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
19.29g | 64.3% distilled water
6g | 20% 1% low molecular weight 1% hyaluronic acid solution
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!
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.