Aloe Vera Face Cream DIY

Hello there! 🙂

I am back with a new recipe for a summer cream light in texture, very hydrating and nourishing. 🙂

Aloe Vera Cream Cover

I have been using it for a couple of weeks and I really like it.
Obviously my “grease fall” composition is intended for what my skin likes (nowadays my acne days are only a distant memory but I am always scared it might come back: so I still formulate in order to give my skin fatty acids that won’t give any advantage to acne 🙂 – you can read more HERE). You can, as always, change the grease fall for your own purpose and needs 🙂

The texture is light and quite fluid, it absorbs very easily and it has a quite “matte” finish thanks to the butters.
The active ingredients make for a soothing, hydrating and quite nourishing cream 🙂


Sulfur Mask – for acne and oily skin

Hello there! 😀

The recipe of today is for all of you people struggling with an acneic skin or very oily skin, it is, in fact, a recipe for a mask that will really help you control the oiliness and will help dry up the pimples much faster! 🙂

Sulfur Mask DIY

I loved the idea of combining zinc oxide (which has great soothing properties – but leaves the face quite “white” and therefore it is great in a mask that can be washed off) and sulfur (you already know that it is good against acne and oily skin! 😀 ). It could be a good idea to add some salicylic acid (0.5% should be enough) but since I was going to use this mask in spring/summer I preferred not to add any (acids are never a good combination with possible sun exposure).

Hyaluronic Acid Serum for Problem Skin

Hello there! 😀

Hyaluronic Acid Serum for Problem Skin

Today I am back with a recipe for an extremely simple yet effective serum… however there are a couple of things I need to say first!
1) This serum is formulated to help a problematic skin. With this I intend a skin which suffers of mild blemishes every now and then, maybe a little irritated and with a few red marks left by previous spots, add an oily T-zone… and that should be it 😀 . The ingredients of this serum will HELP the skin keep hydrated, will help keeping the oiliness under control and will help to soothe the skin (it might also have some effect against the red marks). Obviously, this serum is NOT A CURE for acne or for serious condition skins: it is just a help. I want to underline this because too often, online, we read about “the final cure for blablablaaa” but those are almost cheats 😀

Well… now that you have this “critic eye” opened… let me introduce you to my new and amazing (now I can say it ahahah 😀 ) serum recipe! 😀


DIY Vitamin C Serum

Vitamin C is a very powerful substance and it is found in many commercial products for the skin because it is a strong antioxidant, it has lightening properties and, last but not least, it boosts the production of collagen (therefore you are left with a firmer skin).

Vitamin C is “ascorbic acid” (you could also find “L-ascorbic acid”) but in the creams you buy, if you read the ingredients, you will never find “ascorbic acid”, probably you will find “sodium ascorbyl phosphate” or “magnesium ascorbyl phosphate” (there are also other forms of Vitamin C, this is a mere example). What is this?
Well, Vitamin C has great properties but it doesn’t keep stable: it oxidizes even in contact with air, with light… (this is why if you make fresh orange juice you should drink it immediately after), so in order to be able to add this vitamin in our face creams, cosmetologists use a stabilized form of Vit C: if in the ingredients of your cream you read an ingredient which contains the word “ascorbyl”, to make it very simple, that is the stabilized form of Vitamin C.

These stabilized forms are many and they are growing in number all the time. They are not something negative (and even I use them in the making of Vitamin C creams… maybe I will post a recipe soon about it 🙂 ), however their properties are not 100% the same of the pure Vitamin C.

Today I am going to show you the easiest and most effective way to make at home a special Vitamin C Serum which is much more powerful than every cream you ever bought 😀

The only way to use pure Vitamin C (therefore “L-ascorbic acid”) effectively is to use it right away and make a new serum all the time.
This is why the recipe of today, unlikely all the cream recipes I have shown before, is not in 100 gr but it is in very small amounts: because you will have to make it anew every time you want it 🙂
But don’t be scared: it is made of three ingredients only and it is divided in two parts 😉

(first part)
1 teaspoon demineralized water 
1/8 teaspoon L-ascorbic acid (you can easily buy it in pharmacy; ask for the powder of vitamin C or ask for Ascorbic acid, simply 😉 )
(if you wish to, you can add also a drop of glycerin)
You mix these two ingredients in a bowl and measure the pH (you can find pH strips even in pharmacy: buy those from 0 – 14 so you can use them also for the other homemade cosmetics in the future. They should look like THIS in order to show you exactly the correct pH of the solution).
WARNING! Measuring the pH is important!
Ascorbic acid is obviously an acid (and it is also very strong) so you don’t want to apply on your skin something of pH 2… however Vitamin C is well absorbed (and used) in your skin only at a pH range of 3.5 or lower. Therefore check the pH of the solution and if you see it is lower than pH 3.5 adjust the pH by adding a little bit more water. Now check the pH again and keep adjusting until the result is pH 3.5.
This is really important and I am not responsible if you ruin your skin. 

