Are you still using commercial cleansers? I have been turning away from them for a while now. Not only are they usually water-based which means you pay big bucks for water and get very little active ingredients. More importantly, though, they contain some form of a chemical detergent, and this can strip the skin of everything that it needs to thrive.
Enter DIY facial cleansers! So easy to make and so good for the skin. With proper cleansing, the skin is allowed to retain its natural pH and preserve its microbiome, and it does not get stripped of the protective sebum and natural oils barrier.
I’ve been a fan of the oil cleansing method for a good while now. I find it particularly useful for taking off make-up and the grime of the day. Recently though, since I have not been wearing much makeup and staying home during Covid lockdowns and the heat of the California summer, I was looking for different methods to supplement my oil cleansing.
There are a few I like, and I think any skin can benefit from them. All are 100% natural and can be made with ingredients from your pantry or the bathroom cabinet.
The Top 5 Best DIY Facial Cleansers
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Here is the list of my top five choices for a natural face cleanser:
1. Homemade Oil Cleanser
This is for sure the easiest DIY ever. Basically, all you need is a good quality oil that will work best on your skin type. I wrote a separate post about the benefits and procedure for the famed Oil Cleansing Method, where I also explain which oils are best for which skin type.
By nature, an oil makes for a vegan face cleanser. To make it also organic, just use organic oils to go into your mix. Adding essential oils is beneficial but purely optional. The superstars for healthy skin are Lavender, Frankincense, Myrrh, Rose, Geranium, Neroli, and Helichrysum.
Studies demonstrated a faster rate of wound healing, increased expression of collagen, and enhanced activity of proteins involved in the tissue remodeling process in wounds treated with lavender essential oil.Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
An oil cleanser is great for makeup removal. You spread it on your face, massage for a bit, then place a hot washcloth onto the face and leave it there until it cools off. Rinse and repeat until there is no oily residue and zero dirt left on your face.
On occasion, I use an oil cleansing even if I did not wear makeup. If I spend a lot of time outside with sunscreen on my face and or if I feel like I was exposed to pollution, oil cleanser comes to the rescue. Oil attracts oil, so it makes sense to use an oil cleanser when trying to take off any oil-based products such as an SPF.
RELATED POST: Best Carrier Oils According to Skin Type
2. Solid Oil Organic Cleanser
This type of homemade facial cleanser falls within the category of an oil cleanser. It is however hardened with beeswax or a vegan option such as candelilla or carnauba wax.
What is the difference then? I find the balm to be slightly more convenient, especially while traveling. I find it much easier to take a 1-ounce container of solid cleansing balm on a trip than packing an entire bottle of liquid oil. A cleansing balm is, undoubtedly, also less messy than liquid oil. You take a dime size of the balm onto your fingers and spread it and massage it onto your face. There is no spilling involved, which might happen with regular oil cleansing.
Just like cleansing oil, a solid oil balm can be customized to the skin’s needs. I make two types for myself and my family.
- For my own normal/mature skin, I make the balm with soy bean oil, castor oil, mango butter, and essential oils of turmeric, blood orange, and frankincense.
- For oilier skin types, like my teenage kid and husband, I add bentonite clay as well as the anti-bacterial tamanu oil and tea tree essential oil.
For either option, the process is very simple. Use:
2 parts of liquid oil
1 part of nut or plant butter
1 part of wax (beeswax or vegan option)
a few drops of essential oils (optional)
Melt the first three ingredients in a double boiler.
Add essential oils.
Here is the video of the DIY process.
If you are not a DIY type, you can get them in my shop. I offer small, travel-size tins and larger, 4-oz tins. A little goes a long way!
3. Cleansing Grains
Recently, I had my brows micro-bladed and was told to not use oil or water near them for at least a week, maybe two. I’ve been gently washing my face with a homemade toner but at some point, I wanted to feel like I’m actually doing more to remove the Los Angeles grime and pollution off my face.
Cleansing grains fit the bill perfectly. What are they? Basically, they are a customizable type of dry face cleanser that you mix with a bit of water and massage onto the skin. They function as a mild exfoliator and a gentle cleanser.
