This exotically-scented Sweet Magnolia Natural Cleansing Oil gently cleanses the skin, leaving your face feeling soft and nourished. It uses a new-to-me natural emulsifier and has quickly become a favourite facial cleanser for removing layers of summer sunscreen (and sweat) at the end of the day. I love the velvety way it makes my skin feel, and the scent is intoxicating. You’ll only need six ingredients, and many of them are easy to swap out—let’s dive in!
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The basic structure of this cleansing oil (and all cleansing oils) is pretty simple; it’s mostly oil-soluble emollients with an added emulsifier that enables the oils in the cleanser to self-emulsify with water, making a product that rinses off the skin far better than straight oils do. Oil cleansers are wonderfully effective; because like dissolves like, they’re great at removing excess sebum and the film formers that make cosmetics long-wearing.
The emulsifier I’ve used in this cleansing oil is new to me; polyglyceryl-4 oleate (gifted by Skin Chakra; thank you!). It’s a natural, oil-soluble, low-HLB liquid emulsifier. When compared to the liquid emulsifiers I’ve used in other cleansing oil formulations, there are two key differences. Difference #1; it’s natural, which is neat. Difference #2; it creates water-in-oil emulsions rather than oil-in-water emulsions.
The natural-ness of the emulsifier isn’t something you’ll notice when using this product, but the water-in-oil-ness is very noticeable. In a water-in-oil emulsion, water is the inner phase, and oil is the outer phase. Because oil is the outer phase, water-in-oil emulsions do not rinse off the skin easily like oil-in-water emulsions do—rather the opposite. This makes for a far gentler, lower rinse-off cleansing oil.
If you have a cleansing oil made with an oil-in-water emulsifier (like polysorbate 80 or Cromollient SCE) I highly recommend trying it side-by-side with this formulation to see how the performance differs. I find the polyglyceryl-4 oleate cleansing oil leaves the skin feeling far softer and more nourished, while polysorbate 80 etc. cleansing oils rinse off more cleanly, leaving the skin feeling cleaner (and doing a better job of removing waterproof eye makeup) but also drier than the polyglyceryl-4 oleate version. I find I love the gentleness of the water-in-oil (polyglyceryl-4 oleate) formulation for a full-face cleanser these days, while I appreciate the better rinse off of an oil-in-water formulation for removing my eye makeup.
The oil blend that forms the bulk of this formulation is fairly simple and inexpensive; it’s mostly fractionated coconut oil, with a bit of castor oil and some coco-caprylate to further improve the spreadability and lightness of the product. There’s definitely plenty of room to play around with the oil/emollient blend, just be sure the bulk of it is inexpensive oils (or older oils you need to use up in a hurry!). Since a cleansing oil is in contact with your skin for maybe a minute before being washed off there’s no reason to include anything fancy—save your beautiful luxury oils for leave-on products!
I’ve scented this cleansing oil with one of my favourite essential oils; magnolia flower essential oil, also known as michelia alba essential oil. This zippy, exotic smelling essential oil has bright floral and dancing evergreen notes that are hard to pin down. In the past, I’ve paired it with essential oils like fir, cardamom, cypress, ginger, and oak moss, but I decided to let it fly solo in this formulation. The bottle I’m using now is from Plant’s Power (gifted). If you decide you’d like to use this cleansing oil to remove eye makeup I’d recommend dropping the essential oil and replacing it with more fractionated coconut oil; it’s fine for general face washing, but I wouldn’t recommend massaging this cleansing oil into your eyelids and lashline with any sort of essential oil in it.
Making this is very simple; just stir everything together and you’re done! The polyglyceryl-4 oleate does take a while to incorporate, but keep at it—it’ll blend in. I packaged mine in a bottle with a treatment pump top, but something with a turret cap or some other sort of orifice reducer would also work. Let’s get making!
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Relevant links & further reading
- Fractionated coconut oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Castor Oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Tocopherol (Vitamin E) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Polyglyceryl-4 oleate in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Coco-Caprylate in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Oil-in-water cleansing oil & balm formulations:
- Can I add a surfactant to this mostly fat-based formulation (or vice versa)?
- How long will ______ last? What is its shelf life?
- Do I need to add a preservative to this recipe? How long will it last?
