Homemade Tutorials: Make an exfoliating cleaning bar, inspired by Lush Sweet Japanese Girl

There was some Twitter Talk the other week about a cleansing bar called Sweet Japanese Girl by Lush and how great it is for blackheads. I needed to try it!

Perfume Headaches

I’ll be honest and say whilst I love the look and principles of the Lush brand, I can’t walk into the shop without getting a migraine from the pungent fragrances.

Anyway, word of mouth recommendation is strong, so I decided to get one of these bars to try for myself. I soon found out that the bar is being discontinued (so if you can find it at your store, it will be the last of the stock). What do we do if we find something we like is discontinued? Why, we make it ourselves!

I only want the one, thanks

However I felt it was only fair, if I were to make a homage bar, to track down the original for comparison purchases, so after much searching I got hold of one for about £5:

nars sweet japanese girl-1.jpg

Is this cleansing bar racially stereotyping South East Asians? Or does it spit in the face of political correctness? Did complaints from real life sweet Japanese girls cause it to be pulled off the shelves? Answers on a postcard, please.

My Bar, or should I say, our bar:

racially diverse face bar-1.jpg

So, let’s start cookin’!

First: Let’s examine Lush’s Sweet Japanese Girl Ingredients list:

Cocoa Butter (Theobroma cacao), Shea Butter (Butyrospermum parkii), Palm Kernel Oil (Hydrogenated palm), Ground Almonds (Prunus dulcis), Ground Aduki Beans (Phaseolus), Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera), Lemon Oil (Citrus limonum), Juniperberry Oil (Juniperus communis), Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia), Perfume. Weight: 35g

I had most of the main ingredients in the house from my soaping supplies apart from Aduki Beans and Ground Almonds, so I bought these easily at Holland and Barretts (but you can get them from any Supermarket.)

Substitutions and Adaptations

I will change a few things on the way – Palm Kernel Oil and Juniperberry Oil because:

1. People are moving away from using Palm oil, including Lush themselves because of the effect it has on the rainforests. You can read about this here, but I will be using Jojoba Oil instead.

2. I don’t have Juniperberry Oil in, and also the oil is an abortifacient (as in, it isn’t safe for pregnant women to use – not that I’m pregnant. Mother, put that phone DOWN).

It can also affect people who have kidney problems due to its nephrotoxic effects…I’ll just leave it out and replace it with good old Lavender Essential Oil, which has antibacterial properties.

3. I won’t use any perfume, Lavender should scent it just enough.

We are actually going up a notch because when I started making it I realized I didn’t have my normal Cocoa butter in so I am using Cacao butter which is even better quality, and I am using Virgin Coconut Oil which smells like heaven, if heaven was Barbados.


1. A pan and a pan or bowl to do on top (a bain marie)

2. A mould (can be ANYTHING, like a yoghurt pot, an empty tub, anything)

soap mould.jpg

3. Grinder (coffee type)

4. Scales

5. Bowls and things

Ingredients (to make 4 x 35g bars = total weight 140g)

70g Cocoa Butter

cocoa butter-1.jpg

40g Shea Butter

shea butter.jpg

20g Coconut Oil

coconut oil.jpg

15g Jojoba Oil

jojoba oil.jpg

1bsp Ground Almonds

ground almonds.jpg

1bsp Aduki Beans Ground (OR you can use salt/sugar)

aduki beans.jpg

2 drops of Lemon Oil

2 drops of Tea Tree Oil

2 drops of Lavender Essential Oil

essential oil lavender tea tree.jpg

To begin:

We need to grind out Aduki Beans. These are the dark particles we can see in Sweet Japanese Girl:

sweet japanese girl.jpg

I’m not going to lie to you. Aduki Beans are very hard so are very difficult to grind down. To do it properly you need a coffee grinder, which can cost as little as £10 to buy. A normal blender and a pestle and mortar will work but will take a lot longer.

If you don’t want to do this you can use salt instead or some sugar as your scrub element BUT you need to add this towards the end of the procedure so it doesn’t dissolve.

Step 1:

Get your Aduki beans and grind them down in a grinder. If you use a blender it will take a lot longer to get into a powder texture:

aduki beans-1.jpg




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It will start to break up…

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It has a long way to go. (I kept grinding and then used a pestle and mortar too as I couldn’t find my stupid coffee grinder but I promise you, its effortless with a grinder).

When this is done you only need 1 tablespoon of the Aduki and Ground Almonds. You also crush your own Almonds but I am lazy hence the ready ground ones:

ground almond.jpg

2. Get out the bain marie

bain marie.jpg

Put in the butters and oils. The first thing to go in should be the Cocoa / Cacao butter, although I was a bit random in the video….

melting cocoa.jpg

It takes quite a while to melt Cacao but stay with it. It will also completely smell chocolately good!

melted butter.jpg

When everything is melted, take it off the heat. Add the almonds and aduki, add the drops of essential oils (this is all in the video!). In the end it smells (to me) like After Eight mints.

3. Pour into a Jug

melted butter-1.jpg

Let it cool down a bit, especially if you are using your own mould. I am using a soap mould which is made of very robust plastic so I could pour it in right away but I’ll leave it for a little bit first.

