Exfoliants in soap

What kind of natural exfoliants can be added to homemade or melt-and-pour soap recipes?

Exfoliants are very mild abrasives that gently scrub and stimulate the skin for an invigorating cleansing experience. They gently rid the skin of dead skin cells and debris.

As most soap makers know, the benefits to making your own soap are that you can produce a quality bar without harsh detergents or ingredients. When making your own soap, you can be sure to choose natural, healthful ingredients that will be kind to your skin. You will want to be especially certain of this with exfoliants, as anything too harsh or abrasive can be irritating to your skin- even damaging. There are many different kinds of exfoliants that you can add to your home made soap or melt and pour soap recipies to leave your skin clean and refreshed without being harsh or scratchy.

ALMONDS: With a pleasant, nutty scent, almonds add a wonderful fragrance to soaps, as well as an effective exfoliant. In addition to its exfoliating capabilities, almonds have an extremely mild bleaching effect, which helps even out the skin tone and improve the users complexion. You can use toasted almonds or raw in soap recipies, however make sure that they are very finely ground. Whether you ground your own almonds, or purchase them finely ground at the supermarket, it is a good idea to sift them before use.

POPPY OR FLAX SEEDS: Not just great for bagels, poppy seeds and whole flax seeds are great soap additives. They are stimulating abrasives, and make for great skin cleansers. They also give an interesting black speckled look to soap bars. Remember to use poppy seeds sparingly in soap recipes.

CORN OR ALFALFA MEAL: Two great skin stimulants, ground cornmeal or alfalfa meal is a gentle abrasive. The best thing about these additives is that they are practically unscented, so they will not interfere with the fragrance scents that you choose for your soap.

OATMEAL: Oatmeal is very gentle on sensitive skin. Use whole oats, not rolled or instant oats, which will turn to mush when added to hot molten soap.

WHEAT BRAN: Like oatmeal, wheat brand is a gentle exfoliant, but it adds much more texture to the soap mix. It works particularly well with hand-milled soaps for that old-fashioned, rustic appearance.

PUMICE: Pumice is volcanic glass that comes from cooled surface lava. While it is too harsh for facial use, finely ground pumice makes for a great soap exfoliant for feet and hands- especially if you have callouses, or if you need a tough soap to get out stains such as auto grease or garden dirt.

LUFFA: If you use luffa sponges, you can directly embed them in your soap recipes. Luffa comes from a gourd which has been dried and de-seeded. Scrubbing with luffa is invigorating and helps to improve circulation. Add luffa to your soap bars by chopping it up into small pieces. You can also slice a luffa sponge, and place the slice into a round mold of approximately the same diameter as the sponge.

You can find many of these additives at your local supermarket or health food store, and they are relatively inexpensive when you consider the small amounts needed for making soaps. Try using them alone, or in combinations with your favorite scents and colors to create truly luxurious bars of soap.

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