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DIY Cleansing Balm to Melt Your Makeup

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Learn how to make a simple DIY cleansing balm with only 2 natural ingredients. This luxurious solid skin cleanser will instantly melt and emulsify even the thickest layer of makeup, leaving you with clean, soft, moisturized skin.

DIY cleansing balm

If you’ve spent any length of time browsing Sephora, you’ve likely noticed the collection of products devoted to removing makeup.

I don’t know about you, but when faced with hordes of wipes, micellar waters and bottles of cleansing oil, part of me starts to believe I need 11 different steps to wash my face.

Choosing what kind of makeup to put on my skin is already hard enough without worrying about which product (or two, or three) is best at taking it off.

For that reason, I usually stick with good old coconut oil to remove my makeup, or more recently, my own homemade micellar water or cleansing oil.

Lately though, I started to notice a new trend — makeup removing cleansing “balms.” And I have to admit that I was intrigued. Because even though I’m committed to coconut oil, I also like trying new products.

But while they might look enticing, I discovered that many cleansing balms were just blends of low quality oils and emulsifiers, brilliantly marketed with pretty packaging. And that just didn’t sit well with me.

That’s why I decided to make my own DIY cleansing balm.

What is a cleansing balm?

A cleansing balm is a type of skin cleanser typically formulated with a combination of oils, waxes, and emulsifiers. But unlike most makeup removers, cleansing balms are solid, not liquid.

Since like dissolves like, cleansing balms are able to dissolve oil, makeup, and even thick coats of sunscreen effortlessly.

Cleansing balms are trendy due in part to the popularity of the Korean double cleansing method, which involves using 2 steps to wash your face.

Step 1 removes your makeup — this is where a cleansing balm comes in. Step 2 is a more thorough cleanse that removes all traces of grime, oil, and whichever product you used during step 1.

DIY cleansing balm

Why cleansing balms are good for your skin

Have you ever experienced a feeling of tightness or dryness after washing your face? That’s not a sign of cleanliness. Unfortunately, it’s a sign of stripped, imbalanced skin whose pH balance has been seriously disrupted.

Our skin’s ideal pH level is slightly acidic, falling somewhere between 4 to 5.5. This state is carefully maintained by a matrix of lipids and bacteria called the acid mantle.

The acid mantle acts as your skin’s security guard, preventing bad bacteria, viruses, and other foreign invaders from taking up residence.

It’s been shown that skin with a low pH is much healthier than skin with a high pH. This is why washing away your skin’s acid mantle – whether it’s with harsh cleansers, scrubs, or other abrasive products – is so incredibly damaging.

Over time, over-cleansing your skin can leave it vulnerable to issues such as eczema and acne, and can even accelerate aging.

We want to avoid pH disruption at all costs, and a cleansing balm can help.

When it comes to washing your face, cleansing balms are some of the gentlest options. They help to avoid over-cleansing by creating a protective barrier between your skin and your second cleanser.

As a result, you’re left with skin that’s hydrated and balanced after cleansing, not stripped and tight.

Aside from the skin benefits, using a cleansing balm is also a great way to pamper yourself. It feels really luxurious to massage something rich and nourishing into your skin after a long day.

Other benefits of using a cleansing balm include:

  • Thoroughly removes your makeup – no more remnants of yesterday’s foundation
  • Deeply cleanses without stripping the skin’s protective barrier
  • Helps to protect against the rebound oil overproduction caused by over-cleansing
  • Stimulates lymph drainage and circulation through massage, reducing puffiness
  • Helps protect the skin against moisture loss and dryness
  • Can help dislodge blockages by penetrating into congested pores

What’s wrong with store bought cleansing balms?

Many store bought cleansing balms are formulated with potentially irritating fragrances and preservatives, as well as pore-clogging ingredients like mineral oil – none of which are exactly conducive to skin health.

And at $40 to over $100 a jar, you’re washing a very expensive blend of heavily fragranced oil down the drain. Literally.

I’m a firm believer in spending money on your skin care where it counts, such as when it comes to treatments or actives. In my opinion, it’s not worth shelling out for a product that doesn’t sit on your skin long enough to have any long-term benefits.

A brand-name cleansing balm is probably not going to do much for your skin. You’re better off spending your money on something like vitamin A, which has well-documented benefits.

Homemade cleansing balm with white flowers

My DIY cleansing balm recipe

Removing your makeup doesn’t have to break the bank. Since they require so few ingredients, cleansing balms are one of the easiest recipes to DIY.

In fact, with only 2 main ingredients, this DIY cleansing balm recipe might be one of the simplest recipes out there. It’s not groundbreaking by any means, but it works.

If you’re looking for a very easy, affordable, and non-toxic way to remove your makeup, this recipe is for you.

Unrefined shea butter

Shea butter is extremely emollient, has a comedogenic rating of zero, and is rich in antioxidant vitamin E. It has an earthy, nutty scent that can easily be personalized with natural essential oils. (However, please be cautious about using essential oils on your face. See my note on this below.)

