ingredients & additives

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this is a list of the ingredients and additives used in the soaps, lotions, balms, and other bath preparations featured on this site. in no way does this represents a complete list of the many, many ingredients that can be used to customize your bath and skin care products to your particular specification.

allantoin allantoin, (a white, odorless, crystalline powder used for skin protection and to hasten the growth of new, healthy tissue), is used in various cosmetics like shampoos, lipsticks, shaving creams, suntan products, bath foams, hair gels, baby powders, as well as lotions and creams. usage of allantoin is from .5% to 2%, added to an emulsion product after the emulsion is made and when the product has cooled to below 90° f.

aloe vera aloe vera (aloe barbadensis) comes in liquid and gel form as well as concentrated (39:1) dried powder. excellent addition for it's healing properties. add up to 1 tsp per 4 oz. bar of m&p soap. also a great addition to lotions. some lip balm recipes call for adding aloe vera. aloe vera is water based; balm is oil based ...they don't mix.

note: adding oil infused with aloe vera is a way to get it into your balm, but the healing constituents of the plant are not infused into the oil. it is also doubtful if the aloe vera powder (aloe spiuata) (not to be confused with the concentrate) actually has the healing properties for which aloe vera is so well known.

basil, dried dried basil, ground to a fine powder and added to your soap base, physically makes a good exfoliating element, and visually adds a speckled appearance to your soap bar. the basil will color the soap green; a consideration when planning the color of the bar. the 1 tsp. used per 4 oz. bar will only slightly affect, but should be compatible with, the fragrance used to scent the bar.

beeswax beeswax adds hardness to a soap bar. the amount of beeswax added determines the bar's hardness, but also adds (proportionately) a waxy feel ...which is noticeable only when skin is wet. it also adds a slight honey scent. it adds cloudiness, and (if yellow) a slight coloration to a clear soap base. this is an integral component of lip balm. be sure the beeswax used in skin care products is cosmetic grade.

"candelilla wax" is a very hard natural vegetable wax that comes in tiny little beads; it ranges in color from yellow to tan. Because it's so hard, small amounts can be used to "tweak" a balm formula without having to adjust any other ingredients.
it can be used in place of beeswax [in a vegan formulation], but would require substantial adjustments to the other ingredients to allow for the vast difference in the texture.

calendula, (also known as marigold), is one of the most useful herbs available. with it's astringent and antiseptic qualities, it's extremely effective, easy to use and very versatile. historically calendula flowers were considered beneficial for wounds, by reducing inflammation and it was used to treat various skin diseases. the petals, although dried, are still soft and pliable and retain their color when added to soap. they do impart some color to the soap.

castor oil this oil, derived from the castor bean and obtained by cold pressure, is rich in fatty acids, (contains glyceride of ricinoleac, iso-ricinoleac, and lesser amounts of stearic, linoleic and dehydroxysteric acids), and is very moisturizing and lubricating to the skin in general, especially helpful to dry, chapped skin. it's said to soften corns and callouses, prevent scars. helpful to dry, chapped skin. it acts as a humectant, attracting moisture to the skin. castor oil packs applied with warm flannel are believed effective for pain relief and to "draw out" cysts, boils and warts.
traditionally used in shampoo bars and other soaps this oil has been used in salves, body balms, and liquid lip products. it's often used in making transparent soaps.

"turkey-red" oil (sulfated castor oil) is an emulsifier and helps hold scent as well as enhancing lather. turkey-red oil disperses itself and any [essential or fragrance] oils mixed with it into the water and doesn't float on top, making it an excellent bath oil.

chamomile is one of the oldest favorites amongst garden herbs and has a well-known reputation as a medicinal plant. in addition to tea, it can be eaten, used as a poltice, an antiseptic, used to reduce inflammation, and swellings, and it makes a wonderful addition to soap since the pale yellow flower petals don't turn brown. the bud does color the soap in the same manner it colors a cup of tea.

citric acid citric acid is a clear, crystalline, water-absorbing chemicals and is one of the most widely used acids in the cosmetic industry. it's derived from citrus fruit by fermentation of crude sugars and is used as a preservative to adjust ph (acid-alkali balance). also, the combination of citric acid with baking soda is what makes bath bombs effervesce.

cocoa butter,
cocoa butter is the fat obtained by the hydraulic pressing of cocoa nib or cocoa mass (cocoa liquor) obtained from cocoa beans. this white, deodorized variety has [almost] no scent. cocoa butter is great for all types skin and, because of its softening and skin-healing properties, it's wonderful in lotions, creams, and soaps. most lip balms and massage butters require cocoa butter for feel and firmness. it's the perfect massage oil to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy.

