YOU’LL KNOW WHAT I DID LAST SUMMER
While I couldn’t resist adding a little 90’s “cult classic” humor to the introduction of this blog, the events of last summer weren’t anything to scream about (I’m cracking myself up here!). In fact, it just so happens that a specific, little oversight ultimately ended up being a total “AH-HA!” moment for me! I’ll explain...
I love camping! Ever since I was a young child, family and group camping trips have always been one of my most favorite outdoor pastimes. When my brother-in-law suggested we all head out to beautiful Lake Louisa for a weekend camping trip last summer, I didn’t need to be asked twice! Taking in the gorgeous scenery with its abundance of wildlife, hiking, bicycling, swimming, fishing, grilling, sitting around the cozy ambiance of a campfire, and kayaking with gators were all on the agenda of things to do... I couldn’t wait! *HELPFUL TIP: If you’re kayaking in Florida and a gator gets too close for comfort, use your paddle to smack the surface of the water (NOT the gator!). The startling noise is an effective way of convincing him or her to move along.
Now, this specific camping trip just so happened to offer amenities which I like to call, “luxury camping”. You see, as a kid, whenever my parents would take us camping, it was always to some remote place where we’d have to make do with whatever nature provided us. Luxuries like electricity, running water and restrooms weren’t available. This camping trip, however, had all of that and more! Every campsite had its own source of running water and electrical outlets; and very well-kept, indoor laundry, restroom and showering facilities made it feel more like a home away from home, rather than “roughing it”. This is how I ended up having my “AH-HA!” moment!
After a long, fun-filled day of hiking jungle-like trails, kayaking and splashing around in the lake, I decided I’d grab my little tote-bag of bathroom accoutrements and head over to the ladies’ facilities to take a nice, hot shower. However, it wasn’t until I was already in the shower, happily relaxing my sore muscles away, when it suddenly occurred to me, I’d forgotten to pack my shampoo bar and conditioner. I didn’t have anything to wash the smell of lake water out of my hair! Hmmm... What to do? As I stood there with an end-piece of handmade soap I’d brought with me (End-pieces of soap batches make the best “travel bars”!), I realized it was my only option. I hesitantly used it to wash my hair, unsure of how well it would work, or how much of a tangled mess my locks would be afterward. Do you know what happened though? It worked just fine!
The results weren’t great, but they weren’t bad either. The soap cleansed my hair and scalp, and kept my hair smelling fresh for the duration of the trip. That’s when the wheels started turning in my head... I was already making shampoo bars for personal use with a homemade melt and pour recipe I was satisfied with, but with a few tweaks to the cold process soap I’d used, maybe I could reformulate an even better solid shampoo recipe! Making melt & pour soap base from scratch (specifically formulated for hair) is quite time consuming. It’s made via hot process, but requires an additional “cook” to include vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol. It also requires an impatiently long cool-down phase, and once that’s complete, it needs to be unmolded, chopped up, then melted down again to include various hair-nourishing additives. The soap base is then poured into cavity molds, where more waiting ensues. Once the individual bars re-solidify, they’re unmolded, cured for a couple days, then eventually put to good use. WHEW! If I could reformulate a cold process soap recipe into an awesome solid shampoo recipe instead, it would save me a lot of “hands-on” time!
It was on! Scouring the internet for information, as well as “borrowing” inspiration from ingredients featured in one of my favorite shampoo bars from a certain retail shop that starts with an “L” and rhymes with “rush”, I began formulating a recipe. Tweaking a little of this and a little of that, experimenting, then putting those experiments to the test, I eventually ended up with a recipe my hair and I truly loved! I call it “Tea Island Avocado” solid shampoo, and for this week’s blog, I’m excited to share the recipe with you!
As we go through the steps of making this solid shampoo recipe together, it’s important to keep something in mind though... While shampoo bars are fun to use, compact, easy to travel with, and help reduce plastic waste, they’re simply not going to be for everyone and every hair-type. Shampoo bars work great for me and my hair-type, but not everyone is going to have that same experience. Oftentimes, there’s an adjustment period when making the switch to solid shampoo, but ultimately, there’s going to be those who just get better results from traditional, liquid shampoos. Others may simply prefer the way their hair feels after using a traditional shampoo over a solid shampoo, and that’s totally okay! If after giving this recipe a try, you find yourself relating, all is not lost... This solid shampoo recipe will still gently cleanse your skin, and it also makes for a great bar of soap to lather-up and shave with too!
