Why Does My Homemade Soap Dry My Skin?

The point of using soap is to clean the skin by removing germs and dirt. However, if the homemade soap you’re using is leaving you with dry skin, the natural oils produced by glands (as a natural protection for your skin) are also removed, which is actually not a good thing.

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One of the causes for your homemade soap to dry your skin is the type of oil (like coconut oil) or the amount you use. Another reason can be too much Lye in your formulation, which makes your soap harsh and irritate or dry your skin. Lastly, soap that has not cured long enough would have too much pH level, which again would dry your skin. 

With commercial soaps, dry skin is sometimes unavoidable. However, if your homemade soap is doing it, you are clearly doing something wrong. Let’s look at several factors that make your homemade soap dry excessively.

Why Does My Homemade Soap Dry My Skin?

For obvious reasons, you should avoid using commercial soaps. But I understand that some people would still opt for one. Dry skin or not – there are enough reasons homemade soaps are always a better choice for your skin.

Homemade Soaps Are Rich In Glycerin Which Moisturizes the Skin:

Glycerin present in homemade soaps acts as a humectant and keeps the skin moisturized. Glycerin is a by-product of saponification, and homemade soaps retain their glycerin content. 

On the other hand, commercial soap manufacturers extract glycerin for making other products. Therefore commercially prepared soaps do not contain glycerin. 

Commercial Soaps Contain Synthetic Chemicals That Cause Drying:

Commercial soaps are loaded with the following synthetic ingredients: Isopropyl alcohol, sodium lauryl sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate, sodium Laureth sulfate, salicylic acid, or sodium tallowate. All these chemicals are harsh for the skin and may make your skin very dry.

Dry skin is often recognized with blisters, rashes, redness, and breakouts. If not taken seriously, it can lead to several health problems such as eczema, acne, psoriasis, hives, and rosacea. Contact a qualified dermatologist if you develop any of these problems.

Why does soap make my skin dry?

There are many factors that may cause dry skin. Once you identified what’s causing yours, you can very easily fix it. This is especially true if, for example, you only need to change the type of oil. But if it’s your whole recipe, things might be a little more complicated.

The Type Of Oil:

Some oils may have a drying effect on the skin, and instead of moisturizing, they strip off the skin from their natural oils. This is especially the case when using an excessive amount of coconut oil, castor oil, or olive oil, which may have a drying effect on the skin.

Some people use palm kernel oil or palm flakes instead of palm shortening, and they are different from palm oil in their reaction to the skin. Before you make your soap, it is better to have some knowledge about the ingredients you are using in your formulation.


Using lye-based soaps often leaves the skin squeaky, but they are too hard to tolerate for some people. Lye-heavy soaps can damage your skin, and when using it in homemade soap, make sure not to make it Lye heavy.

NOTE: Measuring ingredients in cups can lead to imbalance. 

Using a recipe with already calculated amounts often results in an excessive drying soap. It is, therefore, necessary to formulate your recipe with the help of a lye-calculator yourself.

Curing Time:

Using uncured soap bars can also be a cause of excessive dryness on your skin. If you are not curing soap for long enough, it would still have too much Lye. In the curing period, soap continues to drop its pH with time and at least 6 -8 weeks cure time is essential for homemade soaps before they become usable. So using your soap just after 2 -4 weeks can create excessively dry, peeling skin.

Consider Other Factors Too:

If you are continually facing dry, dehydrated skin despite using a carefully formulated homemade soap, certain other factors may be behind.

Check the type of water you use for taking showers. Chlorinated water dries the skin excessively. If the water is rich in minerals such as calcium, iron, and magnesium, the soap forms a sticky scum. This residue deposits on the skin and scalp to give a dry, scaly, and itchy feeling. 

Using an after-shower moisturizer can help relieve the discomfort arising from dry, scaly skin.

It May Also Depend On The Type Of Skin You Have:

For people with dry skin, it is advisable to use a soap that is rich and creamy. In winters, the skin is more dehydrated than in summers, and the added moisturizers help keep your skin soft. For people with dry skin, soaps formulated with a more significant amount of coconut oil and olive oil may increase the dryness. 

NOTE: Adding some butter and moisturizing oils will help the skin retain its natural oils.

For the best result, it is recommended to formulate your soap according to the type of skin you intend to use it for. An excellent example of this is: if you have acne-prone skin, then using some drying oils such as coconut oil and olive oil is the right choice. Adding charcoal and tea tree oil are effective natural remedies for controlling acne.

How Can You Avoid Soap That’s Drying Your Skin?

If your soap is drying out your skin, you need to adjust your next batch. You may also need to make specific changes to your soap recipe.

Replace the Oils:

There are numerous options that you can add to your homemade soap to make it more moisturizing. Replacing the oils with more hydrating oils or butter is a good place to start

Almond, jojoba, rice bran oil, coconut butter, shea butter, beeswax, and vegetable shortening have a moisturizing effect on the skin. They can be used instead of coconut and olive oils.

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Let the Soap Complete Its Curing Process:

The average time soap requires for curing is about 4 – 6 weeks. This means you need to wait until then to use it. If you think your soap has cured, you can always do a “zap test,” it’s an easy way to test if the pH level is low enough. You can do this by simply touching the soap with your tongue. If you feel a zap, you know it’s not ready.

Adjust the Lye Concentration:

If you’re using a pre-calculated recipe, it is essential to confirm the amount of Lye required using any reliable lye calculator. It is also advised to weigh the ingredients on an accurate kitchen scale instead of just measuring them.


Commercial soaps are made up of synthetic chemicals, which help them produce leather and remain stable for years. But these chemicals are potential skin irritants and cause them to dry excessively.

Homemade soaps are expected to be less drying than their commercial counterparts. But if your homemade soap is drying your skin, you know you have to change something. 

Start by changing the oils that are causing dryness. Ensure sufficient curing time and adjust your lye. These are the most common reasons behind drying homemade soap. Using hard water and showering with steaming hot water also dry the skin. A moisturizing lotion help relieve the discomfort of dry skin.  

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