Cold Process Soap Recipe with Layers

Try this cold process soap recipe with layers in beautiful colors. Scented with floral notes: lavender, neroli, and ylang-ylang. Made with olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil and sunflower oil.

I like to make soap and other natural skincare as gifts for Christmas. So, as many soap makers do, I’ve formulated a special soap for holidays. This post shows the recipe I’ve made for Christmas in 2020. Hope you like it!

Table of Contents

How Do You Make Layered Cold Process Soap?

To make the layers in cold process, you will need a liquid soap batter that is slow to harden. Split the liquid soap batter in three pitchers. Leave one uncolored, add the blue color to another and the violet color to the third one. Mix well only with a spoon or spatula, to prevent the soap to accelerate/harden before time. Then, pour one layer at a time in a large loaf soap mold. You can pour each one in one go, or alternate between colors a couple of times. This is up to your imagination and skills.

As my skills with swirling are still “under construction”, I’ve aimed at a layered soap with a simple top design, decorated with poppy seeds and gold mica. Maybe next year I will make a bright green and red soap, but as I have a lot of blue and violet colorant, this year I made my special soap around these colors: blue, violet and cream.

Recipe Ingredients

The soap base is made with a known trio of soaping oils: olive oil, coconut oil and palm oil. I’ve added sunflower to make the natural soap color lighter and more liquid. The soap base needs to have a bigger % of liquid oils than hard oils in order to give time to work the soap before it starts hardening.

Too many solid oils and the soap batter will harden too quickly. Other variables that accelerate trace are certain essential oils (especially if they have other addictives, like certain alcohols), higher temperatures, higher concentration of lye (lower water content), or sugary ingredients (milk, honey, beer,…).

Make sure you prepare the blue and violet colorants by adding a bit of the liquid oils measured beforehand and mix well.

For scent, I’ve applied a lovely blend of lavender, neroli, ylang-ylang and benzoin. I’ve finally found a base note that I truly like with lavender: benzoin. 

Here is the resulting soap:

cold process soap recipe with layers

Cold Process Soap Recipe With Layers – Difficulty

With three colored layers and a design on top of the soap, this turns into an advanced soap recipe, so only try this one if you have a good experience with other soap recipes. Below you can find a couple of links to other cold process recipes. I would advise you to start with soap recipes for beginners, if you have very little or no experience with cold process soap making.

I hope you like this recipe, and enjoy your soaps at home!!

Find Where to Buy Handmade Layered Soap

If you’re not yet ready to try to make this recipe at home, but you still wish to enjoy natural soaps, you can find handmade pretty layered soap at the following links:


How To Use This Soap

In the shower or bath, wet your hands and rub your soap in them to create a lather. Wash your hands first, then repeat the process and apply soap to your whole body using the soap directly and your hands. You may also wash your face with it. Rinse hands and body abundantly. Also wash your soap from lather before placing it in your soap dish or bag saver.

Washcloths and sponges should be avoided. Avoid washing your intimate zone and your hair, soap pH in not adequate for those parts of your body. Avoid eye contact with soap to prevent stinging. Make a patch test before using your soap. Stop using your soap if you feel any immediate adverse reaction in your skin (red skin, rashes, itching).

To take best advantage of your handmade soap (made by yourself or store-bougth), read How Do You Use Handmade Soap?

Related Posts

Ingredients and Recipes

Soap Making Techniques and Troubleshooting

Watch This Video About Safety

Cold Process Soap Making Tutorial Video

Cold Process Soap Making Lessons

The tutorials in this blog are a great – and free! – help to start with cold process soap making. Practice is the next step to harness the art of making soaps at home. However, I understand if you prefer to have some formal lessons, where you will feel more supported with the steps. Feel free to join these courses at Udemy.