Another option is to buy a pre-scented product. I love Out of Africa’s vanilla shea butter. It has only two ingredients: unrefined shea butter and vanilla essential oil.

As someone who is quite sensitive to chemical fragrances, it smells delicious without the headache or irritation, and its aroma is comparable to warm vanilla cupcakes.

This isn’t a sponsored post – Out of Africa’s shea butter is just that good. It’s the only shea butter I’ve found that’s consistently smooth and creamy. It’s never crumbly, grainy, hard or dry like many other shea butters I’ve tried.

It also comes in tiny, travel-friendly tins that are perfect for using as lip balm.

Creamy vanilla shea butter

Virgin coconut oil

Coconut oil contains lauric and caprylic fatty acids, which have antimicrobial qualities that can help keep acne-causing bacteria at bay. And since it’s a mostly saturated fat, coconut oil is able to withstand high heat without oxidizing on your skin.

When creating a cleansing balm recipe, it’s important to use heat-stable lipids. The hot water used to wash off the cleansing balm will oxidize unstable oils.

While controversial, some research has suggested that using oxidized oils on your skin can accelerate aging.

How to use this DIY cleansing balm

Using this homemade cleansing balm is extremely easy. Since a balm is more for deep cleansing, it’s best used at night on a full face of makeup and SPF.

For morning cleanses or makeup-free days, I prefer using raw honey or a gentle micellar water to wash my face.

To use the cleansing balm, start with dry skin. Scoop out a generous amount of product with clean, dry hands. Massage it into your skin with gentle, circular motions until your makeup is melted and emulsified.

Before your second cleanse, you have two choices. You can gently remove the balm with a cotton washcloth soaked in hot water before washing with your usual facial cleanser.

Or, if you wish, you can skip the washcloth and proceed straight to your cleanser. Both options work, but as always, it’s preferable to use a gentle, sulfate-free face cleanser.

Homemade cleansing balm

What about the oil cleansing method?

Those using the oil cleansing method might opt to skip the facial cleanser entirely, using only the balm and a wet washcloth to wash their face.

You know your skin better than anyone. Only choose this option if you’re sure this is compatible with your particular skin type. The oil cleansing method appears to work for some people, but for others, such as those suffering from fungal acne, it can spell disaster.

I go into more detail on the issues with oil cleansing in this article.

Personally, the oil cleansing method is not for me. A week-long experiment of using only coconut oil to wash my face lead to a face full of whiteheads and congestion. I fare much better using a facial cleanser after using my cleansing balm.

How to customize this DIY cleansing balm

If you’re not a fan of coconut oil or shea butter, you can easily customize this cleansing balm recipe. Babassu oil is a great alternative to coconut oil, as it’s similar in texture and low in PUFAs.

You can also try Nilotica shea butter in place of regular shea butter. Nilotica shea butter is Western shea butter’s softer, silkier cousin. If regular shea butter has ever broken you out, try it!

Cocoa butter is another possible substitute for shea butter. I also love bacuri butter, a rich, exotic butter from the Brazilian Amazon rainforest. In fact, our decadent DIY chocolate cleansing balm includes bacuri butter as a main ingredient.

A note on using essential oils in your cleansing balm

There’s a lot of dangerous DIY skincare misinformation floating around the internet. Just because something is “natural” does not mean that it’s safe to use on your skin. Case in point: essential oils.

This cleansing balm recipe uses vanilla essential oil for a lovely aroma, but those with sensitive skin are better off omitting it entirely. And if you plan to replace vanilla with another essential oil, please look into the particular oil’s safety first.

Some essential oils should not be used on the face under any circumstances. For instance, oils like bergamot, lemon and grapefruit are phototoxic.

This means that they make your skin more sensitive to UV rays, and have the capacity to cause burns, sun-damage, and permanent skin discolouration.

Not only that, but citrus essential oils are highly irritating. Over time, irritation leads to skin damage.

Save money with homemade skincare

I’m always looking for ways to DIY my skincare whenever possible. It’s not just about saving money, but more importantly, avoiding harmful, irritating, and potentially toxic ingredients.

Not only does this all-natural DIY cleansing balm emulsify your makeup without irritating preservatives or synthetic fragrances, but it’s also very affordable.

Both shea butter and coconut oil will last a long time in terms of quantity and shelf life, saving you money is the long run.

I also make my own makeup setting spray and micellar water. Both are classes of products that frequently come chock-full of fragrances, synthetic polymers, and other problematic ingredients.

And while I love my homemade products, I admittedly still have a soft spot for this lovely eucalyptus-scented cleansing oil.

DIY cleansing balm surrounded by white flowers

Yield: 1 balm

DIY Cleansing Balm to Melt Your Makeup

DIY cleansing balm in jar

Learn how to make a simple DIY cleansing balm with only 2 natural ingredients. This luxurious solid skin cleanser will instantly melt and emulsify even the thickest layer of makeup, leaving you with clean, soft, moisturized skin.

