When I first dreamt up this cleansing balm, the dream was of a seaweed and clay cleansing balm. How romantic and exotic-sounding, no? A hefty dose of vitamin-rich green seaweed powder would star, and how lovely it would be. There was just one problem with that. Seaweed smells, to put it mildly… awful. I started work on the seaweed version and while its consistency was lovely, and the cleansing was beautiful, the scent was thoroughly offputting. Blech. It was a sensory experience not too far removed from doing a face plant in a pile of wet seaweed (and possibly dead fish) on a beach at low tide. So, I re-dreamt the balm, swapping the fragrant seaweed powder for some much more pleasing powdered rose petals, and here we are! This balm has that same lovely consistency and beautiful cleansing, but it smells softly of roses instead of… yeah 😝 I think you’ll like it!
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The bulk of this Rose and Clay Cleansing Balm is a blend of two lightweight, inexpensive emollients—fractionated coconut oil and isopropyl myristate (IPM). I’ve really been liking isopropyl myristate (IPM) in oil-based cleansers recently; you can also find it in my Soft Velvet Cleansing Oil and my Whipped Cream Calendula Facial Cleanser. As I was researching isopropyl myristate (IPM) for the Humblebee & Me DIY Encyclopedia I learned that it’s a great makeup remover, which was the biggest reason I tried it in an oil cleanser, but I’ve since discovered that I really like how it helps make oil cleansers feel really light on the skin.
This cleansing balm features a moderately new solubilizer/rinse-off agent as well: PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil. I’ve used it in a few things this year, and I figured I’d give it a go here as well. It works beautifully! We include solubilizers in cleansing balms so the oils rinse off our skin and down the sink nicely; they also create the fancy-sounding “oil-to-milk” effect that marketers love to sing about. Take a bit of this balm in your palm, mix it with some water, and it will transform into a “milk” as the oil-based balm emulsifies into the water. Groovy!
Our creamy base is thickened with some silky cetyl alcohol. I like cetyl alcohol for cleansing balms because of how slippy it is. I find that richer thickeners like cetearyl alcohol and stearic acid can get a bit skiddy if used as the sole thickeners in products like this. I will sometimes blend stearic acid and cetearyl alcohol to get the best of both worlds, but this formulation features enough powders that I find we don’t need the stearic acid’s richer, more substantial thickening.
And for the powdery goodness! A blend of gentle kaolin clay and powdered rose petals team up to offer creamy, gentle cleansing and a titch of physical exfoliation. If you want to really ramp up the rose theme you could swap ~5% of the kaolin clay for some Australian pink clay, or use red kaolin clay instead. I wouldn’t use entirely Australian pink clay unless you have an all-black bathroom… that stuff gets messy. My rose petals are pre-powdered, but if yours aren’t you can very easily powder your own by running a few dried rosebuds through your DIY-only coffee grinder. You could also use a different dried botanical that your skin loves—calendula, chamomile, and plantain are some ideas! Or, if you’ve got some powdered botanical extracts you’re looking for uses for, those could also be great options—just be sure to watch the usage rates on those.
To make, this is a simple melt-trace-pour-wait. I hope you like it as much as I do!
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Rose and Clay Cleansing Balm
12g | 24% fractionated coconut oil
10g | 20% isopropyl myristate (IPM) (USA / Canada / UK / Aus / NZ)
7.5g | 15% PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil (USA / Canada)
8g | 16% cetyl alcohol (USA / Canada)
2.5g | 5% powdered rose petals
10g | 20% white kaolin clay (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 small saucepan.
Weigh the heated phase ingredients into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Place the measuring cup in your prepared water bath to melt everything through.
While the heated phase melts, prepare an ice bath. Take a bowl that is large enough to accommodate the container the heated phase is melting in, and fill it about halfway with ice cubes and cold water.
After about 20–30 minutes everything should be completely melted through. Remove the water bath from the heat, remove the measuring cup from the water bath, and dry it off with a dishtowel. Set the measuring cup on a towel or hot pad to insulate it from the counter and stir the mixture with a flexible silicone spatula to combine everything.