At this point you can apply this water on your skin using a brush or even your own fingers, keep applying even in multiple layers until the water is finished.
WARNING! Do NOT apply on the eye area or too close to your lips or nostrils.
It is normal if it stings a little, but it should not be painful and it should not last more than 2 or 3 minutes.
WARNING! If you feel pain wash off immediately! If after 3 minutes the stinging hasn’t stopped yet, wash off immediately! Some people have a very delicate skin and this acid might be too strong for them. If this is your case, rinse off immediately and avoid using acids on your skin. They could damage it!

If instead your skin didn’t react badly to the Vitamin C boost :D, wait for the skin to be dry (wait approximately 10 minutes) and now it’s the part two 😉
(second part of the “recipe”)
2 drops of Vitamin E (Tocopheryl acetate or Tocopherol – you should be able to find it in pharmacy very easily. It is a very dense liquid. The Tocopheryl acetate should be transparent or slightly yellowish. Tocopherol, instead, is dark brown).
Put these two drops on the tips of your fingers and tap it all over your face.
This time it shouldn’t sting anymore.
Let it sit on your skin for 20 minutes and wash off (you will have to wash your face vigorously, because Vitamin E is quite sticky 😀 ).

This is the easiest, most effective Vitamin C serum.
After applying the ascorbic acid, you apply Vitamin E because these two Vitamins work in synergy, boosting the antioxidant properties of them both! 🙂

I wouldn’t suggest to apply this Vitamin C serum everyday because it is quite aggressive. Once a week should be enough.
It is better to make this treatment in the evening before sleeping (so the skin has time to “recover” all the night) and I would suggest to avoid making this treatment in summer or late spring (it is always negative to use acids on the skin in summertime! They weaken the barrier of the skin and they can make more disasters than positive things if your skin receives direct sun rays in the period of an acid treatment).

Now, after having done a little bit of “terrorism” about this Vitamin C Serum… I can say that I have not misused it and I am very happy about the results!
I used to have some red signs on my skin, left from an old acne, and they are finally gone! 🙂
Also, my skin looks more fresh and firm! 🙂

So don’t misuse this DIY and have a great day! 😉

Vitamin C serum

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Formulating lotion: Phase C & ACTIVE INGREDIENTS- THEORY pt.6

Finally the final step of making creams!

Phase A contains the water soluble ingredients which won’t get spoiled by heat, Phase B contains the fats, the emulsifiers and the oily soluble ingredients which won’t get spoiled by heat… now it is time to talk about the most interesting PHASE C!

Phase C contains:
preservative (in a percentage between 0.5 and 1%, according to which one you are using),
essential oils or perfume (usually for a face cream 2 drops are enough on 100 gr of product),
active ingredients (those ingredients full of good properties which would get spoiled if heated up to 70°C) usually, added all together, their percentage won’t go over 10%.

Active Ingredients deserve a longer talk, obviously, mainly because there are tons of active ingredients and each has their own percentage of use.

But what are Active Ingredients?
They are those ingredients which give a specific value to the cream.
Usually their percentage is not too high in the cream: there are specific concentrations needed for every active ingredients and whenever you purchase one, you should get the information of the percentage to use in a cream from the seller; for example Coenzyme Q10, also known as ubiquinone, should be added to a cream around 0.1% which is a very very low percentage if you think of it this way… but it is enough for its efficiency (just for the record: Q10 is of a very strong orange/yellow color and even the 0.1% will add a yellowish color to your cream; if any commercial cream which is said to contain Q10 is shining white, well… maybe it will contain the 0.01% of it 🙂 ).

There are tons and tons of active ingredients. Obviously I will make singular posts about the most easy to find and interesting ones.
New active ingredients get out on the market everyday trying to create new needs to us. Sometimes you can find that the “liquid Q10” is nothing else than “water, some oil, some emulsifier, Q10” which means that the Q10 is not pure (and probably at less of 0.5% of what you are buying)! So be aware of what you buy, read the ingredients of everything, be sure of the composition of everything you buy.