Sweet Magnolia Natural Cleansing Oil
27.1g | 54.2% fractionated coconut oil
5g | 10% castor oil (USA / Canada)
10g | 20% coco-caprylate (USA / Canada / UK / EU / NZ)
7.5g | 15% polyglyceryl-4 oleate (USA / Canada / EU / UK)
0.15g | 0.3% magnolia flower essential oil
0.25g | 0.5% Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada)
Weigh all the ingredients into a small beaker, or directly into the bottle you’ll be storing the cleansing oil in.
If it’s a beaker, stir until the mixture is uniform. If you went straight for the bottle, cap and shake. Polyglyceryl-4 oleate can take a while to break down and incorporate, but it will—just keep stirring!
Once the cleansing oil is uniform, package it up! I used a 50mL (1.69fl oz) airless pump bottle from YellowBee to package my cleansing oil. Whatever you choose, I recommend something that has some sort of orifice reducer so you can control the amount of product you end up with in your palm. A bottle with a turret cap or flip-up disc cap would also work well.
To use, massage a dime-sized amount of the cleansing oil into dry skin. As the polyglyceryl-4 oleate creates water-in-oil emulsions it isn’t really strong rinse-off agent; as such, I prefer to use a damp microfibre cloth to remove this cleansing oil rather than rinsing alone.
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this oil cleanser is 100% oil-based, 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, which is just shy of 60mL (2 fl oz).
- 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 inexpensive lightweight oil like sweet almond, grapeseed, or sunflower seed for the fractionated coconut oil.
- I don’t recommend substituting the castor oil, but if you have to I would just use more fractionated coconut oil.
- For the coco caprylate:
- You could use another lightweight ester, like C12-15 alkyl benzoate or isopropyl myristate (IPM). Neither of these options are considered natural.
- You could use Neossance® Hemisqualane or a natural cyclomethicone alternative for a natural option.
- If you don’t have polyglyceryl-4 oleate you can modify this formulation to use Polysorbate 80 or Cromollient SCE instead. You won’t need as much (I’d recommend around 5% to match the original version in cleansing power), so use more fractionated coconut oil to make up the difference.
- If you’d like to incorporate a different essential oil, please read this.
- If you’d like to use a fragrance oil instead of the essential oil, please read this.
The airless pump bottle was gifted by YellowBee.The polyglyceryl-4 oleate was gifted by Skin Chakra. The magnolia essential oil was gifted by Plant’s Power.
What a beautiful formulation, thank you for sharing it. Your blog is amazing! Gonna try it ASAP 😀 I’m recently discovering the oil cleanser world, and have a question: would this one need a second cleanser, not oily, to put away any residual oils, or is this the only cleanser? if so, how to rinse it off, water only? Thank you
oh! also, is it ok to clean up the eye area (incl. eyelid) with oil cleansers? (had a terrible stye situation last year, and worried about the possibility of oil cleansers to revive it)
I had made the Mango Mango cleanser using Cromollient
Will using polyglyceryl4 oleate give a different skin feel? Because I don’t have it and would have to order
Yes, it has a very different feel. Have you read the entire blog post? This is discussed across several paragraphs ❤️ Happy making!
hi thank you for the formula it seems great! I have a question to the essential oil you use in this – or rather the company providing it – are you sure this oil is a natural / genuin EO – is the seller reputable? the price is very good – maybe too god to be true.. but I wish it is true because I’m tempted to order form them… 🙂
Ooh how fantastic! I can’t wait to give this a go – never tried anything like it! I’ll do some research about magnolia eo and coco caprylate to find best subsitutions. Needles to say that I’m beyond excited. I try new things every once in a while but go back to this emulsifier.
Ooh how beautiful cleanser. I was a bit hesitant at first – you know my cleanser obsession, ha? I made this yesterday with blue tansy (only exotic floral scent I currently have). At this concentration it gives milder and more pleasant scent than my own, a bit similar creations have. I also used isoamyl laurate instead of coco caprylate. I think it has unique powdery feel, great emollient properties and low viscosity (in a way it feels a bit similar than olive squalane, yet lighter than MCT-oil and fractioned coconut oil).
I’m planning to make this with coco caprylate too, just to see how they compare to each others… perhaps a bit nerd’y. 😛 I might use something like rose geranium.
