How I Made That: Light Facial Cream

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When I first started reading labels, one of the very first products I threw out was my old moisturizer. I used to use Cetaphil’s Moisturizing Lotion, and the formula was loaded with silicones, parabens, and other yuckies. I was happy to toss it out, but I quickly realized that I needed to get on making my own clean moisturizer, STAT. For the first few months of experimenting, I used pure carrot seed oil and argan oil as my moisturizer, but I knew I wanted something that was a true lotion or cream and not just a facial oil. That’s how the idea for both the Whipped & Light Facial Creams was born!

I spent several weeks researching noncomedogenic oils and butters, scouring the web for correct comedogenic ratings (yes, there are plenty of inaccurate ones out there) and learning about the nutrient content and benefits of each. I knew that I wanted a balance of linoleic and oleic acid-rich oils, since using only oleic-rich options would cause more acneic skin to break out. Since I wanted this formula to be lighter for the warmer months and oilier skin types, I also knew I had to decide on an aqueous base that was both moisturizing and soothing.

For the aqueous element, I decided on organic aloe vera gel. I quickly learned that many premade aloe gels contain carrageenans and sodium benzoate, so I learned how to make my own organic aloe using water, organic aloe vera powder concentrate, and xanthan gum. Aloe is cooling and hydrating with a 0 comedogenic rating. It’s also a cost-effective and powerful ingredient that offers awesome skin benefits without jacking up the price of the product.

As for the oils & butters, I settled on:

  • shea butter – rich in oleic and stearic acids; antioxidant & anti-inflammatory, comedogenic rating of 0
  • safflower oil – rich in both oleic and linoleic acids; antioxidant & anti-inflammatory; easily absorbed; comedogenic rating of 0
  • sunflower oil – rich in linoleic, oleic, and palmitic acids; antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and soothing; easily absorbed, comedogenic rating of 0
  • hemp seed oil – rich in linoleic and gamma-linoleic acids; antioxidant & anti-inflammatory; easily absorbed; comedogenic rating of 0
  • argan oil – rich in linoleic acid; antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, & antibacterial; easily absorbed; comedogenic rating of 0
  • rosehip oil – rich in oleic, palmitic, linoleic, and gamma-linoleic acids; antioxidant & anti-inflammatory; easily absorbed, comedogenic rating of 0

 Even though I knew I wanted to use these specific oils, getting the right concentration was a challenge. I started with the ratios I used in the Whipped Facial Cream and worked from there. Ultimately I wanted a thick, creamy formula that would go a long way – I wanted the “use a fingerprint amount” guidance I give to customers to apply to both facial moisturizers. But I also didn’t want the aloe to feel like an afterthought. Balancing the proportions of shea (the most viscous ingredient) with aloe (the least viscous ingredient) was a challenge, and it took a few trials to get it the way I envisioned.

I also anticipated the common complaint with super pure natural moisturizers – that it feels too “greasy.” Given that silicones are on my no-go list, I knew that was not an option, so I set out researching safe silicone substitutes that would help reduce the greasy feeling and allow for efficient absorption, without being a harsh penetration enhancer, of course. Ultimately, I landed on a fatty alcohol called alkyl benzoate. Fatty alcohols behave like oils rather than alcohols, and alkyl benzoate is a super safe and effective option. Getting the concentration right of course took a few tries but it definitely changed the feel of the formula for the better.

The last few ingredients were easy to choose – I knew I would need a preservative because of the aloe in the formula, so I turned to my trusty friends lactobacillus ferment. and lactobacillus and cocos nucifera extract. When it came to my choice of essential oils, I knew I wanted something very light and gentle. Given the gentle factor, I quickly ruled out more astringent options like tea tree and lemongrass. I settled on frankincense, lavender, and geranium essential oils to serve as calming, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory elements that impart a light floral/earthy fragrance. I decided to use just small amounts of these essential oils to err on the side of being gentle and light rather than overpowering.

Playing with the concentrations of shea butter, aloe, oils, alkyl benzoate, and essential oils took a little tweaking, but certainly not as much trial-and-error as any of my hair formulas. The result is a powerhouse moisturizer that lasts at least 4 months using twice daily – yes, really! When I say that a fingerprint amount will work for your whole face and décolletage, I ain’t kidding! I recommend the Light Facial Cream for oilier skin types and for most everyone during the summer months. If you are looking for a night cream and/or you have very dry skin, I’d recommend the Whipped Facial Cream instead.

Until next time,

Gabi Day


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