All Natural Homemade Facial Cleanser

A few weeks ago, I came across an intriguingly simple recipe from Lily Organics for a homemade facial cleanser. The main components: baking soda, almond oil, and honey.

It all seemed waaaaay too easy (and cheap) to be true. I’ve tried a dizzying array of natural (and unnatural) facial cleansers. My oily, hypersensitive, acne-prone skin does relatively well with Blissoma, but is still far from perfect. Everything else — from the castille soap based cleansers to oil-based cleansing lotions — has been disastrous.

Still, I like experimenting on myself, so after reading up on other people’s experiments (see Crunchy Betty’s post) and making inquiries on Twitter (contradictory answers from various people), I gave it a go. Of course I couldn’t resist the urge to fiddle with the recipe. It’s come down to two basic ingredients, baking soda ($1 a box) and jojoba oil ($6 for 4 oz at Trader Joe’s). Instead of straight jojoba, I use my homemade facial moisturizer, which is just jojoba oil and a few essential oils (lavender, rosewood, lemon) so I can incorporate lower concentrations of essential oil. My skin is oily, so I don’t always use the honey, but if you have normal or dry skin, it’s probably a good addition. You can also try different oils, since jojoba is one of the lightest.

It’s been over a week, and my skin seems quite happy with the concoction. (This is surprising, since my skin always reacts to new anything, generally badly.) After I wash it, it’s clean and neither dry nor oily. I’ve heard that baking soda is slightly basic and human skin is slightly acidic, so I have no idea why this is working. Maybe the jojoba oil balances things out, or the baking soda is pretty mild to begin with.

Here’s what you need to mix up your own homemade facial cleanser:Spice Jar

  • An empty, clean spice jar with a sifter lid.
  • A box of pure baking soda
  • Jojoba oil
  • A glass bottle with a dropper lid
  • Skin safe pure essential oils
  • Local, unadulterated honey (optional)
  1. Fill the spice jar with baking soda. (Prevents caking in a moist environment like the bathroom, and keeps you from accidentally dumping out half the box into your hand.)
  2. Mix the jojoba oil with a few drops of essential oil  (see the post on homemade facial moisturizer for more detail) in the glass bottle.
  3. When ready to use, shake the spice jar once into your hand, mix the baking soda with 3-5 drops of the jojoba oil mixture, and a small dollop of honey (optional). Spread on to damp skin and massage gently. It will probably tingle a little. Rinse off with warm water, pat dry, and proceed with your regular routine. You may or may not need more moisturizer, depending on your skin.
And that’s how you can clean your face for under $15 a year. Crazy. I especially like using it at night to remove makeup and grime; in the morning, I continue to use my super gentle Blissoma cleanser.
What do you think about mixing up your own beauty treatments? Would you try baking soda on your face?
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35 responses to this post.

  1. Cool! That sounds so simple, I’ll have to give it a try. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

    • Hi Lynn!
      Glad to see you back. I’d love to hear more about your adventures on the organic farm!

      Since you have dry skin, I think the honey would be a good idea in this wash. Otherwise it can be a bit abrasive.

      Reply

      • Posted by Lena Rose-Marie on 02/25/2012 at 14:33

        Honey is a humectant which means it pulls from the most humid climate. So, if you’re using honey on your face on a really dry hot day, the honey will pull moisture from your face! If the air is really good and humid outside, the honey will pull moisture from the air and provide it for your skin.

        What I’m trying to say is – use honey on the occasion of a humid day and you’ll have best results!

        Reply

  2. Hmmm, not sure about the baking soda as I find it particularly drying and abrasive. Maybe as a twice week exfoliator, but not daily. Have you tried clay? In particular rhassoul clay is wonderful; not to harsh but very cleansing. Messy mind you!
    Honey is wonderful isn’t it? I’ve been using honey and salt on my feet and now they’re like a babies bum…

    Reply

    • Hi Mrs Green!
      The honey mitigates the scratchiness of the cleanser, and probably its drying effects, too. I don’t always use it because honey is, well, sticky. I use a homemade salt scrub on my legs and feet, but I haven’t tried honey and salt. Thanks for the tip!

      Reply

  3. Once again I need to remember to come back to this post when my current cleanser is all used up. My goal is to phase out most of my store-bought personal care products as I finish them, and replace them with homemade versions like yours. Because I don’t wear makeup, I use cleanser half as often as most people, so it’s taking forever to finish the product I have!

    Reply

    • Hi Andrea,
      I wear makeup because my skin is prone to splotchiness from the acne…it’s kind of a vicious cycle I’d just as well get off. This is working so far, so I’m hopeful. I’d really like to not have acne past my twenties! The baking soda, oil, and honey combo is so easy that I don’t think you’ll need to come back to this post to remember how to do it.

      Reply

  4. Posted by Aimee on 09/01/2011 at 12:53

    And I guess you would also first make sure you’re not allergic to any of the ingredients before rubbing them on your face. I remember in high school making up a cleansing cream from cucumbers and putting it on, only to find out that it gave me hives. Whoops! Might not hurt to do a test run on your arm before applying to your face.

    Reply

    • Hi Aimee,
      Good point. :-) Apparently some people have bad reactions even to honey, which is supposed to be naturally antibacterial, so doing a test patch is always a good idea.

