Sunday Morning Formulating: Green Tea Gel Hydrator

I got up this morning and while I was making my coffee, I decided to make a Green Tea Gel Hydrator to go underneath my MAP serum, moisturiser, and Rose Sunscreen.

I thought I might do a quick post demonstrating just how easy it is to formulate pretty much any actives you want to. In the time it took me to make my coffee, I also had a Green Tea Gel Hydrator.

Why did I choose Green Tea extract? Well, it’s a pretty impressive extract:

– promotes wound/ skin repair

– protects against UV damage and skin ageing

– thickens the skin to give a youthful look

– promotes proper barrier function of the skin

– slows down ageing of the skin


Let’s get on board!


Okay, so as I boiled the kettle I rummaged around at pulled out:

1. Green Tea from SEA

2. Sclerotium Gum stock serum from the fridge

3. Phenoxyethanol (preservative)

I also wanted to use Green Tea at a high percentage as I really wanted to test its effectiveness on my skin without other actives acround. I went to SEA’s brilliant batch size calculator (you can find it on the SEA home page) to figure out how much of everything I needed:

Green Tea Gel Hydrator


Green Tea – 5%

Sclerotium Gum stock serum @ 1% –  94.5%

Phenoxyethanol 0.5%


I wanted to make 35 ml to go in to a 30 ml airless pump (make more because some will cling to the sides) so the batch calculator told me I needed:

Green Tea 1.75g

Sclerotium Gum 33.07g

Phenoxyethanol 0.18g

Now it’s just a matter of weighing everything and mixing it together:



Now to label it and add to my stash:

Very easy indeed!

See how easy it is to mix something for yourself? Moreover, as it’s fresh, the effects are going to be more pronounced than something that’s designed to sit on a shelf for two years.

I’m really liking this Green Tea Gel Hydrator. Sticky at first, but then after a few seconds sinks in to the skin and leaves it wonderfully soft and smooth. I’m using it on my hands too because they are always in need of some TLC. As for the anti-ageing benefits, I shall report back!

So there you have it. Don’t be scared by DIY – it’s so easy!

(P.S. Sorry for the crappy iphone pics – my usual camera is still broken)

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Chrysalis Serum: banish dark circles forever

The above is clearly a stock photo, but it’s also a pretty good representation of what this serum did for my skin.

You really need to try it.

If you have issues with dark circles, dull skin, pigmentation, sun damage, or sagging skin, this is the serum for you.

The key ingredients are chrysin, vitamin K1, and retinol. Of course, as with all DIY serums, you can sub actives in or out that particularly appeal to you, but I think this particular combination of actives is really effective for treating, well, pretty much any issue that you have with your skin.

Here is the list of ingredients:


Chrysalis Serum

Chrysin 1%

Retinol 2%

Vitamin E 1%

Egg Lecithin 5%

Sclerotium gum @1%  2% (or use Polysorbate 80/ lecithin/ SEA Silk/ Granny D SEA Silk)

Borage oil 30%

Distilled H2O 21.75%

Dex Panthenol 3%

Vitamin K1 2%

Sea Emollient 29.5%

1N NaOH 2.25%

Phenoxyethanol 0.5%

You will also need citric acid to adjust the pH and a blender to blend everything together. I just use the magic bullet I use for my sunscreen. Use pH strips or a meter to test the pH of the serum.



1. Place the Distilled H2O, Sea Emollient, Dex Panthenol (B5), Vitamin E, and Retinol together and blend thoroughly.

2. Put 0.39 grams of NaOH (sodium hydroxide) and 10 mls of distilled water together in a glass or stainless steel container. Wait for it to cool down (and always handle with caution!) before taking a dropper and putting enough on the chrysin that it dissolves. Quickly add this to the water phase. The rest of the NaOH goes down the sink.

3. Adjust your serum to a PH of 6.3 using a few specks of citric acid at a time and blending thoroughly.

4. Place the water phase in to a warm water bath and slowly sprinkle in the egg lecithin while stirring. Blend everything together.

5. Warm the oils in the warm water and combine with the water phase, blending everything together.

6. Allow to cool before adding the Vitamin K1 and phenoxyethanol.

The Chrysalis Serum is what gives me a glow in the photo above. I am not wearing any base apart from a touch of concealer and my Rose Sunscreen. If your skin has been missing its glow, give this a try!


As always, I buy all my ingredients from Skin Essential Actives and they are also reponsible for this wonderful serum! Genius!



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10% MAP Serum + AHYP (Updated Formula)

Vitamin C is a staple of any good skincare regime.

My preference at the moment is MAP, or Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, because it doesn’t have the irritation of L-Ascorbic Acid and delivers great results. I love the way it sinks in to my skin.

However, it can be a touchy active to work with. I have discovered two things about creating a MAP serum:

1. Simple is best – don’t try and put lots of other actives in to the serum along with it.

2. In order for the serum not to split (which is not really a problem other than the fact that it’s not very elegant to look at) you need to ensure that the total percentage of the water phase is very close to the total percentage of the oil phase.

