Thursday, May 3, 2012

Food In Soap series: Coconut Milk

I have recently fallen in love with shampoo soap, aka washing your hair with a bar of soap! It's a crazy concept, I know, and I shied away from it at first. When I made my first batch of Tea Tree Oil shampoo soap, I had absolutely no plans to use it and figured few others would be interested either, except maybe dudes. 'Cause, you know, dudes can get away with putting little thought or effort into their hair. My guy doesn't even use conditioner! *gasp* 

(In case you're wondering, you lather the soap up on top of your head, just like you would on a washcloth or in your hands!)

I did eventually give in to the craze though, and tried out my own Tea Tree shampoo soap, with mixed feelings. It felt nice in the shower, lots of lather, great fresh smell, and it seemed to be pretty cleansing, but while drying, it certainly didn't do anything spectacular for me. In my old age (harhar) I've grown tired of blow-drying my hair, and like to let it dry on it's own now to bring out the natural curls. I have extremely thick and naturally curly hair, so finding a shampoo that works well for my hair type can be an ordeal. My favorite to date is from LUSH Cosmetics, and is more of a paste in a jar, with real shredded coconut! It works wonders for taming my frizz and softening my curls, even when letting it to air dry in our humid climate. 

Hmmm coconut, maybe these guys are on to something! Let's take a look....

LUSH's website lists creamed coconut, avocado butter, jojoba oil, olive oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, eggs, and a whole host of other rich ingredients in my favorite shampoo (along with a few completely unpronounceable chemically things....) I have most of those things (the other things, not the chemically things) on hand, but wanted to keep my shampoo soap recipe simple. 

So here's what I went with: olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, castor oil, avocado oil, coconut milk, and of course lye and water. I wasn't brave enough to try the eggs or real coconut.... yet!

My recipe called for 12 ounces of water to mix together with the lye granules. I used 7 ounces of water instead for the lye solution, and after mixing it together with my oils and reaching a light trace (aka pudding), I then added the remaining 5 ounces in as coconut milk, and stirred it in really well. It turned out very thick after all that, so I slopped it into a silicone loaf mold, and did a little handy spatula work on the top. 

Oooh, pretty!!

I added a red colorant (one of those new ones I mixed up a few nights ago!) to the oils before stick blending, and after adding the milk the batter lightened up to this beautiful peachy orange. I was so thrilled with how it looked it in the mold! I covered the mold with a shoe box instead of the usual plastic wrap, to protect my beautiful "peaks," then towels to insulate it. This was my first batch of soap to completely gel all the way through from end to end, side to side, top to bottom! After I saw that was the case, I removed the towels from the shoe box to keep it from overheating (possibly cracking) because I'd read that was possible when working with coconut milk. In the end, this is the color I ended up with, a sort of dark pink. Still lovely, but I'd already fallen in love with the peachy orange.... :(

24 hours later

It's still possible the color could morph while curing.... *fingers crossed*

I fragranced this with both Yuzu (a citrusy floral) and Tropical Blast, which is like a tropical fruit explosion. It smells divine!!

So what will coconut milk do for this soap?

Coconut milk soaps are known to be great for those with dry skin (/hair), and coconut milk itself is naturally rich in fatty acids, which help to eliminate dirt, impurities, dead skin and other blemish-causing debris. It cleanses deep without stripping skin of it's natural oils, but instead replenishes moisture to leave skin (/hair) soft, smooth and hydrated. Coconut milk is also full of Vitamin E, which can help to heal extremely dry, chaffed or chapped skin when used regularly. I don't know about you guys but I'm pumped to try this!!

I've never really tasted or even seen coconut milk before, except for some dairy free ice cream once, so I was a little taken aback by the smell when I first opened the can. It wasn't foul, just.... not what I expected. I'm not sure what I expected actually, a coconut smell? I would recommend shaking it up well before opening, and possibly even straining before adding to your soap if you aren't comfortable with the very small clumps that are present in coconut milk, but that could possibly strip away some of the, uh, milky nutrients?

I haven't tested the lather of this soap yet, but will after it hardens up a bit. As always with cold process soap, this will be curing for at least four weeks before it is ready to use. 

Hopefully this will be a new and nourishing experience in shampoo soap for me. Maybe one day even I, too, can go without using conditioner!

Next up in the Food In Soap series: Red Beans and Rice!
(That's right, you heard me.....)

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