Today we’re whipping up a simple, creamy, oil-based face mask. A soft balm base is loaded with silky French green clay (my favourite clay for face masks!) to create an ultra velvety skin treat. This format is far less messy than blending clay and water, both for application and rinse off, which I really appreciate. You can also use it in two different ways, depending on what you’re looking to get out of your face masking, making this DIY quite versatile as well!
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The bulk of this Creamy French Green Clay Face Mask is safflower oil, though you could easily choose any other liquid oil (or a blend of liquid oils) that your face likes. Just make sure the percentage is the same! Apricot kernel oil, grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil, and sunflower seed oil would all be good choices.
French green clay is our second most prevalent ingredient at 40%. French green clay is one of the first clays I ever purchased, and the first one I fell in love with. I love how light and silky it is, and it never fails to perk up my complexion and boost healing. The high concentration of clay thickens up the liquid oil quite a lot as well.
The rest of the thickening comes from a touch of cetyl alcohol and some Emulsifying Wax NF. I tried stearic acid first as I tend to find it creamier than cetyl alcohol. In this project, however, it felt more skiddy and grabby than creamy (a wee bit like an eraser on the face—not great!), so I switched to silky cetyl alcohol. Soft clays (like French green) feel all kinds of luxy and creamy in high concentrations like this (that’s one of the reasons I love face masks made with French green clay!), so we don’t miss out on any richness or creaminess from the thickener switch.
While Emulsifying Wax NF does contribute some thickening thanks to its cetearyl alcohol content (~70–80%), that’s not the reason I’ve included it (if I just needed thickening I’d use more cetyl alcohol or include some cetearyl alcohol on its own). The Emulsifying Wax NF is there as an emulsifier, so this anhydrous mask blends easily with water, which makes wash-off nice and easy.
The end product is a soft, creamy balm that massages into the skin beautifully, and can be used in two different ways. Way one: massage the creamy base into your skin as-is, and leave it there for 15–20 minutes before rinsing off (you’ll want to use a cloth to get it fully off). This method creates more of an emollient, moisturizing masking effect with a bit of light physical exfoliation on wash-off. It’s a great masking option for people who don’t love the tightening sensation you get with clay masks that contain water.
Option two is incorporating a bit of water into the mask, creating more of a traditional dries-on-the-skin clay face mask experience (though still a much gentler drying effect than plain clay + water). My favourite way to do this is to massage the creamy base into my skin and then mist my face liberally with my favourite hydrosol. I’ll then use my fingertips to massage the hydrosol into the mask a bit right on my face. I’ve tried pre-mixing in my palm and while that also works, I didn’t like it as much.
And that’s it! A versatile, two-in-one creamy face mask that you can whip up ahead of time for easy face masks whenever the mood strikes you. Enjoy!
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Creamy French Green Clay Face Mask
9.5g | 47.5% safflower oil
0.5g | 2.5% cetyl alcohol (USA / Canada)
2g | 10% Emulsifying Wax NF (USA / Canada / AU)
8g | 40% French green clay
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 first three ingredients into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Place the measuring cup in your prepared water bath to melt everything through. I like to melt the first three ingredients together first so I can be certain the cetyl alcohol and emulsifying wax have fully melted—a clump of clay can disguse an unmelted bit of cetyl alcohol.
Once the first three ingredients have melted, stir to combine, and add the clay. Continue to heat for another 15 minutes or so; I find this additional heating helps break down any clay clumps without a ton of stirring. Alternatively, you could try sifting the clay before incorporating to remove any lumps before adding the clay to the melted base.
When the mixture is thoroughly heated through and the clay has had some time to soak, remove the mixture from the heat and stir to combine, ensuring there are no big clumps of clay (break ’em up if you find any). Once the mixture is uniform and viscous enough that the clay won’t settle out as everything cools, transfer it to your container. I used a flat slide-top tin from YellowBee; a 20g batch will fit nicely in a 15g (0.5oz) tin, while a 40g batch (twice of what is specified in grams above) fits beautifully in a 30g (1.06oz) tin. Let it set up, and that’s that!
