Learn a practical skill, create gifts, and let your creativity run loose all at the same time by taking up the art of soap making. DIY soap is loaded with natural and aromatic products that are better for your skin and the planet. We've gathered 21 easy homemade soap recipes for beginners, including shampoo soap bars.
Before you begin, here's a quick tutorial about the chemistry behind making soap. To make soap completely from scratch (as opposed to melt and pour with premade soap bases), you'll need to use lye, which is a caustic salt known as sodium hydroxide. The chemical reaction between lye and oil ingredients is called saponification, which creates soap (and leaves no lye in the finished product).
Once you understand how to work with lye and experiment with the ingredients, tools, and equipment that it takes to make soap, you'll have learned a valuable skill.
Popular Soapmaking Methods
There are four common methods you can use to make soap: melt and pour, cold process, hot process, and rebatching. Before diving into your first batch of homemade soap, familiarize yourself with the four most common methods of soapmaking. Some of these processes are easier than others. Knowing how each one works will help you decide which tutorials you want to tackle.
The melt and pour process is not soap from scratch. Instead, pre-made soap bases are simply melted and molded, and you don't have to touch any lye.
The cold process and hot process are both techniques for making soap from scratch. The more popular cold process takes longer than the hot process, and the hot process creates more rustic-style soap. Both methods include working with lye.Rebatching is remaking a bad batch of finished homemade soap. It's a way to save all the ingredients, but it's labor and time-intensive and often results in less aesthetically-pleasing soap.
A Woodsy, Earthy Blend
This recipe for a handsome, heavenly-scented cold process soap is ideal for a beginner to tackle. From this recipe, you can learn how to use other additives. A base of coconut, canola, castor, sesame oil, Shea, and kokum butter is blended with lime, vetiver, and cedarwood essential oils. The result is a smokey marbled soap with distinctive and deeply masculine scents that you'd find in the most delicious men's colognes. Make a batch for gifting the men in your life.
A Fresh Citrus Soap
This melt and pour soap recipe is simple since it's pre-mixed, but with a little customization, it becomes an artisan item. There's no need to work with messy chemicals like lye with a melt and pour base. Dried citrus slices are key because they aren't fresh, but they do have quite a refreshing scent. The slices are heavy, so add them after the base has cooled down slightly so it's not as thin and watery or else the slices will fall to the bottom of the mold. For this recipe, find a goat's milk melt and pour base, then add citrus essential oil and dried orange slices.
Skin Nourishing Soap
This double butter luxury soap recipe pairs two quality butter ingredients with a dash of creativity. Aside from being nourishing for the skin thanks to the cocoa and Shea butter, this soap has flecks of gold and brown mica (a colorant for soap) in it to give it texture and golden, glittery color. The mica is a bit of a heavy additive, so add just as the soap is starting to thicken so the colorant doesn't fall to the bottom.
Fun Exfoliating Loofah Soap
Who says you can't be creative with a melt and pour soap base? Loofah soaps are easy to make with this technique. Melt the base, add extras, and cut the loofahs in the color of your choice so they fit in the mold. Then pour the soap on top of the loofah. If you're making a rose soap, add rose essential oil and a bit of rose mica colorant to your base.
Tea Time Soap
Once this homemade green tea and lemongrass soap is ready to use, the fragrance will make you feel like you just stepped into a spa. To might be able to make this simple soap with items you already have in your kitchen pantry. For instance, this soap is made with steeped green tea leaves. Add eucalyptus and lemongrass oil for an extra fresh and healing fragrance.
Relaxing Spa Day Soap
We love this lavender dream soap recipe because it's perfect for a relaxing spa day ambiance. Use this type of soap for instant stress relief. Add in lavender buds plus orange, patchouli, and lavender essential oils for a more complex blend. It may be a challenge to use fresh flower petals in a soap. They don't retain their color very well and they tend to look like little brown or black dots within the soap. The trick is to lightly shred them before adding, and it may take a few experiments to get it right.
A Little Poppy in Your Soap
This soap looks like a yummy loaf of lemon poppy seed cake. Poppy seeds are excellent for exfoliating because they remove dead skin cells, moisturize, and improve blood circulation. The color of this soap comes from a blend of essential oils, such as litsea cubeba and orange, rather than colorant. Poppy seeds are a bit heavy, so wait until the soap cools a bit before you add them in so they don't fall to the bottom.
Delicious Candy-Style Soap
For a soap that looks and smells like dessert, use cinnamon cocoa fragrance oil and cocoa powder. This melt and pour recipe calls for vanilla color stabilizer. Typically a vanilla color stabilizer turns soap tan or brown, but in this case, it enhances the cake-like color. The key to this recipe is the patience and skill required to create the even layers.
