How to Make a French Clay Cleansing Bar

This is not my idea to begin with. It is 100% inspired by Lola (my partner in a combined-effort quest for the perfect tress-taming products for curly-kinky-coily hair).

I've been playing around with ideas for lotion bars and a couple of other 'solid' products for a while now, so when Lola posted a recipe for a bentonite butter bar (link below), I was immediately inspired to try a version with lavender.

This bar can be used as a facial cleanser (ideal for normal, dry, and mature skin). It can also be used as a hair cleanser (ideal for curly-kinky-coily hair). Isn't it cool when a product can multi-task? Best of all, this is so easy-peasy to do, you will be finished in no time!

Before we begin, let's take a quick look at our star ingredient:  French superfine green clay, aka bentonite or montmorillonite (don't ask me to pronounce that). It gently and effectively removes impurities and is both skin and hair friendly. Now, let's make a clay cleansing bar!

The Ingredients

27 gr (1 oz) clay
42 gr (1,5 oz) cocoa butter
57 ml (1,9 oz) oil (almond, jojoba, or your own lavender-infused oil)
dried lavender (not necessary – but decorative)
25 drops lavender essential oil (boosts the gentle cleansing effect)

The Equipment

Mold that holds 100gr (3,5 oz)
Mixing bowl (or beaker that is big enough to mix in)
Stirring implement

Lets' get started, shall we?

Melt the cocoa butter slowly over low heat.

Add the oil.

Then the clay. Stir.

Add the dried lavender and essential oil.

Stir again and pour into mold. Leave to set for 24 hours, after which you can carefully remove your cleansing bar and you are ready to experience decadent cleansing luxury!

(The little bowl at the bottom of the pic is because I couldn't bear to throw out the leftover mixture.)

Curious about Clay? 

Read What's so Great About Clay

What's Next

Next time I will get into how I use this bar as a face cleanser (and what I learned when I tried it as a shampoo)


Hi Lise,

I am now a clay cleansing bar convert! I love how they give me the same skin feel as using the oil cleansing method but are so much more interesting to make. And I like the added benefit of the clay for exfoliating my skin. The only problem is I've used one of the 8 bars I made and I already want to make some more. I may have to start washing my whole body with them to use them up faster.
LisaLise said…
Hi Laura,

I'm so pleased! I know what you mean about wanting to make more. I have had a question about using these all over for very sensitive skin, and the answer is yes, you can.

Go for it. ;)
Heather A. said…
I am new to making my own body products. I was excited to try this recipe as I am going on vacation soon and thought this would be perfect. I didn't have french clay so I used white kaolin clay. My bar was as goopy 18 hours later as when I poured it in the mold. Was the different clay my downfall? Do you have any suggestions how I can turn this into a success? I hate to throw it out. I am positive I followed the directions exactly. If you have any advice for a newbie I would appreciate it! Thank you for making this available to me and everyone else. I love making my own stuff for my sensitive, hivey skin. Thanks for teaching me.
LisaLise said…
Hey there Heather! Let's see if we can't get you fixed up. The switch of green clay to kaolin shouldn't make any difference in the texture.

Are you in a very warm climate? Did you refrigerate the bar and it still didn't harden?

If that is the case, then it sounds to me like the cocoa butter/oil ratio is somehow off. May I ask if you worked in ounces or grams?

One thing that is a common mistake is the interchanging liquid and weighed ounces. (I find working with ounces incredibly confusing)

Let's see if we can save this mix!

My suggestion: remelt the portion you have along with (approx 15-20 grams) of cocoa butter (half the original amount). Then cool the mixture again. If it hasn't stiffened up in the fridge after an hour, you'll have to re-do again with a bit more cocoa butter (although I'm pretty sure this will set you up)

It's ok to remelt the mixture - if you keep everything at low heat and go slow, you should be fine.

Please let me know how it goes!

my santuary said…
Dear Lisa,

I made this recipe followed everything you said, i use sweet almond oil not jojoba oil. But the problem is 48 hrs now, it doesnt get into solid or bar but still be liquid and the clay is in the bottom. I am in thailand, last night i put in my bedroom with the air con about 25 celcius.

May you help what i should do to make it as bar or solid?

Thank you Madam. I do love this bar after reading your blog.

Best regards,
LisaLise said…
Hi Tanya,

Thank you so much for you kind words! Let's see if we can fix your bar, shall we?

As you can see from the picture, this bar 'layers itself' with the clay settling on the bottom and most of the fats on the top, so in that respect you have done everything correctly. However, the layer on top should solidify at room temperature. Did you use the correct amount of cocoa butter? This is what makes the bar go solid. Most other butters are softer, so you do need to use either cocoa butter or mango butter for this bar to solidify properly. At 25 degrees celsius it should solidify.

As a fix, you could remelt the entire mixture and add some additional cocoa butter to it.

I know the different climates and temperatures does make a huge difference in how butters react, so I'm afriad you will probably have to experiment a little with how much cocoa butter to use. As a starting point, I would add an additional third to half of the original amount.

Please let me know how it goes!

my santuary said…
Many thanks, Madam Lise... You are very kind. I will try to melt all again and add more cocoa butter and will let you know. I use cocoa butter 42 gram. Just sweet almond oil that i didnt have the ml bottle so i use it at 1.9 oz or 54 gram.

I will fix and contact you for the result.
You are very loving, i appreciate and very impressive.

Best regards,
Ged said…
Hi Lise

I love the honest way you blog about your skincare-making adventures ... it's good to see a blog like this without the b/s! Haven't made a clay bar, as I'm currently all about Micellar Waters for cleansing - fun and easy-peasy! But I have a pretty new mould, so I might have to have a go ...

However, what I'm cheekily writing to ask is: is that an induction hob you're using? I've been thinking of buying one for ages and now I see you can melt butters directly on it I just have to have one!
LisaLise said…
Hi Ged, sorry to disappoint, but this isn't an induction hob, so I can't advise you on this.
Heather A. said…
Hi! I'm nearly a year late getting back to you. All I needed to do was put it in the fridge and it hardened right up. I didn't think it was that warm in my kitchen. I had meant to respond sooner, but I didn't have a chance before vacation and forgot after. I shared my bars with my sister and she absolutely LOVED them. It is her birthday and she requested more. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe and responding so quickly to me. Sorry it took me so long!

LisaLise said…
Hi Heather . I'm so pleased this worked out for you! Thanks for getting back to me !

Asia said…
Hi Lise. What a wonderful bar, I was trying to visit the links for Lola's recipes and was having trouble viewing them. Any help or direction would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
LisaLise said…
Hi Asia- oh how disappointing! It seems the site has been taken down. I'll have to correct this so I'm not linking to nowhere -- thanks for letting me know
karina said…
Hi looks beautiful! May i ask why not turn it into real soap? Im just wondering if it will still work.
LisaLise said…
Hi Karina- I have yet to make actual cold process soap, but I am sure these ingredients would make for a lovely soap! Thanks for your input :)
Anonymous said…
Can you add water based ingredients to this like apple cider vinegar or yogurt?
LisaLise said…
Hi Anon - if you add any water based ingredients you’ll need to add a preservative. You may also find the need of an emulsifier.