DIY: How to Make Your Own Cleanser

diy cleanser

Environmental changes and temperamental skin has pushed me into experimenting with different DIY skin care recipes based on my skin’s changing needs. Overall, it has been a very educating and positive experience.

One of my DIY “hits” is a recipe for a facial cleanser that has become a staple in my routine.

what goes into a DIY Cleanser?

Cleanser recipes tend to be pretty straightforward. Depending on the kind of cleanser you’d like to create, you only really need three main components – oil, glycerin (vegetable preferred), and castille soap (or some form of soap agent).

Personally, oil only cleansers don’t work well for my skin, so I tend to create cleansers that contain an actual “cleaning” agent.

How does this work?

The cleaning agent (soap) is the saponification of lye with other oils, a process that can be done at home with the right equipment. The forms of lye used for soap making are sodium hydroxide(bars) and potassium hydroxide(liquids).

However, when the saponification process is done correctly and has completed, the lye we started with is non-existent due the chemical change that occurs turns it into soap. You will find either potassium or sodium hydroxide in the majority of the soap you use.

do it yourself cleanser

How to make your own cleanser

For the sake of this recipe I’m keeping things simple, you won’t be making soap from scratch. We will be using a pre-made cleaning ingredient.

This cleanser has helped me maintain the appearance of even-toned skin. I use this cleanser morning and night, and I always follow it with a toner, then a moisturizer. The only difference in my routine is the use of a mechanical cleaning brush at night before bed.

 what are we using in this cleanser?

My Rule of thumb: Understand what your skin needs and choose ingredients accordingly.

The cleansing component is African black soap. If this soap is new for you, research its benefits. Please be aware that if you purchase it in block form, usually at specialty shops or events, it’s a good practice to knead small pieces of the soap between your fingers before grating.

Depending on preparation method, unwanted plant pieces may not have been filtered out properly. This will ensure smoothness of all of the ingredients in the soap. I tend to purchase bars from the health food store or online for this reason.


DIY Cleanser ingredient benefits

The quality of soap is equally good, just less fuss. Also, be mindful and check the ingredients of bars purchased. I have two brands that I prefer because they don’t contain additives.

I wanted a cleanser that would not cause skin breakouts, reduce the appearance of scars, moisturize, and provide my skin with vitamins. I’ve provided a shortlist of benefits for each ingredient.

African Black Soap

… is typically composed of ingredients below. Recipe may vary;

Plantain Skin and Palm Leaf

(Included in African Black Soap) Contains potassium hydroxide (the moist alkaline cleaning agent), assists with skin’s ability to counteract the appearance of premature aging, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and antioxidants.

Cocoa Pod Powder/leaves

(Included in African Black Soap) Contains a wealth of Vitamin A .

Shea Tree Bark

(Included in African Black Soap) Contains B group vitamins, aids with soothing the skin, dry skin, and many other benefits.

Coconut Oil

(Included in African Black Soap) Antioxidant – Vitamin E,  can be used as an antibacterial and antibacterial.

Shea Butter

(Included in African Black Soap) Contains Vitamin A, Vitamin E, moisturizes, may assist with soothing the skin's appearance.

Rosehip Oil

Assists with skin protection, thanks to Omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids.  Also contains Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Antioxidants and Vitamin E.

Calendula Oil

Nourishing and gentle on the skin.

Frankincense Oil

May help to visibly tone and lift skin's appearance.

Vitamin E Oil

May improve the appearance of fine lines and may assist with guarding against sun damage.

Vegetable Glycerin

Humectant may assist with maintaining skin’s moisture

Making the Cleanser

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Chill time:  40-60 minutes
Total Time: 60 – 80 minutes


Food Grater
Small pot
Measuring cup
Measuring spoons
Blender, hand blender, or mixer
Container for Liquid cleanser – 10oz (soap dispenser, recycled dish soap bottle, etc)


½ cup of grated Black Soap
1 Cup Purified Water
¼ TB Rosehip Oil
¼ t Calendula Oil
¼ t Frankincense Oil
⅛ t Vitamin E
¼ TB Vegetable Glycerin


Using the food grater, shred enough of your bar of soap to fill ½ cup. It’s okay to shred slightly more than a ½ cup, it doesn’t need to be exact. Once the soap is shredded, add to a pot. Add 1 cup of purified water to the pot with the shredded soap, place on the stove, then bring to a boil.

Be sure to stir periodically while the soap and water are heating. Once a boil has been reached, reduce heat to low and continue to stir. You want to heat the mix until the soap is completely dissolved.

Once the soap has dissolved, remove from heat and pour into a bowl. Place the bowl into the refrigerator and allow to cool. Completely chilled is not necessary.

When the temperature has reduced to about room temperature, you can add the remaining ingredients. After adding the remaining ingredients, gently mix with the your available blending tool. Please beware this will create suds. If you do not have a hand blender or mixer, use a blender that can hold at least 4x the amount of the mixture.

After you’ve gently blended your mixture, allow a few minutes for the suds to subside. Pour your cleanser into your selected container.  Use your funnel it needed.

Note: Be sure do a patch test before applying to your entire face to see how your skin reacts. I did see a minimal purging after the first three days of use. After the first week, my skin has been fine.


Always shake before using. The cleanser is a bit watery, but it will definitely clean your face well. After you wet your face with lukewarm water, pour about a dime sized amount of soap into my hands. After creating a slight lather in your hands, apply the cleanser to your face.

cleansing as part of your routine

As part of my nightly routine I use a mechanical cleansing brush at a medium to low speed, cleaning for approximately 1-1.5 minutes. If in the morning, I wash with just my hands. Day and night, rinse with cool water after washing and pat your face until access water is removed.

Leave yourself slightly damp, and allow the air to dry the remaining moisture. Follow by applying toner, then a moisturizer. The amount of cleanser created from this recipe should last a few months, depending on the amount used daily.

This recipe is meant to be a stepping stone for you to discover the best combination of ingredients your own skincare routine.

Have you experimented with making your own cleanser? Share your experience in the comments below!


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  1. Anastasia says

    I really like your DYI face cleanser. I found out about wonderful benefits of black soap couple years ago and purchased it on Amazon. It was drying my skin . You’re adding oils and it should be wonderful for skin .Can you please recommend you favorite soap? Thank you

    • Shirell says

      Hi Anastasia. Dudu-Osun is the brand I use consistently. I have occasionally purchased it, and homemade versions at farmer’s markets and festivals.

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