Colour is relevant in the soapmaking world. Colouring soaps, although takes a lot of practice, is rather simple. It’s only a matter of figuring out what to put best that is suitable in your chosen method. If you enjoyed learning last month’s article about handmade soap, you will appreciate this article as we guide you to explore different colours for soap.
Colour is more of a physical attribute and purely an aesthetic feature, however, one could not deny that adding them intensifies interest and variety in soaps. More importantly, the psychology of colour is influential to a consumer. Imagine for a second, if a mango starts to have black spots, you would be suspicious thinking something is wrong. And you’d probably be right. Additionally, the colours for soap are complementary to the supposed fragrance. When perfectly combined, a consumer would more likely be convinced to purchase that item. We hope this sheds some light on why colour is important in soap making – and in everyday life, no less.
On that note, let’s have a rundown of the several ways you can create and achieve vibrant colours for soap.
NATURAL COLOURANTS FOR SOAP MAKING
Several colours for soaps are sourced directly from nature. These natural soap ingredients are great in a way that, other than colour, the inherent properties contribute to the soap’s texture. As a consequence, they function as either a cleanser or an exfoliator, possibly both. Enumerated below are a few of these soap colours:
- FOR BLACK: Activated Charcoal – You might find it odd to consider black for soapmaking, but charcoal soap would make you think otherwise. Activated charcoal soaps are a rage these days because of the powder’s ability to reduce acne and breakouts. To enlighten you, this powder is called “activated” because carbon is treated with oxygen to allow tiny pores to open up between the carbon atoms — making the charcoal good at trapping certain chemicals. This adsorption process will remove dirt and other skin impurities thereby leading to clearer skin.
- FOR BROWN:Natural Cocoa Powder – This powder is not meant for pastries alone. They also function as a natural brown colourant in DIY soaps. Being a powerful antioxidant, cocoa powder has skin benefits for topical applications. They help improve complexion whilst simultaneously hydrating the skin. In soaps, they typically match a dessert-type fragrance.
- FOR RED:French Red Argiletz Clay Powder – The rusty red shade is a result of the copper oxides found in Hematite Iron rocks. Similar to activated charcoal, these clay powders have the adsorptive ability and will attach themselves to oil and dirt once used topically thereby effectively removing impurities in the skin. It also has detoxifying and exfoliating properties that leave your skin feeling cleansed and toned.
- FOR GREEN: Superfine French Green Argiletz Clay Powder — This clay powder comes from decomposed plant matter and iron oxides. As a colourant, this clay powder will do perfectly well for avocado and spearmint cold-process handmade soaps as it can give that light fern-green hue once added with wetting agents.
- FOR YELLOW:Dried Calendula Flowers – Considering botanicals, dried calendula petals are popular additives in handmade soaps. They retain their golden colour once added at the end process. However, the hue can sometimes range from light yellow to orange depending on the wetting agents. It results in brownish orange when added to hot lye or hot water and retains its yellowish colour when added only to warm oils.
Using these colours for soap will imbue those soft to deeply muted, pastel tones.
SYNTHETIC COLOURS FOR SOAP MAKING
Unfortunately, some natural colourants do not work effectively for soaps like fresh fruits and vegetables. If insisted, the lye will react by rotting such ingredients – creating an ugly mess and a ruined batch of soap.
Neither can most natural colourants produce a particular hue, especially if aiming for a vibrant palette. Using oxides and fluorescent pigments is the key to achieve these rich, gorgeous colours for soap. The fluorescent pigments, specifically, are insanely bright. Micas, on the other hand, are a shimmery addition. These colourants are created synthetically by design to offer a broader range of colours for soap.
In addition to this, avoid using dyes and colourants not intended for soaps. Be mindful of the fact that even though they may look the same, they are not skin-safe. What N-essentials have in store for you are safe for your soapmaking project.
To go further in detail, learn more about these types of soap colourants and when they are used best.
COLOURS FOR SOAP BASED ON METHODS
Soap colourants have specific uses for every soapmaking method. You may sometimes even find that you need to use more of some select colourants compared to others. But overall,there are several tips and tricks you can learn to make colours in soap really pop. For this reason, we took down a few notes that will further guide you in soap colouring.
COLOURING MELT AND POUR SOAP
The melt and pour (MP) method seems to be the most forgiving soapmaking process. However, it is worth noting that soap bases, essential oils and or fragrance oils all contribute to the final colour. Listed below are a few tips when dealing with melt and pour soaps:
- COSMETIC CLAYS — These clay powders, examples are French Red Clay Powder and Green Clay Powder mentioned above, are helpful additives in skincare because of their adsorptive abilities. Clay powders are more applicable for normal to oily skin types. If you have extremely dry skin, however, handmade soaps containing clay might give you some discomfort. Try to go for milder clays like Kaolin white clay . A good ratio to saturate these powders would be 2-parts clay to a 1-part wetting agent.
- OTHER NATURAL COLOURS — Other than cosmetic clays, some dried botanicals, powdered plants and herbs are also excellent colourants for MP handmade soaps. Although, for brighter tones, you might want to use stronger hues to make the colours for soap more pronounced. A little experimentation is required to achieve a certain shade. The basic ratio would be no more than 1 tablespoon per kilogram (1 tbsp: 1 kg) of the base soap. Other than glycerine, essential oils and fragrance oils can also qualify as wetting agents to dilute the powder.