To use you’ve got two options: #1 is simply massaging the creamy mixture into your skin and leaving it for 15 or so minutes before rinsing off. This makes for a nice moisturizing mask with a touch of physical exfoliation. Option #2; spread the mask all over your face, and then mist your face with your favourite hydrosol. Gently work that into the mask—it’ll get a bit creamy and paler in colour. Leave to dry for at least 15 minutes before rinsing off. Whatever you do, follow up with your favourite moisturizer. That’s it!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this project 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 (take care not to incorporate any water!), 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 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 20g.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this recipe, 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 use a different lightweight liquid oil (or a blend of them) instead of sweet almond oil. Apricot kernel oil, grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil, and sunflower seed oil would all be good choices.
- I don’t recommend swapping out the cetyl alcohol. If you have to I’d choose cetearyl alcohol over stearic acid.
- You could use a different complete emulsifying wax instead of Emulsifying Wax NF, like Polawax or Olivem 1000. You may need to adjust the formulation to keep the consistency of the end product the same.
- You could also try 7% cetearyl alcohol/3% Polysorbate 80 or 60 instead of the Emulsifying Wax NF.
- I recommend giving this a read regarding melting.
- You can use a different light clay instead of French green. Other French clays, kaolin, and zeolite would all be good options. I do not recommend bentonite or rhassoul for this project.
- You can incorporate an essential oil (or essential oil blend) if you want.
The safflower oil was gifted by Essential Wholesale & Labs. The 30g (1.06oz) tin was gifted by YellowBee.
Since I’m giving this to my teen grand daughter I feel like I need a dab of germall plus or optiphen because she WILL get water in it. Do you think this addition will cause any problems?
Thank you, Marie.
That should work! I’d use it at 0.5%, removing that amount from the liquid oil. Since there is an emulsifier in here it should incorporate just fine 🙂 Happy making!
omg wow Marie! First of all, thank you for the demonstration, it answered a lot of my questions .. second, what a fantastic formula! I will try it for sure!
Wahoo! I’m so glad you’re excited about it 🙂 Happy making!
This sounds so convenient. Such a clever idea and solves my many clay mask issues. I will give this a go asap! I need to use some other emulsifier (like Ritamulse scg blend) + maybe add some active decalact sebum as I think it works great in cleansers.
Btw, we have your creamy clay cleanser (from the book) with same emulsifier, my fiance loves it! It works great with cetyl a. I use it too for face & body acne. 🙂
Thank you so much, Johanna! Let me know how it turns out with your modifications I’m so glad to hear you love the clay cleanser from the book, too—that one definitely still holds a special place in my heart!
I made this lastnight and wow! Creamy, easy to spread and love the flexibility of the application. And best of all – skin super soft. Done it again Marie!
YAY!!! I am so stoked to hear it 🙂 Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making!
So I made this again with some pink superfine clay I had, spritzed it with some wheatgrass hydrosol, patted on some of the lavender aloe toner And smooshed it in and had the most luxurious face mask. Swoon!
HOORAY! I’m so glad you’re loving it and the customizations you made sound utterly divine. Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making 🙂
My thoughts exactly! 🙂 I made a new one yesterday – just grapeseed oil + decalact sebum because my earlier, antiflammatory one kind of stinks. It works well, though. I’m about to test it vs antiflammatory one. ☺️
Note. I think that both my emulsifier and decalact sebum has some scent. I’d use bright first notes (bergamot, mangarin, lavender) for masking. Active also gives me tiny purging reaction. Be carefull, as allways.
Whoops, wrong smilyface! What I meant is *
Thanks for sharing! 😀
Can I use Indian Red Clay
For this project?
Hmm. I’m afraid I don’t have any experience with this clay and I wasn’t able to find much about it that was useful in this regard. In the substitutions list, I recommend using something that is light and smooth, so if you find the clay to be light and smooth it should work well 🙂 Happy making!
Instead of liquid germall plus can I use phenonip as a preservative? If yes is 0.5 % sufficient?
