Moisturising Shea Butter Face Soap Recipe and Instructions

Sensitive face soap recipe + instructions
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Make your own sensitive face soap

Many facial cleansers can strip the skin of natural oils, leaving your skin either too dry or too oily. This is because your face can respond to over-cleansing and over-exfoliation with even more acne, blackheads, oiliness, or skin irritation. Knowing this, I tend to not cleanse my face with anything other than water on days I’m not wearing make-up, or a natural cleanser on days that I am. When I’m not using my copycat version of Lush’s Angels on Bare Skin, I also use an extremely sensitive and creamy Shea Butter soap that I make myself.

I have naturally oily skin but I’ve found that the secret to managing it is to allow my skin find its own balance. When I was a teenager and in my 20s I used to cleanse it morning and night and the shine never seemed to disappear. This is because my skin was overcompensating for the natural oils that it was losing twice a day. I also suffered from acne and I’m convinced it was because I was over cleansing.
Sensitive face soap recipe + instructions

The recipe below creates quite delicate bars of soap that are perfect for cleansing all skin types including sensitive skin, whether oily or dry. It’s made with natural ingredients, fragrance or essential oils (unless desired), and no artificial preservatives or additives. The lather is rich and creamy and the addition of rich Shea Butter and Zinc Oxide moisturises and reduces inflammation. Zinc Oxide is a natural mineral that is often found in sunblock but it also has the added benefit of calming stressed and irritated skin and preventing acne. Aesthetically, it also creates stunning pure white bars of soap.

An optional ingredient is Rose Geranium essential oil. This gorgeously scented oil that’s extracted from the leaves of the Rose Geranium plant helps to balance emotion but also treats acne and eczema. You could also use pure Rose Otto Essential Oil but it’s more costly.

Creamy and Moisturising Facial Soap

Makes 6 bars of soap

5.67 oz / 160g filtered Water
2.3 oz / 65g Sodium Hydroxide – please read about Lye safety

5.82 oz / 165g Olive Oil – Pomace Grade
5.26 oz / 149g Coconut Oil
1.87 oz / 53g Sunflower oil (purchase from supermarket)
1.87 oz / 53g Castor Oil
1.34 oz / 38g Shea Butter

1/2 tsp Vitamin E Oil (30,000IU or stronger)
Optional: 1/2 tsp Organic Jojoba Oil
Optional: 1 tsp Zinc Oxide
Optional: 1/2 tsp Rose Geranium essential oil (optional)

Equipment that you’ll need
Kitchen Scale
Digital Thermometer
Electric Stick Blender
Pyrex jug for the lye
Medium sized Sauce Pan
Heat-proof bowl
Stainless Steel Strainer/Colander/Sieve
6-Cavity Rose Shape Silicone Mold
Whisk for mixing additional ingredients
Stainless steel spoons
Silicone Spatula
Protective Eyewear / Goggles
Rubber Gloves

Sensitive face soap recipe + instructions

For my full series on Natural Soapmaking including information on Soapmaking Ingredients, Equipment needed and safety, and Make, Mould, and Cure visit the links provided.


Step 1 Put on gloves and googles and mix your NaOH (Sodium Hydroxide/Lye) into the water in a heat-proof Pyrex or PP jug. Always sprinkle the lye on top of the water and not the other way around and stir it well. Place the jug in a basin or sink of water to speed up cooling – once the lye is mixed into the water there will be a chemical reaction that produces heat and fumes which you should avoid breathing in. Make sure to mix in a well ventilated place or even better, outdoors.

Step 2 Measure the Coconut oil into a pan dedicated to soapmaking and then place it over heat (lowest setting on your hob) until it’s melted.

Step 3 Reserve a Tablespoon of the liquid oils and mix the Zinc Oxide into it thoroughly.

Step 4 When the coconut oil is melted, remove it from the heat then add the Castor oil, Sunflower oil, and Olive oil and mix well. Now take its temperature with a digital thermometer – you’re aiming for about 85-90°F. Take the temperature of the lye water, aiming for the same temperature as the oils. When you mix these two together they should be within five degrees of each other.

Step 5 Place the Shea Butter into a heat-proof pan or bowl and melt it using the double boiler method. Essentially floating a pan inside another pan filled with boiling water.

Step 6 When the oils and lye water are roughly the same temperature (85-90°F), pour the lye-water through your sieve and into the oils in the pot. The sieve/strainer will ensure that pieces of undissolved lye do not make it into your soap. Now with your whisk, stir the two together gently.

