This activated charcoal face soap recipe is simple enough for beginner soapmakers, yet results in an impressive bar of cleansing, yet moisturizing face soap.
I’m really excited to share with you today’s new soap recipe. I’ve been doing more studying on the oils used in soapmaking, along with some of the other ingredients, and think that I’m getting better at developing soaps that have a good balance of cleaning, moisturizing, and lather.
Just because I’m using a few more oils and ingredients than I did in my easy beginner soap recipe doesn’t mean that this soap is difficult to make by any means. This recipe is simple to make, but looks super impressive if you want to get ahead of the game and make some bars as nice Christmas gifts.
I have to admit that I studied BEAUTYCOUNTER’s Charcoal Cleansing Bar ingredients when I was looking to formulate my own activated charcoal face soap recipe. Don’t get me wrong! I am not trying to copy their formula; I just used it as a bit of inspiration. Nor do I think you should necessarily make my soap instead. First of all, if you aren’t already making your own products, and don’t have a lot of the ingredients on hand, you probably aren’t saving much (if any) money anyway. The Beautycounter charcoal soap bar should last you at least for several months, so it really isn’t a big expense on a daily basis. (You can buy it here.)
My reasons for making my own activated charcoal face soap is that I love making soaps to begin with. Elaborating new soap recipes has become a creative outlet for me, and I take each new recipe as a bit of a challenge.
So, why did I look at the ingredients that Beautycounter used?
1. While I haven’t tried it myself yet, I’ve heard from friends that it works really well on blackheads and breakouts, and that the soap is one of their best sellers because everybody loves it so much!
2. I love all of the products of theirs that I have tried. Plus, they spend a lot of time investigating their ingredients, looking for the safest yet most effective ingredients in all of their products. Knowing that, I figured that using their ingredients as a guideline would really help me formulate my own great soap.
Why haven’t I tried their Charcoal Cleansing Bar yet to compare it?
Unfortunately, Beautycounter doesn’t sell to Europe as of yet, so I have to order and send to my parents’ houses in the US whenever I want a new product. My last order of products was placed in June when I travelled to the US to pick it all up. As much as I love using those trips to stock up on new products, I try not to go overboard either. As it was, we had to pay for another suitcase on the way home this trip! 🙂 So, I choose the products where I know my DIY versions won’t come anywhere close to theirs, and the products I love the most like the rejuvenating face creams and the Dew Tint tinted moisturizer. I am very curious about their charcoal soap, though, so I will likely cave and eventually buy it too.
What’s in the Beautycounter Charcoal Cleansing Bar?
Here is the list of ingredients: Sodium Rapeseedate, Sodium Cocoate, Aqua/Water/Eau, Glycerin, Charcoal Powder, Sodium Citrate, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water*, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil*, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Alcohol*, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract*. Tocopherol.
Let’s talk Ingredients!
Beginning form the top of their ingredient list, sodium rapeseedate and sodium cocoate are basically just the already saponified rapeseed and coconut oils. That means they have already been reacted with lye.
Coconut oil in soaps is great because it cleans well and adds a great, bubbly lather. I had never used rapeseed oil in soap before, though, so this was a new one for me.
I always avoided rapeseed oil in soap in the past, partly because it’s a difficult oil to find here in Spain, and partly because I had read that it could go rancid more quickly if used in large amounts in a soap. After further study, though, I read that it’s a great oil to use in soap because it is moisturizing and gives a creamy lather (as opposed to the bubbly lather from the coconut oil). Plus it makes a pretty, shiny and smooth bar of soap.
Here come the first differences:
Because making a soap out of only rapeseed oil, coconut oil and safflower oil was out of my comfort zone, I decided to add some olive oil to my recipe. (Plus, olive oil is inexpensive and easy to find here in Spain.) I added olive oil for its moisturizing qualities, castor oil because it helps make the lather last longer, and shea butter because it’s high in “unsaponifiables,” leaving conditioning oils which I thought would be great for face moisturizing.
Going back to their ingredient list, I, of course, also added water to my soap. I skipped over the glycerin, and added the charcoal powder, my version of the sodium citrate (which is basically the sodium salt of citric acid, which is what I added), and some witch hazel.
I wasn’t sure why they would add citric acid to the soap, but after some investigation, I learned that not only does it serve to prevent oxidation of the ingredients which could lead to the “Dreaded Orange Spots,” commonly known as “DOS” in soap making forums, but it also possibly works as a chelator to help fight soap scum buildup.
As for the witch hazel, I think it’s important to make sure the witch hazel you are using is not alcohol based, but is only distilled witch hazel. Alcohol can react with the lye, and can also affect the final outcome of the soap, so if you aren’t sure, you can just replace the witch hazel with the same amount of distilled water.
Because safflower oil isn’t something I can readily find here, I decided to use olive oil, and the other oils mentioned above, instead.
Continuing down their list, I’m not sure about the addition of alcohol. I’m sure they have a great reason for adding it, but since I’m already using different ingredients and don’t know how or why to add it, I didn’t.
I did decide to go with the last two ingredients they added to their bar, though. Green Tea Leaf Extract and Tocopherol (aka. vitamin E) are great antioxidants that are not only great for your skin, but they help preserve the oils in your soap to keep them from going rancid.
Overall, by judging their ingredients, I think that their bar looks like it would be pretty balanced too. Both the rapeseed and safflower oils are moisturizing and give a creamy lather while the coconut oil is cleansing and gives a bubbly lather.
Why use activated charcoal?
Activated charcoal has become increasingly popular in beauty products because it is thought to absorb toxins, excess oils, and help better cleanse the skin. One of the most common findings after using activated charcoal products is that pores become less visible and smaller, and blackheads start to disappear. It may also help absorb excess oils in people with oily skin. Plus the black color makes a pretty slick looking black soap!
How do I like this soap?
I actually am loving this soap so far. I had planned on adding some rosemary essential oils to my soap bar, but forgot until it was too late, so my bar ended up being unscented. Rosemary oil extract is used quite often by soapmakers as another natural additive that helps keep the oils in the soap from going rancid, and helps prevent the dreaded orange spots (DOS) I mentioned above. The extract doesn’t have much of a scent, but the essential oil itself does. Rosemary essential oil gives off a nice, natural fragrance and is a potent antioxidant for fighting off rancidity in oils. If you don’t want to add a scent, though, you don’t really need to add much oil to help preserve your soap longer. A few drops should be enough. You could also leave it out if you wanted.
Ready to make some?
Activated Charcoal Face Soap Recipe
Check out the process on video:
This post is also available in Español.