Ester oils seem to perform differently here than plant based oils like sunflower oil. Viscosity is lower and slip better. It doesn’t irritate or dry out my eyes or under eye area (yet I don’t think it’s the best option to remove stubborn mascara and eye liner, as you mentioned). You can propably tell that I’m super excited about this! And the fact that these ingredients are affordable and available in Europe / EU in small quantities is simply amazing. Can’t wait to see how my skin likes this in the long run. It’s so refreshing to have something entirely new and different. Many thanks!
OMG the skin feel of coco caprylate! I’m so glad that I accidentally purcased two bottles instead of just one. It feels amazing, super light-weight and fast absorbing on skin. I made one facial oil by swapping squalane with it and the difference is huge. First light weight facial oil that actually absorbs quickly without leaving my skin oily at all. I love it in cleansing oils like this too, propably even more than isoamyl laurate. Just figured I should mention!
Marie! (or any replier) PLEASE help me understand the measurements. The formula calls for 0.15g of Magnolia Flower EO, however, as I weighed it out on my 0.01 scale, instead of the scale reading 0.15, the decimal point automatically moved so that it reads 1.5 grams, that’s not right, is it? I purchased Marie’s “Make It Up” formula book and many formulas are in ounces with the equal weight in grams in parenthesis. I’m sure I’ll run into the same “issue” with the Vit. E MT-50 since it calls for 0.25g. Someone please knock some sense into me! (With much appreciation). 🙂
Hmmmmm 🙂 That sounds like you either 1) added far too much essential oil in one go (it should be 2–3 drops, tops), 2) toggled the measurement unit (perhaps to “ct”?), 3) grabbed the wrong scale (are you certain this one is 0.01g?). Does any of that help? 🙂
Well… 🙁 It’s a Fuzion brand “digital pocket scale” 3000×0.1g, and the “ct” is a two clicks away from the “g” (grams) option. Yeah, maybe I just need to invest in a better scale because this is bonkers. Sadly I threw the formula away, I’ll wait until I get another scale before I try it again, I’m just eager to make this one – sounds right up my ally. Thanks Miss Marie.. and you know.. on second thought – maybe I DO have a wrong scale. I’m not seeing an extra “0” after the decimal point and before the 1.. :-/
Ah yup, the 0.1g fidelity of the scale is the problem 🙂
Hey, any thoughts on adding extracts or hydrolyzed proteins?
Remember that whatever you incorporate needs to be oil-soluble; learn more here. Happy making!
Hi Marie. How do you use it ? Rinse off with water or just rub on skin and clean with tissue? I just feel clean after rinsing off with water that’s why wanted your clarification please
Hi Marie, thank you your sharing and make me so resourcefull with your knowledge.
I am cleansing oil fanatic and would like to explore more on how to make cleansing oil (brighthening) with chromabright.
Do you have suggestion on this? And thank you very much
I’m not sure if you like hearing about mishaps that people make when experimenting with your formulations, but this is a bit of a funny story you might enjoy…
I ended up with a bit more of this product than would fit in the pump bottle I wanted to use, so I decided to see what would happen if I added water and a bit of Aristoflex AVC to try to get more of a gel-cream consistency. It ended up being really nice, so after a bit of tweaking I went to preserve it. I don’t use Liquid Germall+ on anything close to my eyes because I’m super sensitive to propylene glycol, so I reached for a preservative I use quite a bit – Leucidal Complete, which is a blend of Leucidal Max and Amticide Coconut. And as soon as I began stirring it in, the gel just…collapsed. Went to being almost water-thin!
I finally concluded that the Amticide Coconut must contain electrolytes. If I’d just reached for Sepimax Zen or another preservative instead it wouldn’t have happened, but it was fascinating to see, honestly, especially since it was on bonus product and didn’t ruin anything.
So anyway that’s the story of how I accidentally made a sweet magnolia cleansing milk!
I was totally intrigued by Polyglyceryl-4 oleate and ended up ordering some from the uK all the way to Australia (going in with some friends). This formula is just so dang easy to make. And as you say the skin feel is totally luscious afterwards. Thanks for your point about using inexpensive oils for it – can never understand all these expensive ingredients you see in a wash off product – makes no sense!