I first learned about cleansing grains several years ago from a blogger who went by the name Crunchy Betty. She’s a former model who got some attention in the blogosphere by encouraging her followers (with a healthy dose of humor and sarcasm) to “put food on their faces.” She also sold a small line of her own DIY beauty products. [Her blog is live but no longer active.]
I liked Crunchy Betty’s cleansing grains well enough. But if I’m being honest — I didn’t use them too often because they came packaged in small envelopes that ended up being a soggy mess in the bathroom.
I’m not gonna lie — using cleansing grains can get a little messy. But I have a few tips below for how to minimize the mess and I think they’re worth it when you consider the skin benefits.
What are Cleansing Grains?
Cleansing grains are a powdered blend of simple ingredients such as herbs and clays that you mix with water (or another liquid) to cleanse/wash and gently exfoliate your face.
I did a quick online search and found a number of expensive beauty brands selling cleansing grains anywhere from $25 to $54 for small jars. This is one product I’m absolutely convinced we can make for ourselves for a fraction of the price without sacrificing skin-loving results. Plus, once you’ve gathered your ingredients, they take less than 10 minutes to make!
Let’s Talk About Our Ingredients
The options are pretty much endless when it comes to mixing up your own cleansing grains. Today I’m sharing an easy mix with just three ingredients that I’ve been using with good results.
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1.) Old-fashioned Roll Oats
Oats have a long history in natural skincare. They’re often used as a home remedy to soothe dry, itchy or irritated skin. Ground oats can work as a gentle exfoliant, sloughing away dirt, oil and dead skin cells as well.
Oats have also been shown to cleanse, moisturize and reduce inflammation.
Best Oats for Skin: Colloidal oats are generally considered the best option for your skin. It’s very finely ground using specialized equipment, so it isn’t something you can make at home. But if you have colloidal oats (or want to buy them for this recipe), go for it!
Since we’re trying to keep this super easy and affordable, old-fashioned rolled oats from your grocery store will offer many of the same benefits and that’s what I used in this recipe.
2.) White Kaolin Clay
Kaolin is a gentle cosmetic clay that’s available on Amazon, Mountain Rose Herbs and other online retailers. You might be able to find it at your local herb store as well. Its main benefit is to draw out impurities in the skin. Kaolin clay is versatile because it’s gentle and suitable for all skin types.
You can substitute other clays but if you do, be aware of their unique properties. Some clays — like bentonite — are a lot stronger and might be too harsh for your skin.
3.) Dried Lavender Buds
You probably don’t have dried lavender buds in your pantry or medicine chest, but they’re readily available on Amazon, from Mountain Rose Herbs or your local herb store. You might even have access to homegrown lavender, which you can dry in the microwave. See below for simple instructions.
There are claims that dried lavender helps to balance your skin’s pH, has skin-loving antioxidants and soothes irritated skin. I can’t confirm any of this — but at the very least, the ground-up dried lavender buds add exfoliating properties and have a soothing scent.
Here’s a quick way to make dried lavender using a microwave oven: Snip the flower buds from fresh lavender (leaving the stems behind) and spread them in a single layer on a paper towel. Cover with another paper towel and microwave in short increments, about 30 seconds at a time until they feel dry to the touch.
Essential Oils – Optional
Many essential oils have skin-loving properties and will enhance this cleanser, but they aren’t necessary. I didn’t add any to my test batch — but lavender essential oil is an obvious choice and chamomile, frankincense, or geranium would work well, too. One of my favorite essential oil vendors is Plant Therapy.
Equipment Needed to Make Cleansing Grains
You’ll need a small spice/coffee grinder to make your own cleansing grains. These are inexpensive and once you have one — you’ll find lots of ways to use it. [How about Cold Brew Coffee?]
You’ll also need a container in which to store your grains. You can recycle a glass jar — there’s no need to buy anything special unless you’re planning to mix up a bigger batch of these grains and gift them to your friends and family. I like that idea!
What Are the Skin Benefits to Using Cleansing/Exfoliating Grains?
You might be accustomed to using a liquid facial cleanser — which probably works fine, but may have some harsher ingredients and fragrances.
Making your own cleansing grains gives you a natural skin cleanser made with familiar and simple ingredients. It helps to remove make-up or impurities from your skin — leaving you with a fresh, clean base to apply toner and/or moisturizer.
