This silky, slippy, honey and rose scented Winter Solstice Cleansing Cream is a positively divine way to gently cleanse your skin at the darkest, coldest time of year (if you’re in the southern hemisphere you might prefer this summer solstice themed formulation!). This cleanser is so mild that you can also use it as a lotion once you’re done cleansing (it’s a really lovely lotion!), and it’s as easy to make as any lotion. Let’s dive in!

How to Make Winter Solstice Facial Cleansing Cream

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So, when I said “it’s as easy to make as any lotion”… that’s because this cleanser is a lotion. I first shared a cream-as-cleanser formulation back in June 2020 (Rose & Honey Rich Cream Cleanser) after a patron asked about a Lush product that had the ingredient list of a lotion but was marketed as a gentle cleanser. Emulsions work as cleansers because they contain emulsifiers, and emulsifiers are surfactants. Cleansers don’t need to contain surfactants, but they are what gives lather and rinse-off (to varying degrees, depending on the specific ingredient and the formulation), and I’ve found that most people like some lather and rinse-off in their cleansers. This formulation doesn’t lather up, but you’ll find it feels very cleanser-y when you add a bit of water—its slip and rinse-off are very similar to that of a foaming cleanser, just without lots of foam.

Because this Winter Solstice Cleansing Cream is designed as a wash-off product I haven’t put anything terribly expensive (or anything that needs on-skin time to work) in it. The oil phase is mostly sweet almond oil with some coco caprylate and cetyl alcohol for added slip (feel free to use a different inexpensive carrier oil if sweet almond oil isn’t your jam!). Carbomer-like hydroxyethylcellulose (included in the oil phase to prevent clumping) works with the cetyl alcohol for silky body. I chose Olivem1000 to emulsify this formulation, but Polawax or Emulsifying Wax NF would work just as well.

The scent of this formulation comes from rose hydrosol and a new-to-me just-like-honey fragrance oil. I’d originally planned to use a blend of lavender and cardamom essential oils (details in the substitutions list), but then Brambleberry’s 2021 influencer Christmas gift arrived and it included their Pure Honey fragrance oil and oh my goodness it smells exactly like fresh honey. It’s sweet and floral and oh-so-honey-delicious, and I had to have a honey and rose scented cleansing cream, so here we are. I love it. It’s not as cool/cold as previous Winter Solstice formulation scent blends, but it still feels very fitting.

I like to use this Winter Solstice Cleansing Cream in the same way I use oil cleansers. I massage a dollop into dry skin, work it up with a bit of water, and then gently wipe it off with a damp microfibre cloth (if I’m wearing long-wear eye makeup I’ll remove that first with an unscented oil cleanser). From there I’ll proceed with my skincare routine. I hope you enjoy this silky Winter Solstice Cleansing Cream as much as I am ❤️ Happy making!

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Relevant links & further reading

Winter Solstice Facial Cleansing Cream

Heated water phase
22.1g | 22.1% distilled water
30g | 30% rose hydrosol
25g | 25% vegetable glycerine (USA / Canada)

Heated oil phase
4g | 4% Olivem1000 (USA / Canada)
4g | 4% coco-caprylate (USA / Canada / UK / EU / NZ)
10g | 10% sweet almond oil (USA / Canada)
2.5g | 2.5% cetyl alcohol (USA / Canada)
0.5g | 0.5% hydroxyethylcellulose

Cool down phase
1.5g | 1.5% Optiphen™ Plus (USA / Canada)
0.3g | 0.3% Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada)
0.1g | 0.1% Pure Honey fragrance oil

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 or glass beaker. 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 before switching to hand stirring. You’ll need to be fairly diligent with the stirring at first, but once the mixture has thickened up a bit and is uniform you can switch to stirring occasionally. Once the outside of the glass measuring cup is just warm to the touch (40°C or cooler, if you have a thermometer) we’re ready to proceed.

Now 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 the cool down phase has been incorporated, all that’s left to do is package it up! You’ll need to use a wide-mouthed jar or tub for this; it’s far too thick for a pump-top bottle. I used a 100mL (3.3fl oz) black screw-top plastic jar from YellowBee (gifted).

To use: I like to massage about a teaspoon of this cleansing cream into dry skin. I’ll then wet my hands, massage my face a bit more, and then wipe the cleansing cream off with a damp microfibre cloth.

When made as written, the pH of this cleansing cream comes out to about 6, which is great. Optiphen Plus performs best below pH 6, so if you are making any changes you will need to test and adjust the pH if required.

Shelf Life & Storage

Because this cleansing cream 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 formulation 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 use a different hydrosol or more distilled water.
  • I don’t recommend substituting the glycerin (though using a glycerite instead would work!)
  • You can use Polawax or Emulsifying Wax NF instead of Olivem 1000Ritamulse SCG (Emulsimulse, ECOMulse), BTMS-50, and BTMS-25 will also work, though they wouldn’t be my top choices as I wanted a non-ionic emulsifier for this formulation.
  • A different lightweight ester will work instead of Coco-Caprylate. Click that link for suggestions.
  • You can substitute another lightweight oil like grapeseed or sunflower seed instead of sweet almond oil.
  • Cetearyl Alcohol will work instead of cetyl alcohol, though the finished formulation will be less slippy.
  • You could use Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 (Sepimax ZEN) or Aristoflex AVC instead of hydroxyethylcellulose, though I think 0.2–0.3% would be enough. I don’t recommend using xanthan gum as it’s quite snotty, though it could be ok around 0.1–0.2%. There are lots of gum/gel options out there—do some research and try it if you aren’t sure if it’ll work!
  • If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this FAQ and this chart.
  • If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this.
    • I originally planned to use 0.2% lavender essential oil and 0.1% cardamom essential oil. You can do this instead of the fragrance oil, simply adjust the water to keep the formulation balanced.

Gifting Disclosure

The black screw-top top and almond oil were gifted by YellowBee.
The hydroxyethylcellulose was gifted by Essential Wholesale.
The rose hydrosol was gifted by Mystic Moments.
The pure honey fragrance oil was gifted by Brambleberry.
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