Place the measuring cup containing the heated phase into the ice bath and cool, stirring constantly. Continue stirring the mixture in the ice bath until you reach a medium “trace”—the mixture should have enough viscosity that a small amount drizzled over the surface of the mixture leaves a slight 3D “trace” for a moment. The mixture should appear opaque. Refer to the video to see it in action! This part can be a bit tricky as too much viscosity will mean the batter won’t pour into the container nicely, so be careful and make sure your packaging is standing by.
Once you reach trace you can now pour the cleansing balm into its container and leave it on the counter to set up. I used a 50mL (1.69fl oz) plastic jar from YellowBee.
To use; I like to massage a dollop of cleansing balm into dry skin and then wipe it off with a damp microfibre cloth. I wouldn’t use this to remove oil makeup because of the rose powder—you don’t need to exfoliate your eyelids. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this product does not contain any water, it does not require a broad-spectrum preservative (broad spectrum preservatives ward off microbial growth, and microbes require water to live—no water, no microbes!). Kept reasonably cool and dry, it should last at least a year before any of the oils go rancid. If you notice it starts to smell like old nuts or crayons, that’s a sign that the oils have begun to oxidize; chuck it out and make a fresh batch if that happens.
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 substitute another lightweight oil like sweet almond, grapeseed, or sunflower seed, instead of the fractionated coconut oil and/or isopropyl myristate (IPM).
- You could use Polysorbate 80 or Cromollient SCE instead of the PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil.
- I don’t recommend swapping out the cetyl alcohol.
- You could use a different soft clay, but I’d recommend keeping the bulk of the clay on the paler side to keep the mess down.
- You can use a different powdered botanical.
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this.
The plastic jar was gifted by YellowBee.
Great Marie, thanks. I could do with a new cleanser, and if I make a sub with Polysorb 80, I have everything. 🙂
I didn’t receive an email with this recipe today though, I only found it because I was looking through some of your recipes. Have I fallen through the cracks somehow Marie? 🙂
Ack, thank you! I had the email scheduled for PM instead of AM. DOH! I went in right after you left your comment and sent it manually.
This sounds great! I have tons of rose petals and lithothamne, type of red seaweed that smells mostly dusty, like calcium carbonate. I’m considering making this (or some other non wax thickened balm of yours) with polyglyceryl-4 oleate when I get some. It would be interesting. It might take some time to use what I got but anyway. xx
I needed facial polish so I just made this quickly with polyglyceryl 4 oleate and a bit extra thickening from cetearyl alcohol and it seems really nice. (my other clay balms have been a bit unstable lately and they’re some oil floating on top…). I made some room for rose wax and my favourite seboregulator. I love roses, oil to milk cleansers and cleansing powders and this brings them all together (but feels quite gentle – it’s so cold out there). Still, it’s easy to rinse off. Thank you! <3
I’ve bought a… thing? with INCI: PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, but it’s definitely not a soft paste, like yours, but a liquid (and it came in a glass bottle with a dropper top, not a jar or squishy tube, so I don’t think it’s about the ambient temperature in here). It was described as an essential oil solubilizer, but I thought INCI wouldn’t lie to me like the product descriptions can? 😉 Do you think it will be OK in your cleansing balm recipes? (I guess it will be best to try and see myself and I probably will :P, but I’m really curious about why is it not the same as yours)
Hmm—it sounds like it’s not hydrogenated, but it could still be PEG-40 and in that case, it’ll work. Does it self disperse in water? If not… they may’ve just sent you castor oil instead?
I dropped about 5% in cold water and it does not self disperse like Olivem300 or polysorbates, just kind of sits in a blob on the bottom (so I guess it’s not just castor oil as that should be on top), and doesn’t mix easily when agitated and smashed with a spatula, either. When mixed with some oil in my palm it kiiiind of went milky and rinsed off under running water, but it wasn’t as easy as in a proper cleansing oil, and when I poured the mix into a beaker with some water it didn’t mix at all, so maybe I should’ve trusted the supplier that it will work with essential oils and not with non-polar carrier oils.
Hmm, I would agree that it doesn’t sound promising :/ Bummer!
Hi marie, thank you for the post I really want to try this.
But lately I have problem with all oil skin care. I made clay and oil cleanser like this before, also your creamy clay mask, and I wonder why the oil slowly pool on top. I also created a deodorant with oil, beeswax and arrowroot, etc then the oil slowly pool on top after some use. Not entirely separated though, a bit of oil just pooling, but it bothers me.
Is it goes bad?
