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DIY Kaolin, Jojoba and Bamboo exfoliant with BHA

Hi guys!

Nothing groundbreaking here, I’m just posting an update on my DIY clay based exfoliating mask partly for my own sake so I’ve got a reference. This is my 4th batch now, and each batch I have a little play around with the consistency and ingredients.

I just want to credit Dragon from forum for all the great advice when I started out trying to work with clay exfoliants. She is one amazing lady. 

Last time my skin loved the exfoliation, but once the weather started cooling down it felt like the clay was drawing too much oils out of my skin. So this time the aim was to get something similar in feel to Trilogy’s Gentle Facial Exfoliant (reviewed here), so I needed to change the original formula to make it creamier (not so clay-ish), thicker, and more emollient.

The recipe:

40g Kaolin clay

15g distilled water
3g glycerin
0.5g Cetearyl alcohol (thickening, emollient and stabilises emulsion. don’t confuse this with ‘drying’ alcohols like ethanol)
12g macadamia oil, cold pressed
3g polysorbate 80 (emulsifier)
3g White Willow Bark extract (this is very high in salicylic acid, our BHA)
1g fine bamboo ground  (microexfoliating particles)
1.5g fine jojoba beads  (exfoliating beads)
4drops vanilla infused oil
2drops bergamot EO

btw recently I got a digital scale, accurate to 0.01g. Basically it has taken my DIY out of the stone age- definitely a must have, especially if you are working with powdered actives (I was working in teaspoons and cc, which seems SO lame now)  
Jojoba beads are round hydrogenated wax ester spheres made from Jojoba oil. They remove dead skin effectively without scratching the skin, like nut shells and husks can.

Fine Jojoba beads- ingredient for DIY clay exfoliant. compared with Aussie 5c coin


A superfine exfoliant, this polishes your skin like nothing else.

(do NOT snort this! XD) Superfine ground bamboo for DIY exfoliant.

Bamboo face exfoliant and Jojoba Beads from New Directions Australia
You can easily see the Jojoba beads in the swatch, and if you look really closely you can see tiny grains of the fine bamboo as well.

Swatched DIY Kaolin, Jojoba and Bamboo exfoliant with BHA
Steps by step instructions:?
‘Heat and Hold’ water and oil phases (non heat sensitive ingredients only)
1. Place oils, polysorbate, and cetearyl alcohol (waxy beads) in one shotglass; Water and glycerin in another shot glass
2. Half emerse both shotglasses in a saucepan of hot water and turn on gentle heat until cetearyl alcohol just melts into the oil.
3. Remove shotglasses from water and let stand for 15 minutes.
4. Slowly add the contents of water phase shot glass into the oils and beat with an electric hand mixer or plastic spatula until you get a smooth creamy fluid. The emulsifiers we’ve added to the oil in the previous steps means that water will be BFFs with oil in our solution!
Incorporate everything else
5. Pour your emulsified ‘lotion’ into a mixing bowl, and sift the kaolin clay slowly while mixing well.
6. Add the bamboo and jojoba beads into your mixture.
7. Add the final ingredients- White Willow Bark Extract, Optiphen (preservative), Essential Oils. Mix well.
Et Voila!! You have exfoliant!
Posted by on May 4th, 2011 in DIY Skin Care | 388comments


Mum, look what I made!- DIY 5% Niacinamide, 3% Glucosamine and green tea serum

I’ve been wanting to make this serum for awhile, after reading much discussion from other DIYers on and on the wonders of  B3 + NAG (N-Acetyl Glucosamine).

There are a few different recipes posted on the above forums, but it took me a little while to decide what I wanted out of this serum- main purposes, combination of actives, feel on skin, etc. And then there was the looooong wait for my raw ingredients to arrive from the US.

