How To Make a Basic Cleansing Bar

Are you ready to try something new this year? It may not look all that sexy, but wait til you discover what this plain-looking bar can do for your face and neck. If your skin usually feels taut after washing, then get ready for a completely different facial cleansing experience. Here's an extra little bonus: it's seriously inexpensive! Read on to learn how to make your own all natural, soap-free cleansing bar in 5 super-easy steps.

You will need

42 gr (1,5 oz) cocoa butter
30 ml (1 fl. oz) sweet almond oil
37 gr (1,3 oz) French green clay (see more about this clay in this post)
Essential oils of choice (optional)
Mold that holds 100gr (3,5 oz)

Step 1. MELT

Melt the cocoa butter slowly over LOW heat. Be sure to remove it from the heat as soon as it is melted.

Step 2. ADD OIL

Add the oil and stir. For this bar, I used my own juniper-infused oil (see the links below about infusing oil to learn more).

Step 3. ADD CLAY

Add clay and stir until the mixture is even.


If you want to add any essential oil, now is the time. For this bar, I added rosemary, juniper, and lavender to boost the cleansing action, complement the juniper-infused oil, and to give the bar a stimulating fresh scent.

Step 5. POUR

Pour the mixture into a mold and let set  (I usually let mine set in the fridge overnight, but a couple of hours is probably enough). Remove from the mold and voilá! Your bar is ready for use! (couldn't help sneaking a little French lingo in there – it's my little homage to the star cleansing ingredient: the fab French clay)

Tip: Because this is a preservative-free product, you'll also want to store it in conditions that don't encourage any bacteria growth. Please visit this earlier post for storage tips and instructions for use.

Coming Up

I've become hooked on how these bars work and have been trying an assortment of different clays, oils and other extra skin-loving ingredients lately. Stay tuned for a mini-series of DIY cleansing bars in a range of colors and textures.

More Fun With Cleansing Bars and The Ingredients For Them

- Learn how to make the French Clay Cleansing Bar here.
- Curious about doing your own infused oil? Find out how I made juniper infused oil here: (part one) (part two)

Visit the Cleansing Bar FAQ and Tutorial Page

Special Thanks To

Lola: for cleansing bar inspiration (look what you started!)
Felecia: for great tips on infusing oil
Liis: for the fresh organic juniper berries that went into the infused oil


Rikke said…
Endnu en til to-do-listen. Tak for opskriften!

Kh Rikke
Anonymous said…
Hi, I was wondering if you have any cleansing bar recipes? And could I use this bar for my hair?
LisaLise said…
Hi Anon - please check the How To page. This is filled with cleansing bar recipes. You could use the bar for your hair if it is coily-kinky. This is a soap-free bar and will cleanse skin, but adds a generous layer of fat to hair.
Anonymous said…
Oops! My apologies for asking that most obvious question. I meant to ask if they're cleansing bar recipes specifically designed for kinky hair, or can you use all of your cleansing bar recipes for kinky hair? Thank you for taking the time to make these recipes and answer each comment!
LisaLise said…
Hi Anon - absolutely no problem. How could you know if it was your first time here?
As for cleansing bars and kinky hair: You will have to try your way through the different recipes to see which suit you if you are thinking of using them mainly for hair. Some may be better than others.

The main way these work on skin is to attract dirt and oils from the skin. As for hair: I did actually try one of these on my (straight, fine) hair and was left with a greasy mop. Kinky hair needs far more moisture, so in that respect, these bars may do very well with kinky hair. They are however- not shampoo bars. You will have to consider them conditioning bars more than anything else.

I hope this was of some help. Otherwise - feel free to leave another comment.