How To Make Soap – Homemade Soap Making for Beginners – Shona O’Connor

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1601925638138 scaled

Cold Process Soap Recipe With Layers

This soap recipe it's the first cold process soap recipe with layers I've presented in my blog. It was created as a holiday soap gift for family and friends. Instead of using green and red, the holiday colors, I thought of making a more wintery/twilight soap, with blue and violet colors.
Difficulty: Advanced
Weight: 1 kg (35,20 oz)
Superfat: 6%
Lye Concentration: 30%
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Method: Cold Process
Cosmetic: Soap Bar
Servings: 12 soap bars (90g)
Author: Sofia Matias
Cost: $15 – $40 / 12€ – 33€


Get Ready!

  • Wear goggles and gloves! Look at “Safety Precautions” in the video above or in Soap Making Safety Precautions
    safety equipment
  • Watch the video above about "Cold Process Soap Making Tutorial" or read the post Learn To Make Cold Process Soap for instructions on cold process soap making before starting. These are generic but important steps for all recipes.
    Pouring essential oils into soap batter
  • Assemble everything: ingredients, equipment, safety equipment. Prepare your workstations. Measure all the ingredients. Don’t start the recipe without having everything ready!
  • Remove 1-2 tsp of the measured liquid oils into a small cup. Strain the blue mica into the cup and mix well with the oil.
    300 g sunflower oil, 1 tsp ultramarine blue (CI 77007)
    1601144089493 scaled 2
  • Repeat the previous step to the violet mica
    300 g sunflower oil, 1 tsp ultramarine violet (CI 77007)

Heat the Oils

  • Heat the oils until the solid oils are completely melted (it is not necessary to heat all the time).
    300 g extra virgin olive oil, 200 g refined or organic coconut oil, 300 g sunflower oil, 200 g RSPO palm oil
    Heating soaping oils in a microwave

Make the Lye Water

  • Make the lye water according to How to Make Lye Water. Stir the mixture until the vapors start to dissipate.
    320 g distilled water, 137 g lye (100% sodium hydroxide)
    A bottle with lye and a pitcher with water

Make the Soap Batter

  • Use as a target temperature 40ºC for the oil-solution mixture. If necessary, you can reheat the oils, but not the lye solution.
  • Pour the lye water carefully into the oils. It's better to strain the lye water to catch any undissolved lye crystals. Mix for a while.
  • Reach a light trace with the immersion blender. If needed you can use the blender later.
  • Add the after trace ingredients: essential oil blend and anti-oxidant extract. Mix well with a spoon or spatula.
    10 drops grapefruit seed extract (GSE) (anti-oxidant), 3 tsp essential oil lavender, 9 ml essential oil/fragrance neroli, 1 tsp essential oil ylang-ylang, 0,5 tsp essential oil benzoin, 27,5 ml essential oils blend
  • Beware that the soap batter might start hardening fast after adding the essential oils. Be efficient from now onwards.
  • Divide the soap batter evenly into the 3 pitchers, more or less (no need to be precise).
  • Add the blue colorant into one of the pitchers and mix well with a spoon. You can use the immersion blender in case the soap is still too liquid.
  • Add the violet colorant into another pitcher and mix well with a spoon. You can use the immersion blender in case the soap is still too liquid.
  • Check the third pitcher (should have soap batter with its creamy natural color) and mix a bit to prevent hardening

Making the Layers / Molding

  • Use a soap loaf mold for this soap. Start by pouring the blue soap into the soap mold. Pour until the mold surface is completely covered.
  • Then pour the violet soap into the soap mold carefully and try to cover the blue layer (but it's not required).
  • Pour the creamy soap on top of the violet layer. Grab the blue soap pitcher and repeat the last 3 steps until your pour all soap batter.
  • If you wish to make some top effects, let the soap batter sit for a bit until it reaches a paste consistency (you might not need to wait for this). Use a spoon or fork to make the top effects. This video gives some ideas.
    soap designs
  • At last, sprinkle the top of the soap with golden mica and/or some poppy seeds, and finish it by sprinkling alcohol
    alcohol or witch hazel to sprinkle, golden mica and poppy seeds to sprinkle
  • Make sure you properly isolate your soap loaf mold (easiest way is to heat for a bit your oven, turn it off and then place the soap mold inside the oven)

Cutting and Cutting

  • After 48 hours, unmold and cut your soap into small bars
  • Unmold the soap and cut it into bars. See How To Cure Soap, in the chapter "Unmoulding And Cutting Soap". Let the bars cure for 4 to 6 weeks. See How To Cure Soap.
  • Let the bars cure for 4 to 6 weeks. See How To Store Soap.


