Today’s formulation is a bit of a formulation love song—an ode, if you will. A loving ballad to beautiful, fruit berry oils. A syllable-free sonnet to anti-inflammatory, barrier-boosting, antioxidant-rich oils that smell wonderfully of fresh air and make me think of cool summer mornings… and also sorbet. Let’s dive into the first verse 🎶
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Our star ingredients are three beautiful berry oils; blackberry seed oil, raspberry seed oil, and cranberry seed oil. I love that all these berries grow in Canada! I’ve never been cranberry picking, but I’ve definitely earned my fair share of scrapes and low-grade stab wounds picking raspberries and blackberries on many the summer day.
Out of these three oils, blackberry seed oil is the newest one to me. It’s a deep green oil that’s easily mistaken for unrefined hemp seed oil at first glance. It’s rich and smooth, with a subtle fruity-ish scent. Its fatty acid makeup helps soothe irritated skin and boost barrier function. Booyah!
Raspberry seed oil is a gorgeous, lightweight oil with a beautiful fresh, fruity scent. Its fatty acid composition is close to that of rosehip oil, but with more vitamin E. It’s great for irritated and acne-prone skin, and it feels utterly lovely on the skin. If you’ve done much reading about raspberry seed oil you’ve likely read that it can be used as a natural sunscreen. I’ve written more about why that’s not the case in this post, but I’d also like to quote the Modern Cosmetics: Ingredients of Natural Origin entry on raspberry seed oil: “These claims [of sun-protective properties] resulted from an uncritical interpretation of scientific research… the use of vegetable oils, particularly those with a high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids, to protect the skin against ultraviolet radiation is highly discouraged.”
Cranberry seed oil is our last berry oil. It is rich in α-linolenic acid and it’s great for dry, sensitive, and mature skin thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. It also has a lovely fresh & fruity smell similar to raspberry seed oil—the two of them team up to make sure this finished serum smells softly fabulous.
I’ve blended these three oils with some more stable, lightweight olive squalane. Olive squalane makes a great standalone serum, but I also love it as a base for luxurious facial serums. If you’d like to learn more about it, make sure you read this massive (and massively entertaining) post from Simple Skincare Science.
These four emollients are capped off with two actives; vitamin E and bisabolol. Vitamin E is a great antioxidant, helping extend the shelf life of the serum by delaying oxidization + offering skin benefits. Bisabolol is also an antioxidant, with added soothing and anti-inflammatory powers. It can be found in chamomile essential oil, which could be a good substitution if you don’t have the pure stuff. It has a very faint floral scent that is overpowered by the cranberry and raspberry oils; if you use chamomile essential oil that will come through in the end product, so make sure your essential oil blends pleasingly with the scent of the carrier oils.
To make: weigh, mix, package, and you’re done! I like using this as the last step in my skincare routine. Enjoy!
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Relevant links & further reading
- Cranberry Seed Oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Blackberry Seed Oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Raspberry Seed Oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Olive Squalane in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Bisabolol in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Tocopherol (Vitamin E) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Why Squalane Oil Is the Best Oil According to 40 Studies from Simple Skincare Science
- Other oil serum formulations:
Berry Glow Facial Serum
Weigh all the ingredients into a small beaker, or directly into the bottle you’ll be storing the serum in.
If it’s a beaker, stir to combine. If you went straight for the bottle, cap and shake.
For packaging, I used a gifted 10mL airless pump bottle from Yellow Bee. I love it—it’s so cute and the reduced exposure to air helps the serum last longer by delaying oxidization. You could also use a dropper-top bottle.
To use, spread a few drops over the skin towards the end of your skincare routine, after cleansing and using any lighter serums.
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this serum is 100% oil-based, it does not require a broad-spectrum preservative (broad spectrum preservatives ward off microbial growth, and microbes require water to live—no water, no microbes!). Kept reasonably cool and dry, it should last at least a year before any of the oils go rancid. If you notice it starts to smell like old nuts or crayons, that’s a sign that the oils have begun to oxidize; chuck it out and make a fresh batch if that happens.
As always, be aware that making substitutions will change the final product. While these swaps won’t break the recipe, you will get a different final product than I did.
- As I’ve provided this recipe in percentages as well as grams you can easily calculate it to any size using a simple spreadsheet as I’ve explained in this post. As written in grams this recipe will make 10g, which is approximately 10mL.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this formulation, including why they’re included and what you can substitute them with, please visit the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia. It doesn’t have everything in it yet, but there’s lots of good information there! If I have not given a specific substitution suggestion in this list please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- You could use Neossance® Hemisqualane or fractionated coconut oil instead of olive squalane. You could also just use an inexpensive lightweight oil like sweet almond, grapeseed, or sunflower seed that you already have.
- I don’t recommend substituting the vitamin E.
- You could use chamomile essential oil instead of bisabolol.
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this.
- You can adjust/shift the berry oil blend to use what you have. You could also use a different berry oil in place of one you don’t have. Or, failing that, you could choose a different luxurious oil your face loves in place of a berry oil that you don’t have… but do remember that this is a 6-ingredient “berry glow” serum and if you’re replacing a bunch of the ingredients that give the serum its name you really aren’t making the same formulation anymore.