top of page

The Ingredients Series: Formulating an All-Natural Soap Bar

The beauty of handcrafting an all-natural bar of soap is that there are so many ingredient options available. When I first started making soap more than 20 years ago, every soap loaf was created using a different formula - I loved experimenting with all the oils, from basic to exotic.

Two oils remained constant in all of my formulas – olive oil and coconut oil. You’ll find both of these along with Palm Kernel and Castor oils in all of our soaps. Olive oil soap is known as one of the most gentle soaps available for sensitive skin or skin conditions. Soap made with only olive oil is known as castile soap. While it is super gentle on the skin, it’s often described as having a ‘slimy’ feel to it, and it does not create much lather. Because of their gentle nature, castile soaps are often a favourite for baby soap; you can find our solid castile soap here.

Coconut oil, on the other hand, has great cleansing properties and creates a lovely lather. It also makes for a harder bar. The downside of using coconut oil is that if you use too much its cleansing capabilities can be drying to the skin. To keep that from happening in my formula I lowered the coconut and added just a bit of palm kernel oil. Palm Kernel is similar to coconut in that it can boost the lather and contribute to a nice hard bar of soap.

Palm and Palm Kernel oils have gotten a bad rap in the past, and for good reason. Some harvesters of these oils have caused considerable damage to forests, endangering the wildlife living within them. We only use palm kernel oil that comes from a Certified Sustainable source, meaning it meets very strict standards to ensure it is produced without causing damage to the environment and it’s inhabitants.

Because I love lather, Castor oil had to be part of my formula. With just a small amount of castor oil, the lathering properties of the coconut and palm kernel became so much more abundant.

Leaving my formula at just these four ingredients makes a really good bar of soap. But if you’re going to the trouble of handcrafting soap why not step it up and make it a great bar of soap, right? To do that we add some luxury ingredients. Of all the exotic oils and butters I’ve experimented with, shea butter remains my favourite, because it’s downright decadent! It’s extremely moisturizing, creating a highly conditioning and creamy lather. We use organic, unrefined shea butter at a hefty 20% of our formula.

Sunflower is the last oil in our Shea Butter Bar formulation. I experimented with the addition of a number of liquid oils in the above formulation and to be honest, I didn’t see a lot of difference in the resulting bar. Until I tried sunflower oil. Aside from its hydrating and softening capabilities, sunflower oil adds a bit of a silky feel to the lather. I found it also gave a smoother look to the finished bar of soap which I really like.

This formula is the one I’ve been using for about 10 years and as you can see, that’s for good reason! With so many skin-nourishing benefits along with resulting in a beautiful lather, this has also become the base formula for all of our soap bars at Shey and Lyna Naturals.

- Eileen


bottom of page