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2-Ingredient DIY Cleansing Oil with Emulsifier

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Ideal for beginners, this simple emulsifying cleansing oil requires only two ingredients. It’s inexpensive, easy to make, and rinses clean with water. The secret ingredient? A natural, plant-based emulsifier that emulsifies and removes makeup in one step.

DIY cleansing oil with emulsifier

I’ve been making my own natural makeup removers at home for years. But even though I have a cupboard full of cleansing balms, micellar waters, and other DIY concoctions, I continually find myself gravitating towards my favourite store bought cleansing oil.

Why? Because in a pinch, nothing really compares to an oil cleanser’s convenience. As someone aiming to simplify their beauty routine, I find that a cleansing oil’s ability to replace both my cleanser and makeup remover is hard to match.

Micellar water works similarly in that it’s also a one-step cleanser. However, it doesn’t cleanse quite as deeply as an oil, and it also requires the extra step of using a cotton pad.

I reach for it often – but when my pores need a thorough cleanse, I use a cleansing oil.

I’ve been eager to create a natural DIY cleansing oil for a long time, but I had high expectations. For one, I wanted the recipe to be extremely easy to make.

And most importantly, it had to be effective. I wanted the oil to rinse clean just as easily as store bought options, and not require a second cleanser afterwards.

After some experimentation, I settled on a self-emulsifying cleansing oil recipe that’s so simple, it can be made in under two minutes.

Benefits of this homemade cleansing oil

This simple cleansing oil is effective yet gentle. It’s ideal for all skin types, though I think it might be slightly better suited for dry, sensitive, or combination skin.

Those with oily skin may find that this cleanser doesn’t leave their skin feeling as squeaky clean as store bought products do. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Stripping too much oil from the skin can cause rebound overproduction, so a more gentle cleanser could be beneficial for controlling oil.

Homemade cleansing oil with emulsifier

Aside from its versatility, this recipe is also inexpensive. It can save you a lot of money on expensive brand name cleansers in the long run. As much as I love my favourite store bought cleansing oil, I don’t always want to pay its high price.

Before I reveal the recipe, I’d like to talk about what makes oil cleansers so beneficial for a variety of skin types.

I also want to address why experts recommend you shouldn’t make your own cleansing oil at home, and why properly formulated products are an exception.

We’re going to delve into a lot of information about oil cleansing, so you may want to skip ahead if you’re eager to find out how to make this recipe.

What is a cleansing oil?

A cleansing oil is a unique kind of hybrid cleanser. It performs all steps of a nighttime cleansing routine simultaneously, acting as both a makeup remover and face wash in one.

Typically, cleansing oils contain a blend of oils, emulsifiers, and water-activated surfactants. This combination of ingredients breaks down makeup, cleanses pores, and rinses everything away with no residue, eliminating the need for two separate skincare products.

Are cleansing oils good for oily skin?

Oil cleansers’ high oil content makes them ideal for a variety of skin types, especially acne-prone or oily skin. Using oil on oily skin may seem counterintuitive, but remember the chemistry rule: like dissolves like. Therefore, oil dissolves oil.

Cleansing with oil can help dissolve blackheads and congestion before they turn into blemishes. As a result, those with oily or acne-prone skin may find that an oil cleanser actually helps prevent breakouts.

Are cleansing oils good for dry skin?

Cleansing oils are an excellent choice for those with dry or sensitive skin. When the skin is in a vulnerable state, traditional foaming cleansers can be drying. On the other hand, a cleansing oil can help condition and replenish much-needed moisture.

Emulsifying DIY cleansing oil

Oily cleansers also help create a buffer between your skin and any cleansing agents. This helps prevent the dryness and skin barrier disruption that cleansing can cause.

One caveat: not all cleansing oils are created equal. They’re still capable of over-cleansing the skin and causing a tight, dry feeling after cleansing. It all depends on the strength and concentration of surfactants in the product.

If your skin is dry or sensitive, you’ll want to use a gentle, fragrance-free cleansing oil. Luckily, this homemade recipe fits both criteria.

