Baths are a wonderful way to detox and rejuvenate your skin. These bath bombs contain the benefits of cleansing pink French clay and detoxifying Himalayan salt, combined with an uplifting and soothing blend of litsea cubeba, ylang ylang, bergamot and lavender to leave your skin looking radiant and feeling soft and smooth.
All ingredients are available from Pure Nature, who also stock the bath bomb molds in two sizes, the larger one is the one we used here, which is perfect for an adult sized bath.
ONE: Using the standard 2:1 formula, add two cups of baking soda and one cup of citric acid to a bowl.
TWO: Add 1/2 cup of pink Himalayan sea salt and 2 tablespoons of pink French clay.
Next, put on disposable gloves to protect your hands and nails (baking soda and citric acid ruin your manicure!), and using your hands, combine everything and break up any clumps.
THREE: Then measure out and add your essential oil blend. I used 2 ml of litsea cubeba (may chang), 1/2 ml of ylang ylang, 1/2 ml bergamot and 1 ml of lavender essential oils. Mix the essential oils well into the bath bomb mixture.
FOUR: Using a spray bottle, spritz some water and start mixing it in immediately. Keep mixing and spritzing until you reach the right consistency. It should still be powdery, but when you squeeze some of the bath bomb mixture in your hand, it should hold its shape.
FIVE: Scoop the bath bomb mixture into your half molds and fill them a little bit more than it can hold. Push down with your palms to compact the mixture. Then press two halves together and twist them so that both halves will hold. Gently remove one of the half molds and then, carefully, place it on a baking sheet and remove the other half mold.
SIX: Leave the bath bombs to harden completely overnight in a dry, warm place. I like using my hot water cupboard for this, because it’s the driest place in the house. Because of the clay, they might take a little longer to dry than usual. Once they’re solid, wrap them in cellophane or put them in a little cellophane bag, to keep them dry. Bath bombs should be used within 3-6 months, because they will lose their fizziness over time.
Difficulty: Beginners Time: 1 hr Yields: 500 g soap
French pink clay is known to clarify and improve skin softness, but in a gentle way, which makes it ideal for all skin types. A shower soap made with pink clay will gently exfoliate without irritating your skin, and will help smooth and draw out impurities. If you have oily skin or blemished skin, for example on the upper arms, backs of thighs and/or stomach, you can substitute the pink clay for red clay, which has a stronger drawing effect.
Exfoliation is an important part in the skin care routine, and should be used on the whole body and not just on the face. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells, opens clogged pores and stimulates circulation, which improves both skin texture and tone, leaving the skin looking radiant and rejuvenated.
Added a rose geranium, sweet orange, and lavender essential oils maximise the benefits of the clays and help balance and soothe the skin.
Rose geranium is used for a wide range of skin disorders, such as eczema, acne, rashes, because not only does it reduce inflammation, it also helps balance the secretion of sebum, which makes it ideal for dry, oily or combination skin.
Sweet Orange essential oil is antiseptic and anti-inflammatory which makes it an ideal ingredient in your skin care routine. This oil isn’t just for acne-prone skin though: It’s been shown to increase the ability to absorb vitamin C, collagen production, and blood flow, all of which are essential for anti-aging.
Lavender essential oil, is one of the best known skin oils, for its properties. It is an antibacterial, helps reduce redness, inflammation and blemishes, and is soothing and calming on both body and mind.
All the ingredients are available from Pure Nature. The soap mold I’m using is the small square silicon mold, which is my favourite soap mold, perfect for small batches and test soaps. It makes 4 bars of soap.
ONE: First, prepare your lye. Weigh out the caustic soda in a small container. Measure the water in a small pyrex or other heat proof glass jug. Then carefully add the caustic soda to the water and gently stir until all the caustic soda has dissolved. Optional: stir in one teaspoon of sodium lactate, which will make the soap harder. Set aside to cool.
While you are waiting for the lye to cool down, ….
TWO: Get your fragrance ready, by measuring out the essential oils in a measuring beaker. If you don’t have a measuring beaker: 20 drops of essential oil are approximately 1 ml.
Next, it’s time to get the oils ready.
THREE: Weigh out the coconut oil in a pyrex jug and heat in microwave on high for one minute or until melted.
FOUR: Add the other oils and give it a little stir to blend them.
