After the annual colourful craziness of Christmas DIYs I’ve really been enjoying dreaming up something solstice-inspired these last few years. We’ve got a face cream, a soap, and a mask, and now we’ve got a star-studded charcoal-infused facial polish. This facial polish offers some mild physical exfoliation merged with some oil cleansing and great low-lather rinse-off. A titch of activated charcoal makes for a striking presentation, but without the disastrously messy sink activated charcoal can leave behind. It smells fresh and wintery, with notes of spice and intrigue. The making is a simple melt and stir deal, and the end product is intriguingly inky and star-speckled.
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This lovely facial polish grew out of some experiments I was doing as part of my Formula Botanica course work. My skin care routine already includes regular chemical exfoliation, so I don’t tend to do much physical exfoliation—but as I was working my way through the exfoliants module I was (of course) testing my experiments and… dang. My skin glowed. Something about a bit of proper physical scrubbing was practically magical. And knowing the potential of physical exfoliants to look like little stars, it seemed like the perfect thing to adapt for a solstice-themed formula.
The creamy base of our polish is a blend of safflower oil and refined shea butter, with a touch of cetyl alcohol for thickening and some Olivem 1000 for improved rinse-off. To that base we’ll add some sandy rhassoul clay, a bit of gentle Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate for some low lather and mild cleansing, and a wee 1% of activated charcoal. At just 1% we still get a product that looks very dark in the jar, but once you start massaging it into the skin it fades quickly, and when it comes time to rinse it off your face cloths (maybe not white ones… tread carefully there) and sink will escape unscathed.
Our stars come from some white jojoba beads. Jojoba beads are wee little spheres made of jojoba wax. They’re biodegradable, and since they’re spherical they really glide and roll over the skin nicely, making them a fairly mild physical abrasive. Feel free to have fun with your colour selection! I used simple white for a stark contrast, but you can buy jojoba beads in tons of different colours and a bit of added colour sure would be pretty.
The essential oil blend is mostly fresh fir needle essential oil, with cardamom and michelia alba adding a bit of spice and intrigue. See the substitutions list if you’re thinking you’d prefer something else!
The finished scrub is soft and creamy—scoop up a bit, massage it into your face, and enjoy some gentle exfoliation and some tiny, velvety bubbles. If you want you can decorate the top with some extra jojoba beads after pouring—I think it would be pretty cool to use a stencil to create a star or a moon!
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Winter Solstice Facial Polish
Heated oil phase
8g | 20% refined shea butter (USA / Canada)
6g | 15% Olivem1000 (USA / Canada)
17.04g | 42.60% safflower oil
0.8g | 2% cetyl alcohol (USA / Canada)
0.4g | 1% activated charcoal
4.2g | 10.50% rhassoul clay
1.6g | 4% Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate (SCI) (USA / Canada)
Cool down phase
1.2g | 3% white jojoba beads
0.1552g | 0.39% Vitamin E MT-50 (USA / Canada)
0.2g | 0.50% Liquid Germall Plus™ (USA / Canada)
0.048g | 0.12% cardamom essential oil
0.032g | 0.08% michelia alba (white champaca) essential oil
0.32g | 0.80% fir essential oil
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.
Weigh the heated oil phase ingredients into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Place the measuring cup in your prepared water bath to melt everything through. You might need to give the mixture a bit of help in the microwave—Olivem 1000 doesn’t like melting in water baths for me, so if yours is still semi-solid after twenty minutes I’d microwave the mixture for about ten seconds to fully melt it.
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 dish towel. Add the powder phase and stir with a flexible silicone spatula to incorporate and break up any clumps.
Pop the measuring cup in the ice bath and stir until it gains a bit of viscosity. Remove from the ice bath and stir in the jojoba beads (I like to add them after I’m certain I’ve broken up all the clumps from the other powders—jojoba beads will also melt around 75°C, so we want to make sure we’re well below that!). Return to the ice bath and stir until the mixture is noticeably more viscous and cool. Add the remaining cool down ingredients and stir to incorporate.
Transfer to a wide-mouthed jar. Something around 30mL/1oz is a good size—I chose white to really set off the dark polish!
To use—massage a small amount (~half a teaspoon) into your face and wipe off with a damp cloth. Your skin can be wet or dry—water will make it lather up, which is neat! I don’t use physical exfoliation on a daily basis, but really like it 1–2x a week. Do what works for your skin!
