This beautiful Sweetgrass Facial Serum features a stunning blend of some great-for-skin ingredients to create a lightly golden serum that focusses on brightening and hydration, with undercurrents of soothing and healing. We’re also using a new-to-me hydrosol that I’m completely in love with—sweetgrass hydrosol. I’m loving this serum towards the end of my skin care routine, topped off with a bit of an oil serum.
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This serum is kicking off a new sweetgrass series, inspired by the oh-so-stunning sweetgrass hydrosol from Plant’s Power. I’m not sure I can adequately describe how wonderful this hydrosol smells; it is like honey, warm sunshine on dry grass, and perhaps a hint of apple pie. It is warm and sweet, but not cloying or dessert-like—more of a botanical, herbal sweet. I thought for months about what I could do with this hydrosol—what would do it justice? What could I pair it with? In the end I settled on creating a collection of formulas that get their scent entirely from sweetgrass hydrosol so it can really shine. This has the added benefit of creating a series that can be customized by using a different hydrosol, or easily made unscented by replacing the hydrosol with distilled water.
My primary aims with this serum were hydration and brightening. For hydration I’ve included super-hydrating hyaluronic acid, soothing & moisturizing panthenol (Vitamin B5), and two non-sticky humectants: sodium lactate and propanediol 1,3. We’ve also got a sub-set of soothing and regenerative ingredients with the allantoin/ panthenol pairing. Allantoin is a great skin protectant that helps boost healing by increasing skin cell turnover, while panthenol is also soothing and helps the skin regenerate.
For brightening I’ve included both niacinamide (Vitamin B3) and N-Acetyl Glucosamine. Niacinamide has been one of my all-time favourite skin care ingredients ever since I first introduced it to my skin care routine in the form of The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% serum just over two years ago. It helps regulate sebum production and brighten the complexion, and in my experience it’s been absolutely key in drastically reducing acne. N-Acetyl Glucosamine is practically magic. It improves barrier function, boosts healing, reduces water loss, and brightens the complexion. When the two ingredients are paired they’ve been found to have significant brightening effects, reducing hyperpigmentation and evening out skin tone more than either ingredient does on its own. So cool!
Because niacinamide does best in products with a pH around 6, you’ll need to test and adjust the pH of this serum to ensure the pH is ideal. I go over how to do this in the video, so definitely give it a watch! That’s the only semi-tricky part of this formulation; everything else is cold-processed stirring. I hope you love this powerhouse serum (and the stunning sweetgrass hydrosol!) as much as I do—happy making!
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Sweetgrass Facial Serum
18g | 30% distilled water
12g | 20% low molecular weight 1% hyaluronic acid solution
18g | 30% sweetgrass hydrosol
1.8g | 3% panthenol powder (vitamin B5)
1.8g | 3% propanediol 1,3 (USA / Canada)
1.8g | 3% sodium lactate
0.3g | 0.5% allantoin (USA / Canada)
3g | 5% N-acetyl glucosamine (USA / Canada)
3g | 5% niacinamide
0.3g | 0.5% Liquid Germall Plus™ (USA / Canada)
Citric acid, as needed
Up next, let’s get set up to adjust the pH. Be sure to read this great article on the importance of diluting solutions when pH testing them—we’re doing that here! Prepare at least two small bowls by weighing 9g of distilled water into them (you’re going to want a scale that’s accurate to 0.01g for this). To make your citric acid solution, weigh 5g of citric acid into a small beaker and add 5g of distilled water. Stir to combine; you’ll probably a couple quick microwave bursts are required to get the citric acid to dissolve as this is a pretty concentrated solution.
To test the pH, add 1g of product to one of the bowls containing 9g of water to create a 10% dilution, and pH check that. If necessary, add a drop of the citric acid solution to the parent batch, stir, and re-test. Continue until the pH is close to 6. Please watch the video to see this in action!
Once the pH is happy you’re ready to package up your serum! To use, apply just a few drops after cleansing and before any oil serums or creams. You will want to follow it up with an oil serum or lotion/cream to ensure it doesn’t feel tacky. 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 I have not given a specific substitution suggestion in this list please look up the ingredient in the encyclopedia before asking.
- You can use a different hydrosol in place of the sweetgrass hydrosol, or simply use more water. This will alter the scent.
- I don’t recommend substituting out the hyaluronic acid.
- Please refer to the Humblebee & Me Encyclopedia for substitution suggestions for the panthenol, propanediol, sodium lactate, allantoin, N-Acetyl Glucosamine, and niacinamide.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this page.