In my spare I do enjoy soap making. It is a very rewarding and calming hobby. I wanted to make a simple soap today using ingredients that I normally have to hand.  So this is how I made this soap.


Sodium olivate (saponified olive oil), sodium sheabutterate (saponified shea butter), Sodium cocate (saponified coconut oil), Aqua, glycerin, titanium dioxide (mineral used for whitening), Citrus aurantifolia (Lime) Oil


I normally gather all my ingredients and start with measuring out the water and weighing in the sodium hydroxide (this mixture is known as lye).  I stir rapidly to ensure that it is fully mixed and dissolved and leave it to stand.  I then melt all my harder butters and add the olive oil allowing the mixture to cool.  I added the lime essential oil to the rest of the oils. Sometimes I wait a little while to allow both the lye and the oils to cool a little – sometimes I dont do this – but really the cooler both the lye and the oil are, the less likely it is to overheat when they are combined and cause problems.  Overheating will speed up the internal heat of the soap batter which will speed up saponification. This time I allowed them to cool so that they were under 40c and added the lye to the oil. I then added the titanium dioxide (I had mixed some of the oil with it to allow for better despersal).  I then mixed gently by hand for a few moments and then used the stickblender to give rapid stirring.  Once it started to thinken up or emulsified – like pancake batter – I poured it into the mould.  It smells divine and looks really creamy!



Cleansing balms are wonderful for getting makeup off. Especially eye makeup.  There are a number of balms on the market that can be like any other solid oily balm and then you have balms that contain (surfactants ) solubisers and emulsfiers to help the balm turn into an emulsion when water is added.  This helps wash off the product so that there is very little to no residue of makeup or oil left on the skin.

If you formulate carefully you could have something that rinses off almost everything leaving only a light film of oil.  These types of cleansers are really good for dry to very dry skin types as they do not strip the skin of its occlusive oily layer and there tends to be no skin taughtness after use.    Personally I prefer wash off cleansing balms and it appears the public do too as there seems to be a surgence of these types of products on the market.

How do cleansing balms work?

As said, they are solid oil that melts on contact with the skin, the oil is rubbed and mixes with the sebum (skin oil) dirt and make up.  When water is introduced it in effect becomes like an emulsion and washes the cleanser and any impurities leaving the skin clean and fresh.   

This is what is in this new cleansing balm.


Cocos nucifera (Coconut) oil, Caryodendron orinocense Nut Oil), Sorbitan Laurate (and) Polyglyceryl-4 Laurate (and) Dilauryl Citrate, Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate (and) Lauryl Glucoside, coco glucoside, Prunus domestica (Plum) kernel seed oil, cetearyl alcohol, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Hydrogenated Olive Oil, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, lime, coconut co2 extract, grapefruit essential oil

As you can see there is coconut in this. I love using coconut in many products as it really adds a nice slip. It does not go rancid quickly. It melts at 24c (75F) so I have included this as I would a liquid oil,  I used quite a lot on this as I want the product to melt fairly easily on the skin but I also want it to withstand warmer temperatures when it is in the container.  Cocoa butter is a hard butter and adds consistency to the balm as does cetearyl alcohol.

I used a combination of two different green surfactant blends. So what is a surfactant and how does it aid with removing makeup.  Surfactants release the surface tension of oils and dirt on the skin and allow them to then be washed away – essentially they create an emulsion on conact with water and turn milky when washed off.

Stage 1 – Initial stability study

Carefully balancing an anhydrous product with different surfactants blends can be a challenge to get right especially when they contain water and are in a semi solid product as there is risk of separation.  Indeed at 40c I was expecting it to melt however  it should have reformed when it reached room temperature.  Sadly the parameters that I set for stability did not hold in my initial studies.  Next stage will be to tweak and retest!


In order to make home made cosmetics and personal care products you are going to need some equipment. Much of it you can buy from catering supply shops, lab equipment stores or suppliers of your raw ingredients.  Below is a list of the most important things you need in order to start making products safely.

Bain Marie and heat resistant bowls – A Bain Marie or a water bath is important for making lotions and balms  as it will allow you to control the temperature at which you heat your formulations.  For making creams or lotions you will need two pans and two water resistant bowls that can fit in the pans.  They should not be too small to touch the bottom of the pan.  Alternatively you can use a few tins at the bottom of the pan to keep the bowl off the bottom.  You can read more about Bain Marie method here. As stated you will need heat resistant bowls, and in order to make samples large enough it would be better for them to hold a minimum of 1 litre.  Your bowls should also not be too wide. They need to be narrow enough to allow the blender shaft to be covered by the emulsion/liquid.

You can always use an electric slow cooker and two heat resistant bowls to make a bain marie.

Measuring Equipment


It is important to have a few different scales. One that can measure smaller amounts of materials for sample sizes and another to measure larger batches.  You can pick up cheap jewellery scales from Amazon.  Ideally they should weigh minimum 0.1g but you can get some that go as low as 0.001. Some good precision scales are CB 1001 or the Kern EMB 500-1 which you can get from here.  Or if you don’t want to spend so much you could try something like this jewellery scale.

