If you’ve spent any length of time browsing Sephora, you’ve likely noticed the collection of products devoted to removing makeup. I don’t know about you, but when faced with hordes of wipes, micellar liquids and bottles of oil, part of me starts to believe I need 11 different steps to wash my face.
Choosing what kind of makeup to put on my skin is already hard enough without worrying about which product (or two, or three) is best at taking it off. For that reason, and to avoid mental exhaustion, I usually stick with good old virgin coconut oil.
Lately though, I started noticing a new trend — makeup removing “balms.” And I have to admit that I was intrigued. Because even though I’m committed to coconut oil, I also like trying new products.
Cleansing balms are trendy due in part to the popularity of the Korean double cleansing method, which involves using 2 steps to wash your face. Step 1 removes your makeup — this is where a cleansing oil or balm comes in. Step 2 is a more thorough cleanse that removes all traces of dirt, oil, and whichever product you used during step 1.
But while they might look enticing, I noticed that many cleansing balms were just blends of low quality oils and emulsifiers, brilliantly marketed with pretty packaging. And that just didn’t sit well with me.
Balms feel very luxurious on the skin, and their silky texture is perfect for melting foundation and stubborn mascara on contact. Most of the time, though, they’re also formulated with potentially irritating fragrances and preservatives — not exactly conducive to skin health.
And at $40 to over $100 a jar, you’re washing a very expensive blend of heavily fragranced oil down the drain. Literally.
There are cheaper, more eco-friendly options to removing your makeup, that are not only easy to find at the grocery store, but are also much healthier for your skin.
Virgin coconut oil, for instance, is inexpensive, smells heavenly, and works quickly — and since it’s a saturated fat, it’s stable at room temperature for up to two years. It also won’t oxidize on your skin.
Coconut oil also contains lauric and caprylic fatty acids, which have antimicrobial qualities that can help keep acne-causing bacteria at bay.
Let’s face it though — coconut oil’s virtues have been extolled ad nauseam on every wellness blog, Pinterest board and Facebook page for quite some time now, so I’ll spare you.
We get it, coconut oil. You’re great. But you don’t quite have the same thick, luxurious texture as a makeup removing balm. That’s why I decided to experiment with making my own.
The secret ingredient is unrefined shea butter. It’s a powerful emollient, has a comedogenic rating of zero, and is rich in antioxidant vitamin E. It has an earthy, nutty scent that can be personalized with natural fragrances like vanilla essential oil or rose otto. Another option is to buy pre-scented shea butter, like I did.
I love Out of Africa’s vanilla shea butter. It has only two ingredients: unrefined shea butter and vanilla planifolia bean oil. Coming from someone who is pretty sensitive to chemical fragrances, it smells absolutely heavenly without the headache or irritation — like warm vanilla cupcakes.
On its own, I found that shea butter is too thick to easily remove makeup — but paired with coconut oil, it becomes the perfect makeup “melting” cleasning balm. It’s very simple, but it works.
This isn’t a sponsored post — Out of Africa’s shea butter is just that good. It’s smooth and creamy, not crumbly, grainy, hard or dry like many other shea butters I’ve tried. It also comes in tiny, travel-friendly tins that are perfect for lip balm!
A natural vanilla-scented makeup melting/cleansing balm to emulsify and remove makeup, sunscreen, and oil.
- Virgin coconut oil (or refined, deodorized coconut oil, if you don’t like the smell of coconut)
- Unrefined shea butter (I love Out of Africa’s Vanilla Shea Butter, but it also comes in Lavender, Grapefruit, Verbena, and Unscented.
- Optional: An essential oil such as vanilla planifolia bean oil if your shea butter is unscented
Melt 3 parts shea butter and 1 part coconut oil at very low heat on your stovetop. This is important -- if you add too much coconut oil, your balm will be too thin.
Let it sit in the fridge for about an hour to solidify. Afterwards, you can keep it at room temperature.
You’re done! You’re left with a 100% natural cleansing balm that smells like dessert, and that will emulsify your makeup without irritating preservatives or synthetic fragrances. I massage it into my face, remove it with a reusable cotton cloth soaked in hot water, and follow it up with a gentle, natural cleanser.
The customizations for this recipe are almost endless, too. If you don’t like coconut oil, you can swap it for an oil of your choice (preferably one that’s low in PUFAs, to avoid using oxidized oil on your face). I’ve been eying up Babassu oil as a potential alternative.
And if regular shea butter is too thick for your liking, try Nilotica shea butter — Western shea butter’s softer, silkier cousin. If regular shea butter has ever broken you out, try it! You might be surprised.
I’m always looking for ways to DIY my skincare whenever possible. It’s not just about saving money, but more importantly, avoiding harmful and potentially toxic ingredients. I also DIY my own face mist and makeup-setting spray, which are another class of products that usually come chock-full of fragrances, synthetic polymers, and other unnecessary ingredients.
And while I love my homemade products, I admittedly still have a soft spot for this lovely eucalyptus-scented cleansing oil.
How do you remove your makeup? Did you try the recipe? I’d love to hear your thoughts!