Now back to our Active Ingredients!
There are different qualities an Active Ingredient may have, these are some:

Acids and exfoliants – these are those ingredients which will help the cream to have a lower pH (for example citric acid, lactic acid are used mostly for this purpose), and those which chemically exfoliate the skin, helping the turnover of skin cells. If a cream contains chemical exfoliants it should be used only as a night cream, far from the eye area and never in summer period (better if you use it only from the middle of autumn and winter… until the slight beginning of spring). If you use such creams in summer, your skin might get ruined and have stains. It is true that there are different kind of acids and some are milder than others in matter of exfoliants… but with your own skin you’d better always play safe 🙂
Here is a little list of Acid and exfoliant ingredients: alpha-lipoic acid (mostly actually famous as an antioxidant), azelaic acid (good for acne prone skin), citric acid, ferulic acid, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), glycolic acid (a very famous exfoliant, and I add that it may also be very dangerous), lactic acid (it can also be used as a main active ingredient in a cream, but often it is used only in a matter of one or two drops to make the pH go lower), malic acid, mandelic acid (a light exfoliant), retinoic acid, salicylic acid (very famous for acne, can be very dangerous if used improperly).

Antioxidants – these are the active ingredients which work as antioxidants: keep in mind that many antioxidant ingredients work better in a synergy with each other (this means that if you want to make an antioxidant cream, you should add different kinds of antioxidants to the cream formulation)! To make it sound very easy: if two antioxidants separately have “power 1”, if you add both to the cream, the cream will have “antioxidant power 3” 🙂 something like this.
Some antioxidants can be: Coenzyme Q10, alpha-lipoic acid, gamma oryzanol, vitamin C and stabilazed formulation of vitamin C (magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, sodium ascorbyl phosphate… there are also new formulas!), tocopherol or tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E), gluconolactone, carotene, resveratrol, lycopene, bioflavonoids. 

Active ingredients good for oily skinazelaic acid (it also helps against acne), niacinamide (it is used at percentage which changes from 1 to 4% and it is very effective to some skins while, for others, it might result too aggressive, therefore start using it at a low percentage and see how your skin reacts: keep in mind that with niacinamide in a cream the pH has to be 5-5.5 and it never has to go over 7. Also, a cream with niacinamide should be kept far from eyes and lips), glycyl glycine (difficult to find and quite expensive but it help contrast the action of oleic acid into our sebum. Oleic acid seems to be responsible also for dilating the pores. So… this is a good ingredient 🙂 ), aluminum starch octenyl succinate (this is a very fine powder which helps the skin to not shine).

Hydrating – Humectant – when emulsifying water and oils you already create something “hydrating” but here are some active ingredients which give an “extra boost”: allantoin (soluble in water at 0.4%. Can create some problems in creams), Collagens amino acids: lysine, proline, glycine, glycerine (very highly hydroscopic, but it is mostly added in Phase A to help the xanthan gum in opening up), hydrolized silk/milk/oat proteins, sodium lactate, trimethylglycine.
[obviously there are much much more hydrating ingredients out there. Just always be aware of what you are buying and do research on the internet!]

Soothing Ingredients – my two favorite and, for me, most easy to find are: allantoin (also hydrating active) and bisabolol (a derivative of chamomile, has to be added at 0.5%, it is also good for acne skin because it has a anti-inflamatory and anti-bacterial action). Another very effective one is Glycyrrhetinic acid but it may be slightly difficult to use; panthenol (Vitamin B5) can be used up to 2%.

Whiteners – these ingredients can help in case of pigmentation of the skin. Kojic acid (it is an acid, so pay attention), Vitamin C, niacinamide, arbutin (used at 2%).

Vasoprotector – for example these are good in case of blue ender eye circles: escin, rutin.

Anti-aging ingredients – as you can imagine these, together with antioxidants, are those where the market is giving its “best” inventing new needs everyday and trying to cheat (also) 🙂 these are some good active ingredients: ceramides (there are many kinds of ceramides, it is not just one, so bear this in mind), phytosterols, ginseng extract (I will talk about different kinds of extracts in future), betaglucan, centella asiatica, plant stem cells, soy isoflavones, Phytosphingosine, viper serum (difficult to find), zanthalene (another active which works similarly to the viper serum), hyaluronic acid (actually it might be more hydrating than anti-aging… but let’s leave it here).

Anti-cellulite and anti-under-eye-bags – since, as it seems, cellulite is mostly connected with water retention and bad blood circulation, the active ingredients which are good for fighting cellulite happen to be the same which are good also for under-eye bags. Obviously, the percentage in the cream will be different (unless you want to burn your under-eye area 🙂 ). Here we go: caffeine (one of my favorite active ingredients! Used up to 2% for eye creams and 3.5% for anti-cellulite creams), escin (percentage is 0.5%-1% for eye creams, up to 1.5% otherwise), fucus dry extract, theobromine (this is mostly against cellulite, I never heard of using it against under-eye-bags).