The MAP recipe I started out with is still a great formula, but when you DIY your own actives, you have the freedom to experiement and tweak things according to your changing preferences.

These days, I have a preference for adding AHYP, or N-Acetyl-L-Hydroxyproline. It plays nicely with temperamental MAP and makes the skin instantly soft. It stimulates collagen in the skin too, so there are long-term benefits to this very pleasant active. You can read more about it and studies on its effectiveness here.

The recipe I tend to use these days goes like this:

Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10%
Distilled H20 30%
Borage Oil (or whatever oils you prefer) 42%
Vitamin E 1%
Emulsifying wax 4%
Preservative 1%

Therefore, I have accounted for MAP, H2O, AHYP, and Vitamin E in the water phase (42%) and my oil of choice in the oil phase (42%). This formula will give you enough water to dissolve the MAP and AHYP, and will combine with the oil to give you a serum that won’t separate.

The new recipe reads like this:

New formula!

10% MAP Serum + AHYP

Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10%
Distilled H20 30%
Borage Oil (or whatever oils you prefer) 42%
Vitamin E 1%
Emulsifying wax 4%
Preservative 1%


1. Dissolve the MAP in your distilled water. Set it off to the side and stir occasionally

2. Measure out your oil in to a glass or stainless steel beaker which can be put in warm water (I just use an old glass jar).

3. Once your MAP is dissolved, add your Vitamin E and stir. Once it is dissolved, add your AHYP and stir. Make sure everything is dissolved.

4. Put some warm water in to a bowl (I also keep the kettle on standby in case I need to increase the temperature at some point) and stand your oil in it, swirling occassionally.

5. Heat up your emulsifying wax. You can use a double boiler, but I just pour the wax in to a spoon and heat it over two tea candles.

6. Once the wax is melted and the oil is warm, pour the wax in to the oil and stir. If the wax begins to ball up, raise the temperature of your water by pouring in a little hot water and continuing to stir.

7. Pour in your water phase (MAP, H2O, AHYP, and Vitamin E) and keep stiring until all is combined.

8. Add preservative and any essential oils you desire. Continue to stir until it cools down and pour in to airless pump containers (I use these).

Enjoy your new serum! It is GORGEOUS on the skin and easy to put together.

I still buy all my ingredients from Skin Essential Actives. They are the best around.

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Skin Care Update

Hi Everyone!

Life has been extrememly hectic since I finished my PhD, but I find myself now with a small window of time with which to check in here, say hello, and update you all on my skincare routine.

I don’t have any photos to show you except the selfie below because my camera is broken. I’m loath to compromise the high-quality photographs I’ve been using up until now, but some idea is better than no idea, right?

So, here is my current routine:


‘Easy rinse’ oil cleansing method, tutorial here

Vitamin C Serum (10% MAP + AHYP) tutorial here, updated version with AHYP here.

Shea butter as moisturiser (great for my dry skin, currently buying from here)

Rose Sunscreen, tutorial here (thinking of adding some ALA to this next time around)



‘Easy rinse’ oil cleansing method + tanaka massage

Kinetin serum (tutorial here)

Chrysalis serum <<—– contains retinol, so dropped the Retin A for now (tutorial here)

Shea butter


Hair: DIY hair tonic here (without the goji extract – didn’t do anything for me. I have started adding 0.25% – 0.5% biotin though, and I LOVE it. Stops hair shedding in a serious way)

Ingredients: I still buy all my ingredients from Skin Essentials Actives because they are the best!

Age: 38 (with a LONG history of sun damage)

Results: Nasolabial folds aren’t too bad, hyperpigmentation is kept at bay, jowls are there but not too bad, skin has a nice glow to it. Wrinkles around the eyes are not really a problem any more.

This photo was taken a few days ago in my car (obvs) and I’m wearing sunscreen as a base along with a little concealer under the eyes and around the nose + eye makeup. You can see the glow that the Chysalis serum gives to my skin.

So what now?

Well, I want to work some dermarolling in to my regime, hopefully over the next week or so (link here). I also want to purchase an Ultrasonic for use once a week, and perhaps some lactic acid peels.

You can go back to 2011 and trace my skin repair journey here, here, here, here, and here.

If you don’t have the time for DIY, you can purchase ready-made products from Skin Essentials Actives or MyFawnie. Both are excellent.

Want to join the conversation? Come over to SkinCareBoards, visit the SEA blog, or hop over to Barefaced Truth.

Good luck on your journey!


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15% off cute vegan shoes at Beyond Skin

I just love the range of shoes at Beyond Skin. Just my style. To celebrate World Vegan day, they have 15% off everything with code 15vegan. Here are some of my current favs:

Maggie Black Faux Patent £70.00

Candice – Orange Zigzag Print £85.00

Frankin – Navy Print £54.00

Salma – Red Print £54.00

Sirene – Mustard Diamond Print £67.00

Bessie – Yellow Faux Patent £79.00

Rosie – Nude Faux Patent £53.00

JoJo – Pink Faux Suede £55.00Stella – Red Faux Suede £79.00

Sonny – Natural Herringbone £59.00


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The Fountain of Youth in a Cheap Plastic Bottle: KNN serum

The title of this post is intentionally provocative. We all know there is no fountain of youth, but I think perhaps DIY skincare is the closest I will ever come to it.

