I might as well own up to it and declare my solemn love for cleansing oils. We have moved past the crush stage and into a stable, long-term relationship. I love how gentle (yet effective!) they are—they leave my skin feeling delightfully clean without feeling hardcore stripped dry and sad. I also love how they’re crazy easy to make (melt, stir, done!) and customize. I’m on a bit of a green tea extract kick right now (lotion down, more goodies to come!), so I decided to whip up a fragrant, antioxidant packed cleansing lotion when I ran out of my last bottle.
So, what makes an oil a cleansing oil? Basically, it has some added oil-soluble emulsifiers. Emulsifiers are surfactants, but the ones we’re using here don’t lather up into the fluffy bubbles you might think of when you think about surfactants. These emulsifiers allow us to easily combine the oil cleanser with the water we’re washing our faces with. The oil and the oil-loving end of the emulsifiers will dissolve the gunk on our face, and the water-loving end of the emulsifiers will carry it all down the drain all nice and non-greasy like. This gives us an effective cleanser with a clean rinse-off—double win!
Since oil cleansers are water-activated at the point of use, we can do something neat we don’t usually do with anhydrous projects—we can include water soluble powders (the inclusion of a solid emulsifier helps keep them in suspension, too). These things would be gritty and unpleasant in something like a massage oil or a body butter, but since we add water to our cleansing oil at the instant of use they get a chance to dissolve before use, which I think it pretty lovely. This time around I chose silk (a wonderful humectant for the skin) and green tea extract (antioxidants, baby!).
If you don’t have green tea extract this is probably an ok project to try using something like matcha tea in as it won’t be exposed to water until the moment of use, so we aren’t worry about food tea rapidly oxidizing and becoming effectively useless. This is mostly hypothesis, though—I’m not sure how I’d go about measuring the oxidization rate to know for sure!
I’ve been trying some Asian beauty principles over the last couple months, and one of them is double cleansing. That is, you wash your face once with an oil cleanser, and then again with a gentle foaming cleanser. Many parts of an Asian beauty skin care routine are pretty inaccessible to the home DIYer (snail slime, anyone!?), but these first two steps are definitely very DIY-able. And best of all, my skin loves them! I’ve noticed some utterly amazeballs improvements to my skin in the last few months, and while double cleansing isn’t the only change I’ve made, it’s definitely a positive one I won’t be moving away from anytime soon (yes, I will share those other things soon—when I know what’s worth sharing!). I’d really encourage you to give it a try! I’ll be sharing a matching green tea foaming facial cleanser in the next couple weeks, but in the meantime, this one is also lovely.
So, a quick recap: gentle facial cleanser that’s a snap to make, and works like a dream. Sounds like you should make some, eh? 😉
Green Tea Cleansing Oil
10g | 0.35oz BTMS-50 (USA / Canada) or other complete emulsifying wax (not beeswax!)
20g | 0.7oz Olivem 300 (USA / Canada) or Polysorbate 80 (USA / Canada) (NOT olivem1000!)
52g | 1.83oz grapeseed oil
15g | 0.53oz castor oil (USA / Canada)
0.5g | 5 drops Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada)
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.
While the oils melt together, stir the silk and green tea extract together in a small dish.
Once everything has melted, remove the measuring cup from the heat and dry the outside of it off with a dish towel. Set the measuring cup on a towel or hot pad to insulate it from the counter and stir the mixture with a flexible silicone spatula to combine everything. Pour a small amount (~15mL/1 tbsp or less) of the liquid mixture into the silk/green tea mixture and stir to combine. I find doing this results in less clumps. Once you’ve got a relatively uniform mixture, add that back to the rest of the oils and stir to combine.
To use, take a nickel-sized amount of the cleanser into your palm and combine it with a bit of warm water. Massage it into your face and wipe it off with a damp cloth. Follow up with the rest of your skincare routine.
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this cleanser does not contain any water, it does not require a broad-spectrum preservative (broad spectrum preservatives ward off microbial growth, and microbes require water to live—no water, no microbes!). Be sure to keep it dry to ensure it lasts as long as possible—don’t let any water get into the container and it should easily last a year.
If you have liquid green tea extract instead of powdered you can use it, but you will need to add a broad-spectrum preservative like Liquid Germall Plus to the entire cleanser formula as liquid extracts contain water. Drop 0.5g from the grapeseed oil to make room for the Liquid Germall Plus at the recommended 0.5% usage rate.