Homemade DIY Cleansing Balm Recipe For Nourished Skin & Makeup Removal

This homemade, DIY cleansing balm recipe can be used as a moisturizing face wash and makeup remover. Made from a handful of natural & organic ingredients and similar to Beautycounter cleansing balm, but much less expensive and also zero waste if you reuse containers. 

DIY Cleansing Balm Recipe

As a teenager, I would have been repulsed by it. As a busy, not-so-young-anymore mom, I am in love with it.

What am I talking about? No, not an old Robert Redford movie or a silent yoga retreat. I’m talking about cleansing balm.

Yes, we’re here to talk about face washing today – but in a way that might surprise you!

DIY Cleansing Balm rose washcloth

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What is a Cleansing Balm?

It’s possible you’ve never even heard of cleansing balm but it’s been quite trendy lately, so maybe it’s been on your radar.

A cleansing balm is an oil based skin care product that comes in a solid state (as opposed to liquid) and is used for cleansing and makeup removal.

What? Wash my face with oil? Sounds like a bad idea!

That was my reaction too but once I learned that “oil attracts oil” it all made sense.

The oil in a cleansing balm works to remove dirty oil from your skin and replace it with fresh, nourishing oils.

Believe it or not, cleansing balm is actually beneficial for people with an oily complexion because it keeps skin from over-producing oil. Traditional foaming cleansers can strip skin of oil, causing your skin to react by producing too much oil.

Cleansing balm also removes makeup like nobody’s business!

FYI – You many recall stories of cold cream as a popular beauty regimen used by everyone from famous actresses to your very own grandma. While the basic idea of a cold cream cleanser is similar to a cleansing balm, traditional cold creams (like Ponds) are made from mineral oil and artificial fragrances so I would steer clear of those!

RELATED: Simple Homemade Makeup Remover

DIY Cleansing Balm in jar with oils

Benefits of a Cleansing Balm

Wondering who should use a natural cleansing balm? The beauty of a cleansing balm is that it works for any skin type – dry skin, oily or acne-prone skin, sensitive skin, young skin or mature skin (cleansing balm is fantastic for anti-aging!)

Why should you use a cleansing balm? Let’s look at some of the benefits: 

The benefits of washing your face with a cleansing balm include:

  • Deep cleansing without stripping skin of oil
  • Clears congested pores (reduced acne and blackheads)
  • Helps balance skin’s natural oils
  • Keeps skin from over-producing oil
  • Adds moisture to skin where needed
  • Massaging the balm into skin encourages blood flow and helps drain toxins
  • Removes makeup thoroughly
Washing Face with homemade Cleansing Balm and muslin washcloth

How to Wash Your Face with a Cleansing Balm

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Washing your face with a cleansing balm is easy, but there is a method to the madness! It is similar to the oil cleansing method, but this involves a solid balm instead of a liquid oil.

  • Scoop out an almond sized amount of cleansing balm
  • Rub it between your fingers to melt the balm
  • Massage the balm into DRY skin, using circular motions
  • Carefully massage over the eye area as well
  • Wet muslin washcloth with warm to hot water
  • Place cloth over face and take a few breaths while the steam opens your pores
  • Use the cloth to gently wipe away oil from face, being extra careful around the eye area
  • Repeat until most of the oil is removed – but skin still feels moisturized

Afterwards, your skin should feel clean but also wonderfully soft and nourished.

Sustainable Swaps Guide

Depending on your skin type you may or may not need to use additional skin care products, such as facial serums or moisturizers after cleansing. Since my skin is dry, I usually finish with a few drops of a nourishing facial oil and a bit of eye cream right before bed. You can make your own homemade facial oil too if you’d like!

Cleansing balms are most often used at night – but nothing’s stopping you from using it as part of your morning routine as well (I’ve certainly done it!)

Note: it may take time for your skin to adjust to this new cleansing routine, so don’t write it off at the first sign of a zit! Just like switching to natural deodorant, there can be an adjustment period where your skin goes through a bit of a detox. Stick with it if you can!

RELATED: Creamy Facial Cleansers and Cleansing Milks

Cleansing Balm on counter with flowers

Other Uses for Cleansing Balm

On top of being a fantastic moisturizing cleanser and a non-toxic makeup remover, this DIY cleansing balm as a few other superpowers!

  • Overnight face mask
  • Moisturizing face cream
  • Hand and cuticle cream
  • Relief for dry elbows or heels
  • All purpose balm

The solid state of a cleansing balm makes it perfect for travel! Just remember it still must meet the airline rules for liquids and gels (3.4-oz (100 ml) and they must be presented in a quart-sized ziplock bag.)

