i answer google search terms that brought people to my blog – PT 2

 

welcome back! ūüôā¬†

here we are again, almost exactly 1 year later (ha…), reviewing my blog stats and getting to read what people searched to wind up on this site.

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black walnut hair dye 

this was by far the most searched term that drove organic views to this site in the last year. yes, i have dyed my hair with black walnuts, and yes, it actually works. here’s the original post from 7 years ago (wow).¬†

norwex cloths

among the phrases in this search term were things like “home cleaning” and “private parts”…. when i first used norwex cloths in 2013, it was because a rep provided them to me to review. i ended loving them so much that i purchased a pack with my own money. those washcloths are still in my bathroom to this day, lovingly being used and in great shape. highly recommend!¬†

dragon’s blood

dragon what? what blood? good ol croton lechleri sap is fantastic for skin-support. i first wrote about it here, but it’s now found in countless green beauty products. and guys – it can be used undiluted on skin as a liquid bandaid. super cool!

msm face mask

methylsulfonylmethane (msm) is a sulfur compound that is great both externally and internally. if you want to learn more and try it in an exfoliating mask, try this post. if you want to combine it with anti-inflammatory powerhouse turmeric, try this post. and if you want something moisturizing and skin-softening, try this post. happy mixing!

hydrojelly face mask 

hydro-gel face masks have become my favorite, since i live in a high-altitude, dry, polluted city. think: 100% Pure but make it DIY. they’re easy to customize and easy to make, making them a fun diy tailored for your skin needs. the coolest part is they come right off with no scrubbing and no mess. i usually make/use these every other week. here’s a post!¬†

water-only washing 

while i personally can’t follow this method anymore, because i live in a high-altitude, dry, and polluted city, i think it’s a fantastic option for those that can. it’s exactly what it sounds like, and no, you won’t end up stinking. my hair ended up shinier and softer than ever, and could actually hold a curl. here’s a post on w.o.w. for hair and one for body.¬†

(product name) dupe

i do have a formulation educational series on this blog, which took inspiration from actual green beauty products on the market. while no companies or product names are used, it’s a nice series on learning to read ingredient labels and understand how that translates into a formula. it’s also a nice starting point for those wanting to get into diys, but don’t know where to start. here’s the full series. there’s lot of good info in those posts, if i do say so myself!

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anything else you’re curious about? maybe we’ll have part 3 in another year ūüėČ

XO, ALEXRAYE

cucumber gel serum

welcome back! today’s formula is super simple. it’s a lightweight, hydrating treat, perfect for hot weather.

cucumber gel serum!

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this recipe is fully customizable, as usual, so get creative!

note the links provided are not affiliates and i do not benefit in any way. they’re provided only to help you find good quality ingredients.

INGREDIENTS

  • cucumber hydrosol
    • deeply hydrating, calming, and conditioning
    • fresh and earthy smelling
    • gentle enough for all skin types
  • xanthan gum
    • gelling agent; used in miniscule quantities
    • found in your local grocery baking aisle
  • aspen bark powdered extract
    • water-soluble preservative
    • skin-conditioning
    • high in salicin
  • optional – a lightweight carrier oil
    • suggested: prickly pear seed oil or amaranth seed oil, both great for all-things-“eye”
    • note: xanthan gum can hold about 1% oil without needing an emulsifier, but it can separate over time
  • optional – water-soluble colorant

FORMULA

HOW TO

  1. in your bottle of cucumber hydrosol, sprinkle in your aspen bark powder and shake well.
  2. in the same bottle, gently and evenly sprinkle the xanthan gum across the top of the hydrosol. let sit for a few hours until the gum is fully swelled/hydrated. you can shake it after a few hours to make sure, but not before (or else you will get clumps called “fish eyes”)
  3. add up to 1% of your oil. shake well.

apply to clean skin before any creams or oils. store in a cool, dry area, away from sunlight. toss if the smell or color turns.

BONUS: you can easily turn this into a hyaluronic acid serum, since it’s mostly hydrosol. if you opt for that, omit the xanthan gum.

enjoy!

XO, ALEXRAYE

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.

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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?

XO, ALEXRAYE

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.

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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.

notes:

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.

adjustments:

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?

XO, ALEXRAYE

DIY hydrating serum (bye, hyaluronic acid)

this is a serum that’s worthy of not just your face, but your body and hair, too. it’s oil-free, so you can layer it into your existing routine, or use it alone. because it’s extremely lightweight, i think it’d be great for warmer weather when you don’t want to feel like a greasy mess.

great for all skin and hair types, easy enough to make, and powerful hydration…. let’s go!

