Best Essential Oils for Making Scented Hand Soap

Best Essential Oils

In a pandemic where handwashing has become an integral aspect of our daily lives, hand soap has become more popular than ever. Businesses are seeing an increase in consumers wanting to purchase hand soaps with unique features. They want products that are free of parabens, preservatives, and synthetic fillers, in addition to ones that help with allergies or asthma. One remedy for this problem has been to incorporate essential oils into liquid hand soaps. They have become popular among bloggers and online beauty connoisseurs.

In a market increasingly focused on “natural” products, essential oils have become the latest addition to the hand soap market. The use of essential oils allows suppliers to fill the gap of consumers who want different flavors as the seasons change. This has the potential to increase sales throughout the year. Today we’re going to cover how essential oils are used in soaps, what scents you should include in your soaps, and how packaging affects sales.

Creating a New Line of Scented Hand Soaps

According to Allied Market Research, the global essential oil soap market has been steadily growing since 2017 with a projected value of $458.6 million expected to be reached by 2026. Companies are starting to turn to essential oils as an alternative to scenting their hand soaps. The reason is the health benefits, antibacterial properties, and ability to meet consumers who want natural products. Essential oils are safe to add to liquid soap because they are natural products versus synthetic fragrance oils. Currently, we’re seeing essential oil soap products sold in supermarkets, retail, e-commerce, and pharmaceutical stores.

For those starting/expanding in the hand soap business or hygiene industry, there are endless opportunities to get into the market with various blends of essential oils that are used in soaps. We’re seeing popular beauty brands like Dove and Lush also adopt these ingredients into their hand soap and beauty products by highlighting their moisturizing benefits. Creating essential oil blends for soap is a complex process that is determined by having a good balance of top, middle, and base notes. Making hand soap is a very simple process that is done through three common methods of production: cold, hot, and semi-hot. Below we’ve listed the two processes for making hand soaps with added scents from essential oils.

Hand Soap and Foaming Hand Soap Process

  • 2 tbsp liquid castile soap 
  • Water (regular water, boiled, or distilled water)
  • Essential Oil (use the fragrance of your choice)


  • Fill an empty 8 oz soap container almost to the top with water
  • Add 2 tbsp liquid castile soap to the top. (Note: adding the soap first will create bubbles, so do the soap last.)
  • Replace the pump and wash your hands as normal

Sounds easy, right? This very easy process can be repeated over and over again by changing out the types of essential oils used. Now that we’ve discussed how to create a new line of hand soaps using essential oils, it’s time to discuss which ones are best for hand soaps.

Which Essential Oils Work Best for Hand Soap?

Which Essential Oils Work Best for Hand Soap?

The process of obtaining essential oils derives from extracting them from plants during the distillation process. The residual oil from the roots, flowers, or plants is what makes up the scented oil. The complexities of essential oils provide flexibility for how they are combined or blended. This is perfect for companies looking to diversify their hand soap offerings.

In a world where there are dozens of essential oils to use, it can feel like finding a needle in a haystack to determine which one is best for your hand soap. Personal preferences can always inform and influence scent choices. However, your customer feedback and satisfaction should be what determines production quantities. Additionally, you should always consider the types of oils you want to mix. Make sure they are balanced aromas and that they complement each other well.

If you are a new business or retailer looking to incorporate essential oils into your hand soaps, you may want to start with single-scented soaps, monitor the performance, and get customer feedback before combining fragrances. Customer feedback is a valuable tool that helps drive the direction of your hand soap. Whether you send out a newsletter, survey, or poll, customers may provide insight and suggestions for scents that already interest them. 

So which essential oils are best for hand soaps? While smell is objective, there are some general scents that are proven to perform well in the essential oil soap market. We’ve listed a few of the most popular essential oil scents below to get you started.

  • Lavender
  • Tea Tree
  • Rosemary
  • Peppermint 
  • Cedarwood

Before you start blending the oils, it’s important to understand how scent notes work. And what effect they have on your final product. Essential and fragrance oils are categorized by three factors: top notes, middle notes, and base notes. As you are exploring different scent combinations for your hand soaps, you want to keep these “notes” in mind.