coconut oil coconut oil is obtained from copra, the dried "meat" of coconut. distillers separate the copra from the hull of the coconut. it is dried, crushed, and then expressed to remove the oil. its saturated nature resists rancidity; it has a virtually unlimited shelf life.
coconut oil is a gift! it has changed soapmaking more dramatically than any other vegetable oil, and its discovery has led to higher grade soaps. it makes a very hard soap. it has wonderful lathering and moisturizing qualities, without which any soap recipe would be lacking.

cosmocil "cosmocil cq" is a preservative. it differs from germaben (listed below) in that it can be used at higher temperatures. however, unlike phenonip (listed below) which also can be used at higher temps, this has no "floral" aroma that has to be camouflaged with scent. Unlike germaben and phenonip, this preservative has no parabens or formaldehyde-releasers (diazolidinyl urea).

"germaben II" is a general preservative for lotions and other oil/water emulsions, but must be used at a temperature of 90° f or below -- (germall plus is a preservative similar to germaben in use and function but is paraben free.)

"phenonip", another preservative option, differs from germaben in that it is designed for (and has to be used at) higher temperatures. one advantage that phenonip has over the over preservatives listed is that it's the only one that can be used in an all-oil formulation.

"suttocide", itself having an alkaline ph of 10-12, is effective in an alkaline environment, thereby making it an excellent preservative for soaps.

see "preservatives and antioxidants" to read more about these, as well as some of the other preservative options.

dead sea
bath salts by definition can be any "salt" you put in the bath ...alone or with other skin beneficial additives. in addition to common epsom salts, the bath salts recipes on this site contain salts from the dead sea. these salts, which are obtained by the natural evaporation and crystallization of brine from the dead sea, are known for their therapeutic benefits, due [to a large extent] to the presence of magnesium, potassium and calcium chlorides and a comparatively high concentration of bromides.

"dendritic salt" is another ingredient in these bath salt recipes. because of its physical structure, dendritic salt is excellent for absorbing the aromatic oils and holding onto the scent [longer]. it's therefore recommended that the essential and fragrance oils first be absorbed into the dendritic salt and then, this added to the other salts in the recipe. the usage ratio is 1 part dendritic salt to 10 parts all other salts.

emu oil emu oil comes from a thick pad of fat on the back of the emu, which was initially provided by nature to protect the bird from the extreme temperatures of its australian homeland. the oil is an excellent emollient which smooths and moisturizes the skin; makes the soap bar less drying. add up to 1 tsp. per 4 oz. of soap base. works well with stearic acid to harden bar. also an excellent emollient for lip balm as well as lotion. some of its known properties are: anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, skin regenerative.

emulsifying wax is a waxy solid derived from plant-based fatty alcohols and is used to make stable emulsions of oil and water. it's a necessary component of lotions and creams.

"glyceryl mono-stearate" and "ceteareth-20" are two emulsifiers used in combination and, through a specific calculation, can be tailored to fit the particular ingredients in a formula. i use this combination instead of e-wax which is a "one size fits all" emulsifier and, although it works well, sometimes leaves the product with a less than desirable texture (i.e. "waxy drag").

goat's milk
goat's milk has a ph close to that of our own skin. goatsmilk is naturally homogenized, meaning the milk and the cream do not separate, offering a full moisturizing compound direct from nature. the alpha-hydroxy acids found in goat's milk have rejuvenating and softening properties. excellent addition to bath salts, lotions, and soaps.

this fragrant powder is rich in color and imparts a wonderful scent and [allegedly] a wonderful color to your soap base. however, from personal experience, the hibiscus powder turns a near-black color when added to m&p soap base, which can be used to this advantage. hibiscus powder also works well in hair preparations as a natural conditioner, and alleges a reduction and prevention of graying, balding, hair-loss, dandruff, split-ends, and many scalp disorders.

honey honey is praised for its antiseptic and moisturizing qualities. honey lays down a protective film, hydrates and soothes the skin and helps the skin retain moisture. honey is a good complement to goat's milk in a soap base, and produces a nice lather, adds a slight honey scent and color. a good goat's milk/honey soap base would entail adding 1 tsp. each of goat's milk and honey to 4 ounces of opaque m&p soap base. this is another ingredient that many lip balm recipes call for. however, honey is water-based and it doesn't work as a sweetener for lip balm.

this is a naturally derived, soluble form of hydrolyzed whole oats that contains mainly oligosaccharides (carbohydrates). this novel skin care ingredient can be used to improve the feel properties of creams and lotions and imparts a soft, cushiony feel on the skin, giving it a near-velvet smoothness after drying. studies have shown that hydrolyzed oats retain significantly more moisture no matter what the humidity, and gain up to 50% more moisture at relative low humidity - when extra moisture is most needed. recommended use levels are 1 - 5%.

this is a water-solubled lipid/protein conditioner for skin and hair care. it provides a silky emolliency in creams, lotions, shampoo, hair conditioners and other personal care products.
there are both heat-sensitive and heat-indifferent varieties. the heat sensitive version is added to the finished product at 122°f (or less). recommended usage: 2 - 5%. the other version can be added during (to water phase) or post process. usage is usually less: 1 - 2%.

