Introduction: DIY Hot Cloth Cleanser / Make-Up Remover

I love hot cloth cleanser. Though the concept of removing oil with more oil might sound strange, it makes perfect sense when you delve a little deeper. Think back to school science - oils are dissolved by other oils.

When you cleanse your skin, you remove its layer of naturally produced oil, and along with it the impurities, skin debris, make-up molecules, and other icky particles that are trapped in it. Though we think of oil on our skin as the cause of spots, so far as our naturally produced oils are concerned, that is not really true. Often oily skin is caused by hormones that can be responsible for causing spots. This can be exacerbated by impurities that are trapped by that oil and get clogged in your pores as a result. Cosmetic company marketeers have been incredibly successful over the years at convincing us that skin oils are a terrible thing that need to be stopped! But your skin needs oils - that's why it produces it - and when you try and strip that oil from your skin, you only prompt your body to produce even more of it. It can be true that oils applied onto your skin can cause spots by clogging pores - such oils are referred to comedogenic - but the oils we are using are low comedogenic, so unlikely to cause breakouts. If you are particularly prone to break-outs, I suggest using sunflower oil instead of olive.

If you are used to using soap or cleansers that strip the oil from the skin, using oil as a cleanser will be a revelation! Make-up will simply melt away, your skin will be clean and after a week or so your skin will start to glow! If you already use oil or hot cloth cleanser, you can save money - and chemicals - by making your own. There are plenty of recipes out there that rely on just a mix of castor oil with a second low comedogenic but more moisturising oil. These are fine, but they can be a little messy, both to use and to transport. I prefer a creamier and more luxurious consistency, and I love the scent - and the skin benefits - provided by the essential oils in my recipe!

You will need:

  • 25ml castor oil
  • 25ml olive or sunflower oil
  • 40g shea butter
  • 25g beeswax, grated if not sold in drops or pastilles
  • 5 drops geranuim oil
  • 5 drops lavender oil
  • 5 drops eucalyptus oil

Step 1: How the Recipe Works - the Benefits of Each Ingredient

The base of the cleanser - ie, the bit that will actually cleanse your skin - is the castor oil. It has excellent cleansing properties... so much so that it will strip the oil from your skin completely if you are not careful, leaving it dry and tight. So we use it in moderation.

Sunflower oil, olive oil and shea butter, on the other hand, are not so successful as cleansers, but they sink into the skin well, helping the castor oil to penetrate deeper into the pores and so cleanse more effectively. They are also are rich in vitamin E, which has antioxident and anti-inflammatory properties, and help protect skin from moisture loss and environmental damage. Shea butter is important to the recipe as it is solid at room temperature and makes the cleanser creamier and less viscous.

The beeswax also helps to achieve a creamy consistency. On top of this, it is an emulsifier that will stop the cleanser from separating over time, and will help to lock moisture in.

The essential oils reputedly have properties that are beneficial to your skin - geranium is particularly valued for its ability to heal the skin and fade scarring, lavender is an anti-inflammatory, and eucalyptus is an antiseptic. They also make our cleanser smell lovely! They are optional, but I find that they make my cleanser work much better, and I don't like the strong smell of shea butter and prefer to mask it.

Step 2: Mixing Our Cleanser

Gently warm the shea butter, beeswax and oils together - you can use a microwave on low heat, but a bain marie (or a smaller pan over a larger pan of gently heated water) is better if possible. Once they have liquified, add the essential oils, mix, and pour into the container of your choice. Leave to cool. Your cleanser is ready!

The quantities given at the beginning of this instructable are recommended as a starting point for normal skin. If your skin is very dry you will need to reduce the quantity of castor oil by 25% and increase the sunflower or olive oil by the same amount, or if it is oily you may wish to increase the castor oil by 25% and reduce the sunflower or olive oil. This recipe is just a starting point for you to tweak and tailor to your own needs - that is the beauty of making your own! It will take around two weeks for your skin to adjust to the new cleanser, if after that you feel that the ratio oils needs changing, you can just gently warm the mixture and incorporate some more.

Step 3: How to Use (and a Budget Way to Make Muslin Face Cloths)

To use, simply scoop up a small amount of cleanser on your finger. Massage it between your fingers a little until it starts to melt, then massage onto damp (never dry) skin. Run a muslin cloth under hot water, wring it out, and drape it over your face for a minute or two, repeating if the cloth cools down too much. Then gently wipe the cleanser away with the cloth, and you're done!

Fancy-pants shop-bought hot cloth cleanser usually comes with a muslin cloth supplied. You can also buy muslin face cloths in pharmacies and drugstores, and, round here at least, they are very expensive for what they are! The same stores usually sell much larger muslin cloths designed for baby use for a fraction of the cost, or you can buy it by the metre online or at haberdashers.

It is then a simple matter to cut the muslin down to a more face-friendly size and hem it. If you are giving the cleanser as a gift, it is a nice touch to edge a couple of cloths with some cute grosgrain ribbon or bias binding to give alongside.

As well as being used to open your pores and allow the cleanser to do its thing, the muslin cloth gently exfoliates your skin as you wipe it afterwards. While I hear of people using terry or microfibre cloths instead, I find muslin is kindest to my skin.

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