Today we’re creating an ultra-gentle Creamy Jelly Facial Cleanser! This gelled facial cleanser features some lovely soothing ingredients, a super mild surfactant, and a really fun, jell-o-y consistency. I’m loving it as my sole cleanser first thing in the morning, and as a secondary cleanser in the evening (before bed I use an oil-based cleanser to remove makeup and sunscreen first). It leaves my skin feeling fresh and clean but not dry or tight ❤️
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This formulation was a bit of a happy, jiggly accident. I was planning on making a gentle, wash-off micellar gel sort of thing—like a riff on this formulation from 2018, or this one from 2019. I also wanted to use a gelling agent that would allow me to incorporate a small amount of oil— something like Aristoflex AVC or Sepimax ZEN—like I have in formulations like this one.
So, I set to work, and once I had everything all blended up in the beaker I had something milky, and jelly-like, and… huh. That looks a lot like Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser 😂 If you compare the ingredients there’s very little in common (just 3 ingredients, one of which is water), but there’s no denying the end products look pretty darn similar. Neat!
The first thing I did while working on this formulation was do some tests to see how different surfactants and gelling agents played together. Surfactants like Cocamidopropyl Betaine and Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside contain a small amount of salt (usually in the 4–6% range, but check your datasheets to be sure), and salt = electrolytes, which can be problematic for some gelling agents, even at low concentrations. Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 (also known as Sepimax ZEN) quickly distinguished itself as the best choice thanks to its electrolyte tolerance, though I still found it was possible to “break” it using too much surfactant, and Cocamidopropyl Betaine performed better than Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside.
Once I’d sorted out my surfactant and gelling agent, I set to work creating a full formulation around that. I included two soothing ingredients (panthenol and calendula extract), but kept the concentrations quite low since this is a wash-off product. I also included 4% fractionated coconut oil; you could easily use a different lightweight liquid oil, I just recommend choosing something inexpensive, since, again—it’s a wash-off product. The inclusion of the oil is what gives this cleanser its creamy, opaque appearance.
You don’t need to heat anything to make this cleanser, but you will need to incorporate some waiting time to allow the Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 to fully hydrate. I found the easiest thing to do is cover it and leave it overnight, and then in the morning you can whisk it together and add the surfactant.
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Creamy Jelly Facial Cleanser
5g | 10% vegetable glycerine (USA / Canada)
1g | 2% Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 (USA / Canada / UK / Australia)
0.25g | 0.5% panthenol powder (vitamin B5) (USA / Canada)
0.5g | 1% calendula extract
2g | 4% fractionated coconut oil
0.25g | 0.5% Liquid Germall Plus™ (USA / Canada)
39.5g | 79% distilled water
1.5g | 3% Cocamidopropyl Betaine (USA / Canada)
Weigh the Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 and glycerine into a small beaker and stir to combine. Add the panthenol, cakendula extract, fractionated coconut oil, and liquid germall plus. Stir to combine.
Add the water, cover the mixture, and leave it to hydrate and dissolve—leaving it overnight is very convenient, but an hour or two will do.
After the mixture has had a chance to hydrate, whisk it thoroughly to combine and make the mixture uniform. Once the mixture is perfectly smooth and well blended, weigh in the Cocamidopropyl Betaine and gently stir to combine. You’ll notice the texture shift a bit to something much more jelly-like!
Now all that’s left to do is package it up. 50mL (1.69fl oz) soft squeeze tube from YellowBee, filling it with a large syringe. Ivan from YellowBee suggests a meat injector as an easier-to-purchase syringe type thing! You could also put this in a wide-mouthed jar or a squeeze bottle (it’s thick enough that it might not do well in a pump-top bottle, but see what you think once it’s done!).
Use as you would any facial cleanser—I like to work it up with a bit of water between my palms, massage that into my face, and then wipe it all off with a damp microfibre cloth. If you are wearing makeup and/or sunscreen I’d recommend using an oil based cleanser first to remove that, and then following up with this cleanser. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this 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 50g.
- 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 (panthenol).
- You could swap 20–30% of the distilled water for a hydrosol of choice for an easy way to incorporate a scent.
- You can use a different botanical extract your skin loves instead of calendula, or replace it with more water.
- Propanediol 1,3 will work instead of glycerine.
- You can use any inexpensive, relatively lightweight liquid oil instead of fractionated coconut oil.
- I don’t recommend swapping out the Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 (also known as Sepimax ZEN).
- You could try a gum instead, though you will need to drop the fractionated coconut oil or replace it with something like Olivem 300 that will dispense in the water without the pseudo-emulsifying properties of the Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this FAQ and this chart.
