Instructions on making 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.
Soap for cleansing all skin types
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 Face Soap Recipe
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)
- 1/2 tsp Organic Jojoba Oil (optional)
- 1 tsp Zinc Oxide (optional)
- 1.5 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
Natural Soap Making for Beginners
If you’re new to making handmade soap, you might also want to check out my four-part series on natural soap making. It gives a good introduction on what to expect from ingredients, equipment, recipes, and how to combine everything together to make soap.
For this recipe, make sure that your main oils, water, and lye are pre-measured. Wear an apron, gloves, eye-protection and work in an orderly space free from distractions. Any tools, pans, or bowls that come into contact with the lye should be soap-dedicated. It’s best to not use the same items that you’d prepare food with. Make sure that the jugs that you measure the lye and water into are heat resistant.
Instructions for making this Sensitive Face Soap Recipe
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. For full instructions on how to cure handmade soap head over here
Using this face soap
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.