For larger batches you can use standard digital kitchen scales.

pH reading – Most types of product need to be of a certain pH in order to be skin safe and to be compatible with a formulation (normally the emulsifier or the preservative performs at a certain pH range.   It’s good to have both  litmus papers and more accurate pH meters. They can be picked up fairly cheaply from amazon or your pharmacist.  It is important to get one with a probe protection as the probe is glass and can break easily.  A good starter meter is the Hanna Checker or a Milwaukee

Thermometer – You will need  a few of these to ensure that your water and oil phases reach the correct temperature range.  Standard glass ones are fine.

Disposable pipettes – probably the easiest way to measure out small amounts of liquids is with a pipette.  You can get them from here and here in the U.S and here in the UK.

Mixing and weighing vessels – You will need vessels for weighing different types of ingredients.  For powdered ingredients you will need a weighing boat, plastic shot glass or even silicone or paper cupcake cups.  You will also need some small glasses for measuring more corrosive materials like essential oils and highly acid/alkaline ingredients.  Make sure you have a selection of different sized larger containers measuring from 200g to 1-2ltrs.  Some people prefer glass and others plastic.  I have a selection of both.  I also have large glass bowls for microwaving butters to melt them when I make soap.

Stick Blenders – In order to make a cream or a balm you will need one of these.  They are standard ones you might use in a kitchen.  You can also get a small hand held milk frother in order to work in smaller quantities.  If you want to make body butters having a hand held Blender with a balloon whisk might come in handy or a stand mixer. Having a dough hook will come in handy too.  I really like the Waring brand of immersion blenders which come in different price ranges and for both home use and professional kitchen use.

Stirring rods, spoons and spatula.

Containers – Glass jars and bottles are good for storing small amounts of products especially if they arrive in plastic bags.  Plastic jars and bottles are a good choice for storing your finished product.

You can buy them from various online shops. Google ‘PETG jars /bottles  or amber / clear glass Winchesters / medicine bottles.  You can get pharmaceutical bottles and jars with bakerlite caps with inbuilt leak resistant cones inside which are fool proof for any liquid based formula or ingredient. 

Microwave Baby bottle steriliser – this will come in handy for sterilising your utensils in the microwave.

Hot  plate or hob – If you don’t want to make your products in a kitchen you  might want to get hold of a few hot plates in order to heat your products to the right temperature.

Soup Kettle – I have a number of these. they come in handy melting my wax for candle making as well as making water free butters, scrubs and similar products.

Goggles to protect your eyes (not really necessary for lotion making but critical in  soaping.


70% isopropyl alcohol is  needed for disinfecting equipment before use

Kitchen towel is needed to mop up any spillages

Cellophane or tin foil are needed for covering the water phase when heating to help  stop evaporation and water loss whilst heating your water phase.

Dust mask to protect your lungs from powders like clay and powdered surfactants which can be very irritating to the respiratory tract.

Pen and paper – or  note pad to record your formulations as well as the processes you followed.

Origin: Central and South America
INCI: Pentaclethara macroloba (Pracaxi) Oil
Extraction Method: Expeller Pressed
Shelf Life: 18 Months
Saponification Value (mg KOH/g oil): 175 – 195
SAP Multiplier for NaOH: 0.132
SAP Multiplier for KOH: 0.185

Commonly referred to as ‘miracle oil’ Pracaxi, is an exciting oil with much potential  in skin care and medicinal uses.  It has a very high content of behenic and lignoceric acid, which help give it great moisturising properties.  It has anti-bacterial, anti fungal and anti microbial antiseptic and  anti hemorrhagic properties.  It is traditionally used for stretch marks as well as insect bites, sores, acne and hyperpigmentation brought about by hormonal changes.


Pracaxi oil is found in the regions from Nicaragua to Amazonia, including the Guyanas and some of the West Indies. It tends to grow to about 35m high and 1.3m in diameter and lives near rivers and in swampy areas.

The seeds of the tree are edible and also produce a cooking oil (owala oil), widely used in Africa.  Seeds contain 45-48% lipid, 27-28% protein and 45-48% carbohydrates. The bark is a source of tannins.

As a nitrogen fixing pioneer and has great potential for forest regeneration and reclamation of degraded lands.

The oil is extracted from the seeds of the tree and harvested from February to May each year.  It is not cultivated so the supply is limited to harvesting during its harvest season.  The pods of the tree are dried and boiled which releases the oil. About 35 fruits are needed to obtain one kilo of seeds.

Fatty Acid Composition

At 19%, pracachy oil has the highest known concentration of Behenic acid, this gives it excellent moisturizing properties . Studies have reported about the insecticidal ability of pracachy oil, specifically against the mosquito Aedes aegypti, which is the carrier of yellow fever and dengue. Fractions isolated from the oil have important bioactive compounds with anti-hemorrhagic activity, which can be used in the treatment of snakebites, or possibly as a new drug for the treatment of other diseases.

