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
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.