I’m pretty dang smitten with this Clear Jelly Oil Cleanser. It’s an oil cleanser… but gelled… and clear! I brainstormed up a big list of creative names like “Clear the Day Away” and “Diamond Velvet Cleansing Gel”, but in the end, I decided to mostly just call it what it is in relatively plain terms to help people find this awesome formulation if they are in the market for this flavour of wobbly facial cleansing 😄
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The ingredient that gels this Clear Jelly Oil Cleanser is polyamide-3. When I started working on this formulation I planned to develop two different versions so I could share a version with each the product sold by TKB Trading and the product sold by Making Cosmetics, but in the end, the TKB product didn’t work very well with the ingredients I wanted to use. I talk about this more in the Humblebee & Me DIY Encyclopedia entry, but those two polyamide-3 ingredients are different and perform differently with different solvents. In castor oil, the TKB product is the better thickener, but if C12-15 alkyl benzoate is playing a big role in a formulation, the Making Cosmetics product is more potent.
The difference in this formulation ended up being larger than I thought it would be and the TKB version ended up splitting over time, so I opted not to share that one. I don’t expect most people will care to own both, but it is a really interesting thing to know and work around! If you want to make this formulation in its jelly form you’ll need the polyamide-3 from Making Cosmetics; if you don’t have it you can make a liquid version—details are in the substitutions list at the end of the post.
The bulk of this oil cleanser is a blend of C12-15 alkyl benzoate and castor oil. I adore both of these ingredients in cleansing oils. Castor oil has been a long-time cleansing oil favourite for me, but I first tried C12-15 alkyl benzoate in 2019’s Mango Mango Cleansing Oil. I loved how light it made the cleansing oil, and it’s a great solvent for waterproof makeup. These two ingredients are also a big part of how the formulation gels, so alter them at your own risk (not that the risk is terribly large in the grand scheme of things, but start small and take lots of notes!).
I selected PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil as the rinse-off ingredient. I first tried it in a cleansing oil formulation back in early 2020, taking inspiration from a Making Cosmetics sample formulation. I really like the rinse-off and skin feel it brings to formulations; it is gentle, yet effective, leaving skin feeling clean but not too clean.
The consistency of this Clear Jelly Oil Cleanser is so dang cool. It’s a semi-firm gel that quickly softens when rubbed between your fingers and massaged into your skin. It has a gorgeous velvety skin feel that is rich and almost powdery. You can hot-pour this formulation into a soft squeeze tube and dispense it like toothpaste, which has me far more excited than it probably should. I picked up a bag of wee little 10mL squeezy tubes on Amazon and put some Clear Jelly Oil Cleanser in one of those and it’s perfect for travel in addition to being ridiculously cute.
Making is easy—just melt the mixture on the stovetop over low heat, stir, and pour. Let’s get jelly!
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Relevant links & further reading
- C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Castor Oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Polyamide-3 in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Safflower Oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Other cleansing oil formulations:
- A natural gelled oil cleanser formulation: Oil Cleansing Gel
Clear Jelly Oil Cleanser
18.5g | 37% safflower oil (USA / Canada)
20g | 40% C12-15 alkyl benzoate (USA / Canada)
7.5g | 15% castor oil (USA / Canada)
1.5g | 3% PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil (USA / Canada)
2.5g | 5% polyamide-3
Stovetop method: Weigh all the ingredients into a small stovetop safe beaker or saucepan. Place that on the stovetop over very low heat to gently and slowly melt the polyamide-3.
Oven method: Preheat your oven to 210°F (100°C). Weigh the ingredients into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup or a heavy glass custard cup—what makes the most sense for you will depend a lot on your batch size. Place the measuring cup in your prepared oven to melt everything through.
After about 20–30 minutes everything should be completely melted through. You’ll know it has melted when you can no longer see any wee air bubbles in the mixture; the beads vanish into the oils and the only visual sign they leave is a bubble of air in each bead. Remove the mixture from the heat and set it on a towel or hot pad to insulate it from the counter and stir the mixture with a flexible silicone spatula to combine everything.
Leave the mixture to cool a bit before pouring into a squeezy tube; I used a 50g soft squeeze tube from YellowBee (gifted). Let it cool, cap, and you’re done!
To use, massage a squirt of the cleansing jelly into dry skin to dissolve any makeup/sunscreen/dirt. I like to use a damp microfibre cloth to remove everything rather than rinsing alone. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this cleanser is 100% oil-based, 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 formulation 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 50g.
- 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 (PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil) please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- Do not substitute the C12-15 alkyl benzoate, castor oil, or polyamide-3 unless you want to redevelop the formulation.
- Make sure you use the polyamide-3 sold by Making Cosmetics.
- If you don’t have the Making Cosmetics polyamide-3 you can drop it entirely, replacing it with more safflower oil—this will make a liquid cleansing oil that will work just as well, it just won’t be gelled.
- You can substitute another lightweight oil like sweet almond, grapeseed, or sunflower seed for the safflower oil.
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this. I do not recommend incorporating an essential oil if you plan on using this formulation to remove eye makeup.