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Monday, 1 November 2010

Night Serum

What is it? And how do I make it?

A night serum is one of the simplest yet most luxurious products that you can make. The most perfect Mothers Day Gifts and a good learning process for beginners to lotion making.
A night serum is used mostly by those who have started to see the effects of time or perhaps 'burning the candle at both ends' on their complexion. It is a combination of plant oils and extracts which are dabbed gently onto the skin before bed.
While you sleep the special properties in the oils that you included in your night serum do their magic. Regular use is very beneficial to the skin and comes under the category of skin-food - the nourishing and plumping of skin cells which gives them a more youthful, healthy appearance.
If you have greasy skin you may wish to be very circumspect about how often you use a serum - but even better, since most ready bought serums are designed for those with very dry skin, you could formulate your own which will not overload your skin with oil.
The simplest form of night serum is to use a little neat plant oil on the tip of your finger and dab it on to the face very gently.

Choose an oil that suits your skin type or better still a combination of oils. You could add a couple of drops of an appropriate essential oil to enhance it’s effects - although strictly speaking, most serums do not contain essential oils. The addition of a fruit or plant extract will maximise it's potency.

A night serum is not advised for use during the day because it takes some time to be absorbed into the skin and for the purpose of nourishment of the cells it is better done very slowly while you sleep.
Patch Test
Always test your oils by applying a small amount onto the delicate skin on the inside of your elbow. Allow the oil to penetrate and leave for 24 hours. If you experience any adverse effects or allergic reaction to the oil then simply replace it in your formula with another oil.

Botanical Extracts

It is possible to purchase botanical extracts which contain beneficial skincare qualities. These are not the same as the plant oils and they are not essential oils either. These are particular, concentrated chemicals that have been extracted from specific flowers and plants such as orchid, rose, chamomile, lavender... etc. for specific skincare benefits. Suppliers will usually tell you what each extract is good for and what quantity (percentage) to use in your product. These extracts are also very useful in moisturisers and hair care products. There are both oil and water based extracts available. For a serum you should choose an oil-based extract. For a product such as a toner, you would choose a water-based extract.

Suggested Blends for your First Serum

  Emollient Night serum for Normal Skin40% Sweet almond oil
25% Safflower Oil
25% Jojoba Oil
between 5% and 10% active ingredient*
1% Vitamin E
*an active ingredient should be an oil chosen for a specific effect upon the skin. For example.. for normal skin with a tendency towards occasional acne  one could choose Avocado oil, Argan oil, Hemp or Wheatgerm oil or a rose extract, or green tea extract as the active ingredient. For normal skin with a more frequent acne problem the percentage of sweet almond oil could be reduced and the active oil ingredient percentage increased. Please note that oils with a very vivid red colour such as carrot, rosehip or sea buckthorn can stain the skin, these oils should be used well diluted. Amounts as little as 3 or 4 drops in a 100ml formula will still have a beneficial action upon the skin. To help you personalise your serum refer frequently to the list of oils and their skincare uses. in the previous post.

Moisturising Night serum for Dry Skin30% Jojoba
30% Avocado
20% Safflower
5% Evening Primrose
5% Wheatgerm
5% to 10% Active ingredient (see explanation above)
1% Vitamin E

Moisturising Night serum for Oily Skin
50% Macadamia
20% Safflower
15% Avocado
5% Calendula
5% to 10% Active ingredient
1% Vitamin E
Although these formulas may last for some time before going rancid I would advocate keeping them in the fridge and decanting only a very small amount into a bottle for use on the dressing table. Many of these oils can be purchased at a health food store or from the chemist but the botanical extracts are currently only available from specialist suppliers. The Vitamin E oil is a powerful antioxidant and will help prolong the shelf life of your blend and is also instrumental in the removal of poisons and toxins from the body.
There is no special method for mixing the oils. Simply combine them cold (oils heated above 50 degrees C can lose some of their beneficial properties).
If you absolutely insist on using essential oils (no more than 3 drops per 100ml of base formula for use on the face) can be added to any of the formulas above. It would take an entire website or book to outline the principles of choosing an appropriate essential oil, but my next post will be a beginners introduction to using aromatherapy oils, which I hope will prove sufficient for your purposes.

Enhance your Night Serum

by macerating a healing herb in one of the oils you intend to use. Instructions on how to macerate herbs in oil is coming in the next post. A brief list of herbs useful in skincare will also be given.  So do check back soon, or sign up to follow this blog.

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