This Black Soap and Citrus Cleansing Balm looks like a green smoothie, which is definitely a bit weird. I wasn’t expecting that at all when I measured everything out and got it melting, and then voila—green smoothie cleansing balm! It even smells pretty appetizing, thanks to a liberal dose of juicy orange wax. Healthy breakfast appearance aside, this creamy cleansing balm is lightly exfoliating and leaves your skin soft and hydrated. I designed it for use on the face, but I’ve found I love how it makes my hands feel as well.

How to make Black Soap and Citrus Cleansing Balm

The soapy bit of this cleansing balm is African black soap, which I have a longstanding love affair with. It’s amazing stuff, and the only soap I use that I don’t make. It’s amazing for acne—especially body acne. It’s a traditional soap that uses roasted palm leaves and cocoa pods (which contain potassium carbonate and sodium carbonate) instead of potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide to saponify shea butter and cocoa butter. The carbonates aren’t as basic as the hydroxides, and the roasting method isn’t as precise, so the entire process ends up being more involved than the cold processed soap making I do.

How to make Black Soap and Citrus Cleansing Balm
How to make Black Soap and Citrus Cleansing Balm

The resulting soap looks a bit like dirt clods, and I was surprised to discover it lathers the first time I tried it. It’s a brilliant cleanser and has cleared up my skin beautifully over the years. I find it to be a bit drying on its own, though, so I don’t use it all the time. That’s where this cleansing balm comes in—the soap is diluted in some extra hydrating oils so you can use it more often without drying your skin out.

How to make Black Soap and Citrus Cleansing Balm

In keeping with the butters black soap is made from, I used shea butter and cocoa butter to transform the soap dust into a balm. I also added some crazy fragrant orange wax to shift the scent to something yummy, as black soap smells pretty distinctly soapy—the sort of soap smell I’d associate with the Great Depression. A touch of candelilla wax helps everything set up.

How to make Black Soap and Citrus Cleansing Balm

To all that I’ve added a bit of bentonite clay for some added cleansing power and a touch of exfoliation. If you don’t have bentonite, rhassoul would be a good alternative. The smoother clays (French, Aussie, and kaolin) are so fine that they won’t have much of an exfoliating effect, so I don’t recommend those.

How to make Black Soap and Citrus Cleansing Balm

And there you have it! A bright black soap and citrus cleansing balm that looks like a smoothie and feels like a dream, leaving your skin gently cleansed, soft, and happy.

Black Soap and Citrus Cleansing Balm

30g | 1.06oz black soap

15g | 0.53oz shea butter
15g | 0.53oz cocoa butter
10g | 0.35oz orange wax (can substitute 10g liquid oil + 30 drops orange essential oil) (learn more about orange wax)
4g | 0.14oz candelilla wax

1 tbsp bentonite clay (learn more)

Place your black soap in a blender and blitz it into a fine powder. I used a coffee grinder, but I wouldn’t really recommend it as that ended up being difficult to clean up since you shouldn’t get a coffee grinder too wet as they aren’t sealed.

Transfer the black soap powder to a heat resistant glass measuring cup and add the shea butter, cocoa butter, orange wax, and candelilla wax. Place the measuring cup in a saucepan with about 3cm/1″ barely simmering water in it and heat through until everything has melted, stirring to combine.

Once everything has melted, stir in the clay. Lastly, transfer the mixture to a 90mL/3oz glass or plastic container to set up before using. This also makes a rather lovely hand scrub!

To use, scoop a wee bit out with a finger and work it into a lather in your palms before massaging it into your face. Take care not to introduce water into the container, which will cause spoilage.

Bentonite clay shouldn’t come into contact with metal as that negates its charge, so be sure not to melt everything together in a metal pot and use a non-metal implement for stirring.

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