Today we’re whipping up a velvety cleansing oil that’s great for all kinds of facial cleansing, but especially brilliant for removing makeup. I created it with waterproof eye makeup in mind, as it likes to hold onto my lashline for dear life! This cleansing oil has a gorgeous, velvetty skin-feel and rinses off beautifully, leaving skin clean but not dry and squeaky. You can easily customize it to use up any older carrier oils you need to get through quickly, too! With just five ingredients (and it could be 4!), this Soft Velvet Cleansing Oil could hardly be easier. Let’s dive in!

How to Make Soft Velvet Cleansing Oil

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I’m trying two new things with this formulation. Thing #1 is using PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil as the solubilizer. In the past, I’ve used Polysorbate 80, Olivem 300, emulsifying waxes, and Cromollient SCE to give cleansing oils their rinse-off-ability, and they all work well, but I’ve had some PEG-40 hydrogenated castor hanging around for a while and figured it was high time I used it in something. I found some sample formulations using it as the rinse-off agent in cleansing oils and thought that would be a great place to start! The usage rate (3%) was also a lot lower than I’d usually go for when making a cleansing oil (generally around 10%), so that was another interesting thing to dabble with! You can learn more about this ingredient (and PEGs in cosmetics) here.

Thing #2 was the inclusion of isopropyl myristate (IPM). I’ve added isopropyl myristate (IPM) to products before to make them feel lighter/less greasy, but in my research, I also found it is used as-is as a pro-level makeup remover, especially for prosthetics. I’ve been wearing more makeup lately, including waterproof eyeliner, and that stuff can be a beast to get off. I’ll think I’ve done it and still wake up the next morning with dusty dark smudges under my eyes. So, I decided to include some isopropyl myristate (IPM) in this cleansing oil, though at a much lower rate than 100%! It helps give the cleansing oil a lovely, light, silky feel and also boosts the makeup-taking-off powers.

The rest of this cleansing oil is a blend of two inexpensive, lightweight carrier oils—safflower oil and fractionated coconut oil. I chose those two because I have lots of both! You can easily customize this formulation to use something inexpensive and lightweight that you’ve got a lot of. This is also a good way to start powering through older oils that you’re worried will go rancid soon—cleansing oils and balms use up oils really quickly. That’s not only because the formulations call for lots of oils, but also because you’ll likely be using the product twice a day (unlike a body butter, for instance).

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I opted to leave this Soft Velvet Cleansing Oil unscented as I knew I’d be using it to remove eye makeup, but it’s pretty easy to make some room for an essential oil or fragrance oil if you want to include one. Simply drop 0.3–1% of one of the liquid oils, and voila, you’ve now got room for 0.3–1% of something that smells pretty!

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Soft Velvet Cleansing Oil

Heated phase
44g | 40% safflower oil
34.65g | 31.5% fractionated coconut oil (USA / Canada)
27.5g | 25% isopropyl myristate (IPM) (USA / Canada / UK / Aus / NZ)
3.3g | 3% PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil (USA / Canada)

Cool down phase
0.55g | 0.5% Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada)

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.

Once the PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil has melted, remove the measuring cup from the heat. Let it cool, and then stir in the vitamin E oil.

Pour the cleansing oil into a 120mL (4 fl oz) bottle and you’re done!

To use, dispense a nickel-sized amount of cleansing oil into your palm, and work it up with a bit of warm water. Massage that into your face before wiping it off with a damp microfibre cloth.

Shelf Life & Storage

Because this cleansing oil 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!). Be sure to keep it dry to ensure it lasts as long as possible—don’t let any water get into the container and it should easily last a year.


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 110g, which fills a 120mL (4 fl oz) bottle nicely.
  • To learn more about the ingredients used in this recipe, 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 use any lightweight, inexpensive carrier oil in place of the safflower and/or fractionated coconut oil. This is a good way to use up liquid oils that are getting close to their expiry date!
  • I don’t recommend swapping out the isopropyl myristate (IPM). You could use C12-15 alkyl benzoate instead.
  • You could try Cromollient SCE, Polysorbate 80, or Olivem 300 instead of the PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil, but you might want to increase the amount. I usually use closer to 10% than 3% for those ingredients in a cleansing oil, so you might want to dial back the safflower oil to make room for more solubilizer.
  • You can add an essential oil or fragrance. I intentionally left it out as I know I’ll be using this to remove eye makeup.

Gifting Disclosure

The safflower oil was gifted by Essential Wholesale.