PRE-PREPARATION: INFUSIONS, TEAS & TETRASODIUM EDTA
This recipe does require some pre-preparation, but the good news is that it’s all very easy, and calls for little hands-on effort. There are actually three ingredients we’ll want to have prepared beforehand, so we’ll start with the most “time-consuming” one first. Remember that shampoo bar I mentioned from a certain handmade retailer? Included among its many fabulous ingredients are infusions of lavender and rosemary. I happen to love making infusions, and always have plenty of dried botanicals on-hand, so with a little borrowed inspiration, we’ll begin by making a lovely lavender infusion!
Lavender has antimicrobial properties, which are believed to be beneficial for the scalp. One of its many claims is that it may help soothe inflammation, as well as itchy, dry skin; an added benefit for individuals particularly prone to dandruff. Lavender is also thought to help promote, or stimulate, hair growth. While cosmetic claims cannot be made, and are prohibited from being advertised as truths, promises, or facts in an effort to promote and/or sell one’s handmade products, one thing is for sure... Lavender certainly smells beautiful in homemade infusions! Whenever I make a botanical infusion, I like to make a good amount of it, just so I’m able to keep extra on-hand for future soap projects too. Feel free to make as little or as much as you prefer though!
This recipe includes olive oil, so that’s what I use as the carrier oil for this infusion. When making infusions, a ratio of 1-part dried botanical to 4-parts carrier oil gives me great results. For this specific infusion, I added two cups of dried lavender buds to a crockpot, then poured eight cups of olive oil over it. We definitely don’t need that much for this recipe though, so if you’d rather make less, I certainly wouldn’t blame you! For this 32oz batch, you’ll just want to make sure you end up with 8oz of lavender-infused olive oil. For the first hour, set the heat on your crockpot to high. Afterward, reduce the heat to low for one more hour. After two hours total, your infusion will be fragrant and ready! Carefully strain the infusion well, discard the buds, then allow the lavender-infused oil to cool down to room temperature.
While the crockpot is busy transforming the lavender and olive oil into a fantastic infusion, we can continue by getting the second ingredient prepared. This recipe features an alternative liquid that many swear by when it comes to haircare and luscious locks- strongly steeped tea! In regards to this recipe, we’ll be using tea in place of distilled water, but did you know tea makes an excellent hair-rinse too? Give it a try sometime on freshly-cleansed hair. Rinse with plain tea that’s been strongly-steeped in distilled water, then chilled. Hair will look shiny and nourished in a snap!
I chose hair-loving chamomile tea as the alternative liquid in this recipe, but any type of tea you’d like to use will work just as well. Green tea is said to be great for dandruff, and for stimulating hair growth. It may help to prevent hair loss due to being high in natural caffeine and antioxidants. Many believe green tea encourages hair follicles to grow, while keeping the scalp nourished and protected from bacteria and sun damage. Black teas are believed to help reduce hair loss. The main culprit for excessive hair loss is a hormone called Dihydrotestosterone. The natural caffeine in black tea is believed to help block Dihydrotestosterone’s effects on the hair, allowing locks to grow thicker, fuller and stronger.
Herbal teas are believed to be great for all hair types... Chamomile tea may help to brighten dull hair, being particularly beneficial for blondes in this regard. It’s also believed to help soothe the scalp, soften hair and act as a natural conditioner. Redheads may benefit from herbal teas, such as Rooibos, Raspberry and Hibiscus, while black teas are said to work well for brunettes by helping to deepen darker-colored hair. Whichever tea you prefer to use in this recipe, here’s how we’ll go about preparing it...
Begin by adding distilled water to a pot on your stovetop, then warm the water over high heat. For every 8oz cup of distilled water in the pot, add 1 level tablespoon of raw cane sugar. As the water heats up, continuously stir until the sugar completely dissolves. The sugar won’t leave any type of sticky residue in your hair, but will act as a glorious lather booster! Once the sugar has completely dissolved, and the water is nice and hot, remove the pot from the heat and add two teabags of your preferred tea (paper tags removed) per every 8oz cup of distilled water (Example: For 4 cups of distilled water, add 4 tablespoons of sugar and 8 teabags.). Allow the tea to steep for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove and discard the teabags. Transfer the sweetened tea to a smaller container, then place this in the refrigerator to chill.
The third ingredient we’ll want to have prepared beforehand is a very important one, and one I’d highly recommend not skipping when it comes to making solid shampoo the cold process way. The actual amount we’ll be incorporating into this recipe is quite minimal, but it serves a vital purpose. I’m talking about tetrasodium EDTA.
