I’ve had several requests for a gel-cream this year, and I’m excited to share this Cranberry Orange themed one with you today! This cold-processed cranberry orange facial gel cream is focussed on hydration and barrier support, helping our skin be its best self through dry and dark winter days. It is silky and lightweight, leaving skin soft and glowing, and smells softly of tangy fruit and citrus zest. It’s really simple to make, too!
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For hydration, we’ve got luxurious hyaluronic acid and propanediol 1,3. Both are fabulous humectants, helping hold water to the skin and draw it up from the deeper layers of the skin—something I can always use more of, especially in the winter.
Ceramides help support and strengthen the skin. Our body produces its own ceramides, which are the “mortar” in the brick and mortar structure of keratinocytes (skin cells) and ceramides that comprise our stratum corneum (the top layer of our epidermis). The ceramide complex we’re using today helps supplement our skin’s natural ceramides, as well as encouraging our skin to produce more of its own. In turn, this helps our skin be more resilient, reducing irritation and improving moisture retention. Panthenol, aka vitamin B5, is also wonderful for skincare, especially in the winter. It is anti-inflammatory, helps boost healing, and is also a wonderful moisturizer.
For oily things, I’ve used a combination of anti-oxidant rich cranberry seed oil and super-slippy, skin-protecting dimethicone 350. Cranberry seed oil is recommended for irritated skin and has a wonderful satiny finish. It also contributes a bit of colour to the end product as well as its characteristic tangy-fruity scent (though quite softly). Dimethicone 350 is a mid-weight non-volatile silicone that helps reduce the tack of this formulation (I find gels can be quite sticky on the skin) and offers further protection and moisturization to the skin. You can learn more about silicones in skincare with this great article from Lab Muffin.
I have included a smidge of orange essential oil, but it is optional. If you prefer your facial skincare to be mostly unscented you can replace the 0.1% orange essential oil with more cranberry seed oil. Because of the natural scent of the cranberry seed oil, this cream isn’t completely scent-free, but it is a very soft smell.
Our gelling and emulsifying ingredient is Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer (trade name: Aristoflex AVC). It’s a white powder that quickly and easily creates silky smooth, lightweight gels and will pseudo-emulsify oils. It can be hot or cold processed, but we’re cold processing today’s project as nothing needs to be heated or melted. If you don’t have it, please refer to the encyclopedia post for substitution suggestions.
The finished Cranberry Orange Facial Gel Cream is softly scented, the slightest bit yellow, and very light on the skin. I like it towards the end of my skincare routine, perhaps topped off with a similarly themed facial oil serum (hint hint, coming soon!).
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Cranberry Orange Facial Gel Cream
1g | 2% Aristoflex AVC (USA / Canada)
1g | 2% dimethicone 350 (USA / Canada)
3g | 6% cranberry seed oil
0.5g | 1% Propanediol 1,3 (USA / Canada)
2.5g | 5% ceramide complex (USA / Canada)
1g | 2% panthenol powder (vitamin B5)
0.25g | 0.5% Liquid Germall Plus™ (USA / Canada)
0.05g | 0.1% orange essential oil
10g | 20% 1% low molecular weight 1% hyaluronic acid solution
30.7g | 61.4% distilled water
Weigh the first eight ingredients into a small beaker and stir to combine. Add the hyaluronic acid solution and water, and stir again.
At this point, you have two options. 1) Cover the mixture with some cling film and leave it to hydrate for a couple of hours before stirring until smooth by hand. 2) Use some sort of battery-powered mini mixture to rapidly mix everything together until smooth (you may want to give it a couple of minutes to rest before blending to allow the panthenol to totally dissolve).
Once the gel-cream is thick, creamy, and uniform, you’re ready to package it up! I put one batch of the cream in a 50mL (1.69fl oz) jar and one in a 50mL (1.69fl oz) squeeze tube. I think I prefer the tube packaging for usage, but it’s definitely easier to get the product into a jar. This would also work well in a pump-top bottle.
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this cream contains water, you must include a broad-spectrum preservative to ward off microbial growth. This is non-optional. Even with a preservative this project may eventually spoil as our kitchens are not sterile laboratories, so in the event you notice any change in colour, scent, or texture, chuck it out and make a fresh batch.
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 50g.
- To learn more about the ingredients used in this recipe, 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 (panthenol, cranberry seed oil) in this list please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- I do not recommend substituting the Aristoflex AVC. If you do, keep in mind that you will likely need to re-develop the formulation.
- Aristoflex AVC is very sensitive to electrolytes; do not add anything to this formula that contains electrolytes.
- You can replace the dimethicone 350 with a natural silicone alternative like LuxGlide 350, or a very slippy oil. A non-silicone alternative will likely make the end product more sticky.
- Please do not substitute the ceramide complex; it is key to the product’s performance.
- Vegetable glycerin would work in place of propanediol.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this page.
The cranberry seed oil was gifted by Essential Wholesale. The Aristoflex AVC was gifted by Windy Point Soap Making Supplies. The hyaluronic acid was gifted by Pure Nature NZ. Both the soft tube and the jar were gifted by YellowBee.