I have heard good things about using Neem Oil in soap & shampoo, but I thought it might be best to first do a test batch. You Tube video’s and articles have hesitantly said that the scent “isn’t too bad” and “you get used to it.”
Interestingly Neem oil is used as an insecticide on plants, but if you use it in too high a strength, it will kill the plant.
Out of the bottle it smells hideous – like really bad garlic and something dead. I don’t smell the nuttiness that has been described. Even using just 5% (.6 oz) in this batch (which seems to be the typical usage), it is still really awful and very overpowering.
Here’s what else I have found on Neem Oil:
A very effective antiseptic, anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiviral agent. Assists in the healing of skin disorders including eczema, psoriasis, rashes, burns and acne. Considered a natural insect repellent. Has a very strong odor that is often described as a blend of nut and garlic. Rich in essential fatty acids, triglycerides, vitamin E & calcium; known to smooth wrinkles, reduce eczema and acne, stimulate collagen and relieve dry skin.
The Neem tree has been called “the village pharmacy” because its bark, leaves, sap, fruit, seeds, and twigs have so many diverse uses in the traditional medicine of India. As a member of the mahogany family, it has been used medicinally for at least 4,000 years and is held in such esteem that Indian poets called it Sarva Roga Nivarini, meaning “the One That Can Cure All Ailments.”
The uses of Neem are remarkably diverse: the seed and kernel oil for diabetes, fevers, fungal infections, bacterial infections, inflammatory diseases, fertility prevention, and as an insecticide. Neem oil is used in shampoos and conditioners to improve the health of the hair without leaving a thick residue.
Make a 1 lb batch of facial soap with 5% Neem Oil, divide the batter into four to do several tests. (I figured that if it continues to be as hideous as it is when mixed in with other oils, why not try out some different things.)
Recipe – 17.6 oz batch:
5% Avocado Butter .6 oz 17 g
10% Avocado Oil 1.2 oz 34 g
5% Castor Oil .6 oz 17 g
25% Coconut Oil 3 oz 85 g
5% Neem Oil .6 oz 17 g
20% Olive Oil 2.4 oz 68 g
25% Palm Oil 3 oz 85 g
5% Sal Butter .6 oz 17 g
8% SF Lye 1.63 oz 46 g
Distilled water (.79 oz/ 20% disc) 3.17 oz 90 g (used 100 grams)
Sodium Lactate 4 g
Divide Batch in four: 4.45-4.5 oz each:
- 3 1/4 ml EO Facial Blend (see below) with rose clay color
- 1 ml each Eucalyptus & Tea Tree with green sea clay color
- 4 ml Black Amber & Lavender with Plum mica & 2 ml NG CP Vanilla Stabilizer
- Unscented & Uncolored
Essential Oil Facial Blend:
1 ml Lime FO
3/4 ml Pink Grapefruit FO
3/4 ml Hungarian Lavender EO
1/2 ml Clary Sage
1/4 ml Litsea Cubeba EO
I mixed 114 degree Lye with 123 degree oils and stick blended to light trace; dividing into 4 containers. They all set up quickly to a medium trace. The batter was a yellow color.
I made 2 rectangular bars of 2+ oz each in the four planned combos above.
The rose clay batter turned peach colored; the green stayed a light green, the Plum turned pink, and the unscented/uncolored was yellow.
My first test was using my usual Essential Oil Facial blend at a very light rate, as it’s for your face. I also went with a rose clay, and with such a dark yellow batter, it turned into orange.
The next test was with Eucalyptus & Tea Tree, as so many people used this to “mask the Neem oil scent.” I colored it with green sea clay, which turned into more of a yellowish color, with hints of green.
Third attempt was to test a light scent and a new CP Vanilla Stabilizer from Nature’s Garden. (One whiff of this Stabilizer oob is almost deadly…a way to totally clear out your sinuses and give you brain freeze. Popping an ammonia capsule wasn’t as bad as this stuff.) The V Stabilizer scent is supposed to dissipate in curing, and using a 1:2 strength with FO (VS at half the amount of FO) was said to prevent most vanilla browning (if not, increase to a 1:1 strength with FO).
I thought it would be interesting to see if a fragrance like Lavender would make it through both the Neem & Vanilla Stabilizer, which I know was asking a lot. I used Plum mica, because I had some mixed up and I wanted to see what it would morph into with the dark yellow (I expected it might turn to brown).
The last test was to see what unscented & uncolored soap would be like (would it remain a dark yellow? How long would the Neem scent come through?)
I wrapped in towels with a little heat to gel. I forgot to take a photo until 2 hours later, and already the uncolored batter had lightened up (first soap on top):
24 hours later & 48 hours later I did sniff tests…The one that smelled the best was the Eucalyptus & Tea Tree – no Neem scent. All the others still smelled of Neem, just not as strong. (There was no Vanilla Stabilizer scent coming through). The colors all got lighter than the day before too.
The green sea clay, rose clay, and unscented/uncolored soaps lightened up quite a bit, while the Plum mica colored morphed to plum. I think the lightening of the uncolored soap explains the lightening of all the soaps and morphing of the mica to it’s true color. (The dark brown of the Neem oil has disappeared).
After 2 weeks of curing all the soaps but the unscented still had the Neem oil scent coming through – even the Eucalyptus & Tea Tree. One would think that the unscented soap would have the strongest scent of Neem oil, but there was no Neem scent to it – no scent at all.
After 3 weeks of cure, I tested the Unscented soap first. As soon as the soap got wet, the strong Neem oil scent came through – much, much lighter than when first poured, but not a great scent on the face.
The second test was with the Eucalyptus & Tea Tree soap. The EO fragrance was very, very light and the Neem scent came through on this one too, but not as strong as the unscented. (I put a light dose of Essential Oils in these, for use on the face, but more would be better in this case.)
After testing these for a week, I gave them to my Sweetie Pie, as he loves my usually facial soap – he hated both of these for use on the face due to the Neem smell. He then used them in the shower before an outbreak of Eczema, hoping to prevent the next occurrence, which helped some, but he still had a flare-up, just not as bad. He says it is helping, but finds that Pink Himalayan Salt bars help more.
At 4 & 5 weeks of cure, I tested the EO Facial Blend soap. None of the essential oil fragrance seemed to come through and there was just a light scent of Neem oil. I also tried the Black Amber & Lavender – the FO has dissipated too, and there is no vanilla browning coming through, thanks to the Vanilla Stabilizer.
At 6 weeks the Neem oil scent was very light, but still there.
The Neem oil stench dissipates quite a bit and seems to be very mild and almost unnoticeable with a full 6 weeks cure. However, I don’t think I’ll use it in a facial soap. (If I had someone with facial issues like acne, I would make it for that specifically. I’m glad I have one bar of each left for anyone that is willing to try it.)
I will next put it in Pink Himalayan Salt bars, as I think the combo of the two will boost the healing powers of both. And I will use an Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Mint type scent – as these are all powerful essential oils that hopefully will mask the Neem scent even more at full strength.