Sweet Almond Oil
Sweet Almond Oil is a lightweight oil with a medium-greasy feel. It is mostly comprised of oleic acid (60-78%), linoleic acid (10-30%) and small amounts of other fatty acids. It has 58 ppm of the sterols cholesterol and β-sitosterol, and 164 ppm of Vitamin E, an antioxidant. This oil offers some anti-inflammatory, anti-itching and skin barrier support. Sweet almond oil has a shelf life of about 12 months.
Sweet almond oil is fantastic in cold processed soaps. This oil gives a low, lacy lather and a nice skin feel. Sweet almond oil slows down trace, so it is a great choice in swirling recipes. You can use it in recipes up to 25%.
Apricot Kernel Oil
Apricot kernel oil is another lightweight, medium greasy oil that is similar to sweet almond oil composed mostly of oleic acid (58-78%) and linoleic acid (20-35%). It contains more sterols (2730 ppm) and more vitamin E (~300ppm) of vitamin E than sweet almond oil, however. It has a shelf life of about 12 months.
You can use apricot kernel oil interchangeably with sweet almond oil in most body products and cold processed soaps. It performs quite similarly in these products.
Avocado Oil is a medium/heavy oil with a dry skin feel that is packed with nutrients. It is made of 75%-80% oleic acid, but also contains a decent amount of palmitic acid (10%), and linoleic acid (9%). Avocado oil contains ~175 ppm of vitamin E, and a whopping 1000ppm of sterols, making it a great choice for itchy, dry skin. In addition, avocado oil is loaded with polyphenols, giving it its characteristic dry skin-feel. These polyphenols include the carotenoids lutein, carotenes, Vitamin B2, biotin, folic acid, thiamine and riboflavin. This oil has a shelf life of about 12 months.
Avocado oil is easily absorbed by both skin and hair making it a great choice in both hair and skin products. Those with mature or dry skin will appreciate this oil in face products. Because avocado oil is relatively low in cost, it’s a great choice in body products, too.
Avocado oil is a popular addition to cold process soap recipes (such as our Pastel Peaks recipe) because it is rich in oleic acid. You can use it at up to 25% of your total recipe.
Castor Oil has a unique fatty acid profile. This oil is composed mostly of ricinoleic Acid (~85%), a fatty acid uncommonly found in other easily available oils. It is a very thick oil with a dry skin feel. Interestingly, ricinoleic acid can act as a humectant, drawing water to the skin. Castor oil has a shelf life of about 12 months.
When castor oil is melted with beeswax, it has a shiny, plastic quality making it a great choice in Lip Products. Castor oil is also a popular choice for facial oil cleansers because it is non-comedogenic and drying.
Castor oil is one of the fundamental oils used in Cold Processed Soap Recipes, even though it should never be used in high percentages (2.5-10% is ideal). Castor oil increases the solubility of soap boosting the lather.
Grapeseed Oil is a light oil with a silky, dry feel. This oil has a very high linoleic acid content (72%). It contains quite a few tannins and catechins which give it its dry feel. Because it contains a large fraction of polyunsaturated fatty acids, but a lower fraction of vitamin E (265 ppm), it has a short shelf life 3-6 months. You’ll want to add vitamin E to this oil and keep it in the freezer. Add some vitamin E to your recipe, too.
Linoleic acid is fantastic for acne prone or injured skin because it promotes barrier repair, so grapeseed oil is a fantastic choice for face products for this skin type. Grapeseed oil feels fantastic in hand lotions because of its silky, dry feel. Grapeseed oil is a fine choice for massage oils, too.
Because grapeseed oil has a short shelf life, you’ll want to use this oil at less than 10% in cold processed soap recipes. Pair it with liquid oils that have a higher vitamin E content and/or shelf life such as olive or rice bran.
Hemp Seed Oil
Hempseed Oil is another great option for acne-prone skin products. This oil contains 57% linoleic acid, ~22% linolenic acid, and interestingly, 5% Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA). GLA has been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin, and has been shown to be even more effective than linoleic acid for barrier repair. Virgin hempseed oil is a medium weight oil with a dry skin feel thanks to the presence of lots of polyphenols, including cannabinoids and carotenoids, which also give it it’s dark color. The effect of cannabinoids on the skin is unknown, but carotenoids have been shown to reduce free-radicals and behave as an antioxidant. This oil is loaded with vitamin E – almost 0.1%. Despite this, hempseed oil has a short shelf life, about 3 months, so put yours in the freezer as soon as you get it.
Hempseed oil is a fantastic choice for facial products for all skin types. This oil has an earthy smell, so you may choose to fragrance these products with essential oils or your favorite fragrance.
In cold processed soap, you can use hempseed oil much the same way you use grapeseed oil. It’s sure to be a conversation starter for your customers! Due to shelf life considerations, keep this at less than 10% of your total oils in your recipe.
Jojoba Oil is not an oil at all; rather is a liquid wax ester! It’s fatty acid profile is weird, as well. It is composed of mostly gadoleic acid (57%), and erucic acid (20%) with very little oleic, stearic and palmitic acids. Jojoba oil absorbs into our skin through our hair follicles, but does not clog them. It mixes with our skin’s natural oils (sebum) to form a light breathable layer that feels unlike any other oil. Golden Jojoba Oil is filled with tannins (3%), which give it its dry skin feel. It is considered to be a non-comedogenic oil. Jojoba contains very little vitamin E, but it still has a tremendous shelf life (at least 2 years), so stock up!
Jojoba oil is a wonderful addition to face and body products for all skin types. It is lovely in lip balms, as well. I recently made this Lip Balm Recipe with a blend of jojoba and rice bran oil and was quite pleased with the creamy texture . Jojoba oil is also great in haircare products because it can be absorbed easily by the scalp, loosening sebum, allowing it to be washed away. Clear, Deodorized Jojoba is an obvious choice for perfume oils because it is non-greasy and has a long shelf life.
