This silky, softly-scented gel moisturizer has become a fast favourite in my skin care routine. It’s beautifully light and packed with things my skin loves. It is focussed on lightweight hydration, making it the perfect thing to sandwich between skin cleansers and more occlusive products like lotions and oil serums in your skin care routine. I know many of you have been asking for a gel moisturizer—hopefully this Sweetgrass Gel Moisturizer fits the bill!
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The key functional ingredient in this formula is Aristoflex AVC, a gelling and emulsifying ingredient. This is what both transforms the watery bulk of this moisturizer into a gel and emulsifies in the small oil phase. It’s a cold process emulsifier, so no heat is required. Cool, eh!?
The bulk of this moisturizer is a combination of a 1% low molecular weight hyaluronic acid stock and beautifully fragrant sweetgrass hydrosol, with some added distilled water. The hyaluronic acid is a fantastic humectant, helping plump the and moisturize the skin and keep it hydrated. I’ve also included some propanediol to amp up the moisturizing goodness, and some panthenol (Vitamin B5), which also helps with skin soothing and barrier repair in addition to being a humectant.
Our oil phase is tiny; 4% argan oil and 2% dimethicone 350. I chose argan oil because my face loves it, but you can certainly feel free to select any oil your face loves. The dimethicone 350 is there mostly to keep this moisturizer from feeling tacky, as I find watery gel-type things can, but it does also provide some skin protecting, moisturizing goodness as well.
That’s pretty much it. Mix, let hydrate, and mix some more. I have stored this in an open-mouth jar and it works well there, but I think it would also work well in a pump-top container. The finished Sweetgrass Gel Moisturizer is lightly cloudy, softly scented, and delivers an amazing hydrating punch. I hope you love it as much as I do!
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Sweetgrass Gel Moisturizer
1g | 2% dimethicone 350 (USA / Canada)
1g | 2% Propanediol 1,3 (USA / Canada)
10g | 20% low molecular weight 1% hyaluronic acid solution
15g | 30% sweetgrass hydrosol
2g | 4% argan oil (USA / Canada)
0.5g | 1% panthenol powder (vitamin B5) (USA / Canada)
0.25g | 0.5% Liquid Germall Plus™ (USA / Canada)
19.75g | 39.5% distilled water
0.5g | 1% Aristoflex AVC (USA / Canada)
Weigh the everything except the Aristoflex AVC into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup or beaker and stir to combine. The dimethicone won’t emulsify yet; that’s ok.
Sprinkle the Aristoflex AVC overtop and blend with a mini mixer or whisk until the entire mixture has thickened and emulsified. I like to give the mixture an initial stir, wait a couple hours for the Aristoflex AVC, and then blend again. That’s it!
Now all that’s left is to package it up. I put one batch in an open-mouthed jar, which worked well enough, but certainly wasn’t ideal. I’d recommend a 50mL (1.69fl oz) pump bottle (airless or otherwise) or a squeeze tube for better, neater dispensing.
To use, smooth over the skin after cleansing and before any heavier, occlusive layers. Enjoy!
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this gel moisturizer 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 can replace the dimethicone 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.
- Vegetable glycerin would work in place of propanediol.
- I really, really don’t recommend dropping the hyaluronic acid.
- You can use a different hydrosol in place of the sweetgrass hydrosol, or simply use more water. This will alter the scent.
- You can use a different liquid oil your skin loves instead of argan oil.
- Panthenol is included for its humectant and skin-soothing properties. Read the encyclopedia post (linked in the previous sentence) for substitution ideas.
- DO NOT substitute the Aristoflex AVC.
- Aristoflex AVC is very sensitive to electrolytes; do not add anything to this formula that contains electrolytes.
- If you’re like to use a different preservative, please review this page.
The sweetgrass hydrosol was gifted by Plant’s Power. The hyaluronic acid was gifted by Pure Nature.
How fast does this dry Marie? I am hoping to make a gel that I can use with my nuface microcurrent device, so I am hoping for a slower drying gel. Any ideas on how to make it sit on your skin longer before it sinks in?
Hey Connie! This dries down pretty quickly thanks to the high water content. If you swapped 2% water for some dimethicone 350 that should give you more working time 🙂 Happy making!
Marie! This is a wonderful formula. I am pregnant and my sensitive skin hasn’t been loving much these days but this moisturizer has been a dream! I used olive squalane instead of argan oil and left everything else the same. Thank you so much for sharing. And sweetgrass hydrosol!? Gaaah love.
I’m so thrilled to hear it! I’m especially stoked to hear you picked up a bottle of sweetgrass hydrosol because oooooooh myyyyy I cannot stop smelling it. SWOON!
Hi, Marie! Another lovely recipe!
I have one question though. I’ve noticed that you use the hyaluronic acid in the heated water phase, but my supplier says it should be used in the cool down phase, because if is not stabile on high temperatures. I am confused, where should I add it?
