The most common cactus used in bath and body products is prickly pear, known for its conditioning and skin-soothing properties. Prickly pear can also be used as a mild acne treatment. You can find cactus juice, extract, and even leaves or puree at health stores, and at some beauty supply outlets. If you have trouble locating a retailer, there are a few online stores that carry it as well.
Cactus makes an excellent addition to bar soap. It has hardening properties when combined with heated glycerin, and adds emollients that are kind to the skin. Here's how to make a melt-and-pour cactus soap.
What You'll Need:
- 1 pound clear glycerin soap base
- Sharp knife
- Large glass measuring cup
- Large metal pot
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup prickly pear (or other cactus) juice
- 1/4 cup prickly pear leaves (pulp), mashed or chopped
- Essential or fragrance oil (a nice "green" scent works best - I like to use a rosemary blend)
- Soap dye, if desired (light green is pretty, but the cactus adds a hint of color and texture on its own)
- Soap molds (use a cactus-shaped mold for a nice effect)
- Rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle
How to Make Cactus Soap:
- Chop up the soap base into small chunks and place in the measuring cup. Fill the metal pot about halfway full with water and bring to a simmer on the stove.
Place the measuring cup containing the soap pieces into the simmering water and allow the soap base to melt, stirring occasionally but gently to avoid incorporating too many air bubbles.
When the soap base is melted, add the prickly pear juice and stir to combine. Remove the measuring cup from the water and add your scent and color, a little at a time, until you get your desired shade and fragrance.
Add the prickly pear leaves or pulp, and stir once more. Pour the soap into your molds, filling them right to the top. Spray the tops of the filled molds lightly with the rubbing alcohol to remove excess bubbles.
Set your soap molds aside to allow the soap to harden. After several hours or overnight, turn the molds upside down and pop your completed soap out. If desired, you can smooth any rough edges with the back of a hot spoon or a vegetable peeler.
If you're not using the soap immediately, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap for storage.
Cactus soap makes a lovely gift, too. Put some of your bars in a cactus-shaped soap dish, wrap it in a green hand towel, and tie with raffia. Simple, luxurious, and thoughtful!