Unlike toners, which are water-based, and your moisturizer which are mostly oils and fats, cleansers can actually be either or a combination of both. Of all your homemade beauty products, the diy face cleanser is perhaps the most varied in options.
While this may make homemade facial cleanser seem like a large, difficult to digest topic, in reality, it’s actually quite good for you. More products mean more options, which means a higher likelihood of finding one that works great for your own unique skin.
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What Do Face Cleansers Do
But what does a cleanser do, you ask? During the day, the skin on our face becomes layered with make-up, dirt and bacteria. By using a diy makeup remover, we can break up these layers into small particles, which are much easier to remove.
If we don’t use a cleanser, make-up and daily grime can clog up our pores, causing nasty blackheads and even pimples. But it’s not just external elements we have to worry about.
The main cause of acne is thought to be the overproduction of sebum. The excess can get stuck in pores, so using a good cleanser and following up with a homemade toner can do wonders for acne-prone skin.
Homemade Facial Cleanser As Part Of Your Routine
But it’s important to keep in mind that cleansers are great as part of a wider natural skincare regime. A good facial cleanser will break up the layers and remove the larger particles of unwanted grime from your skin.
But plenty of the smaller particles can remain, which will work their way into your pores. By following your cleanser up with a toner, you can remove those last bits, which will keep your skin looking fresher and cleaner for longer.
So, let’s take a look at all the different options we have to play around with, as well as what might be best for you and your skin.
DIY Oil Cleansers
They’re the Original Cleanser
Oil cleansers are the original cleanser, formulated exclusively with oils and not a single drop of water or water soluble botanicals. If you’re versed in your ancient history, you’ll know the Roman’s were big on olive oil and it’s wonderful properties as a cleanser.
In the Roman world, water was an expensive commodity, especially deep in the mainland. Instead of using water to clean themselves oil was often applied to the skin and then scraped off, and it did a surprisingly good job!
Amazingly Nourishing, But a Little Greasy
Nowadays, we mostly use water to clean ourselves. However, using an oil cleanser on the face, in combination with washing, can do absolute wonders for our skin!
Oil cleansers in particular are extremely nourishing. There’s a reason why the Roman’s were considered the height of beauty during their golden age. However, they can be a little greasy. So if that’s usually a big issue for you, you might want to stay away from this one.
Take a look at our recipe for oil cleansers.
Super Cheap And Great For Dry Skin
Of all homemade face cleansers, this is probably the cheapest to make. As it literally only contains oils, you can get away with using carrier oils only. They’re also amazing for dry skin types, as the added moisturising benefits of the oils in these cleansers will nourish your skin while simultaneously cleaning it.
Queen Of Makeup Removal
It’s also your friend if you like to wear heavy makeup. It’s only rival in this department would be a foam cleanser, but if you have dry or sensitive skin an oil cleanser would be a much better choice.
- Weigh out your carrier oils in a single beaker.
- Add your botanical extracts, if using them.
- Mix your ingredients thoroughly
- Pour into your chosen bottle for storage. Best to use glass or PET plastic.
Homemade Cream Cleansers
Taking Your Oil Cleanser To The Next Level
The cream cleanser is the more sophisticated cousin of the oil cleanser. They do the same job, but by creating an emulsion we can get away with using a larger variety of ingredients, including those that are water soluble. I like to think of cream cleansers as taking your oil cleanser to the next level.
When we talk about emulsions, your mind probably goes straight to moisturizers. While this often the case, an emulsified cream cleanser can actually do a great job of ridding the skin of daily grime.
Check out my tutorial on how to make a cream cleanser.
Less Greasy And Oil Cleansers
While they aren’t as good at removing thicker layers of makeup, with a bit of elbow action they can work just as well. They’re also much less greasy than oil cleansers, so a better choice if this is a problem for you.
Tailored For Your Unique Skin
The added benefit of being able to use water-soluble ingredients in the water part of a cream cleanser means you can tailor the cleanser to your own unique skin more easily. They’re also wonderfully nourishing, which is an important consideration if you have dry skin.
If you have oily skin, I wouldn’t recommend a cream cleanser. While it would be better than an oil cleanser, there are still much better options for you.
