The primary function of soap is to provide cleaning power – but that’s not to say that soap can’t have other benefits too. It can, for example, allow you to sample the world of aromatherapy, with the introduction of essential oils that carry several purported benefits for health and well-being – a two-for-one of cleaning agent plus additional benefits.

It’s not just essential oils that allow soap makers to access multifold benefits across their concoctions, either. Somewhat surprisingly, one soap ingredient that helps a bar to go above and beyond cleaning alone is also one of the most overlooked: cold-pressed oils.

What are cold-pressed oils?

For the uninitiated, cold-pressed oils are a fairly standard inclusion in soapmaking. The oils tend to be found in nature; botanicals, plants, and similar substances can all be used to create oils. As cold-pressed oils are often around 30% of the total soap mixture, they have the power to heavily influence the usefulness and benefits of the finished product.

The term “cold-pressed” reflects the method by which the oil is subtracted from the base material. Rather than the material needing to be heated in order to extract oil, cold-pressed oils are obtained by mechanically literally pressing the oil from the starting material. As a result, cold-pressed oils remain as close to their natural state as possible, without any external interaction (such as light or chemicals) affecting their makeup.

How can cold-pressed oils add extra benefits to your soaps?

Due to their natural origin, cold-pressed oils offer their own unique advantages to the user. As one single cold-pressed oil can make up as much as a third of the soap mixture, choosing the one with the optimum beneficial properties can pay real dividends in terms of the eventual soap product. As with the essential oil example we touched upon earlier, a cold-pressed oil therefore adds something extra to a bar of soap; something beyond the core requirement of providing cleaning power to the user.

Are all cold-pressed oils the same?

For those who have not experimented with cold-pressed oils in soapmaking in the past, it may often seem that an oil is just a simple oil. Yes, you want it to be cold-pressed, but can there really be that much difference between each oil – especially given that many look almost identical?

The answer, of course, is an emphatic yes. Cold-pressed oils are as individual as different spices, flowers, and countless other nature-originated products are, so the oil that you choose to use in your soap recipes is a crucial consideration that heavily influences how the soap itself will function in use.

Which cold-pressed oils should I try?

Below, we have sought to detail a number of cold-pressed oils and their distinct advantages when used in soap making; helping you make the right choices when experimenting with new blends.

Avocado Oil

Avocado has undergone something of a renaissance in recent years, with this nutrition-dense fruit reaching the status of “superfood” thanks to its combination of essential fatty acids and vitamins. While the fruit is famously used on toast, avocado oil is an excellent inclusion in any soap recipe.

Most suitable if you are…

  • Looking to add moisture; avocado oil offers excellent hydration.
  • In need of healing; dry and damaged skin will find soap including avocado oil to be soothing and comfortable.
  • Seeking an oil for mature skin; thanks to its ability to hydrate and rich compounds, avocado oil can provide an amazing, youthening boost.

Cucumber Oil

A delicious inclusion in any salad, cucumber is beloved the world over – but the oil it produces is less well-known. Now is definitely the time to become acquainted with this delightful, light, freshening oil, which functions as an unusual – but incredibly special – inclusion in any bar of soap that is made using it.

Most suitable if you are…

  • Hoping to increase cell regeneration to achieve fresher, smoother new skin in a shorter period of time
  • Wanting to increase antioxidant usage; cucumber oil is full of free-radical fighting antioxidants, which can help boost skin health and even reduce the impacts of pollution
  • In need of a light oil that is non-comedogenic; i.e. an oil that will not clog pores, as is usually recommended for those with acne or similar skin conditions

 Acai Berry Oil

Similar to avocado’s meteoric rise, acai berries have become a popular topic in the health and wellness world. The berries, which originate in central and south America, have been linked to numerous health claims, but the oil that they produce is also very much worth your time.

Most suitable if you are…

  • Needing to boost skin elasticity, which can also help reduce the signs of ageing
  • Hoping to reduce inflammation; acai berry oil has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce redness and calm skin problems
  • Looking for vitamin-richness; Vitamins B1, B2, B3, C, and E (the latter being famed for its skin-health boosting properties) are all found in abundance in this oil

Sweet Almond Oil

Many of the cold-pressed oils we have discussed thus far are famed for how light they are. Sweet almond oil, however, is something different: a comparatively rich, viscous oil that provides a sense of luxury and leaves skin feeling soft and supple after use, but without becoming overly heavy and comedogenic.

Most suitable if you are

  • Experiencing irritation issues; sweet almond oil is an inherently soothing oil that can be used both on the scalp and on skin to provide effective relief
  • Seeking protection; the benefits of sweet almond oil extend beyond the initial usage, with the oil offering ongoing skin protection after use
  • A lather-fan; soap made with sweet almond oil in the recipe will produce a wonderful lather that feels truly opulent

Hemp Seed Oil

Not to be confused with CBD oil – which functions in an entirely different way – hemp seed oil is a popular oil that works well in soap making. Offering a delightful “herby” smell that is quite distinct, hemp seed oil is also one of the least comedogenic oils you will encounter, with a rating of zero – literally as low as it is possible to go.

Most suitable if you are…

  • In need of assistance with skin conditions; hemp seed oil has a high GLA content which makes it suitable for helping to ease a range of skin conditions, such as psoriasis, dermatitis, pruritus, and eczema
  • Seeking repair; as well as helping to ease the aforementioned conditions, hemp seed oil can also aid repair of skin cells and improve appearance
  • Need simple hydration; while hemp seed oil is a notably light oil, it can still help to increase hydration levels in the skin

To conclude

Cold-pressed oils have a key role to play in soap making and can help to take your recipes to the next level. Carefully choosing from the above, as well as a wide range of other oils, will result in better results every time. Using the guide above, we hope you will be able to find a cold-pressed soap that is suitable for your requirements, or the requirements of a friend or family member you are making the soap for – as the right cold-pressed oil can help ensure a soap bar that is truly customised to perfection.