Please take precautions to keep the facial polish dry; while it does contain a broad spectrum preservative it also contains quite a lot of hard-to-preserve clay and I’m not confident the preservative is up to the task of a water-contaminated facial polish. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this cleanser could come into contact with water I have included a broad-spectrum preservative to ward off microbial growth. It really is best to keep this facial polish free from water contamination, though—there’s quite a lot of clay in here, and clay is really difficult to preserve. 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. As written in grams this recipe will make 40g.
- 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!
- You could use another soft butter in place of the shea butter, like mango or cupuacu. I do not recommend using coconut oil as it has a much lower melting point.
- You can use a different complete emulsifying wax in the place of Olivem 1000.
- You can use a different light to mid-weight liquid oil in place of the safflower oil. Just keep it inexpensive! No need to go fancy for a wash-off product.
- You could try cetearyl alcohol in place of the cetyl alcohol, but I’d drop it down to 1% and add the other 1% to the shea butter.
- Alternatively, you could leave out the thickening alcohol completely and use more shea butter—this will make for a slightly softer product with a lower melting point.
- You could try Australian black clay or a black mica in place of the activated charcoal, or simply use more rhassoul clay. I wouldn’t recommend using black iron oxide in the same amount as that will be very black, but you could try using it at 0.2% and making up the remaining 0.8% with more rhassoul clay.
- I wouldn’t recommend swapping out the rhassoul clay, but if you do I’d choose something a bit sandy—perhaps bentonite clay? Softer clays like French green and kaolin won’t offer the same “scrub” factor. They won’t be a total failure, but it will drastically impact the end product.
- You could try SLSa instead of SCI, or replace the surfactant with more clay. This will reduce the wash-off of the polish.
- Vitaburst beads will work in place of jojoba beads, but they are much larger. I do not recommend anything rougher, like ground nut shells.
- You can use a different essential oil blend, a fragrance oil, or nothing at all for scent. If you use nothing, make up the removed amount with more safflower oil.
Thank you for the recipe.Can we use fuller’s earth instead of rhassoul clay?
I don’t recommend it—Fuller’s Earth is more like French green clay, and you can read about why I don’t recommend that in the substitutions list 🙂
Thanks Marie…Wish you a blessed and enriching 2019!!
Hi I love to try this recipe
But my concern is if it’s palm oil free?
I know that Olivem 1000 and Cetyl Alcohol might not be palm oil free though.
I know a supplier that sells palm free SCI powder.
Hope you can tell me more about it ?
Merry Christmas and cheers from sunny Australia
This recipe definitely isn’t palm free. I’m afraid you will find it extremely difficult to locate palm-free emulsifying waxes and fatty thickeners; I’d recommend considering sourcing sustainable palm rather than completely palm free when it comes to cosmetics 🙂
Is this mild enough for daily use?
As per the recipe I recommend use 1–2x/week 🙂
What if you leave out the white beads? Would the clay be gentle enough for everyday use?
Good morning Shelly!
If you swap the jojoba beads for more rhassoul clay, that should still be gentle enough for daily use! Happy making! Don’t forget to share your project on #humblebeeandme on Instagram!
Hi can i replace the jojoba beads with sugar/himilaya salt or ordinary table salt?
I would say those fall into the category of “I do not recommend anything rougher, like ground nut shells”, though it is your skin and your face so you can certainly try it if you know you’re very tolerant of physical exfoliation. Happy making!
i want to substitute your SCI for SLSA powder.
how to do that pls?
I can see your SCI is liquid…
And SLSA powder is water soluble…
Appreciate a quick response, as I want to make this and gift it to my friends for Diwali :))
actually, I just saw that you r CSI is also a powder. What confuses me is the fact that my final product is thick n firm (not soft). I erroneously thought your CSI is liquid but its not…
I dont know why my final product seems to be more firm (hard) than yours. I just subbed CSI for SLSa (equal amount).
Hi Marie, I’m wondering why you decided to use a preservative in this recipe when it doesn’t contain any water. Especially since there aren’t preservatives included in your cleansing balm recipes, which also include clay.
Right after the recipe in italics she goes into why. Very easy to overlook especially if you are a regular subscriber.
I would also like to know the answer to this. Marie, have you discovered anything new that made you decide to put a preservative in this recipe when the other recipes before did not use any preservative?
It actually says just after the ingredients why a preservative is used 🙂
I should have made my question more clear. I was wondering why she added a preservative to this recipe, when in previous similar recipes (ie Sea Buckthorn and Charcoal Cleansing Balm), she did not. It struck me as odd, since the recipes came out just a couple of months apart from each other. I was wondering if she now recommends add a preservative to everything regardless if it contains water or not, and regardless of how careful one is not to contaminate it with water.
