When I was in Montreal last year I visited Coop Coco, a local DIY supplier, and poked around, looking for things I didn’t have that would fit in my suitcase. I ended up picking up a bottle of Sucragel, a cold-process emulsifier I’d never worked with before, brought it back to Calgary, and then pretty much forgot about. Until now! Ewelina sent in a recipe request for a very intriguing oily cleansing gel, and when I read through the ingredients, there was Sucragel, right in the thick of things. It was definitely time to pull Sucragel out of the pantry and start playing.
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Once I started reading about Sucragel I couldn’t believe I hadn’t played with it earlier! It’s so dang cool. The INCI of the stuff I have from Coop Coco is Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil & Glycerin (and) Aqua (and) Sucrose Laurate, but the INCI at Formulator Sample Shop is Glycerin (and) Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (and) Aqua (and) Sucrose Laurate. If you’re allergic to nuts you’ll want to be sure you’re getting the one that isn’t made with a nut oil. It’s both an emulsifier and a thickener—it can create oily gels that emulsify into a wonderful milky cleanser in when mixed with water, guys! At 5–10% it can be used as an emulsifier, and at 20–25% it creates oil gels. So. Cool. I was reading about this whilst on vacation (and away from my studio!) and I was so dang excited for my vacation to be over so I could go home and play with Sucragel. Aren’t I cool? Anywho.
As soon as I got home I started playing. And I started getting frustrated. It turns out the process for working with Sucragel is quite finicky and very important, and really not well indicated in much of the documentation I found. There were vague mentions of “lots of stirring”. Coop Coco to the rescue! They created a series of wonderfully detailed, picture-rich blog posts to give you the low-down on how to use Sucragel and it turns out “lots of stirring” is more or less it, but, well… it is lots. It’s a bit of a pain, and takes a while, but if you follow their instructions you’re golden.
The general gist of this cleansing gel is that it is pretty much a bunch of liquid oils that have been gelled used Sucragel and then fancied up a bit with some pretty smelling essential oils. The Sucragel is not only our gelling ingredient, but it’s also the ingredient that allows for great wash-off by emulsifying the oils in the cleanser with the water you’re washing with. The Sucragel really is the lynchpin ingredient of this recipe; there is no alternative, and if you want to make this recipe you need to get yourself some.
Once you’ve got the “oh my goodness so much stirring” thing down this is pretty simple to make. Measure your ingredients, fire up your electric beaters, put on some hearing protection, and set to work. I think you’ll find the video for this one extra helpful to see how it all comes together.
I made two different versions; the one in the blog is a clean turquoise colour and is scented with a blend of “Naughty by Nice” and “Oceanus” fragrances. The one in the video is coloured with a bit of orange mica and is scented with a blend of orange, palmarosa, and rose geranium essential oils—the blend is positively decadent! You can scent it however you like, but the scent I’ve specified in the post is the orange essential oil blend.
The end product is easily my new favourite oil cleanser. The gel-to-milk thing is so dang cool, and it leaves my skin feeling clean but not stripped. The consistency is super cool, too. If you like oil cleansing (and perhaps have been looking to avoid PEGs) I really recommend giving this a go!
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Oil Cleansing Gel
9.5g | 19% vegetable glycerine
0.225g | 0.45% orange essential oil
0.1g | 0.20% palmarosa essential oil
0.05g | 0.10% rose geranium essential oil
0.25g | 0.50% vitamin E oil
0.25g | 0.50% liquid germall plus (USA / Canada)
1/64 tsp mica, for colour (totally optional)
Weigh the Sucragel ingredients into a small, high-edged bowl that you can use a single electric beater in.
Weigh the oil phase into a small bowl or beaker and have a disposable pipette handy.
Beat the Sucragel with your electric beater until it is white, and then add a single pipette of oil. Beat for at least 30 seconds, and add another pipette of oil. Repeat, beating continuously, until the mixture thickens substantially and transforms into a translucent gel that forms soft peaks. At this point you can start adding the oil in slightly larger portions, continuing to beat thoroughly between additions.
Once you’ve incorporated all the oil, weigh the final phase ingredients into the empty oil container and add those gradually—I did this in approximately four even-ish sized additions—beating thoroughly between additions.
And that’s it! Transfer the cleansing oil gel into a 60mL / 2oz jar.
To use, combine a pea-sized amount of the cleansing gel in your palm with a bit of water, massage into your face, and rinse off. I typically follow this up with a foaming cleanser, my actives, and then a few hydrating serums and lotions.
Because this oil cleansing gel both contains water, and is almost certain to be contaminated with water as you use it, 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.
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 this batch calculator from Making Skincare. As written in grams this recipe will make 50g.
- You must use Sucragel. There are no alternatives. If you do not have it, you cannot make this recipe.
- You can use a different blend of liquid oils—I typically recommend relatively light, inexpensive ones, but a project like this is also a good place to get rid of oils that are nearing the end of their shelf lives.
- You can use a different essential oil or fragrance blend at 0.75%. If you want to adjust that amount, use the sweet almond oil to compensate.
The transluscent plastic jar wa gifted by YellowBee.