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)
7.5g | 15% PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil (USA / Canada)
8g | 16% cetyl alcohol
2.5g | 5% powdered rose petals
10g | 20% white kaolin clay
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.
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.