diy formulation educational series: luxury face oil

hello friends! i’m back again with another DIY face oil formula, taking inspiration from a $225 / 0.67 fl ounce night serum. picking apart ingredient lists is a fun hobby for me, however weird that sounds.

it has really great ingredients, but can be DIY’ed because – 1. it’s completely anhydrous; and 2. doesn’t need to extract from whole plant materials.

please note the upfront costs are high (still lower than the price of the finished 0.67 fl oz product), but will yield multiple batches.


here are the original ingredients:

Opuntia ficus-indica (Prickly Pear) Seed oil*, Supercritical Rosa Mosqueta (Rosehip) fruit oil extract*, Sclerocarya birrea (Marula) seed oil*, Supercritical Borago Officialis (Borage) Seed oil extract*, Adansonia digitate (Baobab) seed oil*, Caulophyllum Inophyllum (Foraha) oil*, Argania spinosa (Argan) nut oil*, Curcubita pepo (Pumpkin) Seed oil*, Camelina sativa (Camelina) oil*, Nigella sativa (Black Cumin) oil*, Ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q10), Supercritical Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Berries extract*, Supercritical Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) seed extract*, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride and Pheonix Dactylifera (Date) Seed Extract, Supercritical Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) extract*, essential oils of: Boswellia Carterii*, Helychrisum italicum*, Daucus carota*, Commiphora myrrha*, Pelargonium x asperum*, Cananga odorata*, Jasminum grandiflorum L. extract*, Elettaria cardamomum L*, Rosa centifolia extract*

aren’t the ingredients great? my personal favorite oil for skincare is prickly pear seed oil. it’s pretty pricey but oh-so-worth-it. it’s nice to see it at the top of the list!

formulation notes:

ingredients have to legally be listed by % contribution in descending order. knowing that, when creating a diy dupe we want to look for the “1% line.”

one “1% line” we sort of could use is the ubiquinone, aka co-q10. this is a bright orange powder and is typically used at 0.3-3%…  a bigger range than is helpful to us.

however, next in the formula is sea buckthorn berry oil. we know that SBO can be used up to 1% topically without staining, so normally we could cut it there. since co-q10 is also bright orange, let’s call the SBO at 0.5%. if you’re still following, anything above that is >0.5% contribution, and anything below is less.

black cumin seed oil is very near and dear to my heart, but it is quite a strong smelling little guy… very medicinal. i will assume, due to the strong scent, it’s also lower on the lower side of the formula % contribution.

do you see where instead of the individual ingredients being separated by a comma they’re instead connected with an “and”? that means it’s a pre-blended product. hint: it’s “caprylic/capric triglyceride and pheonix dactylifera (date) seed extract.” in this case, the product is known as d’orientine s. it’s typically used at 1-2.5% concentration, but i think it’s used less here, given that SBO is listed ahead of it.

and lastly, the rosemary extract used here is an antioxidant (not a preservative), and is typically used at up to 0.5%.

for the rest of the oils: prickly pear seed oil is super pricey, so let’s assume it’s no more than 20%. that being said, the blend of the main carrier oils could be anything from an equal split to being mostly prickly pear seed oil. this is where your personal preference and skin type would come into play. regardless, tamanu oil can be a little thick and greasy, so let’s assume it’s not a huge part to the overall formula, even though it’s listed towards the top.

formulation adjustments: 

let’s make the EOs optional, due to high upfront costs, as well as a safety precaution. if you’re an aromatherapist – first of all, you’re cool; second of all, blend EOs to your heart’s content. either way, if you choose to add these EOs, please do not use more than a total contribution of 1%.

the original formula is NOT suitable for blemish-prone skin, but this DIY will be as close to the original as i can get. if you want something for blemish-prone skin, try  this post for the best and worst facial oils and this post for an overview on different oils and their comedogenic ratings. 

diy formula:

NONE of the links provided benefit me in any way. they’re here to save you time and energy searching for them.

total cost: $141.55

total possible 1 fl ounce batches*: 2.5

*if using 15 mL prickly pear seed oil as your constraining factor… if you repurchase that, you will have many more batches from the other oils
**minimum amount saved… assuming only 2 purchased bottles, not 3 to fully cover the 2.5 oz of dupe you can make


what do you think? do you think this would be a luxurious gifting idea?


diy formulation educational series – facial botanical serum

welcome back! today we’re formulating another diy face oil.

