Today we’re blending up a gentle Lavender Aloe Cream Facial Cleanser, featuring fragrant lavender hydrosol, soothing aloe vera, and gentle Cocamidopropyl Betaine. This lotion-like cleanser is brilliant for dry skin, offering great cleansing without being harsh. You can easily customize the scent and adjust it to work with the carrier oils you have on hand. I’m loving it as a stand-alone cleanser morning and night, and I hope you will as well!
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This Lavender Aloe Cream Facial Cleanser formulation was inspired by the cleansing conditioner formulations I’ve shared over the last few years—basically a lotion, but with an added amphoteric surfactant. Cocamidopropyl Betaine is our amphoteric surfactant and primary cleansing ingredient in this cleanser, though the Polawax will also contribute some cleansing power/improved rinse-off. I find Cocamidopropyl Betaine plays much more nicely with simple emulsions than non-ionic and anionic surfactants, which can sometimes cause emulsified cream cleansers to split. It’s also a very gentle surfactant with quite low lather—a great choice for a gentle cream cleanser!
Cocamidopropyl Betaine doesn’t contribute a lot of foam, and you won’t really notice any lather with this cleanser. The finished product definitely has a very cleanser-like slip to it, and it does cleanse the skin, but you won’t notice a bunch of bubbles. That’s ok! Combine the low concentration of a low-lather surfactant with the relatively high oil content (oil suppresses lather) and you’ve got a recipe for a very gentle, low-lather end product.
Our water phase is mostly watery things; distilled water, calming and fragrant lavender hydrosol, and soothing aloe vera juice. There’s also quite a lot of moisturizing vegetable glycerin, which I’m loving in high doses in all kinds of things these days. A titch of xanthan gum adds extra body and emulsion stabilizing goodness.
The heated oil phase for this Lavender Aloe Cream Facial Cleanser is pretty simple; Polawax to emulsify, cetearyl alcohol to thicken, and fractionated coconut oil as an inexpensive, lightweight carrier oil. The oil phase is pretty small at just 10%, which is a big part of why I included 4% cetearyl alcohol. An oil-in-water emulsion with a smaller oil phase will be less viscous than one with a larger oil phase, so some potent thickening goodness helps boost viscosity. I choose fractionated coconut oil as the carrier oil in this formulation purely because it is inexpensive and readily available; you could easily replace it with a different lightweight, inexpensive liquid carrier oil. Just use what you have!
The finished cleanser is really lovely—softly fragrant, effective, and gentle. I’ve been using it as a stand-alone cleanser for removing everything from sunscreen to makeup to just day-to-day sweat and sebum (though I am still using a bit of cleansing oil on a cotton pad to take off waterproof eye makeup). I’ve made this in a 50g (1.76oz) batch, but if you don’t have a small electric mixer with a good amount of kick I would recommend scaling the batch up to 100g (3.5oz) so you can use an immersion blender. The consistency of this cleanser makes it suitable for a squeeze bottle, squeeze tube, or pump top bottle. Enjoy!
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Lavender Aloe Cream Facial Cleanser
Heated water phase
10.1g | 20.2% distilled water
15g | 30% lavender hydrosol
10g | 20% aloe vera juice
2g | 4% Cocamidopropyl Betaine (USA / Canada)
7.5g | 15% vegetable glycerine (USA / Canada)
0.15g | 0.3% xanthan gum
Heated oil phase
1.5g | 3% Polawax (USA / Canada)
2g | 4% cetearyl alcohol (USA / Canada)
1.5g | 3% fractionated coconut oil
Cool down phase
0.25g | 0.5% Liquid Germall Plus™ (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 wide, flat-bottomed sauté pan.
Weigh the heated water phase into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Weigh the entire lot (measuring cup + ingredients) and note that weight for use later. Weigh the heated oil phase into a second heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Place both measuring cups in your prepared water bath to melt everything through.
After about 20–30 minutes the oil part should be completely melted and the water part should be thoroughly dissolved. Remove the water bath from the heat and weigh the water phase. Add enough hot distilled water to the heated water phase to bring the weight back up to what it was before heating, and then pour the water part into the oil part. Stir with a flexible silicone spatula to incorporate.
Grab your immersion blender (for 100g [3.5oz]+ batches) or a mini mixed type tool (for smaller batches) and begin blending the cream cleanser, starting with short bursts so the still-very-liquid cream cleanser doesn’t whirl up and spray everywhere. Blend for about a minute, leave to cool for ten, blend for another minute or two, and repeat this blend-cool-blend cycle until the outside of the glass measuring cup is barely warm to the touch and the cream cleanser is thick and creamy.
When the cleanser is cool it’s time to incorporate our cool down ingredients. Because cool down ingredients are typically present at very low amounts you’ll need to use an accurate scale—preferably one accurate to 0.01g. As these more accurate scales tend to have fairly low (100–200g) maximum weights you won’t be able to put the entire batch of cream cleanser on that scale without blowing it out. So—grab a smaller dish. Add a scoop or two of cream cleanser, and then weigh the cool down ingredients into that, using the more accurate scale. Stir to thoroughly incorporate, and then stir all of that back into the master batch of cleanser. Doing it this way minimizes the amount of cool down ingredients lost to the secondary container.