As a quick primer, there are two types of exfoliation: manual and chemical. “Manual” exfoliation involves using a rough surface (e.g., loofah or sugar/salt scrubs) to remove dry/dead skin cells from your skin. You’ll need to manually scrub your skin — always taking care not to scrub too hard!
A “chemical” exfoliant involves using gentle acids that penetrate into deeper layers of your skin and don’t require scrubbing. Common chemical exfoliators often have AHAs or BHAs. When over-used or combined with retinols/retinoids, chemical exfoliants can leave your skin with redness, irritation or flaking.
We’re talking about manual exfoliation here, but you can successfully combine the two types…so I’m not claiming one approach is superior to the other. It all depends on your skin type and what you’re trying to achieve!
Get Smooth, Glowing Skin
Some benefits of using cleansing/exfoliating grains:
- Reduce inflammation and redness
- Minimize acne outbreaks by cleansing your pores
- Improve skin texture by removing dead skin
- By unclogging pores, they allow other beauty products to penetrate more deeply
- Since you’re removing dry/dead skin, they help to brighten your face
How Often to Use Gentle Lavender-Oat Grains
These DIY grains are gentle enough to use every day for most people, if you’re careful not to scrub too hard. You should always treat your facial skin delicately, even if you don’t have sensitive skin. I like to use the grains every other day or so (about three times a week), just to be sure I’m not overdoing it.
Gentle Lavender-Oat Cleansing + Exfoliating Grains
These cleansing + exfoliating grains are simple and quick to make. Measure your ingredients and grind them to a soft sand consistency in a small spice/coffee grinder. When ready to use, add equal parts grains to equal parts water or milk and gently massage on your face.
1/4 Cup Old-fashioned rolled oats
1 TBSP Kaolin clay (or other cosmetic clay of choice)
1 TBSP Dried Lavender
1 drop essential oil, optional (Lavender, chamomile, frankincense or geranium would all be good choices.)
- Add the oats, clay and lavender to a small spice/coffee grinder and blend for about 15 to 30 seconds. You want to get some “scrub” from the particles but don’t want them to scratch your face. When you’re done grinding, leave the cover on your grinder for a minute or two to let the particle dust settle. Pour the grains into a clean jar for storage.
- To use the grains, combine 1 tsp. of the grains with 1 tsp. of liquid. You can use water, canned coconut milk, almond milk — or other water or milk-based product of choice. Add one drop essential oil, if you’re using it.
- Massage the cleansing grains onto your face, using an upward, circular motion — avoiding your eye area. Rinse the grains off with warm water and a facecloth.
- Apply toner and/or moisturizer, as desired.
- See my tips below to minimize the mess when using the cleansing/exfoliating grains.
Helpful Tips to Minimize the Mess:
There’s no way around it — putting ground oats, clay and lavender on your face is going to be a bit messy. One tip is to be sure you’re leaning over the sink and keep your tap water running so that any wayward grains are quickly washed down the drain. [I know this flies in the face of conserving water — but once in a while, it’s okay in the name of beauty, right?]
You can also mix the grains with raw honey instead of a liquid. I did this with equally good results. Be sure to use raw honey since it has more skin-loving enzymes than the regular honey found at your grocery store. I found adding a touch of water to the honey helped to make the mixture more spreadable.
You could try using the grains in the shower, where they will wash down the drain with no issue. The only caveat here is that you don’t want to introduce water into the jar since we haven’t added a preservative and over time, fungus and bacteria could grow in the mix.
One fun idea is to store your grains in a container with a shaker lid. Wet your hands really well, shake out some grains onto your fingertips and massage into your face. Doing it this way, you’ll be “estimating” how much of the mix to use — but it saves a bowl and stirring spoon. I’ve tried it this way and it works great!
So that’s it for today. The ingredients for my simple Lavender-Oat Cleansing + Exfoliating Grains are easy to find, affordable — and most important of all, they really work to brighten and smooth your skin.
Did you make my DIY Cleansing + Exfoliating Grains? Please leave a comment to let me know how they worked. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.
I am not a licensed nutritionist, medical professional or cosmetics expert. The information provided on Honest + Simple is for general informational purposes only. The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food + Drug Administration and are not intended to treat, prevent or cure any disease. Before making decisions about your health or other concerns, please consult a qualified professional and do not rely on this website for medical advice.