Why are you planning on including a preservative at all? This doesn’t need one as it doesn’t contain any water, and given the high clay content I’m not confident a preservative would work if it was contaminated with water, so I advise keeping it dry 🙂
I’m very new to formulas and I live in Sri Lanka. I have an acne prone skin my skin is oily and I want to clear my skin and it would be a great help if u can give me a solution.
Much love, Irushi
I highly recommend https://simpleskincarescience.com/ 🙂
Hi Marie! Can I use INCI: Cetearyl Alcohol & Ceteareth-33 to replace the emulsifying wax NF?
A bit of googling has me thinking that should work, though I haven’t tried it myself. Happy making!
Thanks so much! 🙂 Appreciate your reply
Could you add honey to this? or honey powder?
I don’t recommend it, but if you were going to, the powdered version would probably be the better option. Happy making!
This is a genius idea, Marie! I enjoy making my own masks, but it can get a bit tedious to whip everything together every time I get time in the evening to mask, so I love anything that can be pre-made. Cannot wait to try this out!
Hooray! Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making 🙂
Just when I think I have my skin care routine sorted you put out this wonder of a formula! So I love a bit of Lavender eo in my skin care . At what percentage would you recommend?
And I have some calendula infused oil sitting in my cupboard. Think I may use it here!
Sorry, ha! 😛 I’d probably start with ~0.5% lavender essential oil (taken out of the liquid oil), and the calendula infused oil sounds like a STUNNING inclusion! Happy making!
Hi Marie, would I be able to substitute some of the liquid oil with glycerin? It should work because of the emulsifying wax, but would it need some preservative? I also have some aloe vera 1:200 powder, could I substitute half a percent of clay for half a percent of aloe vera powder? Thank you and I am so glad you formulated this! It can be quite a process (and mess) making a small batch of mask every week, this has saved me!
I think those changes would be in full-on re-development territory, so happy experimenting 🙂 It sounds promising, but I really couldn’t say as I haven’t tried anything similar.
I am very new to formulation and live in Canada. I’m looking at the New Directions and they have Self Emulsifying Wax N (SLS Free). Is that the same as NF?
Thanks so much for sharing
I’d recommend the Polawax from NDA—I have it and it works brilliantly 🙂
Stunning project, Marie! I’m wondering how different it is from the cleansing balms you’ve shared before (e.g. the soothing one, which I love). How different are they when it comes to application and using? Do you think it would be a good idea to use this mask as a cleanser and if not, why?
Thank you so much for your work!
This one is a lot more clay focussed than the cleansing balms I’ve shared (40% vs. 3% clay) so you get a lot more of that clay-y consistency coming through in the end product. You certainly could use this as a cleanser if you wanted to!
It is funny to run across this recipe now because I recently had a monster pimple and my mom was all, “You have something on your face sweetie.” And I was like, “I know.” And she was all, “You really should put some clay on that.” So thanks for this clay face mask recipe. I obviously need it!
What good timing! Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making 🙂
Wow, I’m so doing this!
*making (English is not my native language, haha)
Wonderful Marie Although i was wondering can i lessen the clay and add herbal beneficial additives such as lets say licorice root powder or orange peel instead to boost the mask up?
You can certainly try it 🙂 Happy making!
Can I add vitamin E to delay the oils going rancid?
Yup! I’d add 0.5% (removing it from the liquid oil) as part of the cool down phase 🙂 Happy making!
Your recipes always helpful and lovely. I love all of them and wanna buy your book to learn more. Thank Marie <3
A question, can I place dried flowers (calendula, chamomile, butterfly pea) on its surface after transfer it to container?
You could, but they’d be mostly decorative—I imagine they’d need to be avoided when actually mixing up the mask as a big bit of dried flower would likely be quite uncomfortable on the skin. Happy making!
I made this yesterday and I gotta say I really like it! Super creamy and that wash off is so easy. I tried some clay mask samples from Sephora but they were such a pain to wash off that it just didn’t feel luxurious. This is doesn’t have that problem at all. Thanks Marie!
