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How to Make Soap for Sensitized Skin | Cold Process Soap Recipe

Skin can be sensitized by numerous things, ranging from diet or contact with an allergen to autoimmune diseases like eczema. It is an extremely common condition to be in, and many of us have or will experience sensitivity to some degree. It doesn’t have to be a permanent state, but can become chronic if symptom’s and the root cause are left unchecked. This is a soothing soap recipe designed to repair the moisture barrier of compromised skin, help prevent trans epidermal water loss, soothe inflammation, and promote healthier, happier skin overall. It may not completely reverse sensitivity, but it can be a complementary addition to an otherwise simple routine. It’s a very easy recipe to follow, and you can create it in as small or as large batches as you’d like.

If you’d like to try this recipe before making it, consider purchasing one of my bars from my etsy! You can find them here, under the name “The Gilded Rose”.

Quick note before we get started! This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using one of these affiliate links, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only add links I would personally use or have used and love. I try to make a note about which it is where I can! Thank you for reading, and for supporting this blog by using my links!

About the Ingredients

I chose each ingredient with a specific function in mind. If you plan to replace an ingredient, make sure you run it through a soap calculator to ensure you don’t end up with a lye-heavy bar, and try to replace an ingredient with another that has similar properties.

Hempseed Oil

Thanks to hempseed oil’s ample fatty acids and unsaturated fats, it makes an excellent moisturizer in soaps and other skincare products. It also helps create a sudsy lather, making it a great oil to add to soaps with high butter content, which tend to have low lather qualities. It has a high linoleic and linolenic acid content, which tends to make soaps less shelf stable than other oils. This means its best to create soaps that are hempseed-oil-heavy in small batches that can be used up within 6-9 months. The recipe below is a smaller batch than most I make, but can be halved, doubled, etc. depending on your needs.

Mango Seed Butter

Mango seed butter is another amazing moisturizing ingredient. It is heavy in the fatty acid called oleic acid. Oleic acid is great for soothing irritated skin, providing moisture, and helping to fight signs of aging. In this recipe, mango seed butter is used as a protective ingredient, a barrier left behind once you wash your face. While I do love mango butter and the other ingredients in this soap, I still highly recommend using a moisturizer in the form of an emulsion, especially if you are trying to repair your moisture barrier. Think of this soap as a cleanser with moisturizing and soothing benefits! You should still use your moisturizer and spf daily, even with a boost from this bar.

Coconut Oil

In order to provide some cleansing properties and hardness to this recipe, I chose coconut oil. However, in acknowledgement that some people are allergic to coconut oil, I have a few alternative options for you! If you are not sensitive to a coconut-relatives, you could replace this oil with babassu oil or palm oil. These options will provide hardness and cleansing in amounts similar to coconut oil. However, if you are willing to sacrifice a bit of extra cleansing power, lard is an amazing moisturizer and will provide a beautifully hard bar. If you choose to replace coconut oil with a less hard bar, you may find your soap to be soft or have different qualities than my recipe. I welcome you to play around with it on a soap calculator, though, and let me know if you find a variation that works for you! Some other oils and butters to look into include kokum butter and cocoa butter.

Shea Butter

Shea butter is better at preventing trans epidermal water loss than petroleum jelly, which is an astounding feat in my book. It is also an emollient, meaning using it often can help soften skin! It is high in oleic and stearic acid, making it good for conditioning skin and hardening up the bar. This is one of my favourite ingredients to use in soap thanks to its silky feeling on the skin and the moisturizing properties it possesses.

Castor Oil

In this recipe, castor oil is used to boost the lathering properties of the soap. High in ricinoleic acid, castor oil makes for a good conditioning ingredient and lots of bubbles! I kept the amount low in this recipe to prevent the soap from melting into nothing when used. Sometimes castor oil can lead to a short-lived bar, so keeping it under 10% is my rule of thumb in most regular bar formulations.

Colloidal Oat Powder

Colloidal oats are used to reduce redness, irritation, and itchiness of the skin. In this soap, it’s function is to soothe and renew angry areas while the soap gently cleanses and moisturizes them. Colloidal oats are different than steelcut or rolled oats and oat flour, and have better skin soothing properties. I recommend using very finely ground colloidal oat powder opposed to whole or blended oats to avoid exfoliaiton, which can irritate some skin conditions.

Calendula Powder

Calendula is an antimicrobial herb with incredible skin soothing and healing properties. Used on wounds burns, and sensitized skin, calendula is one of many herbal staples. It has been used topically to help treat those going through radiation therapy, too. It may reduce the amount of time it takes for a wound to heal, and can potentially reduce the number of pathogens left on your skin. If you suffer from eczema and find it is triggered by pathogen contact, calendula may be a good option for your soaps and skincare products, too.

Whole Milk Powder

Milk contains lactic acid, a natural alpha hydroxy acid that exfoliates the top layer of your skin. It also helps draw water into your skin thanks to its humectant properties, which is incredibly important for anyone with compromised skin. This acid is a gentle chemical exfoliator ideal for those suffering with flaky skin, dryness, acne, or irritation, and doesn’t have the risk of accidentally scratching your skin like physical exfoliators do. Whole milk is also a soothing ingredient! Thanks to a plethora of other incredible minerals and vitamins, whole milk really adds a boost of skin-loving ingredients to any bar. You can replace whole milk powder with goat’s milk powder, breastmilk (replace the water in this recipe with liquid milks), and plant milks such as coconut milk or almond milk. Keep in mind that some milks may be better suited for this recipe, so be sure to research any changes you plan to make.

