If you’ve been reading Humblebee & Me for more than a few weeks, I’m sure you’ve heard me say that Calgary (where I live) is dry. It’s the kind of dry where bread usually goes stale rather than sprouting mould. If I visit somewhere humid and buy crackers they are probably going to go all floppy and soggy on me because I am not in the habit of carefully re-sealing bags of things that are supposed to be crispy because, well… they’d stay crispy sitting in an open bowl in my kitchen at home! While this dry-ness is very handy for things like airdrying laundry, it’s less awesome for my skin, as you can probably guess by the constant parade of moisturizing skincare formulations I share! Today’s project is another float in my dry-skin-battling parade—a richly hydrating Hyaluronic Acid B5 Serum.
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This formulation was inspired by a La Roche Posay product I received a sample of earlier this year called Hyalu B5 Serum. This formulation is not intended to be a dupe (for starters, their version has 2x the ingredients!), but I loved the idea of creating a deeply hydrating serum starring two of my favourite ingredients—hyaluronic acid and panthenol (aka vitamin B5)! The two big themes of this serum are hydration and soothing.
When it comes to hydration, our star ingredient is low molecular weight hyaluronic acid—a silky humectant that helps plump and moisturize the skin. If you want to learn more about the different weights of hyaluronic acid, and why I like low molecular weight (LMW), please read this post from Simple Skincare Science. In addition to my beloved hyaluronic acid, I’ve also included some Propanediol 1,3 and sodium lactate—two effective, inexpensive, and non-tacky humectants. Sodium lactate is especially effective, having twice the water-holding capabilities of glycerin!
For soothing, we’ve got a good dose of panthenol (vitamin B5) and some allantoin. Both are soothing and moisturizing, helping fight inflammation and irritation—fabulous skincare ingredients, really! Allantoin is not terribly water-soluble—just over 0.5%—so I’ve kept the amount low to ensure it fully dissolves. Even so, it takes several hours, so be prepared to wait a bit.
A small amount of xanthan gum adds a bit of viscosity, helping give this formulation more of a serum-y consistency. I find it quite amusing that 0.1% gum can take a product from “toner” to “serum” in terms of feel! I’ve also included a wee bit of PEG-8 dimethicone to help reduce tackiness. I’ve chosen a PEG version (rather than something like dimethicone 350) because it will self-disperse in the water, negating the need for a supplementary emulsifier. Do not use a non-PEG dimethicone instead, it will separate out!
The finished serum has a rich, slippy skin feel and is wonderfully moisturizing. I like to use it towards the end of my skincare routine, before any lotions or oil serums. Enjoy!
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Hyaluronic Acid B5 Serum
28.55g | 57.1% distilled water
15g | 30% 1% low molecular weight 1% hyaluronic acid solution
Add the sodium lactate, panthenol, allantoin, PEG-8 dimethicone, and liquid germall plus. Whisk to combine.
Finally, add the distilled water and hyaluronic acid solution. Whisk to combine, then cover the beaker and leave it to give everything time to dissolve. The allantoin ends up being the most stubborn ingredient; I recommend leaving it overnight.
Once everything has dissolved and you have a clear, uniform solution, you’re ready to package up the serum! I use a 100mL (3.3fl oz) glass bottle with a treatment-pump type cap from YellowBee to hold two 50g (1.76oz) batches of this serum. A different bottle with a treatment pump top or an eyedropper top would also work well.
To use, smooth a few drops over the skin after cleansing, but before heavier things like lotions or oil serums. You will want to top this serum off with a lotion or oil serum for the best experience. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this serum 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 in this list please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking (allantoin).
- You could try a different gum, like hydroxyethylcellulose or guar gum, instead of xanthan gum.
- You could try glycerin instead of propanediol 1,3 and/or sodium lactate, but this may make for a product you find unpleasantly tacky.
- I don’t recommend swapping out the panthenol or hyaluronic acid as they are both key ingredients in this formulation.
- You can replace the PEG-8 dimethicone with more water, but this will make for a tackier end product. Do not use a non-PEG dimethicone or silicone instead; it will separate out.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this FAQ and this chart.
The hyaluronic acid was gifted by Pure Nature NZ. The pump-top glass bottle was gifted by YellowBee.