The problem with most DIY cleansing oils

Making your own skincare products can be enjoyable and convenient. However, many experts caution against making your own cleansing oils, and they have good reasons for doing so.

For one, many DIY cleansing oil recipes don’t actually cleanse the skin. This is important, because inadequate cleansing can lead to serious skin issues.

Apparently, dermatologists have seen a rise in cystic acne linked to using improperly formulated DIYs.

No matter what kind or special blend of oils is used, an oil is still just that – an oil. It makes a great natural makeup remover, but it’s not technically a cleanser.

Water and oil do not mix. You can’t wash off an oil with water, so it’s going to sit on top of the skin instead, trapping makeup and debris in the pores along with it.

So, should you use a homemade oil cleanser?

With all of this information in mind, you can still make your own cleansing oil (or balm), just as long as you know how to use it properly.

Oil cleanser on white cloth

There are a lot of lovely homemade cleansing oil recipes out there. But in order to truly cleanse the skin properly, a recipe requires an emulsifier or a surfactant. This allows water to mix with the oil and wash away pore-clogging dirt and makeup.

If the recipe you’d like to try really emulsifies, it’s safe to use it as your only cleanser. But even if it doesn’t, that doesn’t mean you can’t still use it.

Just know that it’s is probably better suited as the “first” cleanse in a double cleansing routine, and should be followed by a second facial cleanser to thoroughly remove all traces of makeup and oil from your pores.

For instance, my green tea oil cleanser recipe would make a great first cleanse in a double cleansing routine.

How to tell if a cleansing oil really works

The best way to test whether an oil truly cleanses is to try washing your face with it. A true cleansing oil should remove makeup, cleanse the pores, and wash off clean with plain water.

If the oil becomes milky on contact with water and rinses clean, it’s cleansing properly. (The milkiness is the sign of an emulsifier doing its job.)

On the other hand, if your face is left with an oily residue that won’t rinse off with water, you should use another face cleanser to get your skin truly clean.

What about the oil cleansing method?

The information I’ve just shared contradicts the oil cleansing method (OCM), a controversial skincare technique that involves using only oil and a washcloth to wash your face.

Some swear by it for clearing acne and other skin issues, however, most people should proceed with caution. There’s a reason that “oil cleansing method ruined my skin” is a popular search term.

For many people, the oil cleansing method simply doesn’t work. It can leave skin congested, oily, and full of blackheads or whiteheads. As mentioned earlier, dermatologists have also reported a link between cystic acne and oil cleansing.

DIY oil cleanser for oil cleansing method

If the oil cleansing method works for you, that’s great. Different techniques work for different people, and if the OCM improved your skin, I’m in no position to tell you to change what you’re doing.

But if oil cleansing left you worse off than before, know that you’re not the only one. An increase in acne might not be due to “purging,” as OCM followers suggest – it could just be that the method doesn’t work for your skin.

Personally, the oil cleansing method did not work for me either, and after reading, it’s clear why.

Cleansing balms and oils like coconut oil are a great way to remove makeup, but they need to be used with a second cleanser to truly remove dirt and debris from the pore.

Now that we’ve covered the ins and outs of oil cleansing, let’s get to the recipe.

Cleansing oil ingredients

To make this DIY cleansing oil, you will need:

Optional ingredient:

  • Cera Bellina wax

There are two ways to make this recipe. The simplest way involves mixing the first two ingredients and pouring them into a pump bottle.

For those who feel like putting in the extra effort, you can also add Cera Bellina wax to give the formula more viscosity.

Cera Bellina wax gives the formula a thicker texture that’s more reminiscent of a store bought cleansing oil. It also helps emulsify the oil – I find that this recipe cleanses slightly better with Cera Bellina included.

However, it’s completely optional, and this cleanser is still effective without it.

Natural DIY cleansing oil in glass bottle

Caprylic/capric triglycerides (MCT oil)

Who knew that this popular diet aid was so good for skin? Also called capric/caprylic triglycerides, MCT oil has likely been hiding in plain sight on your skincare product labels. Its thin texture and favourable fatty acid profile make it ideal for many skin types.