To cover the full science and chemistry of tetrasodium EDTA would require a whole other blog, but to sum it up here, tetrasodium EDTA is a metal ion chelating agent of the tetrasodium salt of ethylenediamine tetra acetic acid (Wow! Say that one 10 times fast!). It brings multiple benefits to this formulation, with the most important one being the prevention of soap scum and soap scum buildup; especially in hard water. The absolute last result anyone would want from their solid shampoo is a buildup of soap scum residue in their hair. Not only would this “gunk-up” one’s hair, eventually weighing it down with dull, highly unmanageable, lifeless locks, but it would also defeat the entire purpose of the shampoo bar itself, which is to cleanse the hair and scalp.
The addition of tetrasodium EDTA in this recipe will prevent the occurrence of soap scum residue in the user’s hair. Although tetrasodium EDTA is not a preservative, another added benefit it brings is the prevention, or significant delay, of oxidation and DOS; otherwise known as “Dreaded Orange Spots”. Not only highly effective against soap scum and DOS, tetrasodium EDTA is also believed to help increase the potency and longevity of fragrances. While tetrasodium EDTA has big benefits in handmade haircare formulations, it only takes a small amount of it to go a long way!
Since so very little tetrasodium EDTA solution is needed for this recipe (We’re talking grams here.), it just wouldn’t be practical to only make the needed amount. That’s why I prefer making 12oz of it at a time, since that’ll last me just about forever! The actual usage rate of pure tetrasodium EDTA in this recipe is 0.5% of the total weight (or sum) of the lye + liquid + batch oils. I’ll explain this better once we get to that step, but the easiest way to go about calculating this is to make a 50% tetrasodium EDTA solution. This requires dissolving pure tetrasodium EDTA in its equal weight of distilled water. For 12oz of distilled water, I’ll weigh out 12oz of tetrasodium EDTA, so that 50% of the solution is tetrasodium EDTA, and the remaining 50% is distilled water.
Tetrasodium EDTA is soluble in distilled water, so making a 50% tetrasodium EDTA solution is quite simple! If purchasing tetrasodium EDTA for the first time though, just be sure that what you’re ordering, and what you receive, is in fact tetrasodium EDTA. The first time I ordered tetrasodium EDTA, I was sent disodium EDTA, mislabeled as tetrasodium EDTA, by mistake... TWICE! While you can absolutely convert disodium EDTA into a tetrasodium EDTA solution with the addition of sodium hydroxide, it’s just so much easier (And hugely reassuring!) to receive the correct product from the get-go. Always be sure to order from a reputable supplier; one that places its highest priority in quality and purity, and the assurance of products which are packaged and labeled properly and correctly for the safety of its customers. I very highly recommend Cesco Solutions, based out of Bellingham Washington.
So, we’ve weighed out the distilled water and the tetrasodium EDTA at equal parts by weight. From here, we’ll add these to a pot, and set the heat on the stovetop to medium. Tetrasodium EDTA will dissolve in distilled water whether it’s warmed or not, but warming the distilled water will help it to dissolve considerably faster (Within a matter of minutes.). As the distilled water begins to warm up, and the tetrasodium EDTA begins to dissolve, you’ll notice that the solution will become quite cloudy. Continue stirring the solution until all the tetrasodium EDTA has completely dissolved. Similar to making a lye solution, you’ll know the tetrasodium EDTA has fully dissolved when the solution goes back to being clear.
Once the tetrasodium EDTA solution has gone from cloudy to clear, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool back down to room temperature. Once cooled, transfer the solution to an airtight container or bottle, and label it accordingly. Congratulations, you now have enough tetrasodium EDTA 50% solution to last you a very, very long time! For long-term storage, simply keep the solution in its airtight container, avoiding direct sunlight and exposure to excessive heat or cold.
That’s all there is to it! As soon as the lavender-infusion and tetrasodium EDTA 50% solution have cooled down to room temperature, and the sweetened tea has chilled in the fridge, we’re all done with the pre-prep portion of this project! From here, it’s time to grab an avocado and get to mashing!
AVOCADOS, LYE SOLUTIONS & SUPERFATTING FOR YOUR HAIR-TYPE
MMMM Avocadoes! Whenever I think of them, I think of tasty snacks, like guacamole, seven-layer bean dip, or avocado toast! Avocadoes aren’t just great for a hungry belly though, they’re great for hair too! Chock-full of amino acids, proteins and vitamins, avocadoes are prized for being super nourishing for the hair and scalp. Many avocado-enthusiasts swear by its ability to moisturize and rejuvenate dull, damaged hair, promote strong, healthy growth, and soothe the scalp. Extremely popular in DIY hair masks and treatments, avocadoes have gained large popularity in commercial haircare products too! It’s precisely why we’ll be adding the whole avocado to this 32oz solid shampoo recipe!
