Question about Coconut, Castor, and The Bubble Factory

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gigisiguenza

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I've been testing my soaps since the first batch hit safe zone back in july/aug and I'm discovering that every one of them ends up too drying for my skin. They seem ok at first, but within just a few uses, I'm noticing that my skin feels very dried out. I've tested quite a few now and am kinda disappointed that so many of them aren't great for me personally. They're flippin awesome for everyone else LOL, just not me.

So I'm going to focus on making a soap specifically for me and my friggin annoying skin. This means I'm debating making a few drastic (to me anyway) changes to my default ingredients, but I'm unsure about the impact it will have on the soap, and was hoping for some feedback from the experienced soapers, so I can avoid wasting more supplies (especially after my recent run of gremlin-zapped soaps).

1) I'm thinking of lowering the CO even more, to 10%, to see if that improves things, but I'm worried about the cleansing being very low. I do still want soap that cleans, after all LOL. And I'm open to other options too, in case it's a sensitivity to the CO itself that's the issue for me. It's been a default ingredient in every recipe, but I'm game to try something else if it will provide cleansing properties.

2) Another default ingredient has been castor oil. I don't think it's a 'drying' oil, but I'm wondering if perhaps I'm either sensitive or allergic to it. I've never used castor oil prior to soaping (at least not that I know of), so I could very well be sensitive or allergic and have no clue. Again, I'm game for removing it, but am worried about killing the bubble factory by eliminating it. Totally open trying something else but am unsure what to use that would accomplish the same thing.

TIA for the help :)
 

shunt2011

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I would certainly drop the CO lower and give it a try. You can also try using PKO or Babassu (sp?). I use a combination of CO & PKO in my soaps. Also, using sugars in your lye water before adding your lye can help with bubbles too. Castor is more of a lather stabilizer so try not using it in a batch. I'm not aware of anything that does the same thing.

Also, try using Gennys shampoo bar recipe. It makes a lovely body bar. Very gentle on the skin. I couldn't use is as a shampoo bar but decided to try it as just a body bar and it's really nice. IL actually suggests this as well.

Just because it shows a low cleansing doesn't mean it won't clean. Castile has a 0 cleansing and some folks actually like it.

It's about trial and error as well as finding what will work best for your skin.
 
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traderbren

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I found many of my first soaps drying after several uses. My current recipe only has 10% CO. It still certainly "cleans". I'm not walking around like Pigpen with a cloud of dust around me, and my brutally honest kids aren't telling me I smell. And they would, too. My recipe has that 5% castor, and plenty of bubbles even in my hard water. I haven't tried leaving castor out.

I know several people add sugar to their water before lye to increase bubbles. If you experiment with lowering/excluding either oil, my only suggestion is to make 2 soaps, one without castor, and one with less CO, just so you can figure out your culprit.

FWIW, my recipe with 10% CO is higher lard, with 10% shea. I am actually able to shower and not reach directly for the lotion now.
 

ngian

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Soaps always clean even with Cleansing number of "0". Read more about this here:
http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showpost.php?p=383997&postcount=17

If I were you I would take out coconut and test palm kernel instead as it is known that irritates less our skin. Read more here:
http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=53763

If palm kernel also irritates you then I would make a soap bar without myristic and lauric fatty acids, but with >50% palm, 10-15% castor and the rest a soft oil, along with 5% sugar. Preferably I would use lard instead of palm as it is somehow skin friendly.

If all the above still irritates you, then it must be the high PH values that all Lye based soaps have (9-10.5)
 

Arthur Dent

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I am finding that I react much the same way, Gigi. I have a couple of batches of high lard soaps with the coconut dialed back to 5%, but even that gets uncomfortable after several uses. Sugar does indeed help some with the bubbles. So far I am having the best luck with no coconut oil at all, and as much as I love my lard soaps I am finding that my skin seems to like high olive oil soaps better. My castile is just a few months old, but my skin reacts very well to it. It's an adventure.
 

