9 Brazilian Clays to Naturally Color Soap

Learn how to naturally color handmade soap with beautiful mineral-rich Brazilian clay.

an assortment of pastel soaps, text says "9 Brazilian Clays for Soapmaking"

One of my favorite soap additives is clay.

Not only does it add natural color (derived from minerals naturally found in the soil), it also contributes to the skin benefits of our soap.

Clay draws oils and impurities from your skin, making it especially nice for oily or acne prone skin types, but many people with dry skin can use it too!

I have dry skin, but a combination of green clay and peppermint essential oil is my absolute favorite summertime soap – perfect for soothing and cooling skin itchy from bug bites and overheated from the sun.

Some soapers also like adding clay to soap to help “anchor” essential oils in an effort to make them last longer in soap. (I haven’t comparison tested this myself yet to know for sure – it’s on my never ending want-to-try list though.)

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selection of soaps made with Brazilian clays

Recently, I discovered a new source of Brazilian clays (and an awesome selection of oils and butters) at Rainforest Chica, and decided to try them out in some test batches.

The larger square bars were CPOP’d (Cold Process Oven Processed) and went through gel phase, while the mini flower soaps didn’t gel.

I positioned them together so you could see the difference between gelled and ungelled soaps with these clays.

The most noticeable difference was with the dark green clay and the grey clay. I like them both better gelled, though you may like the lighter color of the ungelled.

Discount Code for Brazilian Clays

If you shop at Rainforest Chica, use the code NERDYFARMWIFE – you’ll get 5% off. 😊

Tips for Working with Colored Clay in Soap

My favorite way to add clay to soap is by mixing it into the hot lye solution. This gives it time to mix in well, whereas adding it at trace can lead to more speckling and undissolved lumps.

If you plan to add clay at trace, dilute it with about three times as much water first. So if you want to add 1 teaspoon of clay to your soap at trace, dissolve it in about 1 tablespoon water, adding more water by the teaspoon if needed.

You can use extra distilled water, in addition to the water amount of your soap recipe.

Depending on how much you add, clay can thicken your soap batter and make it reach trace a little faster, so be prepared if that happens.

If you want the true color of the clay to shine through, be sure to use light colored oils, especially when working with pink and purple. Using extra virgin olive oil or deep green unrefined hemp seed oil and such can muddy up the natural color of clay.

About these batches:

All of the soaps in this article were made with 1 teaspoon clay PPO. (PPO = per pound of oil in the recipe.) So if your recipe calls for 16 ounces of oil, you’ll use 1 teaspoon clay, or if your recipe calls for 32 ounces of oil, use 2 teaspoons of clay.

Feel free to adjust lower for lighter colors, or you can try adding more clay for a stronger color. At a certain point though, more clay won’t create a darker soap – clays tend to be muted natural shades.

two soaps made with red clay, on a dark green pottery plate and wooden background

Red Brazilian Clay

I like using red clay for those with oily and acne-prone skin. It’s especially nice to boost the natural color of tomato facial soap. It may be a little too cleansing for those with dry skin.

two soaps made with yellow clay, on a light blue pottery plate and wooden background

Yellow Brazilian Clay

I’ve found that yellow clay is pretty gentle, making it nice for all skin types. It’s a good substitute if you don’t have lemon peel powder or another natural yellow colorant for a soap recipe.

soap made with pink Brazilian clay on wooden background and small pink saucer

Pink Brazilian Clay

This one is extra gentle and soft – it’s good for most skin types, even those with more sensitive complexions.

soap made with light green Brazilian clay on dark green pottery dish and wooden background

Light Green Brazilian Clay

Both this light green clay and dark green (below) are suitable for normal to oily skin. I like both of these better gelled – the ungelled versions are almost white.

soaps made with dark green Brazilian clay

Dark Green Brazilian Clay

(See info for light green clay above.)

soap made with purple Brazilian clay

Purple Brazilian Clay

Purple clay is one of my favorites for all skin types! I really love this clay, though it’s not quite as purple-y as the kind I have from Bramble Berry. The Rainforest Chica site mentions that difference though. Still, it’s very lovely and I will definitely keep using it – probably more in face masks and such, but quite likely in more soap too.

gelled and ungelled gray Brazilian clay in soap

Grey Brazilian Clay

This was a new-to-me clay to work with. The site mentions that it’s good for oily skin and the reduction of dark skin spots. I think I could have used twice as much clay (2 tsp per pound of oil) for a darker color, but I look forward to experimenting with it more.

gelled and ungelled black Brazilian clay in soap

Black Brazilian Clay

This was another new-to-me clay. I like it a lot. It’s hard to see in the photo, but the ungelled version has a browner tone than the gelled version. I also think I could’ve used more than 1 teaspoon PPO and will experiment with higher amounts next time. The site mentions that it’s good for mature skin – since I’m 40+, I have a lot of interest in playing with this clay more!

soap made with mauve Brazilian clay

Mauve Brazilian Clay

This last clay was a “misfit” free sample that I received. I’m 99% sure it’s the mauve version and I do love its soft pretty color a lot! (I don’t know how I overlooked the misfit category when I placed my first order, but I’ll definitely stock up on more next time.)

So there you have it – some fun and all-natural clays to play with when making soap.

Next I want to experiment with using them in different face masks and cleansers… stay tuned for those results one day! 😊

Looking for more creative ways to use flowers and herbs? Check out my Big Book of Homemade Products for Your Skin, Health & Home!

Available from your favorite bookstore or the following book sellers:

Jan
 

Jan Berry is a writer, herbalist, soapmaker, and bestselling author of The Big Book of Homemade Products, Simple & Natural Soapmaking, and Easy Homemade Melt & Pour Soaps. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains with her family and a menagerie of animals, where she enjoys brainstorming creative things to make with the flowers and weeds that grow around her.

  • Karla says:

    Hi Jan. I purchased your book Simple Natural Soapmaking, which I absolutely love. I’m new a soapmaking and I credit your book for getting me started.

    I was interested in making the aloe face soap you posted. I bought aloe gel but noticed the gel contain other ingredients Here’s the list: Organic Aloe†, Xanthan Gum (from non-GMO corn), Water (and) Gluconic Acid (and) Sodium Benzoate (from cassia oil and natural fructose sources), Glyceryl Caprylate (from non-GMO plant material), Citric Acid (from non-GMO corn).

    Would that work in the recipe? I’m sorry I’m posting this here, but the comments on that post were closed.

    Thank you,

    • Jan says:

      Hi Karla! So happy to hear that you’re enjoying the book! :) Yes, you can use that aloe vera gel – it always has a few extra ingredients like that to keep it preserved and to thicken the aloe into a gel form. The only thing to watch for when using bottled gel is that the soap can sometimes thicken up faster than normal. It mostly depends on the brand and how much you use, but in general, I’ve never had a soap seize up on me or anything because of using the bottled gel, you just want to be aware that you might have to work fast if your soap does decide to thicken faster than it usually does. :)

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