The Wake-Up Bar | Don’t Judge A Soap By Its Color

The Wake-Up Bar | Don't Judge A Soap By Its Color - offbeat + inspired

Over the last few years, I’ve watched plenty of food documentaries and read dozens of articles devoted to the study of things we put into and onto our bodies every day. These videos and articles were what originally inspired me to make my own soap. I wanted to undo some of the brainwashing that had me convinced that my shampoo had to smell like candy in order to get my scalp clean, and that if a cupcake tasted like banana, it had to be yellow. As nonsensical as it sounds, the mindset runs deep!

I recently got some great soaping ingredients from Nature’s Garden Candles and my plan was to create a Blood Orange Soap colored with beet root powder and amped up with luxurious oils like shea and mango butter. When the goodies arrived, I got right to work. I wanted to end up with a bright red bar of soap scented with the sweet zing of blood orange essential oil and a gloriously moisturizing lather. However, when I added the beet root powder to my soap mixture, it didn’t turn red. It turned brown! I deflated. Nature’s Garden Candles clearly communicates this color shift on their website (in the beet root powder description, actually), but I didn’t read very closely. I knew that Cold Process could cause colors to do funky things, but I really wasn’t expecting such a deep cranberry to go brown!

The Wake Up Bar | Don't Judge A Soap By Its Color - offbeat + inspired

I seriously contemplated tossing the entire batch when it occurred to me — the soap smelled amazing, and when I tested the lather after 2 days of curing, it was even better than I expected. The color was a light yellowish-tan with little speckles from the beet root powder that hadn’t mixed in fully, and overall… it was a pretty bar of soap! I still found myself thinking, “Who in the world wants a Blood Orange Soap that isn’t pink or red?” Well, my candy-shampoo-loving-yellow-banana-cupcake-needing self wouldn’t approve of this bar at all. But in the interest of further undoing “the mindset”, if blood orange essential oil and beet root powder combine to make a bar that looks like this, I’ll take it and I’ll love it.

The Wake Up Bar | Don't Judge A Soap By Its Color (a recipe + article!) - offbeat + inspired

I’m calling this recipe the “Wake-Up Bar” for 2 reasons: 1.) The fresh citrus scent really does wake you up, and 2.) I think it’s really important to embrace natural colors and fragrances when creating your own bath and body products, and to forget everything we learned about how our products should look in order to be considered appealing. We’re all DIYers, so we can afford to cut ourselves some slack when it comes to making soaping errors. The beauty of it is that because we’re going all natural, we should never have to throw out a whole batch! The worst case scenario is that we get our measurements wrong and have to re-batch, but for something like this where the color isn’t what we wanted or there are a few speckles we didn’t expect… embrace it and enjoy your soap! Aside from this super duper life lesson, I’ve also learned to read descriptions more thoroughly when making all-natural colorant selections. Hehe.

The Wake Up Bar | Don't Judge A Soap By Its Color - offbeat + inspired

I absolutely LOVE Nature’s Garden Candles for their base oils, essential oils and additives. Their customer service is phenomenal and you can tell that they truly care about their customers receiving a quality product and being able to create healthy recipes for bath, body and home. You may remember them from my Cold Process Soap Making for Beginners tutorial, where I shared their incredibly helpful chart detailing base oil properties. They are truly a great resource, so definitely bookmark them!

How do you feel about the colors of your food and bath products? Do you find yourself leaning towards bright (yet sometimes deceiving) artificial colorants, or do you prefer natural hues, even if they aren’t as pretty? Let’s discuss! I’d love to hear your thoughts!

*To complete the recipe below, check out my full Cold Process Soap Making tutorial for detailed instructions and terminology!*

Wake-Up Bar Recipe
Yields 12 bars weighing about 3 oz. each.

Lye Solution
8.5 oz. water
3.8 oz. lye

Base Oils
Mango Butter 1.4 oz.
Coconut Oil 7 oz.
Olive Oil 11.2 oz.
Shea Butter 8.4 oz.

To Add at Trace
1.6 oz. Blood Orange Essential Oil
1/4 cup Beet Root Powder

The linked ingredients above are all from Nature’s Garden Candles.

Notes about adding Beet Root Powder:

Once your soap mixture reaches trace, remove about 1 cup of the mixture to a separate small bowl, and slowly add the powder to that portion using a small sifter, stirring constantly. Blend well to remove all lumps and then add the beet root/soap mixture back to the big bowl and blend well before pouring. For my bars, I didn’t mix thoroughly which is why there are speckles of powder throughout. If you like the speckles, just add the powder to the big bowl directly and mix with the stick blender.

If you would like to experiment with another all-natural colorant to achieve a redder/pinker hue, try Hibiscus Flower Powder. If you do try this one, please let me know how it turns out!

If you choose to skip the powder altogether, your soap will be a pale beige color, also very nice!

