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
39.5g | 79% distilled water
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).
- 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.