as always, NONE of the links provided are affiliates. i do not benefit in any way, i’m just trying to point you to reputable suppliers that i personally use if you want to try to DIY these.


ingredient list from inspiration product:

grape seed oil, hazelnut seed oil, bergamot peel oil, avocado oil, marigold extract, rose absolute, carrot seed oil, evening primrose oil, rosehip seed oil, lemon peel, lavender flower, alfalfa leaf, nettle leaf, dandelion leaf, frankincense oil, neroli flower oil, rosemary leaf extract, sea buckthorn fruit oil, turmeric root oil, cypress leaf oil, jasmine flower, tamanu oil.


firstly, please check with your local herbalist if the herbs and essential oils used in this formula are appropriate for use by you. i will have my certification soon and can start helping, but until then, ask a locally certified herbalist, pretty please.

right off the bat i can tell you this oil blend is not suitable for blemish-prone skin, despite how it’s marketed. hazelnut and avocado are too high oleic acid.

as for formulation, the original company discloses they do start with many whole plant materials, so let’s assume that’s true and all their extracts were oil-infused for 4 to 6 weeks. additionally, the herbalist rule of thumb is 1 ounce dried herbs per 10 ounces carrier oil, so making only 1 ounce will be tricky. we’ll use more than this though, to make it more potent… about 25% dried herbs and 75% carrier oil. the formulation will also be in %s, so that will help you scale.

another note on formulation – finding the “1% line” for recreating formulations was relatively easy, because bergamot EO is near the top. it’s phototoxic so we won’t be adding it, but it served its purpose for our dupe, so let’s be thankful for that reason. we also know that sea buckthorn fruit oil needs to be used at 1% or less because it can stain light skin. i have purchased and used the original formula, and based on the color i saw with my own two eyes, i’m guessing it’s used at less than 0.5%*, not 1%.  *-i say less than 0.5% because it’s below all the EOs, where the total EOs would be 1% or less.

if we work backwards and assign our EOs 0.2% contributions to keep us under 1%, we have 97% of our formula left for the 3 carrier oils. rose absolute is extremely potent, and considering there are no real distinct rose notes in the final (real) product, the % contribution is likely very, very low.

lastly, because we’re infusing the grapeseed oil, we will assume at least 75% of the remaining 97% is grapeseed, and evenly split the other two.


eliminate phototoxic EOs. use jasmine flower extract, as just “jasmine flower” is listed, which is not correct because there is no remaining whole plant material in the product. use turmeric root CO2, as “turmeric root oil” does not exist. assume frankincense oil is a CO2. infuse plant materials in grapeseed oil.

diy formula:

pro tip – you can purchase sample sizes of many ingredients from eden botanicals… spending $2 or $3 when it’s all you need is much better than shelling out for the 5 or 30 mL sizes.


what do you think?


diy formulation educational series – face oils

welcome back! today we’re formulating face oils! this is part one… part two coming next week, with a couple big hitters.

as always, NONE of the links provided are affiliates. i do not benefit in any way, i’m just trying to point you to reputable suppliers that i personally use if you want to try to DIY these.

there are some oils listed in the inspiration product formulations that i do not believe belong on your face, either due to comedogenic rating and/or high oleic acid content, but everyone’s skin is different. for that reason, the diys will be listed as close to the original as possible and i will note which ones i do not prefer.

last thing to note, which i always harp on – oils do NOT hydrate. they moisturize. if a company is advertising a “hydrating” anhydrous face oil, walk away.




product inspiration ingredients:

*Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, *Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, *Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Prunus Domestica (Plum Kernel) Oil, *Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil, *Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Fruit Oil, *Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Fruit Oil, *Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Oil, *Calophyllum Inophyllum (Tamanu) Seed Oil, *Borago Officinalis (Borage) Seed Oil, Aleurites Moluccans (Kukui Nut) Oil, *Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, *Pelargonium Graveolens (Geranium Rose) Oil, *Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, *Citrus Sinensis (Sweet Orange) Oil, *Citrus Limon (Lemon) Oil, *Rosa Centifolia Flower Extract, *Rosa Damascena (Bulgarian Rose) Oil, *Citrus Aurantium (Neroli) Oil, ***Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Seed Oil, Ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q10), +Limonene, +Citronellol, +Geraniol, +Linalool, +Citral, +Eugenol.