- 20-30% Carrier Oil
- 5-10% Emulsifying Wax
- 40-50% Distilled Water Or Hydrosol
- 0-10% Botanical Extracts (water or oil based)
- 5% Humectant (e.g. glycerine)
- 0.2-0.5% Cosmetic Gum (e.g. Xanthan gum)
- 1-2% Essential Oil
- 1% Preservative
- This method is very similar to making a facial moisturizer emulsion. Start by weighing your oil ingredients in one beaker (should include all carrier oils, emulsifying wax and oil-based botanical extracts). In another beaker, weigh out your water part (should include your hydrosols and humectant) in a separate beaker.
- Place both beakers into a water bath and heat until the emulsifying wax has completely melted.
- Once remove from the heat, pour the water part into the oil part and immediately begin to whisk.
- Continue to whisk until cooled, it should fully combine into a creamy white mixture.
- Add the cosmetic gum, preservative and essential oils.
- Transfer to your chosen container. A glass bottle with a pump-action lid or a squeezy PET plastic bottle work well for this product.
Lazy Cream Cleanser
I know, and I agree; ‘bi-phasal’ is a very silly, overly complicated name for a cleanser that is basically part oil and part water.
But wait, that sounds a lot like the cream cleanser? It does, but with a small difference. Bi-phasal cleansers don’t make use of emulsifying wax, so the water and the oil sit separately and you need to shake the bottle before use.
I like to think of the bi-phasal cleanser as a lazy cream cleanser, but I’ve found it works great and actually fools people into thinking it’s a more sophisticated cleanser. By adding natural dyes, such as beetroot powder to the water part, your cleanser can actually look absolutely beautiful in its bottle, too.
Take a look at my in-depth guide to making bi-phasal cleansers.
Easy To Make But Looks Sophisticated
I’ve found it’s no better and no worse than the cream cleanser, but I’ve also found it’s way easier to make and to tailor to either dry or oily skin. If you have dry skin, you can use a larger oil part, and the reverse if you have oily skin. I wouldn’t go further than say 60/40, but even 10% divergence in oil and water can actually make a big difference for the user.
Good All-round Product
I find that bi-phasal cleansers are a good allround product, so I usually recommend it as a gift for someone whose skin type is unknown, or for someone new to skincare. It really does look cool, though!
Oil Phase (60-40%, 50% as standard)
Water Phase (60-40%, 50% as standard)
- Weigh out your oil phase ingredients in a single beaker. This should include your carrier oils, antioxidants and essential oils. Mix thoroughly.
- In a separate beaker, mix together your water phase ingredients. This should include your hydrosols, glycerine, water-based botanical extracts and, of course, your preservative. Mix thoroughly.
- In your chosen bottle for storage, first pour your water phase. It is best to use glass or PET plastic.
- Now add your oil part. It should sit happily on top of your water phase.
DIY Micellar Waters
Micellar waters are a combination of mostly water, with a bit of surfactant. When you come to look at gel cleansers below, you’ll find that they are very similar, except these are much thinner in its consistency.
My post, How To Make Micellar Water is an in-depth recipe for this cleanser, definitely worth a read.
Great For Oily Skin
I’ve seen people say that micella waters are good for dry skin, but this cannot be true. Water is inherently drying for the skin. When water is applied to the skin and then evaporates, it takes with it many of the naturally occurring oils with it. Thus, micella waters would be a poor choice for someone with dry skin.
However, a person with oily skin may find this product amazingly useful at cutting through make up, grime and excess oil on the skin.
More Gentle Than A Foaming Cleanser
While this product has some of the benefits of a foaming cleanser, mostly due to the presence of surfactants, micellar waters tend to be a lot gentler on the skin. Foaming cleansers require more surfactant than is needed for a micella water, which can result in a product that is less irritating for someone with sensitive skin.
- 80-90% Hydrosols
- 0-10% Botanical Extracts (water-soluble)
- 0-5% Humectant (e.g. Glycerine)
- 2-5% Surfactant (eg Coco-Glucoside)
- 1% Preservative
- In a glass beaker, combine your hydrosols, botanical extracts and humectant. Mix thoroughly.
- Now we need to add the surfactant. Pour it slowly, and once it has been added mix very slowly. We do not want to agitate the surfactant too much, as this will create too many bubbles.
- Now that our ingredients have been combined, pour the cleanser into your chosen bottle. Glass works well for storage. Be sure to pour slowly and carefully, as our mixture now includes the surfactant and we do not want to agitate it.
Homemade Gel Cleansers
Gel cleansers are the thicker version of micella water. They are almost identitcal, but the addition of a cosmetic gum produces a product that is much more viscous.
