Natural Soap Colourants
Natural soap colourants – what a beautiful challenge in creating handmade soaps. This post is about earth-sourced colouring options for you, dear soap makers, who wish to keep their recipe as natural as possible.
We, at Three Hills Soap, only colour our soaps with plant, fruit or vegetable materials, so our soaps are aesthetically coloured by nature itself. I love to infuse them in various kinds of oils, add them at trace not just for their colour but for their herbal qualities too and I even throw them into the lye – water solution.
In natural soap making you have several options for colouring your soap which will include: spices powders (cinnamon, curry, paprika, turmeric, ginger, coffee grounds etc.) and even flowers and plants that could be growing in your garden right now (chamomile, rose, calendula, nettle, lavender, spinach, parsley or alfalfa to mention).
I must tell you, herbs, clays, flowers, roots are my personal favourite. Amazing Nature creates for us all types of wonderful colours useful in soap making too. That’s the reason why we don’t use micas or oxides to colour our soap products. Please note that while these cosmetic materials are considered natural they are both created in a laboratory environment. Minerals and micas are found in nature but are often tainted with unsafe heavy metals and are unfit for use (but it is always a matter of opinion and preference).
Let’s go to the point…I would like to share with you all a list of some of the natural soap colourants. I have a lot of experience to work with and which I’ve used in our soap collection. As you can see, with a little patience and know-how, you can achieve almost every colour in the rainbow when soap making. Please keep in mind, natural colours used in your soap will always be softer and have more “natural” look than artificial colourants.
Oh, I almost forgot to share with you a very important information and that’s the rule of thumb when using plant and flower material in your soap. The rule is that they should be no more than 5% of your total recipe’s weight. If you try using more than that then it’s possible that you’ll have issues with your soap.
We must mention that for our natural colourant testing once we poured soap mixture into the mould, we isolated it with a blanket for 24 hours. This really has helped to ensure that each soap went through gel phase, and gelling makes colours look more vibrant.
There is also one main disadvantage when it comes to using natural colours and that’s colour fading with time. To prevent that from happening too quickly, we recommend storing your bars in a dry, cool, good-ventilated place and surely out of direct sunlight.
We also advise you to work out the best technique for a colourant. If you want a particular natural colour, spend some time on research and experimenting, there’s enough information out there. First, test on a very small batch before going in for final formulation. If you don’t get satisfactory results with one technique, feel free to try another. Adding the colour, whether in oil, water-lye solution or at trace often has a dramatic effect on definitive results.
It’s worth a try. Have a look at natural colourant tests below. Aren’t they gorgeous?
Natural Soap Colourants List
To every listing, I’ve included the INCI of the colourant, a brief note about colouring effects and have added some benefits and brief description where applicable.
1.Ginger Lime soap (lightly scrubby bar thanks to curry powder)
Curry powder: no INCI
Colour: deep yellow, orange; add in liquid oils or at trace
Most curry powder recipes include curry leaf, coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, and chilli peppers in their blends and additional ingredients may also be included.
Nettle Leaf powder: INCI: URTICA DIOICA
Colour: close to light green, dark green; add directly to liquid oils or infuse oils with the leaf and discard
Nettle has anti-inflammatory properties, anti-fungal properties, beneficial for oily skin.
Madder Root powder: INCI: RUBIA TINCTORUM
Madder root powder belongs to my favourite natural soap colourants as I like to use it in the lye solution to obtain lovely burgundy colour for my Thyme soap bar.
Colour: a subtle shade of pink through to a deeper pink to red/magenta, burgundy; add either by infusing liquid oils with dried root or by adding a powdered version of the root directly to the soap at trace. Madder root can also be added to the lye solution.
4.Fuller’s Earth Clay soap
Fuller’s Earth Clay powder: INCI: SOLUM FULLONUM
Colour: light brown; add to liquid oils or at trace
Fuller’s Earth is a natural clay with the ability to reduce oiliness from the skin surface. It is believed that Fuller’s Earth Clay tightens the pores, absorbs toxins and improves skin texture.
