Today we’re making a gentle, low-foam, creamy Clementine Facial Cleansing Milk. It comes together just like a lotion, with the addition of a few grams of surfactants in the cool-down phase for a titch of cleansing power. If you’ve been looking at making your own facial cleansers and feeling a bit unsure, but you’re already making lotions, this is the recipe for you!
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I’ve kept the oil phase quite small (just 10%) so this would be on the thinner side—more of a cleansing milk than a cleansing cream. Small amounts of castor oil and safflower oil make up the bulk of the oil phase (though you could use other oils), a touch of cetyl alcohol adds some thickness, and the whole lot is emulsified with some Polawax.
Our was phase is mostly water, with some champa hydrosol contributing to the scent department. If you’re an avid yoga studio goer, you know the smell of champa. It smells deep and mysterious and, well, like a yoga studio. I find it to be a rather rich, calming scent. Apparently it is also said to be an aphrodisiac, though I can’t say that’s why I included it! I chose clementine essential oil to compliment the champa hydrosol; clementine is bright and juicy, so it is a nice counterpoint to the more weighty champa.
Some vegetable glycerine brings some moisturizing, humectant goodness, while panthenol (vitamin B5) is magic as ever with its soothing, transepidermal water loss, anti-inflammatory, skin-improving fantastic-ness. I’ve also included some hydrolyzed oat protein for added moisturizing; you could also use hydrolyzed silk. I recently picked up some new hydrolyzed proteins from Windy Point as they’ve got three new ones in stock—rice, quinoa, and baobab! I can’t wait to play with those some more. You could use any of those here as well, just be sure to check and see if they are heat sensitive so you can add them to the right phase.
For surfactants I’ve kept it super gentle. The amounts are very low—just 5% surfactants, with 2.1% active surfactant matter. Both Cocamidopropyl Betaine and Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside have pH values that are skin compatible without any adjusting. Non-ionic surfactants (like Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside) are the least likely to irritate the skin, and the addition of an amphoteric surfactant (like Cocamidopropyl Betaine) helps make surfactant blends milder. All that comes together to mean the surfactant blend we’re using here is super gentle.
The final product is fairly thin, but not watery, with a low lather and great rinse-off. If you’ve made lotion before this is wonderfully easy, and you can easily customize the scent if you’re so inclined. Let’s get making!
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Clementine Facial Cleansing Milk
28.375g | 56.75% distilled water
10g | 20% champa hydrosol
2g | 4% vegetable glycerine
0.5g | 1% panthenol
1g | 2% hydrolyzed oat protein (USA / Canada)
1.5g | 3% castor oil
1.5g | 3% safflower oil
1g | 2% cetyl alcohol
1g | 2% Polawax (USA / Canada)
Cool down phase
1.5g | 3% Cocamidopropyl Betaine (Amphosol CG) (USA / Canada)
1g | 2% Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside (USA / Canada)
0.25g | 0.5% liquid germall plus (USA / Canada)
0.025g | 0.05% vitamin E oil
0.35g | 0.7% clementine essential oil
Prepare a water bath by bringing about 3cm/1″ of water to a bare simmer over low to medium-low heat in a small saucepan.
Weigh the water phase into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Weigh the entire lot (measuring cup + ingredients) and note that weight for use later. Weigh the oil phase into a second heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Place both measuring cups in your prepared water bath to melt everything through.
After about 20–30 minutes the oil part should be completely melted and the water part should be thoroughly dissolved. Remove the water bath from the heat and weigh it. Add enough hot distilled water to bring the weight back up to what it was before heat and hold, and then pour the water part into the oil part. Stir with a flexible silicone spatula to incorporate.
Grab your immersion blender and begin blending the lotion, starting with short bursts so the still-very-liquid lotion doesn’t whirl up and spray everywhere. Blend for about a minute, leave to cool for ten, blend for another minute or two, and repeat this blend-cool-blend cycle until the outside of the glass measuring cup is barely warm to the touch and the lotion is thick and creamy.
When the lotion is cool it’s time to incorporate our cool down ingredients. Because cool down ingredients are typically present at very low amounts you’ll need to use an accurate scale—preferably one accurate to 0.01g. As these more accurate scales tend to have fairly low (100–200g) maximum weights you won’t be able to put the entire batch of lotion on that scale without blowing it out. So—grab a smaller dish. Add a scoop or two of lotion, and then weigh the cool down ingredients into that, using the more accurate scale. Stir to thoroughly incorporate, and then stir all of that back into the master batch of lotion. Doing it this way minimizes the amount of cool down ingredients lost to the secondary container.
Once the cleansing milk is cool, transfer it to your container. I used a 2.5 fl oz “tottle” from Voyageur. To use, dispense a dime-sized amount of cleanser into your palm. Blend it up with a bit of warm water before massaging into your face and rinsing off. Follow up with the rest of your skin care routine!
Because this cleansing milk contains water, you must include a broad-spectrum preservative to ward off microbial growth. This is non-optional. Even with a preservative this project is likely to eventually spoil as our kitchens are not sterile laboratories, so in the event you notice any change in colour, scent, or texture, chuck it out and make a fresh batch.
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 50g.
- You can use a different hydrosol, just be sure to choose something that will work with the essential oil. Alternatively, you could also just use more distilled water, or try something like aloe vera juice or witch hazel.
- You could replace the panthenol with more vegetable glycerin
- Feel free to use a different hydrolyzed protein
- You can substitute another lightweight oil like sweet almond, grapeseed, or sunflower seed for the safflower oil and/or castor oil
- Cetearyl alcohol (USA / Canada) would work as a decent alternative to cetyl alcohol
- You can try Emulsifying Wax NF instead of Polawax
- You could use Coco Glucoside (USA / Canada) instead of Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, just be sure to test the pH of the end product and adjust if required as Coco Glucoside has a much higher pH than Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside
- You can use a different essential oil, just be sure it plays well with your hydrosol