Active Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $5

Materials

Tools

  • Turkish coffee pot or small double boiler
  • Glass or stainless steel jar for storage

Instructions

    1. Melt the shea butter and coconut oil at low heat in a small double boiler or a Turkish coffee pot over a water bath. (The ratio of shea butter to coconut oil is important — if you add too much coconut oil, your balm will be too thin.)
    2. Once melted, turn off the heat and mix in the vanilla essential oil, if desired. Whisk gently to combine.
    3. Transfer to a non-plastic receptacle, such as a small mason jar, stainless steel container or glass cosmetic jar.
    4. Let your cleansing balm sit in the fridge for about an hour to solidify. Afterwards, you can store it at room temperature.

Notes

  • If you live in a hot climate, you can add a tablespoon of cosmetic beeswax pellets to prevent your cleansing balm from softening at room temperature.
  • You can also add beeswax if you simply prefer a thicker, richer cleansing balm.
  • If you don't like the scent of coconut oil, you can use deodorized coconut oil or babassu oil instead.

Did you make this DIY?

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

More DIY beauty recipes

If you enjoyed this homemade cleansing balm, you may also enjoy these other skincare recipes:

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

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DIY cleansing balm

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Grace

Tuesday 12th of May 2020

Can this be used as a face wash by itself, not to remove make up, without a second cleanser. I can't use any soap on my face, and I like to keep things simple (I'm a little lazy.) I have very dry and sensitive skin. I've been using a homemade face wash that uses honey, coconut oil, and baking soda for a few years. It's the only face wash that helps, I get very bad acne breakouts when my skin is dry, and I have eczema. But I've been looking for an alternative since I went vegan last year. I've tried a few homemade face washes since, but all have caused problems for my skin.

Kyla

Thursday 14th of May 2020

Hi Grace, I don’t recommend using the cleansing balm as your only cleanser since it doesn’t technically “cleanse” your skin. Since you mention you are acne-prone, I worry that the balm could cause breakouts for you.

What about something like my DIY cleansing oil? It’s easy to make and doesn’t require a second cleanser after. 🙂

Robin

Tuesday 5th of May 2020

This looks great! Any way to make this at least partially water soluble? I have combination/oily skin but love the creamy texture of a cleansing balm (vs cleansing oil). Also, I’d love to use cocoa butter, but it’s pretty rock solid on its own. That in combination with coconut oil would be very hard to dig into on a cold day. What do you think about blending cocoa butter with mct oil and adding an emulsifier? Kind of like a blend between your cleansing oil and cleansing balm?

Kyla

Wednesday 6th of May 2020

Hi Robin, thanks for reading! I can’t say for sure as I’ve never tried that particular combination. If you’re looking for a more water-soluble cleansing balm, you might like my emulsifying blue tansy balm. I recommend using a second cleanser with that one though, so it’s not for you if you’re looking for a one-step product.

If you’re hoping for a balm that removes with water only, I’m actually working on a completely water-soluble cleansing balm recipe at the moment. So I hope to be able to give you a better answer soon. But if you end up experimenting with that particular combination, please let me know – I love to hear about DIY skincare experiments!

Cassandra

Saturday 30th of November 2019

I was just wondering.... I use a allergen free korean balm cleanser, and those usually work in two phases: massaging the solid into oil, next adding (lukewarm) water to turn the oil into a gentle milk like consistency that immediately deals with the oily residue etc. I don't see any ingredient in these recipes that adds the oil to milk consistency. Do these diy balms have that function too or do you just wipe away the oil with the warm cloth and facial cleanser if necessary? My skin doesn't react too kindly to coconut oil/shea butter anf similar oils unless I have a good way to remove it. But that kind of beats the reason why I use balm cleansers; my dry skin has trouble with normal cleansers. Thanks in advance!

Kyla

Saturday 30th of November 2019

Hi Cassandra! My skin is really dry too so I definitely understand needing to avoid normal cleansers. You’re right, this particular recipe is meant to be wiped with a cloth and followed with a second facial cleanser.

It sounds like you might like my DIY emulsifying cleansing oil recipe instead. It contains an emulsifier so it turns milky on contact with water and rinses clean. It’s also made with caprylic/capric triglycerides which are less likely to be comedogenic than coconut oil or shea butter. I hope this helps!

deanna

Friday 11th of October 2019

how long of a shelf life?

Kyla

Friday 11th of October 2019

Hi Deanna, the cleansing balm has a shelf life of about 2 years. Coconut oil and shea butter last a long time. ?

Jessica

Thursday 27th of December 2018

Is there a reason you specify using a glass jar for storage? I have some older plastic tubs I was going to use.

Kyla

Thursday 27th of December 2018

Hi Jessica, plastic containers (even the BPA-free ones) are prone to leaching hormone-disrupting toxins, especially if a product contains essential oils. Glass is safer and more stable. :)