- ULTRAMARINES & OXIDES — These colourants do not morph and will not bleed between layers of a soap base. It’s interesting that for some of these colours for soap, the amount of powder added can dramatically affect the colour’s intensity. Additionally, the ultramarines might create suds for an MP soap type. The reason behind this lies in the amount you added to the soap mixture.
- MICAS — Although they offer that sparkle, adding mica to an MP soap base can be a little tricky. The secret, however, is using glycerine. When blended, micas mix well with glycerine without clumping. Mica colours for soap also blend nicely with rubbing alcohol. It’s now a matter of personal preference. Moreover, they work best in transparent soap bases, giving you a nice pearlescent effect. Another tip: if the base is melted too hot, the mica will sink to the bottom. Make sure to keep stirring until the base starts to thicken up.
Furthermore, for bases, a hemp soap is a good example. Hemp soap is used as a base for making transparent soap bars. This vegetable-based product is derived from the much-loved Hemp oil and is suitable for beginners in the soapmaking craft. Using them will allocate you more freedom to focus and learn on the additives you want to pour into the mould, colourants included.
Browse for more available melt and pour soap bases in our online store.
COLOURING COLD PROCESS SOAP
The main thing you should remember in cold process (CP) soaps is that the colours for soap should be alkali-stable. This is because the sodium hydroxide (a.k.a. lye in soaps) will affect the final colour. For instance, your blues can react and turn to pink. So before jumping into large batches, it is recommended to test your planned soap colourant in small batches first. But going back, take note of these tips when dealing with CP soaps:
- NATURAL COLOURANTS —Unfortunately, many natural colourants will change, or worse, obliterate altogether due to their reaction with lye. However, there are still a few tenacious exceptions such as alkanet root for purples and madder root for pinks that will work just fine in CP soaps.
- ULTRAMARINES AND OXIDES — Usually referred to as pigments, these powders have a high tolerance to alkali and will colour the soap by suspension, dispersing throughout the soap mixture. It needs to be suspended first with a wetting agent before added to your DIY soap. With a cold process, these mineral soap colourants give bold, earthly shades for swirls and layers. As a basis, start with the recommended ratio of 1 teaspoon of colour to 1 tablespoon of lightweight oil.
- MICAS — Almost all micas are alkali-tolerant. These powders are widely used in the beauty industry because of how they add colours for soap and other skincare products, adding a fine glittery sheen. If you are making a single-colour soap, the best practice is to add the mica to the oils before the lye solution. This allows you some time to mix in the powder without your soap getting too thick. For CP soaps, however, mica doesn’t clump too badly.
In general, as with most soap additives, colourants are best added at trace. In soapmaking language, this means adding right before pouring the unsaponified soap into the mould. In dispersing the soap colourants, use a stick blender or mini mixers in blending the solution.
Finally, during your colour experiments, writing down notes (especially quantities!) is very helpful. That way, once you achieve that desirable combination, you can repeat another batch without encountering any problems. Always keep up with the same ratio throughout the batches so that colour is maintained.
Safety warning: Always wear protective gloves and a face mask when working with lye. When it comes in contact with skin, always keep vinegar nearby to drench in affected skin. The vinegar will neutralise the lye, turning it into a harmless salt
COMBINING COLOURS FOR SOAP
Working with colours for soap can be pleasurable for crafters. Not only can you add a solid colour to your handmade soap, but you can also get creative by combining them and experiment with designs using several techniques available. Swirling colours are a good case in point. It is popular amongst soap makers because of the fancy patterns 2 or more colours can give.
Other creative designs are mostly just combinations of basic techniques used in soapmaking. Examples are layering, embedding and manipulation of layers. Once you get a grasp and master how to control the formula, creative possibilities are endless. Side note: keep the colour wheel in mind to understand the basic colour theory.
Do you also enjoy decorating and combining colours for soap? We hope you stick around and check out our soap colourants ideal for your DIY skincare project.
And that’s a wrap! With several options, you probably have prospects by now. Alongside the fun, we still want you to use caution. Follow the usage guidelines and keep your finished products out of direct sunlight to prevent the colours from fading.
Now, it all comes down to your preferred colours for soaps and combinations. There are a lot of ways to encourage the colours to be bright and bold. Discussed above are only the basics of successfully adding colours and decorating your soaps. Plus, “practice makes perfect” still rings true so we hope you’ll be patient and just keep trying.
Although colouring isn’t necessary, we know now why they matter and what to expect in this activity. Have fun colouring!
BUY COULOURS FOR SOAPMAKING SUPPLIES IN BULK AT A WHOLESALE PRICE IN AUSTRALIA
Before you get your hands busy in crafting, make sure all of your supplies are ready. Turn to N-essentials as we deliberately stock premium colours for soap. Several options are made available for your DIY soapmaking needs. Let us help you get started with your craft.
When you shop through our online catalogue, you’ll find that buying soapmaking supplies online is easy and convenient. Click that Add-to-cart button and buy online today!