I am so very thrilled with this gentle facial cleanser, and I think you will be, too. It’s thick and creamy, and works into a gentle lather as you massage it into damp skin. It rinses away easily, leaving your face clean and smooth, but not overly dry. And, unlike many similar store bought products, it doesn’t have any chemical surfactants in it.
I no longer recommend using alkaline cleansers like soap or baking soda on your face; read this for more information.
The first time I heard of cleansing balm was in an email from a reader back in 2012 (maybe… I can’t find it). I was intrigued by the idea, but uncertain on how to execute it, so I shelved it somewhere in my DIY memory, and went on my merry way. Then, when I finally got liquid soap sorted, I had a thought, and it turned out to be a very good thought.
Previous experiments have taught me that wax + soap is not a very good idea (it leaves a sheen of wax on the skin, allowing you to glue yourself into your clothes), so I went with a blend of olive oil (pomace) (USA / Canada) and cocoa butter (USA / Canada), which are lovely and moisturizing, but not at all sticky. They also set up to a soft solid state after a few days.
Into this oil base I blended some liquid soap paste, which is much softer and more cooperative than solid soap when it comes to blending and mixing. I melted the oils with the soap, though the soap won’t melt—it’ll stay blobby. No worries.
Once the mixture has cooled and set up, we whip it! The electric beaters cream everything together beautifully, leaving us with a soft, creamy cleanser. I finished it off with a wee bit of white kaolin clay (USA / Canada) and a few drops of essential oils. The resulting balm is soft, creamy, cleansing, and luxurious—I think you’ll love it.
I no longer recommend using alkaline cleansers like soap or baking soda on your face; read this for more information.
20g liquid soap paste
15g olive oil (pomace) (USA / Canada)
10g cocoa butter (USA / Canada)
1 drop lavender essential oil
1 drop black pepper essential oil
3 drops frankincense essential oil
1 tsp white kaolin clay (USA / Canada) (or other fine clay you have on hand)
Combine the liquid soap paste, olive oil (pomace) (USA / Canada), and cocoa butter (USA / Canada) in a small double boiler and melt. The soap won’t dissolve in, so just mash it up into smaller chunks. Heat the mixture through for about 10 minutes, and then remove it from the heat.
Let your oily/buttery mixture set up at room temperature—this will take a couple days since only the cocoa butter (USA / Canada) will solidify, and it has a pretty low melting point. I made this a two weekend project, and just let it set up over the work week.
When your mixture has set up, it’ll be soft enough to easily dent with a finger. Scrape it into an electric beater friendly bowl, and whip it up, blending thoroughly so you can’t see any bits of soap paste in the mixture. Blend in the clay and essential oils, and you’re done!
To use, wet your face and massage a small amount (a dab of about half a teaspoon) of the balm into your skin with your finger tips. Massage off with a damp wash cloth and enjoy your happy, clean skin!
I like to store this balm in a plastic jar with a screw-top lid. This makes it especially awesome for travel as it’s a solid (so carry-on friendly), but you don’t have to wait for a bar of soap to dry out/try to pack a gross, slimy bar of soap.
Where do you get the soap paste?
She makes it 🙂
You’ll want to make your own liquid soap paste 🙂
Is there a way you can just substitute a premade liquid soap brand and thicken it? I have a wonderful natural one that I like that’s for all over.
I wouldn’t recommend it—the entire recipe would have to be re-formulated to compensate for the added water, and you’d probably encounter lathering when you whip it up.
Now THIS is pure genius!! Marie, you’re a true innovator of the diy world!
Thanks so much, Fatima!
Can you just use liquid Castile soap?
Hi Marg! I really wouldn’t recommend it, the texture would be all wrong as you’d be introducing a lot of extra water to the mix. You’d also be likely to start encountering some lathering while you whip it up, which you don’t want.
My skin is really oily and thus gets congested. I’m thinking of making this and added a bit of pumice. What kind of essential oils would keep break outs at bay?
Thanks, and I adore your blog!
Hi Laurie! Black pepper, tea tree, cedarwood, niaouli, patchouli, rosemary, and vetiver essential oils can all help with acne 🙂 Thanks for reading!
Perfect timing as I am running out of the facial wash I am currently using. Will have to put together your recipe for the liquid soap paste and then make this facial cleanser. Thanks again Marie for sharing and your inspiration.
Wonderful! I look forward to hearing how this works for you—have fun making it!
This is such a genius recipe thank you so much for sharing . At the moment all I have is a concentrated liquid soap and a cream soap base do you think its possible to duplicate the balm subbing the soap paste with either the cream soap or liquid soap thank you in advance .
Hi Blanca! The soap paste I’m talking about here is the paste you get when making liquid soap before it’s been diluted—is that what you’re calling “concentrated liquid soap”? If so, that’s exactly what you need 🙂
This is a definitely a recipe that I must try! Can I use as a liquid soap base just a simple bar of soap that I made. I make my own soap so I’m wandering if that would work?
Thanks! I love you blog so much! 🙂
Hi Cristina! Don’t use soap made from NaOH for this—it isn’t soft enough. Instead, you’ll want to make your own liquid soap paste and use that 🙂
Hi Marie, How wonderful you are. I made a batch of liquid soap paste of 500g. So I can do different sort of products. I must try your cleansing balm. Thank you so much!
Thanks so much, Agnes 🙂 Have fun!
Thank you, Marie! Where do you find beautiful and practical containers found in this blog and the Foot Balm blog?
Hi Donna! I got them both from Saffire Blue 🙂
Thank you so much! This is great, and I can’t wait to try it. I just started making liquid soap, and love it, and loved your post about how easy it can be. Your posts inspire me!