Seawolfe

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With your skin, I would suggest aiming for zero or very very low cleansing - Ginnys bar is a perfect example for that. I've made and used several soaps with a zero or close to zero cleansing number and they do indeed clean :)

You might be sensitive to castor - I've made 2 recipes without it that lather just fine. Granted, they do have coconut oil in them though. My favorite for that is 65% lard, 20% almond and 15% coconut - and you could up the lard and lower the coconut.

And don't discount a well cured pure castille - I adore mine as gentle facial and body bars.
 

Obsidian

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You could always rub some castor on your skin, see if it bothers you. Castor doesn't increase the cleansing of soap so unless you are sensitive to it, it really shouldn't be a issue.

Some people simply can't use handmade soap, you could be one of them but I would suggest trying a couple batches of coconut free soap. I make a 50/50 lard/OO soap that is quite nice for a gentle bar. I've also used genny's shampoo bar and really like it.

There are a few other things my skin just doesn't tolerate.
Sugar- most everyone uses it to increase lather but its make me feel dry, aloe juice instead of water really increases the lather without bothering my skin.
Castile- this is the worst stuff in the world for me, makes my skin really tight. but you might be someone who does better with a bastile/castile soap.
Clays- just terrible for my dry skin. Charcoal is the same way.
animal milks- like sugar, they dry me out and irritate my skin.

Do you use high lard? Maybe you could switch it and the OO around or even try palm instead. I love my lard soaps but at times, its just not conditioning enough.
 

songwind

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Additional glycerin might help, too - but be aware it makes your bars take longer to harden.
 

gigisiguenza

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So many good suggestions! TY all!

Now I think on it, I've touched every one of these oils with bared hands and had no noticeable, immediate reaction, so I think it's safe to rule out an allergy reaction. Perhaps it's what happens to them once saponified. I've used handmade soap before (it's where my desire to make it came from) and had no issues with it. Of course, I haven't the foggiest idea what was in it, because I wasn't paying attention at the time LOL. I do remember it smelled heavenly, like oatmeal cookies, and was labeled "natural" because she used natural colorants. Beyond that, no idea.

So I'm going to assume it's an issue with my very sensitive skin (especially during eczema flairs) and that I need to go with zero on cleansing and see if that improves matters. I will try a no CO / high lard soap, with low castor, no clays or AC, and no FOs or colorants. If I make a teeny batch of that and it works, then I will make a second teeny batch and add something.

It seems I'll be making lots of teeny batches for a while geez. Good thing the prettier more fun soaps seem fine for everyone else or I'd be stuck with a whole lotta soaps I can't use LOL.
 

gigisiguenza

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Penelope yes I have and I found it slimy, which was a turnoff for me. Now that I know so much more about soap, though, maybe it was that person's soap that wasn't so hot. Hmmm.

Another teeny batch added to the list :)
 

penelopejane

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Penelope yes I have and I found it slimy, which was a turnoff for me. Now that I know so much more about soap, though, maybe it was that person's soap that wasn't so hot. Hmmm.

Another teeny batch added to the list :)

Or it wasn't aged enough.

I don't know how to say this here without upsetting lard-ites but even if food safe animal fats have fluctuating and variable hormones, antibiotics and can be hydrogenated wich can effect SOME skin sensitive people.

You are wise to test no additives first. If you need to make it harder, bubbler, nicer smelling work through that when you've found something you're not sensitive to. You will need to try a formulation for a month as sometimes it takes that long for the skin to react.

1 tbs of honey added to 100% OO speeds the aging process (the long term curing process) but not sure if you'd be sensitive so that so might not be worth trying. Manuka honey is good for some people's skin but $$$ at worthwhile rates of active ingredient. Wish I had some good aged Castile you could try. It is an ancient eczema treatment (not cure).
 
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penelopejane

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I have been using my first soap batch. 30/30/30/10 PO/CO/OO/Castor. It is goopy (slimy?) and visibly reduces in size with each wash. I was thinking not enough cure time, not good recipe etc

But I have the same soap (cut from the same bar) in the kitchen in a dish near the sink and it's as hard as a rock and perfect. More investigation...

