Today’s recipe is kicking off a new soothing skin care series that is perfectly timed for the driest, darkest, and often coldest part of the winter here in Calgary. The formulas in this series star a beautiful selection of wonderful, effective ingredients that have been proven to soothe, moisturize, and repair the skin. We’re starting with this simple, super-hydrating serum for a serious hit of moisturizing, barrier-boosting skin care goodness.
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The bulk of this serum is water, but I’ve included several fancy waters (hydrosols, juices, etc.) that have added skin-soothing, hydrating benefits. In addition to some simple distilled water we have anti-inflammatory aloe vera juice, super humectant hyaluronic acid stock, calming chamomile hydrosol, and refreshing cucumber distillate. Cucumber distillate is a new-to-me ingredient from Essential Wholesale and I cannot get over how incredibly cucumber-y it is! Though it is a bit pricey, just 7–10% it contributes a very distinct cucumber scent to the end product. It’s very fresh and clean smelling, and just downright lovely.
Panthenol, urea, and allantoin are all included for their fantastic skin-soothing properties. Both panthenol (vitamin B5) and urea are also fantastic moisturizers—you’ll be seeing urea in a lot more formulas in the future! I got some last spring from Les Âmes Fleurs and I am positively smitten with the stuff. I’ve written about its wondrous moisturizing, soothing, barrier-boosting benefits in the encyclopedia, but you should also give this amazing mega-post from Simple Skincare Science a read to learn more. If you’re not sure about it you can easily purchase a simple high-concentration urea lotion from a local pharmacy (I have this one) to test it out before ordering the raw ingredient.
Sodium lactate and propanediol 1,3 further amp up the moisturizing awesomeness of this serum. Both are very effective, non-sticky humectants. Some calendula botanical extract adds further skin-soothing, moisturizing goodness to the serum, as well as some lovely herbal label appeal. The whole lot is preserved with some liquid germall plus, and that’s it!
The final serum is slightly viscous; I put mine in a bottle with a treatment pump, but an eyedropper or disc-top would work as well. I massage a few pumps into my face (remembering that treatment pumps dispense much less product than a more typical lotion pump type cap!) in the middle of my skin care routine, morning and night. My skin is glowing, bouncy, and hydrated, even though the air is drier than a bar of soap that’s aged for five years. In fact, ten days or so after I started testing this serum an older lady though I was eight years old (seriously—”maybe nine”, she said, but she was pretty sure I was eight), so perhaps we can throw in a whiff of anti-aging benefits as well 😝
This all comes together very easily, so you can always have some on hand for these absurdly dry days. Watch for more soothing recipes, too—I’ve got several great ones coming up!
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Soothing Hyaluronic Acid Facial Serum
9.6g | 16% distilled water
12g | 20% aloe vera juice
12g | 20% low molecular weight 1% hyaluronic acid solution
12g | 20% chamomile hydrosol
6g | 10% cucumber distillate
1.2g | 2% panthenol powder (vitamin B5) (USA / Canada)
2.4g | 4% urea (USA / Canada)
0.3g | 0.5% allantoin (USA / Canada)
1.2g | 2% calendula extract
1.8g | 3% sodium lactate
1.2g | 2% Propanediol 1,3 (USA / Canada)
0.3g | 0.5% Liquid Germall Plus™ (USA / Canada)
Weigh the everything into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup or directly into a 60mL (2 fl oz) bottle. Stir or cap & shake to combine. If you didn’t make the serum directly in your bottle, transfer it to the bottle. That’s it!
To use, gently massage a nickel-sized amount into your skin after any actives, but before heavier creams and occlusives. Make sure you do follow up with something that contains at least some oil otherwise you might find you skin feels a bit tacky after application. 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 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 60g.
- 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 you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this page.
- The theme of this formula is soothing and hydrating; keep that in mind when choosing alternative ingredients.
- You can try different hydrosol(s) in place of the aloe vera juice, chamomile hydrosol, and/or cucumber distillate. Try to choose things that will smell nice together!
- I really, really don’t recommend dropping the hyaluronic acid.
- Panthenol, urea, and allantoin are all included for their skin-soothing properties. Read the encyclopedia posts for each (linked in the previous sentence) for substitution ideas.
- You could use a different soothing/calming botanical extract in place of the calendula extract.
- I chose sodium lactate and propanediol for humectants as they aren’t sticky. Ideas for alternatives include sodium PCA and propylene glycol. You could try including some glycerin, but I find its tacky feeling is more noticeable in super watery products like this.