this oil blend is only suitable for skin that can tolerate occlusive oils that are high in oleic acid. if you have sensitive skin or blemish-prone skin, please steer clear.

avocado oil carries a comedogenic rating of 3, moderate likelihood to clog pores in most people. olive oil and plum kernel oil are both high in oleic acid and are not good for blemish-prone skin. tamanu oil is thick and sticky, and high in oleic acid. i would not suggest it for acne-prone skin, although it ironically helps with acne scarring.

lastly, grapefruit and lemon EOs are phototoxic and absolutely do not belong on your face. we’ll stick to just using rose EO (and before you worry about the price, we’ll opt for a sample size for $3).

for formulation, we know the “1% line” is around the geranium EO, however, that EO is so incredibly strong that it’s most likely being used at much less than that. we also can see there are many EOs, and the combination of them should total up to be less than 2% (which is still a lot; i usually opt for 1%). i question this total % though, because this company makes a balm with a blue EO at a very high concentration for coloring. let’s just be kind and assume total EO blend is less than 1%, and i say 1% because of the sea buckthorn oil.

we know that sea buckthorn FRUIT oil (as compared to seed) is concentrated and extremely pigmented, so let’s use that as another formulation guideline, where no more than 1% can be used without staining light skin. as the rest of the oils are carriers, let’s apply the 1% to the rest of the list. additionally, we know that pomegranate oil and tamanu oils are pretty thick and sticky, so their concentrations, i would assume, would likely be low, for a better skin feel for the consumer.  to put this into perspective, for the 1 ounce bottle, you’re getting about 6 drops of the ingredient if it’s used at 1%.

as for the carrot seed oil and coq10, we know our total EOs are 1%, so divide that over 7 EOs and you get about 0.15% each. why is this important? because now we know what the total weight contribution is for the carrot seed oil and the coq10, since they’re listed after. let’s assume 0.15% each for math.

lastly for formulation, since we are working backwards from the 1% SBFO, we see that we have a very hefty over 90% of our formula left. let’s divide that relatively evenly over the remaining carrier oils, even though that’s likely not the true formula. while it would be safe to assume this formula is mostly avocado oil, we have no way of knowing what the actual percent contributions are.


exclude phototoxic citrus EOs.

diy formula:



product inspiration ingredients:

Squalane, Jojoba Esters, Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil*, Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel oil*, Plukenetia Volubilis Seed Oil*, Camellia Oleifera Seed Oil*, Sambucus Nigra Fruit Extract, Arnica Montana (Arnica) Extract*, Borago Officinalis (Borage) Leaf Extract*, Calendula Officinalis (Calendula) Flower Extract*, Medicago Sativa (Alfalfa) Extract*, Spiraea Ulmaria (Meadowsweet) Extract*, Caprylic/Capric/Triglyceride, Alaria Esculenta Extract, Tocopherol, Aroma


there are a lot of plant extracts, so let’s assume they’re being infused in olive oil for 4 months.

having jojoba esters as the 2nd ingredient is perplexing to me, as this ingredient is more commonly found in ‘thicker’ products like balms. you can use it in a 0.5% concentration for lighter oils, but that means the infused olive oil is less than 1%. i’m going to assume this is a mislabeled product.

the caprylic/capric triglyceride and alaria esculenta extract is actually mislabeled. this is a pre-formulated product known as Juvenessence® AD and should be labeled like this – “Caprylic/Capric/Triglyceride (and) Alaria Esculenta Extract”


excluded jojoba esters. excluded Juvenessence® AD and substituted with another anti-aging oil. excluded “aroma.”

diy formula:



product inspiration ingredients:

argan oil, marula oil, prickly pear seed oil, olive-derived squalane, white peony root


(ingredient list no longer listed on website as of publication of this post)

first off, this oil is marketed as “100% non-comedogenic” and that’s simply not true. please do not put marula oil on your face. it’s rated a 4/5 on the comedogenic scale, clogging most pores, and is high in oleic acid, which will break out those with blemish-prone skin. it’s a great body oil, though! in place of this rapidly absorbing oil, we can substitute with another rapidly absorbing oil that’s actually non-comedogenic – amaranth – or we can increase the expensive prickly pear seed oil. let’s use the amaranth as a substitute.

next, infusing white peony root into an oil wouldn’t yield any skin benefits. this root needs to be decocted or extracted in alcohol. since no alcohols or water are listed, we know it’s being infused in one of the oils listed, which is unfortunately a waste of a precious plant material and highly misleading marketing.