Or just technical issue?
Hi Izzy! Does this sound familiar?
I made body butter and it’s just fine. Even the soft one.
I realize that the products (with oil pooling on top) are contains clay or powder.
Like.. The creamy clay mask and deodorant that contains arrowroot and diatomaceous earth.
Even though I put it in the freezer, they’re back to solid but in room temperature they’re oily again.
Sometimes, I make another batch, with the same recipe, but it turns great and no oil pooling on top.
I gave the clay mask to my friend as a gift, she says it’s fine. But after some use there’s a bit oil pooling on top and the texture are too soft, like liquid, not cream anymore. Then another case when I share deodorant to my cousin and it’s melt in transit and never back to solid.
It’s so weird and I still can’t figure out what went wrong
I live in tropical country, but close to the mountain so it’s not too hot here.
If it’s too soft, that does sound like an ambient temperature/melting problem, though it is odd that it only seems to crop up in products with powders. I would try swapping some of the liquid ingredients for something like stearic acid to raise the melting point and see if that helps 🙂 When you say “not too hot” it’s probably still a lot warmer than here… it’s snowing right now and below freezing 🙁 I wish I had enough experience with tropical weather to help!
Hi Marie, could I substitute the isopropyl myristate with olive squalane ?
In theory, yes, but I REALLY don’t recommend it. 500mL of isopropyl myristate (IPM) is ~$11. 500mL of olive squalane is ~$72. For a wash-off product, why use something almost 7x the price? Have you read the substitutions list at the end of the formulation? There are plenty of less expensive alternatives down there 🙂
Love a cleansing balm !
Could I add extra clay instead of the rose please as I don’t have any .
I would like to give it a try. rose and clay cleansing balm. but i dont have hydrogenated caster oil. can i use polyglyceryl-4-carpate? only solubelizer that i have in hand now. thanks
You’ll have to try it yourself and see 🙂 Happy making!
Hi Marie! I’m interested to hear what you think about peg-40 and cremollient versus the sucragel from a few years ago? With your ever growing experience, whether sucragel would still be a good choice of emulsifier for a product like this? Thank you!
They’re all pretty different, honestly. I wouldn’t use sucragel here because it’s rather expensive and you wouldn’t be taking advantage of the big “thing” it does—creating super-cool cool oil gels. This formulation and the one using sucragel from a few years ago are still both great, but they’re also pretty different.
Thanks for inspiration – I’m so happy that you shared this formulation. I made few new ones with rose and jasmine + pineapple (and decalact sebum, as usually). I’m loveing them! If someone is interested, feel free to ask (comment here). 🙂
Hi Marie! If I eliminated the rose powder do you think this would be suitable for use on eyes or still just the face? Thanks so much!
Perhaps? Try it and see what you think 🙂 You can always just use it on your face if you don’t end up liking it around your eyes. Happy making!
Hi can u please make a formula for a stick mask with clay? That holds in deodorant container
I love your website and your formulations. Thanks a lot. I was inspired by this particular rose and clay cleansing balm and tried to create a coffee and oat scrub. I have a small home business here in India.
However I find that for some reason in my formulation the oil part of the scrub starts to float on top and it looks like a cream gone bad 🙁
I am putting down the formulation. Be a huge help if you could tell me where I went wrong …is there something I should add to keep it more stable and keep the oil part from separating
sunflower Oil – 18.30%
Virgin coconut oil – 5.00%
Caprylic capric Triglyceride – 4.90%
Cocoa butter – 5.00%
cetyl alcohol – 7.00%
cetostearyl alcohol – 7.00%
PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil – 15.00%
white kaolin clay – 15.00%
Filter coffee granules – 1.50%
powdered oats – 6.00%
calamine clay – 3.50%
Cool down phase
Organic Sugar – 10.00%
Vitamin E -tocopherol – 0.50%
Geogard ECT – 0.90%
ethyl vanillin – 0.03%
coffee essential oil – 0.17%
Vanilla Absolute – 0.20%
Stir and Mix well and fill jars at 25 – 30 degrees centigrade so the batch is thick and the clay and sugar should remain suspended even after pouring into the jars
note: I substituted IPM with more economical Caprylic capric triglyceride and I substituted 50% of Cetyl Alcohol with cetostearyl alcohol as otherwise there was too much slip while washing the scrub off