This Ginger Oak Moss Solid Facial Cleanser is the sister to my Ginger Oak Moss Cleansing Balm Stick; the two accompanied me all around New Zealand last December, and did brilliantly. The inspiration for this came from a product I stumbled across while perusing /r/AsianBeauty: the Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick. I immediately saw the travel (and general) awesomeness potential of a solid facial cleanser in a push-up stick, and set out to create one of my own.
If you’ve made one of my foaming facial cleansers you’ll notice quite a few familiar ingredients: a gentle blend of SCI and Cocamidopropyl Betaine form the bulk of it, with some added foaming silk because I had some and it sounded like a lovely thing in a facial cleanser. That blend is solid on its wn, but pretty soft and sticky, so we’ll harden it up with some silky cetyl alcohol, conditioning BTMS-50, and creamy mango butter. Some hydrolyzed silk and panthenol bring some moisturizing and skin soothing properties, and a touch of Penstia™ powder improves the lovely glide of the final product.
I packed the first version of this into a paperboard container, just like its cleansing balm sister—I figured it would be a good way to give them a run for their money. Between international travel, a cross-New-Zealand road trip, twice daily handling (often with wet hands) and a fair amount of getting slammed around in my bag, they definitely weren’t getting babied. I’m happy to report both of them performed pretty darn well! I’m not sure I’d recommend them for such a task as paper + frequently getting wet doesn’t seem like an awesome long-term combination, and if it was a product I had purchased I’m not sure I’d be happy with the level of visual wear after two months, but perhaps people who go out of their way to purchase products in paperboard containers are not the type of people to fuss over such things? Anyhow—the specific tubes I used are from YellowBee, and they have the best paperboard tubes I’ve used. Some of the daintier ones I’ve tried soak through with oil in a matter of hours, whilst these sturdy ones from YellowBee haven’t soaked through at all and I’ve had concoctions in their tubes for upwards of a year now.
This cleanser contains 32.54% active surfactant matter, or ASM. We’re using SCI at 24%, and since it is 84% active, that’s 20.16%. Cocamidopropyl Betaine at 36% works out to 10.8% ASM (as it is 30% active), and Foaming Silk (31.5% active) brings 1.58% ASM to the blend at 5% usage. Upwards of 30% ASM would be high for a liquid cleanser, but higher ASMs are common (and rather necessary) in solid cleansers. Not only do the surfactants create the bulk of the bar and contribute heavily to its solid-ness, but we use significantly less of a solid cleanser than we would of a liquid one. Think of the amount of liquid soap you use compared to the amount of solid soap; an imperceptible swipe of a solid bar does the work of a full pump of liquid soap. You’ll find you use next to no product when using this cleanser, which is easily one of my favourite things about it—it lasts for absolutely ages!
The first time I made this cleanser I used a water bath, but found that it took absolutely ages, and the cleanser remained so thick and sticky that it was really hard to work with. I tried to remedy this by quickly microwaving it, which resulted in a small sudsy volcano in my microwave (whoops!), so this time I oped for using the stovetop over low heat. I found that really sped up the SCI/Cocamidopropyl Betaine melting time and ensured everything melted together quite a lot faster (BTMS and I have a bit of an ongoing why-won’t-you-melt-until-transparent-in-a-waterbath spat). You are certainly welcome to do everything in a water bath instead (especially if they’ve worked well for you in the past), but if you do decide to join me in the world of direct heat please watch it carefully! It’s easy to get a bit slack on the supervision when you’re used to water baths, which are very forgiving. Direct heat is not forgiving, and we are working with small amounts of things, which heat up very quickly. Make sure you have everything measured out before you turn the stove on as things will move much faster than usual, and you don’t want to walk away from your concoction lest you accidentally fry your facial cleanser.
Our essential oil blend is a lovely one: intoxicating oak moss, warm ginger, and bright michelia alba. You’re certainly welcome to mix it up and use something else if you don’t have those essential oils, or aren’t a fan of warm/woodsy/mysterious scent blends, but I sure like this blend! It’s soft and sweet, with bright, lightly spicy top notes, and it’s difficult to pin down any one individual note, which I love in a scent blend. Swoon!
Ginger Oak Moss Solid Facial Cleanser
Secondary Heated Phase
2.5g | 5% foaming silk (USA / Canada)
5g | 10% cetyl alcohol (USA / Canada)
5g | 10% BTMS-50 (USA / Canada)
3.55g | 7.1% mango butter (USA / Canada)
1g | 2% panthenol powder (vitamin B5) (USA / Canada)
1g | 2% hydrolyzed silk (USA / Canada) (wondering about substitutions?)
1.5g | 3% Penstia™ powder (USA / Canada)
Combine the Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate and Cocamidopropyl Betaine in a small saucepan and place over low heat until smooth and uniform, stirring frequently. Ensure the heat is very low!
While the surfactants are melting, weigh out the cetyl alcohol, BTMS-50, mango butter, panthenol, hydrolyzed silk, and Penstia™ powder into a small bowl or beaker to add later.
Once the Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate and Cocamidopropyl Betaine have transformed into a smooth, uniform white paste, stir in the foaming silk. When that is uniform, add the remainder of the secondary heated phase, stirring to combine and melt through.
When the mixture has melted completely, remove it from the heat, and stir as it cools. Once the temperature drops below 50°C, stir in the liquid germall plus and the essential oils, and then quickly transfer the mixture to a 30g (1oz) push-up tube (USA / Canada). You’ll need to sharply rap the tube on your counter to knock the paste down as it’ll be rather stiff—a necessary side effect of allowing the mixture to cool enough to add our preservative.
Once all the paste is packed into the tube, smooth off the top with your spatula and leave it to set up for a day before using it. To use, glide the surface of the cleanser across damp skin, and then wipe it off with a damp microfibre cloth.
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this cleanser will regularly come into contact with water, you must include a broad-spectrum preservative to ward off microbial growth. This is non-optional. Even with a preservative this project is likely to 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.
To make the 2:3 SCI:Cocamidopropyl Betaine pre-made paste simply weigh 100g SCI and 150g Cocamidopropyl Betaine into a 250mL mason jar. Place that mason jar in a water bath until the paste is uniform and smooth. Keep the paste in the freezer and use as needed.
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 200g.
- You can use a different liquid anionic surfactant instead of the foaming silk; foaming oats would be a good option! Look for something that is approximately 30% active matter for a similar final total surfactant concentration.
- You can use a different soft butter instead of mango butter; shea butter, sal butter, or mowrah butter would all be good choices.
- You can use a different hydrolyzed protein instead of silk, like oat or wheat.
- You can replace the Penstia™ powder with arrowroot starch or a light clay like kaolin or French green