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.
Want to watch this project instead of reading it?
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!
Want to watch this project instead of reading it?
Hyaluronic Acid B5 Serum
0.05g | 0.1% xanthan gum
1.5g | 3% Propanediol 1,3 (USA / Canada)
2g | 4% sodium lactate (USA / Canada)
2g | 4% panthenol powder (vitamin B5) (USA / Canada)
0.15g | 0.3% allantoin
0.5g | 1% PEG-8 dimethicone
0.25g | 0.5% Liquid Germall Plus™ (USA / Canada)
28.55g | 57.1% distilled water
15g | 30% low molecular weight 1% hyaluronic acid solution
Weigh the xanthan gum and Propanediol 1,3 into a small beaker and whisk to combine.
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.
Hi Marie, I’ve read that b3 almost good subs is b5. Can I substitute this serum from b5 to b3? However I’ve also read somewhere that b3 can’t be mixed with any type of acid, and hyaluronic acid is a form of acid. Please help me out and I’m pretty sure someone out there is wondering on this too. Thanks! I Loooove your recipes!
Although Niacinamide (B3) doesn’t like to be combine with low pH acids like Glycolic/Lactic, etc….Hyaluronic acid does not have a low pH. So, B3 can be nicely added to the serum (IMO).
Thanks for putting my worries at rest, Char!! ❤️❤️❤️
Read through all the comments but ddnt get a clear answer
can i use glycerine instead of the other humectants? Maybe if i try sepimax zen instead of a gum it would be less tacky?
Would love to hear what u think before i give it a go. Thanks so much!!!
Hi! Please read the Humblebee & Me DIY Encyclopedia (https://www.humblebeeandme.com/diy-encyclopedia/) entry on niacinamide (Vitamin B3). Hyaluronic acid is not “that kind” of acid, and it’s really not so simple as saying “no acid ever”. There’s a desirable pH range and acid may be required to reach it. More details are in that encyclopedia entry 🙂
Hi Marie, in the formula 30% low molecular.
What do you mean by that please. And substitute to that.
Oh darn! Doesn’t look like we can get PEG-8 Dimethicone in Canada
Yeah 🙁 Mine is from a trip to the USA. Fingers crossed someone starts selling it up here soon! At least it isn’t a lynchpin ingredient in this formula 🙂
Hi, this will be my next project 🙂 I was planning to make hyaluronic acid niacinamide serum with only two ingredients but yours is better. I want to add some niacinamide powder to it, do you recommend and how much? Thank you for the excellent work I have had so much inspiration!
Hi Heli. Have you checked this?
Please look up niacinamide (Vitamin B3) in the Humblebee & Me DIY Encyclopedia (https://www.humblebeeandme.com/diy-encyclopedia/) for usage rates 🙂 Happy making!
Hi Marie! What are your thoughts on subbing something like Jeesperse ICE-T CIS-2 Conditioning Cold Process Emulsifier (available from Windy Point) for the Peg-8.
Well, they’re completely different ingredients, and that product is cationic while xanthan gum is anionic, so that might prove problematic. I wouldn’t recommend it. Happy making!
Thank you for the Peg-8 Dimethicone tip! Never thought of adding to an all water formula! Will definitely try it the next time I make an HA serum!
You’re very welcome! Enjoy 😀
Well, it turns out you can’t get PEG-8 dimethicone in Australia at all, at least not as far as I’ve been able to find, so I’ve made this without (just waiting for the allantoin to dissolve), as I already had everything else. But I’m wondering whether adding ordinary dimethicone with a few drops of a solubiliser like Polysorbate-20 would work? Oh, I also used propylene glycol instead of propanediol as that’s what I had (gift from a friend), and I figured it would be less sticky than glycerin, which I also had. Will let you know how it works out!
Update: this turned out a little more watery than I expected, but that could be the percentage of my sodium lactate, which I think is lower than yours. But it is not at all sticky and it’s AMAZING on my skin – feels so soft and dewy!
Interesting! I wouldn’t expect less sodium lactate to decrease viscosity as it’s a very watery thing—the end product honestly isn’t very viscous at all, it’s just ever-so-slightly more viscous than water 🙂 I’m so thrilled you are loving it! I’ve been enjoying mine a ton as well 😀 Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making 🙂
Update #2 – this has become one of my go-to formulas, I just love it, but still have not found PEG-8 dimethicone in Australia (I just leave it out). However, Trulux has a product called “RITASIL SW 3050 (CETYL PEG-PPG-10/1 DIMETHICONE)” which I thought might possibly be an appropriate substitute – what do you think?