The Recipe:

5% Niacinamide (B3)
3% N-Acetyl Glucosamine

2.5% Panthenol (B5)
9% Green Tea Extract (liquid)
40% aloe vera gel (99.9% from Garden of Wisdom)
10% seamollient (liquid algae extract)
30% Hyaluronic Acid serum (1% premade)
0.5% Optiphen preservative

(note: I used the maximum recommended concentration of actives ingredients) You end up with a gel consistency serum that has a pretty silky feel (I had to play around a bit to get the texture right so that it wasn’t sticky and not too thin)

At the moment I like layering my night time skin care, so I apply this after a shower, apply a moisturiser on top, then massage a treatment oil to seal it all in (I’m using my Marie Veronique Anti Aging Oil+, which I review here) As with all my DIY skin care products, I’m always experimenting with new ingredients with each new batch, so I’ll see how this batch goes for the next 2 weeks and probably play around with tweaking percentages and/or adding new ingredients. ?

Why Niacinamide and NAG?

Topical application of niacinamide has been shown to increase ceramide levels in the skin (our skin’s own emollient), significantly reduce water loss from the skin (2% Niacinamide is more effective than petrolatum in reducing water loss), thus boosting skin hydration from inside out. 

Niacinamide is also one of the few effective non-hydroquinone treatments for hyperpigmentation which is great for overall brightening, and fading/preventing freckles and melasma spots. *Woot*

There are also studies that show that it reduces red blotchiness, sallowness, fine lines, and is 4% is comparable to (the acne medication) Clindamycin in treating acne.

Glucosamine also has anti-inflammatory, brightening, and hydrating properties. Glucosamine and Niacinamide work synergistically to boost hyaluronic acid levels in the skin and increase collagen production.
Olay Regenerist products are based around the Niacinamide and NAG combo, although I don’t think they list the concentration of these actives. If you’re not partial to DIYing your skin care this is another option (I haven’t tried this line of products so let me know if you like this).


Posted by on Apr 18th, 2011 in DIY Skin Care | 1,693comments

DIY Kaolin Clay, Jojoba, and Vitamin C exfoliant

I had nothing planned for the night, so I decided to play with some of the lovely clays and exfoliating agents that I bought at New Directions . I had so much fun experimenting with these ingredients to make a clay based facial exfoliant/mask.
why these ingredients? the Kaolin clay is to refine pores and bring impurities to the skin surface; the jojoba beads is superfine spheres that give a ‘microdermabrasion’ type effect; the ground almond meal gives more of a courser, yet gentle exfoliation and improves circulation when massaged into the skin; the L-ascorbic acid AKA vitamin C is used for antioxidant effects (boosting collagen production) as well as giving a very mild chemical exfoliation; the macadamia oil is an emolliant; vitamin E is used to stabilise the vitamin C as well as being a skin nutrient.
Recipe: (enough for about 5-6 uses)
5tbspn Kaolin Clay
2tbspn Jojoba beads
1tbspn Ground almond meal
10mL Distilled water
1cc L-ascorbic acid (from lotioncrafters)
1cc Vitamin E (covi-ox) from lotioncrafters.
3cc Macadamia Oil, coldpressed
1cc Polysorbate 80 (emulsifier)
a few drops optiphen (preservative)
0.5cc Glycerin.
[EDIT]  after consulting with some brains from I realised that the L-ascorbic acid wasn’t such a good idea (it might react with metal ions that might in the raw ingredients), and salicylic acid was the way to go. So my next batch used White Willow Bark Extract (very high conc. of salicylic acid, and with other nutrients), and I decided to use Cetyl Alcohol in the oil phase to make it thicker/more emollient. 
1. Hydrate the Kaolin clay powder with distilled water to make a paste. mix in 1cc of L-ascorbic acid (this will be the antioxidant and mild chemical exfoliant)
2. Add the jojoba beads and almond meal to the Kaolin clay paste.
3. In a shotglass mix the vitamin E oil, macadamia oil, glycerin and polysorbate 80.
4. slowly add the remaining distilled water into the shotglass with oils, you will get a creamy emulsion.
5. slowly stir in the contents of the shotglass into the bowl with clay/exfoliants. Stir well.
I used it once tonight, and my skin is in HEAVEN. I can’t stop touching it.  