"supersilk" is a unique product that was* available from tkb trading and some of its distributors. it's a combination of silk amino acids and hydrolyzed silk proteins; used in the same way as other silks, but in lesser quantities because of its concentration. it enhances lather, creates a luxurious silky feel, and helps skin retain moisture. add with fragrance to cooled soap base, (1/4 tsp per 4 ounces of base).
* this product is no longer available, so wherever a recipe calls for it (m&p soap designs), it's replaced with hydrolized silk protein, with appropriate adjustment to the usage amount.

jojoba oil jojoba is very similar in composition to human natural skin oils. it penetrates the skin rapidly to nourish it; also softens and moisturizes mature and dry skin. jojoba helps to heal inflamed skin conditions such as psoriasis or any form of dermatitis, helps control acne and oily scalps. since it has antioxidant properties, it can keep other oils from going rancid. though called an oil, jojoba is actually a wax that is liquid at room temperature.

kaolin clay kaolin (white) clay (aka. china white clay) enhances lather and is good for use on dry/sensitive skin, (bentonite clay for oily skin). it helps to hold scent. when using this clay. use sparingly - up to 2 tsp per 4 oz. bar; too much can make soap gritty. clay also makes an excellent facial mask.

mica mica is also known as pearlescent powder and pearl pigment. a small particle-sized mica will yield a smooth sheen; a larger particle size will yield a more pearlescent effect. cosmetic quality mica is a transparent mineral [mined from the earth] that adds a pearlescence to your soap -- best used in clear m&p soap, (because the mica needs light to shine and shimmer) -- or lotion. mica adds dimension as well as color and greatly broadens the scope of creative possibilities.

natrasorb "natrasorb" is the brand name (from "snowdrift farms") for a modified wheat starch. this particular product is made for the expressed purpose of absorbing grease. it is used [by me] in my lotion formulas to counter the greasiness.

oatmeal oatmeal ground to a fine powder and added to your soap base, makes for an excellent exfolient bar. it also works well, alone or in combination with other ingredients, as a facial mask.

olive oil olive oil is an unsaturated oil which is easily absorbed and has the properties of being calming, demulcent and emollient and can be used pure or in blends for burns, sprains, bruises, insect bites, and to relieve itchy skin.

orange peel
orange peel powder is use to add fragrance and astringency to any toiletry. mix the powder into your soap; it adds color, a delicate orange scent, and it makes for a great exfolient.

palm oil palm oil is produced from the pulp or flesh of the fruit of the oil palm and is also known as vegetable tallow. palm oil contains equal portions of both saturated (44% palmitic -- a much higher proportion than most other fats and oils; 5% stearic) and unsaturated (39% [monounsaturated] oleic; 10% [polyunsaturated] linoleic) fatty acids ...the oleic acids being the major fatty acids produced by the body.
palm oil is a natural source of vitamin e, (the tocopherols and tocotrienols), is a rich source of beta-carotene, and an important source of vitamin a. palm oil adds firmness to bar soaps and gives it a pale straw color.

palm kernel
this oil is obtained from the kernels, taken from the cracked nuts of the palm. this oil contains large proportions of lauric acid, its chemical composition is quite different from that of palm oil, and is used chiefly for soap making.
this oil is commonly used in place of (or in combination with) coconut oil to give the same incredible lather. it makes a very hard bar that is snow white in color and is commonly used in expensive luxury soaps.

prolylene glycol is being used as the solvent necessary to make transparent (m&p) soap lieu of ethanol, which is difficult to obtain in the necessary strength. (the pg is also easier to work with and better in producing a product that is easily remelted after the soap has cured.)