Jojoba oil does not saponify into solid soap, so keep it at 2.5%, or less in your soap recipes. This oil would be a good choice to use as part of your superfat in a hot processed soap recipe.
Shea Olein, also known as fractionated shea oil, is made by cold refining shea butter. It has a quite different fatty acid profile, though, and is made mostly of oleic acid (~80%) and some stearic acid, palmitic acid and linoleic acid. This oil has a very thick texture – even thicker than castor oil, and you may need to warm your bottle in warm water to get it to pour if your house is cold. Shea olein has many of the benefits of shea butter in a lighter form. It contains many sterols, including cinnamic acid esters which may reduce redness in the skin and offer slight UV protection. (Please do not rely on this as a sunscreen, however!) Shea olein has a luxurious, glide-y texture and is less greasy than shea butter.
Shea olein is a great addition to body lotions and lip products. It does not have a strong, earthy smell like some unrefined shea butters. In general, shea olein is a great way to get some of the benefits of shea butter into your products without the heavy, greasy feel.
Shea olein is a fine addition to cold processed soap, giving the lather a nice creamy quality. Shea olein will not offer your bars as much hardness as shea butter, however. This oil may speed up trace, so keep that in mind when planning a design. Use this oil at 25%, or less in a recipe.
Sunflower Oil is a lightweight, greasy oil that is an excellent choice whenever you need an inexpensive, lightweight oil. Elements Bath and Body sells high-oleic sunflower oil which has a much longer shelf life (9-12 months) than regular sunflower oil (3-6 months). High oleic sunflower oil is composed of mostly oleic acid (83%), with small amounts of linoleic, stearic and palmitic fatty acids. Regular sunflower oil is about 70% linoleic acid and 16% oleic fatty acid with small amounts of palmitic and stearic acid. Unfortunately, there is no way to know whether the oil you buy from the grocery store is high oleic or regular unless it is clearly labeled and it usually isn’t. All sunflower is wonderfully high in vitamin E (500-1000ppm) and phytosterols (1000-3000 ppm), making it a great choice for skin care. Sunflower oil is considered minimally comedogenic.
If you are acne-prone, you may want to choose regular sunflower oil for facial products due to the higher fraction of linolenic acid. All skin-types can benefit from all versions of this oil, however. The light weight and greasy texture of this oil makes it a fine choice in massage oils. This is also a go-to oil for keeping costs down in products such as bath bombs (LINK) where any liquid oil will do.
Sunflower oil is a great addition to cold processed soaps giving your lather a nice creaminess. It is worth seeking out the high oleic version of this oil because your bars will benefit from the longer shelf life. If you don’t know what kind of sunflower oil you have, the good news is that high oleic and regular sunflower oil have the same SAP values, so your recipe won’t change. Use this oil at up to 20% of your total oils in your recipe, if you have the high oleic version. Use this at up to 10% of your total oils, if you have the regular version. Sunflower oil slows down your trace, so it is a great choice for fancy swirls.
Wheat Germ Oil
Wheat Germ Oil is a medium weight, medium greasy oil jam packed with vitamin E – more than almost any other carrier oil (2540 ppm)! The fatty acid profile of this oil varies considerably depending on the variety of wheat used and the climate in which it was grown. It has a high fraction of linoleic acid (44-65%), some oleic acid (8-30%), 4-10% linolenic acid and small amounts of palmitic and stearic acid. This oil is also chock full of phytosterols, about 5%. Wheat germ oil has a shorter shelf life, about 3-6 months, so you may want to store this one in the freezer.
If your skin is acne prone, you will not want to use wheat germ oil on the face; it has a comedogenicity rating of 5 out of 5, the highest possible for any oil. This oil is a fantastic addition to special hand creams and lotion bars, however, especially those intended for dry, cracked skin.
This oil can be used at up to 10% of your oils in cold processed soaps, being mindful of the shorter shelf life of this oil. Pair this oil with oils with a longer shelf life such as olive oil.
Olive oil is a medium to heavy oil with a medium greasy feel that is widely available in the grocery store. Extra virgin olive oil is made from the first cold pressing of olives and is the most expensive. Refined olive oil (or light olive oil) is made from subsequent pressings and is often chemically extracted. Olive pomace is made from the last pressing of olives and contains bits of olive sediment. It is intended for cosmetic use only. It’s best to save the expensive extra version olive oil for your tomato basil salad!
Olive oil is high in oleic acid (55-83%), and contains varying amounts of linoleic acid (4-21%) along with small amounts of palmitic acid and stearic acid. Olive oil is packed with unsaponifiables (1.5%) that are fantastic for the skin, including lots of squalene (~0.75%), a small molecule that makes up part of our skin’s natural lipids. You may have heard of squalane, the hydrogenated version of this molecule because it’s a component of many high-end skin products.
Olive oil is a fine addition to most body care products and facial products for mature skin. It has a shelf life of about one year.
Olive oil is considered indispensable by many for cold process soap and has been used in soaps for millennia. You can even make 100% olive oil soap. Olive oil gives lather a low, slightly slimy feel that is oh-so gentle for the skin. Unlike other liquid oils, olive oil forms a rock hard soap, too, after a lengthy cure. If you decide to make a 100% olive oil soap (known as a castile soap), you will want to cure these soaps a very long time – from 6 months to a year. The lather of these soaps has been reported to improve greatly with age. Much like planting a tree, the best time to make olive oil soap was a year ago; the second best time is today! Olive oil slows down trace considerably. If you want to make your favorite soap recipe amenable for swirling, the easiest thing to do is to increase your fraction of olive oil.
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