P.S. Love the idea of cleansing balm but not into DIY? You can buy a store-bought one instead! A couple of my favorite cleansing balms include Beautycounter Lotus Glow Cleansing Balm and 100% Pure Blood Orange Cleansing Balm.

RELATED: Favorite Natural Lip Balm Brands

DIY Cleansing Balm Ingredients

DIY Cleaning Balm Ingredients

The product that got me hooked on the cleansing balm method of face cleaning was Beautycounter Cleansing Balm. It is such a lovely product, but it’s expensive – $74 for a 2.5-oz jar. So once my Beautycounter product ran out, I began testing out a homemade version.

While I wasn’t expecting to copy it completely (I don’t have access to all the ingredients that a company like Beautycounter does!), I did want my cleansing balm to have a similar consistency. I wanted it to be solid to the touch, yet melt in my hands. And obviously I wanted to use all natural, non-toxic and preferably organic ingredients.

I’ll be honest, my attempts to make cleansing balm had a bit of a Goldilocks problem – the first one was too thin, the second one was too thick, the third one was almost there and the fourth one was just right!

Here are the ingredients that made the final cut:

  • Shea butter – An excellent moisturizer that comes from the nut of the shea tree in Africa. (I buy unrefined shea butter in bulk from my local co-op but you can buy shea butter online.)
  • Cocoa butter – A moisturizing oil that comes from the cocoa bean. Cocoa butter is very hard at room temperature so it helps with the consistency of the cleansing balm. (I get disks of organic cocoa butter in bulk but you can find them online.)
  • Coconut oil – This popular kitchen staple not only tastes good but is revered as a skin care treatment and makeup remover. (Use whatever you already have in your kitchen cupboard – there is no difference between coconut oil for eating or for skin care.) I like the Nutiva brand of coconut oil.
  • Calendula oil – Calendula flowers are known for their soothing and healing properties, making calendula-infused oil a perfect ingredient for cleansing balm. (Here’s the brand of calendula oil I use or you can make your own by infusing calendula flowers in a carrier oil like sunflower, olive or grapeseed oil.)
  • Frankincense essential oil – A popular oil for skin care due to its ability to rejuvenate dry or mature skin. (Find certified organic frankincense oil online.)
  • Geranium essential oil – Geranium (also Rose Geranium, which is similar) supports clear, calm skin by regulating oil production and helping unclog pores. One of my favorite essential oils because of its woodsy, rosy scent. (Find organic geranium essential oil here)
  • Bergamot essential oil – A calming essential oil with a cheery, uplifting scent. (Find organic bergamot essential oil here)

All these ingredients are available in certified organic versions so your cleansing balm can be 100% organic if you prefer it that way!

Sustainable Swaps Guide

DIY Cleansing Balm with Petunia

DIY Cleansing Balm Recipe

My DIY Cleansing Balm is extremely simple to make. This recipe makes enough for 1 jar (about 1/3 cup) but it can easily be doubled or tripled.

In fact, while you are making one for yourself, you should really make one for a friend or two as well. I mean, who wouldn’t want this lovely multi-purpose cleansing balm scented with natural essential oils?

DIY Cleansing Balm ingredients in bowl

Start by measuring out the shea butter, coconut oil and cocoa butter discs into a glass bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments (stirring in between) until the ingredients are completely melted. This usually takes three 30-second increments – but it will depend on the strength of your microwave. (Note: the photo above shows 3 cocoa butter discs, but my final recipe used 4 discs – which is about 1 Tablespoon of solid cocoa butter.)

DIY Cleansing Balm melted ingredients oils

Wait for the oil mixture to cool a bit (it can be a bit warm, but not hot), then add the calendula oil and the essential oils.

DIY Cleansing Balm in jar with oils

Pour into a glass, metal or plastic container and let cool. You can refrigerate it to speed up the cooling process if you would like. I usually wait until the next day to start using it. 

Some of you may notice that I reused the container from my Beautycounter cleansing balm. I’m always up for reusing jars and bottles whenever possible. Making a zero waste cleansing balm is just another benefit of this wonderful product! Here are some nice glass containers if you need something new.

DIY Cleansing Balm closeup

Once the balm is in a solid state, it is ready to use. Follow the instructions I mentioned above for how to wash your face with a cleansing balm!

Sustainable Swaps Guide

I don’t have the calculations for exactly how much this DIY cleansing balm cost me, but I guarantee you it is less than what you would pay for most natural brands like Beautycounter or others.

