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The Autumn Serum - DIY Recipe

A few years ago, back when I was doing my monthly beauty boxes (RIP,) I made what I thought was going to be a limited edition facial oil for an August box. To be honest, I did this not because I thought any of us needed a new moisturizer in our lives, but because I needed to come up with something exciting and special/exclusive to put in a subscription box to get more people to sign up, because August is the  s l o w e s t  month ever. 

I thought it'd be fun (and enticing) to make a set of products that would be helpful for repairing skin after too much summer fun in the sun. So I made a new mask (now my green tea and aloe mask,) and this facial oil, which I called the August serum. (Such a creative name, I know!) 

Well, oops. You people FREAKED OUT over this serum. I was practically forced to make it full time even though it was never my intention to make anything outside of my original skincare line because my whole thing was that I wanted to keep things simple and minimal. This was just supposed to be a one time, just for fun kind of experiment, just to get people to sign up for the darn box. But people kept writing to me, worried about what they were going to do when they ran out, etc., and who was I, as a newbie business just trying to make it to the next level/out of the spare bedroom at my parent's house to turn down paying customers??

(Oh, how things have changed. Haha!)

So August serum became the Autumn Serum, and everyone lived happily ever after.

For a couple of years, at least.

You see, that box was such a hit that of course I had to repeat it for every season that year! I made a winter serum, a spring serum, and a summer serum, all which I also had to offer year round because everyone had their special favorite. 

This was all well and good (and not overwhelming for me at all, HA!) until last year, when I made my facial oil for acne prone skin and sensitive facial oil and realized that I had 8 DIFFERENT FACIAL OIL OPTIONS on my website and it was no wonder no one knew which one to buy and kept emailing me with constant questions.

Also, even though everyone swore that if I released their favorite serum and made it available all year they'd buy soooo much, there's really only so much facial oil one can buy in a year. (3 - 6 bottles maybe, depending on how good you are at keeping up with your skincare?) 

So one day last summer I picked a dusty old bottle of winter serum off my shelf and thought, "Nope. I don't make things to sit around and collect dust." Just like that, I scrapped the seasonal serums and still 100% stand behind this decision. I currently have 3 (5 if you count the makeup remover + cleansing oil and all over oil,) AMAZING facial oils that I know will suit your needs beautifully no matter your skin type. I mean, what more could you possibly want from a one person business? 

Well, you want another facial oil, apparently, seeing as how people are still asking me about the Autumn serum.

So what's the big deal about this serum?

No, really, I'm asking you. 

I think it's good, don't get me wrong, but, what is it that's so much more exciting about this one compared to my other facial oils? 

I have some theories of course, but I really don't know. Tell me if any of these resonate with you.  

Theory 1: This box was the one that got a lot of you to try my skincare for the very first time, so this was your first experience with any of my facial oils, and you loved it so much you didn't think that anything else could compare, no matter how many times I tried to tell you that my other (original) facial oil is just as good. Like an if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it kind of a thing? 

Theory 2: Certain ingredients seem to have a lot of sway with people who are shopping for natural skincare. This serum has frankincense (commonly touted to cure and heal all skin issues, EVER, and also cure cancer?) and jojoba oil, which I hear over and over is the BEST, so like why even use anything else?

The answer to that is I also love jojoba, but lots of plant oils have beneficial properties, and I want to take advantage of them all, instead of limiting myself to just one ingredient. 

Theory 3: It's the texture?

If it's the texture for you, this one is most similar in texture to my makeup remover and cleansing oil for its glide, and the facial oil for acne prone skin for its lightness.

Theory 4: It's the rosehip?

If it's the rosehip for you, this one has the same amount of rosehip as my original facial oil and facial oil for acne prone skin, FYI!

They're all similar in different, subtle ways, so my answer whenever anyone asks which one is the most similar to the Autumn serum is always to just get a sample of each to try! There's also frankincense in the facial oil for acne prone skin and beauty butter, and, jojoba is also in my sensitive facial oil and makeup remover + cleansing oil.

 As you may (or may not) know, I would actually like to write a recipe book and just give you all of my secrets, but things have been absolutely INSANE this year and I haven't gotten to work on it as much as I would like.

 But people are still asking about this serum, so I thought sharing the recipe here would be a good way a) calm you down, and b) to gauge - how interested are you in having my recipes to make at home, really? And how good at writing them will I be? No idea. Let's find out!

Consider this a test run, or a way to get my feet wet, if you will. 

 Before we start, I feel like I should confess that I'm actually not a DIY kind of gal myself. At this point, considering what I do for work, I'd so much rather buy something than have to spend my precious free time making yet another mess in the kitchen. I also can't imagine myself justifying buying the ingredients in bulk to keep at home just to make one moisturizer. I'd probably do it once or twice then get busy and go buy something pre-made, feeling mega guilty about that pricey bottle of rosehip seed oil going to waste under my cabinet.

