Yarrow and Kelp Mermaid Labradorite Soap
This soap is an ode to the dancing of underwater light, the shimmering of sunlight filtering through kelp forests and the gray depths that stretch far beyond our reach. It is also an ode to labradorite, the stone that perfectly captures the ephemeral luminescence of such a magical realm.
“Have you ever swam through a kelp forest?
I’ll bring you…
Wear your pearls & take a deep breath.
Hand-in-hand, together we’ll silently dive down through a forest of ribboning light.
The kelp is pure eloquence and it will flow around you like calligraphy,
you’ll be swimming through the ocean’s poem.
Hold your beautiful heart because it will begin to bloom…
and that hum you feel in your rib cage, that’s Whale song which heals the cracks in the soul…
I’ll show you where the baby starfish sleep and we can watch the moon jellies drift above us like pearlescent lanterns.
I’ll look over at you and you’ll be smiling with your radiant, blossoming heart agleam, lighting up the kelp forest. Glowing underwater…”
- @swimming_in_moonlight on Instagram, a fantastic artist who captures the deep beauty of the sea through both her words and her paintings.
This is a soap for mermaids.
If the ocean is a metaphor for the unknown and the subconscious, then mermaids represent the freedom contained within our own mind for they have the ability to always dive in deeper, deeper. Their access to underwater realms has us dreaming of mysterious new landscapes, of sunlight filtering through kelp forests and the black void of deep ocean chasms. Their allure is their mysteriousness; historically, mermaids were thought to know the deepest secrets in the deepest seas. They played many roles in folk tales, from sirens to healers. Often, they were seen as omens of the unknown or guides into unfamiliar territory.
Mermaids are a dichotomy of light and dark; simultaneously seductive and dangerous. While the modern depictions of mermaids are shallow and sparkling, the ancient myths and legends held far more fear and mystique. A siren song is known to be beautiful but deadly - a haunting experience. Does it bring doom or salvation? It calls sailors to the unknown, the depths of a new landscape filled with possibility. They lure us to a place beyond our understanding. Is it a dark and horrible death, or access to a beautiful and magical new realm? Their voices are the sea itself calling, holding within it both beauty and terror. As you use this soap, think of that magical call, the opportunity to swim deeper into your own imagination and indulge in the deep mysteries of luminescent kelp forests and the legends they hold. Shimmering, nourishing, and beautiful it will offer a moment for reflection during your regular bathing ritual.
Kelp is a large brown seaweed that grows in underwater forests in shallow ocean. It’s very rich in vitamins and minerals to nourish the skin as you use this soap - plus it gives it a nice opaque green color. It is also known to help regulate glands and hormones as well as cleansing the body of iodine. There’s not enough in this soap to make a noticeable difference, but it does give it a beautiful color and subtle ocean scent!
Yarrow is one of the most well-known healing herbs and can be found all over the world. I often find it growing above the high-tide mark on the seashore, but it is also found in the forests, meadows, and even coming up through city sidewalks. It is thought to be helpful in addressing allergies, rashes, and in promoting healing in slow-healing wounds. Its spicy scent is the perfect counterbalance to the kelp. It also has the added benefit of adding a slight blue tint to this soap naturally, as yarrow essential oil is bright blue!
A Note: this soap recipe will be featured in Faerie Magazine's summer issue, along with a feature about me and another surprise recipe I'm working on! I'm really looking forward to being able to share it with a wider audience of magic-lovers. Faerie Magazine is one of my absolute favorite publications, since it's full of all kinds of magic - stories, recipes, gorgeous photography, and so many other wonderful things. If you enjoy my work, there's a very good chance that you'd love this magazine too. Be sure to subscribe soon to get the next issue full of Wondersmith goodness!
Yarrow Kelp Labradorite Soap:
Makes about 8 bars. Recipe can easily be halved if desired.
Before you make this recipe, you’ll need to make yarrow-infused oil. This takes some time, so if you’re in a hurry you can just use regular jojoba oil or purchase yarrow oil from Mountain Rose Herbs. A note: yarrow oil and yarrow essential oil are not the same, and shouldn’t be used interchangeably. Yarrow oil is just a carrier oil (like olive or jojoba) infused with the essence of yarrow. Yarrow essential oil are the volatile oils in the plant itself distilled into a highly concentrated solution.