When the lye has cooled down to room temperature…
FIVE: Make sure you are still in protective gear (goggles and gloves). Add the clay to your lye and give it a careful but good stir to make sure all the clay is suspended in the water and there are no more clumps. Be careful of splashes! Note the pink clay goes a reddish orange when added to the lye and soap, but once it’s cured it will be a beautiful soft pink. If you are using the red clay, it will cure to a rich orange/red colour.
SIX: Carefully pour the lye to the oils and whisk until the mixture has emulsified.
SEVEN: Add your fragrance.
EIGHT: Keep stirring with the whisk or give it a few pulses with a stick blender until you reach trace (the mixture has emulsified and starts to thicken). It doesn’t matter if you stir/pulse too much and the mixture becomes thick, but make sure it has emulsified. The image below shows thin trace, so you want it like this or thicker!
NINE: Pour the soap into the mold. Tap the mold gently on the bench a free times to get rid of any air bubbles.
TEN: Sprinkle the top with poppy seeds and leave it to cure in the mold for a few days, before carefully removing. Leave to cure for another day before cutting it into bars. The bars will need to cure for a further 4-6 weeks until they’re ready.
Natural clays have been used for millennia in skin care for their cleansing and purifying properties. They have become popular in soap making, because they are considered a natural alternative to colouring soap, and they come in a variety of colours, most commonly green, yellow and varying shades of red. The different colours depend on the mineral composition of the clay, which is determined by the source rock from which they clay was formed through the processes of weathering and erosion. Note clays are basically dirt! The main types of clays that are used in cosmetics are illite clays (i.e. French clays), montmorillonite clays (Bentonite and Fuller’s Earth) and kaolin clay.
What makes clays unique is their cation-exchange capacity (CEC) – the ability to adsorb and exchange cations (positively charged ions). Montmorillonite clays have the highest CEC rate, and kaolin clay the lowest, with the illite clays somewhere in between.
In skin care, this means that clay can remove positively charged toxins and pollutants from your skin.
Montmorillonite clays possess the highest cation-exchange capacities. They are formed from weathering and erosion of volcanic ashes, producing hydrated (sodium calcium aluminum magnesium) silicates, which contain many valuable trace minerals. Montmorillonite clay is the principal ingredient of bentonite and Fuller’s earth. These clays are the only ones to have expanding (swelling) capacity – meaning they absorb water, unlike other clays, which are just diluted with water. This is a particular useful property in shaving soaps, because it adds slip and glide to the soap.
Kaolinite clay, on the other hand, is a non-swelling clay with the lowest cation-exchange capacity, and is the most gentle on the skin. These aluminium silicates are the main component of kaolin clay, which gets its name from the Chinese word, “Gaoling”, meaning ‘high ridge’. Kaolinite clays are formed by weathering or hydrothermal alteration of aluminosilicate minerals, common in feldspar rocks.
The CEC rate of the illite clays lie somewhere between kaolinite and montmorillonite clays, depending on their mineral composition. Similar to kaolinite clays, they are also formed by decomposition of feldspar rocks, but under high pH (alkaline) environments. These non-swelling, mica silicates are the most common of clays and are widely distributed in marine shales and sediments. Varying mineral compositions, which may include calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium, silicium, manganese, phosporous, copper, and/or selenium, give rise to the many various colours and properties of the different illite clays.
A common misconception is that clays soak up or absorb oils and fats, and are thus beneficial for oily skin. Unfortunately, most clays don’t have the ability to draw excess oil from your skin, with the exception of calcium bentonite. They do, however, gently exfoliate the top layer of your skin, and remove dead cells, dirt and some of the excess oil with it. In addition to the exfoliation, they also draw water from your skin, which is why clays are not recommended for particular dry and sensitive skin.
The many benefits of using clay in soap:
exfoliates and smoothes
removes toxins and pollutants
stimulates and brightens
adds slip (for shaving)
contains valuable minerals
Using clays in cold process soap
Because of their various properties, clays are a popular additive in soap making. It is a great option if you are looking for a natural colourant. The rule of thumb is to use about 1 teaspoon of clay to 500g of soap, you can add more, but be aware that adding clay can speed up trace. You can add the clay either directly to the lye water, which will intensify the colour, or add it to the soap at trace. However, clays absorb liquid, so it’s important to wet the clay before adding it to the soap mixture. I like to dilute 1 teaspoon of clay in 1 tablespoon of water and mix it into a slurry. Wetting the clay also helps disperse the clay more evenly throughout the soap, reducing spotting.
