This Apricot Powder-to-Foam Facial Cleanser needs just five ingredients, and it’s pretty cool! It’s a smooth, dry, orangey powder in the bottle, but once you get it wet it transforms into a silky foaming cleanser with just a hint of exfoliation. To make this cleanser we’ll simply blend everything up in a DIY-specific coffee grinder—you’ll spend more time gathering your ingredients and cleaning up afterwards than actually making the cleanser! Let’s dive in 😄
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The bulk of this Apricot Powder-to-Foam Facial Cleanser is a blend of two soft, smooth clays. White kaolin clay is the majority of the blend, with just 10% French red clay. The red clay is a dusty orangey-red, and when blended with the white kaolin we get an apricot-ish coloured final product. Red kaolin would work instead of French red clay, but I’d avoid Australian red reef clay as holy moly is it ever red, and even at just 10% I suspect the cleanser would make a substantial mess in your sink every time you used it. You could also use just white kaolin if it’s what you have, and if you want to keep the colour you could swap 0.5% or so of the clay for an apricot-hued mica.
The “foam” part of this powder-to-foam cleanser comes from Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI)—a very gentle solid anionic surfactant. Because we’re grinding everything up in a coffee grinder you can use whatever format of Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI) you have—needles, lumpy powder, fine powder, whatever. If you don’t have Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI) I’d consider Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate (SLSa) a good alternative. Whatever you use, it needs to be dry—you can’t make a powdered cleanser with lots of liquid in it or you’ll end up with a paste cleanser instead 😛
I’ve included a small amount—a scant 1%—of ground apricot kernel powder. This is a pretty scrubby exfoliant, hence the low amount, which is further tempered by grinding it down to an even smaller particle size. All the same, if you have very sensitive skin you may want to halve the exfoliant or remove it altogether, replacing it with more clay or a dried botanical of choice.
This cleanser is almost entirely powder, and if it’s dry it becomes a super-floaty inhalation concern, so I’ve included 5% apricot kernel oil to weigh it down. The added oil gives the finished product a richer feel and keeps it from being too floaty and easily inhaled. If you wanted to include an essential oil or fragrance oil I’d start around 0.2–0.5% and include it with the apricot kernel oil, reducing the kaolin clay to make room for it.
Relevant links & further reading
- Kaolin clay in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Apricot Kernel Oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- What precautions should I take when working with fine powders?
- More powder-to-foam cleanser formulations:
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Apricot Powder-to-Foam Facial Cleanser
19.2g | 64% white kaolin clay (USA / Canada)
3g | 10% French red clay (USA / Canada)
0.3g | 1% apricot kernel powder (USA / Canada)
6g | 20% Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI) (USA / Canada)
1.5g | 5% apricot kernel oil (USA / Canada)
Put on your dust mask.
Weigh the powdered ingredients 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, that’s it! Package the scrub in a bottle with a relatively narrow neck so you can sprinkle a wee bit into your palm at the time of use. A bottle with a sifter lid would also work. I used a 30mL (1fl oz) frosted glass bottle from YellowBee for the blog post and a pretty spice jar for the video.
To use, sprinkle half a teaspoon or so of the cleanser into your palm, and work into a lather with a bit of water before gently massaging it into your face and rinsing off.
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this powder to foam cleanser 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!). Be sure to keep it dry to ensure it lasts as long as possible—don’t let any water get into the container and it should easily last six months to a year before the oil goes rancid. Precisely how long it will last will vary with the freshness of the oil you use and storage conditions.
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 is about 60mL (2 fl oz) by volume, and that’s a lot! That’s a lot of face washing. If you are planning on scaling this formulation up I would recommend including 0.1% vitamin E to delay rancidity.
- 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.
- You could use different clays, but I do recommend sticking to soft/smooth clays like kaolin clays, the French clays, and zeolite clay. I do not recommend bentonite or rhassoul clay for this formulation.
- If you’d like to learn more about the surfactant used and compare them to ones you might already have so you can make substitutions, check out this page and read this FAQ. Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate (SLSa) would be my first choice for an alternative.
- If you have very sensitive skin I’d halve or even fully eliminate the apricot kernel powder and replace it with more clay. You could also use a dried botanical instead.
- You can substitute another lightweight oil like sweet almond, grapeseed, or sunflower seed instead of apricot kernel oil.
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this. Can I add a fragrance oil or flavour oil to this formulation? Add any essential oil or fragrance oil with the liquid oil.
The frosted glass bottle was gifted by YellowBee.
This is wonderfull and I’m making it today! I’m also currently checking your other powder to foam cleansers – they’re so many of them. So exciting! Thank you!
Hooray! It looks lovely on IG ❤️
Hi. I love to try making this powder to foam facial cleanser. Just wondering what’s the pH for this powder cleanser once we mix with water?
This powder is very easy to make and ingenious in its simplicity. It is an answer to many requirements for cosmetics today: low-packaging products, made from ingredients that can be checked easily, with a gentle effect and without preservatives.
Thank you so much, Greet! I’m thrilled you’re enjoying your riff on it as well ❤️
Hi Marie, I still use my riff (powder shampoo) on your product and it works great. By the way, I have noticed that powder retains the fragrance better than a shampoo bar (which I also still really enjoy making and using)
I’m so thrilled to hear it! I really must experiment with powdered shampoo post-move ❤️
It’s so pretty! Does it smell like apricots?
Thanks! It doesn’t smell like much of anything 🙂 The only way it could smell of apricots would be with the inclusion of a small amount of an apricot fragrance oil.
I don’t have SCI powder, but do have the other version. Is there any ways to use this type of SCI? https://www.windypointsoap.com/products/sodium-cocoyl-isethionate-sci-noodles
Please read the post, this is explicitly addressed in it 🙂
I spend hours researching and have lost days on your superb site Marie! I saw this beautifully simple recipe, made it, tested it and love it! My first time using a product like this and it was soft, silky, smooth and just a joy to use. Once again, thank you so very much for everything you do and for being so generous, reliable and perhaps most importantly so trustworthy. And best of luck with the house move Marie, I hope you’ll be happy in your new home x
Thank you so much, Bernadette! I am so glad you’re enjoying this cleanser ❤️ And I am all settled into my new home now and I love it!
This is so lovely and simple; I did mine with finely blasted cranberry seeds (still going to have this bag *forever*)and cherry kernel oil to give it a bit of fruity scent.
It makes my face feel clean but not tight. It’s becoming my go-to post gardening clean up scrub.
Thanks for your continuing, beautiful work.
I’m so thrilled to hear it, Heather! Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making 🙂
I love your powder to foam cleansers 🙂 I made a version of this but substituted the ground Apricot kernels for Sandalwood powder as it really seems to soothe my skin. It’s gorgeous, and so easy to use.
Thanks Marie 😀
That sounds divine! ❤️
I just made a triple berry riff. Rose clay instead of red, blueberry and red raspberry seed oils, mulberry FO, and 1/2tsp pumice (WSP’s superfine, and I think this will be a good amount for every-other-day exfoliation). I’m making my mom one with AC, bentonite, a bit more pumice, and peppermint. She likes a more intense cleansing and scrubbing than me, and she recently asked for something with peppermint to “wake her up.” She’s been stealing the peppermint loofah soap I made for my showers on hot days. I need to make her a cream or serum soon, but absolutely no oil serums, because she can’t stand oil on her face! I have some good ideas, maybe a light face cream with lots of antioxidants and some calendula/hyaluronic acid serum to use after all those rigorous scrubs.
Your riffs sound beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing ❤️
Hello. Can this formulation be used as shampoo?