MCT oil is made by fractionating coconut or palm oil, a process which removes long chain fatty acids, leaving behind only medium chain triglycerides (MCTs).

Coconut and palm oils are known for being comedogenic for many people, but MCT oil is different.

Homemade oil cleanser with MCT oil

After fractionation, only capric and caprylic fatty acids are left behind. This results in a thin, liquid oil that is much less likely to clog pores.

As an added benefit, capric and caprylic acid are completely saturated, so they won’t oxidize or go rancid in the presence of light, heat, or oxygen. This is important in a cleansing oil since it will be washed off with hot water.

Both fatty acids have also been shown to have anti-fungal and antibacterial activity. This makes MCT oil less likely to aggravate acne or fungal issues than other liquid skincare oils.

If you don’t have MCT oil on hand, you can substitute food-grade fractionated coconut oil (liquid coconut oil).

However, if you are at all acne-prone, I recommend using only MCT oil. Fractionated coconut oil contains lauric acid which can be comedogenic for some people.

CreamMaker FLUID

CreamMaker FLUID is a naturally-derived, PEG-free emulsifier made from vegetable glycerol and coconut oils. It’s also ECOCERT, NATRUE and COSMOS approved which speaks highly of its safety and sustainability.

I scoured the internet to find the perfect natural emulsifier for this recipe. Skincare threads on Reddit suggested Cromollient SCE, polysorbate 80 and various PEG ingredients such as Olivem 300 to make self-emulsifying DIY cleansing oils.

The issue for me was that those are all ethoxylated ingredients, which I try to avoid wherever possible. I feel better about using a non-toxic option like CreamMaker when I’ll be directly handling raw ingredients.

CreamMaker FLUID is perfect for use in a water soluble cleansing oil. It has a high HLB value – this refers to a surfactant’s hydrophilic-lipophilic balance, or affinity for water or oil.

It scores 11 on the scale, making it hydrophilic (water soluble). The more hydrophilic the ingredient, the easier and cleaner the rinse-off will be.

If you’re a beginner, don’t be intimidated – this emulsifier is extremely easy to use. It creates cold emulsions, which means you can use it directly from the container. All you have to do is pour it into your MCT oil.

Note: CreamMaker FLUID is also sold under the name PlantaMulse Liquid.

Homemade cleansing oil on white cloth

Cera Bellina wax

Cera Bellina wax is a kind of specially modified beeswax. To make it, the free fatty acids in beeswax are converted into polyglycerol esters. This allows the wax to act like an emulsifier, which makes it a useful ingredient to add to a cleansing oil.

Personally, I love the smooth glide and gel-like feel that Cera Bellina wax gives to this recipe. You only need a small amount to create a smooth, luxurious texture, so if you have it on hand, I highly recommend adding it. It isn’t difficult to use and only adds a minute or two to the process.

Cera Bellina also enhances this cleansing oil’s appearance by turning it a milky white. (If using CreamMaker and MCT oil, your oil will be a clear, pale yellow.) The cleansing oil pictured in the photos is the version containing Cera Bellina.

Please note that if you are allergic to bee products, you should skip Cera Bellina. As well, Cera Bellina is not plant-based, so you can skip it if you’d like to make a vegan cleansing oil.

For more ways to use this versatile ingredient, you can also find Cera Bellina wax in my gentle exfoliating face mask.

DIY Cleansing Oil with Emulsifier

Ingredients

1/4 cup MCT oil (capric/caprylic triglycerides)
1/2 tsp CreamMaker FLUID

Optional

1/4 tsp Cera Bellina wax pellets

Equipment

Small funnel
2oz glass pump bottle

Emulsifying cleansing oil with MCT oil

2-Ingredient Cleansing Oil

  1. Pour the MCT oil into a glass measuring cup with a lip for easy pouring. Then, pour in the CreamMaker FLUID and mix until cloudy.
  2. Using a funnel, transfer the cleansing oil to a pump bottle.

