My Homemade Emulsifying Cleansing Balm

Update: I’ve since updated this recipe and talked about it here.

I’ve mentioned my homemade cleansing balm in the past and, as I’ve just whipped up a new batch, I thought I’d share my current recipe. I made this balm last year with some lovely oils and a light scent from lemon and lavender essential oil, but this year I realized I needed something entirely simpler to remove eye makeup after I perform. It’s also high in linoleic acid for my breakout-prone skin. I managed to make it a bit firm this go around, but I’m going to keep the formula because I can gouge out a blob easily enough, and hopefully I won’t have to reformulate in the summer when our bathroom gets much warmer.

I based my recipe on some all-natural cleansing balm recipes I found online, but I knew I wanted an emulsifier to allow for clean rinsing. I decided to use cetyl stearyl alcohol and Polysorbate-20 because they work together and the fatty alcohol acts like a wax, eliminating the need for an additional wax. While they are not entirely natural, Polysorbate is used in foods, so you can find food-grade ingredients if you worry about contamination, and the fatty alcohols can be found from sources that list origin and purity.

I originally used mango butter alone, but decided to add babassu oil because it’s supposed to be lovely for skin care and I had it from making soap. Going back to all mango butter would probably make a slightly softer balm. Finally, I made this with a high level of grapeseed oil for its beneficial fatty acid profile. The oils and butters used add up to 43% linoleic acid and 24% oleic acid. If you have dry skin and don’t worry about spots, I’d highly recommend you try a richer, higher-oleic acid oil, or a more balanced oil, like jojoba oil.

To use this lovely balm, I scoop out about a grape-sized amount and rub it between my hands to melt and then apply it to dry skin. I massage it all around, making sure to get anywhere I’ve worn makeup. Sometimes I give myself a little massage. Then, I rinse my hands with warm water and wet a washcloth under warm-to-hot water. I lay the warm cloth over my face for a bit to steam and then wipe off the balm. If I’ve worn a lot of makeup or sunscreen, I’ll follow with a cream cleanser, but otherwise, I rinse my face with warm and then cool water. It rinses very cleanly and is a nice ritual to end my day. It was lovely to have the essential oils to scent it for a little aromatherapy while my pores steamed, but I found they irritated my eyes so I couldn’t use it to remove eye makeup. So I had to abandon them. If you have less sensitive eyes, feel free to add something to make it smell lovely, but please properly research any ingredients you choose to put on your skin.

One final note: I make this by weight for precision. I highly recommend you purchase a small digital scale if you want to make homemade personal care products. If you’re looking for sources of ingredients, I purchased my cetyl stearyl alcohol and Polysorbate from Gugu Soap Company, and my oils, butters, and Vitamin E from Wild Herb. I found babassu oil on Amazon.

Emulsifying Cleansing Balm

50g grapeseed oil
20g mango butter
20g cetyl stearyl alcohol
10g babassu oil
10g Polysorbate-20
3g Vitamin E liquid

Melt together the cetyl stearyl alcohol, mango butter, and babassu oil until completely melted. Add the grapeseed oil, Polysorbate-20, and Vitamin E liquid and stir until incorporated. If the room-temperature ingredients start to thicken or flake in the melted ingredients, warm it gently to get them to melt in, but don’t heat too much after adding the grapeseed oil or Vitamin E. Once it’s all blended, pour into a container. I use a wide-mouthed, rather flat 8-oz. Ball jar. Cap and refrigerate for a half an hour, or until just set. Then, you can keep it at room temperature. If you are careful to only put clean, dry fingers into the jar, it should keep for a few months at room temperature.