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Almond and Apricot kernel oil:  Lightweight and high in vitamin E, these oils have similar qualities and will both soften your skin without leaving a greasy feel; great oils for summer.

            Soap-making:  Both almond and apricot kernel oil add a silky feel to lather, both also make soap soft in high concentrations so use sparingly.

Jojoba oil:  Jojoba “oil” is actually a liquid wax that mimics human sebum.  It absorbs well and makes skin incredibly soft.  An expensive oil but worth the cost as it is highly anti-inflammatory and can improve skin conditions such as eczema and acne.  It is also known to reduce fine lines and lighten scars.  Long shelf-life.

            Soap-making: A great oil for facial soap and bar shampoo recipes.  Resists saponification so attributes of jojoba oil will be  prominent in your final soap.  Costly, so add small amounts at trace instead of large amounts into base recipe.

Coconut oil:  A solid fat, coconut oil has a unique makeup that gives it a lighter feel than most solid fats.  Highly moisturizing yet not greasy, coconut oil is packed full of anti-oxidants, vitamins and anti-inflammatory compounds.   Coconut oil is also naturally anti-microbial.  Long shelf-life.  Makes a fantastic lightweight moisturizer.

          Soap-making:  Limit to < 30% of total recipe.  High in lauric acid, soap from coconut oil can be moisturizing in low concentrations but drying in high concentrations because it is so water-soluble.  Pure coconut oil soap can be ground and combined with borax and washing soda to be used as laundry soap.  Liquid soap made from pure coconut oil makes wonderful laundry soap.

Cocoa butter:  Well-known for lightening scars and stretch marks, cocoa butter provides a protective barrier on the skin.  Melt to combine with other oils to create a spreadable moisturizer.

            Soap-making:  A nice addition especially to shampoo recipes.  Adds hardness to bar.  Safe to use in dog shampoo recipes as it does not contain theobromine, the chemical in chocolate that is toxic to dogs.  Use unrefined cocoa butter to keep that chocolatey smell and the most benefits for skin. Since it is a solid fat, cocoa butter has a long shelf-life.

Sunflower oil:  A wonderfully moisturizing oil with a lightweight feel, sunflower oil is high in vitamins A, B, D & E.  Sunflower oil is uniquely high in lecithin, which may improve more severe skin conditions such as psoriasis.  A great oil for most skin types.

          Soap-making:  Less costly than olive oil, sunflower oil can be used to replace some olive oil in a recipe.  Sunflower oil doesn’t have as long of a shelf-life as olive, though, so use bars within a year.

Olive oil:  A perfect medium-weight oil to start with if you are looking for a natural facial moisturizer.  High in omega fatty acids and vitamin E, olive oil has a long history of use in cosmetics.

            Soap-making:  Olive oil makes a very mild, highly moisturizing bar. While pure olive oil bars make wonderful soap, combine with solid fats (coconut, palm) to prevent overly-soft bars.  Use Grade A, Grade B or pomace olive oil.  Extra virgin olive oil has fewer unsaponifiables so will be less moisturizing.  A recipe too high in pomace oil will trace quickly, so keep hand mixer on low or use higher grade oil.  Only 100% olive oil was historically considered “castile” soap.  Nowadays, depending on who you ask, castile soap may mean anything from simply vegetable-based soap to being a certain percentage olive oil to being 100% olive oil based.

Rice bran oil:  High in tocotrienol, a form of vitamin E found to inhibit cancer cell growth, rice bran oil is a medium-weight oil with a long history of use for it’s anti-aging properties.  Rice bran oil also protects skin from UV rays.

            Soap-making:  Rice bran oil is a nice oil for liquid soaps as it prevents them from being overly drying and adds a soft, silky feel to the lather.  A less-costly substitute for olive oil.  Look for it in cooking supply stores.

Shea butter:  Gives lotions a slippery but not greasy feel.  I prefer to use refined shea for both lotion and soap applications as unrefined shea has a strong (and not pleasant) odor.   Helps to heal sunburns and reduce eczema.  Contains cinnamic acid, which may provide a natural barrier to UV rays.

            Soap-making:  A nice addition to both bar soap and solid shampoo.  Since it is a solid fat, shea butter has a longer shelf-life than the liquid oils.

Castor oil:  Healing and anti-inflammatory, castor oil’s high ricinoleic acid content makes it a good fit for people with skin or scalp conditions.  Used historically to treat everything from acne and eczema to dandruff, castor oil is a versatile healer.  It is a heavier oil and has some mild odor, so use sparingly.

            Soap-making:  Resists saponification, so if castor oil is in your recipe, you will have characteristics of castor oil in your final soap.  Adds a viscous and moisturizing lather.  Makes good all-around soap and is ideal for problem skin (acne, eczema, allergy bumps, other sensitivities) as well as shaving soap and shampoo bars.

Note:  These are some of my favorite oils, ones that I’ve personally worked with and so know well. 

There are, however, many more fantastic oils out there so keep the education going and keep on learning!

Use 2-3 drops of any oil as a natural facial moisturizer.

Interested in taking a class to learn how to put all of this information together to create beautifully handmade products?  Visit us at for a current class schedule.