Well, more or less, I told you about the active ingredients. From the next posts I will be showing you some real examples of how to use all this theory 😉
Have a great day! 😀


Formulating a lotion: Fatty Acids and ACNE

In the last post we learnt about the GREASE-FALL, which is “how to distribute the fats in order to obtain a specific kind of cream”.

In this post we are going to go a step forward: we will learn about the fatty acids inside the natural fats (oils or butters). This will help you formulate keeping an eye specially to acne problems.

Choosing Butters and Oils

There are many fatty acids in oils and butters.
The most common ones can be divided in this way:

1) Saturated fatty acids:
– palmitic acid
– stearic acid
– lauric acid

2) Monounsaturated fatty acids
    – palmitoleic acid
    – oleic acid

3) Polyunsaturated fatty acids
    – linoleic acid (more famous as Omega-6)
    – alpha-linolenic acid (more famous as Omega-3)

 Saturated fatty acids are found mostly in butters (the high presence of saturated fatty acids, which are fatty acids that like to sit very close next to each other, makes the butters be solid at room temperature! 😉 ) and they determine the density of an oil.
Saturated fatty acids tend to create deposits and this might happen also on the skin. However, if they are in low percentage, there is no problem in the formulation. 🙂
Stearic Acid, as a lone substance, is also used as a thickener in creams and sometimes soaps; its presence however helps the formation of the unfamous white-trail, therefore do not use too much butters which contain this fatty acid in high percentage or there is a higher risk that your cream will make the white-trail on the skin! 🙂 But don’t worry too much: the quality of the cream, however, won’t change 😉
Lauric Acid has been claimed to have antimicrobial properties.

Now to the more interesting (for our skin) Unsaturated fatty acids, if you know a little bit of Chemistry you will already know that the shape of UNsaturated fatty acids makes it difficult for them to sit close close to each other, like the saturated fatty acids. This is why the oils, which contain mostly Unsaturated fatty acids, are liquid at room temperature 🙂
Within the category of Unsaturated fatty acids we find Monounsaturated (therefore Oleic Acid and Palmitoleic Acid) and Polyunsaturated fatty acids (linoleic and alpha-linolenic acids).

The biggest difference in the oils we use in cosmetics is usually the ratio of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, so most of the times when an oil is marketed as “something special”, well it often isn’t. For example almond, macadamia, hazelnut oils have a very different cost but their fatty acid composition is quite similar. So before you purchase an oil thinking that it will do something magic, take a moment and look up the fatty acid content of the oil, to be sure that it is not too similar to a much cheaper one!
I know it is tempting to think that the oil of the rarest variety of some extremely exotic plant will finally be your skin-changer… but if you have been sticking around this blog enough, you should know by now that I rarely believe in skin-changing ingredients (there are some effective ones, but the slightly different composition of an oil won’t do the trick) 😉 so do always look up the fatty acid content (and then buy the oil anyway, if you really want to, but at least knowing what you are buying!).

Now, to the correlation between fats and acne:
some studies have checked the sebum production of people with and without acne and apparently people who suffer of acne tend to have a higher percentage of monounsaturated fatty acids compared to the polyunsaturated ones.
Applying more monounsaturated fatty acids (specifically the oleic acid) to the skin might create some problem is this case: it tends to increase the percentage of Ca2+ on skin, which leads to higher keratinization. This can cause even more acne problems.

It is worth considering this disparity in the sebum production when we formulate a cream for somebody who suffers of acne.

The idea is to learn about the fatty acid concentration of our oils and butters to be able to add in our “grease fall” ingredients with a higher concentration  of polyunsaturated compared to monounsaturated ones.

A practical example: I use very low percentage of butters (0.5-1%, but even this small amount is needed for the consistency of the cream) and then, when I have to pick the oils, I pick them with different densities but I make sure that they are low in Oleic and Palmitoleic Acids, while they are rich in Linoleic and Alpha-Linolenic Acids. This is what I have done and so far and I have had good results 🙂

Online you can very easily find data about even the most exotic oils: both on their density, spreading ability and content of fatty acids.
Here I will just sum up very briefly which oils have relative higher content of linoleic and alpha-linoleic acids:
Black currant oil
Borage oil
Cucumber oil
Grape seed oil
Hemp oil
Primrose oil
Raspberry oil
Passion fruit oil
Safflower oil
Sunflower oil – this is the cheapest option
Soy oil

There are also a few butters that, compared to other butters, seem to have a slightly lower content of oleic acid, for example Murumuru butter, Coconut oil and Tucuma butter.
However butters don’t have high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids (or they wouldn’t be butters anymore, as I explained before).

Hope this was helpful! 🙂
I am sure there would be more and more things to tell about fatty acids but maybe in a future post.

Have a great day! 😉