There is no real reason to use a gel cleanser over a micella water, and vice-versa. However, I have found there are a few benefits of using a gel over water.
My recipe for this cleanser can be found in my post, How To Make DIY Gel Cleanser At Home
While a micella water will happily travel, I find a gel cleanser travels a little better. Because gel cleansers are thicker, you don’t need to worry as much about bringing things like cotton pads to apply it. You can just use your fingers.
This cuts down on the necessary equipment you’ll need to cram into your make up bag. Although you can totally use a cotton pad if you prefer.
Great For Oily and Sensitive Skin
Like micellar water, if you have oily skin this product will work great. If you have oily, sensitive skin, this one is even better. It has roughly the same amount of surfactant as a micella water, and so is preferable over the foaming cleanser.
- 80-90% Distilled Water or Hydrosol
- 10% Glycerine
- 0.5-2% Cosmetic Gum (e.g. Xanthan gum)
- 0-5% Botanical Extracts (water-soluble)
- 1% Essential oils
- 0-5% Surfactant (eg Coco-Glucoside) (optional)
- 1% Preservative
- In a glass beaker, weigh out your distilled water then set to one side.
- In a separate beaker, combine your glycerine, oils and cosmetic gum. Stir the ingredients become a thick gel.
- Pour our glycerine, essential oil and gum mixture into the beaker holding the hydrosols. Mix thoroughly. You should be left with a medium thick gel.
- If you’re using a surfactant, you can add this now. Pour slowly and mix carefully to prevent bubbles.
- Lastly, add your preservative and then transfer to a bottle for storage. A PET plastic squeezy bottle is best for this.
DIY Foaming Cleansers
The Best Homemade Face Cleanser
Hands down, the foaming cleanser is probably the best cleanser you can get. It will cut through just about anything, and rivals the oil cleanser in make up removal.
It also looks really cool! There’s a certain novelty associated with pumping out a cleanser that is foaming. It makes the giftee or customer think that it’s going to work much better than it does. While this sort of thing is often psychological/placebo, this is not the case for a foaming cleanser.
This cleanser foams because of the surfactant in the product. Surfactants are great at binding and removing oil particles, as well as breaking up dirt, grime and the nasty gunk that form blackheads in our pores. Of all these cleansers, this has the highest concentration of surfactant, which makes it one of the best.
A more in-depth method and full list of ingredients for this full proof recipe can be found over on my post, How To Make A DIY Foaming Cleanser
Foaming cleansers are probably the best cleansers you can buy, but they’re often more expensive than your other options. So, let’s save some money and make our own DIY foaming cleanser! You’ve probably seen lots of foaming cleansers at your local drugstore, but did you know they’re actually easy to…
Good For Oily Skin, But Problematic For Dry or Sensitive Skin
As you’d expect, this homemade face cleanser is absolutely amazing for anyone with oily skin. However, it is problematic for anyone with dry or sensitive skin, because it is comprised of mostly water, and because of the larger quantities of surfactant.
Even if you use a more natural surfactant, you still may run into issues. Its important to remember that even if a product is natural, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be beneficial to our skin.
- 80-90% Hydrosols
- 5-10% Glycerine
- 5% Surfactant (eg Coco-Glucoside)
- 5% Botanical Extracts (water-soluble)
- 1% Preservative
- In a glass beaker, weigh out the hydrosols, glycerine and botanical extracts. Stir thoroughly until combined.
- Now we can add the surfactant. Pour slowly, and then stir slowly to prevent the formation of bubbles.
- Add the preservative.
- Transfer to your chosen bottle for storage. Glass works quite well for this product.
Which Is Best For You?
With so many, it can definitely be difficult to decide which one is best for you. Here is a chart that may help you decide which one might be best for you.
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The options with a plus are the best choices for each standalone skin type. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that everyone’s skin is unique. You may have a combination of 2 or even 3 of these. You should try various options to see what works best for you, and only use this as a guide to help you on that journey.
For example, a teenager may have oily skin that is also sensitive. While foaming cleansers are best for dry skin, her/his skin wouldn’t be suitable as it’s much too sensitive. On the flip side, while bi-phasal cleanser would be suitable for her/his skin, perhaps they would benefit from a cleanser with less oil.
I hope you enjoyed reading!
I would love to hear from you so please feel free to leave a comment or ask any questions below.