Do you ever feel like you might just have the world’s itchiest, most irritated skin? Yeah, me too.
While sensitive skin can be a problem year round, things often reach a fever pitch during the winter months. It’s true that cold, dry air is mostly to blame, but your bath and body products might just be making things worse.
Instead of reaching for a bar of standard issue “moisturizing” soap, I’ve been whipping up this calamine soap recipe to not just replenish moisture but also heal irritation. It’s perfect for easing troubled skin back into balance and taking care of cracks, flakes, and hot spots.
Healing Calamine Soap Recipe
As the seasons change our skin goes into overdrive in an effort to rebalance itself to the new environmental conditions. With little moisture in the air, skin can quickly become dry, itchy, and irritated despite our best efforts.
Not to mention, things like hot showers and harsh soaps only makes matters worse by stripping skin of its natural oils and breaking down its moisture barrier. Sadly, even soaps labeled “mild” or “hydrating” can leave your skin feeling tight and itchy because they’re often packed with chemicals, preservatives and irritants.
Because there are so many factors at play, when it comes to sensitive skin it’s not enough to just cut out irritants and replenish moisture. Instead, you need body products that actually nourish skin and promote healing.
As a longtime fan of Lush’s Fresh Farmacy bars, I thought it was high time to make my own version minus the sodium lauryl sulfate, a foaming agent that’s known for making skin irritation worse.
Not only is it helpful knowing exactly what’s in (and what’s not in) my soap, but with ingredients like chamomile, lavender, tea tree and coconut oil, I can actively replenish my skin’s moisture barrier and repair damage at the same time.
Malaleuca oil, also known as tea tree oil, has been used in Australia for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties for almost 100 years [source]. Personally, I swear by it for soothing redness and encouraging wound healing, and I’ve found that it helps stop the itch when used in homemade bath and body products.
Chamomile oil is used for a variety of issues, such as ulcerative colitis, PMS, gastrointestinal disorders and osteoarthritis. But its chamomile’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities that make it so great for skin [source].
The miracle ingredient in this soap is calamine lotion (yep, the same calamine you probably used on bug bites as a kid). Calamine gets its astringent and anti-itch properties from zinc oxide, a natural anti-inflammatory [source].
Because it works miracles on skin irritation and inflammation of all kinds, you’ll usually see it in summer skin products. But it’s just as good at healing dry winter skin.
When used regularly, calamine acts as a sort of second skin which forms a barrier between your skin and the elements, protecting you from irritants and locking in much-needed moisture.
When used as a topical moisturizer, coconut oil has been shown to increase skin hydration and increase skin surface lipid levels better than mineral oil [source]. In one study, 68% of patients saw an improvement in atopic dermatitis, making it significantly more effective than mineral oil at treating skin irritation [source].
This ingredient can be a little tricky to get your hands on, but the benefits are well worth it. Elderflower possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, thanks to organic acids, polyphenols and various chemical compounds, which nourish skin. Plus, it doubles as a potent immune-booster, so save the leftovers and put it to good use during cold and flue season.
Here’s how to make your own healing calamine soap.
How to Make Skin-Soothing Calamine Soap
This calamine soap recipe couldn’t be easier to make. Feel free to mix and match your own essential oils depending on what’s best for your skin. And if you can’t find, or would prefer not to spend the money on, elderflower extract, go ahead and leave it out! The recipe will still work.
- 12 ounces melt and pour soap
- 30 drops chamomile essential oil
- 15 drops lavender essential oil
- 10 drops tea tree essential oil
- 2 – 4 tablespoons calamine lotion
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon or about 40 drops elderflower extract
1. Chop soap into small chunks and place in a medium-size microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second intervals until just melted.
2. Add remaining ingredients and stir well to combine.
3. Pour into your soap mold and let cool completely.
4. Remove from mold and store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
Calamine Soap FAQ
What can I use in place of elderflower oil?
Elderflower oil can be hard to find, so we updated this recipe to call for alcohol-free elderflower extract instead. If you’re still having trouble finding that, go ahead and leave it out. It won’t affect the recipe.
Can I use glycerin soap base?
I haven’t tried it myself, but I think any kind of melt and pour soap base should work for this recipe. Use whatever kind you like!
Is there enough calamine in this recipe to have much of an effect?
Since we’re combining calamine with other anti-inflammatory essential oils, you don’t really need a ton of calamine to get the job done. If your skin is extra itchy, go ahead and use up to 4 tablespoons of calamine.
Can I use calamine powder instead of calamine lotion?
Sure! You can order calamine powder from an online soap store and add 2-3 teaspoons to your melted soap base. Just know that adding dry ingredients to soap base can change the texture of the soap, so don’t add too much.
Add these DIY moisturizing lotion bars to your skincare regimen to fight free radicals and lock in moisture.
- Medium bowl
- Soap mold
- Chop soap into small chunks and place in a medium-size microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second intervals until just melted.
- Add remaining ingredients and stir well to combine.
- Pour into your soap mold and let cool completely.
- Remove from mold and store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.