You can search around your kitchen for herbs, flowers, coffees, or teas to use. Even salt, oats, blackberries, and strawberries make great additives. Not only do all these natural additives contribute desirable qualities to soap like exfoliating properties and beautiful color, they also add nutritive and therapeutic qualities.
Many herbs, such as peppermint, nettle, lemon balm, lemongrass, lavender leaves, calendula, and chamomile, can be used for visual effect, exfoliation, or health benefits. Please keep in mind that most herbs turn brown when added at trace. If you want to avoid this, add them to the top of your soap right before it sets, or use finely powdered herbs like alkanet root, parsley, or spirulina for benefits to the skin and added color.
Activated charcoal is commonly used for detoxification and cleansing. I use it in my facial soaps for its beneficial impact on the health of skin, including helping acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Add 1 teaspoon per pound of soap.
Bentonite, rose, white kaolin, and Moroccan orange clays are my favorite clays to use. They add color, act as wonderful cleansers, and are used for detoxification. However, if you decide to try another clay, do some research first. Some clays can change the texture of the soap or don’t hold a true color after saponification.
Honey makes a creamy, bubbly soap. It also breaks down within the soap to nourish the skin in a way few other ingredients can. It is antimicrobial and a humectant that will absorb moisture from the air for your skin. I typically add 1 tablespoon of honey per pound of soap.
Goat, cow, and even coconut milks contain vitamins that our skin and hair need. Be aware, however, that using milks in your soapmaking does add a few more steps to the process. I recommend replacing no more than half of the water in a recipe with milk. You will still need to add lye slowly so that you do not burn the milk sugars, but you’ll have fewer problems with overheating your mixture.
Juices can be added to soap recipes, but these are a little harder to manage because the sugars can cause overheating. Most will turn a dark color within the soap, typically brown, depending on how much you add and how fast you add the lye to your juice and water mixture.
My favorite exfoliants are ground oats, coffee grounds, tea leaves, ground nuts, and salt; though you can add other exfoliating ingredients from your kitchen. Just make sure to only add ingredients that have a long shelf life.
I love adding aloe to soap. Use full-leaf aloe, not just the common aloe taken from the inside of the leaf. This will ensure that your soap has more nutrients, including those that are stored within the green part of the leaf.
I do not recommend large pieces of fruit, but puréed and dried fruits work beautifully in soap. A little goes a long way. When using puréed fruits, you need to be aware of the impact of the sugars on the soap.