Sunday, December 22, 2013

Blast from the past: Making an anhydrous eye gel with cera bellina

I was looking over the products I have on my bedside, and I realized that I haven't gushed about how much I love this anhydrous eye gel made with cera bellina. I'm using it for everything this winter - as an eye gel, but also as a cuticle balm and a lip balm. I'm finding it seals in the moisture I'm losing during the day, and I wake up with really soft lips. (Which is pretty awesome considering that my lips were bleeding and cracking a few weeks ago!)

You can make some changes with this recipe - the key is to use light feeling, less greasy feeling oils like borage, evening primrose, kukui, hazelnut, or macadamia nut oils. You can leave out the oil soluble extracts and use more oils. You can play with this recipe quite a bit, just remember to only use oil soluble ingredients. You can't add glycerin or powdered extracts or anything else you think you'd like to add.

10% borage oil
20% macadamia nut oil
19% fractionated coconut oil
10% calendula oil
12% kukui oil
4% sea buckthorn oil
5% green tea extract (oil soluble)
10% cera bellina
10% mallow extract (oil soluble)

Measure out the ingredients in a heat proof container and place into a double boiler. Heat to 75˚C and hold for a bit - maybe 5 minutes - to ensure the cera bellina melts properly. Remove from the heat and allow to cool until it turns into an oily gel, which should be around room temperature. When it's completely cooled, put into a container. I put mine in a 30 ml bottle with a decent sized orifice that I could squish.

It is vital that you heat this product to 75˚C as the melting point is 63˚C to 73˚C, and you need to make sure it is well melted!

And the product is quite yellowy because of the inclusion of the sea buckthorn oil. The colour will change depending upon the type of oils you use. Use darker oils like carrot seed and you'll get a darker product. Use a lighter coloured oil - for instance, all fractionated coconut oil - and you'll get an almost white product, like this gel with shea butter I tried.

If you don't have cera bellina, you could try making this with 4% beeswax and 6% more oil. Mix it well as it cools. I don't recommend putting it in the fridge or freezer, just mix it with a whisk as it cools and you should get a jelly like quality to it.


Ana Paula said...


Feedback time!!! (apologies in advance for rusty english - brazilian here)

I bought cera bellina from The Herbarie.
At the first attempt I used Susan's formula without the extracts because I didn't have any of them and also modified some of the oils from stuff I had:

For 100 grams

30% rosehip oil
14% calendula oil
10% fractionated coconut oil
10% baobab oil
10% meadowfoam oil
10% moringa oil
10% cera bellina
4% sea buckthorn oil
1% VIT E
1% OE

And the result was a balm consistent napalm-orage solid oil (I never saw napalm, by the way - don't judge me).

I was a bit scared by the colour. Also I wanted a softer consistency.

So I tried with less cera bellina and less sea buckthorn:

6% cera bellina (3) <-- grams - a smaller batch this time
16% borage oil (8)
10% calendula oil (5)
24% rosehip oil (12)
10% fractionated coconut oil (5)
20% jojoba oil (10)
10% kukui oil (5)
2% sea buckthorn oil (1)
1% Vit E (0.5)
1% OE (0.5)

The result was much better! A bit lighter (afterall calendula rosehip and sea buckthorn makes a pretty orange colour, but no stains this time) and much softer. But still a super-soft balm.
So at my third attempt I decide only to dilute a bit more and I added 10 grams of grapeseed oil.

It turned out perfect. I recalculated the formula and this is the recipe I loved:

Susan's Jelly Eye Night Treat Superfix

Ingredients (%)
Rosehip oil 20.0
Grapeseed oil 16.7
Jojoba oil 16.7
Borage oil 13.3
Fractionated coconut oil 8.3
Calendula oil 8.3
Kukuil oil 8.3
Cera Bellina 5.0
Sea Buckthorn oil 1.7
VIT E 0.8
OE 0.8

OEs: Elicrysium, Carrot Seed, German Chamomile and Rose.

Because German Chamomile is so blue, the colour altered to a medium-tone honey. It looks beautiful.

Why I chose the oils (not very scientific, I know):
Rosehip - I love it
Grapeseed - light feeling and gracious to the skin
Jojoba - To balance the combination and help skin to absorbs the other oils
Borage - Because Susan
Fractionated coconut oil - Because Susan (it is really greasy, isn't?)
Calendula oil - Calming efect
Kukuil - Beautiful, exotic, I got a deodorized and because Susan
Sea Buckthorn oil - Because Susan, never heard about it before.

