I love this fragrant, creamy stick of cleansing goodness. I took the first version with my to New Zealand, where I spent much of my time on the road, camping somewhere new each night, and this stick was brilliant. I was so happy to have something I could use quickly and easily, without worrying about spilling or leaking. If you’ve got some travels on your horizon, or are simply trying to streamline your skincare routine as much as possible, I highly recommend giving this stick form cleansing balm a go!
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The idea for this cleansing balm in stick form came about when I realized I felt like my fingers were unnecessarily complicating matters when I was using my Forest Cleansing Balm. I’d taken to picking up a small amount of it, massaging that into dry skin, and wiping it off with a damp microfibre cloth, and I got to thinking the whole process could be streamlined if I could just hold the cleansing balm straight up to my face and go from there.
I made several changes to my existing cleansing balm formulas—it wasn’t quite as simple as pouring a regular recipe straight into a tube, though that’s not too far off! My first change was making a slightly thicker, sturdier product. I wanted it to still melt readily on contact with the skin, but I didn’t want it to be finger-scoopable soft.
Change #2 was dropping clay. Clay isn’t a standard cleansing balm ingredient, but I sure like it. However, in order to pour this smoothly into a tube it has to be hot—hot enough that I found the clay didn’t stay in suspension well, and as I was using the balm in New Zealand I kept finding random streaks of clay throughout it.
The final change was the inclusion of a broad spectrum preservative. I couldn’t guarantee my skin would always be dry when using it, and it was easy enough to include 0.5% liquid germall plus. I chose liquid germall plus because this balm, while anhydrous, contains several emulsifiers (so it’ll blend in thoroughly despite being water soluble), and we want the preservative to take up residence in any water that might be introduced, rather than hang out in the oil part of the balm.
I chose the Ginger Oak Moss scent combination because I’ve been in love with it ever since making my Ginger Silk lotion last year. I’ve still got a bit left (I’ve been hoarding it next to my bed as my pre-sleep-treat) and I didn’t want to run out of gingery oak-mossy things in my life! You are certainly free to choose a different scent combination if you like, but I’m a massive fan of all things oak moss, and adding a touch of bright spice is divine. Swoon!
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Ginger Oak Moss Cleansing Balm Stick
2.5g | 10% Polawax (USA / Canada))
2g | 8% Polysorbate 80 (USA / Canada)
10.6g | 42.5% safflower oil
2.75g | 11% castor oil (USA / Canada)
4.75g | 19% stearic acid (USA / Canada / UK)
2g | 8% cetyl alcohol (USA / Canada)
Cool Down Phase
0.125g | 0.5% vitamin E oil
0.125g | 0.5% Liquid Germall Plus™ (USA / Canada) (or other broad spectrum preservative of choice at recommended usage rate [why?])
0.125g | 0.5% essential oils
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.
After about 20–30 minutes everything should be completely melted through. Remove the water bath from the heat, remove the measuring cup from the water bath, and dry it off with a dish towel. Stir with a flexible silicone spatula to incorporate.
Once the melted balm has cooled to below 50°C (122°F), stir in the cool down phase ingredients and pour the balm into a 30g (1oz) push-up tube (USA / Canada). Let it set up. Once it has fully solidified and is uniform in colour you’re ready to go!
Substitutions & Scaling
- 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 25g.
- You can use a different complete emulsifying wax instead of the Polawax. You cannot use beeswax!
- You can use Olivem300 (not 1000—it’s solid, not liquid!) instead of Polysorbate 80
- You can use a different inexpensive, relatively light oil instead of the safflower oil. This is also a good place to use up liquid oils that are nearing the end of their shelf lives.
- You can reduce the amount of castor oil and make it up with more safflower oil to slightly reduce the cleansing power.
- You can use a different blend of essential oils or leave the balm unscented
- Use a different recipe if you want to use wax instead of stearic acid and cetyl alcohol
- You can likely replace the cetyl alcohol with more stearic acid, but I wouldn’t try the reverse