What are Soap Colorants?
Oxides & Ultramarines: These are powdered pigments, made from oxidized metals such as iron and titanium. They occur naturally in the earth, but for cosmetic use it is much safer and less expensive to use manufactured versions. They are very commonly used in eye shadows and other cosmetics. For more info on titanium dioxide as an example, see Wikipedia article on Titanium Dioxide.
Micas: Micas are also powdered pigments, but are a bit more complex. They usually contain an oxide component, along with actual powdered mica mineral. Natural mica is basically a type of rock, that features thin glittery, flaky layers. This is combined with various oxides and some other ingredients (see INCI names in each mica color's description in our catalog) to create the variety of cosmetic mica colors (as well as micas for other applications). See also the Wikipedia article on Mica.
Cosmetic Clays: Also in powdered form, clays are found naturally around the Mediterranean Sea. Different metal compositions form the different colors and different reputed skin benefits. These create a slippery, lathery feel in soap and a softly colored and earthy yet shiny look. We recommend them for cold/hot process soap or for mixing with water to create facial masks, but we do not recommend them for melt & pour soap or lotions.
Are these colorants natural? This is a much debated topic. Although the term "natural" has no legal definition in the U.S., our opinion is that the clays are natural but the oxides, ultramarines, and micas are not. The latter types are synthesized and manufactured, not gathered or harvested. We feel the only natural colorants for soaps are clays, spices, and some botanicals (i.e. leaves, flower petals). The problem with spices and botanicals is they tend to be very dull and earthy, with a limited range of color, and can often fade or change over time. So for a nice range of bright and (mostly) stable colors, our pigments and clays are a safe, time-tested method of coloring soap.
Cold Process Soap Usage Tips:
Micas: Some micas can be used readily in CP soap, some are tricky, and some are not usable because they will fade out.
The best, most stable colors to use are: Copper, Gold Dust, Mocha Shimmer, Sunshine Yellow, and Tan Opal.
The tricky ones will not fade but may morph or change a bit: Coral, Pearl Mauve, Sea Foam, and Sparkle Pink.
The colors which will fade out in CP and HP soap are: Electric Blue, Emerald Green, and Lavender.
Use about a teaspoon of mica for each pound of soap in your batch. Just add the mica directly to your base oils, blend thoroughly with a stick blender (or by hand) to incorporate. Make sure they are thoroughly blended or you will get clumps in your soap. Or, you can add the colorant at thin trace if desired.
Another method is to mix some mica in a tablespoon of oil and drizzle in the color to achieve the color that you desire.
Ultramarines and Oxides: These can be dissolved into water or oil. The yellow, chromium green and red oxides work much better when dissolved in oil; the others in water. Start with about 1/2 teaspoon per pound (1/4 tsp per pound for Red Oxide or Chromium Green Oxide). Mix with 1/2 tsp of hot water or room temp oil. Blend into your base oils, or add at trace. Lori prefers adding colorants (mixed in oil or water) directly to her base oils for single color soaps to insure complete blending of colors.
Cosmetic Clays: Use about 1/2 teaspoon per pound of soap. Drop right in with your base oils, or after mixing with lye water.
Melt & Pour Soap:
Micas: Micas can be added directly to the melted glycerin soap. Start with 1/4 tsp per pound. You may also mix the colorants with some liquid glycerin if you prefer working with a liquid colorant.
Ultramarines and Oxides: These need to be mixed with oil or glycerin prior to adding to your base. Use about 1/4 tsp per pound (half that for Red Oxide or Chromium Green Oxide)
Micas: You can use any mica color. Use about 1/4 tsp per pound of lotion. The thing to watch out for is lumps. Before adding to the lotion, mix with a very small amount of light oil (olive, sunflower, etc) or glycerin. Stir vigorously to get any lumps out, then mix into your lotion.
Ultramarines and Oxides: We don't recommend using these in most lotions; they seem to create a bad smell.