A nice reminder that luxury beauty products do not have to be expensive!

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Have you used a cleansing balm? Share your experience in the comments!

Homemade Cleansing Balm Infographic
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Looking for more safe and natural products? Check out my recommended natural lotion brands, shampoos for the whole family and more!


  1. I totally agree on washing your face with oil! I was suffering from terrible cystic acne that got worse as I got older. After trying all of the acne-specific cleansing programs, I finally switched to a cleansing oil out of desperation. I was seriously surprised when my acne actually started clearing up. I’ve tried several different oil cleansers (all liquid, not a balm) and had success with a few. My skin is very picky, even with natural ingredients. I do know have my favorites, but this is so interesting for frequent travelers (like myself) that don’t want to pack the bottle of oil (it leaks when I travel and is a a pain).

    1. So great to hear that oil cleansing worked for you! You should try this balm for your next trip!! It’s such a good multi-tasking product!

  2. 4 stars
    Would you also recommend this to people with dry skin/acne?

    I am now 27 years old, but struggled with acne until I got 23 or so…just very careful about which products I am using how. However, I really want to use as many eco-friendly products as possible, and I know that my makeup/face products would be a good start

    1. From what I’ve read this product could be great for all skin care types. My suggestion is to make it and test it out. If it doesn’t work out as a cleansing balm, it makes a great skin cream!

    2. One thing to be cautious of is that cocoa butter and coconut oil tend to clog the pores. I would recommend doing a little bit of research on that.

      1. It’s true, this formula might not be best for people with acne-prone skin. My skin is on the dry side and it works very well for me!

    3. Hi there ,can we use other essential oils and which one can we use for all skin types .Also I wanted to ask that which other oil can we use instead of candelula oil.

      1. Hi there – Yes, you can use whatever combination of essential oils you prefer. Instead of the calendula oil you can substitute sweet almond oil or jojoba oil.

  3. Ella Anne Smith says:

    Can i sub more shea butter for the cocoa butter?

    1. Hi Ella – You can certainly try that! I have not tried it myself and I’m guessing it would change the texture somewhat but it would still work well for cleansing purposes!!

      1. Trudi Louise Spork says:

        too much shea butter actually makes it to hard to get out! I made that mistake!

        1. Yes, that can be a problem! The product still works though so it’s not a waste!

  4. 5 stars
    Wow, this sounds rich! I bet it makes your skin feel luxurious. 🙂

  5. I have jojoba oil and vitamin e oil. Could I sub either for the calendula? I can’t wait to try this!

  6. Hi! I have not tried this out yet, but Im a bit confused on how much of the ingredients I need to add. I know you said three disks of shea butter and all of that, but I guess im just asking for clarification. Tell me if I missed something. thank you so much though! Im 13 and am having a hard keeping up my skin, and im sure this will help, seeing as Im on a low budget and would rather not spend $80! thank you!

    1. Hi Jill – Great to hear you are thinking about skin care at such a young age! The recipe calls for 4 cocoa butter discs – which is about 1 Tablespoon of solid cocoa butter. Depending on where you buy it, cocoa butter either comes in discs (also called wafers), or in a jar. Cocoa butter is very solid and a bit hard to scoop out of a jar which is why I usually buy the discs – they are just easier to deal with! Hope that helps!

  7. I love the sound of this cleansing oil but I am trying to be zero waste and in order to make this I would have to purchase so many plastic containers. While some may be labeled recycleable, we all know that that rarely happens. So if you had to choose the most essential things to add to the coconut oil, the only ingredient in a glass container, what would that be? I’m presuming at least a couple of the essentials oils are only to make it smell good?

    1. Hi Kate – I appreciate your efforts to minimize waste while still making a cleansing balm! I buy my shea butter and cocoa butter discs in bulk so if you can find them that way, that’s what I recommend. If you want to be super basic, you could just mix coconut oil with a liquid skin care oil – like sweet almond oil or jojoba oil. I haven’t tried this myself but I bet it would do the job!

      1. Would you mind sharing where you buy your bulk items from ?

  8. Ashley Marie says:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to share this. So excited to try it! I’ve been using a very expensive brand, with similar ingredients and hope this can be my new replacement <3

  9. Hello Micaela, is this recipe eye safe ? Do you use it to remove eye makeup or just for your face ? Thank you !

    1. Yes I use it to remove eye makeup without a problem. Just make sure it doesn’t actually get into your eye because that would not feel good!

  10. Nee Thailand says:

    Sound great! I’m oily skin and easy to acne, But i believe of you. In my local area can’t find calendula oil can i try to use some moringa oil or Sacha Inchi oil. and add some essential oil for soothing skin or anti bacteria .
    How do you think for my idea?

