Natural Colorants & Extras

Natural Colorants in Handmade Natural Soaps

The term “natural” means something derived from a plant or animal, and “organic” means “from a living source”. These categories would include seeds (blueberry), roots (turmeric), vegetables (carrots, beet juice), algae (beta carotene), insects (cochineal beetles), fruits (grape juice), etc.

handmade-natural-soaps-colorantsInstead of coloring our handmade natural soaps with synthetics and dyes that many soapmakers use, we prefer the natural and organic herbs, flowers, plants, barks, roots, woods, leaves, kelps, grasses, fruits, and spices that Mother Nature provides to enhance, brighten or deepen our soaps’ natural colors.

Depending on the fats and oils we’re using, the soap mixture may already tend toward a certain color. Sometimes we add spices; for example, soaps containing cinnamon will have a brown tone. Cornmeal gives soap a pale yellow color, while rosemary will turn it green. Adding herbs, flower petals or oatmeal will give the handmade natural soaps their own unique coloring and add some texture or exfoliation.

Here are some of the natural colorants you may find in Croatian Soapworks’ handmade natural soaps:

  • Calendula Petals, whole/powder (Calendula officinalis)
  • Chocolate, baking
  • Cinnamon Powder (Cinnamomum)
  • Cloves, ground (Syzygium aromaticum)
  • Cocoa Powder (Theobroma cacao)
  • Coffee/Coffee, ground (Coffea arabica)
  • Curry Powder (Murraya koenigii)
  • French Green Clay (Montmorillonite)
  • Hibiscus Powder (Hibiscus rosa sinensis linn)
  • Indigo Root Powder (Baptisia tinctoria)
  • Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
  • Moroccan Red Clay (Moroccan Lava Clay)
  • Nutmeg, ground (Myristica fragrans)
  • Orange Juice (Citrus sinensis)
  • Orange Peel (Citrus Sinensis)
  • Parsley Powder (Petroselinum crispum)
  • Pomegranate Juice (Punica granatum)
  • Pumpkin, puree (Cucurbita)
  • Red Illite Clay (Illite)
  • Rose Pink Clay
  • Rosehip Powder (Rosa canina)
  • Rosemary, ground (Rosmarinus officinalis)
  • Sage (Salvia officinalis)
  • Sandalwood Powder, Red (Pterocarpus santalinus)
  • Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
  • Spirulina/Blue-Green Algae
  • Tomato, puree (Solanum lycopersicum)
  • Turmeric Powder (Curcuma longa)
  • Vanilla Extract


Handmade Natural Soaps & Clays

We also use clays to color a few of our handmade natural soaps and to add nutrients. Clays are inorganic (meaning “non-living”) but are all natural because they come from the Earth. Not only do clays add color, but they have some extra benefits for skin care (think mud baths!).

kaolin-clayKaolin Clay, also known as White clay or China Clay, has often been called the purest of clays. It is actually the mineral kaolinite and is the mildest of all clays. It helps stimulate circulation to the skin while gently exfoliating and cleansing it. Kaolin clay is beneficial for dry, oily or sensitive skin, and is an active ingredient in many beauty products. The montmorillonite found in Kaolin clay is beneficial for eliminating oils and toxins from the skin. It also adds a silky, creamy quality to handmade natural soaps, plus a little bit of “slip” that makes it nice for shaving your face or legs.

rhassoul-clayRhassoul Clay is a super fine light brown ancient clay that comes from deep below the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, the only known source in the world. It has been used for centuries by the ancient people of Rome and Egypt. Rhassoul clay is rich in minerals such as silica, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. In handmade natural soaps, it helps absorb oils and impurities from both skin and hair while it gently exfoliates.

french red clayRed Illite Clay, also known as French Red Clay, is a natural clay found in France. It comes from hematite iron and gets its brick-red color from the presence of copper oxides. It is rich in iron, essential trace elements, minerals and therapeutic salts. When used in handmade natural soaps, Red Illite clay draws out toxins from skin and is useful for dryness, flakiness and for improving skin’s clarity, texture and elasticity. It also provides a beautiful color!


Handmade Natural Soaps & Pigments

Now and then we make a soap that demands a color that can’t be recreated using organic plant products. An example of this is our Dalmatian Lavender Bar. Most people expect lavender soap to be purple like lavender blossoms. However, the color of the blossoms does not transfer to the cold process soap. In fact, when we add crushed lavender to soap, the plant material actually looks like small brownish clumps; it’s not pretty at all! That is why we use ultramarine blue pigment to give our Dalmatian Lavender Bar its beautiful violet color.

pigmentsPigments do not fall into the “natural” category, but they are considered “nature identical.” They used to be obtained from mining rocks, but the U.S. FDA demanded more purity, so these colorants are now synthetically manufactured in a lab, keeping the same molecular structure as the actual mined ore. They are oil-dispersible pigments and will not dissolve in water. They contain no harmful elements like lead, copper, cadmium or mercury. They are non-toxic and approved for use in soap and cosmetics.

