This soft, silky powder transforms into a creamy, sudsy cleanser when you work it up with a bit of warm water between your palms. It stars soft and velvety kaolin clay and skin-soothing oats, and you can blend up a batch in just a few moments from just six ingredients. You can customize the exfoliation level and easily make it nut free if you want to. Let’s get started!
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The bulk of this cleanser is soft and creamy white kaolin clay. I chose white kaolin clay not only because it’s inexpensive and readily available, but also because it doesn’t make for a messy use experience. It’s rather tempting to use an exciting, colourful clay, like French red clay, but if you use a high concentration of a colourful clay in products like this you’ll find it leaves colourful splatters all over your sink whenever you use the product which… isn’t ideal. So, if you want to use a different clay I’d recommend choosing something with a fairly subdued colour (in the past I’ve used around 10% colourful clay and used white kaolin for the rest, and that has worked well, resulting in a colourful product that’s not super messy). I’d also recommend sticking to a soft clay like kaolin, zeolite, or the French clays. Rhassoul and bentonite are a lot heavier than kaolin and behave much differently when wet, so I do not recommend them here (watch this video to learn more!).
Oaty goodness represents 20% of the formulation, in a blend of ultra-soft and smooth colloidal oatmeal and plain ol’ kitchen oatmeal. Everything is ground up in your coffee grinder so those whole oats are greatly tempered, but they are still a bit scrubby. At 5% (as written) this is a very gently physically exfoliating facial cleanser; if you’d like more scrubby-ness you can shift the colloidal to regular oats balance to feature more oats and less colloidal oats. If you’d like less scrub, simply do the opposite.
I’ve chosen Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI) as our sole surfactant because it’s gentle and just generally lovely. It’s also naturally acidic, which makes it really easy to formulate skin-pH-friendly cleansers with it 😄 Hooray!
Almond oil weighs down the cleanser so it doesn’t float around and isn’t easily inhaled. When blended in with all the powders it vanishes, adding richness and weight to the product, but you’d probably never guess it was there. I’ve also included some vitamin E to delay rancidity. If you wanted to add a bit of an essential oil or fragrance oil you’d add it with the liquid oils.
I packaged the finished Almond Oat Powder to Foam Facial Cleanser in a neat paperboard powder shaker tube from YellowBee (gifted). If you’re using this package I would recommend employing a bit of glue or tape to ensure the shaker insert doesn’t pop out while you’re dispensing product (watch the video for more explanation of this). If you are intending to maintain the fully biodegradeable nature of the package make sure your glue/paste is also biodegradable. Other packaging options include plastic shaker-top bottles, a fun designed-for-the-kitchen shaker sort of thing, or just a bottle with a mid-sized opening that will allow you to tap out just a little bit of powder at a time. Whatever you choose, make sure it will make it easy to keep the powder dry throughout use (a wide-mouthed jar isn’t a great option, for instance).
To use, just shake a bit of powder into your palm and work it up into a lather with a bit of warm water. I find this is gentle enough to use as my morning and night cleanser, but as always, listen to your skin! Enjoy 😊
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Relevant links & further reading
- Kaolin Clay in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Colloidal Oatmeal in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Sweet Almond Oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Tocopherol (Vitamin E) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Dust mask in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Coffee Grinder in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- More powdered cleanser formulations:
- More Almond Oat formulations:
- What precautions should I take when working with fine powders?
- How long will ______ last? What is its shelf life?
- Can I use soap instead of foaming surfactants?
- Surfactants table
- How can I substitute one surfactant for another?
Almond Oat Powder to Foam Facial Cleanser
Put on your dust mask.
Weigh the powdered ingredients into a small bowl. Scatter the liquid ingredients over the surface of the powders, gently aggitating the mixture to coat the drops of oil in a fine coating of powder.
Dump the mixture into your DIY-only coffee grinder and blend thoroughly. You’ll want to smack the lid of the grinder with the back of a spoon to knock powders down from the inside of the lid. You’ll also want to take the lid off at least once and stir around, taking care to turn over everything at the bottom of the grinder to ensure all the ingredients are blending together well.
Once the mixture is uniform, all that’s left is packaging up the cleanser. I used a 2oz paperboard powder shaker from YellowBee.
To use: dispense about 1/4–1/2 tsp of the powder cleanser into your palm. Add a bit of water and work it up into a lather; from there, use it as you’d use any foaming facial cleanser. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this product does not contain any water, it does not require a broad-spectrum preservative (broad spectrum preservatives ward off microbial growth, and microbes require water to live—no water, no microbes!). Kept reasonably cool and dry, it should last at least a year before any of the oils go rancid. If you notice it starts to smell like old nuts or crayons, that’s a sign that the oils have begun to oxidize; chuck it out and make a fresh batch if that happens.
As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the recipe, you will get a different final product than I did.
- As I’ve provided this recipe in percentages as well as grams you can easily calculate it to any size using a simple spreadsheet as I’ve explained in this post. As written in grams this recipe will make 30g, which will fill a 2 fl oz/60g container nicely.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this formulation, including why they’re included and what you can substitute them with, please visit the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia. It doesn’t have everything in it yet, but there’s lots of good information there! If I have not given a specific substitution suggestion in this list please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- Please read the blog post for information on using a different clay.
- You can shift the balance between the colloidal oatmeal and oats; more oats = more exfoliation, less oats = less exfoliation.
- If you’d like to learn more about the surfactants used and compare them to ones you might already have so you can make substitutions, check out this page and read this FAQ.
- Your Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI) can be any format—sticks/needles, finely powdered, or chunky powder. After the coffee grinder it’ll be a fine powder no matter how it started.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate (SLSa) would be my first choice for an alternative. Whatever you use, it MUST be dry—no liquid surfactants here!
- You can substitute another lightweight oil like apricot kernel oil, grapeseed oil, or sunflower seed oil instead of the sweet almond oil.
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this.
The shaker-top paperboard container was gifted by YellowBee.