    1. Yes, this recipe is definitely open to swaps – let me know if this works for your skin!

  11. Emma Robinson says:

    Hi. Thank you so much for posting this. I just made it today and it came out brilliantly. It smells amazing. I tagged you in the pictures on Instagram.

    1. Hi Emma – I’m so glad the cleansing balm worked out for you! I didn’t see the tag on Instagram but would love to see your photo. What’s your Instagram handle?

  12. Hi! Thanks so much for this! Can’t wait to try. Do you know how long the shelf life might be?

    1. I would recommend using it up within 2-3 months. Hope you love it as much as I do!

  13. Francoise says:

    Hi, I am using your recipe but I am adding Rice bran oil instead of Calendula Oil. I think that will work as I have made a make up remover with Rice bran and Olive oil before. I wanted to make a hard make -up remover bar as they are so easy for travel and take a lot less room. I added beeswax to make it harder . What do think? I guess I could have put more shea butter but I think beeswax is harder . I have dry , no problem skin but I am a senior citizen( or so they say!).

    1. I’ve never tried rice bran oil – I’d be curious to know how it works. Love your idea of a hard makeup remover bar – you’re right, the beeswax would be harder. Hope it works!

  14. how much would 4 disks be in solid cocoa butter

  15. Is there anything the coconut oil can be substituted with? Or can it be omitted completely?

    1. Good question! You might substitute more shea butter for the coconut oil – but I haven’t tested it out so I can’t guarantee the results. I recommend making a mini batch to test and see if you like it!

  16. Just had to try out this recipe, when I stumbled upon it looking to buy a cleansing balm. However, when I made it I noticed the three oils just wouldn’t melt together (I don’t have a microwave, so heated them up on low heat on the stove) they crystalized. Is that a result of too much heat? Now instead of having a cleansing balm, I have a cleansing exfoliating balm, (which is of course not the worst! 🙂 ), but still, I wonder what went wrong.

    1. Oh no sorry you had problems with the recipe. I honestly don’t know why they would crystallize but it could be from too high heat as you mentioned. Hopefully you can try it again at very low temperature via a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler pan, just put a bowl on top of a pan of water (water does not touch bottom of bowl. ) Low heat is key!

  17. Hi Micaela, is there a chance that you can give the amounts in grams? I always have problems with measuring in tablespoons and teaspoons.

  18. Lindsay Dromm says:

    Can the Essential Oils be swapped for others? If so, what else might you recommend? I don’t own any of these essential oils so I’m unfamiliar with the scent. Is the scent of your balm similar to the BeautyCounter balm? Thanks!

    1. Yes you can use any essential oils you want but I chose certain oils for their beneficial properties as mentioned in the post. The scent is not the same as the Beautycounter product, but it is a lovely, light, natural scent!

  19. hi Micaela

    I have I my arsenal of product kukui nut butter, Mango butter, Argan butter and Jojoba butter. would any of those be any good to give the right consistency? Have you tried or experimented with any other butter other than what you have listed? My personal favourite cleansing balm that I would love to replicate is Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm. Its heavenly…has a lot of different ingredients in it, but probably a similar consistency to the one that you have tried.

    1. No, I haven’t tried this recipe with any other butters – but I bet they would be nice and have a similar consistency (as long as the proportions were the same). Have fun with it!

  20. Marie Lewis says:

    Hey, I’ve just made this but it hasn’t solidified 🙁 I used Argan oil and Sweet almond oil instead of Coconut and Calendula. And another mix of essential oils but respected the proportions. I wonder if the size of our cocoa butter disks is the same though? What do you suggest as I don’t want to waste it. I might add some beeswax and reheat. Thanks, Marie x

    1. Oh no – sorry to hear that. It’s hard to know what to expect with different ingredients. Have you tried putting it in the refrigerator to help it solidify? Otherwise, more beeswax or cocoa butter could help!

      1. Marie Lewis says:

        it took a while but it eventually got there! So pleased with it, love the texture and smell of the cocoa butter xx

  21. Hello! Thank you for the great info! I too got hooked on cleansing balm when I got a sample of the AMAZING Beauty Counter balm. Since it was out of my price range I found another recipe online and tried it. It was 1 part shea butter and 1 part sunflower oil plus a few drops of essential oil. . The shea butter has such an unpleasing scent that even though I use it, it has a chemical smell that I do not like. Does your recipe minimize the shea butter smell? Is there anything else I can use in place of the shea butter? I bought 2 different kinds of she butter since and both of them have the unpleasing smell. Thanks!

