Thursday, March 7, 2013

Tracy Tracy Quite Contrary....How do you color your soaps?

Do you like plain looking soap or soap with style?  I personally like to have some style and therefore like to add various colors and swirls to my homemade soap.  There are many ways to color cold process soap like I make.  I get asked quite often if the soap I make is "all natural".  Believe it or not, the word "natural" is not a regulated or defined term in the soap and cosmetic industry.   

Here are the various ways I color my soaps: 

Oxides &  Pigments - According to Bramble Berry (a great supply place for soap makers!), Pigments and Oxides are considered “nature identical” meaning they are the exact same chemical structure as the platelet minerals found in the earth.  But they are created in a lab to ensure purity.  Oxides and pigments are the same product that mineral make up lines use to achieve lovely natural hues.  Manufacturing nature identical products keeps the bad stuff, like lead and arsenic for example, out of the colorants.  Industry wide, pigments and oxides are labeled as natural in all types of mineral makeup and soaps for this reason because they are nature identical and many don’t contain any synthetic dyes.  

In this example (Cherry Blossom Soap), the red is an oxide, the yellow and purple are micas, and the white is titanium dioxide:

Micas - According to Bramble Berry, some micas are natural and some are not. It depends on where their source of color comes from.  Micas that aren’t considered natural would be the ones that contain FD&C dyes.  I do not use micas that contain FD&C dyes.

In this example (Patchouli), both the red & black colors were achieved with oxides, the green/tan is kelp powder:

Under My Spell is a mix of micas, oxides and titanium dioxide!  (oh, I love this soap!)

Titanium Dioxide - Titanium Dioxide is a naturally-occurring mineral, mined from the earth. After mining it is processed to remove impurities, leaving behind a mineral pigment in the form of a white powder.  A fellow soaper did a great blog post on titanium dioxide here.  

My Champagne Soap uses mica and titanium dioxide: 


I also use colorants that are derived straight from the earth and not synthetically created.  Among these are:

  • Alkanet
  • Annatto 
  • Beet Root Powder 
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Green Zeolite Clay
  • Kelp Powder
  • Lemon Peel Powder
  • Madder Root
  • Olive Leaf Powder
  • Rose Clay
  • Safflower Powder
  • Yarrow Flower 
  • Yellow Silt Clay

Here is an example of coloring derived straight from earth.  This is Peppermint & Rosemary and is colored with Safflower Powder and Olive Leaf Powder!

This is Ylang Ylang and is colored with Safflower Powder, Olive Leaf Powder and Yarrow Flower with a bit of cocoa powder for pencil lines!

Sometimes the fragrance oil itself will lead to color.  Take the case below of my Oatmeal Stout Soap.  I added titanium dioxide and ground oatmeal to the top layer to lighten it (and make it look like foam!).  There is no color added at all to the dark brown layer!  Although I did use dark beer as my liquid instead of water.


So there you have it!  In terms of color, my soaps are considered natural.  In my shop, it is the fragrance that makes or breaks the "natural" name.  My fragrance oil soaps would not be considered natural (but oh, so close!  Percentage wise the fragrance makes up very little of the soap) whereas my essential oil soaps are considered natural!

For me personally, I have no problem using fragrance oil soaps (in fact I love the abundance of available scents).  I liken it to wearing perfume.  I understand some people are sensitive to scents.  I have an option for you too!  I have a soap that has no scent and no color!  It is my Naked Shampoo bar (made of harder oils than my regular soaps) and doubles as a soap!  

I hope this helps you make your decision when shopping!



3/14/13 Amendment - In digging through my vast selection of colors, I found that I do have a number of micas that are NOT natural.  I apologize for getting this wrong above.  If you ever see ingredients like 'Blue 1 Lake' that will be your tip off - these are not natural.  

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