Today we’re making a simple, fragrant facial gel starring ceramides. This gel not only moisturizes and hydrates the skin immediately, but it also helps strengthen your moisture barrier. This leads to stronger, more resilient skin and less transepidermal water loss (TEWL) over time—fantastic! It’s wonderful for all types of skin—dry, irritation-prone, aging, acneic, and even just generally well-behaved skin that could use a bit of pampering and plumping up.
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Ceramides are one of those ingredients I’ve been using for a while in store bought products, and have been slowly working up the nerve to DIY with—mostly because of the cost. 30mL (1fl oz) of ceramide complex is close to $30USD, and the shelf life is only about six months. So, somewhat understandably, I wanted to use ceramides in some store bought things to make sure they’re worth it. I tried the classic Cerave Moisturizing Cream (recommended by r/SkinCareAddiction) and the Rosette Ceramide Gel (a favourite over at r/AsianBeauty), and really liked them both. I found the addition of ceramides to my skin care routine left my skin more resilient—it broke out less, healed faster when it did, and seemed less prone to dryness and irritation.
So, what are ceramides? They’re naturally occurring fats that comprise over half of the skin’s barrier, helping protect the skin and retain moisture. Pretty much every article I’ve read about ceramides describes them as the “mortar” to your skin cell “bricks”. While your body does make ceramides, they can be depleted by everything from age to to hot water to UV exposure. Supplementing your body’s natural supply (and encouraging it to produce more ceramides) through topical application can help rejuvenate and strengthen the skin. The product we’re using four our ceramide hit is called “ceramide complex”—both LotionCrafter and Making Cosmetics sell it. It contains a blend of different types of ceramides as well as ceramide precursor phytosphingosine, which encourages our skin to make more of its own ceramides.
Basically, ceramides are a thing we have, but also a thing most of us could use more of. If your skin is aging, dry, sensitive, break-out prone, whatever—ceramides are probably a good idea. Ceramides are like the leafy green vegetables of your skin care diet.
I designed this formula to really let the ceramide complex shine, so it’s pretty simple—a stage for a star. The bulk this gel is water, with some rose hydrosol for a soft scent. You could easily use a different hydrosol in its place for a different scent, or replace it with more distilled water for an unscented end product. Some velvety propanediol 1,3 provides some humectant-y goodness, helping keep the skin hydrated and moisturized.
The gelling agent is Aristoflex AVC, which also emulsifies our oil-based ingredients. I’ve included a bit of both dimethicone 350 and cyclomethicone—two silky silicones—to ensure the end product is ultra silky and not at all sticky. While dimethicone 350 and cyclomethicone are both silicones, they’re quite different in terms of function and feel. Dimethicone 350 is a heavier, non-volatile silicone; it sticks around on the skin to offer long-lasting slip and skin protection, similar to a carrier oil. Cyclomethicone is very volatile and fast-evaporating, so once it’s been spread out over the skin it will quickly evaporate away, leaving only a hint of its beautiful slippy skin feel. I’ve paired the two for a really luxurious feeling product. If you don’t have either, please read the substitutions list at the end of the formula.
Making this gel is super simple—it requires no heat and fairly little attention. I like to mix everything together, leave the Aristoflex AVC to fully hydrate, and then blend it again. That’s it! You will find that this Rose Ceramide Facial Gel is less viscous than the Gel Micellar Water we made earlier this month despite having twice as much Aristoflex AVC, and that’s because of the ceramide complex—it’s known to reduce the viscosity of products.
The end product is a slightly cloudy gel that delivers some fantastic skin-boosting benefits. I hope you love it as much as I do! If you’re looking for something else to make with the ceramide complex, I highly recommend this DIY Moisture Barrier Serum from The Acid Queen. The formulator also sells a next-generation version of this formula as Liquid Gold through her brand Stratia, but she’s also left the original formula on her blog so you can make it if you’re so inclined!
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Rose Ceramide Facial Gel
13.54g | 67.7% distilled water
4g | 20% rose hydrosol
0.4g | 2% dimethicone 350 (USA / Canada)
0.6g | 3% cyclomethicone (USA / Canada)
1g | 5% ceramide complex (USA / Canada)
0.2g | 1% Propanediol 1,3 (USA / Canada)
0.06g | 0.3% Liquid Germall Plus™ (USA / Canada)
Sprinkle the Aristolflex AVC overtop and blend with a mini mixer or whisk until the entire mixture has thickened and emulsified. That’s it!
To use, spread a small amount of the ceramide gel over your skin. I like to apply this after cleansing and before any heavier creams or oil serums.
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this gel contains water, you must include a broad-spectrum preservative to ward off microbial growth. This is non-optional. Even with a preservative this project is likely to 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 20g.
- 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.
- Do not substitute the Aristoflex AVC.
- Aristoflex AVC is very sensitive to electrolytes; do not add anything to this formula that contains electrolytes.
- You can use a different hydrosol (or more water) in place of the rose hydrosol; just keep in mind this will impact the scent of the finished product.
- You can replace the dimethicone 350 with a natural silicone alternative like LuxGlide 350, or a very slippy oil. A non-silicone alternative will likely make the end product more sticky.
- You can replace the cyclomethicone with cyclopentasiloxane, a natural volatile silicone alternative like LuxGlide N5, or a very lightweight oil or ester (C12-15 alkyl benzoate, isopropyl myristate (IPM), Neossance® Hemisqualane, and squalane would all be good choices).
- Do not substitute the ceramide complex! This is our key ingredient.
- Vegetable glycerin would work in place of propanediol.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this page.