Lemon verbena soap is any one of a variety of products made with the addition of the fragrant leaves of Aloysia citriodora, commonly known as lemon verbena. Lemon verbena soap is popular for both personal hygiene products and household cleaning solutions. For personal hygiene products, the soap comes in several forms, including bar soap, liquid soap, body wash, and shampoo. As a household cleaning solution, lemon verbena soap is available as dish washing liquid, laundry soap, and all-purpose cleaner. Lemon verbena soap is especially popular for use in eco-friendly, “green” cleaning products.
Known also as Lippia triphylla, lemon beebrush, lemon Luisa, and yerba Louisa, lemon verbena is a deciduous perennial shrub. Originally indigenous to South America, it was brought from America to Europe by explorers and traders in the 1700s. The shrub grows to a height of six to 20 feet (2 to 7m) and produces white or light purple flowers, and pointed, light green leaves. The leaves give off an intense, lemony scent produced by the essential oil citral. In addition to their use in soaps, the leaves of lemon verbena are edible and are used in cooking, herbal teas, medicinal remedies, and aromatherapy.
To produce the essential oil used as a fragrance for soap, the leaves and stalks of lemon verbena are distilled into a deep yellow liquid with a strong, lemony aroma. The oil is then added to other ingredients to make lemon verbena soap. For household cleaning products, the oil is added to detergents, or to plant-based cleansing agents for eco-friendly “green” cleansers. For liquid body soaps, lemon verbena essence is added to foaming agents and moisturizers. For bar soaps, the essential oil is added to saponified vegetable or animal fats, which are molded into attractive shapes or allowed to harden and then milled into rectangular bars.
Lemon verbena is one of the most popular varieties of the hand-milled soaps commonly sold in upscale boutiques. Lemon verbena is also blended with complementary herbs such as lavender and rosemary. It is also mixed with lemongrass and citronella, which are sometimes used as economical substitutes or enhancers for the more costly lemon verbena extract. When used as a soap or bath additive, the fragrance of lemon verbena is believed to calm the nerves. It also acts as an insect repellent, an anti-bacterial agent, a skin tonic, and a remedy for both acne and dermatitis.