Sodium Lactate

Sodium lactate is often added to cold process soap recipes to increase the hardness of bars, and to decrease the amount of time you have to wait before unmolding your soap. It can really speed up the process and lead to longer lasting bars overall. Sodium lactate is sometimes replaced with salt to save money and harden bars, but in this recipe, I’d stick with sodium lactate; not only is it a hardening agent here, but it also is a humectant. As mentioned previously, humectants can be vital for improving hydration in the skin and repairing a compromised moisture barrier.

Water (or Water Replacement)

When I first made this recipe, I planned on making calendula tea to use as a water replacement. However, I only had calendula powder on hand, and wasn’t sure how well that would work for brewing up a batch of tea. If you want to add another skin soothing botanical ingredient, you may find using a tea as a water replacement to be a good way to do so. I don’t know how effective it is to use teas in this way, simply due to the aggressive nature of lye and the saponification process. By adding in powdered ingredients later, you avoid some of the destruction you may get at this stage. However, many people use liquid milks as water replacements in this stage and have incredible results. You could even do a split replacement consisting of different ingredients such as oat milk and calendula tea to boost the powders used later!

Sodium Hydroxide Lye (NaOH)

Of course you’ll be needing lye to create this soap. In this recipe, I chose sodium hydroxide to create a hard, long-lasting bar of soap. As a note on its longevity, I’ve been using mine for about a month and still have around half a bar left. I always set it up at an angle against a small jar to allow it to dry out, and never let it sit in water for more than a few minutes. I think this has greatly contributed to its longevity in my shower!

I’m so fond of this recipe, I’d have to say it’s currently my favourite soap I’ve ever made. Check out this dun tiktok I made for it! And while you’re there, consider following me, and check out my other socials too at the bottom of this page!

@moth_and_toad_apothecary

me with my favourite formulation I’ve ever made! This is The Gilded Rose Facial Soap. Calendula, colloidal oats, whole milk, and more make it so gentle and soothing! #soap #skincare

♬ Im mommys baby and Im effn cute – 🌼Nicole Jana TM🌼

Now, on to the recipe!

Notes:

I recommend using single molds for this recipe, as they cure quickly thanks to the sodium lactate! I used these rose molds from amazon to make mine, and love how they turned out! I am selling them on my etsy under the name “The Gilded Rose”, thanks to the beautiful golden colour from the calendula. While dye and fragrance free, this soap has a natural hue and a slight oat scent to it. I love the bar so much! Simple and lovely!

You may be able to find these ingredients locally, especially if a bulk store exists nearby. If you’d rather source your ingredients online, or have trouble finding what you need locally, Amazon has everything you could ever want for soapmaking. (I have heard from other soapmakers that mica pigments from amazon aren’t great, though). For more economical bulk buying , I trust suppliers like Bulk Apothecary and Wholesale Supplies Plus! You can get some bulk ingredients from Amazon, too, but I tend to find better deals on these sites, and I trust these brands to bring quality in everything they make, whereas amazon has so many sellers that it can be tough to really know which ones are the best.

You can buy the powdered ingredients from amazon here: calendula, colloidal oats, and whole milk powder. You can also find sodium lactate on amazon, which is what I use. I prefer to shop at Mountain Rose Herbs for my calendula, but the link I provided was what I used to make this particular batch of soap, and it came out lovely!

Tools:

  • Bowls or cups for measuring and combining oils (I recommend having about 5 or 6 small ones like these on hand, and 1 large bowl)
  • Silicone spatulas
  • PPE (goggles, gloves, long sleeved shirt, mask for the lye, etc.)
  • Towel or tarp for countertops (just in case lye spills onto them)
  • Immersion blender

Ingredients:

Everything linked is exactly what I used to make my batch of this recipe!

Total weight of oils and water: 22.69 oz

SaponiCalc Details PDF

Recipe:

  1. Melt hard butters over low heat, unless using heat transfer method (using hot lye water solution to melt these ingredients, see below).
  2. Measure liquid oils and add them to your melted butters.
  3. While wearing PPE, carefully measure and combine your water and lye. Once the solution reaches about 130F, you can add your sodium lactate. Alternatively, add the sodium lactate to your oils whenever you add your powdered ingredients. I have not noticed a difference with either application.
  4. When the lye solution and the oils both reaches a temperature of about 120-130F, combine them and stir.
  5. Add your powders and sodium lactate if not already added, and use an emulsifying blender until fully combined.
  6. Pour your batter into your mold(s), and proceed to either force gel (using the CPOP method) or stick in the fridge to keep your soap light coloured.
  7. Allow to set for a full day (you can check the soap periodically to check for readiness), then remove from your mold, cut, and cure for 4+ weeks.

How to Use the Heat Transfer Method:

The heat transfer method is the easiest way to make soap (and reduce the amount of dishes you need to do later). All you do is add your lye water to your hard butters immediately after mixing it, and mix while you do. Once most to all of your butters have melted, you can add your liquid oils and powder ingredients. Emulsify till combined and pour into your molds!

I personally prefer the heat transfer method, however, it may not be best suited to cold climates. I live in south Florida, and my butters are soft at room temperature already. This definitely plays a role in how quickly they melt down for me, so keep that in mind when deciding if this method is the right choice for you!

And there you have it! How to make your own skin soothing soap. I hope you enjoyed this post, and love the bars you make! Let me know how they turn out if you try them! I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Remember to share this post so other people can find it as well! See you next time!

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