- 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. Be sure to look at the salt content and do a quick test with the gelling agent to ensure it still works.
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this.
The 50mL (1.69fl oz) soft squeeze tube was gifted by YellowBee.
Hello, Marie! How are you?
I made a simillar cleanser a few days ago, but with SCI! Looking at your formulation I want to make a few changes! =D
But, unfortunately, I don’t have Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 here (Brasil). I was think about Hydroxyethylcellulose and Olivem 300 as you suggested (I’m new in formulating (I’m Formula Botanica Studant!) and I’ve never used Olivem 300). Do you think it can solubilize a little bit of oil (if yes, how much?) in order to mantain coconut oil?
Really glad to came across your site!
Hi! All of those changes are big enough that you’ll have to try it yourself and see how it goes 🙂 Happy making!
This sounds so cool, would love to give it a go, but can’t find Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 in the UK. Apparently there is a supplier, but it’s not in stock due to the amount of hand sanitizer being produced at the moment Hope you are keeping safe and well Marie.
Yeah, the supply issues for that ingredient (and honestly anything that can be put in hand sanitizer) are a bummer right now, and now a thing I ever could’ve predicted! Hopefully the suppliers can step up production soon 🙂 Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making!
Hi Marie! This is a truly interesting formula. Wondering if the Coco Betaine can be increased to 5% to give more cleansing oomph? It would still be a gentle facial cleanser. Or could another surfactant be used such as 2-3% of SMC Taurate in addition to the 3% Coco Betaine? Or would this “break” the Sepimax Zen’s gelling capacity?
You will have to try it and see 🙂 Happy making!
Excellent project Marie.
Just in time! This sounds amazing and it’s so simple to make too!
Thank you so much, Kelly! ❤️
Glossier sounds neat! Looks beautifull. ❤️ I had Glossier type of cleanser, (Lovely day cleanser actually) but texture was weak milk. Ecogel has same electolyte issue so I blended it with xanthan gum this time which seems to work.
Oooh interesting! I’m definitely contacting you for an EU shopping list whenever I’m across the pond next 😀
Thank you sooo much Marie
Plz Marie I don’t know what the difference between cleanser and face wash LS, is cleanser washed with water?
Is there any recipe to make anti aging facial LS (oils and koh)??
Thank you so much
Hey! Please read this FAQ and this one as well 🙂
Oh sure, please do when you across the pond next time, haha. What a great expression! 😀
I made this again with decyl glucoside (great solubilizer!) + xanthan and even though it didn’t look as smooth as yours, it was stable and lovely. It took ~ 5 % decyl glucoside to get 2,5 % almond oil to solubilized. I enjoyed it more than original Lovely day’s cleanser – propably because I could choose all the ingredients, ha. Rose hydrosol, spearmint hydrosol, glycerine, some silk and panthenol. I’ve found same ingredients working with ecogel too if I hydrate it carefully and use either decyl/ lauryl glucoside.
Thank you so much for sharing, Johanna! ❤️
I wasn’t entirely happy with my ealier batches, they either separated (xanthan gum), were too thick, looked ugly or felt non pleasant on skin. Maybe I’m perfectionist haha. I’m liking new one the most. It has ecogel and a bit of rose hydrosol, but I followed your formulation otherwise. I like it a lot! Firm texture, non slimy skinfeel and performance are fantasic. I need to double-check if any europian suppliers carry any alternatives to ecogel – it’s quite time consuming.
I’d propably blend amphosol with water and other water soluble, non-heat sensitive ingredients at the beginning in the future (before hydrating eco-gel). I’ve whipped up several cleansers (even shampoos with quite a lot of coco or decyl glucosides) following the same protocol and it seems to make things easier. Thanks Marie. IMO you have amazing talent to formulate gentle but effective surfactant based cleansers…for instance your hand soaps/ hand wash’es are brilliant! They don’t feel drying, they feel nice on skin and formulations aren’t too complicated. Very cool.
Is there any reason I couldn’t add Isopropyl Myristate to this formula to make it better at removing sunscreen/make-up? Using two cleansers (oil+this) on my super sensitive skin to fully clean it. I know it’s typically used in the oil phase but could I subtract from the water in order to add the IP and not take away from the FCO/carrier oil content?
Ooops! “Using two cleansers on my super sensitive kin to fully clean it would be too much!”
Hey Mandie! If you’re looking for something gentle that also removes makeup well, I highly recommend this formulation 🙂 No tweaking required, and it’s great!
Hey Marie! Can I use Weylcare ATBS as a gelling agent? Also can I replace panthenol powder with allantoin? Thank you, enjoy your summer!
This may sound like a dumb question but is this a ‘natural’ face cleanser?