"sorbitan oleate" is another alternative to the above-mentioned alcohol as solvent. it can be used instead of the propylene glycol which (albeit considered safe for use in many of our foods, drugs, and cosmetics), is a derivative of natural gas, and is not universally accepted.

rose petal
rose petals (even dried ones) will turn brown in your soap. dried rose petals, ground to a fine powder, will turn your base brown. taking this into account and coloring your soap accordingly, the ground petals can provide a speckled texture to your bar. the 1 tsp. used per 4 oz. bar will only slightly affect, but should be compatible with, the fragrance used to scent the bar.

shea butter shea butter smooths and moisturizes skin; makes the bar less drying. add 1 tsp. (5 grams) to 4 oz. melted soap base. this will "cloud" your soap, so consider this when adding to a transparent base. also an excellent additon to lotions and lip balms.

"shea oil" has the same properties and benefits as the butter, it's just liquid at room temperature. unlike the butter, shea oil won't fractionate or crystalize, making it an excellent way to incorporate shea into your lip balms and body butters.

"mango butter" is taken from the seed kernels of the fruit of the mango tree. it is similar in texture to shea butter with much of the same properties and benefits ...although it is a bit less greasy. it has a buttery feel at body temperature. it has a very light yellow/mango color and is great in lotions, creams, and soap.

silicone oils "cyclomethicone" and "dimethicone" are two silicone oils used in lotions to affect texture and feel and also the rate of absorption. they can be used independent of one another, but a common blend is 2 parts cyclomethicone to 1 part dimethicone.

cyclomethicone is also used as the carrier for dry-perfume and linen sprays -- the ration of fragrance to carrier being between 1:3 and 1:6 (or greater as preference dictates).

sodium borate, aka "borax" -- (available from your local grocer under the name "20-mule team borax") -- is a crystalline mineral salt mined from the earth. it's used [by me] in the production of liquid soap to both neutralize [the alkalinity] and thicken. It is also listed [as an optional ingredient] in the making for bath salts.

"boric acid" should not be confused with "borax" ...although one of the methods of producing boric acid is by treating sodium borate with sulphuric acid. boric acid is used, herein, in the production of cream soap (process - 1). Although not used [by me] for this purpose, it can also be used to neutralize liquid soap ...without the "thickening" properties.

sodium lactate (nal) is a clear liquid humectant and moisturizer which is also commonly used in soap to harden the bar and as a ph regulator. nal does seem to have some effect on the soap's texture. in cream soap, it has been used to stabilize the texture through changing atmospheric conditions. also, it has been suggested that, if substituted for the glycerin in a lotion formula, the resulting product will have a less "tacky" feel.

although the bar hardening and ph regulating properties seem to be widely accepted as fact, see "sodium lactate and soap" which presents evidence that this may not be so.

sls sls (sodium lauryl sulfoacetate), a free flowing white powder, is excellent for use in powdered bubble baths, bath salts, cream and paste shampoos, cleansing creams, and syndet bars. it provides excellent foaming and viscosity response, is hard water stable, and is milder to the skin than ethoxylated alcohol sulfates such as sodium lauryl sulfate.

stearic acid stearic acid is a white granulated waxy natural fatty acid, which occurs naturally in butter acids, tallow, other animal fats, and oils. it's used to harden bar soap* (and wax), to give pearliness to hand creams, and to add stiffness to lotions. (and wax).
* add up to 1 tsp per 4 oz. bar.

"cetyl alcohol" is another thickener used in very much the same way as stearic acid, and is often used in combination with or instead of stearic acid. with regard to emulsions (i.e. lotion, cream), the difference between the two pertains to the texture and feel imparted to the product.

sugar has several properties that are beneficial to the skin and skin care products. in granulated form and used in scrubs, it serves to exfoliate the skin. it's a humectant and, like honey, can be used to "draw moisture to the skin". it's used in making transparent soap both as [some of] the necessary solvent and as the "clarifying" ingredient.

"sorbitol" is a substance [naturally occurring in berries and some stone fruits] that has been used as a sugar substitute in many food products and as a humectant in cosmetics. in [my] process for making transparent m&p soap, i use it to replace the sugar called for in many of the popular recipes.


titanium dioxide is a natural mineral that is commonly used to whiten soap and cosmetics. it comes in the form of a white powder which is water soluble. it also comes in a micronized formed that is oil dispersible. recommended usage is up to 25%. in addition to its whitening abilities, it is also use (either alone or in combination with zinc oxide) as a sunblocking agent.
zinc oxide us commonly used as a sunblocking agent in many cosmetics and sunscreens. this also comes as a water soluble powder or micronized for oil dispersion. it can be used alone or in combination with titanium dioxide. however in commercial sunblocks, it's usually combined with other chemical sunblocking agents. recommended usage for this is also up to 25%, but using that much (say, in a lotion) would show up as a residue on the skin.
see "sunblock and spf" for information on using both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as a sunblocking agent.