(For Australian makers, this company has a LOT of stuff much cheaper than other places, and shipping is free over $50 – sometimes things are only available in bulk, but not all by any means.)
That alternative sounds promising! And I’m so glad you’re enjoying this formulation ❤️ Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making 🙂
hi i have a question, i try to make some stock HA but i seems that i didnt let the HA to hydrate really well, and now i have a at the bottom a big gel clumb, can it be disolved?
Shaking or stirring should fix it, plus more time if needed 🙂
Hey Marie & Co!
I’ve read all the comments so I’m not sure if this issue is new, but the link to the PEG modified dimethicone no longer works (I am in America, fwiw.)
I don’t know if perhaps you have a new link or another recommendation on where to get it?
Updated! But yeah, in general, refer to the link in the menu on places to shop 🙂
Wow! I feel dumb, I checked Making Cosmetics and it didn’t show up, I probably typed something incorrectly. ♂️
I’d bet a dash (plus or minus) probably made the difference lol
Can I use peg-12 dimethicone instead of PEG-8.
I didn’t find this in glossary, therefore asking you here.
I think that should work 🙂 Happy making!
Can i use only B5 with HA to make a serum or other described ingredients are necessary to make a serum?
You’d need a preservative as well at a minimum.
Ugh. We can’t get dimethicone or Propanediol in New Zealand, and the Vitamin B is a liquid, not a powder. The result is like putting glue on my face… it’s not just tacky, it’s like my kids’ gum paste in the craft cupboard; I could use it to scrap book. Such an expensive experiment! Back to the drawing board.
Bummer! 🙁 I’m sorry to hear it, I hate it when that happens. I have definitely made a few very expensive glues over the years as well.
Love it. I used hydroxyethylcellulose instead of Xantham and it turned out beautifully!
I’m thrilled to hear it! Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making 🙂
Hi Marie! I was reading in one of your conditioner recipes that Neossance Squalene would work in the place of a dimethicone. I am wondering, do you think it would work here? I have yet to experiment with these ingredients, and I’m trying not to order everything under the sun! 🙂
Sadly no, Neossance® Hemisqualane is more of a replacement for cyclomethicone than dimethicone, and it isn’t PEG’ed so it won’t blend into this serum 🙁
And is the same true for the LuxGlide products? I have some N350 on it’s way. I tried looking for an explanation of PEG that’s easy enough for me to understand what the process is, and why or why not it would work in this recipe…but I couldn’t find much.
Oh, I see now that the LuxGlide is also not water soluble. So at least on that level, I understand.
PEG versions of ingredients have been modified to be water-soluble, which is key for this formulation as there are no other emulsifiers 🙂
Thoughts on adding liquid extracts?
Try it and see what you think! 🙂
Hello bees! Has anyone made this with glycerine instead of propanediol and no peg-8 dimethicone (just water instead)? Small stickyness is typically not problem for me. My current HA B5 toner/ essence (Marie has seen the formula) is sticky and I love it. I’d like to hear your thoughts before whipping a small batch. TIA 🙂
Allready made all glycerine + HA + allantoin version of this to test it as I’m low in other ingredients. Never would have guessed how nice rich slip xanthan would give! I think I’m giveing this a go with few modifications. I specially like the fact that it doesn’t feel too sticky in face and it contains only bunch of ingredients (compared to some other formulas out there). xx
I didn’t hydration and moisture because I lived in hot and dry environmental condition and climate. How will do . Please..
Thank you .
I started re-organising my skincare routine and realized that I need something exactly like this! So I used polyglyceryl-4 laurate (only emollient I have and also emulsifier) and glycerine instead of propanediol and HEC and end result is lovely (not clear though, it looks milky which is pretty cool)! I think that the emollient makes big difference when it comes to skinfeel and skin benefits. My hand slipped and I added too much HEC (oops) but I like itk. I have lots of aloevera and hydrosols etc in other products so no need to add them all here. 😛 So these days I use either this or my eye gel after AHA’s and before gel creams and lotions. xx
This sounds so lovely! You are really making me want some polyglyceryl-4 laurate, dangit 😛
Ha, it’s interesting ingredient. 😀 I’d like to try something like peg-8 dimethicone and other silicones too. My skin enjoys this a lot and is healing fast. I was propably over doing things a bit ealier.
What should be the pH of the finished product?
