This super gentle foaming clay scrub smells amazing, leaves your skin wonderfully soft. A base of gentle kaolin clay is spiked with a touch of exfoliating oatmeal and a bright, fresh blend of essential oils to give you a fantastic lathery face scrub in no time flat. A quick blitz or two in your coffee grinder and you’re done—bam!

How to make a gentle foaming clay facial scrub

I’ve devised this recipe to get its foamy bit in one of two ways. Way #1 is blending some ground up soap into the powders, which works beautifully and is an especially great way to start making a dent in that bucket of desiccated soap scraps you have in your basement (that’s not just me, right?).

How to make a gentle foaming clay facial scrub

Way #2 is using a new ingredient (for me, at least): Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate. It’s a safe, super gentle surfactant made from coconuts that’s sometimes sold as “Baby Foam” since it’s mild enough to use in baby products. It gets a 1/10 safety rating on Skin Deep (that’s what coconut oil and almond oil get, for reference). After doing some research (thanks, Susan!) I picked some up from Windy Point Soap Making Supplies (those guys are great, by the way—highly recommended if you’re in Canada!) and decided to play with it a bit. I get loads of recipe requests for things that lather that need a surfactant to do so, and since I found one that’s not super irritating or dodgy, I thought I’d dip my toe into the world of non-soap lather and see what happened.

0.5g SCI + 66g H2O

0.5g SCI + 66g H2O

My first wee experiment with SCI was very simple: I put half a gram of it in a jar, adding 66mL of water (a totally random amount, but there you have it), capped the jar, and shook it vigorously for ten seconds. I was curious about how lathery it would be and the answer was VERY. Compared to soap, at least. It completely filled the jar with silky smooth lather—neat! The white powder didn’t dissolve completely, though—there was still a noticeable amount of sediment at the bottom of the jar when things settled down.

After ten seconds of shaking—wow!

After ten seconds of shaking—wow!

Undisolved bits after shaking

From my reading SCI is a bit tricky to melt—Susan talks about it here, but the gist of it is that you want to include a secondary surfactant to speed that up, and I didn’t want to faff with that at the moment—so I decided to make a powdered thing. A powdered face scrub thing. This is what I came up with!

How to make a gentle foaming clay facial scrub

How to make a gentle foaming clay facial scrub

The finished gentle foaming clay scrub is silky soft and works up to a low, gentle lather on the skin. The touch of oats adds a bit of exfoliation, and I find my skin feels satiny smooth and far less dried out than it would if I’d used a bar of soap to wash with. Neat! This is a pretty fun ingredient so far. If you don’t want to use it, though, or don’t have it, feel free to go the ground soap route!

How to make a gentle foaming clay facial scrub

How to make a gentle foaming clay facial scrub

This super cute jar is a vintage one I picked up at an antique shop, so barring the use of a time machine I can offer no guidance on where to purchase similar ones 😉

And can we just chat briefly about how amazing this scrub smells? Seriously. I’m smitten. Fresh, clean fir balsam mingles with bright, juicy lime and spicy cardamom for potentially the best smelling concoction I’ve made in a while. It’s brilliant first thing in the morning if you’re a bit groggy… and at all other times, really. YUM. Watch for this scent blend in other things!

How to make a gentle foaming clay facial scrub

Gentle Foaming Clay Scrub

2 tablespoons kaolin clay
1 teaspoon oatmeal
1/4 teaspoon Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate or 2 teaspoons finely ground soap (see note below for a how-to)

20 drops jojoba oil
10 drops fir essential oil
5 drops cardamom essential oil
5 drops lime essential oil

Start by putting on your dust mask since we’ll be working with fine powders and whirring them around in our DIY coffee grinder—you don’t want to inhale fine powders, it’s bad for your lungs.

Start by combining the clay, oatmeal, and SCI (or soap) in your coffee grinder and blending them together for thirty seconds. I highly recommend wearing a dust mask to prevent inhaling the fine powder, as that’s bad for you. Leave the lid on the grinder for at least three minutes to let the dust settle when you’re done grinding, rapping the top and sides of the lid sharply with the back of a spoon to knock the powder down (it has a tendency to climb up the sides of the lid and then fall out when you take the lid off).

Give the powder a bit of a stir with a small spoon to make sure everything has incorporated well and then scatter the drops of jojoba and essential oils over the powder, giving it a gentle stir to cover the drops with some dry powder (this helps them blend in rather than flying up to the top of the lid and sticking there). Blend everything together for another thirty seconds, doing the three minute wait + spoon bashing bit again.

That’s it! Spoon it into a wee jar and you’re done. The one I used is a cute vintage find from a local antique shop (which means no, I cannot tell you where to buy one haha).

To use, spoon about half a teaspoon of the scrub into your palm, combine it with a bit of warm water, and work it up between your hands before massaging it into your face and rinsing off.

I recommend using a spoon to scoop out the scrub so it stays dry, which will prolong the shelf life. Assuming you keep the scrub dry the only kind of spoilage we’re concerned about is the jojoba oil going rancid, and that should take at least a year. With such a small batch you should use it all up well before then 🙂

To make your own powdered soap simply place some scraps of dried up soap in your coffee grinder with a small spoonful of clay (this helps lubricate things/dry them out so the soap doesn’t fuse together into a blob) and process until you no longer hear any big bits of soap bashing about—this will probably take a minute or two.

Makes about 3 tablespoons of scrub.

How to make a gentle foaming clay facial scrub

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