Cleansing Bar FAQ and Tutorial

This post is here by popular demand. Your demand. OK, you didn't actually demand, but you asked so nicely I couldn't possibly say no. Many of you have shown a huge interest, sent feedback, and asked me questions about my soap-free cleansing bars. It was about time all of the most frequently asked questions were collected into a FAQ. So here it is – just for you.

The biggie, most popular and all time most frequently asked question has a special place at the end of this post – a step by step tutorial on using a soap-free cleansing bar.


Do these really cleanse the skin – even oily skin?

Yes, they really do. The fats, oils, and clays in these bars attract dirt and impurities. When you apply and then gently massage the skin, the dirt and impurities are loosened. They are then removed when you rinse off/remove the product.

I'm not happy about using coconut oil in my bar – can I substitute this with something else?

Absolutely. You can replace coconut oil with any oil you prefer. To prevent the bar from becoming too soft, you may want to split the coconut oil amount into half oil and half shea (or another soft butter).

Do these bars foam up?

No, they don't. They contain no ingredients that are able to create a foam.

Is it supposed to feel fatty/greasy when you apply it?

Yes. These cleansers are based on butters and oils, so applying them feels similar to applying a thick lotion.

Can I leave the mixture on for a while?

Yes, you can use these bars just as you would apply and use a moisturizing mask. Suggested leave-on time: max 10 minutes.

When are they best used? Morning, evening or both?

That depends entirely on your skin type. Try the different options to see what works best for you. Note that this may even change depending on the time of year.

Is it supposed to have this much color?

Some of the cleansing bars have very strongly colored ingredients (examples: spirulina, violet clay). If you prefer a more neutral color, feel free to replace any of the colored clays with white clay and/or super-finely ground raw oats.

When I used a cleansing bar for the first time, my skin felt different – like I had just applied a moisturizer. Is it supposed to feel like that?

Yes, it is. Your skin should feel clean, refreshed, and moisturized.


How do I use a cleansing bar to get the best results?

Here is a step by step tutorial. Don't be fooled by this long instruction. It only looks daunting because I have explained the massage part in detail.

This entire process takes 3-5 minutes.

1. Tie back your hair and splash a generous amount of water on your face and neck.

2. You need about 1 teaspoon of product for 1 application. The portion should be at room temperature and mash easily with a little pressure from a finger.

3. Soften the bar in your hand, then apply to face and neck.

4. Massage your face gently. This should take about 2 minutes. Here's my preferred method.

  • Massage cheeks, moving towards the temples 
  • Place fingers at the bridge of the nose. Stroke up and out across the forehead and towards the temples. Repeat 3-5 times.
  • Gently 'draw' a circle around the eye area (from bridge of nose, across brows and along the bone under the eye), when you start back around towards the nose from the outer edge of the eyes, switch from gentle pressure to a light 'tapping' so as not to pull the delicate skin under the eyes. Repeat 3-5 times.
  • Place a finger on either side of the nose and stroke lightly along the cheek towards the temples. Repeat 3-5 times.
  • Place forefingers under nose and gently smooth the area above the upper lip (as if you were smoothing a moustache). When you get to the edge of the mouth, finish with a light, upward stroke (as if drawing a huge clown smile). Then start under the mouth, moving upwards (finish drawing the clown smile from underneath). Repeat 3-5 times
  • Gently 'pinch' along the jawline starting from the chin and moving towards the ears. Repeat 3-5 times. 
  • Finish by massaging the neck with gentle upward strokes

5. Rinse/remove the mixture. This can be done by using a moistened cotton round, or by splashing a generous amount of water until the mixture is removed. Pat dry.

As you can see in this pic, violet clay has a very powerful color and takes several cotton rounds to remove entirely. (The bar I am using in this tutorial is the easy-layer lavender bar).

Tip: Apply the cleanser just prior to showering to save cotton rounds and to make rinse-off a snap.

Finish with an alcohol-free skin tonic and a light layer of face oil. (The face oil may not even be necessary).

Check the mirror.

See that gorgeous, vibrant face?

That's you!

