Let’s Talk Vanilla Discolouration


“So let me guess, you’ve come up with an amazing new creation that you’ve been dying to test out (with your newly purchased vanilla based fragrances of course) with the anticipation of a Cold Processed baby waiting to be born.

As we all know with Cold Processed soap you are in it for the long haul and you’ve been super patient with the curing time however…..DUN-DUN-DUUUUNNN much to your disbelief your bright and bold creative vision has now turned into sad murky brown lumps (or have they?!) we’ve all been there! So here are the facts…”

For a while now, the big elephant in the soapers room has been vanilla discolouration. The discolouration process is totally natural and happens over time as the soap is curing and open to the air. The discolouration process can happen straight away as soon as you add the fragrance to the traced soap but can also continue to develop over weeks and months. Pretty cool when you think about it but there are few things to keep in mind.

Three Milks Cold Process Soap Set

First things first, check the notes on our website for each fragrance to see if it contains vanilla as chances are it will change the colour of your soaps pretty drastically. All our fragrance oils undergo testing here Aussie Soap Supplies to determine their behaviour in MP and CP soap. More often than not the “foodie” type fragrances (like: Pumpkin Spice, Vanilla Select and Oatmeal Milk and Honey) are the biggest culprits for discolouration.  In fact any fragrance containing Vanillin can have this affect.

Check out the pics below to see what vanilla discolouration can look like. They contain a range of foodie fragrances. Most of them are of CP soap, but MP’ers be sure to check out the Melt and Pour Almond Milk example.

These are all Cold Process milk-based soaps. Titanium Dioxide can be used to even out the discolouration and has been added to the Almond Biscotti Fragrance example.

All these Cold Process Soaps are ‘normal’!  You can see how to use these to your advantage in this kitchen set of soaps, using no colourants at all.

Nice, even, vanilla discolouration that is planned can look quite nice. Any one would think you’ve done it on purpose!

Now, all you Melt and Pour Soapers out there don’t think you’re safe from the vanilla discolouration villain!  The effect of discolouration is extreme and can range from ivory to ebony. Talk about extremes! Lotions and creams with these fragrance oils can also become discoloured but not as intense.

This is a Melt and Pour Clear Soap with Almond Milk Fragrance and no Vanilla Colour Stabiliser.

Stephenson Personal Care (SPC) make a High Clarity Vanilla Stable Melt and Pour Soap Base which can help with your design and fragrance combination.

Tide lines…..and not the beach kind!

The pale coloured semi circle or “tide line” (seen below) shows vanilla discolouration where the gel in the centre has lessened the amount of discolouration occurring. To avoid this from forming, soap a little warmer, or skip the gel phase altogether and pop the soap into the fridge instead.

Now it ain’t all bad news! Sometimes if you’re lucky the dreaded discolouration process can actually produce a beauty of epic proportions! An unplanned swirling effect can sometimes show up in your finished soap product and can look quite effective. Just like a science experiment with an accidental result!

Blind Swirl technique in Cold Process Soap

Over time, varying with each different fragrance, the swirls deepen in colour to a rich brown.


So turn that brown discoloured frown upside down as we have our hero VCS (Vanilla Colour Stabiliser) to the rescue for Melt & Pour Soap where you don’t want to use the SPC HCVS Soap Base! Successfully working to stabilise our favourite vanilla based fragrances in MP soap with stabilisation for around 4-9 months. You can find VCS here. In addition, add TD (Titanium Dioxide) to your soaps.  Hydrate the powder or hydrate the liquid to use in both CP and MP soaps to minimise to effect of discolouration.

You can read another article on this subject on our website HERE.

So all that effort wasted?  Not necessarily but as they say, knowledge is power so next time you reach for that vanillin based fragrance have no fear but just be aware of what its capable of.

Peace out and happy soaping!


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