My two favorite facial soap formulas are activated charcoal and tea tree facial soap and neem soap. Everyone and their dog’s uncle has an activated charcoal and tea tree soap recipe out there, so I decided to whip up this neem soap tutorial and recipe for y’all.
I always use at least 20% neem oil in neem soap formulas, and I have to tell you – neem oil smells… like dirty feet in the mud, rubbed with tree bark. It’s very earthy, slightly nutty, and kind of smoky, if you ask me. So, if you don’t tend to enjoy those types of scents, you will probably hate the smell of neem. Fair warning!
There aren’t any fragrances that cover the smell of neem, and in my opinion, it works best to compliment the scent as much as possible. I like to do this with cedarwood or patchouli, with a dash of lavender, rosemary, or other herbal notes. If you want to give blending your own complimentary essential oil blend a try, please do!
This particular neem soap recipe also features rosehip and evening primrose oils, as well as gray illite clay, which are some of my favorite facial skincare ingredients. While being palm-free and vegan-friendly like most of Modern Soapmaking’s recipes, it’s also free of coconut oil.
This neem soap recipe is sized for a 10″ Bramble Berry silicone mold, like most of my other tutorials, even though I used my SoapHutch Uber Kate mold as shown. You can resize it using a lye calculator for whichever mold works for you. As requested, I have started to add percentages to the formula & essential oil blends for your convenience.
Neem Soap Recipe Used
- 9 ounces Babassu Oil (23.7% of the oils)
- 8 ounces Neem Oil (21.1% of the oils)
- 8 ounces Olive Oil (21.1% of the oils)
- 5 ounces Evening Primrose Oil (13.2% of the oils)
- 3 ounces Kokum Butter (7.9% of the oils)
- 3 ounces Castor Oil (7.9% of the oils)
- 2 ounces Rosehip Oil (5.3% of the oils)
- 5.10 ounces Sodium Hydroxide (7% superfat)
- 10.36 ounces Distilled Water (33% lye solution)
I buy most of my soaping oils from Soaper’s Choice (Columbus Foods).
Essential Oil Blend Used
- 20 grams of Atlas Cedarwood Essential Oil (40% of the blend)
- 15 grams of Lavender 40/42 Essential Oil (30% of the blend)
- 10 grams of Australian Tea Tree Essential Oil (20% of the blend)
- 5 grams of Egyptian Geranium Essential Oil (10% of the blend)
These essential oils are from Liberty Natural, but you can use any fragrances or essential oils your heart desires.
PREP WORK: Weigh out your soaping oils. I like to add my essential oils to my main soap pot so I can’t possibly forget them later. Make up your lye solution, too!
I keep my Titanium Dioxide premixed and diluted, so I can easily add it to my soap. If you don’t, you’ll want to prep your TD. In one measuring cup, I measured out the titanium dioxide and the gray illite clay, and mixed them with a small amount of oils from the main batch of oils.
GET STARTED: Add your lye solution to your soaping oils.
Stick blend until barely emulsified. (Not sure what that means? Find out in this guide to controlling trace.) This formula slightly accelerates trace, so you want to be careful with your mixing.
Pour a third of the neem soap batch into the measuring cup, so you have two-thirds of your batch in your soap pot, one-third in your TD/gray illite clay mix.
POUR IT: Pour about an inch of the uncolored neem soap from your soap pot into your mold, and drizzle a small amount of your TD/clay soap in the mold randomly and from up high.
Continue alternating pouring both the uncolored and clay colored neem soap into the mold, until all of the uncolored neem soap is in the mold and you have about one-third of your clay colored neem soap left.
p.s. The two other soaps in the mold are the Lavender & Cedar Split Tiger Stripe Soap and an upcoming tutorial featuring homemade rosewater, nom! I use my acrylic dividers to lay on top of the other mold chambers, so I don’t drip soap on other batches. 😉
TOP IT OFF: Flood fill (pour the soap over a spatula into the mold) or drop swirl, using the remainder of the clay colored soap from the measuring cup.
FINISH IT UP: Texture the top of the soap with a spoon, if you wish. I used a spoon to drag from the left side of the mold to the right side, followed by using the handle of the spoon to drag from the right side of the mold to about an inch inwards, creating little dollops of soap.
Spritz the top with rubbing alcohol when it loses the sheen of wet soap, and cover with plastic wrap to help keep the ash monsters away.
Remove the soap from the mold, slice it up, and give it a good cure. Enjoy!
This neem soap recipe featured in this tutorial is a palm-free, coconut-free, and vegan friendly formula. It uses a 7% superfat and a 33% lye solution. Feel free to adjust as necessary!