However, my goal with my (eventual) book, and sharing my recipes in general, is to show you that skincare isn't this elusive, mysterious thing that you have to go out and endlessly shop for. You can make, (or, you know, buy from me if you're not into DIY,) truly simple products that are perfectly effective without all of the smoke and mirrors and empty promises of the beauty industry's nothing's-ever-good-enough kind of consumer culture.

I want to give you my recipes because I don't think that having healthy skin is as complicated as most brands would have you believe. In fact, I've been making this stuff and using it exclusively for 6 years, so I know it's not. I believe it's so not complicated that you can actually do it yourself and your skin will be better for it, and I'd like to show you how and empower you to take control of this situation. 

First, a few notes - 

1. My plan for this (and my book,) is to give you easily convertible recipes that you don't need any special equipment to make outside of what you'd normally have in your home kitchen. I'm a big fan of converting recipes into parts so that you can easily make as much or as little as you want. (More info on that below.) You're welcome to get fancy and measure things however you like with scales and beakers and pipettes, but I'm trying to keep it simple here (as always!) 

2. I'm linking the exact ingredients from the same suppliers that I use to make this serum. You are welcome to source from anywhere else, but these are the only suppliers that I can vouch for in terms of quality and ethical/sustainable practices. 

3. Please, please don't ask me any further questions. My biggest fear with sharing my recipes is that it will open up a can of worms because no one will actually be willing to throughly read and follow the directions I've given and will instead just want to email me to ask questions/pick my brain/expect me to convert the measurements for you. (Use google if you're not sure, that's what I do! LOL!)

I'm giving you everything you need to know here and the rest is up to you. Feel free to get creative and put your own spin on it, or don't! Doesn't turn out the way I made it? Try again! Or, give up and buy one of the lovely facial oils that I have in stock here at Twinkle Apothecary. Either way, really. It's out of my hands now! 

Now, let's talk prep.

Here are a few things to keep in mind whenever you attempt DIY skincare. 

1. Keep water out of your formulations. 

Facial oils (even though I call this one a serum, it's really an oil,) are anhydrous, which means they contain no water. All of my products are anhydrous, because anhydrous products are more shelf stable and generally don't require preservatives. Water based products require preservatives to prevent mold and bacteria overgrowth.

Not to be dramatic, but getting water in your bottles will lead to disaster. And by disaster, I mean mold and harmful bacteria and microbes.

All of your containers, kitchen dishes and equipment must be completely dry before you get to work. 

2. Clean and sanitize your equipment, bottles, and work area. 

Listen, you're making something to put on your face here, so the idea is to keep potentially harmful (and breakout causing) bacteria out of the picture. Clean everything in hot, soapy water, then refer back to #1 and allow it to dry completely before you get started. 

If you're making something just for you, and you know you'll use it up well before its expiration date, your bottle and equipment is probably fine when simply cleaned with hot soapy water. 

If you're making something to share with friends and family, or, if you're going to try to sell it, everything should be sanitized too. 

Options to sanitize: 

rinse with undiluted alcohol (isopropyl is fine) 

rinse everything in an iodophor bath (this is how I sanitize my dishes and equipment at the end of the day here in my shop) 

boil for 5 minutes (assuming it's a heat safe item) 

baby bottle steamer 

UV light box or wand 

3. Use caution when working with essential oils. 

Just, be careful. They are extremely concentrated and do lead to allergic reactions with overuse. Keep them out of reach from children and pets. It's difficult to control how many drops come out if you've bought a small quantity of oil that comes in one of those bottles with the orifice reducer cap on top. I recommend keeping some pipettes on hand if you plan to formulate with essential oils often so you can have more control over how much goes in your product. 

4. Consider the shelf life and add an antioxidant to extend it if necessary. 

When you purchase your carrier oil ingredients, the supplier should list the expected shelf life in the product description. If you think you'll use up the bottle before it expires, adding an antioxidant (I use tocopherol, vitamin E, oil, link below,) to your finished product is optional. If aren't going to use it within the shelf life, you'll need to add tocopherol oil to extend the shelf life. The high level of antioxidants in vitamin E oil help stabilize the oil and keep it from, well, oxidizing. Major bonus - they're also beneficial for preventing free-radical damage on your skin!

For this recipe, the rosehip oil has the shortest shelf life, at 6 months. Combining it with jojoba, which has a longer shelf life, will extend it a bit, but the tocopherol oil will boost your entire formula, keeping it shelf stable for about a year. 