It’s fine when made as written, but generally speaking, we are aiming for mildly acidic.
I live at place where I cannot find propanediol1,3. Please suggest what changes I should make as you said glycerine will make it tacky. So how can I change percentage of sodium lactate peg 8 dimeticone and other. Please guide
I’d recommend reading through the other comments here; some people have tried glycerin and liked it 😉 Otherwise, I’d use more sodium lactate.
What if we have an extract we want to use?
The extract is the following:
Standardization: 0.469% Curcumin
Turmeric Liquid Extract – Standardized is a liquid blend of Turmeric Extract and Propanediol.
Would we still need to add additional propanediol?
I wouldn’t alter anything, but try it and see what you think!
I made the formulation as is and it’s very watery. It may be because my Hyaluronic solution doesn’t have any viscosity. New directions LMW one doesn’t offer that. Any suggestion?
Have you watched the video to see the end consistency of the one I made? Is yours dramatically thinner? It’s certainly not supposed to be thick, it’s just a wee bit thicker than water, and the HA solution doesn’t add much in the way of viscosity at this low usage rate 🙂
Instead of a gum can sepimax zen be used?
Maybe? There’s decent electrolyte content in this formulation, and while Sepimax ZEN is more tolerant of electrolytes than Aristoflex AVC, it’s not immune. Try it and see?
I added some sea buckthorn powdered extract into the propanediol mixture and got a beautiful orange serum. It is, like Marie mentioned, quite watery. The Xanthan gum didn’t seem to have any effect. I wonder if another gum would have worked better. I used some sepgel that i have and it increased the viscosity a tiny bit but I really would’ve liked this to be thicker.
Thoughts on taking out some of the water and replacing with hydrosol or aloe Vera juice?
Can I just have a simple formula only with Water, normal HA powder, Sodium Lactate, Propanediol 1,3, DL-Panthenol Powder and Optiphen Plus?
Oh, I do give your lip palm formula a try. I really enjoy it. Thanks a lot.
Hope to see more of your work in the future.
Can we use PEG-10 dimethicone?
Didn’t find any info on it in the glossary therefore asking you here!
Thank you so much for this!
That should work! Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making 🙂
Hi again Marie. Thank you so much. I actually have good news to share: I made this fabulous serum by swapping emollient to glyceryl oleate & coco glucoside. It works great! It reduces tackyness and leaves conditioned feel on skin. I’ve been trying to find water soluble emollient from EU and finally I found one. It can help me to create cold-pressed and non-tacky gel serums without ecogel. Yay! It has slightly soapy scent here so I’d perhaps use more hydrosol next time. Our deionized water has slightly higher pH than distilled water has so I made some changes. The SLMW HA is very thin so I used a bit more xanthan gum. I think I might make it a bit thicker next time. One could likely use just one preservative but I happen to like this blend in projects like this. Benzoate sorbate complex is a bit weak against gram negative bacteria. We both love this new batch! As a thank you, here are the modifications I made.
glyceryl oleate & coco glucoside
24 % clary sage hydrosol
0,14 % xanthan gum
20 % sodium hyaluronate 1 %, 10-50 kda
10 % sodium hyaluronate 1 %, 1500 – 1800 %
3,56 % propanediol
3,44 % sodium lactate
2,68 % panthenol liquid (75 %)
total 1 % sodium benzoate & potassium sorbate & water
0,48 % phenoxyethanol & ethylhexyl glycerine & water
– pH was around 6, added some citric acid solution to get it around 4,5 %
Oh my goodness, thank you so much for sharing! What a fabulous discovery! I remember reading that glyceryl oleate & coco glucoside can be used in lotions, but I’ve never ventured outside of surfactant formulations with it.
Hi Marie! If I sub a liquid d-Panthenol to the powder, would it still have the same percentage/gram or do I need to adjust? Thank you so much!
Please read through the Humblebee & Me DIY Encyclopedia entry on panthenol (Vitamin B5)—it answers this question. Happy making!
I just made this serum with 2 changes-
1. I added niacinamide @4%
2. Since I had D-Panthanol fluid & not powder, I doubled its quantity.
Can you tell me what should be the desired ph of this serum ?
Also, just wanted to say that I appreciate you sharing your knowledge with us. Thank you so much for all that you do.
Hi Rachel! The pH requirement would be to suit the niacinamide (Vitamin B3); you can learn about its desired range in its Humblebee & Me DIY Encyclopedia entry 🙂 Generally it’s around 6. Happy making!