Is Your Question Missing? 

Please feel free to post it below.

Have you made your own cleansing bar version? 

I'd love to hear about it!

Find all of my cleansing bar recipes at the How To Page


Renee Snap said…
I really want to try these out, however I have oily but dehydrated skin. & My skin breaks out very easily. I was wondering, what oils I should stay away from & which cleansers are better suited to my skin type? Because I know coconut oil isn't the best for me, but are all the oils in your bars ok for skin that breaks out easily? & if so, what should I replace the coconut oil with?
LisaLise said…
Hey there K,
You can use every one of the recipes that are for sensitive skin, replacing any coconut oil with shea butter and castor oil mixed half and half. I would also recommend adding ground raw oats ( replace part of the clay with equal weight in oats). If you break out easily, I would steer clear of any exfoliants. If you decide to give these a try I'd love to hear how it goes and which recipe you used. :)
jay said…
I have recently started using a honey scrub to cleanse my face it leave my skin feeling clean incredibly soft and moisturized and solved my oily T zone issues immediately. I used honey brown cane sugar pure tea tree oil olive and jojoba oil. my question is can honey be used in this cleanser
jay said…
also is this safe to use on more sensitive body parts if you know what I mean. Private parts.
LisaLise said…
Hi Jay,

Sorry for this delayed reply. If you want to add honey to these cleansers I would recommend adding a preservative or using the portion within a very few days.

The ingredients in these bars are safe for use on private parts and sensitive areas. I would however keep any dried herbs (roses. lavender etc) out of the equation though as some dried herbs will feel scratchy on sensitive skin.
Anonymous said…
I am very curious about trying this. I was wondering does it remove make up or do we have to wash the make up then use the cleansing bar? I would think with the oils that it would clean the make up off very well.
LisaLise said…
Hi Anon - A cleansing bar will remove foundation, but I would be hesitant about using it for eye make-up. For that, try using sweet almond oil on a moistened cotton ball - that will remove ten waterproof mascara.
Anonymous said…
Thank you for your response. I will be trying one of your recipes. And I will be sure to use oil around my eyes to remove mascara.
Goya+Fig said…
Hello Lise! Thank you so much for your wonderful blog and wonderful ideas! You have inspired me to make tons of my own cleansing bars! My question is, if I want to sell mine, would it be ok to add some optiphen (or other anhydrous preservative)? We know that customers do not always put things in the fridge or let bars dry out as properly as they should... What do you think?

LisaLise said…
Hi Candice - If you are thinking of making these for sale, you most definitely need to add a preservative. Best of luck with it!
Ness said…
Hi Lisa I was wondering if this bar ingredients clogs pores? , I have a acne-prone mix skin, btw I love your blog thank-you in advance
LisaLise said…
Hi Ness - thanks for your kind words! With acne-prone skin, you might want to keep coconut oil out of the equation. Other than that, you should be fine. Fo let me know how it goes. :)
Unknown said…
hi. I want to make theses bars for my husband and gets a lot of acne around his chin - which recipe of yours would u recommend? also do I replace the entire amount of coconut oil with Shea butter?
thank you
Unknown said…
hi. I want to make a cleansing bar for my husband - he gets Evers acne around his chin. which recipe should I use? and do replace the entire coconut oil weightage with Shea butter?
LisaLise said…
Hi Tina- you might want to start with the basic cleansing bar. You can replace coconut oil with shea butter or even another oil such as babassu. Depending on the climate you live in, you might have to play with proportions until you get the texture you like. I’d add a couple of drops of tea tree oil and lavender oil as well. Best of luck with it!
Unknown said…
Hi Lisa,

I live in the tropics n the cleansing seems too soft to get out of the mold.. Can you suggest what i can do to make it harder?

Should i reduce the soft oils? Can i use only cocoa butter?
LisaLise said…
Hi Unknown - Living in a warmer climate, you are very right to tweak the formulation. May I suggest lowering the oils with somewhere between 7-15% and replacing with cocoa butter. You might also consider kokum butter as this is harder than cocoa. Best of luck with it!