Self-care can take many simple forms, like washing your face. Rinsing away the day's stressors can do more than nourish your complexion—the ritual can help you find your center, enveloping you with a sense of calm and well-being. When you use a natural DIY face wash, the feeling is even better, as you can handpick ingredients that suit your skin's current mood. If have mercurial skin, sometimes dry, sometimes acneic, DIY face wash might make sense for your skincare regimen, especially if you make it in micro-batches for single use.
You won't need any chemical preservatives for these micro-batch DIY face wash formulas, which can give you peace of mind. These recipes are also made without a foaming agent, so they're naturally gentle on every skin type. "The common foaming agent used in cosmetics, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is known for stripping the epidermal barrier, leading to irritation," says Benisha Wiliams, a medical esthetician who has trained with leading cosmeceutical skincare brands. "I advise against all use of this surfactant, regardless of skin type."
Ahead, we share formulas for DIY face wash for all skin types: acneic, oily, dry, combination, and balanced, with expert tips on secret hero ingredients you can find in your pantry.
Micro-Batching Is Key
Celebrity aesthetician and dermatological nurse Natalie Aguilar says that one of her main concerns about a DIY face wash is that "natural products spoil really quick, usually within 72 hours." Therefore, she that it is important to make sure that your DIY cleanser has at least one natural preservative, "unless you plan on making a fresh batch each time you wash your face."
Some natural preservatives include honey, vitamin E oil, coconut oil, and aloe vera.
This is where micro-batching comes in. Alexia Wambua, founder of the clean beauty brand Native Atlas, a line that launched from the treatment room, loves micro-batching. "This way, you can incorporate add-ins tailored to how your skin is acting," she says.
Here’s What You’ll Need
Start with a base. Incorporate add-ins depending on your skin concerns.
- African black soap
- Yogurt or honey
- Dry clay
- Add-ins according to skin type
To make a DIY face wash with a gel base, your best bet is to use a basic soap. "It's more challenging to make gel completely from scratch that has efficacy," explains Wambua. "It needs binders." Instead, she suggests using African black soap in unscented liquid form. If you prefer a more milky skin-feel, add yogurt until you reach desired consistency. Honey can also be used to thicken the base, but can be challenging to work with since it's so sticky.
One of Wambua's hero ingredients when it comes to DIY face wash is Aztec bentonite clay powder. "I love working with clay because it helps electrically recharge the cells with negative ions," she says, adding that clay can help purify the water we use to cleanse our faces. Plus, using clay she says, is "similar to how you feel after a thunderstorm if you walk outside or stand on the beach and walk barefoot. You are becoming grounded and breathing in negative ions which is why it feels so good." Although people think of clay as something that needs to harden to be effective, the opposite is actually true. "To activate clay, keep it wet, that way it draws out impurities," says Wambua. Just another reason it makes for an effective cleanser.
Depending on skin type, blend in an add-in as desired.
Acneic Skin Add-In
Wambua likes using activated charcoal for acneic skin. "Buy in capsule form and break it to mix into your DIY face wash." It's a magnet for bacteria, she says.
Oily Skin Add-In
For oily skin, Wambua suggest using apple cider vinegar or tea tree as an add-in, "boosting the antimicrobial power" of the DIY face wash while soaking up excess oil.
Dry Skin Add-In
Aloe is a natural humectant that can add moisture to dry skin, according to Wambua.
Combination Skin Add-In
Turmeric is another hero ingredient for Wambua, as it's "filled with antioxidants, is brightening, and decreases inflammation," which makes it ideal for combination skin.
Balanced Skin Add-In
A rose toning mist can be incorporated into the face wash, as it keeps skin naturally plump.
Tip for Washing with DIY Face Wash
Aguilar suggests first removing makeup using an "appropriate makeup remover such as wipes, micellar water, cleansing oils or milks. Then start massaging the skin in gentle circular motions."
According to Aguilar, warm water helps to soften the pores making it easier to facilitate a deep clean. Using hot water to cleanse can scorch and irritate your skin and can really dry you out. Using cold water will tighten the pores and will make it more difficult to get a nice, deep cleanse.
Ingredients to Avoid
The golden rule of DIY face wash is to keep your formula simple. "My concern when it comes to creating a DIY face wash is the final chemistry of the product," says Aguilar. "The more ingredients you mix, the more you are changing the chemistry. Sometimes ingredients don’t go well together and can end up doing quite the opposite. The wrong chemistry can be irritating to our skin. There is a reason why cleansers are labeled pH balanced."
She adds that reactive skin, also known as sensitive skin, is usually irritated by "fragrances, alcohols, potent essential oils, parabens and abrasive materials such as walnut shells, fruit pits, or pumice." So, it's best to stay away from anything with grit. Similarly, Williams advises people to stay away from peppermint or citrus. "With sensitivity, it's also advisable to steer clear of ingredients with astringent properties, such as glycolic, salicylic acid, and denatured alcohol," she explains.
How to Store
When it comes to storing your DIY face wash, even if it's for a few days (it's not recommended you keep for longer than three days) Williams suggests using a pump dispenser. "Pots with open screw top lids can enable transference of bacteria." Aguilar adds, "Most natural homemade cleansers should be stored like food. Out of the sun and in a refrigerator. It’s best to write the date you created the product on the bottle as to not use past it’s time.”