Today’s recipe is born from a request from Kimann, who loves a cleanser from a British skincare brand called Pai. I did some poking around, and it looks like a lovely brand that uses some great ingredients—but the price points! $50USD for 100mL/3.3fl oz of facial cleanser seems… excessive… to say the least (especially since nowhere in the ingredient list did I see “organic fairy dust” or “ethically sourced elf essence”… but it does start with “water”). Anyhow, armed with some inspiration I set off to create my very own awesome meadowfoam mango creamy facial cleanser.
A couple months ago I made a Creamy Lavender Cardamom Cleansing Lotion, so with that in mind, I developed a new and improved lotion-plus-surfactant cleanser. I wanted this one to be thicker and to have a more pronounced lather, so I increased the oil portion, used more surfactant (quite a lot more), and used a blend of two surfactants instead of just one. The final cleanser is incredibly thick and creamy, with a hint of optional exfoliation and utterly delicious lather. Success.
For my surfactants I used SLSa and SCI. Both sodium lauryl sulfoacetate (SLSa) and sodium cocoyl isethionate (SCI) are very gentle, and very safe surfactants, with great ratings on the EWG’s Skin Deep Database. A blend of the two of them makes for a lovely, slippery, creamy lather that’s utterly lovely. Because they’re both powdered surfactants we’re going to need to blend them up in a DIY-only coffee grinder so they’ll dissolve into the lotion better.
The oil blend is a beautiful mixture of skin-softening meadowfoam seed oil, cleansing castor oil, hydrating mango butter, and antioxidant packed vitamin E oil. Meadowfoam seed oil is a newish one for me, and it’s lovely. It’s rich in antioxidants and has a crazy-long shelf life because it’s highly resistant to oxidization. It hydrates skin without leaving it feeling greasy, and doesn’t smell like much of anything. If you don’t have it, jojoba is a great alternative, but meadowfoam can often be cheaper, so it can be a good alternative the other way around, too!
Between the oil to water ratio I’m working with and the thickening properties of the surfactants, the final creamy cleanser has a consistency like a whipped body butter. A wee bit goes a long way, and it’ll leave your face properly clean. If you’ve got very dry skin you might consider dropping the surfactants down to 5g (0.17oz) each, but I haven’t found the post-wash dry skin to be any different from after washing with soap, and in any event, it’s nothing a bit of my favourite facial serum can’t fix!
For essential oils I chose a blend of fresh fir balsam, bright lemon myrtle, and dark, rich patchouli. The predominant notes are clean and bright with a hint of citrus. The patchouli isn’t identifiable as such, but it adds a lovely deepness to the scent blend and helps anchor and balance out the higher notes. I love it! Fresh and bright, it’s especially perfect first thing in the morning.
Meadowfoam Mango Creamy Facial Cleanser
50g | 1.76oz just-boiled water
3g | 0.1oz vegetable glycerin
10g | 0.35oz sodium lauryl sulfoacetate (SLSa)
10g | 0.35oz sodium cocoyl isethionate (SCI)
Put on your dust mask, and weigh out the SLSa and the SCI. Transfer them to your DIY-only coffee grinder and blend them together for a solid twenty seconds. Leaving the lid on your coffee grinder, set it aside to settle while we keep working. You can take your dust mask off for now.
Weigh the water and glycerin into a small heat resistant glass measuring cup, and weigh the emulsifying wax, meadowfoam seed oil, castor oil mango butter, and vitamin E oil into another small heat resistant glass measuring cup. Place both of the measuring cups into a wide saute pan that has about 3cm/1″ of water in it, and place that on the stove top over medium heat to create a hot water bath. Leave this for at least twenty minutes to bring everything up to temperature (this will help kill any bugs that might be hanging out in the water) and melt the oils and butters together.
After twenty minutes have passed the oils should be all melted through. Pour the water into the oils and leave that measuring cup in the water bath for another five minutes. Give it a few quick blasts with your immersion blender to get things emulsifying, and then remove the measuring cup from the water bath. Dry it off and leave it to cool, blasting it with the immersion blender and scraping down the sides with a flexible silicone spatula every few minutes, until the outside of the measuring cup only feels slightly warm to the touch.
Use the immersion blender to blend in your preservative and the essential oils. Put your dust mask back on, and then begin slowly and gently stirring in spoonfuls of the ground surfactants. Don’t use the immersion blender for this part or you’ll whip up a big ol’ lather.
Once you’ve stirred in all the surfactants, cover your measuring cup with some cling film and leave them to dissolve, returning to stir every hour or so; if you use the cleanser now it’ll be pretty exfoliating. The cleanser will thicken up quite a lot as the surfactants dissolve. Leave it for about three hours before transferring it to a container. I put half of mine in a 60mL/2fl oz HumanGear GoToob (these things are incredible!) and the other half in a cute vintage jar I found at an antique shop.
To use, take a wee bit (maybe half a teaspoon) and massage it into your skin. Mix it with a wee bit of water for a lovely, smooth, creamy cleanser. Work to a lather, rinse, and voila!
If you don’t want to use surfactants you could try using a tablespoon of dried, ground soap instead, but I haven’t tried this myself—it may break the emulsion. If you dno’t have the two surfactants I used you could use 20g total of either. I’m not familiar with many surfactants at this point, but I think other powdered surfactants could also work; just check their recommended upper use percentage so you know you aren’t using too much.