Then we pour in, making sure we get the liquid in, then a spoonful of the scrub (since it settles on the bottom:

pouring organic soap.jpg

All poured:

egg tart soap.jpg

You can clean up any messy edges but its perfectly easy to cut off when it has settled.

4. Let it cool

This may take a little longer than expected – if it seems to be taking longer than 30 mins, put it in the fridge – it WILL solidify.


organic cleanser.jpg

This was easy to press out of the mould but if you are worried about it, just spray a bit of oil in the mould before hand.


cleansing bar.jpg
DSC05840 on Flickr - Photo Sharing!.jpg

The result is quite a melty bar but its a harder texture than Sweet Japanese Girl, which I find a little bit too squidgy (I am guessing I used more Cocoa butter in mine – which is a hard butter, and they used more Coconut Oil or Shea Butter – both soft).

With both of these bars, because they have a lot of sticky butters, you will need to wash your face again after using them, or use a hot flannel to get rid of the residue.


The bar is obviously preservative free and quite natural, so it will spoil quicker than your average cleanser. In other words, if you make it – USE IT! I reckon it will be good for 6 months, which due to the very melty nature of the bar, is more than enough time to finish it.

Either way, I wouldn’t make a large 1kg batch unless I was giving them away to friends and family too to decrease the chance of it going off.


A reader requested a list of places to buy supplies. I seriously use eBay A LOT for supplies especially if I just need 100g of this and that.

Nevertheless, there are some other places I bought from for supplies in the UK:










Naming my bar

Its the Cosmetic Candy CaCao Meow Meow Cleansing Bar! aka. CCCMMCB, natch.

Note: Video is coming up, with lots of comedy paws…

Let me know what you think and if you have any requests for future homemade tutorials!

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  1. says

    Must try this one too! I just need to get around to buying ingredients for making all these things.

    I absolutely love the Sweet Japanese Girl… am gutted they are discontinuing it. I must admit I often wondered how PC it was!

    Ahh am so loving ths homemade series you’ve been doing :)

    • Row says

      Hi Rebecca

      Glad you are enjoying it, thanks for mentioning on your blog too 😀 it does feel like a lot to buy if you don’t have much in, once you have invested in some basic butters though the rest is easy and you can use it with for lip balms, body butters, cleansers, soaps etc….

  2. says

    i love these how-to’s! i can just imagine my friend’s faces when they receive my little homemade gifts for christmas this year. and what i’m imagining is a jaw dropping stare that makes them want to snatch their gifts right back (especially since mine will look nothing even close to yours). but i’ll tell them how much i’ve been enjoying mine :) xx

    • Row says

      Hi Suka

      It would be really nice to make some handmade goods for someone for xmas, don’t you think? I might make some scrubs & creams 😀 things that generally keep quite well. xxx

  3. Grace London says

    I want one, but I don’t want to make it. (add me to your christmas list, pretty please?! I buy good chocolate.)

    I can’t go in Lush either – too stinky. I remember having a ground aduki scrub from TBS aeons ago – loved it.

    • Row says

      Hi Grace,

      I remember the TBS scrub! Bobbi Brown have one now, but quite expensive. Remember Japanese washing grains?! Lovely!

  4. Gwen says

    Perhaps this defeats the purpose of a tutorial but…I REALLY WANT TO BUY THIS FROM YOU!!! I guess because of where I live, some of these ingredients are a bit difficult to find.

    • Row says

      Hi Gwen

      You can have one if you like!!! I can’t guarantee how the result will be on your skin though, but you can see everything thats gone into it, there’s no other ingredients/additives.

  5. says

    You are so awesome to do this! I recently saw a demo of this on a Korean channel and was fascinated with the soap made of ground red beans. I’m glad I have this tut to refer to. Now I’ll need to find out where to get the other raw ingredients (red beans are easily available here!).

    • Row says

      Hi Makeupmag

      Yes, it can be a bit difficult at first but most of the ingreidents can be bought from the shops! You have to really really grind down the beans though a coffee machine is the best for it.

  6. Kirsten says

    Very cool! I really love the smell of SWJ though and strongly dislike the smell of lavender. Any other suggestions to replace the juniper oil?

    • Row says

      Hi Kirsten

      The world is your oyster! I have to be truthful and say I am not the biggest fan of Lavender, but you can use: patchouli, cypress, fennel, frankincense, geranium, grapefruit, orange, lavender, lemongrass, rosemary as a replacement for Juniper. 😀

  7. Tracy says

    I tried this recipe today, albeit my measurements weren’t exact. It was a little too “squidgy” for me. I think the next time I try this, I will increase my cocoa butter and decrease my coconut oil… we shall see. I’m overall very happy with my experiment… :-)

    • Row says

      Hi Tracey!

      If its too soft to you add more cocoa butter (hard butters) and it should be ok! I found sweet japanese girl quite sticky too….

  8. bittenpink says

    does anyone know if for the mold you can use once of those rubber plastic that are flexible ..i have one of mickey mouse to make ice ..could i use that? ..thank you