A while back Jane wrote to me to tell me about a cleansing milk/toner she’d been using. “It’s basically a creamy citrus-scented toner that you can use as a single step instead of cleanser AND toner if you don’t wear tons of makeup. I realized since it’s such a basic ingredient list, it must be fairly simple to make, but the closest thing I’ve ever made to this is salad dressing. It’s not SUPER expensive to buy, but when you actually use it you go through it super fast—and I figure there’s got to be a better way. They also have a “one step” cleansing milk, which I haven’t used but think is basically the same thing with more oils and less alcohol, and may have more beneficial qualities for all I know.”

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From my perusal of the ingredients of the two products Jane mentioned, it looked like both of them used an included emulsifier to do the bulk of the cleaning, making them similar to micellar water. I loved her mention of a creamy toner + cleanser + cleansing milk, so I decided to aim for a hybrid of those three ideas and see what happened (spoiler: it’s good!).

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The bulk of the cleanser is a blend of water and astringent witch hazel, with some added hydrating glycerin. The witch hazel brings that fresh, toner feel to the cleanser, which is quite lovely.

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To that I’ve blended in a mix of jojoba oil, turkey red oil, and soy lecithin. The TRO and lecithin are the emulsifiers, and do the bulk of the cleaning as well as keeping things from separating too quickly. Please don’t ask about leaving them out. They need to be there for this to be a cleansing milk. Read this to learn more about soy lecithin. There are other emulsifiers you could use (like polysorbate 20), though they’re less natural.

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I chose a blend of vanilla-like benzoin and lavender for the essential oils, and I love how soft and lightly sweet they smell. The original used citrus essential oils, but it’s not a great idea to put citrus essential oils on your skin and leave them there due to photo sensitivity concerns, so I went in another direction.

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Lavender Cleansing Milk

40g | 1.41oz just-boiled water
55g | 1.94oz witch hazel
5g | 0.16oz vegetable glycerin

5g | 0.17oz jojoba oil
10g | 0.35oz turkey red oil
10g | 0.35oz soy lecithin or sunflower lecithin

2 blobs benzoin
10 drops lavender essential oil

Broad spectrum preservative of choice (Why?)

Weigh everything except the essential oils and preservative out into a heat resistant measuring cup and heat through in a water bath.

Once everything has warmed through, thoroughly blend the mixture together using an immersion blender (the extra power ensures the soy lecithin thoroughly incorporates and helps form a better emulsion). If you don’t have an immersion blender, you could also just pour the entire lot into a normal blender and blend it in there. Add the essential oils and preservative and blend again.

Decant the cleansing milk into a 120mL/ four fluid ounce bottle. To use, shake the bottle and pour some of the cleansing milk onto a cotton ball (I love the jumbo ones for stuff like this). Wipe it over your face and enjoy your fresh, clean, hydrated skin!

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