Anonymous said…
Hi Lise. I am new to the diy world and am very interested in making your soap-free cleansers. I have a lot of bentonite clay on hand, can I substitute it in all these recipes?
LisaLise said…
Hey there Anon - absolutely! You can use any clay you like - and even combine with ground oats or almonds as well. Best of luck with it.
Anonymous said…
Lise, Thanks so much for your quick response. I have another question for you please. Which of your cleansing bars would be best suited to not soften up too much during hot weather? I am looking to make as firm a body cleansing bar as possible. Or even if you have a recipe for a body wash, I would really appreciate the link to it. Really appreciate your time. I am so looking forward to make cleansing bars without castile soap/lye!!
LisaLise said…
HI Anon - Thanks for your interest. If you want your bars on the firmer side, you'll want to adjust the cocoa butter to oil proportions. Probably best to try the original recipe as is, then see how it behaves for you. Then you can tweak the recipe to your needs and desires. best of luck with it!
Anonymous said…
Thank you for sharing your fantastic recipes! I'm starting to play around with different formulations and can't seem to find any info on adding botanical/fruit extracts to cleansing bars. Any thoughts?
LisaLise said…
Hey there Anon - what a great idea to add fruit extracts! As long as they are oil based or in powdered form, you can add them to these bars. Dose according to your suppliers recommended amount. Best of luck with it
Anonymous said…
Lise, I did try this recipe , for the powder part - i used a mix of bentonite clay and neem powder (neem is very potent Im told, so I used less of it). I also used only lavender oil with it. I LOVE this. Made a batch end Sep 2014 after I wrote to you, and am still using a bit of it that was left over ... its wonderful and refreshing and hasnt spoiled at all! I made it in ice cube trays, and each cube can be used for around 10 face/neck washes. Little secret - I never took the cleanser out of the ice trays/freezer. Maybe thats why they have kept so well!
Thank you.
LisaLise said…
Hey there Anon - thanks for this feedback. I love your ice cube tray idea! Very clever!
Unknown said…
Hello, I was wondering if I should add a preservative to this if I wanted to add things such as extracts and if I wanted to keep it in the bathroom for convenience? Or since it doesn't contain water is this okay. I am fairly new to making face/body care products..
LisaLise said…
Hey there p. mm - if you add only oil-soluble extracts to the bar, you should be fine without a preservative but you do need to store the bar dry and ensure no moisture comes into contact with it. I totally understand wanting to keep it in the bathroom for convenience. How about this: cut single-portion sized pieces of the bar and keep enough for a few applications in a small container in the bathroom. :)
Eaia25 said…
Hi Lisa thanks for these instructions, very informative yet to the point. I wanted to know how this bar is used, like it's it like a bar of soap (which is what it seems like) or like the crumbly ones you can get at lush?
Eaia25 said…
Thank you Lisa for this informative yet simple recipe, I'd just wondering if there was a way to make the bar more crumbly like the ones you get at lush.
LisaLise said…
Hi Unknown - if you click the link at the bottom of this post you will find an FAQ that walks you through the process of how these bars are used. :)
LisaLise said…
HI Eaia25 - If you play around with the percentages of fats and clay, you will probably be able to get a crumblier texture by reducing the fat amount and adding more clay
Carol said…
hi. I was just reading over your recipes for cleasing bars. they sound really nice and am going to try one. However, I do not have cocoa butter on hand, could I substitute it with all shea butter or do you think it might be to greasy? clog pores? thanks
LisaLise said…
Hi Carol - you can use all shea if you like but it might be too soft. Try a bit of kokum or mango butter to help it stay stiffer. As for pore clogging - please do a search on this blog for 'pores' to find the post
Midwest Mom said…
I’m wondering if using this bar effects the pipes, given that the oils are not saponified since there is no lye. Does clay and oil down pipes have a clogging effect over time?
LisaLise said…
Hey there Midwest mom - You are absolutely right about the pipes. This kind of cleanser is best wiped off before rinsing the face.
Carolyn said…
Hi Lise,
I just discovered your blog and your beautiful recipes...what a bevy of information! I have a creamy balm cleanser (non soap) that I make and use on my dry, mature skin. I have never made a bar, but I am excited to try your basic bar as a first! I have two questions for you:
1. Can I use white/kaolin clay instead of French?
2. How many drops of essential oils do you recommend per bar?

Thank you so much for creating such beautiful formulations. Looking forward to discovering other treasures on your blog!
LisaLise said…
H Carolyn - Thanks so much for you kind words! To answer your questions: yes, you can use kaolin. As for essential oils -- this varies depending on the oils you are using- I recommend checking Tisserand Institute's page for tips and notes on essential oil safety. Speaking in 'drops' though, I would personally not exceed 20 drops for a 100 gram (3.5 oz) bar, but again - do check safety percentages as different oils have different recommended safe usage levels. :)