This four ingredient Passionfruit Pressed Oil Serum was formulated to let all the ingredients shine brightly. Made from three luxurious Brazilian ingredients and rounded out with a wonderful skin-loving antioxidant, this pressed oil serum can also be used as a decadent body butter and hair butter. And best of all? It smells wonderfully—and all naturally—of tangy, juicy passionfruit!
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I learned about pressed serums from Formula Botanica. An easy way to think about them is that a pressed serum is to a body butter (or balm) as a facial oil serum is to a body oil. Like a body butter, a pressed facial oil serum is a solid, anhydrous product. But unlike a body butter, it’s made from luxurious oils and contains actives. Basically, you’re formulating with the face in mind and making more expensive, high-performance skincare focussed decisions than you would with a body butter.
Spring 2023: Want to learn more about formulating emulsions? Formula Botanica is currently offering a free formulation masterclass that will teach you how to make a botanical face cream; you can sign up here 🙂
The backbone of this formulation is creamy, soft (but somewhat stiff) cupuaçu butter. This is what makes the pressed oil serum solid. I love cupuaçu butter for its silky, rich, almost silicone-y feel on the skin; it’s just divine. It can smell a bit tangy/sour, but I find the bag I’m using from Lavida Oils (gifted) is more cocoa-y than tangy, and I definitely appreciate that!
Our cupuaçu base is softened up with two luxurious oils: passionfruit oil and pequi oil. Passionfruit oil is a gorgeous luxury oil; rich in linoleic acid, ultra light, and silky smooth. You can buy it at cosmetic shops like Sephora for $60+ for 50mL (1.69fl oz)… or you can get about twice as much for $10–12 from a cosmetic ingredient shop 😃 If you love this oil, even if you don’t formulate, that seems like a very worthwhile sourcing swap to me!
Pequi oil is completely new to me (a big thanks to Polli from Lavida Oils for the introduction!). It’s a soft, bright orangey-yellow oil that smells just like passionfruit—drool. It’s tangy, juicy, fresh, and just… every time I smell it I can feel my salivary glands kick it. It makes me think of eating yogurt in Australia and sunshine and I love it. It is so rare that we get fruity scents from natural ingredients that I knew I had to make something that would put this mouthwatering oil centre stage, and this is that thing (possibly the first of several). Pequi oil is colourful and fragrant enough that 25% is plenty; neat pequi oil leaves my skin looking a bit yellow, but this Passionfruit Pressed Oil Serum doesn’t.
Our final ingredient is Tocopherol (Vitamin E). I’ve included enough of it to be both a skincare active, helping prevent against environmental damage, and an antioxidant to help extend the shelf life of the Passionfruit Pressed Oil Serum.
I’ve left this Passionfruit Pressed Oil Serum very simple because I wanted to really let the ingredients shine on their own, but if you’d like to incorporate some oil-soluble actives, you definitely could! You’d want to add them at the same time as the vitamin E. Some options include soothing bisabolol, potent antioxidant Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinone), oil soluble vitamin C, and oil-soluble extracts (I think aloe or papaya would be lovely!). Begin by determining the percentage you’d like to include; refer to supplier information for a range. For example: let’s say I’m going to add bisabolol and aloe extract. The recommended usage rate for bisabolol is 0.1–1%. I’ll aim for the halfway point and use 0.5%. The usage rate for the aloe extract is 3–15%; I’ll use 5% so I don’t have to reduce the star oils too much. 0.5% + 5% = 5.5%. I’ll then subtract 5.5% from the passionfruit oil (chosen because it’s liquid and so are the new ingredients) to keep the formulation in balance, and proceed.
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Relevant links & further reading
- Cupuacu Butter in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Passionfruit Oil in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Tocopherol (Vitamin E) in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Other oil serums:
- Preservatives + Shelf Life
Passionfruit Pressed Oil Serum
Prepare a water bath by bringing about 3cm/1″ of water to a bare simmer over low to medium-low heat in a small saucepan.
While the heated phase melts, prepare an ice bath. Take a bowl that is large enough to accommodate the container the heated phase is melting in, and fill it about halfway with ice cubes and cold water.
After about 20–30 minutes everything should be completely melted through. Remove the water bath from the heat, remove the measuring cup from the water bath, and dry it off with a dishtowel. Set the measuring cup on a towel or hot pad to insulate it from the counter and stir the mixture with a flexible silicone spatula to combine everything.
Place the measuring cup containing the heated phase into the ice bath and cool, stirring constantly, for about thirty seconds—until you start to notice some building viscosity. Remove the container from the water bath and add the cool down phase. Stir to incorporate.
Continue stirring the mixture in the ice bath until the mixture starts to appear “gelled”, with noticeable suspended bubbles. Pour the product into its jar and transfer it to the fridge to set up. I used a 30mL (1fl oz) frosted glass jar with an aluminum cap from Voyageur Soap and Candle Co. (gifted).
Once the Passionfruit Pressed Oil Serum has solidified, remove it from the fridge and let it come to room temperature. That’s it!
Use this Passionfruit Pressed Oil Serum as you’d use any facial oil serum; I tend to use oil serums towards the end of my skincare routine after cleansing and watery serums.
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this product does not contain any water, 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 formulation 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 30g.
- 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.
- I don’t recommend making any substitutions to this formulation; it’s just four ingredients and they’re all carefully balanced.
- If you had to change anything, you could use a different liquid oil instead of passionfruit oil.
- If you’d like to incorporate some oil-soluble actives like Bisabolol or Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinone) you definitely could; simply reduce the passionfruit oil to make room for the active (read the full post for more details). Check with your supplier for usage rates.
- If you’d like to incorporate an essential oil, please read this.