I found a study on the heat stability of hyaluronic acid—it’s fairly comparable to that of most carrier oils. If we can avoid heating it, great, but generally speaking we’re using enough of it in an emulsion that adding it to the cool down phase will likely de-stabilize the emulsion, so we have to put it in the heated phase—and from the study I found, the amount of heat is exposed to in such situations is not detrimental. If you search for the word “heat” on this page you can find more discussion on this 🙂
Hi Marie, you say “As written in grams this recipe will make 200g”, but it only adds up to 50g. Am I missing something?
It would appear I’m the one missing something—whoops! Thanks for the heads up, I’ve fixed it 🙂
Hi, what if I want to use a gel moisturizer but without the hyaluronic acid? I couldn’t find what that would be substituted with? I assume water??? Or leaving it out completely…. would that affect the results?
You’ll need to replace it with something—otherwise, the whole formula will be thrown out of what. The simplest thing would be water 🙂
Curious if sucragel would of been a nice addition to this light moisturizer?
Sucragel isn’t the sort of thing you’d just add to a formula, like panthenol—it’s more of a functional ingredient that you’d base an entire formula around. Check out some of these sample formulations to see some of the things you can do with sucragel!
Just made this today!! Your description is completely on point! It feels very lightweight and has excellent slip. I didn’t notice any stickiness either, not that I mind it. I put an oil on afterwards, like rosehip oil, to add a bit more moisturization and to seal all of it in. I subbed in rose hydrosol, neossance hemisqualane, grapeseed oil, and also added green tea extract. Thank you Marie!!
YAY! I am so dang thrilled that you’re loving it 😀 WAHOO! Your substitutions sound fantastic, too 🙂 Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making!
Just made another batch last night! I put 3% tamanu oil so it gives the gel a gorgeous green tint 😀 Thank you Marie!
That sounds divine! ❤️
Mariya tank you
I have forgotten the name of the decorative tapes you use on your plastic containers and my searching has not netted me results. I have to say I am amazed by your accomplishments in this field. Your love of DIYing has surely brought many much satisfaction and you are a natural professional in all aspects. Following you the last 4 years has been so rewarding and I have learned so much. Thank you Marie!
Hi Brenda! The tape I use is called “washi tape”—there’s a ton of it available online, and some stationery shops will sell it as well 🙂 Thank you so much for your kind words and for DIYing with me! I really appreciate your support 🙂
Hi Marie, thanks for another recipe. I am wondering if I can substitute the Aristoflex with this: https://www.thesoapkitchen.co.uk/sodium-alginate . I am from Europe and could`t find anywhere Aristoflex 🙁
I soo badly want to make this moisturizer… hope I can substitute it 😀
Love your recipes ! Happy DIY-ing!
I was thinking the same thing earlier. I think emulsigel eco/ecogel could work? But it’s quite tricky to work with (lots of heating & stirring) and sometimes a bit sticky with HA, I think. I haven’t tried it with silicones. Skinchakra has some great tutorials about ecogel. 🙂
You’ll have to try it and see—I’ve never worked with that ingredient before 🙂
I’ve made 2 stable “gel cream” cleansers with ecogel so far, and planning to make something like this (when I crack the code) :p But it’s very cool. I would try adding some starch/silica to reduce the stickyness of ecogel. Thanks again for amazing recipe, Marie 🙂
Thanks so much for the feedback & for sharing your results! 😀
Hi Marie. Thanks for the recipe. I’m just thinking to add essential oil in this gel moisturizer. Can I add Neroli essential oil in this formula?
That should work! Give this a read for a full guide on how 🙂 Happy making!
I loved my earlier remakes of this (ecogel, argan + primrose repl dimethicone and lavender). I can’t wait to make a new, scent free one when I get more ecogel + ha. This + eye gel cream + one hydrating toner I developed earlier are first things on my list. There are so many tempting ingredients to try but I need leave some experiments out (€€€ and breakouts I’ve had).
Oh, I used sodium PCA in some your recipes (mists and toners) to replace sodium lactate. I think it’s nice in many ways and great subsitute for humectant but I don’t think I necessary need it. So I purchased more glycerin, sodium lactate and B3. Glycol/ betaine (solubility aid), B5, allantoin and HA are also my must haves. Hmm, I need to share something like this on IG + write few comments on your recipes as a thank you!
Marie, oooh sweetgrass hydrosol sounds intriguing – I’ve never smelt it before – it’s not native to the UK so will look out for it. Have been a hydrosol fan ever since discovering Suzanne Catty’s book back in 2003. It’s thumb worn and stained, a sign of a good book!
I made this last night with cucumber seed oil and peppermint hydrosol. It’s refreshing! I wish I’d done this back at the beginning of the summer!
That sounds utterly divine! Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making 🙂
I made another version for fall with cranberry seed oil, pumpkin seed extract, and one teeny drop of cardamom EO (less than 0.25%, I think).
Oh my, that sounds divine! ❤️
My gel turned out but I found instructions confusing. Video doesn’t match text for order of ingredients and text specifies heat proof container. There is also a thread in the comments on heat but I understand this to be cold process. Whatever. It worked.
Hi Marie, it’s so cool that new room temperature emulsification systems are available now.