Erratic engineeress

A personal blog fuelled by caffeine and curiosity.

I tried making my own soap

… and it turned out better than expected.

Sometimes I get excited about the most random things: the other day as I was washing my face in the shower with my regular face wash, I figured that there must be a way to make a custom soap bar for that. Turns out it’s surprisingly easy as you can just buy a melt-and-pour soap base and add your own ingredients.

Now, here comes a bit of philosophical oversharing about my skin type, so just skip ahead to the soap photos if you don’t care. My skin has gotten a bit weird after my teenage years, as I still get blemishes and pimples, but the skin itself went from oily to randomly oily and super dry depending on the day. I’m not a person who spends too much time worrying about these things and although I have my fair share of cosmetic products, I can’t remember to use half of them and I can’t be bothered with the other half, so the only thing I actually use regularly is a face wash. They either don’t do anything for my zits or they are too aggressive and end up drying my skin more than necessary + they come in retardedly small plastic packages or cost a ton if they are a bit more natural. Yes, I know I could just keep trying to find a good one or ask a professional or do some other reasonable thing, but since I’m me I decided to just give it a go and make my own, because I like doing DIY projects.

I figured what’s the worst that could happen – I could always use the soap for hand washing if it doesn’t work on my face and soap bars last for years, so it can’t be a waste. I bought a glycerin soap base online (here), which is apparently fairly inexpensive for the amount of soap you get, even if you get a fancy one like the one with goat milk that I got (I wanted to buy the one with shea butter, but they’d run out, so this sounded weird and the label said moisturising, so I bought it). All you need to do is melt it, mix in your ingredients and leave it to cool, so I was done within 30 minutes.

Since I’m an engineer and need to study and plan every little project, I did a quick Internet search a few days before and it turns out that I had most of the ingredients I needed at home. Apparently active charcoal is good at drawing out dirt from the skin, i.e. zits, and I had plenty of active charcoal pills meant for stomach issues at home. Most of them were already years past their expiration date (can these things really get bad though?), so I figured it would be better to use them like this instead of eating them if the need struck. The next thing I added was tea tree oil, which is supposed to be antiseptic and also good for zits. I had that at home too, because it was a gift from a friend a few years ago, but I’d rarely used it. I’ve started using it now though and it’s awesome.

Additionally, I bought some peeling particles when I bought the soap base, because apparently most store-bought peelings come with microplastic particles, which do exfoliate, but also end up polluting the water, so why contribute to that? The ones I bought were two different sizes, one made from bamboo and the other from wax. They are both very fine and resulted in a super nice, pleasant texture. And yes, I admit I fell for the must-buy-everything advertising effect while browsing the soap making website, because the last thing I added was green tea extract, which is supposed to energise the skin (whatever that means) and contains vitamins C and E. I absolutely love drinking green tea, so I couldn’t help myself + it smells nice.

So, I melted the soap base, mixed in all of my powder ingredients with a whisker and poured the black mixture into silicone muffin moulds. I figured why buy an actual soap mould, when these would do just fine and it’s not like I was mixing in highly dangerous chemicals. Everything was quite easy to wash off with hot water afterwards, since the soap just melted away, so I didn’t make too much of a mess in the kitchen either.

I was left with 7 black hearts, which cooled off and hardened fairly quickly. That’s quite a lot of soap, since soap bars tend to last longer than liquid soaps, so I think we’re good for the next couple of months (my boyfriend likes them too). The whole experiment was super fast and quite fun. The soap seems to do what I wanted it to do (I waited a few weeks before posting this), so I think I’ll just permanently switch to this. It’s fast and easy to make a huge amount, involves less plastic packaging, custom ingredients, it’s more sustainable and dare I say even cheaper in the long run, and it will come in handy for my less waste approach to travelling too, so what’s not to like?

Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever made your own soap. 🙂

May 2020 update

The face soap lasted the both of us for about a year and it seems to work well with our skin type, so I made it again and so far we’re very happy with it.

I also made another batch of melt-and-pour soap and this time I was experimenting with scents and colours. I bought transparent soap base and used dried tulip and cactus bloom petals for interesting 3D shapes inside the soap bars. The ones with flower petals were meant as hand soaps, which I’m planning to give as gifts for my friends and family. Half of them were left transparent, half were tinted with a sparkly teal blue pigment and all of them also contained bamboo and wax exfoliating particles for that extra hand washing experience. I used lavender and bergamot essential oil to add some scent and I also used ginger and white tea essential oil for the third batch of soaps, which were meant as face soaps. Those had used dried green tea leaves and wax particles for exfoliation, as well as a bit of green tea extract, which is why they look so ugly brown. They may not have looked pretty, but they were quite effective and a bit less harsh without the active charcoal than the original batch from this post.


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