Traditional uses

Traditionally the oil is used by Amazonian people to treat stretch marks on young adults and pregnant women.  The bark is ground up into a paste and used as a poultice to reduce the toxicity of snake, insect and scorpion bites.  Hair is also treated with praxaci oil to enhances shine and manageability, this is due in great part to the high levels of behenic acid found in the oil.   Most interestingly it has traditionally been used to treat bacterial skin infections.  Pracaxi oil has been called ‘miracle’ oil for its multitude of uses.


Antimicrobial activity of amazonian medicinal plants. Oliveira AA, Segovia JF, Sousa VY, Mata EC, Gonçalves MC, Bezerra RM, Junior PO, Kanzaki LI.‘Pentaclethra macroloba inhibited the growth of Klebsiella ozaenae and Acinetobacter bauman.

Antihemorrhagic, antinucleolytic and other antiophidian properties of the aqueous extract from Pentaclethra macroloba.Jocivânia O da Silva, Juliana S Coppede, Vanessa C Fernandes, Carolina D Sant’ana, Fábio K Ticli, Maurício V Mazzi, José R Giglio, Paulo S Pereira, Andreimar M Soares, Suely V Sampaio

Common Name: Sea Buckthorn berry oil

Botanical Name/INCI: Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Oil

Extraction Method: Cold Pressed

Shelf Life: 1-2 years

General Oil Specification: Carotenoids (400-500mg), Beta-carotene(15.70mg), Vitamin A (210-230 IU), Vitamin E (180-250mg), Vitamin K1 (170-200mg), Beta-sitosterol (provitamin D) (250-400mg), Iodine (70-80mcg), Calcium (5.4mcg), Iron (1.7mcg), Magnesium (1.6mcg), Phosphorous (6.5mcg), Zinc (1.5mcg).

Fatty Acid Profile: Lauric acid 0.12% , Myristic acid 1.51%, Palmatic acid 30.46%, Stearic acid 1.63%, Arachidic acid 0.53%, Behenic acid 0.18%, Lignoceric acid 0.16%, Palmitoleic acid 34.45%, Oleic acid 20.10%, Gadoleic acid 0.05%, Erucic acid 0.01%, Linoleic acid 5.83%, Alpha-linolenic acid 2.03%, Other acids 2.94%


Due to the deep red colour of this oil it is best used as part of a blend. There are no contra-indications to using neat it may cause colouration to the skin which may take a few days to disappear if used neat. Normally it is used in a blend up to 10% to avoid the colouration but receive the benefits of this amazing oil.

Sea Buckthorn is an amazing oil, its fruit is very citrusy and tart and contains on average 695mg per 100g of vitamin C, fifteen times the amount as oranges. It also contains vitamin E, carotenoids, omega oils 3,6,7 & 9, flavenoids (including quercetin) and minerals.

It is extremely rich in b-carotene which gives its colour. Plant carotenoids are rich in provitamin A which has a strong anti inflammatory effect on the skin. You can find it in MBotanicals Hydrating Beauty Balm.

Botanical name: Salvia hispanica

INCI: Salvia hispanica (Chia) seed oil


A lot can be said for the the little chia seed.  It is  highly beneficial  for general health and well being as well as for maintaining healthy skin.

It is high in both amino and essential fatty acids, both vital for general health. Chia is  also low in cholesterol and salt but high in anti-oxidants and minerals.  Being high in soluble and insoluble fibre makes it excellent for maintaining healthy digestion.  Chia seed has also been shown to help regulate sugar levels in diabetes.

What has this got to do with the skin I hear you ask; Well, such a highly nutritious food can only have a beneficial effect on the skin when included in a healthy balanced diet.  It’s special profile can also do wonders for the complexion when used topically.

Chia Seed Oil is a remarkable and stable source of omega-3 essential fatty acids (up to 65%) and omega-6 essential fatty acids (up to 21%). The natural antioxidant composition of Organic Chia Seed Oil helps to maintain the stability of the oil. The oil is also a noteworthy source of amino acids, B-vitamins and minerals, including zinc.

Dr. Anne Dermatol (2010) studied the effect of chia seed oil on patients with end stage kidney disease. All patients had dry and itchy skin as a result of their condition.  A topical formulation containing 4% chia seed oils were applied for 8 weeks. At the end of the study they found  a marked improvement in levels of itching as well as an increase in skin moisture levels and skin barrier function.

The positive effects of the oil were put down to the protective and skin restructuring gamma-linolenic acid found in omega-6 and anti-inflammaory effects of alpha-linolenic acid found in omega 3. These properties are also benefitial for aging skin as they help support the skins natural function and help keep the skin firm, moisturised and free of wrinkles.

Chia Seeds are a potent source of vitamin B and zinc which helps balance skin oils and helps control acne breakouts. It is also high in anti-oxidants such as caffeic acid, myricetin, quercetin and chlorogenic acid. The rich blend of anti-oxidants help fight against age related free radical damage including those caused by the environment – oxygen, UV and pollutants.

The combination of essential fatty acids, vitamin B complex, zinc and powerful antioxidants make this oil a powerful force against a mulitiude of skin problems linked to inflammation including skin ageing , dry itchy skin conditions and acne.

We have used extremely high levels of chia seed oil in our MBotanicals balancing face oil making it perfect for maintaining healthy skin.