Incorporating fruit or veggie purees in cold process recipes is fun and easy! There’s really no right or wrong way as to how, or when to incorporate a fresh fruit or vegetable puree (Some add it at trace, others blend it in with their batch oils.), so long as you follow one simple guideline: Always subtract the weight of the fruit or veggie puree from the recipe’s total liquid weight. For example, if your recipe calls for a total of 9oz of liquid, and your fruit or veggie puree weighs 3oz, just subtract 3oz from 9oz. The remaining 6oz becomes the new liquid weight you’ll add your lye to, in order to make your lye solution. REMINDER: Lye requires at least its own weight in liquid to properly dissolve. If your remaining liquid weight is less than the amount of lye required for your recipe, decrease the weight of the puree, in order to increase the liquid weight needed to make your lye solution. Any which way you choose to mash-up the avocado to create a puree for this recipe will do just fine! You can use a blender, a food processor, your immersion blender, or even a fork. Once you’ve got your avocado nice and mashed-up, tare your scale and weigh the puree.
The entire 32oz recipe for these shampoo bars is listed below (Percentages and weights included!), but keep in mind that the weight of your avocado puree will most likely differ slightly from the weight of my avocado puree. Just continue by subtracting the weight of your own avocado puree from the recipe’s total liquid amount, as described above. When superfatted at 5% for normal hair-types, this recipe calls for a total liquid weight of 11.10oz (Only a slight liquid discount, since this recipe does move a teensy bit on the faster side). The weight of my avocado puree came to 3.7oz. Subtracted from 11.10oz, the remaining 7.4oz becomes the revised liquid weight I’ll use to make my lye solution with (11.10 - 3.7 = 7.4). Instead of distilled water, we’ll use the chilled, sweetened chamomile tea as an alternative liquid.
Speaking of lye solutions, let’s quickly talk superfatting, and how that might differ in a shampoo bar formulation. For soap making, one of the most common percentages to superfat a recipe at is around 5%. This means that 5% of the total oils within the recipe will not saponify and become soap. Instead, these oils will remain “free-floating” within the finished bars, acting as a buffer to prevent any possible error of a “lye-heavy” product, and to provide lovely moisturizing properties. But what do “free-floating” oils mean for one’s hair? For some, this may be very beneficial, but for others, not as much. It really depends on your hair-type. Although you may still need to adjust these recommended superfat percentages depending on your individual haircare needs, here are my personal suggestions for superfatting a solid shampoo recipe based on your specific hair-type:
OILY HAIR: Are you prone to excessive oil buildup in your hair? Does your hair and/or scalp tend to look oily or “greasy” if you skip a day of shampooing? If so, you may be an oily hair-type, and you’ll want to keep your superfat low. Too much extra, or “free-floating” oils within a shampoo bar might not be best for oily hair, as this can weigh it down, causing hair to look thin, flat, unwashed or lifeless. Excess oil may also cause hair to become unmanageable and more prone to tangles. For oily hair-types, I recommend superfatting this recipe between 2% to 4% max.
NORMAL HAIR: Does your hair-type stay within its lane, never quite swerving into “too oily” or “too dry” territory? Can you go at least every other day between washes? Are issues such as itchy scalp and/or dandruff not a concern for you? If so, your hair-type may be normal. Normal hair can benefit from a little extra oil within a shampoo bar, but just as in the case of oily hair-types, too much unsaponified oils may leave behind an oily residue. This can cause hair to become unmanageable, appear flat or weighed down, and lose natural volume. For normal hair-types, a superfat of 5% to 7% is ideal. *This is the category I fall into, and a 5% superfat makes my hair look and feel amazing!
DRY HAIR: Does your hair break easily when brushing or styling it? Is your hair chemically treated and/or damaged? Are you prone to issues such as split-ends, frizz, itchy scalp and/or dandruff? If so, your hair-type may be dry. Dry hair-types might require more unsaponified oils in their shampoo bar formulations to provide beneficial moisturizing and conditioning properties. As in the case of oily and normal hair-types though, even dry hair-types need balance. Excessive “free-floating” oils can weigh hair down, resulting in loss of volume and manageable texture. Keep superfat percentages between 8% to 10% maximum, to add shine, moisture and extra conditioning properties to your hair, without weighing it down, or leaving behind an oily residue.
TALKING ADDITIVES; KAOLIN CLAY, HYDROLYZED PROTEIN & MORE!
