The Best Soap I’ve Ever Used

Lemongrass Sage Soap The first handmade soap I ever used was purchased from Indigo Bath and Body at the farmers’ market in Georgia, where I used to live. I loved the soap. It smelled wonderful (lavender and spearmint essential oils), and it felt amazing. The best thing I’d ever put on my face. Until this week.

I hate to say it because it sounds a bit boastful, but my lemongrass sage soap is even better for my face than the wonderful handmade soap I have been using whenever I can get my hands on it. I even stocked up prior to my move!

I have combination skin. My skin is oily in the T-zone. I rarely have issues with dry skin, but I do use a moisturizer formulated for oily skin in the morning. I have large pores on my nose and surrounding areas, and I have always been embarrassed about them, particularly when I purchased makeup and the helpful cosmetic counter assistants pointed them out to me (as if I didn’t know about them) and tried to steer me toward products that would hide or minimize them. The last salesgirl who pointed out my large pores tried to sell me some kind of mask that costs way more than anything I have ever put on my face, and is certainly more than I can afford. No way. I have tried Clarins’s Truly Matte Pore Minimizing Serum (which was pretty much the most expensive beauty product I’ve ever used on myself). I have tried Mario Badescu’s Silver Powder. I have even tried baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. These things all worked a little bit, but they never had a long-lasting impact, nor did they seem to make more than a small difference.

I had given up and decided that the best I could hope for was simply to mask my large pores under makeup.

When I made my first batch of lemongrass sage soap, I made too much for my mold and balled up the rest into two large “eggs.” I have been using one of the eggs this week, just since Sunday when I cut my soap into bars.

Incredibly, my pores are smaller. Like, tiny. I can hardly believe it. And it’s definitely the lemongrass sage soap because that’s the only new product I’ve started using—the only variation in my routine. I can’t say that it is necessarily the oils I’m using in the soap—olive, coconut, palm, and shea butter—although these oils make a nice conditioning, cleansing bar. I have wiped a cottonball with astringent over my skin after washing off my makeup with the lemongrass sage soap, and there has only been the barest trace of makeup right around the edges of my face. If I used a washcloth, I’m sure I wouldn’t have even that small amount because I can tell the residual makeup is at my hairline, and it’s just hard to get all of it. I have read, however, that lemongrass is good for oily skin and acne, and I have to wonder if the secret ingredient in my soap isn’t the essential oil I added only for fragrance.

It seems kind of silly to spend so much time extolling the virtues of something I made myself, but I have honestly tried everything there is, and I had just given up. For this reason, if no other, I’m so glad I learned how to make soap.

You will be able to buy my lemongrass sage soap from my Etsy store before the year is out.

Lemongrass Sage Soap

This weekend I made a lemongrass sage soap using my own recipe.

Lemongrass Sage Soap
Still in the mold.


  • 18 oz. olive oil
  • 14 oz. coconut oil
  • 8 oz. palm oil
  • 5 oz. shea butter
  • 2 oz. castor oil
  • 15.7 oz. distilled water
  • 7 oz. lye
  • 2 oz. lemongrass essential oil (add at trace)
  • 3 T sage (add at trace).

I tried a trick I read about in Heidi Corley Barto’s The Natural Soap Chef and infused some of the olive oil with sage prior to using it. I’m not sure I’m going to do that again because I had a lot of trouble straining it. I know part of the problem was that I was just impatient, but unless it imparts some quality I don’t know about to do it like that, it was a little more trouble than it was worth for me. I did mix the sage into a paste with the olive oil. I’m not sure if you have to do that, or what happens if you don’t. I suppose you could experiment and just mix it into the soap dry to see what happens.

I had a pretty heavy trace when I added the lemongrass oil, and it really made the soap thicken up. I would recommend adding it at a lighter trace. The soap was a little difficult to pour into my mold, and you might have better luck if you add the lemongrass oil earlier than I did. I added in sage at the same time.

When I poured the soap into the mold, I decided at the last minute to try adding some decorative peaks and swirls, as I have seen other soapers do. My daughter Maggie said the resulting soap looked “deformed.” That really made me laugh.

My husband has been saying the soap smells good enough to eat, and here he was laughing about the warnings in soap books about not eating the soap.

Lemongrass Sage Soap
Finished lemongrass sage soap.

I think I could have stirred the lemongrass oil in a little better. There were some lighter colored areas in the soap, and they were not lye pockets or air bubbles. They are not watery, either, so I don’t think it’s an issue with separation. They are the same color the soap would be if the lemongrass oil hadn’t added a yellowish tint. I think I just didn’t mix the lemongrass and sage completely. Given that I did have some trouble at that stage, I think I understand how it happened and how to prevent it in my next batch. Also, I discovered that lemongrass oil doesn’t like to mix well with soap, so it seems likely that I just didn’t stir it enough. It was getting so thick so fast after I added the essential oil, however, that I was afraid to wait too long to pour it into the mold. Next time, I will add the oil at a lighter trace. Or I might even try a fragrance oil instead of an essential oil. The fun is in experimenting and seeing what happens! However, I should mention that lemongrass oil is supposed to be good for acne and oily skin, so that’s one reason to go for the essential oil over the fragrance oil.

Stack of Lemongrass Sage

The soap still came out pretty enough that several of my Facebook friends who saw the picture of it that I posted requested some. Also, I have decided I like making soap enough to open an Etsy store, especially because 1) I should recoup some of the money I’m putting into it, and 2) if I make soap every weekend, I’m going to have too much, even if I give it away. But given that I have only been soaping three weeks, it will likely be months before I have enough stock to sell.

I ordered a crinkle cutter from Bramble Berry for my next batch of soap. I’m so looking forward to making the Chai Tea Soap in Heidi Corley Barto’s book. The recipe is not mine to share, but I will photograph the results.

I used my husband’s old shoe rack and created a soap curing rack in one of our closets.

Soap Drying Rack

It’s out of the draft and light (when the door is shut, and I’m not checking on my soap). I had the idea after seeing this amazing soap curing cabinet that another soaper’s husband made for her.

Creative Commons License

Lemongrass Sage Soap by Dana Huff is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at Suds Life: About.