substituting marula oil for a non-comedogenic one. removing white peony root, because it’s not being used properly.

diy formula:



product inspiration ingredients:

Squalane, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Aleurites Moluccanus Seed Oil, Tocopherol, Tanacetum Annuum Flower Oil, Jasminum Sambac (Jasmine) Flower Extract, Rosa Damascena Flower Extract

olive-derived squalane, jojoba seed oil, caprylic/capric triglyceride, kukui nut oil, tocopherol (vitamin e), blue tansy EO, jasmine EO, rose EO


caprylic/capric triglyceride is technically a fractionated coconut oil, but it’s been separated using chemical reactions, not manually with just heat. it’s probably used here as an emollient, but… why? most likely because it’s cheap (aka, it lowers their cost of production significantly, versus using another carrier), incredibly stable, and fast-absorbing.

tocopherols are usually used at 0.5%, which means everything after that is in small percent contributions. let’s use that as our line in the formula. the 3 ingredients listed after are EOs, so their total combined contribution will be 1%. because this formula is so blue, let’s assume a 0.5% just for the blue tansy.

as a side note, if you have very blemish-prone skin, kukui nut oil may be too high in oleic acid for you and cause breakouts.


increased the squalane to replace the caprylic/capric triglyceride. they’re both fast-absorbing.

diy formula:



whew. this was a long one, but i hope it inspires you.

leave your findings and formulations below for the community to learn even more!



top 5 / bottom 5 face oils commonly used

the green beauty world is saturated with oil blends right now (pun kind of intended). to help try and guide you, i’ve compiled a list of the top 5 and bottom 5 most commonly used oils, – – NOT of all time. that can be another post, heehee. if i was including the top 5 of all time, you already know i’d be including what i use in The Botanical Dew 😉

with less than 2 months left before this blog’s hiatus, i’m trying to arm you to be a more educated consumer as best as i can. it’s why i started this blog, after all!

skincare is incredibly personal, so what really works for one person could be disastrous for the next. let’s keep in mind this is all relative and meant to serve as a loose guide to understanding oils and their components. and plus – i think all of these are great for body and hair.

to rank these, i’m using what i’ve found to be the best way to cross-check if an oil would do well on your face – 1. comedogenic rating; and 2. oleic acid percentage.

comedogenic rating is how likely the oil is to clog your pores, on a scale of 0 (not likely) to 5 (very likely).

i use oleic acid as an indicator because i like to work off the norm, not the exception*. oleic acid is the naturally occurring omega-9 fatty acid, that your body produces. it commonly disagrees with oily, or sensitive, or acne-prone skin. linoleic acid, omega-6, is the better, and lighter, fatty acid that your body does not produce. it reduces clogged pores. this is not to be confused with linolenic acid, omega-3, which commonly clogs most people’s pores and should be avoided for use on your face.

here’s my take on the bottom and top oils most commonly used in face oils (not of all time).


5. camellia seed oil

  • comedogenic rating – 2 to 3
  • oleic acid – 60-80%

4. macadamia nut oil

  • comedogenic rating – 3
  • oleic acid – 65%

3. avocado oil

  • comedogenic rating – 3
  • oleic acid – 70%

2. marula oil

  • comedogenic rating – 3 to 4
  • oleic acid – 70-75%

1. coconut oil

  • comedogenic rating – 4
  • oleic acid – 10%


5. grapeseed oil

  • comedogenic rating – 1
  • oleic acid – 20%
  • linoleic acid – 70%

4. argan oil

  • comedogenic rating – 0
  • oleic acid – 45%
  • linoleic acid – 40%

3. squalene (plant-derived or in whole plant form like amaranth oil)

  • comedogenic rating – 0
  • oleic acid – n/a (ex: amaranth – 25%)
  • linoleic acid – n/a (ex: amaranth – 55%)

2. hemp seed oil

  • comedogenic rating – 0
  • oleic acid – 10%
  • linoleic acid – 60%

1. prickly pear seed oil

  • comedogenic rating – 1
  • oleic acid – 20%
  • linoleic acid – 60%
  • palmitic acid – 20%


do you disagree or agree with any? any you’d like to add? please share with our community.


*please note that oils high in oleic acid are sometimes favored by mature skin for deep moisturizing.