I’m so thrilled to hear it! Thank you so much for sharing and for making with me ❤️
Hi Marie I tried this and am super happy with the consistency and skin feel. I just want to know that water +clay can remove more impurities from skin deep within. Does this anhydrous clay too perform the same or differs
Thanks for taking the time to make such a detailed post. Tried making a batch today but somehow it did not end up having that creamy consistency. Instead, it came up rather oily and liquid-y. Perhaps I might’ve been a bit too heavy handed with the safflower oil )):
Would you think I would be able to salvage this? Perhaps by using it as a cleansing balm instead?
Hmm—did you make any substitutions?
Hi Marie, I created one with Kaolin Clay and apricot oil, also with sakura extract for my mom and she loves it so much. I also created one with french green clay, peppermint oil and tea tree for my acne problem.
I created two small jar for each kaolin clay and the french green clay.
However, after some uses.. Maybe after 2 weeks, mask (that I use) has oil “pooling” on top, but it seems fine and smells fine while my mom mask doesn’t have problem at all. The other one green clay mask that I haven’t use is fine too. I wonder why is that. Is that mean, it’s contaminated or something? I don’t remember spoon it with wet hands.
Hi Marie! I would like to ask how did you calculate this in percent?
I was trying 40% clay of 30g is 12.
Yours is 8g?
As written in grams this formulation will make 20g; 40% of 20g is 8g. It all seems fine to me? If you wish to make a larger batch (30g vs. my 20g batch) then your calculation of 40% of 30g = 12g is also correct.
Do you think that Glyceryl Stearate (powder) in this case would be a good idea instead the Emulsifying Wax?
No—glyceryl stearate SE could work, but not plain glyceryl stearate. Look up glyceryl stearate SE in the Humblebee & Me DIY Encyclopedia (https://www.humblebeeandme.com/diy-encyclopedia/) to learn more 🙂 Happy making!
hmmm.., very interesting!
thank you so much. Your website is just amazing.
Hey Marie, I gave a try, as you always recommend 😀
I have used the glyceryl stearate SE for a bar product but I needed 25% to make it hard enough, but also I have seen that the usage rate is 1-10%. There is some problem in use twice? Why this “usage rate”?
Thank you again!
Hi Chris! I believe that is more of a guideline for efficacy as this is usually used as an emulsifier, not a hardener. 1–10% would be sufficient for most products, though I don’t believe there are any skin issues with using more. Glyceryl Stearate (no SE) is more typically used as a hardener/thickener. Learn more in the Humblebee & Me DIY Encyclopedia (https://www.humblebeeandme.com/diy-encyclopedia/) 🙂
Question I increased the recipe (I quadrupled it because I had a bigger jar) It was a little runny, is there a way I could possible fix this? Or any tips for next time?
Please read this, this, and this 🙂 Those articles should offer some guidance + insight. Happy making!
Just created this mask and tried it on my hand, it’s such a wonderful feeling it left after washing..I’m just loving it.
Hi Marie, Is it possible to incorporate Kelp powder in this? Would this then require a perseverative?
Yes and no 🙂 But I do really hate the way seaweed powder smells, so tread carefully. Happy making!
Great mask. I made it for a friend and she was over the moon. Her skin is nevertheless quite problematic. But this mask worked fine for her.
I’m thrilled to hear it! Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making 🙂
Hi Marie! Have you ever had any issues with regular use of clay masks clogging up your drains at all? Thanks!
Marie – Love, love, love that you love to share your knowledge with us and I’m so happy to have found you all over the net!!!
I made my own version of this but finding it to be quite oily. My skin seems to look and feel clean and wonderful, but the oily face is yucky. I pretty much changed a few things:
Kokum butter, rice bran oil, apricot, Vit E, E-wax, Cetyl alcohol, rosemary, lavender, and geranium essential oil. Used French Red Clay and white Kaolin. Too much oil?
this looks amazing
can i use Emulium mellifera( INCI : Polyglyceryl-6 Distearate (and) Jojoba Esters (and) Polyglyceryl-3 Beeswax (and) Cetyl Alcohol) instead of Emulsifing Wax?