If you’re looking for a new indulgent, creamy facial cleanser then I think this Rich Plum Face Wash is just the thing ❤️ Made with luxurious plum kernel oil and vitamin C rich Kakadu plum power, it’s a beautiful and gentle way to wash your face.
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This formulation is very close to a lotion formulation; if you swapped the Cocamidopropyl Betaine for some more distilled water you could use it as a leave-on lotion. It’s quite light and whippy for two main reasons. The first reason is that the oil phase is fairly small; at 15.5%, it’s in “lightweight lotion” territory. Our primary carrier oil is plum oil, which is a bit indulgent, but at 9% I think it’s a pretty do-able indulgence. The plum oil is also our sole scent source as it smells softly of marzipan. Yum!
The second reason is the emulsifier I’ve chosen; Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate. I’ve often described this emulsifier as “naked” as it emulsifies beautifully but brings little else to the formulation. While emulsifying waxes like Ritamulse SCG and BTMS-50 bring distinct and noticeable characteristics to our formulations, Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate is happy to lurk backstage and let the other ingredients in a formulation sing. If you don’t have it I have provided guidance on how to use something like Polawax instead, but I really, really recommend getting some Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate if you can. It’s wonderful.
Our water phase is really simple; water, moisturizing glycerin, and some Cocamidopropyl Betaine for ultra-gentle cleansing. This cleanser doesn’t bubble up, but you will get a low, rich, creamy lather when you blend it with a bit of water. I like to massage a dollop into damp skin and then gently wipe it off with a damp microfibre cloth.
We’re getting a bit of extra plummy goodness from some kakadu plum powder. This ingredient was a gift from a reader who I met for poutine in Montreal in the beforetimes, and I’m so excited to finally be using it. Kakadu plums are native to Australia, and are very rich in vitamin C—they can contain more than 100x more vitamin C than oranges! They also aren’t at all the same sort of plum as the plum oil we’re using; the plum oil comes from Prunus domestica, not the Terminalia ferdinandiana that is the kakadu plum. From my reading, any common ancestry they might share is pretty distant, so pairing them on their “plum-ness” isn’t hugely logical as the vast majority of the “plum-ness” that they share is in their English names. That said, they are both lovely ingredients, and they are both lovely in this formulation!
Making this is just like making a lotion, so if you’ve made a lotion before you are good to go 😊 I recommend packaging this product in a wide-mouthed jar as it is quite thick—I think you’d lose the ability to pump it out of a pump-top bottle pretty quickly.
Relevant links & further reading
- Vegetable Glycerin in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Cocamidopropyl Betaine in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Surfactants chart
- How can I substitute one surfactant for another? in the Humblebee & Me FAQ
- Can I use soap instead of foaming surfactants? in the Humblebee & Me FAQ
- Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Cetyl Alcohol in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Plum Oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Xanthan Gum in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Liquid Germall Plus in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Tocopherol (Vitamin E) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- More face wash formulations:
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Rich Plum Face Wash
Heated oil phase
0.75g | 1.5% Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate (USA / Canada / UK & EU / Australia)
2.5g | 5% cetyl alcohol (USA / Canada)
4.5g | 9% plum kernel oil (USA / Canada)
0.1g | 0.2% xanthan gum
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 or glass beaker. 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 and begin blending the lotion, starting with short bursts so the still-very-liquid lotion 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 lotion is thick and creamy.
When the lotion 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 lotion on that scale without blowing it out. So—grab a smaller dish. Add a scoop or two of lotion, 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 lotion. Doing it this way minimizes the amount of cool down ingredients lost to the secondary container.
Once the cool down phase has been incorporated, all that’s left to do is package it up! This is quite thick, so I recommend a wide-mouthed jar.
Use this as you’d use any foaming facial cleanser.
When made as written, the pH of this cleanser is approximately 4.65, which is great.
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 that 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 formulation, 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 can try propanediol 1,3 instead of glycerin.
- 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 and read this FAQ.
- I’d try sodium cocoamphoacetate instead of Cocamidopropyl Betaine, though it is far more basic so you will need to check and adjust the pH to ensure the pH is correct.
- You could use a thickening emulsifying wax like Polawax or Emulsifying Wax NF instead of Glyceryl Stearate (and) PEG-100 Stearate; use 3.5% emulsifying wax and reduce the cetyl alcohol to 3%.
- You can substitute another lightweight oil like sweet almond, grapeseed, or sunflower seed instead of plum kernel oil.
- You could try a different gum instead of xanthan, like hydroxyethylcellulose or guar gum.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this FAQ and this chart.
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this.