Today we’re blending up a cold-processed Prickly Pear Eye Gel Cream! This lovely DIY is designed to hydrate and soothe the delicate under-eye skin, and also packs a de-puffifying (that’s a word, right?) punch thanks to the inclusion of some pure caffeine powder. Since we don’t need to melt anything this gel cream comes together really easily, too!
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We get our hydrating goodness from two lovely humectants—luxurious low molecular weight hyaluronic acid and propanediol 1,3. If you’d like to learn more about hyaluronic acid I highly recommend this very extensive post from Simple Skincare Science. For this formulation (and in general) you’re going to want a low molecular weight version—something in the 0.8–1.0 million daltons range. You might also see it labelled as “LMW” from your supplier. This size strikes a nice balance between effectiveness with low irritation potential and creates a lovely gel when hydrated into a solution (learn how to do that here).
Our soothing goodness comes from a blend of panthenol (Vitamin B5) and allantoin—two unassuming white powders. Panthenol is not only great for soothing, but it’s also moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, and boosts healing. Allantoin is soothing, anti-irritating, and an FDA recognized skin protectant. It’s not hugely water-soluble, so I’ve kept the usage rate low to ensure it fully dissolves in our gel cream and doesn’t leave any shardy bits behind (definitely not a thing we want in a product we’re using around our eyes!).
I’ve chosen luxurious prickly pear seed oil as our carrier oil. This beautiful oil is pressed from the seeds of the prickly pear cactus (Opuntia ficus indica). It has a lovely skin feel and is rich in linoleic acid, meaning it can be especially beneficial for sensitive and/or dry skin (brilliant for under-eyes!). If you don’t have it, feel free to use any luxurious liquid oil your skin loves. Argan oil, jojoba oil, meadowfoam oil, and/or pomegranate oil would all be great choices!
Our thickener and emulsifier is Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6, also known as Sepimax™ ZEN. It can be a bit tricky to find right now as it can also thicken ethanol, so people are snapping it up to use in their homemade hand sanitizers. If you can’t find it you can use Aristoflex® AVC instead, but I would recommend making a small change if you do: I find gel creams made with Aristoflex® AVC tend to feel a bit tackier/stickier than the same products made with Sepimax™ ZEN, so you may wish to swap 1–2% of the prickly pear seed oil for some cyclomethicone and/or dimethicone to cut down on any tackiness in the end product.
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Prickly Pear Eye Gel Cream
0.45g | 1.5% Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 (USA / Canada / UK / Australia)
3g | 10% prickly pear seed oil
0.15g | 0.5% caffeine
0.12g | 0.4% allantoin (USA / Canada)
0.3g | 1% panthenol powder (vitamin B5) (USA / Canada)
0.6g | 2% Propanediol 1,3 (USA / Canada)
0.09g | 0.3% Liquid Germall Plus™ (USA / Canada)
19.29g | 64.3% distilled water
6g | 20% 1% low molecular weight 1% hyaluronic acid solution
Weigh the Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 and prickly pear seed oil into a small beaker and stir to combine. Add the caffeine, allantoin, panthenol, propanediol, and liquid germall plus. Stir to combine.
Add the water and hyaluronic acid solution. Cover the mixture and leave it to hydrate and dissolve—leaving it overnight is very convenient, but an hour will do.
After the mixture has had a chance to hydrate, whisk it thoroughly to combine and make the mixture uniform. Once the mixture is perfectly smooth and well blended, all that’s left to do is package it up. I used a 30mL (1fl oz) airless pump bottle from YellowBee and that worked beautifully; you could also put this in a squeeze tube or a small bottle with a treatment pump tip.
To use, dispense a small amount of product onto your fingertip and gently spread that onto the skin in the under-eye area. I recommend following up with something heavier, like an all-over facial lotion or oil serum. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this gel 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 30g (1.06oz).
- 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 (caffeine, allantoin, panthenol, propanediol, hyaluronic acid) please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- You can use Aristoflex® AVC instead of Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 (aka Sepimax™ ZEN). If you do so you may wish to swap 1–2% of the prickly pear seed oil for some cyclomethicone and/or dimethicone as I find gel creams made with Aristoflex® AVC tend to be stickier/tackier than those made with Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6.
- You can use a different luxurious liquid carrier oil instead of prickly pear seed oil. Please read the pre-amble for suggestions.
- If you wanted to add a bit of a scent to this project I would recommend swapping 20–30% of the distilled water for a hydrosol of choice. I would avoid essential oils and fragrance oils due to the proximity to the eye (especially stimulating ones like peppermint and black pepper). If you really want to use an essential oil or fragrance oil I would limit it to 0.1% or less.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this page.
The prickly pear seed oil was gifted by Essential Wholesale. The 30mL (1fl oz) airless pump bottle was gifted by YellowBee.
Hi Marie! This looks so lovely! Would xantham gum work to replace polyaccrylate for this particular recipe?
No; you need something that will also emulsify, and xantham gum won’t.
Sounds fab. I mean, exactly my kind of project! I’ll try this asap when I get more ecogel, it does need some heat and re-development but often works great if I make “stock” / base. I’d use jojoba/ argan + pomegranate CO2, refrerring to your subsitutions. Thanks so much for your hard work!
Woohoo! I look forward to hearing how it goes 😀 Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making 🙂
I just made this eye gel cream and it’s beautifull! It’s seriously plumping, protecting and lifts nicely. Application is easy thanks to firm texture. Goodness. Kind of like very firm hyaluronic acid gels (with HEC) I’ve used but in a cream like form. I could totally see this replacing my pricey commercial favorite, which I didn’t expect. This could be huge hit among people who love commercial eye creams that “do something for skin”.
