A few weeks ago a woman in Formulators Kitchen was inquiring about making a facial bar from Fuller’s earth. My advice at first, was that she probably needed some kind of binder in the form of a fatty acid. That was until another person pointed out that Fresh cosmetics had one made out of a 100% Fullers earth. I was a little surprised at first but when I looked into what Fuller’s earth was composed of, I had a theory. So, Fullers earth contains high levels of magnesium aluminium silicate (MAS), a strong gelling agent. When made wet the MAS would be activated and glue the clay together in a hard mass. After the water had evaporated, it would be a 100% dry bar . Having been curious about this I decided to have a go at making something similar. But, firstly, let’s look at what Fuller’s earth is.
Fuller’s earth is classed as a clay as it mainly contains hydrous aluminium silicates (clay minerals) of varying composition. However in some localities ”fuller’s earth refers to calcium bentonite, which is altered volcanic ash composed mostly of montmorillonite”.(WIKI) Its latin name is Solum fullonum.
According to Wiki it is also known as;
Bleaching Clay – probably because it bleached cloth
Whitening Clay – because of its use in treating skin hyperpigmentation
Multani mitti – or ‘Mud of Multan’ as it was used in the beautification of the skin in ancient India
The name ‘Fuller’s Earth’ comes from its historical use. A few sources have said it was used in the process of cleaning lambswool as it is very effective at absorbing oil and dirt. This process is still known as ‘fulling’ and is performed by ‘fullers’! It is an age-old treatment for acne due to its ability to absorb oil and contaminants. Some varieties of Fuller’s earth are also highly anti-microbial, which would also add to its amazing superpowers.
So, what did I make? I started with a very simple clay bar quite like the Fresh one. I don’t have a lab size soap press and I guess I would have been able to use a lot less water if I had something that could compress the clay. I may not have needed water at all if I had a press that could exert enough pressure. So here they are;
Multani mitti Treatment Bar
I have used Witch Hazel in this but you can use water or a hydrolate if you wish.
Ingredients: Solum fullonum, Aqua (and) Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Leaf Water (and) Alcohol
REVIEW: This one is simple but effective. When water is introduced to the top of the bar becomes slimy and it cleanses well. I would say that it is ideal if you are a purist.
Fuller’s Foaming Beauty Soap
This one has a touch of Plantapon LCG to give deeper cleansing. Its got a pH of the Plantapon of 6.5 so that should be fine. I am not sure the pH of the clay so it might be worthwhile checking the pH formulation while it is still wet. You can always use coco-glucoside or a different liquid blend – anything to hand really. If you need to, adjust the pH with a 50% citric acid solution.
The Ingredients to this are;
Solum fullonum, lauryl glucoside and Sodium lauryl glucose carboxylate, Jasminum sp. (jasmine) hydrosol water
REVIEW: This is similar to the first bar but has a little foaming action going on.
Lavender Milk Bar
Solum fullonum, Lavendula angustifolia (Lavender hydrosol water, Polyglyceryl-4 Oleate, Copaifera Officinalis (Copaiba Balsam) oil, Carapa Guaianensis Seed Oil, Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender) flower oil.
REVIEW: This is for people that like emulsifyiing oil cleansers. Its also nice for normal skin types as it is not too drying.
METHOD FOR ALL BARS:
Mix all the ingredients in order, press into a mould and leave to dry. I put mine in the lab oven for 8 hours at 60c which seemed to dry it out pretty well so that they were hard dry bars