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

alright, alright… let’s make a hyaluronic acid serum

hi crunchies! let’s keep this to the point šŸ™‚Ā  i’ve never posted a DIY hyaluronic acid serum before, so here i am.

for this DIY, you will need something that blends on your behalf for the hyaluronic acid powder, a water-soluble preservative, and patience. this might cost more upfront in bulk ingredients than it would to purchase, but you can make multiple bottles and i think it’s fun to play and mix. it’s also fun to learn, as it can further help you read labels and understand what you’re actually paying for.

since we’re only making 2 ounces, let’s use a sturdy, more powerful milk frother. it won’t “froth” water, so it’s fine. since i’m sure other formulators will read this and scream in horror, please note i’m aware that a high-powered immersion blender is the best option, but we’re only working with 60 mL of liquid, so i provided a realistic option to a $350 hand blender.

hyaluronic acid serums will only ever have a 0.1% to 2% concentration of hyaluronic acid, because it swells in water and turns into a gel. you can’t add more, or it won’t dissolve. the low concentration doesn’t mean it’s not an active ingredient, but i do think the aqueous base it’s dissolved in is important. let’s opt for a skin-supporting hydrosol instead of plain water.

the molecular weight of hyaluronic acid is also important. we want HIGH molecular weight (HMW-HA).Ā here’s an article i like for explaining things in an easy-to-understand and no-frills format.

as always, NO links provided are affiliates nor do i benefit in any way. they’re there to help guide you to trusted sources only.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 ounces favorite hydrosol
    • i had cucumber at the time, but rose or tulsi would be lovely; choose based on what your skin needs
  • 1/8 teaspoon hyaluronic acid powder
  • plant-based colorant, if desired
    • i’m a huge fan of cold-infusing butterfly pea flowers to give a beautiful indigo shade to the final product. it is rich in the antioxidant anthocyanin, briefly mentionedĀ here. many companies are starting to include butterfly pea flowers in their formulations… šŸ˜‰
  • water-soluble preservative
    • this is non-negotiable. i wrote about this topicĀ here.
    • i really enjoy aspen bark extractĀ because it’s a natural BHA, but it’s very expensive. many companies formulate with this one instead.

HOW TO:

  1. add your water-soluble preservative to your hydrosol base and stir well, ensuring it’s completely dissolved
  2. add your plant-based colorant, if any. if using butterfly pea flowers, this will be like making a room temperature ‘tea’ and then straining the flowers back out
  3. completely submerge your frother and SLOWLY sprinkle in the HA as little at a time as you can. it will gel up.
  4. bottle in air-tight container. a pump or dropper bottle might be good options.

STORAGE: store in cool, dry area away from direct sunlight. toss after 3 to 6 months, always monitoring for changes in smell, appearance, or texture.Ā 

USE: use daily before creams, oils, and butters.

XO, ALEXRAYE

diy hydrogel peel off face mask

i’m currently obsessed with making hydrogels. i also love the 100% pure hydrogel face masks. here’s a DIY for that.

note the ingredients you mix in will be whatever you want to target your own skin needs. i’m a big fruit acid fan, so my mask will be tailored to a gentle peel and hydration.

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the gelling agent we’ll use is agar agar. before i went vegan i used gelatin, but honestly agar agar is better. it doesn’t smell, it doesn’t hurt when you peel it off, and it holds water better to more deeply hydrate the skin.

what i love most about this mask is the clean-up: you just peel off and go!

ingredients:

  • 6 ounces water
  • 1 teaspoon agar agar powder
  • optional – powders, oils, tea leaves, flower petals, spices, etc (max 1 tablespoon total)

for my face mask, i’m going to add in green papaya powder and hibiscus flowers. both have natural aha/bha in them and work wonders in making the skin look smoother, glowy, hydrated, and less clogged.

dav

how to:

  1. boil water WITH agar agar (and tea leaves/flowers) for about 5 minutes, or until fully dissolved. you can quickly strain out leaves and flowers now before it cools into a gel
    – please note you cannot cold process agar agar powder. it won’t dissolve.
  2. mix in any oils, spices, or powders now
  3. allow it cool slightly, and apply a thick layer evenly on your face and neck. it will cool into a gel that’s easily peeled off. any spots that are thinner will kind of hurt to peel off because they won’t be as “gel”-like
  4. let your mask sit as long as you like. my face tends to suck all the water out of the mask in about 40 minutes, so that’s what i do.
  5. enjoy your soft, smooth skin!

>> what ingredients will you mix in?

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 usesĀ , like inflammation-related diseases, to external uses likeĀ skin healingĀ Ā 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 retentionĀ (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.Ā  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