How Do You Dye?! Soap Colorants You Can Use

One of the greatest things about being a soap maker is that you can have a lot of fun with soap colorants. Soap can be about bright colors, pastels with deep hued swirls, shocking tints, or natural shades. So the question is... how do you dye?!

If you've been making soap for a while, you're likely to have a set of soap colorants you're comfortable using, but as an artisan, it's always nice to try new things. Which of these soap colorants have you tried and tested? If you find one of the list foreign to you, why not try it today?

  • FD&C Colorants

Certified by the Food, Pharmaceutical, Cosmetics & Personal Care industry of the United States, FD&C colorants are found just about anywhere! They are often used to dye food, medicine, and beauty products. Offering a wide range of color, just a small bit of these colorants go a long way. When it comes to soap making, they mix smoothly, but are sadly unstable when using the cold process method, having a tendency to bleed between layers. With a little practice, however, they are a great colorant. Cheap too!

  • Oxides & Ultramarines

Often called “soap pigments” instead of soap colorants, ‘oxides and ultramarines’ are another cost effective method of tinting your soaps. They used to be mined from the earth, but are now manufactured in laboratories in order to lower levels of toxic metals. When using for soaps, you should always use the “cosmetic grade” level, which have the right amount of raw mineral safe for skin care. Unlike FD&C colorants, oxides and ultramarines can be used with the cold process method, and they are great at giving bold colors for swirls. Just be sure to mix it in a bit of oil before pouring it in, so it doesn't clump in your soap!

  • Micas

A naturally mined product, this sheet silicate mineral is crushed and powderized for its natural shimmer. Mineral mica is whitish in color and has a natural shimmer. Pearlescent micas are coated with FD&C colorants or soap pigments in order give cosmetics their color. What you are really after when you use micas are the sheen it gives. Eyeshadows and lipsticks use this to get that glittery look. It works really well on clear soaps and it also doesn't clump.

  • Natural Tinting Herbs

Plants are the original paints of the world, and there are many herbs that you can use for soap making that will already act as natural soap colorants. These ‘natural tinting herbs’ often lend gentle hues to your soaps, though some can provide intense color! Create green by adding rosemary or parsley into your soap mix, yellow from annatto or turmeric, purple and pink from batschia canescens (a.k.a. hoary puccoon), and brown from cocoa powder! The best thing about these natural tinting herbs? You get to market you product as natural and homemade, something most people love!

Four ‘different soap colorants’, four different color results. Hone your craft and try and perfect using all four! You're likely to be able to create some truly unique soaps and colors while you're at it!