Using clays in melt and pour soap Clays are also great to add to melt and pour soap bases. The usage rate in melt and pour soap bases is around 1 teaspoon per 500g soap. I would be careful of adding too much, because it will make the soap very thick and difficult to work with. To avoid clumping and disperse the clay evenly in the soap, I like to dilute 1 teaspoon of clay in 1-2 teaspoons of 99% isopropyl alcohol. Using alcohol also has the benefit of reducing bubbles in your soap. Don’t worry about the alcohol, the heat of the melted soap will evaporate the alcohol leaving only the clay behind.
Types of clay
Bentonite clay (also Sodium bentonite)
Bentonite clay is a sodium bentonite, which is created from volcanic ash. It has a unique property of absorbing water (it can swell up to 14 times its weight!), which will add slip to the soap, particular useful in shaving soaps, as it allows the razor to glide smoothly over the skin. Bentonite clay has a grey to cream colour.
Best used in shaving soaps
Fuller’s earth is another bentonite clay, but instead of sodium it contains calcium, which makes it the only clay to absorb oil, and is often used in combination to clear oil spills. Bentonite clays also have the highest CEC rate, meaning it has the highest rate of removing toxins, impurities and pollutants from your skin, which makes it ideal for oily and acne-prone skin. Colours range from brown or green to grey and cream.
Use in soaps for oily and acne-prone skins, but never on dry and sensitive skins!
Also known as rhassoul clay or Moroccan red clay, this ancient volcanic clay is mined from the lacustrine (lake) sedimentary rocks of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and has been used since the 8th century by Moroccan women in hair and skin care. The name ghassoul comes from the Arabic word “ghassala”, meaning “to wash”. Like the other montmorillonite clays, ghassoul clay absorbs water, but because of its very fine texture, it feels smooth and lubricating and has a very high absorption rate, which makes it extremely effective at detoxifying and purifying the skin and a gentle exfoliant, clearing clogged pores, removing dead cells and stimulating circulation. And with its high silica content, ghassoul clay is considered one of the most luxurious cosmetic clays and is used in top spas around the world.
Soaps containing ghassoul clay leave the skin looking radiant and rejuvenated.
French Green Clay
French green clay, also known as marine clay, is an illite clay formed from sea sediments, which receives its green colour from decomposed seaweed and algae, and is considered a bio-mineral rich in minerals and phyto-nutrients.
French green clay is an excellent additive to soaps, but be aware that the green colour turns grey-green in soap.
French Yellow Clay
Yellow illite clay is also similar to green illite in its cosmetic uses and properties, and but differs from the green by a higher content of iron oxides. It is similar in its cosmetic uses and properties to the green clay.
In soaps it is mainly used as a natural colourant.
French Red Clay
French red clay receives its colour from its high concentration of iron oxides, which increases its strength of removing toxins, pollutants and other impurities from the skin. It is also an excellent exfoliant, removing dead cells, unclogging pores and smoothing the skin, leaving it looking rejuvenated and radiant.
An excellent additive to shower soaps, particular for use on upper arms, back of thighs and stomach. Also used as a natural colourant.
French white clay
White clay has similar properties as the other illite clays, but is not as mineral-rich.
Use in soaps when you want the exfoliating and detoxifying benefits, but without adding colour to the soap.
French Pink Clay
French pink clay or rose clay is often a blend of red illite and white kaolin clays, and its colours range from a light pink to a rich rose or even orange shade. The colour is determined by the amount of iron oxides in the red illite clay. Because of the added kaolin clay, it is considered the mildest of all illite clays. Pink clay is a very mild detoxifier and a gentle exfoliant and is especially suitable for sensitive, mature, and dehydrated skins.
In soaps, it is used as a natural colourant but also as a mild exfoliant.
Kaolin clay, named after the hill in China where it was originally mined, is the most gentlest and mildest of all clays. It comes in a variety of colours, depending on its mineral composition, including red, yellow and green, but the most common colour is white. Unlike the illite and montmorillonite clays, kaolin clay has a very low CEC rate, and is not a very efficient detoxifier. However, its fine texture makes it very beneficial to fragile and sensitive skins as a gentle and mild exfoliant without irritating the skin.
Kaolin clay adds creaminess in soaps and makes for a gentle and mild soap.