Prepare to feel like you’re sudsing up in a lagoon in Neverland with the mermaids; these seriously beautiful Mermaid Silk Shampoo Bars are just the sort of thing I imagine mermaids would use (do mermaids wash their hair? A question for another day, perhaps.). Super pretty colours, a lovely shimmery top, and a fantastic, fresh scent. I love ’em. I think you will, too.
The base of this bar is a lovely, high-lather blend of moisturizing olive oil (pomace), bubbly coconut oil, rich unrefined shea butter (USA / Canada), hardening beef tallow, and luxurious castor oil. All these oils and butters come together to make a bar that ages up fairly quickly, lasts a good long while in the shower, and lathers up into fistfuls of luxurious, thick lather. Awww yeah.
The colours are from blue ultramarine and hydrated chromium green chromium oxide. Blue ultramarine is a popping blue colour reminiscent of 1995 default internet link blue, while hydrated chromium green is a turquoise shade that I’ve been smitten with ever since I got my first bag of it. Swoon. I’ve divided the soap batter up into multiple layers, fading from blue ultramarine to hydrated chromium green chromium oxide.
As you can see, they turned out rather pretty! That’s always a bit of a relief when you start doing layering things in a soap as the whole thing becomes a nice-or-not Schrödinger’s cat situation until you can slice the bars a day later.
Annnnd you’ll be happy to hear I’ve finally filmed my first soap tutorial! It’s not for this recipe and it’s not out yet, but it’s coming, I promise. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel so you’ll be the first to know when it goes up!
Mermaid Silk Shampoo Bars
Per 500g (1.1lbs) oils:
- 1.5 teaspoons silk peptides (need a substitute?)
- 2 tbsp white white kaolin clay
- 13g | 0.46oz lime essential oil
- 18g | 0.63oz spearmint essential oil
- Blue ultramarine, as needed
- Hydrated chromium green oxide, as needed
- Silver mica, as needed
Calculate to 5% superfat
Kick things off by calculating out your recipe (unsure about how to use SoapCalc? I made a video to walk you through it!) for the amount of soap you’re making to get the finite amounts of the fats, lye, and water. Ensure you’re familiar with standard soap making procedure before diving in.
Since we’re doing so many layers, I’d really recommend soaping this batch at room temperature. For this batch I tried something new; I gently melted the beef tallow and unrefined shea butter (USA / Canada) in my soaping pot (since those two fats have the highest melting points), and once they were just melted I removed them from the heat and stirred in the olive oil (pomace), castor oil, and coconut oil. The residual heat from melting the beef tallow and shea melted the coconut oil, and the added room temperature oils helped bring down the temperature of the melted oils. I used a potato masher to break up the coconut oil to help it melt faster; if you’ve only just melted the beef tallow and shea it will need some encouragement. When you’re done you should have a pot of liquid oils that feel only just a wee bit warm/room temperature to the touch.
I added my still-hot lye water to this mixture of melted and mostly room temperature oils and brought that to trace, stirring and intermittently blending the mixture with my immersion blender. Once I’d reached a trace around the consistency of loose pudding I blended the clay, silk, and essential oils, and then it was time for colouring!
So; you’ll notice there are lots of different layers in this soap, and that they fade from blue to turquoise. I did this a delightfully lazy/easy way and I’ll attempt to write it out to make it sound as easy as it is. This gist of it is: we are making a blue batter, diluting it with uncoloured batter, and then starting to add green pigment towards the end, diluting with uncoloured batter (and adding the hydrated chromium green chromium oxide) and pouring layers as we go, until we end up with many layers that fade from blue to green.
- Start by transferring about 1/4 of your soap batter to a new bowl and blend in some blue ultramarine. We want this batter to be the bluest layer you’ll have. Once you’ve got a colour you like and the oxide is evenly blended in (watch for clumps—you’ll need your immersion blender to get an even blend), spread a layer of this blue batter across the bottom of your mould. This should only be about 1/3 of your blue batter, not all of it!
- Add some more uncoloured soap batter to your blue batter to weaken the colour a bit, and make another layer in your soap mould. I like to pick my soap mould up as I’m adding layers and give it a bit of a whack on the counter to help the layers settle down and prevent air bubbles.
- Do this about four times, and then blend in a wee bit of the hydrated chromium green chromium oxide along with your next soap batter addition.
- From here on out you’ll be adding increasing amounts of hydrated chromium green chromium oxide along with the soap batter additions; check what you’re blending up with the previous layer to ensure you’re happy with the colour contrast. So: before we were making layers that were progressively paler blue. Now we are making layers that are progressively deeper turquoise.
- Once you’ve got your last layer (once you’ve run out of uncoloured soap batter), that’ll be your deepest turquoise layer, so blend in hydrated chromium green chromium oxide as required to get a nice, deep turquoise colour.
- And that’s it! No need to have dozens of different bowls with this method, you’re just diluting an initial colour blend and then working it back up.
Once you’ve built up all your layers, rap your mould on your counter top a few times to knock out any air bubbles and help things settle down. And now it’s time for the top swirl!
In a small bowl, combine 1–2 teaspoons of silver mica with a wee bit of blue ultramarine (somewhere around 1/64th of a teaspoon). Add a bit of liquid oil (more olive oil (pomace) is fine—whatever you have around) and stir to make a runny shimmery liquid. Using a disposable pipette (like these ones—they’re super inexpensive and crazy useful, so go ahead and grab a multi-pack), dot the shimmery oil up and down the top of your soap loaf, and then drag a toothpick through the dots to create swirls. Pretty! I didn’t really have any rhyme or reason to which dots I swirled through, I just went to town and stopped when I liked the way it looked. Give your mould another counter rap or two at this point to help fill in any mini crevices your toothpick has made.
That’s it! Cover the soap, and leave it to saponify for at least 24 hours before slicing (I did closer to 40 because I had plans at the 24 hour point and then went to sleep). Once you’ve sliced it, leave it to age for at least three weeks before using. Enjoy!