 Oil that has oxidized and turned rancid will have a very strong, waxy smell, like old melted crayons. If your skincare starts to smell like a drawer of old art supplies, it's time to throw it out. 

5. Let's talk measurements -

Like I said, I like to convert things into "parts" so it's easy to make as much or as little as you need.

This recipe is 2 parts jojoba oil to 1 part evening primrose oil, and 1 part rosehip oil.

For example, let's say you want to make 2 ounces, to fill up one of your old facial oil bottles.

2 ounces of liquid volume is about 1/4 cup. 1/4 cup is 4 tablespoons. The "part" here would be a tablespoon. Two ounces of autumn serum is 2 tablespoons of jojoba, 1 tablespoon of evening primrose, and 1 tablespoon of rosehip.

So if you wanted to make 8 ounces to fill up a big bottle, it's still 2 parts jojoba to 1 part evening primrose and 1 part rosehip. 

8 oz is 1 cup, so the recipe would be 1/2 cup jojoba oil, 1/4 cup evening primrose, 1/4 cup rosehip. (The "part" here is 1/4 cup.)

You could also use teaspoons as your "parts" if you wanted to make a tiny amount! 

1 teaspoon jojoba to 1/2 teaspoon evening primrose and 1/2 teaspoon rosehip. (1/2 teaspoon is the "part" here.)

Or, 1/2 teaspoon jojoba to 1/4 teaspoon evening primrose and 1/4 teaspoon rosehip. (1/4 teaspoon would be the "part" here.)

Whatever you have to measure with, just use 2 of it for jojoba and 1 each of it for evening primrose and rosehip. 

Make sense?

Ok. 

NOW, here's the recipe: 

The Autumn Serum

Equipment you'll need: 

A liquid measuring cup with a handle for pouring 

A spoon or stirring rod 

A small saucepan or double boiler 

A funnel 

An empty bottle with a tight fitting lid for your finished product 

Pipettes for your essential oils (optional) 

Ingredients: 

jojoba oil, rosehip seed oil, evening primrose oil, frankincense, palmarosa, and patchouli essential oils, tocopherol oil (optional) 

First, clean and sanitize your work area, allowing all of your equipment and bottle to dry completely. 

Fill the sauce pan with a couple of inches of water, and bring it to a boil on the stove.  

Add 2 parts jojoba oil and 1 part each of evening primrose oil and rosehip seed oil to your liquid measuring cup.

Optional - add tocopherol oil to extend the shelf life of your finished product.

The suggested rate for the tocopherol oil I've linked here is .05% - 1.5% 

For 2 ounces, (1/4 cup,) this converts to about 1/16 - 3/8 teaspoons of tocopherol. 

Set the liquid measuring cup in the saucepan with boiling water, taking care not to get any water inside your product. Gently heat the oil while stirring, until the ingredients come together. (You'll see it.) 

Carefully remove the liquid measuring cup from the saucepan. 

Wipe off all of the water and condensation from the outside of the measuring cup with a towel to ensure that no water droplets fall into your product. 

Next, stir in your essential oils.

For a 2 ounce serving, I use:

6 drops of frankincense

5 drops palmarosa

5 drops patchouli

For 8 ounces, that would be: 

24 drops of frankincense 

20 drops of palmarosa 

20 drops of patchouli 

This is just under 1% dilution which is the recommended essential oil dilution for sensitive skin. You could technically use up to 36 drops of essential oils for a 2 oz bottle, which would be a 2% dilution... but that's actually way stronger than any of my skincare products, and the scent will be very strong. I don't think it takes that much (at all,) but you can add more if you like. Up to you. 

Side note, I don't usually put (near) equal amounts of essential oils in my serums, but I did 6-5-5 for this one and I'm not sure why. You're welcome to add more or less of any of the essential oils to your liking. You could do 7-5-4, 8-4-4, 9-4-3... any number of combinations.

 Finally, use a funnel to pour your finished serum into your bottle and secure with a tight fitting lid. 

BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE! 

I've decided (probably against my best judgement, but remember how I said that August is the slowest month ever, and oh hey look it's 3 days away...) to make a batch of The Autumn Serum for you to purchase, just in case DIY is also not your thing. 

Here's how it will work: 

I'm making one batch of full size, 2 oz, Autumn serums.

Pre-orders are live now, and they end on August 15th. 

The Serums will ship the week of August 16th. 

Don't freak out - I'm going to start with one batch, and if it's sells out quickly, I'll add another batch for pre-order, and on and on as needed until the 15th. 

You must place your order before or on the 15th. The 15th of August is your very last chance to get an autumn serum for the year, NO EXCEPTIONS.

If this works well, I'll probably repeat for every seasonal serum! 

Ok, enjoy! 

- Stefanie -