Tried this recipe?Send a pic to @herbalcochete!

6 thoughts on “Cold Process Soap Recipe with Layers”

  1. Great article Sofia,

    Wow, those homemade blue and violet holiday soaps look very fun, I really have to try that cold process! I was thinking of using woad root but it seemed more expensive, glad to know I wasn’t the only one thinking of using the mica as a colorant alternative. Out of curiosity, will the soaps be hard blocks, or will it be a bit moist? It would be great if the soap creates more bubbles when reacting with water while showering 🙂

    • Hello Riaz and thanks for your comment.

      Are you a soap maker yourself? I am asking due to your question about woad root 🙂 in Portugal it is indeed expensive to purchase that root, and, unless I am able to plant it and use my own (seems like a lot of work to be honest, just for some blue color) I will use the blue mica instead. Yes, some micas are considered “natural” ingredients, although they are processed in lab: they use the original mineral, like iron oxide, and treat it to be safe for skin. I don’t find it irritating, so I really don’t mind using it.  

      About your second question, this recipe makes hard bars but with a “soft” feeling, as in not being completely “dry” (due to the floating oils). Regarding bubbles, it does make a lot of foam, if that’s what you meant 🙂

      Feel free to pose more questions! I’ll be happy to answer.



      • 5 stars
        I’m not a soap maker unfortunately but my sister is, she sells custom-made soap in bulk and sells them to spas and resorts so I tend to help her out from time to time since production is only at home in the garage. Never knew it’s a big industry to hop into but it’s actually fun. Wishing all the best for your business growth, I know you’ll grow big in no time 😀

        • hehe, I am more like you than your sister. I don’t seel soaps in Portugal, as the legislation to do it is too heavy, for instance I cannot do it from my kitchen. I am an amateur soap maker (cosmetic formulator…?) and I am like any regular person. I just loved the subject and because of that, have been reading and experimenting a lot. I also stopped shopping for hygiene products and now I do them on my own. And I mean most of them: soap, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, facial lotion, lip balm, wrinkle serum,… you name it.

          The objective of my blog is precisely that: to tell everyone that anyone can make soap or other natural cosmetics at home, just like you can bake a cake at home or purchase them at a bakery store. Which means that, even if you don’t know a lot yourself, give it a try! Who really knows about the chemistry behind baking a cake? But you can follow a recipe and bake a homemade cake. The only difference for soap is that you need to be careful with lye, and you need to respect the measurements by the gram.

          Thanks a lot for your comments and interest in the subject!


  2. Thank you for your post. I don’t know that you can make your own soap. It is kind of you providing all needed to make soap at home. In the corona area, hygience is one of the best way to prevent us from coronavirus infection. I use soap ten or twenty times a day. It is important to know what exactly are in the soap. Now we have all to make my own soap. I difinitely give this a try. 

    • Hello Anthony and thanks for your comment.

      I love soapmaking and I have created this blog to “spread the word”. Just like you say, we should all know that we can make soap at home, which is actually better than the soap and gels we purchase at supermarkets (if properly made of course).

      Natural soap not only allows you to clean/disinfect your hands (as long as you wash then for a while and with hot water),as they are a bit milder than alcoholic gels or even commercial hand soaps. Of course, there are no miracles, washing your hands 10-20 times a day you do need a moisturizing cream or salve to condition your hands. Which you can make at home as well: How To Make Healing Salve, check out this recipe made with infused oils and beeswax.

      Hope your soap experience goes well, let me know how it went 🙂



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