And that’s it! Transfer to a container of choice; this will work nicely in a pump-top bottle or a squeeze tube/tottle. My 50g (1.76oz) batch fit into a 60mL (2 fl oz) bottle perfectly. Use as you would any facial cleanser.
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this cream cleanser contains water, you must include a broad-spectrum preservative to ward off microbial growth. This is non-optional. Even with a preservative, this project may 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.
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 50g.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this recipe, including why they’re included and what you can substitute them with, please visit the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia. It doesn’t have everything in it yet, but there’s lots of good information there! If I have not given a specific substitution suggestion in this list please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- You could use a different hydrosol for a different scent, or more distilled water for an unscented cleanser.
- You could replace the aloe vera juice with more water, or even witch hazel might be nice.
- If you’d like to learn more about the surfactants used and compare them to ones you might already have so you can make substitutions, check out this page. I recommend sticking to amphoteric surfactants for this cleanser.
- You could try propanediol instead of glycerin.
- You could try a different gum or gelling agent, like guar gum or hydroxyethylcellulose, instead of xanthan gum. You could also likely eliminate the gum and replace it with more water.
- A different complete emulsifying wax, like Emulsifying Wax NF or Olivem 1000 will work instead of Polawax.
- You could try cetyl alcohol instead of cetearyl alcohol.
- Any inexpensive liquid oil will work instead of fractionated coconut oil.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this page.
- If you want to include an essential oil or fragrance oil you could remove 0.1–0.5% water and add a corresponding amount of fragrance oil or essential oil in the cool down phase. Make sure you watch maximum allowable usage rates.
Marie you are a mind reading genius. This is just what I need, I was just thinking about my need for a new cleanser, and BAM! And I have everything lol I will definitely be making this at the weekend. 🙂 Hope you are keeping safe and well.
Can i swap btms50 instead of polowax?
That should work, though I would change the gum to one that isn’t anionic to avoid any conflict there. Happy making!
Hooray! I hope you love it to bits 😀 Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making 🙂
There is any facial cleanser that i can use it like an exfolianting soap adding some exfoliate?
Sorry about my english (i´m from brazil and i really like your page!!)
Try this 🙂
Hi, this is such a lovely recipe. How can I include plant extracts to this recipe?
Isn’t aloe juice heat sensitive?
Nope. Check out the sample formulations that use aloe from Lotion Crafter; every single one includes it in the heated phase if the formulation requires heat. Happy making!
Oh my! I’m making this today! What an awesome recipe Marie!
Woohoo! Enjoy 😀
I’m awful happy that you gave a new recipe using Cocamidopropyl Betaine. I bought it a few years back, before you took those classes and have a ton left, still.
I didn’t know if you still thought much of the product since you haven’t used it since, so I haven’t either.
But here it is! Thank you!
Hooray! But… I have shared a lot of formulations using Cocamidopropyl Betaine 🙂 42 in total (43 on Monday!), with 4 so far this year, and 10 last year, so roughly one a month? You can find the 8 most recent ones listed at the bottom of the Humblebee & Me DIY Encyclopedia (https://www.humblebeeandme.com/diy-encyclopedia/) entry for Cocamidopropyl Betaine, and then all of ’em if you scroll to the bottom of any page and click “Cocamidopropyl Betaine” in the “Tags” list in the website footer 🙂 That should give you lots of things to do with it—happy making!
Weird, but I just got notification that you replied to this and I saw a few preview sentences but I don’t see it here at all.
Maybe the entire reply will show up later.
You answered that you actually have used that product since a while ago. Ooops! Im sorry, this makes me look like I don’t read your ingredient lists. I almost always do, but when I see something listed that i don’t have, I usually stop reading.
I’ll type Cocamidopropyl Betaine into search and find all the recipes using it. Sorry Marie!
Well shoot, now I see your reply. Strange internet these days!
Thank you so much for this formula! I’m very interested in making my own facial cleansers, so this helped a lot ^^
Also, do you know, by chance, if you can solubilise SCI with Foaming Apple (Sodium Cocoyl Amino Acids; Seppic Proteol APL EF)?? I would like to know, if anyone has experience with it before purchasing ^^
You can certainly try it, but I find I tend to prefer to just use finely powdered Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI) when dispersing it in things like this and then I don’t have to worry about trying to dissolve it in something else first. I’ve got a formulation coming out at the end of the month doing it that way—stay tuned!
I have a question about your recipe from your book.You mentioned that some emulsifiers burn eyes.
May I substitute emulsifier in the recipe for mascara on Olivem1000, Montanov 68MB ore Ritamulse SCG?Thank you.