Step 7 Place your stick blender into the lye-water-oils mix and tap it against the side to release any air bubbles. In short pulses followed by stirring with the stick blender (while it’s off), bring your soap to a ‘Trace’. This means when it thickens to the consistency of custard or pudding. Because we’re using a relatively low mixing temperature it may take a while for you to achieve this stage. Be patient and continue pulsing and stirring.

Step 8 After Trace is met, pour the Zinc oxide oil, Jojoba, melted Shea Butter, and Vitamin E oil into the soap and mix thoroughly with the whisk. Work quickly before the soap becomes too stiff to mix.

Step 9 Pour the soap into the silicone rose mould and use your spatula to get every last drop. Cover the top with plastic kitchen wrap (saran wrap) and pop the mould into the bottom of your refrigerator and leave it there overnight. This will help keep the temperature down so that the shea butter, jojoba, and the optional essential oil’s beneficial properties are better protected. The cold also makes your bars a more solid white colour.

Step 10 The next day, pop your bars out of the mould and leave them in a cool, airy place, out of direct sunlight for 4-6 weeks. They need this time to shed the water we use in the recipe and also to completely finish saponification.

My advice on using this soap is that a little will go a long way! Lather and rinse as you would any other soap but also make sure to keep the bars dry on a draining board after use. Because this recipe is extremely rich in beneficial oils, it will disintegrate quickly if you leave it sitting in a puddle of water.

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17 Discussion to this post

  1. Aye Aye Mon says:

    Thank you for the tutorial!
    Can I omit Vitamin E oil? I can’t find it here.

  2. Lacy Black says:

    I am planing on making this recipe next week 🙂 If the recipe results in 25 oz. does the batch fit exactly into one silicone (6 rose) mold or two?

  3. Varga Zsuzsanna says:

    Hi Tanya, I made this soap 6 weeks ago as the first one in my life following you receipe and instructions. The soap is perfect and I love it in spite of the” dreaded orange spots” that appeared! And I’m also hooked up on soap making, I have already made 2 different batches and planning to make another one soon. Thank you sooooo much! Greetings from Hungary.

    • lovelygreens says:

      Oh poo in regards to the orange spot — it should still be still ok to use though 🙂 Thanks for your message Varga and happy soaping! I’d love to visit Hungary one day btw. It looks so beautiful.

  4. Lori Raines says:

    I have read your recipes & I think I am ready to make some soap. Is there any way to measure the ingredients without a scale? And, do you have any recipes with less ingredients?
    I have lye, unrefined Shea Butter, glycerin, extra virgin sunflower oil, unrefined coconut oil and butter, many essential oils, soap molds. Please help me start my journey of soap making.

    • lovelygreens says:

      Hi Lori, you absolutely need a kitchen scale. They’re inexpensive and available on Amazon (there is a link in the post I believe). I don’t have any recipes that use just the ingredients you have. I’d advise to stick to tried and tested recipes at first and invest in a few additional ingredients like olive oil. When you’re more experienced, begin creating your own using the online SoapCalc.

  5. Tanya,
    Can you help convert this recipe to a 48 oz. batch that i will pit in a loaf mold. do you really just add the shea butter after the oils and lyes have been mixed together. As above, what did you super fat at? Would really love the answers to these questions so I can make this!
    Thank you

    • lovelygreens says:

      Use the SoapCalc (google it) to convert this and any other recipe. It will also give you other answers to this and other recipes on superfatting as well as tons of other information. As for adding the shea — adding at trace is best.

  6. Bridget Phillips says:

    Hi Tanya,

    I am planning on trying this recipe soon and was wondering if you could tell me what percentage you superfatted this? I was thinking 6% since I wouldn’t want it to be too drying.

    I always enjoy your articles, recipes and videos. Thank you so much for sharing!

  7. Meg says:

    Hi Tanya. I made this soap last year for Christmas presents and it was so delicious! It’s time for another batch and I want to challenge myself and have a go at some swirling. I was thinking a pink and white swirl using rose clay. Now I’m not sure whether to gel or not. I’d like to to get the best colour from the clay (and to challenge myself further to make a gelled soap!), but what will it do to the white portion? Will it go all yellowed and weird? Thanks 🙂

    • lovelygreens says:

      Hi Meg! It shouldn’t turn yellow but may be a light cream colour. Try a small batch, write down the temperature you mixed at and how you insulated it and then see how it turns out. If you like the effect, make it again 🙂

  8. John says:

    Firstly thank you for this recipe. I made it and it is truly awesome.

    My daughter suffers from acne and i’ve read (a lot) that activated charcoal is quite beneficial.

    Being very new to soaping I thought I would ask:

    Is this soap recipe suitable for adding activated charcoal?

    How much charcoal would you recommend?

    Would any other ingredients need adjusting?

    Again thanks, for your help and your wonderful ideas, recipies and blog.

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