than you currently have which also brings the "cleansing" value down so there is less chance of a drying feel in the finished soap.

Shea Butter is a good substitute for tallow, lard, palm. I recently made a soap with 67% shea butter because I had some raw shea butter that I needed to soap before it got any older.
67% shea butter
28% coconut oil
5% castor
At 4-5 weeks old it made oodles of creamy dense lather but felt a little drying, which might improve with a longer cure. I hope.

For your purposes, I just tweaked the recipe. I lowered the coconut oil and added a bit of olive oil for conditioning. See the tweaked recipe attached.
 

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SpiLL

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I have never had a problem with 7%-8% castor oil but I have never used over 40% olive oil either but I do agree with the others that increasing the castor oil will be beneficial.

I would also suggest using some sodium lactate to help harden your bar while it is in the mold. Just a suggestion.
I use sugar for bubbles & it does the fast hardening trick too.
 

LilianNoir

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No reason you can't increase that shea to counter balance reducing coconut.
My current favorite recipe is 25% coconut, 35% olive, 30% shea, 10% castor
Lather isn't as super bubbly as some other formulas, but it's still a nice lather and sugar could be added to boost if you like (I don't really care about super bubbly lather myself.)
 

LilianNoir

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I really like this recipe:
Castor 5
Coconut 20
Shea butter 50
Sunflower 25
2% superfat.

It hardens up pretty fast so no super fancy swirls. And I think it needs a good 3 months of cure. But I really like it!
Sounds like we're of a similar mind!

I may try this, as I want to get my coconut enough lower and I was JUST looking into a high oleic sunflower in place of olive (just to see if I like it better),
How does this perform?
 

dixiedragon

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I haven't done a comparison of this recipe with sunflower vs olive. I have replaced the olive oil in my standard lard recipe with half sunflower and half rice bran, or sometimes 10% of each. I read somewhere that sunflower and olive have a synergistic reaction in soap and produce more bubbles together than they do alone. I haven't done any blind testing but I've noticed no appreciable difference in my soaps with less or no olive.

ETA: The 2% superfat in this recipe is important b/c shea butter is loaded with unsaponifiables (substances that do not combine with lye and form soap) and so keeping it at 2% makes a good mild bar with good lather. I have not tried this recipe with 5% superfat, but the person who posted it originally said it did not lather very well at 5%.
 

AliOop

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Sweet almond oil provides some additional bubbles. I’d use some of that and some RBO to reduce both the CO and the OO.
 

lenarenee

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Lowering the coconut is the best first step because it and babassu are drying.. What’s the lowest you’ve ever tried?

You’re in the UK and have cold weather approaching, so I assume that means using a heating system a lot, which creates dry air. Since you’re not addicted to bubbles, think about lowering that co to no more than 20%. (my winters aren’t cold, but natural humidity can be single digits).

That way, the coconut strips less natural skin oils, and you won’t need a high super fat which can cause plumbing issues after a while.

The difference can be made up with olive oil and Shea but probably will mean a longer cure. Or add other oils like suggested above.

You can make a variety of soaps with varying co levels, try them out and see which amount you like best.
 

SeaSuds

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Just a wee point to note that as you are in the UK and if you want to sell in the future, the cosmetic assessors that I have come across do not allow a super fat of less than 3%.

Dropping your coconut oil to 20% or less is the general consensus on here and it works! Adding one more oil to your recipe to reduce the olive oil is also good advice (high olive oil gives my family itchy skin). Here in the UK I have found that high oleic sunflower is frustratingly hard to come by but rice bran oil from the supermarket seems to work out cheaper than buying in bulk from a soap supplier from my research so far, especially if you have a chinese supermarket close by. Last time I looked, sweet almond oil was cheaper than olive oil from a soap supplier. Rapeseed oil is also an option but I haven't tried that yet.

I am a soy wax user too as it is a good palm oil and animal fat alternative and cost effective. You can buy a non gmo soy wax from Livemoor. Butters are expensive in the UK and using anything over 20% just doesn't make financial sense IMHO! Kiwimoose gave you a lovely recipe (very similar to mine) and if you experiment with your sugars (sorbitol, aloe vera powder, beer, honey) then you will have a very nice soap! With our rainy climate in the UK I wouldn't add more than 6% castor oil as it can pull in moisture from the air (I have a dehumidifier and a fan on my curing soaps at all times) and i feel that sodium lactate does the same so I avoid it. I have also found that a high superfat gunks up my shower drain so I keep that to 3-5%. Enjoy experimenting:thumbs:
 

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