We have an architecturally beautiful nook in our bathroom that gets spray from the shower and no ventilation. So I'm getting a stick on soap dish and putting it under the window where it can dry out between uses.

pj
 
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lenarenee

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Hey gigi,

I'm glad you're willing to try ditching the coconut oil. I'd like to share something I've learned in the past few months: I've been a soap snob.
There are people who use oils/recipes that I decided I would never ever try; but I made that decision blindly - not having tested them.

Since I've started college classes and lost a lot of free time I started buying from craft markets/etsy to fulfill my handmade soap fix and chose soaps with very different ingredients than mine....and what a revelation it's been!!

I bought one bar because it was made with palm, canola, olive and castor. Very low on the bubble and creamy factor, but had it's own type of lather which I developed a respect for...soft and silky. It's the most unique gentlest bar of soap I've ever used and I may make some of my own. (they also mixed rose fragrance oil with grapefruit eo - a combo that works!)

So have fun experimenting, and keep yourself open to new combinations because you just might create a treasure!
 

shunt2011

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I agree with trying different things. That's certainly part of the learning qualities and what makes you happy. Everyone is different.
 

BrewerGeorge

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Or it wasn't aged enough.

I don't know how to say this here without upsetting lard-ites but even if food safe animal fats have fluctuating and variable hormones, antibiotics and can be hydrogenated wich can effect SOME skin sensitive people.
...
FWIW, I think it's very unlikely that hormones would survive the high heat of the rendering process.
 

Obsidian

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Penelope yes I have and I found it slimy, which was a turnoff for me. Now that I know so much more about soap, though, maybe it was that person's soap that wasn't so hot. Hmmm.

Another teeny batch added to the list :)
castile is slimy, no way around it. Aging it forever and a day will reduce some slime but it will still be their. Using a shower poof really helps create lather and the slime isn't as noticeable.
 

IrishLass

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Gigi- is there any way that you would be able to get a hold of another bar of that handmade soap that you once tried..... the one that your skin loved? That would be awesome if you could, provided it had the full list ingredients on it, that is.

I had a 'wow- who knew!' experience much like Lenarenee when I made my first batch of Genny's shampoo bars (tweaked with HO Safflower in place of the soy oil) and, like Shari, tried it out in the shower on my body instead of my hair.

The ingredients in that formula are put together in such a foreign way to how I would normally construct a formula with those kinds of ingredients, that in the back of my mind as I was making it, I kept second-guessing myself. I mean- it didn't have any coconut oil in it at all, nor even PKO or babassu, which, for a bubble-ho like me is almost akin to committing blasphemy or something. lol

But once it was cured and I actually used it in the shower as a body soap- wow! It had such lovely lather with ready-bubbles that I fell in love with it on the spot and decided right then and there to cease making my annual 100% Castile's and use this formula in its place as my 'gentle bar' formula. lol

Everybody's skin-likes are different, so don't give up experimenting!


IrishLass :)
 

gigisiguenza

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You guys are so awesome - so much good advice :)

I'm going to work on a recipe that I can make with what I have (in financial panic mode at the moment, so any new ingredients are happening for a while). And I will look for Genny's recipe on here so I can try that too. As to the bar of soap I tried and loved, nope that was eons ago, and I've lost track of that friend long ago.

Now to plan my first teeny batch :)
 

penelopejane

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You guys are so awesome - so much good advice :)

I'm going to work on a recipe that I can make with what I have (in financial panic mode at the moment, so any new ingredients are happening for a while). And I will look for Genny's recipe on here so I can try that too. As to the bar of soap I tried and loved, nope that was eons ago, and I've lost track of that friend long ago.

Now to plan my first teeny batch :)
Gigi,

You and I seem to be going through the same dilemma at the moment.

This is the link to the soap that irish Lass is talking about.
http://www.soapmakingforum.com/showthread.php?t=30946

I just found a sensibly priced supplier of Avocado oil in Oz. I am trying alternatives (camellia and Almond oil are relatively cheap here) until I get to put in a new order.

I will let you know how I go. I have tried substituting rice bran oil for the olive oil and it wasn't a success but I think I will try finding a substitute for Avocado oil first then tweaking it later.

I just thought up a great method to half my loaf mold so I don't waste too many oils. :)

Good luck with your experiments.
 
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