I chose most of OEs for sensitive skin type because you know... EYES.
OE Elicrysium - anti-inflammatory and other pretty things
OE Blue Chamomile - potent against allergies and good for sensitive skin
OE Carrot Seed - potent anti-oxidant and anti-wrinkles
OE Rose - Because I was feeling poetic and I love roses and... It's suppose to help with wrinkles.

What would I change?
I will probably reduce the fractionated coconut oil, I didn't like the feeling so much.
I will definitely add more rosehip, what a great oil!

Thank you for all your insights and this wonderful and generous blog, Susan!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Ana! This should be called Ana's Jelly Eye Night Treat Superfix! You're the one who put all the work into this product! Email me at and let me know which e-book you'd like! Thanks for putting so much work into this!

As an aside, how did you like having an essential oil that smells in a facial product? I can't stand it, but I see it all the time and wonder if I shouldn't give it another try!

Ana Paula said...

Yaaaay, Susan's e-book!!! :D

About the EO's, I'm still a newbie and doing a lot of experimenting but as far as I went I can tell that it really depends from how much you tolerate a fragrance.
I thought it would be harder because I always liked my creams unscented but when I started to make my own cosmetics I realized that most everything actually has a scent itself. Take Rosehip oil or cocoa butter...
I also noticed that some EO's regarding the strong scent doesn't hold and dilutes on an acceptable smell. Some of it such as carrot seed, fades fast and the remaining scent is subtle. Elicrysium has practically no scent and blue chamomile although very strong, leaves a nice "herbary" note.
Some oils will be impossible to ignore such as tea tree, cypress or frankincense. Those I just can't tolerate on a night cream. A single drop is overpowering.
And I've learnt that 1% is sometimes a bit too much of essential oils, for as little as it sounds. Try 0.5 or 0.7 in combinations, you might be surprised.
Another trick that works for me is using a few drops of rose: not overwhelm and still a good disguise to another unpleasant scents. Rose has the power to remains even if it is just a little.
I hope I could help.

Don't miss half of the fun, Susan!! :))))

KMY said...

Hi Susan -- You've inspired me to finally experiment with my Cera Bellina. I tried making a mostly-oil lip gloss but it turned out too hard. More like a lipstick. Please advise -- can I reheat the oil+CeraBellina balm, add more oils and successfully make a stickier lip GLOSS?

Kim said...

Where did you buy the squish tube you showed in this post?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Kim! Sorry for the delay in responding. I've missed a few comments in the last months!

Can you please share your recipe in percentages and we'll see what we can figure out.

Hi Kim! It's a half-ounce hdpe bottle from Voyageur Soap & Candle!

Kirsten Thomas. said...

Hi Susan, hope you are well. I am trying like crazy to come up with an "anti aging" type eye serum, but not anhydrous, because I want peptides in it. I was reviewing some older posts and found this one...I am curious why you decided to use cera bellina. I have some, and I am a little scared of it feeling "waxy" near my eyes. What does yours feel like? I made another anhydrous eye serum a little while ago, and felt it was too oily near my eyes, which is why I am playing with hydrous ideas right now, (and I want peptides as well as green tea or revital eyes in there). I have some lovely face creams that I have done using some gel in them, to get a cushion feel, but I don't think that they willco-habitate with some of the things that I want to use. I am open to esters...I am just starting to really play with them. I guess my question is if you think that a little cera bellina will add to "glide" or feel waxy. thx.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Kirsten! This was oilier than a regular gel, although I didn't mind it much. I wouldn't use it with my lash extensions, though, as I have to keep oil away from them. I used cera bellina as I liked the feeling of it and thought it was awesome that it gelled so well.

If you don't like oiliness, you won't like cera bellina. You can try using it with some less greasy esters like IPM, cetearyl ethylhexanoate, C12-15 alkyl benzoate, and so on, but you'll still have an oily product with cera bellina. It's not so much waxy - well, that's not exactly true as it feels like there's a layer on my skin of a heavier oil, so I might call that waxy?

I'm writing shortly about two new gellants I'm using - Sepinov EMT 10 and Sepimax ZEN - although you may have seen them in the gels e-zine from Patreon. They sound like they might be a good choice?