Today we’re kicking off a new strawberry rose serum with this beautiful and oh-so-fragrant Strawberry Rose Body Glow Serum formula! This ultra-moisturizing body serum came about as part of my Formula Botanica Diploma in Organic Skincare Formulation coursework. The base formula they provided was a starting point for a simple oil-free lotion sort of concoction, featuring large amounts of vegetable glycerin. I remember the first thing I thought when looking at it was “that’ll be way too sticky”. Once I made it, I was quickly humbled—I loved it. So I started riffing on the idea, and here we are.
Post updated: June 2023
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This body glow serum stars two stunning hydrosols or distillates—strawberry and rose—both from Essential Wholesale & Labs. I’d never used strawberry distillate before this beautiful bottle showed up at my door and swoon. It was love at first sniff. This fragrant liquid is positively begging to be turned into cocktails and lemonades and all kinds of wonderful things, but I managed to restrain myself and keep my creations in the skincare realm. The scent in this serum comes entirely from these two fragrant waters. The idea to combine strawberry and rose came from a reader who commented about a recipe they modified to include both strawberry and rose notes—I can’t find the original comment to save my life (thank you for sharing, original commenter!), but the idea has been twirling around in the depths of my brain for years now.
If you don’t have strawberry & rose distillates, or prefer other scents, please feel free to use different hydrosols. Have fun with it! You could also use more distilled water instead for an unscented finished product.
Up next, humectants! A blend of inexpensive, effective vegetable glycerin and luxurious, silky hyaluronic acid brings huge amounts of moisturizing, hydrating power to this formula, helping plump the skin and leave it glowing. Soothing aloe vera juice and calendula extract further amp up this body glow serum.
I’ve used both high molecular weight and low molecular weight hyaluronic acid in this formulation, and both are lovely. You could also use a blend of different weights. I’d still recommend making 1% stocks of each weight individually and then blending those stocks when you formulate with them; that gives you the most flexibility.
Even with the hyaluronic acid, this serum tends to be a bit drooly, so I included a touch of hydroxyethylcellulose to thicken it up to a more application-friendly consistency. I chose hydroxyethylcellulose over other gums like regular xanthan or guar for its superior skin feel, and I didn’t use a carbomer due to the inclusion of electrolyte-rich aloe vera (many carbomers do not play well with electrolytes).
If you don’t have hydroxyethylcellulose I think a soft or clear xanthan gum would be a good alternative.
Despite this viscosity boost, this formulation doesn’t suspend bubbles. There will definitely be some after the initial mixing and packaging, but they’ll work their way out after a day or two. This inability to suspend bubbles also means this formulation won’t suspend mica very well, so I don’t recommend adding any.
This entire formula is cold processed; we’ll start by pre-dispersing the hydroxyethylcellulose in vegetable glycerin, whisk in everything else, and leave it to thicken and clear up. That’s it! The finished serum has a rich, velvety skin feel and leaves you glowing. I do find it to be a bit much for the face, but I adore smoothing it up and down my legs and arms after a shower. Enjoy!
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Relevant links & further reading
- Hydroxyethylcellulose in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Vegetable Glycerin in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Aloe Vera in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Hyaluronic Acid in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Calendula in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- Liquid Germall™ Plus in the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia
- How long will ______ last? What is its shelf life? in the Humblebee & Me FAQ
- Can I use a different preservative than the one you’ve used? in the Humblebee & Me FAQ
Strawberry Rose Body Glow Serum
5.75g | 11.5% distilled water
10g | 20% aloe vera juice
10g | 20% rose hydrosol
5g | 10% strawberry hydrosol
10g | 20% low molecular weight 1% hyaluronic acid solution
1g | 2% calendula extract
0.25g | 0.5% Liquid Germall Plus™ (USA / Canada)
Weigh the vegetable glycerine and hydroxyethylcellulose into a small beaker or glass measuring cup and whisk to combine, stirring until there are no visible lumps.
Add the remaining ingredients, stirring thoroughly between additions. Cover and leave to sit until the mixture is clear—I left mine overnight. Once it clears up you’ll find it isn’t evenly thickened—there’ll be a few blobbier bits of hydroxyethylcellulose, so you’ll want to stir the mixture until it’s uniform.
Once that’s done you’re ready to package up your concoction! I used a 50mL (1.69fl oz) frosted glass Zelo bottle from New Directions Aromatics with a pump cap.
To use, spread over the skin like you would a lotion. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this body glow 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 50g.
- 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.
- You could use more distilled water in place of the aloe vera juice
- You can replace the hydrosols with more distilled water or different hydrosols, but that will obviously alter the scent of the end product. This formula contains no solubilizers, so if you wish to use essential or fragrance oils in place of the hydrosols you will need to incorporate a solubilizer as well.
- You could make your own strawberry glycerite as an alternative to the strawberry distillate. You can learn more about creating glycerites here and here. Once your glycerite is complete you can replace the glycerin with it and use more distilled water in place of the strawberry distillate.
- I don’t recommend swapping out the hyaluronic acid solution. You could try using a blend of distilled water and propanediol 1,3 as an alternative, but you’ll have to do your own experiments to see what works for you.
- I don’t recommend swapping out the hydroxyethylcellulose; its gelling is very unique when compared to more snotty gums like xanthan or guar, and it is tolerant to electrolytes (from the aloe vera) where most carbomers likely won’t be.
- You can use a different water soluble botanical extract in place of the calendula extract.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this page.