Sage & Apple Cider Vinegar Face Soap Recipe

This herbal vinegar face soap recipe features sage for its astringent and anti-inflammatory properties, plus chlorella, a nutritious algae that has impressive acne fighting and anti-aging skin benefits.

It’s especially helpful for those with normal to oily, or acne-prone skin.

Sage and Apple Cider Vinegar Face Soap Recipe

Sage & Chlorella – for potential skin benefits & natural color

This face soap recipe features sage (Salvia officinalis) for its astringent, bactericidal and anti-inflammatory properties. (source)

Sage can also be used in oil and water infusions as a subtle natural colorant. In this recipe, I infuse it in vinegar.

The soap also stars chlorella, an algae that’s been studied for some pretty impressive skin benefits. It also has the added bonus of turning your soap a pretty color that starts off dark green, but lightens over time.

Here’s some reading on Chlorella that demonstrates why it could be a good ingredient for facial soap recipes:

  • Inhibits Propionibacterium acnes strains (bacteria linked to acne) & has anti-inflammatory properties (source)
  • “Chlorella species can provide promising extracts rich in antioxidants, anti-aging, and skin-whitening ingredients” (source)

Chlorella is one of the first natural colorants I experimented with when I started making soap and it remains a favorite to this day. I use it to replace spirulina in soap recipes since it doesn’t fade as quickly, especially if you cure and store the soaps in a dark area.

You can buy organic chlorella powder (Chlorella vulgaris) from Mountain Rose Herbs.




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sage leaves in vinegar

Sage & Apple Cider Vinegar Face Soap Recipe

Oils & Butters:

  • 12 oz (340 g) olive oil
  • 6 oz (170 g) coconut oil
  • 4 oz (113 g) sunflower oil
  • 3 oz (85 g) grapeseed oil
  • 3 oz (85 g) jojoba oil

Lye Solution:

  • 3.65 oz (104 g) sodium hydroxide (NaOH)
  • 7 oz (198 g) distilled water
  • 2 tsp chlorella
  • 2 oz (57 g) sage infused vinegar (see below)

Recipe Notes & Tips:

To make this soap, you’ll first need to make a sage infused vinegar: Fill a half-pint or jelly jar about 1/4 to 1/2 of the way with fresh sage, then fill the rest of the way with apple cider vinegar. (If using dried sage, fill 1/8 to 1/4 of the way with dried herb instead.) Infuse for at least one day or up to a week, then strain for use in this recipe. Extra vinegar can be added to bath water, or diluted and used as a hair rinse.

For variety, try using thyme, yarrow or rosemary infused vinegar instead. (All 3 of these could be helpful for acne-prone skin.)

Make the lye solution with just the distilled water. Stir the chlorella into the lye solution while it’s still hot.

Add the infused vinegar to the lye solution after it has cooled, then blend the lye solution/vinegar mixture with the warmed oils.

When made as listed above, this recipe may be helpful for normal to oily, and/or acne prone skin.

Sunflower oil can be replaced with sweet almond, rice bran or safflower oil, while grapeseed oil can be replaced with hemp or avocado oil. Substituting oils will give slightly different properties to the finished soap though.

Allow the soap to cure a minimum of 4 weeks before using. Because of the higher amount of “soft” oils in this recipe, it will harden and improve even more as it ages.


This herbal vinegar face soap recipe will perfectly fill this Crafter’s Choice Regular Loaf Mold 1501 (available at Amazon). You can expect 7 to 8 bars of soap if using this mold.

Soap Stamp Source:

I bought the soap stamp shown in the photo from Bramble Berry but it’s since been discontinued.

You can find a similar “Swaying Tree” soap stamp in the SoapRepublic Etsy shop. I have that stamp too and love it equally as well!

Sage and Apple Cider Vinegar Face Soap Recipe - This herbal vinegar face soap recipe features sage for its astringent and anti-inflammatory properties, plus chlorella, a nutritious algae that has impressive acne fighting and anti-aging skin benefits. This vinegar face soap recipe is designed for those with normal to oily, and/or acne-prone skin.
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  1. I’m interested in your soaps..I was using a wonderful cleansing bar from a company called Gerda Spillman..this bar was so pure it had Swiss glacier water used in the making, no fragrances etc. they discontinued the bar and I’m looking for a replacement.I have a friend that has skin problems, redness and stinging when she cleanses..which bars do you recommend for it mildness and purity, no exfoliants, but anti-inflammatory, etc.

    1. Hi Gerio, That sounds like such a wonderful soap! It’s always disappointing when a company discontinues a great product. Was it called Gerda Spillman Swiss Organic Apple Soap? I see that name pop up when I search, but I can’t find an ingredient list so I’m not sure what else was in it. If you happen to recall any of the ingredients, that might help us with a duplication attempt. For a mild soap with anti-inflammatory properties, I’d go for recipes that are higher in olive oil and lower in coconut oil, such as bastille type soaps. (Bastille type soaps have at least 70-80(ish)% olive oil in them.) You may even want to replace the coconut oil with babassu oil since it’s sometimes more tolerated by those with extra sensitive skin. You could also try infusing the olive oil portion with a soothing herb such as violet leaf, roses, calendula or plantain.

  2. Hello-
    I bought your ebook – thank you for all the great info. I couldn’t find or maybe I missed information about stamping the soap bars. I had a stamp made, but I am having trouble getting it to work well. We are making basic salt soap and we’ve tried stamping at different times – 24 hours, 48, etc… We’ve tried spraying the stamp with alcohol. Any other suggestions or do you have a pdf about this?

