This Rose & Honey Rich Cream Cleanser is quite the treat—it’s rich and gentle, smells softly of roses, and leaves your skin feeling clean but not tight or dry. Made with sweet almond oil, fragrant rose hydrosol, and local raw honey, it has a positively decadent texture and is a delight to use. It’s also a rather neat look at how marketing can really narrow our perceptions of products; keep reading to learn how!
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The inspiration for this Rose & Honey Rich Cream Cleanser was a message from a patron (thanks, Taraneh!). She asked if I had anything similar to a Lush product that was marketed as a gentle facial cleanser, and upon closer inspection of the ingredient list… it was really just a lotion. A simple lotion with a large oil phase, but a lotion—meaning the “cleanser” part was much more of a marketing thing than a formulation thing. Cool!
I started my experiments by just using a lotion to wash my face, and that worked really well. Cool! And it makes sense that it would work—the emulsifier in the lotion not only emulsifies it, but also contributes rinse off when we decide to use it as a cleanser.
When I set out to create this product, I made a few choices I might not make for a leave-on lotion. The oil phase is pretty big, at 45%, making this cream cleanser really thick and rich—as a lotion, this also translates to heavier/slower absorbing, but I love that richness in a rinse-off cleanser. I also kept things a bit on the simpler side, focussing on less expensive ingredients—something I usually do for wash-off products, preferring to save more expensive ingredients for leave-on formulations. You absolutely can use this as a leave-on lotion as well as a cleanser (and vice versa, you could use other lotions as a cleanser), but you might find it to be a bit heavy/tacky. Try it and see what you think, though! You might just end up finding out that this products works as both a cleanser and a night cream for you 😊
For scent, I just used a small amount of rose hydrosol from Plant’s Power, but you could easily customize the scent to your tastes. You could use water instead for an unscented product, or use a different hydrosol for a different scent. You could also incorporate an essential oil or fragrance oil—check out the links in the substitutions list below the formulation for details.
If you’ve ever made lotion you’ll find this comes together very easily. It thickens faster (and more) than lotions with smaller oil phases, so make sure you’re coming back to it fairly frequently to blend and stir as it cools. Once it’s done, package it up in a wide-mouthed tin or jar and enjoy!
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Rose & Honey Rich Cream Cleanser
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. 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 that’s done, all that’s left is packaging it up! You’ll want to use a wide-mouthed jar; this is too thick for a pump bottle and I doubt it would work well in a squeeze tube (you can certainly try if you really want to, but it’s so thick after cooling that filling it will probably be quite frustrating). I used a 120mL (4oz) jar from YellowBee, which was a bit big for a 100g (3.5oz) batch.
To use: you can either work up a dollop of the cream with water, massage that into the skin, and rinse it off with a damp cloth (more like a foaming cleanser) or you can massage it into dry skin and then wipe that off with a damp cloth (more like a cleansing balm or oil). It’s up to you!
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 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 100g.
- 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 could try propanediol 1,3 instead of glycerine.
- You could use more glycerine instead of honey. You could also try agave nectar or maple syrup as an alternative.
- You can use a different hydrosol instead of rose—choose something you love! You could also use more distilled water for an unscented end product.
- You can use Polawax or Olivem 1000 instead of Emulsifying Wax NF.
- You could try cetearyl alcohol or cetyl alcohol instead of stearic acid.
- You can substitute another lightweight oil, inexpensive carrier oil like apricot kernel, grapeseed, or sunflower seed instead of sweet almond oil.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this page.
- If you want to incorporate an essential oil or fragrance oil, please read this.