In the case of iron oxides, many are still extracted naturally, but the ones we find in nature (in the dirt) are often full of toxic metals like lead, arsenic, mercury, antimony and selenium. Again, the FDA stepped in to regulate these cosmetic colorants to limit the levels of toxic metals to such low concentrations that they are considered “safe.” Today, only synthetic iron oxides are approved for use in cosmetics in the U.S.

These are the only inorganic or synthetic pigments we ever use in our handmade natural soaps, and they will be clearly listed on the ingredient label:

  • Chromium Oxide
  • Iron Oxide
  • Ultramarine Blue Pigment


Exfoliants in Handmade Natural Soaps

exfoliants-for-soapSome people prefer their soap to be rich, smooth and creamy, without any additives. Others want exfoliants to help remove dry skin cells. Most of us like it somewhere in between. Exfoliation is one of the most important parts of cleansing our skin, so a little bit of scrub is actually quite good for you!

While you might want to see tiny rose petals or lavender buds in your handmade natural soaps, not many flowers retain their color in cold-process soap – they become little brown globs! Not very appealing! But there are many things that do work well, and they include:

  • Apricot Kernel, ground (Prunus armeniaca) – Makes a wonderfully natural, gentle exfoliant.
  • Blueberry Seeds (Vaccinium corymbosum) The deep blue color add a wonderful look to soap and is a mild exfoliant.
  • Calendula Petals (Calendula officinalis) – retains its color beautifully, and adds a lovely texture to the soap; soothing; reduces skin inflammation and itching of eczema & insect bites. Gentle enough for babies!
  • Chamomile Petals, German Blue ((Matricaria chamomilla)) – gentle; high content of calcium, magnesium & vitamin A; adds a lovely texture and aroma to the soap; refreshes and softens skin; aids with skin conditions like eczema.
  • Citrus Peel , dehydrated & ground – creates a gentle exfoliating soap and adds visual appeal & texture.
  • Coffee Grounds, fine (Coffee arabica) – adds a nice texture and helps combat odors like onion and garlic. Protects against premature aging and many skin disorders.
  • Eucalyptus Leaves, ground (Eucalyptus globulus) – a bit scratchy if not ground finely enough.
  • Lemongrass, cut (Cymbopogon Flexuosus) – helps to clear up acne and other skin ailments
  • Oatmeal, Organic Colloidal (Avena sativa) – makes a great exfoliant and can help relieve itchy, irritated skin. Oats are healing and soften the skin. Coarse ground is very scrubby, whereas finely ground is very mild.
  • Poppy Seeds, Blue (Papaver somniferum) – Gentle but invigorating scrubbing action in soap and creates a beautiful texture!
  • Sugar, granulated – Different oils create different types of lathers. Adding sugar helps make a light, bubbly lather with large bubbles. Also popular as an exfoliant in scrubs.
  • Vanilla Bean Specks (Seeds) (Vanilla planifolia) – most often used in vanilla-fragranced soaps and in other formulas that require gentle exfoliation.


Extras in our Handmade Natural Soaps

aloe-veraAloe Vera – Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensisis) has been proven to have healing properties both in and outside the body. Its natural enzymes and minerals help to balance out the harsh chemicals we put on our skin (such as commercial antibacterial soaps & other beauty products), and it moisturizes and soothes. Moisturized skin is better equipped to resist wrinkles, fine lines and dryness. Aloe Vera can be particularly effective for people with eczema, used both topically and ingested. There’s no better way to keep skin looking young and healthy than using handmade natural soaps with some aloe in them. Try our Aloe Calendula Bar or our Adriatic Sunrise Bar, which contain pure, organic aloe vera concentrate.

honey_medHoney – Honey is pretty remarkable. It soothes skin irritations with its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory qualities. When used in our soap, it imparts a warm, sweet aroma, increases the lather (due to the honey’s sugar content), and works as a humectant. A humectant is a compound that attracts moisture to itself and helps retain it. Honey has been used internally and externally for centuries for its many benefits. In fact, Cleopatra of Egypt regularly took honey and milk baths to maintain the beautiful, youthful skin for which she was famous. Croatia and Herzegovina produce a wide variety of excellent honeys, including acacia, floral, linden, sage, heather, lavender, rosemary and chestnut, in all regions of their countries. The quantities may not be large, but the honey is of exceptional quality. You will find honey in our Goat Milk, Honey and Oatmeal Bar.