    1. Hi Lisa, Thanks so much for buying the book! Salt bars get hard *really* fast, so I’ve actually never tried stamping them. I think they might be too hard to get a good imprint, but perhaps someone will see this comment and pitch in their experience and/or tips!
      I do have some information on stamping regular soaps in my print book – here’s a link to a screen shot of that section: :)

    2. Lisa:
      I make a lot of Salt soap – I CPOP for 4 hours, then unmold. Many times the bars are still very soft when unmolding – that’s when I would try using a stamp…Check the bars every 20-30 minutes until it’s the firmness that works best for stamping.
      Also, I have seen many people put down a piece of cellophane over the bar before stamping – that looks like it helps prevent soap from clinging to the stamp.
      Let me know if that helps!

  3. Do you have a page where people can buy bars of your soap? I want to get into CP soaping eventually. I’m just not able to do it currently.

    1. Hi Suzy! The facial soap ebook was only available on my site for a short time before being moved to its permanent home as an optional companion guide for the natural soapmaking ebook collection. (It was designed especially for that purpose.) However, if you send me a message through my contact form (there’s a link at the bottom of each blog page), then I can help you out. :)

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    1. Hi Jessica! So happy you enjoy the recipes! :) Yes, it sure can be substituted. You could use argan oil, or apricot kernel or sweet almond oil could be lovely here too.
      As a different kind of option, you could put 1.5 oz of castor oil and 1.5 ounces of olive oil in its place. The castor will boost the amount of lather.
      When you swap out oils in a recipe, be sure to run the new version through a lye calculator, to see if the lye amount changes any.
      If you’re new to lye calculators, Majestic Mountain Sage’s is very user friendly:
      and I also love Soapee’s calculator:

  6. I love your website, your recipes and ideas.
    It is so innovative and you are very generous sharing these recipes with us.
    Thanks so much.

  7. Hi, I am struggling to know what types of butters/oils work best. Of the ingredients you use, is it necessary to use refined or unrefined butters. One of the links to the coconut oil at brambleberry says that version of coconut oil is recommended for cold process, but it’s linked in a hot process soap (garden mint). Thanks!

    1. Hi Laura! That’s a great question! You can use either refined or unrefined butters and coconut oil in soap – they work in the same way. The only difference you might notice is scent – in the case of unrefined cocoa butter, it will smell like chocolate, while refined cocoa butter won’t have a noticeable scent. The scent of unrefined coconut oil won’t make it through the soapmaking process however. Thanks for the information about the links! I’m trying to go through and update all of my older posts this spring – many of the links need a good refreshing! :)

  8. I’m new to soap making so have not ventured to using lye. Can I substitute a pre made soap base? If so, how much would you recommend?

    1. Hi Lisa! You can’t make a substitute for lye in cold process soap recipes (nothing else will turn oils into soap, except for caustic substances such as lye.)
      However, you can definitely use melt and pour soap base to make all kinds of creative soaps!
      I wouldn’t add vinegar to soap base, but you can infuse it with sage and chlorella.
      For example – I have a recipe for dandelion infused melt and pour soap:
      You could use the same directions and 8 ounces of base, only use a couple of fresh sage leaves (or a small pinch of dried sage) instead of dandelions, add about 1/4 tsp chlorella powder (it will add color),
      and you could optionally add in the honey and extra oil, only if you’d like.
      You will create your own unique recipe! ?
      I have a few other melt and pour soap recipes on my site here:
      And a whole print book that goes deeper into using herbs & natural ingredients with melt & pour soap base:

  9. Could you add an essential oil that would be good for your face (and nose), but wouldn’t sting the eyes? If so, how much of the essential oil would you recommend for this recipe?

    1. Hi Ali! You could definitely add some essential oil to this recipe. Lavender would be a good choice (or half lavender/half tea tree essential oil).

      For facial soaps, it’s a good idea to use only a low amount of about a 0.5% to 1% rate, based on the amount of oils in your recipe.

      EO Calc helps us figure out the amount perfectly! :)

      You would use about 4 to 8 grams of essential oil in this recipe.

      The soap itself will still sting your eyes, so you want to be sure to keep all soaps out of your eyes, even if they don’t have essential oils in them.

  10. I was very excited to use your recipe and make my own facial bar. I followed the recipe to a “T”. The soap sat in the mold for a few days and when I removed it it was still very soft. I am not sure what went wrong. Will this harden in time? Do you have any advice for me?

    1. Hi John! Here are a couple of ideas:
      If it’s really hot and humid where you live, that can sometimes cause soap to stay soft longer.
      In fact, I make a LOT less soap during the hottest parts of summer because our humidity is just crazy here.
      To help with that, decrease water amount and if possible, run a dehumidifier in your soap cure room.
      Also, check your lye. Did it have any lumps or clumps in it when you shake the bottle?
      If so, that means it has absorbed moisture and will be less effective, resulting in a softer soap.
      Was this a new mold? Or one you’ve used successfully before? I have a couple molds that really hold onto the moisture and are harder to unmold.
      For those types of molds, you can add sodium lactate or salt to your lye solution and decrease water amount.
      It also helps to pop the mold in the freezer to harden the soap before unmolding, then let the soap sit undisturbed for a few days before moving or cutting, then let it cure as usual.
      I have more troubleshooting ideas in this article, in case I missed any:
      But generally, a nice long cure time helps almost all soaps harden up! :)

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