I wanted to get as close to your version, so I used combination of HEC + ecogel. I also incorporated a bit SAP + adjusted pH to 5-6 as my commercial favorite eye cream has it. I used jojoba and camellia oils. I’ve use this everywhere on my face where I could need some intense plumping + emolliency (around cheeks and mouth) and my skin looks totally different instantly! Same happened to other test subject. 😀 No need for eye balm I guess.
I also used glycerine to replace propanediol + different (also eye + lip safe) preservative. Amazing job, Marie!
Aahhhh, I am SO thrilled to hear it! WOOHOO!!! And thank you, as always, for sharing your modifications ❤️ Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making 🙂
Hi Marie! I am in the process of purchasing the ingredients to make this lovely eye gel; however, I am having trouble with purchasing the caffeine powder. I’ve searched the typical crafters you mention and Amazon, and I checked your encyclopedia, but so far can’t find a supplier of bulk caffeine. Do you have any brands to suggest? Where did you buy yours? Thank you! Love your work!!
Hey Sharon! Have you clicked the ingredient link in the formulation? I just checked, and the link still works and goes to a place to get the right product 🙂
I’ve tried the links, but I’ve not had any luck finding caffeine powder – only capsules. Will this work if we break open capsules? Bulk caffeine is impossible to find since the FDA cracked down on suppliers.
Hi Dianna: I don’t know where your located, but I got some caffeine powder at Make Your Own – here: https://www.makeyourown.buzz/chemconx-caffeine-powder-plus/
The link did work for me and it took me to “ingredients to die for” where they have it reasonably priced. :o)
I Just wanted to share with you that I made the Prickly Pear Eye Gel and I love it. A little goes a long way! Thank you for the recipe!
YAY! Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making 🙂
I don’t know where your located, but I got some caffeine powder at Make Your Own – here: https://www.makeyourown.buzz/chemconx-caffeine-powder-plus/
Hello; Thank you! I was able to purchase the caffeine powder at Make Your Own. Thanks for the tip. I made the Prickly Pear Eye Gel and it is wonderfully hydrating… Great recipe! Thank you Marie!
have you tried using tea ? the caffeine in tea would do the trick, as the point is to have caffeine
Oh this is lovely. That word is so appropriate for this formulation. It’s soft and gentle and just lovely. I used Aristoflex and 1% dimethicone. I used chamomile hydrosol and a few drops of roman chamomile e.o. My hand slipped with the Allantoin and i ended up adding too much but it made no difference. I was wondering what other actives I could add to it since I didn’t have any caffeine but ended up not adding anything but the oils. I could see using this for my entire face when I want something light. My eyes thank you Marie!!
I’m so thrilled you’re loving it! Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making 🙂
Hi Marie! How can I substitute the HA with Sodium hyaluronate? It’s molecular weight is 1.3 MDa…
You are great!
Hi Marie! I love the sound a gel cream! But unfortunately here in Mexico I’m having trouble finding both the AVC and the Polyacrylate… so if I just make it like an ordinary cream without the gelling part which emulsifier do you recommend?
The only gelling agent i’ve found is Carbopol, but it needs to be neutralized, and I also thinks it doesn’t work as an emulsifier…
Maybe I’ll start making it like a regular cream or lotion and then try adding the carbopol to see if it works haha.
Thanks a lot!
Hello Marie, can I substitute the caffeine with ‘Coffee Roasted CO2 Oil’? Pure caffeine is banned in Australia for personal consumption :/ And most of the stores halted international shipping these days.
No; that’s more or less coffee essential oil, which is just going to make your product smell like coffee and will contain no caffeine at all. It would be a bit like swapping butter for milk in that the source is the same, but the format and end product are very different! Your easiest option is probably just using more water, though that will impact function. Have you read the Humblebee & Me DIY Encyclopedia (https://www.humblebeeandme.com/diy-encyclopedia/) entry for it yet?
I made this awesome gel and I had to get creative with my container and used a lip-squeeze tube, which is quite amazing along with the fact that I keep it in my small fridge so it’s even better ☺️
I also had to formulate using the AVC exactly like you stated and it was perfect
I really LOVE making the gels and I feel so accomplished when I get a perfect pillowy product
Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge
Hooray! I am so glad you’re enjoying it ❤️ I LOVE the squeezy lip tube idea!
Hi Marie, will liquid caffeine from windy point work instead of the powder? Thank you
Yup, just be sure to look into the dilution level and adjust as needed 🙂 Happy making!
Hi Marie. I’m loving your website and all the recipes and information you provide to DIY’ers! Could safflower or grapeseed oil be a substitute for prickly pear oil? I read those both have higher levels of linoleic acid and oleic acid. Thank you for your help!
That should work 🙂 Happy making!
Hi, I’ve made this and my
Hyaluronic acid solution is watery.. my low weight one doesn’t create a gel consistency. What would you suggest to compensate?
When I say compensate… would you add more sepimax?
You could incorporate more Polyacrylate crosspolymer-6 (Sepimax ZEN) in future batches, but please know that the level of HA in this formulation is low enough that it’s really not contributing any viscosity—this product isn’t supposed to be super thick 🙂
Hi Marie! I can’t WAIT to make this! I just got in the last my ingredients today! Yay! My only question is is there a way to make this thin enough to work in a bottle with a rollerball? Trying use what I have on hand other than jars. Thanks so much for all you share with us!!
Hi Marie, I am very excited to make this cream. However, I only have caffeine in liquid form. Would you recommend I reduce the water weight to compensate for this? Thank you!