Hi Hanna, there is a preservative in it because there is a possiblity it may come in contact with water and because there is clay in it which is difficult to preserve.
I’ve been thinking about this ever since you left this comment. You’re right. This is inconsistent and weird, and for the life of me I can’t think of why my approach here is different. I think the best explanation is that the Formula Botanica recommendations for facial polishes included a preservative, but I would tend to agree with my past assessment that the preservative is unlikely to work terribly well with all the clay and everything. So, yeah—sorry that’s not a better explanation! Chalk it up to human inconsistencies, I suppose.
Thanks for being a patron!
Can I swap Ritamulse/Emulsimulse/ECOmulse for the Olivem 1000? Would it be a straight 1:1 swap? If so, I’m all set to go!
Thank you so much for the Encyclopedia! I learned that Olivem 300 is NOT a suitable alternative. So nice to have a trusted source of easy to find and understand information. : )
Yup, that should work just fine! I’m so glad you are enjoying the encyclopedia—I’m hoping tons of people will!
Hey Marie, Seasons Greetings to you, wish you a fabulous year ahead!
About your recipe, could I use dead sea mud instead of rhassoul clay? It’s pretty smooth but also slightly abbrasive.
Thank you! I do not recommend dead sea mud as it contains water, and this really needs to stay dry to be reliably shelf stable.
Hi! Thanks for all recipes you share. I really like them. I hope you will share one or some chemical exfoliation recipes one day. I’m looking forward to trying making them. Thanks again.
Thanks! I am not terribly interested in chemical exfoliation DIY at this point in time, but you never know :)
Hi! thanks for the lovely recipes your share. I tried the charcoal face polish, used the same recipe except for Olivum 1000 used E wax at the same amount but my scrub separated after two days. i have a pool of oil sitting on top 🙁 could it be due to e wax? should i increase the amount of ewax or could it be due to stick blender? how long should i blend it. kindly advice.
Good morning Sharanya!
Gently heat your product in a hot water bath and stir again with a flexible spatula. You don’t want to heat it too much as then you’ll melt your jojoba beads. Once it has been warmed and is pretty easy to mix, remove from heat and stir through your cool down phase. Continue stirring until you cannot stir anymore! Let me know how it goes! I find if I don’t stir an anhydrous product long enough during the cool down, it can separate. Another factor to consider is the extreme heat; if you live in a wickedly hot climate, this product will slightly separate.
Made this today. I’m guessing my clay was more brown/reddish than yours was. Instead of an awesome night sky mine is like yummy melted milk chocolate.
OOooh, tasty 😛 (I think I may need a snack ha). Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making 🙂
I want to make this with a few changes and was wondering about your opinion. I want to use fine dead sea salt instead of jojoba beads because I hear that charcoal and dead sea salt are a great combination. I also wanted to use BTMS50 instead of olivem1000 and was wondering if you thought there’d be an issue because of the positive charge of the btms50 and the polarity of the salt?
I don’t see any glaring problems there—give it a go and see what happens 🙂 Happy making!
I did last night (couldn’t wait for you LOL) and it’s just beautiful. The only thing i did notice was that it left, almost like a film (not necessarily a bad thing) on my face where moisturizing afterwards wasn’t necessary. Definitely an awesome outcome!!
Hooray! I’d bet that is the BTMS; cationic things are much more wash-off resistant than anionic or non-ionic things 🙂
Absolutely correct and I knew that even before you said it…..why??? Because you already taught .e that!! LOL. Hey, I have a question about your book….in the mineral make up recipes I notice you use tsp measurements & no grams or percentages. Would you recommend I make the conversions to scaLe up or down although I don’t see how 1/164 of a tsp can be scaled down, but you get my point right?
I finally found a recipe that can help me use up my bentonite clay!
I bought 100g of bentonite months ago but it turns out I don’t love it and have been having a hard time figuring out what to do with it beyond face masks, and even then I much prefer to use kaolin.
So when I was browsing your old recipes and found this one with the suggestion that maybe bentonite could be a suitable substitute for the rhassoul I became intrigued. Could it be the one? Turns out it can!
Bentonite works pretty well in this recipe. The end product is dryer and less creamy but I really love its scrubbiness and the rinse-off feel.
It seems that not all hope it lost, I will be able to use up my bentonite, one face polish at a time.