It’s just about time to take the fruits of our labors (Literally!) and bring them together to create shampoo bars! Assuming we’ve already subtracted the weight of our avocado puree from the recipe’s total liquid weight, and have made a lye solution with the tea and sugar combo, we can now set this off to the side and allow it to cool. Anywhere between room temperature and 85 degrees Fahrenheit is a great temperature-range for the lye solution to cool down to, and we can get the rest of the recipe prepared while we wait. For the impatient soap maker, such as myself, placing the lye solution in the fridge, freezer, or an ice bath, are all easy ways to help speed up this wait-time.
No different than making cold process soap for the body, the next order of business will be getting the hard fats weighed out, combined and melted. Hard fats/oils/butters are those fats which are generally solid at room temperature, and for this recipe, those include 25% coconut oil, 10% cocoa butter and 10% shea butter.
Once the hard fats are fully combined and melted, we’ll continue by weighing out and incorporating the soft fats. Soft fats/oils are those fats which are liquid at room temperature, and in this recipe, those include the lavender-infused olive oil at 25%, 20% avocado oil and 10% castor oil. After combining these well with the melted hard fats, we can set the batch oils off to the side and allow them to cool. Around 85 degrees Fahrenheit is an ideal temperature for our batch oils to cool down to.
While the lye solution and batch oils cool, we’ll use the time to get the recipe’s additives prepared. We’ve already pureed the avocado, so with that sitting pretty off to the side, we’ll continue by getting the fragrance oil weighed out and combined with a bit of kaolin clay. The first time I made this recipe (Well, the successful one, that is!), I pored over all the fabulous fragrance oils I have from Nurture Soap and asked myself one vitally important question: When the wind runs through my hair, or I catch a whiff of it while throwing it up into a quick ponytail, what’s the smile-inducing, lingering scent I want my locks to smell like? The answer came so clearly to me!
Nurture Soap’s “Island Oasis” fragrance oil is the ultimate blissful escape for me, and smells exceptional in my hair! Many interpret this tropical-based scent differently, and in wonderfully unique ways, but for me, “Island Oasis” is the epitome of fruity, fresh, gloriously clean goodness! My son says he can smell a clean, green note in it (Which makes me so proud!), and while I absolutely agree, juicy pineapple is what catches my attention first. There’s something magical about this scent that I can’t quite put my finger on, but an addictively enticing clean, almost aldehydic, note at its base makes me think of bubbles every time I smell it! It’s almost as if the freshest, juiciest pineapple decided to take a bubble bath; that’s “Island Oasis” fragrance oil for me!
The scent is superbly fragrant and lasting, so we’ll use a rate of 1oz per pound of batch oils in this 32oz recipe, for a total of 2oz “Island Oasis” fragrance oil. To this, we’ll incorporate ½ generous tablespoon of white kaolin clay per each pound of batch oils (one generous tablespoon total), then use a mini-mixer to combine it with the fragrance oil. Many soap makers know kaolin clay for being a scent fixative, but in this recipe, it serves another important purpose.
Kaolin clay is a super-gentle, natural humectant. It draws moisture to itself and locks it in. This is great for all hair-types, as not only may its absorbency help to reduce oily buildup at the scalp (Allowing one to go longer between washes.), but it may also help keep the hair shaft moisturized and nourished as well. One of Its biggest benefits in a shampoo bar however, is its ability to add a bit of “slip” or “glide” to handmade formulations. I can’t think of anyone who would enjoy using a shampoo bar that gets caught or tangled in their hair; pulling strands out as they use it. The addition of kaolin clay in this recipe ensures the bars glide easily and smoothly over the hair, distributing the product evenly and gently, with no pulling in the process.
The next three additives may seem miniscule, but they pack a big punch! In small measuring cups, we’ll weigh out sodium lactate and hydrolyzed quinoa protein, each at 3% per pound of batch oils. We’ll also weigh out the 50% tetrasodium EDTA solution, which I’ll explain how to determine just how much you’ll need within this recipe.
With the addition of sodium lactate, we introduce another humectant to the recipe, but it also serves an important role in helping the batch set up faster and unmold sooner. The higher percentage of soft oils and liquid in this recipe will almost certainly require a longer unmolding time. Sodium lactate will shorten this, which is especially helpful with the 2.5LB Tall/Skinny mold we’ll be pouring the batch into. Sodium lactate will enable the batch to unmold sooner, easier and intact!
Hydrolyzed quinoa protein is synonymous with healthy, nourished hair! I mean, hair really loves it, and it only takes a little to go a long, long way! If your hair is chemically treated, heat damaged, dry, brittle, lifeless or dull, hydrolyzed quinoa protein can help repair all of this, and more; leaving your locks moisturized, shiny, soft and beautifully manageable! Hydrolyzed quinoa protein is able to penetrate the hair shaft, strengthening and repairing it from the inside out. Studies have shown hydrolyzed quinoa protein to strengthen and improve the overall health of one’s hair after just one use, with substantial improvements being noted after just five uses... It’s crazy-good stuff!