3-Ingredient Cleansing Oil

  1. In a small double boiler pot over low heat, combine MCT oil, CreamMaker FLUID and Cera Bellina wax pellets. (Since this recipe makes such a small quantity, it may be easier to use a small Turkish coffee pot or butter warmer placed over a pot of water to create a makeshift double boiler.)
  2. Whisk until liquified, then immediately remove from heat.
  3. Once the cleansing oil has cooled, transfer it to a pump bottle using a funnel.

Recipe notes

  • This cleansing oil recipe is water-free and requires no preservative.
  • Percentages for CreamMaker FLUID and Cera Bellina are 4% and 1%, respectively.
  • MCT oil has a very long shelf life. CreamMaker FLUID and Cera Bellina wax both have 2 year shelf lives from the date of manufacture. Your oil should last between 1-2 years.
  • I recommend storing your oil in a glass pump bottle. It’s more eco-friendly than plastic and can be reused for future batches.

How to use your cleansing oil

Start with dry skin. This cleansing oil works very well on a full face of makeup, but you can also use a small amount in the morning to start the day with a fresh face.

Shake your oil before use. Disperse a generous amount into clean hands and massage into your skin with gentle, circular motions, taking care not to get it into your eyes.

If you’re wearing makeup, you’ll see it immediately begin to emulsify. Be sure to spend extra time in oily areas to help clear any pore congestion.

Once your makeup is melted, wet your hands and start the process again. The oil will turn slightly milky and change consistency as it emulsifies with the water.

To finish, rinse your face with warm water until clean.

DIY cleansing oil for face in glass bottle

Yield: 1 bottle

DIY Cleansing Oil with Emulsifier

DIY cleansing oil

This simple DIY cleansing oil is natural, easy to make, and rinses clean with water. The secret ingredient? A plant-based emulsifier that removes makeup and cleanses skin in one step.

Active Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Materials

Optional

  • 1/4 tsp Cera Bellina wax pellets

Tools

Instructions

2-Ingredient Cleansing Oil

  1. Pour the MCT oil into a glass measuring cup with a lip for easy pouring. Then, pour in the CreamMaker FLUID and mix until cloudy.
  2. Using a funnel, transfer the cleansing oil to a pump bottle.

3-Ingredient Cleansing Oil

  1. In a small double boiler pot over low heat, combine MCT oil, CreamMaker FLUID and Cera Bellina wax pellets. (Since this recipe makes such a small quantity, it may be easier to use a small Turkish coffee pot or butter warmer placed over a pot of water to create a makeshift double boiler.)
  2. Whisk until liquified, then immediately remove from heat.
  3. Once the cleansing oil has cooled, transfer it to a pump bottle using a funnel.

Notes

  • This cleansing oil recipe is water-free and requires no preservative.
  • Percentages for CreamMaker FLUID and Cera Bellina are 4% and 1%, respectively.
  • MCT oil has a very long shelf life. CreamMaker FLUID and Cera Bellina wax both have 2 year shelf lives from the date of manufacture. Your oil should last between 1-2 years.
  • I recommend storing your oil in a glass pump bottle. It’s more eco-friendly than plastic and can be reused for future batches!

Recommended Products

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Did you make this DIY?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

More oil cleanser recipes

If you liked this recipe, you might also enjoy these other cleansing oils:

And if you love cleansing with oil, I also have several cleansing balm recipes. There are a variety of options depending on your preference:

These balms won’t completely emulsify with water, so I recommend they be followed with a second cleanser to thoroughly remove all traces of makeup.

If micellar water is your makeup remover of choice, you might enjoy my natural recipe using witch hazel or my micellar makeup remover wipes.

