I am loving this gentle (yet super effective) creamy lavender cardamom cleansing lotion these days. It got its first hardcore test late one night (ok, early one morning) when I returned from a sparkle themed party with a good half of my face completely coated in neon pink glitter thanks to some Ben Nye Glitter Glue and some slightly misguided Pinterest inspired glitter dreams. I’d definitely gone way overboard with the glitter application (I was aiming for something Coachella-esque but ended up straddling the line between “sparkle spartan” and some sort of Vegas Barbie cancan dancer) and was definitely a bit worried about a) getting it all off and b) getting it all off without sandblasting my face with glitter flecks. This creamy lavender cardamom cleansing lotion was more than up to the task (phew).
This creamy cleanser is really just lotion, with one cleansing addition—Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI) (USA / Canada) (or SCI). SCI is a safe, super gentle surfactant made from coconuts that’s sometimes sold as “Baby Foam” since it’s mild enough to use in baby products. It gets a 1/10 safety rating on Skin Deep (that’s what coconut oil and almond oil get, for reference).
I read that SCI can be tricky to dissolve/melt into things, so I decided to do some experiments. I started my blending a few spoonfuls of it (the variety I have is a somewhat clumpy powder) to a fine dust in my DIY only coffee grinder (make sure you wear a dust mask for this bit—you don’t want to inhale fine powders) and then set off to see how it’d dissolve in water. The answer? Very well! As long as you sprinkle it over the surface of the water a wee bit at a time it’ll easily incorporate with a bit of gentle whisking. I also learned that it’s very absorbent; 5g in about 100g of water will make quite a thick, creamy paste, which I didn’t expect at all!
Once you’ve got the SCI ground up, this cleansing lotion is crazy easy to make (and it’s not like grinding up the SCI is hard!). Heat the two parts, combine them, whisk everything together, and gently add the SCI. That’s it! You’ll be left with a lovely tube of creamy cleanser that you can massage into your skin and easily rinse off, leaving your skin gently cleansed and feeling lovely. Give it a go, I think you’ll love it 🙂
Also, can we talk for a moment about how awesome Humangear GoToobs are?! I got a couple for Christmas last year and I am smitten. They come in a variety of sizes and colours, and while they’re more expensive than most of the packaging I use, they are fantastically re-usable (and they don’t leak!). They dissemble into three pieces so you can thoroughly clean them, and the squeezy silicone bit is wonderfully resilient. Most squeezy tubes I’ve purchased from DIY type supply shops are pretty darn hard to properly clean out and use again, so I’m thrilled with these things (these ones are also mucho easier to fill than most other squeezy tubes I’ve worked with thanks to their wide mouths). Amazon sells them if you want to grab a few 🙂
Creamy Lavender Cardamom Cleansing Lotion
50g | 1.76oz distilled water
2g | 0.07oz vegetable glycerine
Kick things off by running a few spoonfuls of SCI through your DIY-only coffee grinder to turn it into a fine powder. Make sure you wear your dust mask while you do this, and leave the lid on your coffee grinder for several minutes after grinding to give the dust time to settle, making it harder to accidentally inhale. Measure out 4g (0.14oz) of that powdered SCI and set it aside.
While the emulsifying wax mixture is melting, combine the water and glycerin in a small glass measuring cup and gently warm.
Once the emulsifying wax mixture has melted, add the water mixture. Heat through to ensure everything is melted before removing the pan from the heat.
Whisk the mixture as it cools (or use an immersion blender, which will help lotions made with Polawax or Emulsifying Wax NF thicken up faster)—it will thicken into a nice white cream (the thickening may take a few days if you are using a different emulsifying wax than Emulsimulse/Ritamulse and no immersion blender).
Now’s the time to add the SCI! Sprinkle it over the surface of the lotion a wee bit at a time, gently whisking to incorporate it. Don’t use an immersion blender for this part, or for any part afterwards, or you’ll whip it all up into a foamy lather!
Once you’ve added all the SCI, gently whisk in the essential oils and your preservative (though do check the instructions for your specific preservative—some have special instructions for adding to concoctions) and decant the mixture to a pump-top bottle or squeezy tube (I love Humangear GoToobs).
To use, massage a quarter-sized amount of it (or more) into your skin—no need to blend it with water before using. Wipe off with a damp washcloth and enjoy your clean skin!
Don’t have the oils or butters called for in the recipe? Read this for information on choosing carrier oil substitutions.
I’m afraid I’m not familiar enough with surfactants in general to comment on alternative surfactants, and I haven’t tested this recipe using soapnuts, soap, or other natural foamy type things as an alternative to SCI, so I can’t offer any suggestions on that either, though I’d love to hear about it if you try it!