DETERMINING THE AMOUNT OF TETRASODIUM EDTA IN RECIPES
Since we’ve already covered the important benefits tetrasodium EDTA brings to this recipe, let’s quickly discuss how to determine just how much we’ll want to incorporate into it. As mentioned earlier, we’ll want to include tetrasodium EDTA at a rate of 0.5% of the sum of the recipe’s lye, liquid and batch oil weights combined. This is the amount of pure tetrasodium EDTA we want to include though, and we’ve already transformed it into a 50% solution; as in 50% of the solution is tetrasodium EDTA, and 50% is distilled water, making up 100% of the solution. This means that in order to incorporate a rate of 0.5% pure tetrasodium EDTA into the recipe, we’ll need to incorporate a total of 1% of the solution (0.5% tetrasodium EDTA + 0.5% distilled water = 1% solution).
No problemo! So, we now know we need to weigh out 1% of the tetrasodium EDTA 50% solution, based on the combined weight of the recipe’s lye, liquid and batch oils. For a recipe superfatted at 5%, the amount of lye needed is approximately 4.45oz. Not including the weight of the avocado (Since that’s already factored in as part of the total liquid weight.), the total liquid amount this recipe calls for is 11.10oz, and we have a total of 32oz of batch oils. Let’s take these numbers and add them up! 4.45oz + 11.10oz + 32oz = 47.55oz. That’s the magic number! Of the tetrasodium EDTA 50% solution, we need to incorporate 1% of 47.55oz. Moving the decimal point two spaces to the left gives us our answer: 1% of 47.55oz is 0.4755oz.
What a crazy-looking number though! With many of the scales popularly used in soap making, how will we easily be able to weigh out 0.4755oz of the tetrasodium EDTA solution? For me, I find it a whole lot easier if I convert this number into grams. With the help of my old friend, Google, I’m able to determine that 0.4755oz converted into grams is 13.48g. To me, this number just looks way easier on the eyes... I simply need to weigh out 13.48 grams of the tetrasodium EDTA solution for this recipe. I have a little “pocket scale”, as they’re called, that conveniently weighs out small amounts such as this, but don’t worry a bit if your own scale won’t calculate those little, “in-between” numbers. If needed, just round this up to 13.5 grams.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER!
And now, time for one final preparation before bringing everything together, and creating an amazing batch of handmade shampoo bars! Green just so happens to be my all-time-favorite color in the whole, wide world... And when I say “green”, I literally mean any and every shade of green in existence! Avocado-green, in particular, is especially beautiful, but unfortunately, due to the volatility of this natural ingredient, and the caustic environment of saponification, the soaps won’t remain that bright, lovely shade. Enter: Nurture Soap’s sensational colorants!
Because we’ll be including a whole avocado in this recipe, as well as the lavender-infused olive oil and the sugar in the chamomile tea, the batch itself is going to need a little help lightening up so that we can incorporate some pretty shades of green into it. To do this, we’ll start by dispersing 1 teaspoon of Nurture Soap’s titanium dioxide (½ teaspoon per pound of batch oils) in a splash of distilled water. For a fresh, bright, organic shade of green, Nurture Soap’s “Hello Spring!” mica was chosen as the main color for this project; while Nurture Soap’s breezy, carefree shade of “Sea Green” mica was selected as a lovely accent color. Once we’ve dispersed the micas in a bit of borrowed batch oils, we can begin putting this solid shampoo recipe together!
We’ll start by taking the avocado puree and adding it directly to the cooled batch oils. Using your immersion blender, thoroughly blend the pureed avocado into the oils until fully incorporated and combined. This may look a little splotchy and grainy in texture at first, but that’s totally normal. As soon as the shampoo batter is brought to trace, it’ll smooth out beautifully!
Next, take the cooled lye solution and carefully add the sodium lactate, tetrasodium EDTA 50% solution and hydrolyzed quinoa protein. Stir gently to avoid any accidental splashes, but make sure to fully incorporate all three ingredients into the lye solution. The hydrolyzed quinoa protein will smell positively putrid when first added to the lye solution, but this is very temporary, and won’t affect the scent of the shampoo bars in any way.
Once the sodium lactate, tetrasodium EDTA solution and hydrolyzed quinoa protein have been thoroughly stirred into the cooled lye solution, continue by adding the dispersed titanium dioxide. Once again, carefully and gently stir this into the lye solution until fully incorporated. At this point, the lye solution will look more like milk, but that’s exactly what we’re going for!