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  1. Kelli W. says:

    I love this! It reminds me of those contests candy companies sometimes have, where they take out all the coloring (or use a decoy color) and have a “mystery” flavor we’re supposed to guess. With a color hint, it wouldn’t be so hard to figure out, but without those clues, it’s like I’m suddenly flailing and second guessing my taste buds. It is indeed a pervasive mindset!

  2. I day I will stop pinning soap recipes and make some soap. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I guess we are all conditioned to associate color with scent like you said. I would assume the soap is oatmeal – but as long as it smells amazing, that’s all that matters! Thanks for the recipe – I’d love to try whipping up a batch with my girls.

  4. 3Goatmom says:

    I had to smile when I read your post – I actually went at this the opposite way when I made my first batches- lather/gentle on the skin first and foremost and color/scent last. Reason for the smile – I got the lather/skin conditioning but the scent of the unscented soap does some strange things in certain uses, and I will leave it at that. Moral of the comment – adding even a little scent is better than none at all……. ; >)

    • Ohh I’ve never tried making unscented soap! Now I’m curious haha! I agree, scenting the soap is one of my favorite parts, especially since there is such a plethora of wonderful natural scents to choose from! 🙂

      • Tamika starks says:

        I do not know if this already talked about. But a few times I’ve made unscented soap by accident . Crazy thing, it smells so good! Xo please try it .

  5. I recently made your recipe with only a few minor tweaks to the recipe. I subsituted the mango butter for almond butter and used a bit less olive oil. I also used Hibiscus Flower powder, which started a lovely reddish pink, but turned a grayish color, I’m assuming it’s because of the pH. Regardless, it’s a lovely bar of soap! Thank you for sharing this recipe!

    • Tiffany | offbeat + inspired says:

      Ahh, thanks for letting me know about the Hibiscus! I’ll keep an eye out for pink/red colorants that hold their own against the curing process. So glad you tried out the recipe!! 🙂

  6. Try rose clay, it stays the exact same color in your soap, and you need to use very little (I used it to color cupcake CP soap among other things). Lye doesn’t interact with clay like it can some herbs/botanical so the colors are more consistent. I also often use chlorophyll for green (from muted to bright) and cocoa powder for brown and both change very little (cocoa powder does lighten some after cure and too much can make lather brown but I’ve never had issues).

  7. I am new to soapmaking and i just love reading your tutorials.You inspire me to make more soap despite the fact that sometimes the recipes don’t turn out the way we expect them to be.btw,i call my soaps being cured-my babies.♥♥♥

  8. Tiffany, I’m curious what kind of shampoo you use if you once thought candy-smelling shampoos were the only way to go and now you realize ingredients matter. I’m curious because I want hair care that is both (though “candy” may be a bit too sweet :)). Do you divulge such information? Keep up the great posts!

  9. I made something similar and it was the best soap I ever made – I gave away the prettier ones but used every scrape of the ugly duckling soap myself !
    I love your soap making posts – you got me started on soaping and now I can t stop unless I run out of lye !

  10. Try infusing paprika in a few ounces of olive oil for 24 hrs strain the oil through a coffee filter and add oil to your recipe it will turn out a pretty orangish red depending on how much and how long you infuse

  11. I’m making and selling a few natural products-soap is one of them I want to add color to the lavender scented soap-either pink or purple. I tried adding powdered rose petals, 1 TBL, (I used dark red) at trace but the soap turned gray. I hate to waste another batch so I wondered if you have a better solution- I could try pink rose petals ( I have a great resource for those) and could make beet powder….

  12. If i wanted to make 12 bars at around 5 oz each. What ingredients would I increase? Or how much of each

  13. Tamika starks says:

    I also use a lot of fragrances from natures garden. ( I love them)
    This has happen to me picking a fragrance and not reading the description all the way. I picked pink sugar, and of course I wanted a very pink and girly bars of soap. Nope brown with specks of green and purple. Good soap but ugly . Lol
    Nice post!

  14. Good point you make here 🙂 I’ve read though, that a ‘beautiful strawberry pink color’ can be achieved with infused yellow dock leaves – and so, I’ve just returned from my weed walk, and will be drying these leaves and putting them into oil! I’m also doing up some plantain, for an ointment, but I’ll conduct a little experiment on that too. It’s an exercise in patience, however, as I wait for the weeds to dry… 🙂

  15. I just made soap using a glycerine layer with lavender buds and rose petals. And a shea butter second layer that I wanted to be “rose” colored so I added hibiscus powder which turned it purple and yes, I had some powder not dissolve too, but it looks like lavender specks and I also used lavender EO. All in all, it turned out nice, looking and smelling like lavender. But I would like to hear how anyone else’s experience with hibiscus flower powder turned out (pink maybe?)


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    The Wake-Up Bar | Don’t Judge A Soap By Its Color

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