I am excited about your passion for baking bread. I have about 13 years of experience baking bread at home. And I support your interest and joy. I know how great it is to eat your own freshly baked bread.Enjoy and good luck)))
I know Ritamulse is a definite no—I haven’t tried the others in mascara.
I’ve been baking bread at home for about as long as you have, but sourdough is new for me! I liken it to learning how to drive standard after driving in automatic 🙂
This sounds absolutely beautifull. I love cream cleansers. I could try your way next time! Oh, here is my latest cream cleanser – I started from sugarplum cleansing conditioner because they have worked so well earlier. Thanks for inspiration!
2 % btms50
1 % decalact sebum + 3 % castor oil
3 % cetearyl alcohol
1 % cetyl alcohol
1 % allantoin
to 100 % vesi sis
20 % aloevera
5 % cucumber glycerite
1 % panthenol
6 % amphosol
0,5 % preservative cosgard 221
0,8 % HEC
Could I increase the Cocamidopropyl Betaine (to 15%) and decrease the water to make a creamy hand wash?
You can certainly try it! It should work in theory, it’s just a matter of what you think of it in the end 🙂 Happy making!
Hi there! Your work on here and YouTube is amazing and so inspiring. Thank you for all that you do!! Quick Question – I have aloe vera powder, can you recommend a dilution ratio to create aloe vera juice? I tried a 1:1 ratio, and that did not work out – lol! Maybe 1 part powder, 5 parts distilled water? 1 part powder, 10 parts distilled water?
Hey Courtney! Your supplier should provide some sort of guidance on dilution levels; mine is 200x, and I’ve also seen 100x and 50x. Have you tried digging around the documentation from your supplier to see if they give any sort of concentration numbers?
What is the difference between Cocamidopropyl Betaine and SCI. Ive used SCI in a cleanser before and its nice and non-irritating. How does Cocamidopropyl Betaine compare?
There are quite a few differences! I’d start by looking them both up in the Humblebee & Me DIY Encyclopedia (https://www.humblebeeandme.com/diy-encyclopedia/). Happy making!
Hi, is there a version free of alcohol? Thanks
Hey Estelle! Have you looked up the alcohol in the Humblebee & Me DIY Encyclopedia (https://www.humblebeeandme.com/diy-encyclopedia/)? It is not a drying alcohol, and is quite lovely for the skin. Given that, do you still wish to avoid it? If so, you can gain an understanding of what it does and what might be used instead in the encyclopedia as well. Happy making!
Just wanted to say I made this recently and I absolutely love it! I sent some to my daughter too and she’s also loving it. I’m normally a foaming cleanser sort of person but this has been so lovely for my skin. I suspect it will become a staple (though I did make an awful mess getting it into the bottles!)
Love everything I’ve made from here so far, and yes I’ve bought the book! As a scientist, I particularly love that you research all your ingredients.
Just a random question, does anyone from Australia know where I could get magnesium myristate? It is in so many of the recipes from the book but it’s impossible to find here. I ordered some from the US but that was a month ago and it still hasn’t arrived. There has to be another way – or is there a substitute I could use? Magnesium stearate isn’t quite doing the trick.
Try Heirloom in Sydney if you haven’t already found some.
No, Heirloom doesn’t have it, although they are one of my favourite suppliers! I later found that My Mica Obsession stocks it, though you have to hunt through the website to find it.
can I substitute the Cetearyl Alcohol with Cetyl Alcohol? Thats the only ingredient I don’t have 🙁
This is covered in the substitutions list 🙂
Hi Merie…I can’t wait to try this facial cleanser. I have a question tho. Can I use germall plus powder in place of liquid germall plus, cause thats what I have on hand also what phase should it be added to to make sure it will completely dissolve?
This is lovely! What a scent with blue tansy in it. Cleanses sebum, dirth, makeup and everything in a minute. There’s no need to use more cocamidopropyl betaine here. Xyliance works great, no viscosity Ioss or anything. I may have used 1-2 % more oil.
Yours is better. xx
Beautiful! Thanks for sharing ❤️
Oops, just noticed that it does loose some viscosity in the long run. Olivem didn’t.
Interesting! Thanks for sharing 🙂
I swab the fractionated coconut oil with neem oil since i want it to suits my acne skin. Since the smell quite awful i cover it with 0.5% tea tree essential oil. Thank you marie for the recipe
I’m glad you’re enjoying it!
Hi Sweet Marie,
I’ve been using your soap recipes for a few years and now I’m venturing out to other things. I tried this recipe and love how it feels on my skin. So gentle! One thing I’m not sure about and would love any input is that after a few days of making this recipe, I noticed small pieces of coconut oil that had hardened. Is there anyway of keeping the coconut liquified over the course of using it? It doesn’t seem temperature stable after making it. Our temperatures here (in a day) go from 85 to 65. Perhaps that’s it? Any suggestions to keeping that coconut stable?
The recipe calls for fractionated coconut oil, which is liquid. Sounds like you’re using virgin coconut oil, which is probably why you are seeing this effect.