Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Lotions: Exciting facial moisturizer additives!

So you like your moisturizer, but you want those extra fancy ingredients to treat specific issues you might what to do?

There are literally thousands of ingredients you can add in small amounts to your moisturizers, and, as much as I'd like to, I can't spend the rest of my natural life reviewing them (hey, Animal Crossing won't play itself!), so I'm going to offer you a few ideas for neat ingredients you can add to take your moisturizers to a new, fancy level!

When you are considering what to include in combination, remember not to put together various exfoliants. One is more than enough. Otherwise, you can combine the ingredients below however you like. Choose the issue that bugs you the most - for instance, I have acne prone skin - and work from there. Find something your skin loves for that issue, then work on the next one. I know we want to maximize our facial lotion's awesomeness, but sometimes too many things is not a good thing. (I know for my hair care, I tried to get everything into the leave in conditioner, but finally realized that it's okay if I have to use a leave in and an anti-frizz spray!)

Exotic oils: Read all about these amazing oils in my post on the topic. I'm going to suggest you choose no more than one or two for your first experiment. Personally, I love evening primrose oil and squalane. You can use squalane as your main oil and leave out the others, adding only exotic oils. (They aren't that expensive, and you're only using a little bit!)

Note: If you don't want to add another hydrosol to your mixture, you can use aloe oil at 2 to 5% in your lotion for the added goodness of aloe. Considering we have such a small oil phase, you will probably want to keep the aloe vera in the water phase...but it is an option!

Powdered extracts: Again, read all about these extracts in my toner post, where I go into great detail about hydrosols and extracts. My favourite combination is honeysuckle (acne prone skin) and chamomile (soothing redness), but you can mix and match to find your favourites. (You can do this in the toner, which is far easier to make than the lotion, to see what you like before adding it to the lotion.)

Liquid extracts: Oh boy, is this a list or what? You can add many various botanical extracts (both oil and water soluble - choose either for a lotion) to your lotions, and there are dozens I could list here. I shan't - I'll refer you to The Herbarie's page on the topic so you can see for yourself.

Using a water soluble botanical extract saves you from having to include certain oils in your very small oil phase. I love the water soluble calendula oil from the Herbarie. I get all the awesome power of calendula oil in a water soluble ingredient that can be added to the water phase!

I've tried the AHA Phytofruit Mix on my acne prone skin and love it. I've also tried the Multifruit BSC and found that to be seriously awesome as well. Which brings us to...

AHA (alpha hydroxy acids): AHA are the miracle acids added to various moisturizers with the intention of reducing wrinkles and increase cell renewal. You can get them in a botanical extract form, as lactic acid, or a straight AHA form. The botanical extract form is the easiest to work with as it is more stable - the other forms may require a buffer (like diluted citric acid) to keep the pH in the right range.

BHA (beta hydroxy acids): BHAs are acids generally used for the same reasons as AHAs. Some companies call salicylic acid a BHA, but it's really not.

Salicylic acid: This is a great addition to a lotion (or toner) for acne prone skin. It works by removing skin cells from the top layer of your skin and facilitates penetration of ingredients to the skin, so it can increase the efficacy of other ingredients. Use at 1% for sensitive skin; 2% for "normal" skin. (Who has normal skin?)

Please read this post at the Personal Formulator to see a list of AHAs and BHAs with some safety information. Please do not use AHA, BHA, or salicylic acid if you are a beginning formulator. And if you want to try them to find the levels your skin will enjoy, make up the toner and use the amount you think would be best for you. If your skin responds well to this, then use that amount in your lotion.

And read these posts from - How to use AHAs in cosmetics and Salicylic Acid - before using these ingredients.

To be honest, the botanical extracts are much much easier to work with and will give you fewer headaches, and are suitable for the beginning formulator! And adding 2% sodium lactate as your humectant adds some lactic acid, which is a mild form of AHA. So leave this out if you are sensitive to AHAs. And do not include the sodium lactate at more than 2%, especially if you are using any of the AHA botanical extracts. Do not make the total amount more than 5%.

There are hundreds of different ingredients I could list here...these are only a few I've used and like. If you find something you like, read about it. Find the studies. Find out what it truly does. Some extracts can cost an absolute fortune and may be all about the hype.

For my dry-ish, acne prone, aging skin I like to use...
  • squalane as the base of my oils - I use it at 4%
  • evening primrose oil - filled with lovely GLAs my skin just loves - 2%
  • calendula oil - good for inflamed, chapped skin - 2%
  • or water soluble calendula oil at 5% of my water phase - so I'd throw in 2% camellia oil instead.
  • Multifruit BSC or AHA Phytofruit - I use this at 3% to help with cell regeneration and aging skin
  • powdered chamomile extract - I use this diluted in water at 0.5% to help with inflammation
  • powdered honeysuckle extract - I'm not going to use this if I'm using the Multifruit as they are already exfoliating enough, but you could use this at 0.5% diluted in water.
  • and, of course, 1% Vitamin E. It keeps the oils from going rancid and it is great for my skin!
Tune in tomorrow for a revamped facial moisturizer recipe including some of these amazingly cool additions!

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