Homemade foaming facial cleanser

Written by contributor Stephanie Langford of Keeper of the Home

When I clean my face, I want something that leaves it clean and soft, but I”m very leery of using conventional products that contain harsh chemicals.

I”ve been a fan of the Oil Cleansing method for a long time, but I have just one issue with it. I”m a lazy face washer. At the end of a long day, I buck at the idea of spending 4-5 minutes going through the process of getting my water really hot, steaming my face with the washcloths, and all that the method entails. I will say that it does a fabulous job, and so I wish I was more committed to it, but I”m just not.

Looking for something new, I tried a few foaming facial cleansers, made with very natural and pure ingredients. As soon as my skin adjusted, this seemed like the winning option for me.

However, I have this hang-up about paying $20-$30 for a bottle of facial cleanser, which is generally what it costs for one made with ingredients that I approve of. Since I love making homemade goodness of all kinds, my hope was that it wouldn”t be too difficult to mimic these cleansers and make my own, and guess what? It wasn”t!

What I like about my foaming facial cleanser

  1. It”s very quick and easy to use. A pump or two, rub it on my face for 30 seconds, then rinse.
  2. It takes make-up off with no problem.
  3. It leaves my skin feeling clean and soft.
  4. It only takes me a few minutes to make it.
  5. It”s very frugal!

I also like that I was able to make it with ingredients that anyone can source out. In fact, I could get all of these ingredients from my regular grocery story if I wanted to (between the pharmacy, beauty and food sections). I usually source them out from my food co-op or natural food stores, because I can find higher quality ingredients, but these are readily available nonetheless.

A few substitutions to note:

“Use what you have” is my mantra and this recipe is quite accommodating.

In place of:

  • Dr. Bronner”s soap = use any liquid castile soap
  • Almond oil = use jojoba oil, or even olive oil would work if that”s all you can find (but the other two are definitely preferable)
  • Glycerin = if you can”t find food-grade glycerin at a local health or supplement store, try asking at a regular pharmacy. I found a small bottles of glycerin at my local pharmacy for just a couple dollars.
  • Essential oils = if you don”t have them, or prefer not to use them, just leave them out. It works fine without the EOs.

The basic recipe

  • 1/4 cup Dr. Bronner”s liquid castile soap (mine was tea tree, but any is fine)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp almond oil (jojoba oil would also work well)
  • 2 tsp aloe vera gel
  • 2 tsp glycerin
  • 8-12 drops essential oils

For essential oils, it”s important to remember that this is going on delicate skin, so go easy on the oils. I made mine with a blend called Liberty that includes grapefruit, bergamot, basil, and lemon. Grapefruit is astrigent, lemon helps to revitalize skin, and basil is useful for acne (which I struggle with only mildly). Bergamot had no particular use for my skin, but it”s safe to use. I also added rosemary, which is common in many skincare products, and is helpful for dry skin. Plus, it all smelled good!

Those are just examples, though. There are so many different oils that you could use! To find ones that particularly suit your skins needs, check out these lists:

Essential Oils for Face

Essential oils recommended for various skin types

The method

1. Blend all ingredients, EXCEPT for the soap, in a blender.

Why not add the soap yet? Well, if you did that, you”d create a whole. bunch. of. foam. Ask me how I know. (Aren”t you glad you get to benefit from the finished method, instead of mucking around like I do?)

2. Now smell it. See how you like it, if you want to add more essential oils, or different scents. Now is the time to do this, while you can still blend it up before adding in the soap.

3. Lastly, add the soap and blend on low speed just long enough to mix everything together well.

4. Carefully pour it in your bottle. If it still ended up a bit foamy, you might just want to let it settle before putting the lid on.

5. Once the lid is on, pump it a few times to get the foam going. See how thick the foam is, try washing your face with it. At this point, you might be content with the foam texture, or you may want to thin it out slightly by adding a small bit of water. If you do add more water, don”t blend it up again. Just slowly add some water to the container, put the lid on and gently mix it around a little (don”t shake it!), then try pumping the foam again.