My first attempt was a flop- I had way too much oil and I used Xanthan gum as a thickener which gave it a really weird texture. Glad I had another go, second time was a charm.

I can’t wait to experiment with adding Manuka honey, and using maybe French Pink Clay instead of the kaolin. Thank god for weekends!

Posted by on Apr 7th, 2011 in DIY Skin Care | 187comments

DIY skinceuticals: 15% water soluble C , E, ferulic serum

I have well and truly caught the DIY bug, and it’s getting very difficult to resist buying every exotic carrier oil and hydrosol, and every cutting edge peptide out there during my lunch break.

DIY Vitamin C E ferulic serum with jasmine

Last friday I made another C serum, based on Kassy’s recipe from forum. This time I used the L-ascorbic acid (water soluble) form of vitamin C, which behaves very differently from the “tetra” C from my previous DIY serum.

Why bother with a different form of C, you ask? In a nutshell, the water soluble L’ascorbic acid and the oil soluble Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate penetrate the skin through different mechanisms and some people respond to one form much better than the other, so it’s worth having a play with both of them!

Unlike Tetra C, L-ascorbic acid is a very unstable antioxidant in the presence of water, air, and UV light and this is why we are adding the vitamin E and ferulic acid (they are both potent antioxidants in their own right but they also stabilise and work synergistically with the C). This power trio is the basis of Skinceuticals’ cult product C E ferulic, and I believe Skinceuticals still has a patent on that combination.

Even with the stabilising factors, using airless pumps, and other precautions,  L-ascorbic acid will inevitably start to oxidise within 3 months or so… which is why making small batches at home each month makes so much sense rather than spending $150 on a bottle that is probably half oxidised.

note: L-ascorbic acid serums need to have a pH of less than 3.5 to penetrate the skin.

The recipe:
(based on Kassy A’s 2010 recipe from, with some tweaks by moi)

–  3 tsp Distilled H20 (has to be distilled because metal ions from tap or bottled water will react with the L-ascorbic acid)

–  1 tsp L-Ascorbic Acid (15%)- I used the ultrafine crystals from Lotioncrafters
–  1 tsp Sea Kelp Bioferment (packed with skin nutrients, the active ingredient in La Mer products)

–  1/2 tsp Macadamia Nut Oil (this enhances penetration, and is an emollient) 

–   a few drops of jasmine essential oil (because I love the smell)

–  1/2 tsp Glycerin  (humectant)

–  1/4 tsp vitamin E oil (I used Covi-ox from lotioncrafters)

–  1/8 tsp Ferulic Acid (yellow-white powder)

–  1/2 tsp Vodka (this is to dissolve the ferulic acid)

–  0.6 ml/cc Polysorbate 80 (2%, this is the emulsifier)

–  3 drops of Optiphen (preservative)

–  1 pinch Xanthan Gum (to create a gel texture)

Glass #1: (water phase)

 Add L-AA to warmed water and stir till dissolved, when that is fully dissolved then stir in Optiphen, and finally the Xanthan Gum.

Adding exactly 15mL of distilled water to L-ascorbic acid powder in shotglass #1

L-ascorbic acid solution with Xanthan Gum and optiphen.

Glass #2 (oil + emulsifying phase)

Pour vodka on top of the Ferulic acid powder and stir well, then add the glycerin.

Ferulic Acid powder in shotglass #2
2.5mL of vodka to dissolive ferulic acid.

Add the Sea Kelp Bioferment (which I’ve warmed up by standing the measuring flask in hot water until liquid) , and stir well. Add the emulsifier then finally the vitamin E oil and the macadamia oil- stirring well the whole time.