      Reply

  5. Posted by Pchan on 09/05/2011 at 14:08

    I once used baking soda as part of my daily cleanser in college, but with acne-prone dry skin, my face burned a little. It wasn’t red or irritated, the pores just seemed to reject the soda. Back then, however, I was missing the element of the oils, so it might make a difference. I will definitely give this a try for maybe an exfoliating routine. Thanks again for your creativity!

    Reply

    • Hi Pchan,
      I get a little of that stinging sensation if I use too much baking soda or too little oil. It seems to go away entirely if I add a little honey to the mix. Just be sure to pick skin friendly essential oils if you use them and to keep the concentration of essential oil to jojoba low. Let me know how it goes!

      Reply

  6. Thanks for the recipe! I’m always game for creating my own beauty products and this one sounds like a winner – my skin drinks up oils like nobody’s business!

    Reply

  7. Posted by Shalane on 09/21/2011 at 20:13

    Glad I found your blog, I’ve enjoyed reading the recipes for the homemade cleansers and they are so easy! I’ve been searching the internet for different recipes and tips so thanks! Can’t wait to try!

    Reply

  8. Posted by Antonia Marrero on 01/10/2012 at 22:57

    Hey Jen,

    And your post offers great advice! Your jojoba mixture is far more appealing than anything I’ve seen in a drugstore.

    You know what I like as an all-around makeup remover and skin softener? Extra-virgin coconut oil. Works for me! I love how it smells, too.

    I use baking soda to brush my teeth. Also to use as a facial scrub.

    See yah on twitter …

    xox
    Antonia

    Reply

    • Posted by Mary Turner on 07/31/2012 at 11:49

      Antonia, I used baking soda to brush my teeth for years. Then all of a sudden my teeth no longer were getting white. When my dentist moved his office, which was facing the sun directly too the dentist chair, we found out the problem. My teeth were transparent. The sun shown straight through my teeth. I had brushed away most of the enamal. So it was like when you empty a gallon of milk from its container. It no longer a solid white. So no matter what kind of whitener you use, you teeth will never be white.

      So that taught me to never let the dentist clean my teeth. They says it only takes away a little bit of the enamal. But what if you go every year like my brother did. Now his bottom teeth look like a picket fence. I tried to warn him but he didn’t listen.

      Mary

      Reply

  9. [...] bit of searching and found this great blog, “It’s Not Easy to Be Green” that had this recipe for a homemade facial [...]

    Reply

  10. Posted by Sarah on 02/03/2012 at 11:41

    Just seeing this post in a search for homemade facial cleanser. I was wondering if there was a reason that you couldn’t mix up the ingredients ahead of time and then just apply each day. It would save time and I’m all for saving time. Thanks for the idea!

    Reply

    • Hi Sarah,

      I haven’t tried that, but baking soda dissolves oil, so I’m not sure you’d really want to mix them too far in advance. (If you try it, let me know how it works!) I keep the jojoba oil in a pump bottle and the baking soda in a former spice jar, and it literally takes three seconds to shake out a little baking soda, add the oil, and rub into a paste.

      Reply

  11. Posted by Jenny on 02/05/2012 at 08:33

    Hello,
    I am new to homemade products but really want to try this recipe. Where do you buy your essential oils? I am confused by the large price differences and different “grades” among brands.
    Thanks!

    Reply

    • Hi Jenny,

      I have two sources for essential oils. Mountain Rose Herbs (online) is great if you’re looking for herbs, spices, and oils. Shipping is expensive unless you have a substantial order, so I don’t order from them more than about once a year. However, they offer high quality, organic / wildcrafted, and sustainable essential oils at decent prices. If I need something sooner, I usually just stop by Whole Foods and go with the Aura Cacia brand that they carry. You don’t really need the essential oils for this cleanser, but my oily and acne prone skin seems to do a little better with them.

      Reply

      • Posted by Lena Rose-Marie on 02/25/2012 at 14:36

        Hey! Also for a really amazing medical grade essential oil company, try Doterra. They are the real deal. I’ve been using their Melaleuca (tea tree oil) for minor first aid treatments, rosacea and toenail fungus and it’s been making quite a difference!

        Reply

  12. I have normal skin type, is there any clensers or toners moisterizers like that, that can help my skin but it is fairy sensitive because I not even a teen yet i get about a pimple a month because my hormones yadda yadda yadda but i fix it, has to b easy and DIY!!!!!!!!! Stuff that i can get in my pantry

    Reply

  13. Posted by Eduardo Rehberger on 08/09/2012 at 01:27

    Jojoba oil is really great for treating acne. It sort of unclogs the pores by dissolving hardened sebum. “;,“

    Regards http://healthmedicinelab.com/spleen-pain/

    Reply

  14. Posted by Britanie Powell on 12/26/2012 at 08:24

    Hi Jennifer,

    This post is very i teresting to me. I can not wait to try it. I have a question though, is the cleanser supposed to lather like store bought cleansers or is it almosr like a facial mask

    Reply

    • Hi Britanie,

      It doesn’t lather, though it feels a little slippery due to the baking soda, which is basic. It’s also slightly gritty, but not in a particularly annoying way, like a very fine scrub.

      Reply

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  16. Posted by Fi on 08/11/2013 at 05:05

    If you have sensitive skin you should avoid lavender and other essential oils.

    Reply

  17. Posted by Tubsis on 09/24/2013 at 02:32

    How do you use the cleanser? Do you put it on your face or a washcloth, and how long are you supposed to massage the oil on your face?

    Reply

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