colors and soap psychology

The topic of colors and the psychology of soap and scent were often discussed in our little soap store. We see this psychological experiment carried out everywhere! Notably, in the grocery store. Often we would have soaps that were all natural except for the colorant. Yet natural colorants were not available in every color. Some leave a grainy feeling. And unfortunately, people are used to colorful products, and this applies to soap as well.

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Natural or synthetic? and what sells better?

But what about soap and what’s the best way to go? Do we be as natural as possible? Do we use natural colorants? Whatever you decide, make the soap scent and color match – psychologically speaking.


Testing the colors and the psychology of soap:

Because of trying to achieve our natural-as-possible theme for our products, we decided one day split a pot of Orange Oatmeal soap base into 2 pots. One pot was to be tinted orange like usual, and the other pot to NOT be tinted, ie as natural as possible. Everything has been done at this point, all the soap is at trace, the oatmeal and scent has been added, the only thing left is the color. One pot of soap base gets the colorant, the other doesn’t. Both are poured into their prospective molds. We are really thinking that our natural customers will appreciate this.

A few weeks later, these two soaps are ready for the store. One is labeled with the regular label, and one labelled stating ‘no color added’. The colors between these are not that dramatic, the uncolored one has a slight hue from the orange essential oil, and the regular one is a light orange color.

Our two Orange Oatmeal soaps and what happened:

The following image is the un-tinted Orange Oatmeal soap from my store. As you can see there is a slight tint to it due to the color of the orange essential oil, but it still isn’t very orange-y looking:

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Then a customer is telling me that the colored oatmeal-orange bar has a stronger scent than the natural un-tinted version. I inform her that both are from the same pot of soap base, but we added colored the one mold, wanting to offer an all-natural uncolored version as well. She says, smelling the soaps again, “Oh no, the colored bar definitely has a stronger scent”.

We were not prepared for this in our natural vs colored soaps.  We were amazed by how the mind influences the senses – or visa versa. This was further proven by the continued popularity of the colored bar, and the uncolored bar ending up in the discounted soap bin!

Our tinted bar looked more like the image below, with a definite orange color:


Colorants are chemicals and they are everywhere:

Consider marketing and colorants in food. Butter is not yellow. Cheese is not orange. Nothing processed like cereal, jello, some ice creams, kraft dinner, and virtually all candy, would have any nice color. Also consider our clothes, which are dipped and boiled in colorants and chemicals. Same as our flooring, bedding, packaging, toothpaste, and on and on. Think about if that pumpkin isn’t a pumpkin color, we think there is something wrong with it. And we’d probably be right. Check out our recipe page on making a blueberry soap that is blue.

Still not convinced that maybe color isn’t a good thing always? Sadly, the following poster is true about colorants, especially red:

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Little more info on coloring:

Research shows thatpastels seem preferred by those with money (don’t know why), as well as neutral colors. Children like primary colors, and men prefer darker colors. Often our customers would buy soap based on the color of their bathroom. Here is naturally colored soap, using pink clay, (and the crazy price they are asking!)

Colorants come in natural powders (preferable for sure), liquid, and oxide powders. Oxides are supposed to be natural, but not always, good to scrutinize their advertising to double check, or call the supplier. Given the world wide market that includes not-ethical countries and companies, AND a government that does not monitor such things like they are supposed to! It is buyer beware!

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