5.Cambrian Blue Clay soap
Cambrian Blue Clay powder: INCI: ILLITE
Colour: shades of blue; add to liquid oils or at trace
Cambrian Blue clay detoxifies, hydrates and nourishes skin. It also has a high saline.
Calendula Petals: INCI: CALENDULA OFFICINALIS
Colour: Calendula (dried, whole flowers) produces yellow streaks- rangers from yellow-orange to golden-orange; infuse in liquid oils, add petals to soap)
Calendula is best known for its natural anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and healing benefits. It nourishes, rejuvenates and soothes the sensitive, dry and itchy skin (great for scratches, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, chapped skin).
Dead Sea Mud: INCI: SILT
Dead Sea Mud (powder): INCI: MARIS LIMUS
Colour: grey; add to liquid oils or at trace
Dead Sea mud helps to cleanse skin and remove toxins and impurities. It moisturises and helps with skin’s hydration.
8.French Yellow Clay soap
French Yellow Clay powder: INCI: KAOLIN
Colour: soft natural yellow; add to liquid oils or at trace
French Yellow clay is a very mild considered to be a powerful detoxifier which draws out impurities from the body.
White Kaolin Clay powder: INCI: KAOLIN
Colour: off white; add to liquid oils or at trace
Kaolin White clay cleanses your skin, draw out any impurities and excess oils.
10.Ylang-Ylang Ho-Leaf soap
Madder Root powder: INCI: RUBIA TINCTORUM
Colour: a subtle shade of pink through to a deeper pink to red/magenta, burgundy; add either by infusing liquid oils with dried root or by adding a powdered version of the root directly to the soap at trace. Madder root can also be added to the lye solution
Madder is a perennial climbing plant with evergreen leaves and small pale-yellow flowers.
Alkanet Root: INCI: ALKANNA TINCTORIA
Colour: from a dark plum purple shade to mauves and pale pinks; infuse in liquid oils
Alkanet is a herb in the borage family. Its main notability is its roots are used as a dye.
12.Eucalyptus Mint soap (scrubby bar)
Rosehip powder: INCI: ROSA CANINA
Colour: tan to brown; add at trace
Rosehips are the fruit of wild roses contain high levels of vitamin C and are used in skincare for its high level of antioxidants and anti-ageing properties.
Rhassoul Clay powder: INCI: KAOLIN MOROCCAN LAVA CLAY
Colour: brown; add to liquid oils or at trace
Rhassoul clay improves skin elasticity and moisturizes. It is also a gentle exfoliator and will leave your skin soft and smooth.
Annatto Seeds: BIXA ORELLANA
Colour: from anywhere between a pale yellow and a deep orange colour; infuse in liquid oils or use in lye solution
Annatto is an orange-red condiment derived from the seeds of the achiote tree.
Activated Charcoal powder: INCI: CARBON BLACK
Colour: black; add to liquid oils or to soap at light trace
Activated charcoal is one of the best natural soap colourants and really beneficial for oily skin. Its ability to absorb oil and dirt from pores leaves skin feeling balanced. It provides the gentle exfoliating and deep cleans your skin.
Chamomile Flowers: INCI: CHAMOMILLA RECUTITA
Colour: Chamomile (dried, powdered) produces beige to yellow colour; infuse in liquid oils, add flowers to soap
Chamomile is widely known for its wonderful skin properties. It soothes irritated skin, calming down inflammation and sensitive areas, and helping speed up healing of minor injuries.
French Pink Clay powder: INCI: KAOLIN – ILLITE
Colour: soft natural pink to brick red; add to liquid oils or at trace
French Pink clay helps improve skin’s elasticity and provides cleanse and overall refreshed appearance.
French Green Clay powder: INCI: KAOLIN
Colour: soft natural green; add to liquid oils or at trace
French Green clay is famous for its powerful healing action, deep detoxification and purification properties. It cleanses, exfoliates and softens the skin.
Guys, you can purchase some natural soap colourants sample packs to start up your experiment with on Amazon.
Thank you, fellow soap makers, for reading this and big HAPPY SOAPING!