    1. Unrefined shea butter has a strong, nutty smell but you can buy refined shea butter that is not as fragrant. It still has a scent, but not nearly as strong as the unrefined shea butter. Refined shea butter is white in color, while the unrefined is more of a brown color. Otherwise, you could try mango butter, although I have not used it in this recipe so I can’t tell you exactly how it would turn out. Hope that helps!

  22. This is such an amazing recipe! I appreciate you sharing this with us. May I ask what is the shelf life of this balm recipe?

  23. Hi! I want to make this for sure. Can you give me more information the calendula oil. Is it an essential oil or in a carrier oil. Thank you!

    1. Calendula oil is a carrier oil. Hope you love the cleansing balm as much as I do!

  24. Can I replace Calendula oil with Moringa oil or any other oil…? Thank you 😊

    1. You can certainly try! I have not tested any other oil so I can’t say for sure.

  25. Hi thanks for the great recipe! I’d love to try it.
    But would i be able to substitute the shea butter for something else, as ive run out of it! 😊

    1. I’ve never tried the recipe with anything but shea butter. You could try something else, but I don’t think the consistency will be the same.

  26. Emily da Costa says:

    I made this balm today and it smells lovely. It also did a great job of cleaning my face and removing my makeup.
    However – It is really hard, I guess I didn’t quite get the amounts quite right.
    It’s fine to use it as it is however I was wondering if I could melt it down again and if so, what I could add a little more of to make the consistency a little softer and easier to get out of the jar.
    Many thanks,

    1. Hi Emily – You can definitely melt it down again. I would add another teaspoon of the calendula oil and see if that helps!

  27. Hey. I made this cleaning balm and it’s awesome!! Such a simple and inexpensive solution for products that cost a bomb. I used cold pressed sweet almond oil instead of calendula oil as I had it on hand..added a few drops of vital E oil too. Also did not use the essential oils..it doesn’t suit my sensitive skin. The final product has such an amazing texture.. Great for face massage as well. Thanks for sharing 😀

  28. Tiffany @ Foxy Fit Apparel says:

    I love, love, love this!! I’m always looking for healthier, less toxic alternatives especially for my skin. This is a fabulous idea!

  29. Thank you so much I’ve been suffering severe face dermatitis for over 2 years with constant staph infections I made a big jar of this but added rose hip oil aswell and after 4 days of using at night to cleanse and putting it on as a overnight moisturiser aswell my skin barrier is healing and the redness is going aswell I won’t be using anything else again thank you for giving me my confidence back

  30. Is it friendly also for ezcema skin? I tried applying essential oil on myself before (mainly to make myself smell nicer :D), but I will develop itchy skin then ezcema after that which I would then need to use my steroid cream to cure. Also, do you think it is possible to make a balm that is in liquid form? It is a bit of a hassle to use a scoop for my solid balm, which I use to remove my makeup and/or sunscreen. Hope you can help.

    1. Hi Diana – If you have eczema you should be very careful about what you put on your skin and should probably work with a doctor to find products that work for you and what you should avoid. If you are looking for a liquid product that is similar to this, you could look for recipes for cleansing oils.Hope that helps!

  31. What could I use instead of coconut oil? Would I be able to use argon oil instead?

    1. Argan oil would be a different consistency than coconut oil. Extra shea butter might be a better substitute.

  32. Thank you for the recipe and the great information. I love the cleansing balm by beauty counter and yes they can be very expensive. I am going to try your recipe for sure.

  33. I really love cleansing balms and was excited when I came across your DIY recipe. However, when I tried it, my balm would not harden (left it overnight). I am not sure if it’s because I poured it in a silicon mold (( wanted to make small ones), and have to use a glass container instead. Because it doesn’t harden, I added beeswax and I ended up having a waxy feel when I tried it. Doesn’t wash off anything. Please help.

  34. Callie Meaney says:

    I love your tips and DIY guides! I am excited to try this!
    How long would you say this lasts, what shelf life does it have?

  35. Wondering if grapeseed oil can be substituted for calendula oil?

  36. Hello,

    thank you for the recipe. But what does 1 T solid coconut oil stand for?

    “4 cocoa butter disks (about 1 T solid cocoa butter)”

    thank you,

  37. Looks great, but just one question before I dive in. Will a balm cleanser block absorption of serums and moisturizes I use after?

    Thanks for this and for all the questions below. Lots of good information.

    1. No, a cleansing balm rinses off well and should not block other products from absorbing.

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