DIY natural skincare is growing in popularity because of how effective it is at dramatically improving the health of our skin. One product that has attracted a great deal of attention in recent years is the increased use of botanical facial oils - or skin serums – as opposed to more traditional moisturizing creams. Rose hip seed oil, for example, which exhibits very valuable anti-aging properties due to its concentrated anti-oxidant properties, is now in common usage compared to a decade ago. By why is it that skin serums have shot to the top of the skin-care agenda lately, even within the Hollywood celebrity circle? What makes them so special? It is well known that Angelina Jolie swears that natural skin serums are the secret to her youthful, glowing complexion!

Facial serums act as lightweight moisturizers in themselves, but rather than containing a high proportion of water like a cream (which is basically a mix of oil and water), they instead typically contain a concentrated amount of nourishing ingredients. This means that rather than focusing on simply hydrating the skin, they actually ‘feed’ the skin from within, by penetrating deep into the dermal layers where the cells are being replenished and rebuilt. Natural botanical oils, such as rosehip seed oil or argan oil, also act as the ideal medium by which other active ingredients can be transported deep into the innermost cellular layers directly! That is not to say that these ‘carrier’ oils do not display a multitude of benefits in themselves. Argan oil, for example, promotes cellular regeneration, helps balance sebum production at a cellular level, has anti-inflammatory properties as well as displaying excellent skin healing qualities which can aid in the elimination of blemishes, scars, stretch marks and age spots.

Typically, facial serums are a mixture of high quality botanical ‘carrier’ oils - so-called because they act as mediums for other active ingredients – such as essential oils and other plant extracts that have additional antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and hydrating qualities as well as a wide range of other properties depending on the result required. In this field, essential oils particularly are very important ingredients to include in facial serums because they are soluble in the natural lipids present in the skin, which makes them very compatible with its cellular structure. Another reason for using essential oils combined with natural botanical carrier oils as skin care agents is that they help retain moisture within the skin without clogging the pores.

The advantage of making your own skin serum is you will know exactly what the final blend contains! Commercial products often include chemical preservative agents and are commonly based on mineral oil or low-grade ingredients. Mineral oil, for example, does nothing for the skin: it is not infused with nutrients nor does it provide hydration where it actually counts, since it just remains sitting on the surface of the skin preventing moisture loss, rather than being absorbed within. Yet, mineral oil is still marketed as a best selling baby oil and often included as the base in many skin care products simply because of its low cost! In fact, you can never be sure about the actual ingredients in most commercial skin care products or the correct proportion of active ingredients in a bottle. This is because the legal requirements for labeling cosmetics and toiletries is not strictly controlled as it is in the food industry. This ‘loophole’ in the labeling of skin care products also applies to the use of the term ‘organic’ as I outlined in a previous blog.

In my view, facial serums need not replace traditional moisturizing creams but rather provide a very important additional nutritional function. To achieve maximum effects, skin serums are best used regularly both in the morning and at night, as part of a natural skincare routine. They are most effective applied to clean and slightly damp skin: i.e. after cleansing the skin (e.g. using coconut oil) and toning the complexion (e.g. using a flower water) and if your skin is very dry, they can be applied at night after using a hydrating moisturizing cream. Remember that facial serums are concentrated and intensively nourishing, so a little goes a long way … so it is best to allow 10-15 minutes for the serum to be fully absorbed.

Here is the recipe for an organically based rejuvenating facial serum which is easy to make and that is suitable for all skin types. In this recipe, jojoba oil is used as the ‘primary’ base oil and argan oil is used as an additional ‘booster’ base oil, due to its special regenerative skin-care qualities. Generally such ‘booster’ oils deliver more intensive nourishing effects and also tend to be a bit more expensive because they have particular unique characteristics. For example, borage oil is an excellent ‘booster’ oil to include in a skin serum for dry, mature skin since it is the richest known source (24%) of the essential fatty acid, gamma- linolenic acid (GLA), invaluable for cellular skin regeneration.

Rejuvenating Organic Facial Skin Serum Recipe

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp (aprox 15ml) organic jojoba oil

1/2 Tbsp (aprox 7-8ml) organic argan oil

3 drops organic lavender essential oil

3 drops of organic frankincense oil

Directions:

Pour 15 ml of jojoba, the ‘primary’ oil into a glass beaker

Add 7-8ml of argan oil (the ‘booster’ oil) to the blend

Add 3 drops each of organic lavender essential oil & organic frankincense essential oil, adding them drop by drop.

Mix the essential oils carefully into the base oils, using a glass stirring rod.

Pour the blend into a coloured glass bottle & seal well

Store in a sealed container away from light and heat

NOTE: It is always best to do a patch test to the back of your wrist to see how your skin reacts to a specific oil blend, before applying it to your face.