To make the infused oil, harvest some fresh yarrow leaves. Wash, then dry well and leave out for a couple of hours to partially dry. Fill a small jar about 3/4 full of the wilted yarrow leaves, then top with an oil of your choice (jojoba or grapeseed is particularly nice in soaps, but olive oil works great too with the added benefit of being edible. Yarrow oil is fantastic in salad dressings and drizzled over bread or roasted vegetables.) Let the oil sit in a warm, dark place for 4-6 weeks, then strain.
This soap recipe uses a melt-and-pour soap base, which is a translucent soap that’s already gone through the reaction of saponification. It’s readily available at most craft stores, herbal supply companies, and online. It’s much simpler for a beginner to use as it can be handled at lower temperatures and doesn’t involve mixing lye (which is a caustic ingredient that requires the use of gloves, goggles, and a respirator.) When combined with a fat, lye reacts to form soap - this base has just already gone through that process and comes to you ready to use.
1 lb glycerin melt-and-pour soap base
1 tsp yarrow oil
4 drops yarrow essential oil
15 drops grapefruit essential oil
1 lb glycerin melt-and-pour soap base
1/4 tsp kelp
1 tsp yarrow oil
15 drops yarrow essential oil
10 drops grapefruit
10 drops lavender
a little extra glycerine melt-and-pour soap base
1/4 tsp. gold mica powder
1/4 tsp. silver mica powder
1/4 tsp. blue mica powder
half-sphere soap molds
Spray bottle full of rubbing alcohol
Using a large knife, cut the soap into cubes, then melt the first batch in a double boiler, covering the double boiler with the lid. You can also melt your soap in the microwave by placing it in a microwave-safe glass measuring cup and covering it with plastic wrap (to keep the moisture from escaping.) Use the 50% setting and stir every couple of minutes until nearly all of the soap has melted. Remove from the microwave and let sit until the rest of the soap melts, keeping it covered. Stir gently and be careful not to introduce bubbles.
Once the soap is melted, remove the bowl from the heat. Let cool slightly (until it is under 140F), then transfer it to a heat-proof pouring container (like a pyrex measuring cup.) Add the rest of the ingredients from Mix 1 and stir gently until well combined. Then pour into the soap molds, filling them halfway or so. Spritz the tops with rubbing alcohol to prevent bubbles and allow the soaps to set up. Reserve a little bit of the soap mixture for the next step.
Melt the small amount of reserved soap soap and allow to cool slightly. Divide it into three heat-safe pourable containers. In each container, mix in one of the luster dusts. Spray the surface of the already-set soap with rubbing alcohol, then pour a very small amount of the gold-infused soap on top. Then add some silver and blue next to it. With a clean paintbrush, mix them with each other just a little bit with a swirling motion - you want them to remain separate but overlap a little bit. Try to keep your total amount of soap on each bar down to about 1/8” thick or even thinner. Mist with rubbing alcohol, and allow to set up.
Once the luster layer has set up, cut some lines into the top using a sharp knife to give the finished product an authentic labradorite look. You’ll want to cut all the way through the luster in some areas if possible.
Repeat the soap melting process with the remaining soap and any leftover soap from the previous step. Allow it to cool slightly so that it thickens, but does not form a skin. While it’s cooling, mix the kelp and the yarrow oil in a small separate bowl. Blend until lump-free and creamy. Add to the melted soap, along with the other ingredients listed for Mixture 2. Stir gently so as not to introduce bubbles until the soap is a consistent dark teal color and all of the oils have been absorbed into the solution.
Spritz the top of the set soaps with rubbing alcohol, then fill the molds the rest of the way with the melted soap. Spritz the top again and let it set up completely. Repeat the process with the rest of the soap. Allow the soap to cool and fully harden, then remove from the molds onto a wax paper-covered surface. Cover it with more wax paper and a kitchen towel and let sit for 24 hours.
If you’d like, you can carve facets into your “stones” using a sharp kitchen knife. Polish with a soft cloth afterwards. Your soap is now ready to use! To store or give as gifts, wrap your soap in plastic cling wrap to keep moisture in and store in a dark place (like a closet.)
As always, if you've enjoyed my writing, please consider supporting me through Patreon! You can pledge a monthly amount of your choosing (even $5 helps a lot) and in return can pick from a lovely variety of rewards. The reason I am able to share this magic with you is through the kindness of others, and I deeply appreciate any and all contributions! :)