July 08, 2022 3 min read

DIY Makeup Remover Balm


Balms, while simple in theory, can be surprisingly technical to make, and this makeup remover had me stumped on quite a few occasions.

Variations of a makeup remover formulation have been sitting here on my PC for months now, and it has taken me lots of tries to get one that is simple enough for the average DIY-er and yet does the job of easily removing makeup, without stinging the eyes, or drying the skin, and is a good texture. Believe me, it’s been quite the task!


The thing with a makeup remover balm is that it can be made a number of ways. It employs an emulsifier system to get the rinse-off effect, and also requires a preservative since it will likely be used in the shower or at the very least runs the risk of having wet fingers in the jar. So it’s already way more than a simple anhydrous balm (while still actually being an anhydrous balm!).

Here are different ways it could be made:


You could use a stand-alone emulsifier like OliveM 1000, or another O/W emulsifier; or you could combine an emulsifier with something like  OliveM 300. The version with OliveM 300 was lovely but I found it stung my eyes. Initially I wasn’t sure if it was the OliveM 300 or the preservative, but it ended up being the OliveM 300, so that had to go.


You could try a different emulsifier like  hydrogenated castor oil PEG 40 (I didn’t have any on hand but if you do, I’d recommend giving it a go).


You could use oil-to-milk technology or oleogel technology, which would have been ideal, but isn’t readily available in SA.


You could combine an emulsifier with a  surfactant. You do have to watch the drying factor here, because a surfactant in an anhydrous formula with no water to dilute it can get a bit drying.


Orrr you can just make a simple balm with no emulsifier, but then you won’t have that lovely rinse-off factor which we like in a makeup remover; instead you’ll be left with a bunch of oils on your face which you then need to wipe off and ugh, that’s just messy. I don’t mind oil cleansing personally, but it’s not the best option for removing stubborn makeup.




I had quite a specific idea in mind of what I wanted this product to do and feel like. It needed to be a soft glide-on balm, dissolve makeup easily, rinse off readily without stinging or leaving a waxy after feel, needed to feel moisturising afterwards, and also not be too difficult for the average person to make.


After many, many attempts, I finally settled on an emulsifier + surfactant combo that I liked, and then I had to play around with ratios of oils, butters and fatty acids to get the right consistency and not feel drying on the skin. I then decided to bolster the formula with some antioxidative Vitamin E oil, protective bisabolol and conditioning panthenol.


Here is a DIY Makeup Remover recipe, give it a go!


10%  Olivem 1000

3%  SCI

48%  oil of choice

22%  avocado butter

8%  cetyl alcohol

5.5%  stearic acid

2%  panthenol

0.5%  bisabolol

0.5%  preservative

0.5%  Vit E oil



The first step is to powder the SCI as finely as you can get it, and then sift it to remove any bits that couldn’t be finely powdered. This step is critically important, otherwise the SCI won’t melt nicely and you will end up with grainy bits in your balm.

Weigh out the emulsifier, SCI, oil, butter, cetyl alcohol and stearic acid into a beaker and heat thoroughly to melt everything. You may need to give a few stirs in between. Once fully melted, allow to cool but not solidify, and then add in the rest of the ingredients, mixing well. You can whip this with an immersion blender if you want it a little more light and mousse-like. Decant into a jar or tin.

To use, scoop out a small amount on your finger, massage into your skin to dissolve makeup and dirt and then rinse away with warm water. Follow up with your spritzers, serums and moisturisers as usual.


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