DIY Face Washes for Sensitive/Acne-Prone Skin

Over the years, I have struggled to find a face wash that thoroughly cleaned my skin without leaving it feeling dry and tight. In an attempt to both save money and support cruelty-free products, I found that skincare products using kitchen ingredients actually yield the best results. Things found in your kitchen – anything from baking soda to avocados – can be used in your daily skin care routine. The best part about trying things from your kitchen? Not only are you avoiding harsh cosmetic chemicals, but you can also sample face washes, exfoliating scrubs, shampoos, and hair masks for no extra cost outside of your grocery bill. 

Below are three different recipes for face washes using ingredients probably sitting in your kitchen right now. The ones I have chosen worked for my sensitive and extremely picky skin, however you might have to adjust the recipes slightly to fit your needs. The recipes range in preparation time, and number of ingredients. In my experience, the following washes left my skin feeling bright, fresh and moisturized without using any sort of moisturizer afterwards. That being said, keep in mind that the texture of these washes (i.e. raw honey) will not feel like a generic, soapy wash when being applied to the skin. Lastly, regardless of which DIY wash you try, remember that your results are directly dependent on the quality of ingredients you use. 

1. Coconut Oil Face Scrub:

This scrub is good for clearing up acne, and for people who have combination skin. For those who are interested in converting from mainstream face washes, this will obviously resemble the feeling of an exfoliator, however it will not foam or create bubbles. After using this scrub, your face will be left with a thin layer of coconut oil that will continue moisturizing your face throughout the day. As a note, if you plan on washing your face then applying makeup straight afterwards, this may not be the wash for you. Therefore, consider using this scrub at night before bed. The following recipe makes a large batch of the scrub that will last for several months. 

Items Needed:

• Wide-mouth Mason Jars, or another similar container you can hold and 

• 1.5lbs of Organic Turbanado Raw Cane Sugar (larger granules)

• 2 cup of smaller grain sugar (such as brown sugar)

• 7-10 oz of medium-high heat coconut oil

• Optional: tea tree essential oil*


• To turn the coconut oil from a solid into a liquid (see last week’s benefits seal the mixture in for storing of Coconut Oil post): Fill a large bowl with hot water and place the opened jar of coconut oil in the middle with the surrounding water going about half way up. Let the oil sit until clear and almost all melted. 

• Fill a bowl with the sugar mixture and pour the jar of oil in. Stir together.

To Apply:

• Wet your face with a warm cloth

• Scoop out a nickel size portion of the scrub. If you have acne and want the additional clearing effects from essential oils, put two drops of tea tree essential oil in your daily scoop of scrub. High quality tea tree is astringent and good for cleaning.* 

• Apply the scrub to the skin until the sugar has dissolved.

• Rinse your face with warm water, massaging the oil into your face as you 

• Pat dry with a clean towel.

• Repeat 1-2 times daily. For those with dryer skin, using this scrub once at night will be sufficient.

Information provided by Michelle Bardwell, Registered Aromatherapist. I only use essential oils from her practice and skin care line, Flower Road Natural Therapies. Essential oils purchased at Whole Foods or other general outlets are diluted and NOT of high quality. As for tea tree, be careful not to get it near your eyes, and test the oil on your arm before applying it to your face to make sure you do not have an adverse reaction. If you have dry, sensitive skin, either avoid using tea tree in your scrub, or just use one drop. In the original recipe for the coconut oil scrub, the author added the essential oil to the whole batch of scrub upon making it. While this will give you the aroma of the essential oil you use, it will not have ANY healing or cleaning effect on your skin once you actually apply it to your face. 

2. Foaming Honey Face Wash:

For those who are hesitant about switching from a mainstream wash to a kitchen-ingredients-only wash, this one is for you. While it is extremely simple, and gentle on the skin, it will foam and act like a “normal” face wash. This wash will make you feel like your face has been thoroughly washed, but with mild, moisturizing ingredients. 

Items needed: 

• Clean bottle with pump, you can also make your own with a mason jar 

• 3 tablespoons of raw, local honey

• 1⁄2 cup vegetable glycerin

• 2 tablespoons liquid castile soap (Dr. Bronner’s is my favorite)


• Mix ingredients together in desired container

To Apply: 

• Apply to face in a circular motion and massage into face for at least 30 seconds before rinsing with warm water

• Pat face dry with clean towel

3. Sensitive Skin Honey Wash:

For people with extremely sensitive skin, the less ingredients the better. This honey wash can be used two times a day and is extremely moisturizing. It is best for those with dry skin (who should avoid both exfoliators and castile soap), and those experiencing a breakout. 

If you’re going to use honey to wash your face, be sure to purchase a high quality, raw honey. Although washing your face with honey may sound like a sticky situation, if done right, it is easy to put on, easy to take off, and leaves your skin super soft and even-textured. 

Items needed: 

• A jar of raw, local honey. I suggest buying a jar just for your bathroom so you don’t have to shuffle the same jar back and forth to the kitchen. 

• Optional: To tone your skin afterwards, you’ll need apple cider vinegar and a sealable container of your choice


• The honey will not need any mixing, you can use it directly from the jar

• To make the toner, combine 1⁄2 a cup of water with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a container of your choice

To Apply: 

• Wet your face with warm water – in order to successfully apply honey afterwards, this part is crucial

• Apply a quarter-size of honey to your face. You can either scoop it out the jar with clean fingers or a spoon. 

• Massage honey into your skin in circular motions avoiding the eyes for at least a minute

• For best results, you can let a thin layer of honey sit on your skin for 10 minutes – this will heighten the moisturizing effect

• Splash your face with warm water to get the honey off, or rub it off with a wet washrag. Be sure to rinse your forearms too – when I use this wash, honey often drips down to my elbows without me noticing. As long as the honey on your face doesn’t dry during this process, you will not experience stickiness at all.

• Pat your skin dry with a clean towel

• For extra soft, clean skin, apply the apple cider vinegar toner afterwards. Simply pour a little bit on a cotton ball and dab it onto your skin, avoiding any dry patches.

If you aren't yet ready to make your own face wash concoctions, check out S.W. Basics of Brooklyn. Their simple skin care line is made of few ingredients (which they are completely transparent about) and the products will give you the same positive effects as a DIY skincare approach. S.W. Basics products are chemical free and thus safe even on sensitive skin.

Below you'll find direct links to purchase local Texas honey.

Range Honey

Walker Honey Farm

Round Rock Honey

Good Flow Honey

Twyla Shelmire Senior Beauty Editor

Twyla Shelmire

Senior Beauty Editor