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 😄
Want to watch this project instead of reading it?
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:
Want to watch this project instead of reading it?
Apricot Powder-to-Foam Facial Cleanser
19.2g | 64% white kaolin clay
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
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.