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you could say this is a dupe of sorts, as there are a growing number of green beauty companies selling tremella mushroom water as an expensive serum. i’ll let you in on a secret – it’s an easy DIY.

but why the seemingly increased interest in this fungus? well, it’s not new. us westerners are just late to the scene. tremella mushroom (tremella fuciformis) has been in use in china for YEARS. it’s used in TCM, cooking, and beauty products.

there’s quite a few research articles on it, stemming from medicinal uses¬†, like inflammation-related diseases, to external uses like¬†skin healing¬†¬†and melanin-inhibiting properties.

i’ve read a lot of articles indicating it was used in the tang dynasty by princess yang guifei (719-756!) to keep her skin radiant. that lady knew what was up.

it’s touted as a potent antioxidant and a deep hydrator. research shows it’s a nice hyaluronic acid replacement with better moisture retention¬†(move over, hyaluronic acid!), as the particles are smaller and the mushroom can hold 500 times its weight in water. super cool! it’s also naturally high in vitamin d.

the coolest part for us DIYers is when it’s hydrated, it naturally forms a gel-like consistency. that makes it perfect as a standalone product, or to incorporate into other DIYs.¬† let your creative juices flow!

now back to DIYing this whole body serum!

INGREDIENTS

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  • water or plant root decoction
    • water is necessary to hydrate the mushroom properly, hence why DIY is better than “buy” in this case. i would advise against a hydrosol for this, because you will be boiling it for over 20 minutes
    • check below for recipe variants, where you can opt to use a plant root decoction instead of plain water. super neat!
  • tremella mushroom
    • i used the powder because i had it leftover from this face mask recipe. you can feel micro little jelly shroom pieces when you rub it on but it goes away. if you can find the whole dried mushroom, it would make for a smoother gel serum. make sure the whole dried mushroom is not bleached.
  • aspen bark extract
    • preservative – absolutely necessary. no exceptions.
  • optional – water-soluble plant-based colorant
    • i used butterfly pea flowers for a pastel indigo
    • check below for ideas in the “variants” section
  • optional – 0.5% or less concentration of essential oils that are skin-safe
    • please check contraindications with your local herbalist, aromatherapist, and healthcare professional

TOOLS

  • sauce pan
  • measuring spoons
  • spoon for stirring
  • small glass jar for mixing
  • airtight glass jar for storage (i use these – not affiliate)
    • you might need a funnel

 

HOW TO

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this recipe ended up making about 5 ounces for me, so i used a 3.3 ounce pump bottle, and stored the excess in a jar. i’ll use that part up first.

  1. in a sauce pan on the lowest heat your stove top can go, intermittently stir 22 tablespoons of water (aka 1 cup + 6 tbs), and 1 tbs of tremella powder for 25 to 30 minutes, depending on how quickly yours gels up and the excess water simmers away
    • if you’re using the whole mushroom, boil the mushroom itself for 30 to 45 minutes in 3 to 4 cups of water. it should become gel-like and concentrated. carefully (it’s hot) squeeze out the extra juices from the mushroom and toss (or keep to eat)
  2. once cooled, pour the serum into a small glass jar for mixing
  3. add 1/2 tablespoon aspen bark extract powder and make sure it’s evenly blended
  4. add your colorants and EOs, if any

done! bottle her up!

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STORAGE

  • store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place
  • toss after 3 months or if the smell takes a turn

USE

  • spot test first for any skin reactions
  • you can use this daily before any creams or oils
  • suitable for all skin and hair types

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and as with all of my DIYs, you can of course customize this recipe to be your own! see some ideas below –

VARIANTS

  • instead of using plain water, try making a decoction with a plant root your skin loves
    • since it’s being boiled for so long, roots are more suitable than leaves
    • ex: marshmallow root, peony root, burdock root
    • as always, please check with your local herbalist and healthcare professional for contraindications when using herbs
  • water soluble, plant-based colorant ideas
    • hibiscus tea for shades of pink
    • butterfly pea flowers for shades of indigo
    • turmeric for yellows
    • matcha for greens

 

>> what do you think?? share your experiences with this mushroom below!

XO, ALEXRAYE

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.

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#1

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.

notes:

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.

adjustments:

exclude phototoxic citrus EOs.

diy formula:

 

#2

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

notes:

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¬ģ AD and should be labeled like this – “Caprylic/Capric/Triglyceride (and) Alaria Esculenta Extract”

adjustments:

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

diy formula:

 

#3

product inspiration ingredients:

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

notes:

(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.

adjustments:

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

diy formula:

 

#4

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

notes:

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.

adjustments:

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!

XO, ALEXRAYE