Dizzy testing out the SKB 🙂

Glass/cup #3 (You will now mix the 2 phases together)

I mix the two phases in small amounts until I get a smooth emulsion with a gel texture. Then I tested the pH and added a few drops of jasmine essential oil.
I should tell you that it took me two tries to get this recipe to work for me. The first time I added too much oil and too little polysorbate 80 everything separated, and the ferulic acid totally did NOT dissolve. Also the serum was very very watery so I decided to pick up some Xanthan gum which thickened it up nicely and also stabilised the emulsion.  Yay!
DIY C E ferulic serum setup with shotglass #2 being warmed in hot water

TA DA!!! DIY 15% Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid), E, ferulic serum
note to self: must get digital pH meter, these paper strips suck ass.
TA DA!!! DIY 15% Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid), E, ferulic serum

Using the serum:

I’ve used it the last few nights and although there is some tingling (it is quite an acidic formula), I didn’t get full blown stinging that some people on the forum experienced with this concentration of C.

This serum on it’s own doesn’t moisturise my skin enough so I like to put a cream on top once the serum is absorbed. My skin is feeling a bit sensitive after use, but very soft in the morning. Will update you all on how things go.

Will play a little with the ingredients in my next batch. May put in some Idebenone (the active ingredient in Prevage), and hyaluronic acid… we shall see!

Posted by on Mar 28th, 2011 in DIY Skin Care, Skincare | 1,588comments

DIY 10% Oil Soluble C, E, and jojoba serum- Before and After

I almost wish that I didn’t promise to include before and after photos for the review of my DIY C serum- not because my skin didn’t respond to the serum, but because it requires close up shots of my face without makeup *Eeeekkk*
A few weeks ago I blogged about my very first DIY skin care project, which was the 10% tetra (oil soluble) C, E, and Jojoba Serum.
I’ve explained why I chose this particular formulation, and included pictures of everything here. I actually added a few drops of Jasmine essential oil a little later as an afterthought, mostly because it smells lovely but also because I’ve read that it’s good for wrinkles.

The serum:

I massaged half a pump of the serum on the left side of my face until it was fully absorbed. This formulation is fairly light and gets absorbed easily by my (dryish) skin, leaving behind a lovely glow and a faint jasmine scent.
On the right side I’ve just used straight Jojoba oil which serves as my scientific ‘control’ (woops, is my nerd showing? LOL)

The results:

After about 3 weeks of using this every night I’ve noticed a modest, but noticable (by me) reduction of fine lines under my eyes. Needless to say I’m pretty happy about this because I’ve never had any real improvement in fine lines with previous eye creams, only temporary ‘cosmetic’ improvements from light diffusing particles and silicones. For a more dramatic result, I think I would supplement this with something along the lines of Retin-A.

There is also a slight fading of my sunspots on the top of my cheekbones, which is an expected result because vitamin C inhibits melanin synthesis.

I’m also using this for it’s potent antioxidant benefits, mopping up all the damage my skin sustains during the day from UV damage, pollution, and other environmental assaults.

Where to from here?

Although we all know that a product should be trialled for 4 weeks or more, I know that my skin responds reasonably well to this particular active (tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, the oil soluble form of pure vitamin C).  

Before I start getting more complex with my concoctions and adding 4+ actives in the same serum, I want to have an idea how my skin responds to each active (there are plenty of clinical studies out there on the various anti-aging actives available, but each person will respond differently and what works for the majority of people may not necessarily work for your skin.)

—– BEFORE —–

 —— AFTER —–


After 3 weeks of the C E Jojoba serum: modest reducion of fine lines under eyes, modest fading of sunspots on top of cheek, improved skin texture overall.


After 3 weeks of the C E Jojoba serum: modest reducion of fine lines under eyes, modest fading of sunspots on top of cheek, improved skin texture overall.

I’ve just received a package from and so excited! Expect a DIY ingredients haul post soon!
note: I want to share some of my favourite resources for DIY skin care info-  forum for recipes and advice by great minds in cosmetic chemistry forum, also for recipes and advice by great minds in cosmetic chemistry   for general information and clinical studies

Do you DIY skin care? I’d be very interested to hear all about your thoughts/recipes/comments!
Posted by on Mar 24th, 2011 in DIY Skin Care, Skincare | 321comments

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