Today we’re blending up a Cream Silk Cleansing Balm that I’m really quite proud of. It was vaguely inspired by a storebought cleansing balm that I recently tried + a need for a really effective waterproof makeup removing product. In regards to the storebought cleansing balm I tried—I really liked how it melted on the skin, so I wanted to try to do that (but with completely different ingredients). And for the waterproof makeup—something about quarantine has me wearing more makeup than usual. I’m aware this is a bit odd, but whatever. I’m leaning into it… and then waking up in the morning with raccoon eyes because it would seem my makeup removal skills need to catch up to my application enthusiasm, ha. Anywho; this cleansing balm has a gorgeous decadent soft-solid-to-rich-liquid melt and works beautifully to take off a day’s worth of mascara and the like. I hope you enjoy it!
Want to watch this project instead of reading it?
One of the characteristics I wanted most for this cleansing balm was an indulgent, soft-solid consistency that quickly liquified into a rich oil once it was massaged into the skin. It took quite a few tries, but I eventually I achieved this by using a blend of pseudo wax and cetyl alcohol. For the pseudo wax; I tried both almond wax and olive wax, and I can’t say I noticed a difference between the two. Feel free to use whatever you have! The pseudo wax contributes mild thickening with a really rich, buttery skin feel. Cetyl alcohol offers more brittle hardening and a lovely melts-to-a-slippy-oil skin feel. Combine the two hardeners and we’ve got the lovely consistency I was looking for!
In order to keep this balm from feeling too heavy, the bulk of this Cream Silk Cleansing Balm is lightweight liquid emollients: C12-15 alkyl benzoate, sunflower seed oil, and fractionated coconut oil. If you’re looking to make substitutions, please prioritize keeping things fast-absorbing and inexpensive. I tried isopropyl myristate (IPM) instead of C12-15 alkyl benzoate and found that worked well, but the end product was noticeably greasier.
For rinse-off, we’ve got a blend of PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil and Polysorbate 80. I initially wanted to use just PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil, but in the end, I found I needed a bit of Polysorbate 80 in the mix to get the rinse-off feel I wanted.
I experimented with different ways of chilling the balm, and found I very much prefer bringing it to a thick trace over pouring it while it’s still warm and letting it set on the counter or fridge. In this case, the trace isn’t to keep the balm from going grainy—instead, stirring it while it cools gives it a more uniform finish rather than getting a harder top and a gooey under-bit.
The finished cleansing balm is definitely one of the favourite-est things I’ve made in recent months. It is brilliant for removing waterproof makeup, rinses off wonderfully, and is just generally enjoyable to use. I hope you like it as much as I do!
Want to watch this project instead of reading it?
Cream Silk Cleansing Balm
13.5g | 27% C12-15 alkyl benzoate (USA / Canada)
5g | 10% sunflower seed oil (USA / Canada / UK / NZ)
7.5g | 15% fractionated coconut oil
7.5g | 15% PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil (USA / Canada)
2.5g | 5% Polysorbate 80 (USA / Canada)
7.5g | 15% olive wax (USA / UK / Canada)
6.5g | 13% cetyl alcohol (USA / Canada)
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.
While the ingredients melt, prepare an ice bath. Take a bowl that is large enough to accommodate the container the heated phase is melting in, and fill it about halfway with ice cubes and cold water.
Once everything has melted, remove the measuring cup from the heat and dry the outside of it off with a dish towel. Set the measuring cup on a towel or hot pad to insulate it from the counter and stir the mixture with a flexible silicone spatula to combine everything.
Place the measuring cup containing the heated phase into the ice bath and cool, stirring constantly, until you reach a fairly thick “trace”. The mixture should have enough viscosity that a spatula drawn through the mixture creates a line that holds for a few moments. Refer to the video to see it in action!
Once you’ve reached trace, transfer the product to a wide-mouthed jar. I used a 50mL (1.69fl oz) black plastic tub from YellowBee.
To use; I like to massage a dollop of cleansing balm into dry skin (especially around my eyes—this stuff is great for taking off waterproof eyeliner and mascara!) and then wipe it off with a damp microfibre cloth. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this cleansing balm 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 a year (use a dry finger or popsicle stick to dip into the container). If you plan on giving this cleansing balm away or taking it into the shower/bath with you, please include 0.5% liquid germall plus (USA / Canada). Though this preservative is water-soluble, this cleansing balm contains emulsifiers so it will emulsify, and because it is water-soluble it’ll be in the right phase if the balm gets contaminated with water.
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.
- 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 can try isopropyl myristate (IPM) instead of C12-15 alkyl benzoate, but I do find this makes for an oilier end product.
- You can try replacing the fractionated coconut oil and/or sunflower seed oil with more of the other, or a different fast-absorbing inexpensive carrier oil.
- You could try different solubilizers and/or an emulsifying wax instead of the PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil and/or Polysorbate 80, but you’ll be in re-development territory when it comes to rinse-off and melting point.
- I tried both almond wax and olive wax while developing this formulation and found both worked perfectly well with no noticeable differences. If you don’t have either you’ll need some sort of pseudo-wax, not a true wax like beeswax or candelilla wax (do not put a true wax in this cleansing balm!). If you cannot get a pseudo-wax, I’d try stearic acid as an alternative, but that will change the feel of the finished balm.
- Don’t substitute the cetyl alcohol.