Soft Oils and Skin Conditioning

Soapmaking Forum

Help Support Soapmaking Forum:

Orchidgirl

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 9, 2013
Messages
53
Reaction score
21
Location
The marshes of Maryland's Eastern Shore
Hi everyone,

First, I want to thank anyone reading this who chimed in on my recent thread about water discounts--I have been doing so much reading lately about this important aspect of soapmaking, and it's been pretty exciting to learn something new. I am still a relative newbie, and I greatly appreciate the patience and kind helpfulness of so many on here. :)

So, onward to my latest inquiry. I'd like to hear your personal preferences and suggestions regarding the use of "soft" oils in soapmaking, as well as any other advice you may have regarding "skin-conditioning" additives. I think my usual recipes are very high in the hard oils, which so far has suited me just fine, but I keep reading about the skin conditioning aspects of soft oils and wonder if I'm missing out on something. I am, however, paranoid about DOS, which I've had in a couple of my earliest batches that involved almond oil at 10%, an oil that I've never used since. I keep my oils fresh, but my soap tends to sit around quite a while before I use it, so longevity of the finished bar of soap is important to me.

Here's a typical recipe:
Palm oil: 35% (at least. Often as high as 45%)
Coconut oil: 25% (frequently I go closer to 30%)
Olive: 25% (have been trying to keep this % down lately to help create a "whiter" bar)
Castor: 5%
Shea: 10% (this is a new ingredient for me. So far, and disappointingly enough, I don't notice any difference with this in my soap than I did before using a butter)

Would something like high-oleic canola (which I'm told is much less prone to DOS than regular canola) or sunflower oil add something noticeable to my soaps if I, say, reduced the percentages of the palm and coconut by 5 or so percent and subbed in the soft oil for this? Would an additive like aloe vera gel make a difference or is that honestly just a label appeal type of item?

In case it matters, I am one of those who do love the feel of a 100% olive oil bar (snot-like lather and all), but I haven't explored many other recipes that would qualify as "skin-conditioning." It would be nice to be able to create a soap that leaves my skin feeling the way the 100% olive oil does without the year-long cure time.

BTW, my own soap is the only handmade soap I've ever used, so I have little to compare my own efforts to...other than to say my skin definitely feels better now than it did back when I used Zest. LOL

TL;DR: What's YOUR must-have ingredient for skin-conditioning purposes?
 

Cellador

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2017
Messages
999
Reaction score
769
Location
Fort Mill, South Carolina
Unless I'm trying to make a super conditioning bar and don't mind waiting for the extended cure time, I try to keep a ratio of around 40% saturated vs. 60% unsaturated oils.
I love avocado oil and rice bran oil. I have also used HO Sunflower oil without any issues so far, but it doesn't really feel any different than OO to me.
I am surprised to hear that you don't notice a difference with shea butter- for some reason, that's the one ingredient that makes such a difference to me. I notice a difference in conditioning even with just 5% shea butter in the recipe.
And, I know it's expensive, but I also love just a bit of jojoba too.
 

Orchidgirl

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 9, 2013
Messages
53
Reaction score
21
Location
The marshes of Maryland's Eastern Shore
Unless I'm trying to make a super conditioning bar and don't mind waiting for the extended cure time, I try to keep a ratio of around 40% saturated vs. 60% unsaturated oils.
I love avocado oil and rice bran oil. I have also used HO Sunflower oil without any issues so far, but it doesn't really feel any different than OO to me.
I am surprised to hear that you don't notice a difference with shea butter- for some reason, that's the one ingredient that makes such a difference to me. I notice a difference in conditioning even with just 5% shea butter in the recipe.
And, I know it's expensive, but I also love just a bit of jojoba too.

Thanks! I tried some rice bran oil in a recent recipe...waiting for it to cure to check it out. The avocado oil sounds intriguing. And, yep, I am definitely surprised that I couldn't tell a difference with the shea, but then it's only been one batch so far that I have used it in (all the rest are curing still). I thought maybe my proportions of other ingredients were "off," or something. I hate to think that I'm just not able to appreciate the differences, but truly all of my soap feels more or less the same to me. That's why I am inspired to start trying new things...I really want to have one of those "eureka" moments where I am suddenly blown away with how wonderful a new recipe ends up turning out. :mrgreen:

EVOO has a greenish tinge but it makes a very white soap as it cures.

Interesting. I've made 3 batches of Castile so far and they always seemed to me to have had a very yellowish cast to them, even once cured. It could well have been some other additive though...one I scented with lemongrass, can't remember what I added to the others. This is another reason why I recently decided to try the rice bran oil; it seems much more neutral in color than all of the olive oils I've used so far.
 
Last edited:

Seawolfe

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2014
Messages
3,272
Reaction score
3,023
Location
So Cal
I kind of shy away from "conditioning" as the lather is on my skin maybe 3 minutes or less before being rinsed off? I aim more for "doesn't strip my skin and leave it feeling dry". And for that I keep my coconut oil pretty low around 15% OR I superfat 20% if I am making 80% coconut oil salt soap.

That said I find palm quite a bit harsher than lard in soaps.

All of my OO castiles have been pretty and white, but I dont tend to use EVOO. Your EO's might be the culprit.
 
Joined
Sep 19, 2015
Messages
5,550
Reaction score
4,418
Location
Sth Coast, NSW, Australia
Interesting. I've made 3 batches of Castile so far and they always seemed to me to have had a very yellowish cast to them, even once cured. It could well have been some other additive though...one I scented with lemongrass, can't remember what I added to the others. This is another reason why I recently decided to try the rice bran oil; it seems much more neutral in color than all of the olive oils I've used so far.

My Castile is 100% EVOO no colour or fragrance.
It starts off a tiny bit yellow but cures to white.
 

MorpheusPA

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2010
Messages
782
Reaction score
756
I always enjoy saying it due to the cringing, but I find a high lard recipe to be very skin-sparing in terms of drying it out.

Technically, lard is a replacement for palm. In practice, I find palm rather drying, and I'm not thrilled with the ethics (a story for another time, but it does include the "sustainable" sources). Palm also traces faster, giving less time for design if you're inclined to do that.

One recipe I use is:

60% lard
20% olive
15% coconut
5% castor

If you're very sensitive to coconut, or looking for an even less stripping bar, decrease it and increase the lard and/or olive to compensate.

It works out to 43% saturated, 57% unsaturated, and does take a while to firm up. I usually unmold from my loaf mold after about a day. Individual bar molds should be oven processed (research CPOP) for speed, or you can just wait the five days or so to unmold.
 

Latest posts

Top