Next, carefully pour the milky lye solution into the avocado-enriched batch oils. Before grabbing your immersion blender though, stir the mixture by hand for about a minute to combine the ingredients well. You may notice the mixture thickening up on its own, even prior to blending it. Don’t allow this to make you feel rushed... You’ll have plenty of time to bring the shampoo batter to trace and get it poured!
After stirring well by hand, grab your immersion blender and bring the batter to trace. This formulation does have a tendency to produce what’s commonly referred to as “false trace”, but don’t allow this trick you! False trace happens when the batter appears to have thickened, or reached trace, but the batch oils haven’t fully emulsified with the lye solution yet. Here’s an easy way to tell if what you’re seeing is trace or false trace... If the batter still looks grainy in texture, as pictured below, you haven’t reached trace quite yet. You’ll know you’ve reached trace when the batter has gone from grainy to smooth, and “ribbons” of oil are no longer visible on top.
When the batter has reached a nice, smooth trace, pour a portion of it off for the accent color, then use a spatula to incorporate the micas by hand. Add “Hello Spring!” mica to the main portion of batter, and “Sea Green” mica to the smaller, accent portion. Follow-up by giving the kaolin clay/fragrance oil mixture one last mix with a mini-mixer, then fully incorporate “Island Oasis” fragrance oil into each portion by hand as well.
Anything goes for the actual design of this shampoo bar recipe, but for the particular look I’m going for, I like to create a simple, yet always pretty, in-the-pot swirl. Feel free to pour the batter any way you’d like! I personally enjoy pouring some of the “Sea Green” batter back into the main bowl from up high, then continue by pouring it in from down low. When I get to the last little bit, I drizzle it around on top, just to make sure no drop of shampoo batter gets left behind! Have fun with this part, and swirl-away to your heart’s content! Guaranteed, however you choose to design your batch, the bars will turn out eye-catching and beautifully unique!
Follow-up by pouring your swirly batter into the mold. For shampoo bars especially, I prefer using Nurture Soap’s 2.5LB Tall/Skinny mold, since the size and shape of the bars this mold produces fit perfectly in the hand. It’s an excellent mold to use when you want to make bars that fit comfortably in both large and small hands alike! Any mold you have available to you will work just fine though. To finish up, swirl or texture the top of the batch any way you like best. For me, using the back of a spoon to create textured waves is always fun, and particularly fitting; but how you prefer to complete your batch of solid shampoo is entirely at the discretion of your own creative expression!
CPOP AND CURING YOUR SOLID SHAMPOO
I’m a big fan of “CPOP-ing” my solid shampoo batches, since it not only makes it possible to unmold the batch even sooner than simply using sodium lactate alone (Have I mentioned how impatient I am?), but it also ensures the batch goes through a beautiful gel phase. “CPOP” stands for “cold process/oven process”, and admittedly, I’m a total sucker for the hard, glassy-smooth, shiny bars of soap this process produces! If you’d like to CPOP your batch of solid shampoo too, simply preheat your oven to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Once preheated, pop the batch into the oven (No pun intended!), close the door and turn the heat off. Allow the batch to remain in the ambient heat of the oven overnight, completely undisturbed (Oven lights are okay, but no opening the door to sneak a peek!). Once gel phase is complete and the batch has cooled down, it’s ready to be unmolded and cut into bars!
Place your lovely bars of “Tea Island Avocado” handmade solid shampoo on a curing rack (if available), in a nice, cool, well-ventilated area in your home, and allow them to cure for 6 to 8 weeks. The standard cure time for cold process soap is normally 4 to 6 weeks, but these shampoo bars might require a bit more curing time. The extra liquid, and higher percentage of soft oils in this recipe mean a few extra weeks of cure may be necessary, but it’ll be worth the wait! Of course, the bars are perfectly safe to use as soon as saponification is complete (Which normally happens within 24 to 48 hours.), but it won’t be long before they turn to mush in the shower, and they won’t produce any kind of significant lather either. It’s quite possible they’ll be noticeably drying on the hair and scalp too. With full cure comes a shampoo bar with all the great benefits! Benefits like abundantly luscious, copiously creamy lather, marvelous moisturizing properties, soothing softness, magnificent mildness, and gentle conditioning properties! Just think of these bars as being the Heinz ketchup of handmade shampoo... The best things come to those who wait- 6 to 8 weeks!
TRY IT! YOU JUST MIGHT LOVE IT!
