This is getting complicated.

The more I research about cosmetic chemistry and the chemical constituents of natural ingredients, the more ideas I come up with for things to make in my “lab” (read: breakfast nook).

Today I purchased two new and unknown (to me) ingredients: vegetable glycerin and citric acid. Both of these are 100% natural ingredients, despite the sound of the names. I have been reading a lot about using skin toners for my own skin’s benefit, and since I’m making skin products I may as well give toner a shot.

Vegetable glycerin isn’t much to look at – it doesn’t have a smell, it’s slightly viscous, and crystal clear. But added to cosmetics and skin care products, it is a major player in the delivery of moisture to dry skin. It is a natural emmolient and humectant, helping restore skin’s proper water levels and maintain elasticity. I bought a 16 fl oz bottle at a local vitamin store for $8.09.

Citric acid is derived from – you guessed it – citrus fruits. It is high in alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), which is a chemical exfoliant (i.e., it separates and removes dead skin cells to reveal healthy skin), and is helpful to neutralize pH levels. It comes in crystallized powder form, and I bought a 2 oz jar at Brew & Grow for $1.20.

While I was at the vitamin store, I picked up a bottle of Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel toner for $9.79. A bit pricey, but I wanted to do a side-by-side comparison of a popular natural toner to whatever the hell I end up making. And I mean this literally – the plan is to tone one side of my face with Thayers, and the other side with my concoction. To people who see me regularly; hopefully my face doesn’t get too jacked up.

So after I got home, and took a three-hour nap, I got ready to do some serious toner research. I have mostly oily skin, and since I’ll be testing on myself, I studied up on ingredients beneficial for my skin type.

(Side note – because I love multi-tasking; while doing my research I am hydro-distilling another batch of lavender hydrosol. It’s a main ingredient in my After Sun Spray, and hopefully a good ingredient for my toner.)

The way I usually start my product research is by looking up ingredient listings in popular brands, researching “natural” or “homemade” recipes, and making a list of commonly used ingredients. After that, I do specific research of the particular ingredient(s) to determine if it will be suitable for what I want to make. Since a lot of DIY cosmetic makers don’t know the chemical properties of their ingredients, it’s sometimes hard to determine if what they’re suggesting will actually work – which leads to a lot (A LOT) of trial and error on my end. Fortunately, I’ve come across a couple really helpful cosmetic ingredient reference pages which list the chemical makeup so I can make a more informed decision. (This one is awesome – it lists recommended usage rates along with chemical properties and health benefits).

…So….after all that hullabaloo…here’s my recipe for oily skin toner:

This looks gross.

Uh, that doesn't look right.

  • 39 g  – Aloe vera liquid
  • 51 g – Vegetable glycerin
  • 60 g – Lavender hydrosol
  • 13 g – Citric acid
  • 1.5 mL – Neroli essential oil
  • 1.5 mL – Roman Camomile essential oil
  • 1 mL – Bergamot essential oil
  • 1.5 mL – Vitamin E acetate

I need a more accurate scale to measure small quantities of oil – I wanted to get a 1% usage rate of each of the oils, which works out to 1.7 g – but my scale is lame, so I had to approximate based on volume.

After I put everything in the bottle, I found that (duh) the oils and waters don’t mix well, which I thought would helped a little bit by the glycerin, but I’m probably going to have to find a suitable natural emulsifier so I don’t have to write “SHAKE THE CRAP OUT OF IT FIRST” on the bottle if I end up putting it into production.

Thus ends another day in the Bonnie R&D lab. Further research findings will be posted as they develop. Over and out.


One thought on “This is getting complicated.

  1. Natalie says:

    All your precious secrets! I’d like to take a tour of the updated Bonnie R&D lab while experiments are in progress 🙂

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