You have a great, creative imagination, and I love that you share your results with us.
I’m so thrilled, Beth 🙂 Thanks so much for reading & enjoy that liquid soap!
Any soap, no matter how natural, will strip your skins natural sebum and destroy the acid mantle. It’s best just to leave it out and let the oils dissolve make-up and other oils by themselves. For those prone to break outs, just wipe some witch hazel on your face to remove oil residue.
I’ve tried washing my face with oil before (for a few months) and never really warmed to it. I found it to be surprisingly hard on my skin, which I wasn’t expecting. If it works for you, though, that’s great!
I mustered up the courage to try you liquid soap, it worked a treat. Much less daunting than other ways. I then made the cleansing balm and love love love it.
Fantastic, Erin! I’m so thrilled 🙂 Thanks so much for reading & DIYing with me.
Very clever. I’m going to give this a go. I like using a whipped cocoa butter for moisturizing and also love the fact that no preservatives are needed for this. Great idea!
Thanks, Jan! Let me know how you like it 🙂
My liquid soap paste was made from coconut oil, olive oil and water. To 12 ounces of paste, about 12 ounces of mango butter was added, and maybe 4 or 5 ounces of olive oil. It got a bit messy and disorganized because I realized I used olive and coconut in my recipe, which is very liquid at our climate… So, I had an original smaller batch but then tried to cover up that mess. I did use an entire 12 ounces of paste, that was the batch size. The shea butter… not sure after trying to fix things. The full mixture was started Wednesday, and it was pretty much gel-like today. I decided to go ahead and whip it up, adding 5 tablespoons kaolin (1 tsp per 35 grams). It looks more like an opaque vaseline than whipped cream. It feels pretty good though. I’m looking forward to trying this again with a glycerin based castile liquid soap (olive oil, glycerin and lye only) to see if it is more moisturizing on application.
Hmm, interesting. I’ve been experimenting with this recipe a bit more and have found that the cocoa butter is necessary to keep the olive oil blended with the soap paste. I’ve also found that I do get a more vaseline-like/translucent appearance without the cocoa butter, so perhaps that’s it?
That could be it. The longer it sat, the more fine suds i get. I’m liking it more all the time. Too bad I didn’t write it down 🙁
Don’t you just hate that!?! I definitely have a few such concoctions and I always feel like such a dolt when I love them and have only the mildest idea of what I did 😛
Hi Marie. I’ve just made your liquid soap paste and planning on trying creamy vanilla body wash and this gentle balm. I have two questions regarding cleansing balm. Can I put the mixute in the fridge to solidify faster? Can i wash it off with warm water only or wash cloth is necessary step?
Thank you for your creativity.
Hi Iryna—I have found the mixture does need a few days to really come to its full hardness, fridge or not. I’ve also found that I do need the scrubby-ness of the washcloth to get the balm off my face easily, but if you are more patient than I am you could likely get away without it.
Thanks for reading!
I was wondering how long before this would expire? Also could you store this in an air pump bottle instead of a jar?
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer questions!
Hi Shannon! Because this is a soap with a high pH, expiry isn’t a worry (though it can dry out a bit). Mine is nearly a year old now and is still 100% fine. I would not recommend a pump bottle, the balm has the consistency of peanut butter.
I have this problem . . . I can’t seem to make a recipe, any recipe, without modifying it. So, this one’s no exception =). I liked the idea of a cleansing balm but didn’t want to do without using black soap. I used the soap paste, a small amount of black soap, and a little extra of the olive oil, cocoa butter, and clay. The black soap softens up nicely, and the whole thing whipped up well. It’s red, because I used rose kaolin clay.
I had concerns that the soap paste might be drying for the face, as even diluted homemade liquid soap tends to be harsher on the skin than homemade bar soap. But, it hasn’t been, due, I think, to the added oil/butter.
Thanks for yet another option of skin care things to make . . . and force my family to try =). They’re actually good sports, and will obediently sniff, lather up, rub on, spray on, etc.
How funny, Susan! I’ve had a black soap cleansing balm on my to-dev list for ages—great minds clearly think alike 😉 And I definitely know what you mean about friends and family! Mine are spoiled in soaps and lip balms… whether they like it or not!
this was my first effort making a cleansing balm and I LOVE it.
I don’t love cleaning up everything though.
My sink is destroyed and waxy looking (i added some wax) any tips?
Awesome! Read this for clean up tips 🙂
Could I use this soap base? http://www.voyageursoapandcandle.com/Castile_Soap_Paste_p/62520.htm
Would it have to cure first being castile?
It looks like you could, though I think you should ask the supplier about the aging 🙂
I made a big batch of your soap paste this weekend and can’t wait to try this and your Citrus Chamomile Liquid Shampoo. I have tried liquid soap many many times and failed as often. Yours came out beautifully! Thanks so much.
Thanks, Liezel! Enjoy your new shampoo and congrats on your soap paste 😀
I just love your websites. Can I use this cleansing balm for the eye area?
Thanks so much.
Hey Riana! I wouldn’t since it contains soap—it’ll sting if it gets into your eyes.
Hi Marie, I’m your forever follower, I love all your stuff! Well I have a question on this cleansing balms, how often should I use them? I’ve been using them every day but find they dry my skin, I suspect its about clays, what would I add instead? What do you think about just adding oats powder or rice powder?
Hey Anna! These things aren’t prescription pharmaceuticals—use them as often as works for you 🙂 Are you following up with a hydrating serum after washing? That’s a must for me whenever I wash my face, no matter what I wash it with. There’s really barely any clay in here, so I doubt it’s making a huge difference, but you could try eliminating it or using colloidal oatmeal instead 🙂