Today’s Coconut Cocoa Rich Cream Facial Cleanser has a decadent, rich skin feel with a lotion-y consistency and offers fabulous yet gentle cleansing. It’s also a bit of a riff on the two rich cream cleansers I shared earlier this year—Rose & Honey and Whipped Cream Calendula. This indulgent riff features oodles of decadent cocoa butter and coconut oil, a gentle surfactant blend, and unlike my previous rich cream cleansers, it works beautifully in a soft squeeze tube. Oh—and it smells incredible.
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The oil phase of this Coconut Cocoa Rich Cream Facial Cleanser is (somewhat unsurprisingly) mostly cocoa butter and coconut oil. I highly recommend choosing ultra decadent, fragrant versions of each ingredient as that’s where the gorgeous scent of this cleanser comes from. I didn’t include an essential oil or fragrance oil, but if you wanted to, I think some vanilla-y would be lovely (check out the links in the substitutions list for information on how to do that). The cocoa butter and coconut oil I used in this formulation are both from Baraka Shea Butter, and they are lovely!
The oil phase is 37.5%, which is on the larger side, though I did try an even larger oil phase version. That one was a bit much—very thick with a weird gooey-flubber sort of consistency that wasn’t super appealing. This refined version has a smooth, lotion-y consistency that is made possible by the emulsifier: Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate. The Rose & Honey Rich Cream Cleanser I shared earlier this year has a similar oil + thickener content (disregarding the emulsifier), but it has a dramatically different consistency. It’s more of a solid balm than a lotion (even though it uses 30% liquid oil instead of 15% each cocoa butter and coconut oil), and has over twice the amount of emulsifier. These differences are due to the change in the emulsifier, meaning you really need Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate to make this formulation. Other emulsifying waxes I’ve used in other formulations will not work as an alternative. Seriously. It has to be Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate.
I’ve included surfactants at 5%; a blend of non-ionic decyl glucoside and amphoteric Cocamidopropyl Betaine. Both are mild surfactants made from coconuts—combine that mildness with the low usage rate and the high oil content, and we get a cleanser that is really gentle while still being effective.
Process-wise, I decided to re-visit something I used to do all the time back when I first got started (2011-ish)—the one-pot method. It’s basically what it sounds like; combine all the heated-phase ingredients in one beaker, regardless of solubility. Replace any water lost to evaporation, blend thoroughly, and add the cool down phase when appropriate. You certainly can split the heated phase into two phases, but I’ve found the one-pot method works perfectly fine with this formulation. Groovy!
The finished cleanser has a rich, lotion-y consistency. Massage it into your face (damp or dry) to break down any makeup and gently cleanse the skin, and then rinse it off or remove with a damp cloth. Enjoy the authentic chocolatey-coconutty scent and your soft, clean skin ❤️
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Coconut Cocoa Rich Cream Facial Cleanser
41.7g | 41.7% distilled water
15g | 15% vegetable glycerine
2g | 2% decyl glucoside (USA / Canada)
3g | 3% Cocamidopropyl Betaine (USA / Canada)
0.1g | 0.1% citric acid
4.5g | 4.5% Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate (USA / Canada / UK & EU / Australia)
15g | 15% cocoa butter (USA / Canada)
15g | 15% virgin coconut oil (USA / Canada)
3g | 3% cetyl alcohol
0.2g | 0.2% xanthan gum
Prepare a water bath by bringing about 3cm/1″ of water to a bare simmer over low to medium-low heat in a wide, flat-bottomed sauté pan.
Weigh the heated phase into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup or glass beaker. Weigh the entire lot (measuring cup + ingredients) and note that weight for use later. Place the measuring cup in your prepared water bath to melt everything through.
After about 20–30 minutes the heated phase should be completely liquid. Remove the water bath from the heat and weigh the heated phase. Add enough hot distilled water to the heated water phase to bring the weight back up to what it was before heating. 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 cleanser 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 cleanser has thickened and is creamy.
When the cleanser 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 cool down phase has been incorporated, all that’s left to do is package it up! I recommend using a squeeze tube or tottle for this cleanser; I used a discontinued one from Voyageur, but YellowBee has some similar ones that are a great alternative.
To use—massage some cleanser (approximately a quarter-sized amount) into your skin. You can combine it with water first, or apply it to dry skin. Rinse or wipe off. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this cream cleanser contains water, you must include a broad-spectrum preservative to ward off microbial growth. This is non-optional. Even with a preservative, this project may 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 100g.
- 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 try propanediol 1,3 instead of glycerin
- If you’d like to learn more about the surfactants used and compare them to ones you might already have so you can make substitutions, check out this page.
- If you alter the surfactants I recommend testing and adjusting the pH of the finished cleanser as needed since you cannot rely on the “when made as written” pH to be correct when you are not making this as written
- You cannot substitute the Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate. If you want to make something similar and do not have it, please check out this formulation.
- I do not recommend swapping out the cocoa butter or coconut oil; they are integral to the theme.
- You could try cetearyl alcohol instead of cetyl alcohol.
- You could try guar gum instead of xanthan.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this FAQ and this chart.
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this.
- If you’d like to incorporate a fragrance oil, please read this.