I will say that the first few times I washed with it, I felt like it dried my skin out slightly. I was worried that the whole thing would be a waste, but I kept using it for a few more days. After that, my skin adapted and that initial dryness has not returned in the 6 weeks I”ve used it.

I reused a foaming bottle from a previous foaming cleanser, so it”s a perfect size. If you can just reuse something, that”s obviously the easiest and cheapest way to go.

Don”t have any foaming bottles or pumps? I found a few online: this one goes on top of pint-sized mason jars, this one has a glass/metal container and looks slightly classier, and . These are also perfect for making your own foaming hand soap.

Most days, I use this foaming cleanser at night before bed (occasionally in the morning, but I often forget). After cleansing, I apply a couple spritzes of a lavender hydrosol for toning (here are some easy homemade toner recipes), then I use straight Argan oil (in the daytime) or a richer blend of oils in a facial serum before bed (it”s no longer being made, so I can”t link to it, but it includes argan, as well as jojoba, avocado oil, carrot seed oil, and a few others).

What does your skin care routine include?


Stephanie Langford has a passion for encouraging homemakers who want to make healthy changes, and carefully steward all that they've been given. She has written three books geared to helping families live more naturally and eat real, whole foods, without being overwhelmed, without going broke, and (her newest!) through successful meal planning. She is the editor and author of Keeper of the Home.

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  1. mmm homemade goodness!! Thanks I’m going to have to give this a try. A nice idea for Christmas presents too 🙂

  2. What a great idea! I also love the oil cleansing method, but tend to get a little lazy about it at bedtime. I may give this a try instead–I have everything at home already except the glycerin.

    Never would have thought of this myself. Thanks, Stephanie!

  3. Kristen Williams says:

    Thanks for the recipe! It sounds great, and I can’t wait to try it! I also wanted to caution you about the essential oil blend. With the citrus oils and bergamot, you’re skin will be much much more sensitive to sunlight. Please be sure you use some sort of protection when out in the sun. Thanks again!

  4. Can’t wait to try this! And I think I even have all the ingredients already!

  5. The methods of cleansing your face seems to be due to organic products you have purchased.

  6. Love this recipe! I am going print this one.

  7. Thank you so much for this! I also love the OCM but just can’t deal with it at night anymore, I am too tired! I made this tonight and it was terrific to actually wash my face with something besides just water. It is so easy to make and very frugal. I love it!

  8. Jess Milakovic says:

    I tried the ocm a few months ago. I didnt like it at the time, because I couldnt get all of the castor oil out of my pores. Would grapeseed oil work in this, instead of almond oil?

  9. Can you substitute the glycerin? I’m allergic to it.

  10. Hello ~ would love to try this but need to substitute the glycerin due to allergies ~ anything else that you can recommend? Thanks!

  11. I have heard that aloe gel in these types of things can cause it to go bad quickly. What is your experience with this? Is there a substitute for the aloe?

  12. Nice to be here and see your post!

  13. Very interesting info! It will be a great knowledge to us and thank you so much for sharing this valuable information with us.

  14. I looooove the OCM! I use 1/3 castor oil and 2/3 avocado oil, once a week, and it’s a great detox for my skin. This recipe looks great, especially because I already use Dr Bronner’s castille soap on my back and it does wonders for my bacne. I would try it but I already like the Pacifica Sea Foam Face Wash, it has a lot of coconut derived and sea algae extract ingredients, it smells DELICIOUS and it cleans my skin very nicely without drying it out.

  15. Hi, I realize this was posted a year ago but am hoping maybe you’ll see this! I have been making this face wash for a while now (and love it!) but accidentally bought a bottle of aloe vera oil (expeller pressed). Do you happen to know if this will work in place of the gel or what it would do? Thanks, Emily

  16. Hi,
    About the oil cleansing method. Instead of waiting for hot water (and wasting all that water), I just wet two washing cloths and pop them in the microwave for 10 seconds. The thicker and wetter the washing cloths are, the longer.
    I do the same for cleaning my baby while diaper changing. But in that case they go in for only 8 seconds or so.

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