Craft: Cleopatra bath soak

Relax and unwind cleopatra-style with this luxurious scented bath soak.

Skin-softening milk bath

This is one of the first recipes I ever made as a teenager and is still one of my favourites. I had probably been reading about Cleopatra and her beauty regime, and decided that I, too, should be bathing in asses’ milk and rose petals!

If you are a vegan, you could make the same recipe with more sodium bicarbonate, or use kaolin (white clay) instead, but I love the luxuriousness that the milk powder gives.

The cocoa butter melts in hot bath water and has a lovely moisturising effect. The rose petals do look lovely in the jar, but are not so lovely once wet, so they are more for decoration – don’t use too many.

Because the ingredients take up so much space, this recipe will fill a 350ml jar, even though the weight is only 160g. The longer you leave the vanilla pod in the jar, the stronger the scent will be, and the pod can be reused for subsequent jars.

Make sure you remove it before giving this as a gift, or before you tip the powder into a bath. I think vanilla works really well with goats’ milk powder in products, and you could just store a vanilla pod in your jar or bag of milk powder so it is already impregnated with the scent for whenever you want to use it. If you don’t like vanilla or don’t have a vanilla pod, you could use essential oils instead.


  • 1 vanilla pod (optional)
  • 50g goats’ milk powder
  • 100g sodium bicarbonate
  • 20 drops essential oils


  • 10g cocoa butter
  • Handful dried red rose petals
  • (optional)
  • Equipment
  • Mixing bowl
  • Metal spoon
  • Cheese grater
  • An airtight 350ml jar

1) Place the vanilla-scented goats’ milk powder and the sodium bicarbonate in the mixing bowl. Add the essential oils at this stage, if using, and mix thoroughly with the spoon.

2) Grate the cocoa butter into the bowl, stirring in gently.

3) Stir through most of the rose petals. Sprinkle a few spoonfuls of the mixture into a running bath yourself (if you don’t have any handmaidens to do it for you!).

4) Spoon the remaining mixture into the jar. Sprinkle a few more petals on top for decoration.

Suggested essential oils - This recipe calls for all-out luxury, so choose sensual woods or heady floral oils that work with the milky scent of the goats’ milk powder, such as ylang-ylang, cedarwood, sandalwood, rose, geranium, patchouli and vetiver.

Grating cocoa butter - Place the cocoa butter in the freezer before grating. Use the finest side of the grater so you get a powder, rather than chunks, and use either a pastry brush or a paintbrush to dust off any cocoa butter that sticks to the grater in the bowl.

Extracted with permission from Natural Beauty by Karen Gilbert (Cico Books, $27.99). Available from

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