Handmade Bath Bombs
These easy fizzy bath bombs are simply a mixture of baking soda, citric acid, cornstarch, food coloring, and essential oils. They don't need to be cured like soap, so you can use them right out of the mold for your next bath.
Carved Crystal Soap
These beautiful, magically shaped soaps also sparkle because of the mica and glitter additives. The beauty of this soap recipe is that it embraces imperfection. Every crystal is supposed to look lopsided when they're cut. This recipe is a bit involved, but if you love the look of small crystals and clusters of gemstones in the shape of soap, this is a perfect project.
Gummy Soap for Kids
Kids love anything gummy, so why not make some jiggly soap to make washing hands more fun. The key to this soap is the unflavored gelatin. Add some glitter and soap coloring to entice your kids to use the soap. Add in an extra packet of the gelatin to make the soap less wiggly. You don't want the soap to squirt out of your child's hands and on to the floor. Make a huge batch because gummy soap dissolves quickly and doesn't last as long as regular bar soap.
A Pure Honey of a Soap
This soap recipe is so simple that it only requires four main ingredients, including a goat's milk melt and pour base, raw honey, soap colorant, and fragrance. Honey in any soap naturally benefits skin thanks to its antibacterial properties that can also brighten up a dull complexion. For a most charming milk and honey soap, use a honeycomb mold.
The Gift of Basic Bath Salts
Basic bath salts make an easy gift because they're fun to make and customize. All you need is a mix of Epsom salt, sea salt, baking soda, essential oils, and coloring. It all goes into festive mason jars for gift-giving or display in your home. Experiment with different essential oil blends and soap colorants. One trick, however, is to keep match the color with the fragrance. Or experiment by layering various colored and scented bath salts within one jar for a rainbow effect.
Soap With an Unexpected Ingredient
Many soap making recipes use common ingredients like milk, honey, and essential oils. However, many food products work well in soap recipes made from scratch, such as milk and honey. But you can also be creative and use nuts and coffee beans for a gourmet touch. If you opt for a coffee-infused homemade soap, add used coffee grounds for its excellent exfoliating value. Though this recipe results in a soap with a light scent of coffee, the oils balance out and often overpower the fragrance.
Simple Lemon-Kissed Soap
It's tempting to want to add a ton of ingredients to your soap recipe, but sometimes simple is the way to go. If you're giving soap as a gift, consider a fragrance that most people would enjoy, such as lemon essential oil. Add a little yellow soap colorant to a Shea butter melt and pour soap base for a pretty, softly tinted, and creamy soap.
Sugar Scrub Cubes
These sweet and adorable sugar scrubs look good enough to eat. But they're actually luxurious exfoliating soaps. You may have a few ingredients already on hand, such as the sugar. The recipe also calls for some regular soap shredded to add some texture. Add in lime soap coloring and lime essential oil for a refreshing treat. It's one of the easiest "soap" recipes to make and these little cubes last for up to six months.
Soap for Acne-Prone Skin
An important benefit of making your own soap is that you can tailor the recipe to your skin's needs. If your skin is dry, try a moisturizing milk base. On the other hand, if your skin is acne-prone, consider adding clay to help remove impurities. This soap is ideal for problem skin; it's not harsh and it's soothing at the same time. Try bentonite clay in this recipe. It's an ancient medicinal clay that many say has cleaning and healing powers.
Soap to Soothe Sensitive Skin
Oatmeal-infused soap is popular for soothing dry, itchy, and sensitive skin. It's also easy to make at home with a goat's milk melt and pour base. Oatmeal doesn't have a fragrance, so it's nourishing and lovely paired with honey, almonds, and a sweet almond fragrance.
Muscle Relief With Epsom Salt Soaps
Why just pour Epsom salt into a tub when you can make muscle relief more fun with Epsom salt soap. It's an easy and unusual treat for a soap that you can also use in the shower or a soaking bath. You can add this muscle-relieving ingredient to a melt and pour goat's milk soap base. Add colorant and essential oil to make it pretty as well as healing.
Gentle Aloe Vera Soap
This cold process soap recipe is gentle enough to use on your face thanks to the aloe gel and nourishing oils. Find a juicy aloe plant so you can extract fresh aloe for the soap. When you prepare the extracted aloe in a blender or food processor to make soap, it'll become fluffy like egg whites. If you have extra-sensitive skin, substitute the coconut oil for babassu oil in this recipe.
Bubbling Bath Bars
Make these pretty little soap bars for gifts or to inspire your bath routine. The trick to the bubbles is in the ingredients of baking soda and liquid bubble bath (but use a name brand bubble bath for extra fizz). Together, the recipe adds loads of bubbles while soothing your skin. Look for floral soap molds to make these bath bombs gift-worthy.