For even more natural DIY beauty ideas, follow us on Pinterest! You can also find us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Eunice

Friday 11th of September 2020

Thanks for your recipe. I made the cleanser using all 3 ingredients, and when I used it last night for the first time, my face was left with some oil. Is this what’s supposed to be? Or would it be better if I put more cream maker fluid? Thank you

Eunice

Monday 14th of September 2020

@Kyla, thank you for your reply! I did put more creammaker and I definitely felt a less oily. But it overall cleanses well. I used to use dhc oil cleanser and a 2nd cleanser afterwards. So I have no problem using 2nd cleanser after this. I will try making one of your cleansing balm later on. Thank you :)

Kyla

Saturday 12th of September 2020

Hi Eunice! I'm sorry the cleansing oil didn't work as expected. I hope I can help. I've been using this recipe for quite a while now and have learned more about it, so I intended to update this post.

Yes, I think more CreamMaker would be helpful. I've actually started doubling the amount of CreamMaker I use in each batch.

Since CreamMaker is so gentle, this recipe isn't as powerful as most store bought cleansing oils. But if it's leaving too much residual oil on your skin, that's not ideal.

I would suggest doubling the amount of CreamMaker. I'm hoping that will solve your issue, but if after that it's still leaving too much residual oil on your face, unfortunately it just might not be strong enough to remove your makeup or skincare products without a second cleanser.

I wrote this blog post while I was using a pretty minimal selection of skincare products. The cleansing oil worked perfectly on those products and rinsed completely clean, but I've since found that its efficacy depends on what kind of products you're using.

For example, it removed one sunscreen easily with no residue. But since switching to a different brand recently, I've found I have to use a second cleanser after the cleansing oil.

With that said, this recipe still works really well as a makeup remover or a pre-cleanse oil. And in the meantime, I've been looking for another natural emulsifier to experiment with.

Please let me know if adding more CreamMaker for you. I'll be updating this post soon with my experiences. Thank you for reading and commenting!

Robin

Tuesday 5th of May 2020

This looks wonderful! However I can’t seem to find the CreamMaker FLUID available anywhere. Do you know of an alternative supplier? Also, do you think I could substitute a little cocoa butter for some of the MCT if I wanted to give it more of a cleansing milk texture? Thanks!

Robin

Friday 5th of June 2020

Thanks Kyla. I’m in California. I’ll definitely look out for your cleansing milk recipe!

Kyla

Wednesday 6th of May 2020

Hi Robin, thanks for reading! Where are you located? I'll do my best to help you find the CreamMaker. I'm not sure about the cocoa butter as I've never tried it in a cleansing oil. It's a great idea, but my only worry is that it might make the oil harder to remove. But if you end up trying it, I would love to hear how it goes. ? PS you can definitely expect a cleansing milk recipe from me at some point!

Bailey

Sunday 8th of March 2020

Do you have a recommendation for Cera Bellina wax pellets? I’m finding lots of vegan alternatives on amazon but I’m not sure if that would make a difference? Thanks!

Kyla

Sunday 8th of March 2020

Hi Bailey, I've never been able to find Cera Bellina pellets on Amazon! And unfortunately the vegan alternatives aren't comparable. Are you in the US? If so, Lotioncrafter or Formulator Sample Shop are great places to get Cera Bellina.

Jennifer

Thursday 30th of January 2020

Hi, you explained all this so well and I'm really interested in making the cleanser, however, because I live in the UK, the CreamMaker Fluid you recommended is going to work out very expensive for me (the cheapest shipping option on the 'MakingCosmetics' website is $19.58 and I can't seem to find it anywhere else). I was, therefore, wondering if you were able to recommend an equally effective emulsifier that's easier to come by if you're not based in the USA? Would be very grateful for any advice you could offer.

Kyla

Friday 31st of January 2020

Hi Jennifer, I wish I had an alternative to recommend to you. I haven't been able to find anything comparable from any UK-based cosmetic suppliers, but if I end up coming across anything I will definitely let you know. I'm sorry I couldn't be more helpful! I have a lot more cleansing oil recipes planned, so I hope to formulate one that will be more accessible to you.

AZ

Sunday 24th of November 2019

Can I use xanthan gum with the oil also?

Kyla

Monday 25th of November 2019

Hi there, xanthan gum is water soluble so it wouldn’t work in this recipe.