I know, I know, this blog was horrendously long, but wow, did we cover a lot of information! While I’ll always be a huge fan of sharing what I know with my fellow crafty-comrades, there’s another important lesson to take away from all this... Well, it’s actually not a lesson, it’s more like a promise. My promise to you, my sudsy friends, is this: There’s just no way I’ll ever share a recipe with you that I don’t love myself; and I absolutely love this recipe! Since using these shampoo bars, I’ve noticed some pretty cool changes! My hair grows way too fast now, I’m able to go longer between washes (And my hair still looks awesome on my “off-wash” days!), my locks have become significantly stronger, fuller, thicker and voluminous (No more excessive hair loss and “furry pets” living in my hairbrush anymore- YAY!), and texture I didn’t even know I had has suddenly become a “thing” (Did you know I had naturally wavy hair? I sure as heck didn’t!).
Honestly, I wasn’t even a “normal hair-type" until I formulated, and started using this recipe; but my hair is shiny, healthy and soft now, with manageable texture for days! Maybe it’s just karma’s way of cutting me some slack for having been “blessed” with the most sensitive skin on the face of the planet! Whatever it is, I truly, truly hope you find just as much success and excellent results with this recipe as I have! And with that, I’ll conclude this epically long blog-novel with a little decorative inspiration, since I’m physically incapable of just saying “NO!” to finishing projects, without including some sort of decorative embellishment!
ONE LAST THING... A POP OF PERIWINKLE!
I used some melt & pour shampoo base that I made awhile back to create some decorative embeds for the front of these bars. This is strictly optional, and mainly just for the “cuteness factor”! I realize not everyone is going to have a bag of homemade melt and pour shampoo base just hanging around the house though, so if you’d like to decorate your own shampoo bars with a little dash of creativity, leftover batter from this recipe can always be poured into a decorative silicone mold to create embeds. For a pop of pretty color contrast, you could also purchase pre-made melt and pour shampoo base, or use Nurture Soap’s excellent melt and pour soap base.
These specific embeds have rosemary and peppermint essential oils added to the base (Rosemary at 3% per pound of base, and peppermint at 1% per pound of base.), which is a nice added touch, but certainly not a requirement. To color these cute, little accents, I used a 50/50 blend of Nurture Soap’s stunning “Celestial Silver” and “Silver Mist” micas (Which create the loveliest shade of periwinkle!); and to attach them to the shampoo bars, a simple “glue” made with a mixture of pure, liquid castile and distilled water did the job perfectly! The silicone mold used to make these embeds was purchased from my local Walmart for less than $6. Have fun getting creative with this part, if you choose, and happy hair days everyone!
*This recipe is formulated for a batch-size of 32oz of oils, and superfatted at 5% for normal hair-types. If your hair-type requires a higher or lower superfat, please adjust this accordingly, by running the recipe through a lye calculator to determine the proper amounts of lye and liquid needed. This recipe has been rounded up or down, where applicable, to be KD8000 scale-friendly!
- Sodium Hydroxide (Lye) @ 5% Superfat = 4.45oz
- Chamomile Tea with Raw Cane Sugar @ 28.57% Lye Concentration (2.5:1/Liquid: Lye) = 11.10oz *IMPORTANT: Remember to subtract the weight of the avocado from this liquid amount prior to making the lye solution!
- 25% Lavender-Infused Olive Oil = 8oz
- 25% Coconut Oil = 8oz
- 20% Avocado Oil = 6.4oz
- 10% Castor Oil = 3.2oz
- 10% Cocoa Butter = 3.2oz
- 10% Shea Butter = 3.2oz
- 1 Avocado, Pureed *NOTE: Subtract weight of the avocado puree from the total liquid amount above.
- 1oz/PPO “Island Oasis” Fragrance Oil = 2oz
- ½ TBS/PPO White Kaolin Clay = 1TBS (Generous)
- 3% Sodium Lactate = 0.95oz
- 3% Hydrolyzed Quinoa Protein = 0.95oz
- Tetrasodium EDTA 50% Solution @ 1% of Lye + Liquid + Oils = 0.4755oz OR 13.48g *NOTE: Round up to 13.5g if needed.
- ½ tsp/PPO Titanium Dioxide = 1tsp
- 1 tsp/PPO “Hello Spring!” & “Sea Green” Micas = *As needed per desired portion sizes.
PROJECT RECOMMENDATIONS: An in-the-pot swirl is a fun, simple and lovely design for these shampoo bars! While any mold may be used, Nurture Soap’s 2.5LB Tall/Skinny mold produces bars that fit perfectly and comfortably in the hand. CPOP this recipe in an oven preheated to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Place batch in oven, turn heat off, and allow batch to remain in ambient heat overnight. Optional: Once cut, attach decorative embeds colored with “Celestial Silver” & “Silver Mist” micas (50/50 blend).