Because they will not take the makeup or any oil-based product off, they can be used only after makeup is removed. I will mention a gentle makeup remover further down in #5.
Cleansing grains are becoming quite a rage these days. And they are not cheap when bought commercially. But they are so easy to mix up at home, and most of the ingredients are probably already in your pantry.
How to make them? You can use ground oats or very finely ground nuts such as walnuts or brazil nuts as the base. You can add some clay to them. Bentonite is great for oilier skin types, while green French clay or pink Rhassoul clay are both great for mature skin.
You can add a few active ingredients such as chlorella or spirulina, green tea, licorice powder, powdered herbs such as turmeric, rose petals, lavender flowers, chamomile, or calendula. Possibilities are endless.
Here is a picture of the mix I have been using. In the picture, the layers are not mixed yet. You’d have to mix it all together, then scoop a bit into the palm of your hand, mix it with enough water or hydrosol to make a paste, and then rub it gently onto the skin of the face and neck. Take off with washcloth when done. Rinse with cool water if needed or follow with a toner or hydrosol to remove the rest of the grains.
What I like about cleansing grains the most is that they are an eco-friendly replacement for the horrid microbeads which are made out of plastic and pollute our oceans and landfills. Luckily President Obama signed into law a ban on microbeads and you won’t find them in any exfoliators or toothpaste any longer.
Also, the grains can double up for a mask. If you add aloe vera gel or honey to them instead of water, you can place them on the face and relax for 15-20 minutes, and only then remove them while also exfoliating the skin.
4. Aloe Vera and Honey Cleanser
While oil cleansers and grains are perfect for evening face washing, for the morning wash I prefer the true and tried honey cleanser. Good quality honey is real medicine, and it can do wonders for the health of the skin. All the anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties of raw honey make it a perfect addition to skincare.
Honey speeds up your skin cells’ healing processes. If you have blemishes or an eczema outbreak, honey that’s unpasteurized could speed healing and reduce inflammation.Healthline
Here are more specifics about this type of cleanser and the DIY process. I usually just mix honey and aloe vera with a few drops of jojoba oil and some essential oils. If you really, really cannot live without the suds, it is okay to add a bit of pure Castille Soap to the mix. Just keep it at “a bit” in order to not raise the skin’s pH too much.
RELATED POST: Aloe Vera Face Wash
5. DIY Face Wash for Acne (also a great water-free make-up remover for everyone)
While even oily and blemish-prone skin can benefit from the oil cleansing method, some people are still very worried about using too much oil on the face. I get it, I’ve been there. For many years, I’ve been struggling with teenage and then adult hormonal acne, and it’s been pounded into my head by every dermatologist I ever visited to use oil-free products exclusively.
Thank goodness, those times are passed for the most part, but some even disproven ideas do persist. Or, some people just do not like oils for whatever reason and prefer a lighter touch when it comes to washing the face.
If you’d rather try a cleanser that is not oil-based, here is one that won’t strip the skin of the valuable natural oils. It still uses a bit of oil, but only the lightest oils out there, no-comedogenic, i.e. ones that will not clog the pores.
This DIY face wash is made of two ingredients with optional essential oils:
3 parts Witch Hazel
Witch Hazel is naturally anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory, which makes it a great choice when trying to reduce the appearance of acne or other skin irritations. It is also a powerful astringent, making it great for toning for any skin type.
The herbs white tea (Camellia sinensis Kuntze), Rose (Rosa alternifolia L.) and witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana L.) were recently reported to have high polyphenolic contents and to exhibit high activities in antioxidant assays, along with potential anti-ageing activity via inhibition of collagenase and elastase.Journal of Inflammation
Adding a few drops of acne-fighting essential oils is a good idea too. Tea tree essential oil is well-known as a traditional treatment for blemishes but there are others. A small study found the following:
Thyme, cinnamon and rose essential oils exhibited the best antibacterial activities towards P. acnes.Activities of Ten Essential Oils towards Propionibacterium acne
There you have it. Five super easy and yet super effective DIY facial cleansers to wash your skin without irritating it. Ever since I ditched regular soap-based cleansing, the skin on my face is so much happier. I hope you will discover it for yourself as well.