  • Top note: These fragrances are strong but disappear quickly so they won’t linger on a consumer’s hands very long. 
  • Middle note: These fragrances are not as strong but they are longer-lasting, forming the main element of any fragrance blend. Choosing the middle note is important for balancing out your scents.
  • Base note: These are heavy and rich, lasting the longest.

Below you will find a detailed breakdown of top, middle, and base notes you can incorporate into your hand soap scents.

Top NotesMiddle NotesBase Notes
BasilBayPeru Balsam
BergamotBlack PepperCassia
Clary SageChamomileCinnamon

As you get more familiar with essential oils, you can experiment with new scent blends. Take the time to test, evaluate and rework them as needed. Also, take note of any oil blends that may cause unpleasant reactions in your customers like skin irritation or allergens. Now that we’ve covered the basics of using essential oils in hand soap, it’s time to discuss the hand soap scent ideas to get you started.

Our List of the Best Hand Soap Scent Ideas

We’ve covered the popularity of essential oils in the hand soap market, scent notes, and a few essential oils you can use to start blending your scents. There is an easier way to determine the flavor categories you want to target. Use a catalog or chart to differentiate the various essential oils on the market. Scents in the same category usually mix well. So, if you are a beginner or just want to test the market, you can start by mixing scents within a designated category.

Remember that testing out your hand soap scents using essential oil mixtures and combinations can be done on a small scale like sample sizes versus larger quantities. You’ll also want to take notes and keep track of the ratio amounts you’re using for each scent, as a little goes a long way with essential oils. The current season or month can also be a determining factor in which scents you want to highlight and use for your hand soaps. We’ve compiled a list of essential oil scent categories below to help you discover a classic scent for your hand soap.

  • Citrus – Bergamot, Citronella, Guava Leaf, Kaffir Lime, Lemon, Melissa, Neroli, Orange, Verbena, Yuzu
  • Earthy – Amber, Angelica Root, Cedar, Cardamom, Leather, Oakmoss, Patchouli, Tobacco, Valerian, Vetiver
  • Floral – Geranium, Jasmine, Lavender, Neroli, Palmarosa, Roman Chamomile, Rose Vanilla, Wisteria, Ylang Ylang
  • Herbal – Basil, Black Cumin, Cloves, Marjoram, Oregano, Pine, Rosemary, Sage, Tea Tree, Thyme
  • Minty – Bergamot, Birch, Cornmint, Dill, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Spearmint, Wintergreen
  • Spicy – Aniseed, Ajowan, Black Pepper, Cinnamon Bark, Ginger Grass, Juniper, Nutmeg, Pimento Berry, Pink Pepper, Turmeric
  • Woodsy – Amyris, Black Pine, Carrot Seed, Cypress, Douglas Fir, Frankincense, Juniper, Myrrh, Rosewood, White Sage

Are you ready to start blending your essential oils for hand soaps? Don’t forget to balance out your scents and follow a ratio that balances out with the soap. You can also use an online tool like a fragrance calculator that helps check your blends and usage rates.

Making Hand Soap the Right Way

Developing a swoon-worthy scent is just one part of the process. Consumers also want appealing packaging that evokes brand, purpose, and elegance. Essential oil soaps are not only considered sustainable but are also used as a form of self-care. Customers love these products because they have a range of features, from healing to anti-inflammatory. This means customers are willing to pay more for what they see as a luxury product. So whether you’re selling them to a store or shipping in large quantities, consider what and how you plan to package your luxury soaps.

Having secure and attractive packaging indicates to the customer the quality of the product they are receiving. Therefore, you want to be on hand throughout this process. Overall, there is no right or wrong way to package your soap. Just remember that it is a reflection of your brand and its quality, so make yourself stand out from the competition and get creative. 

In the same way, that scent marketing has continued to be a staple of business success over the past couple of years. The same goes for the variety of essential oils you offer for your soaps. You want consumers to be attracted to your scents because of the positive emotions they create. The experience people have with your hand soap is crucial. The right blend of essential oils makes that experience even more powerful.