Everything in my routine works really well together and each product performs a slightly different function. I love my Rose Sunscreen, I love my ‘Easy Rinse’ Oil Cleanser, and the long list of serums that have graced these pages are equally loved. However, as I was making a fresh batch of KNN serum today (Kinetin, Niacinamide, N-acetyl-D glucosamine) it occured to me just how much of a standout this serum is in a strong field of contenders. It will fix any issue you have.

Got acne? No problem.

Want to erase wrinkles? You got it.

Want botox-like firming? Sure.

Face lift without the price tag? Yup.

I took a photo of myself to give a sense of what it does for the skin. This photograph was taken today, in natural light, with no makeup on at all. I am 36, and have lived in Australia all my life. I only started wearing sunscreen daily in my early 30s (gah!) so I’ve had a lot of issues to correct.

My skin is my no means perfect, but I am really happy with the results of my DIY skincare regime. My skin has improved hugely despite all the sun damage it has incurred over the years.

If you want to know more about the issues I’ve been trying to deal with, see the posts here, here, and here. You can see that I’ve used lots of different DIY treatments and strategies which are better than anything you can buy over a counter, but if you’re looking for a serum that does it all, try the KNN serum. I have a tutorial you can follow here. The best ingredients are available from Skin Essential Actives.

Posted in Skin Care | 4 Comments

A Bespoke Skincare Line for Christmas

Want to give a unique Christmas gift? Why not create a bespoke skincare line for someone!

There are lots of formulas listed on this blog (just click the skincare tag) and you can get beautiful packaging from Skin Essential Actives. Talk to friends and family about their skincare needs (anti-acne, anti-ageing etc) and develop something just for them. Better than botox, and a hell of a lot cheaper too.

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Flash Sale! 20% off everything at People Tree

People Tree is an excellent example of how ethical, sustainable fashion can be done in a really appealing way. Their prices are really competitive (even though they’re not using sweatshop labour to produce anything), and whilst the knits are pricey, good quality knitwear always is. It really is worth investing in good quality knits that will actually keep you warm during winter. I adore all the designs they have.

Anyway, People Tree have sweetened the deal with a flash sale! 20% off everything! If I hadn’t just been on a spending spree (evidenced in the posts below) I would definitely be indulging. I’m just hoping they have a post-Christmas sale too!

Here are my favs:

Snowflake Alpaca Jumper $324

Elsie Striped Dress $78

Elise Party Dress $115

Bella Rose Cardigan $189

Blue Bow Top $47

I love everything! They have some great accessories that would make fantastic Christmas presents, too.

Posted in Accessories, Clothes | 2 Comments

DIY Skincare Resources

Hi all! I have a few DIY skincare resources to recommend to you today.

The first is the Skin Essentials Active blog, which is excellent for the basics of DIY skincare. Make a coffee and have a read!

Second, I have two excellent forums to recommend to you. The first is the Skin Essentials Active forum, and the second is the Skin Care Boards forum. I am signed up to both, and I find the information top notch. The girls there really know what they are talking about, and will give you amazing skin and save you a tonne of cash. It may seem daunting at first, but they are really supportive and will talk you through anything you need to know. They will never look down on you for asking questions!

If you want a simple place to start with DIY skincare, why not try this simple wash-off OCM cleanser. Seriously, it beats anything on the market and is a joy for the skin. No need to double cleanser, and it removes all my ZnO sunscreen,  Waterproof Covergirl Lashblast Mascara, and everything else, in one go. It will leave your skin in top condition and finally rid you of all those annoying nose blackheads! The best part is that it is so simple to throw together. Literally takes me two minutes (and I have been known to mix some cleanser in the mornings before work!).

Finally, I would also like to recommend Barefaced Truth – a website run by two highly regarded dermatologists who are very keen to inform the general public about the truth behind ageing skin. Also, if you want a rundown of a particular active, head over the Smart Skin Care. This site will give you a brief explanation of both popular and obscure actives.

Good luck on your DIY skincare journey 🙂


Posted in Skin Care | Tagged | 4 Comments

Sunscreen Variation

I made another batch of my Rose Sunscreen today, but altered the recipe slightly to treat my skin to some different actives.

I subbed out the CoQ10 and replaced it with Alpha Lipoic Acid.  A truly beautiful active that works well in sunscreen. Where the skin is being guarded against free radicals, it’s important to have antioxidants around to deal with them. I kept the percentage at 1% to guard against any irritation, but so far, my skin loves it.

I also subbed in Egg Lecithin instead of my usual lecithin, as I haven’t used it in a sunscreen before. It does have a slightly egg-y smell, but my skin LOVES it, and it gives the sunscreen a really silky look. It is ever so slightly gritty, but if my skin loves it, I’m fine with that.

You can see how smooth the formula is, even in the early stages. This is the first stage of Egg Lecithin + Oil + Alpha Lipoic Acid. Quite beautiful.

I’m still working at a 24% Zinc Oxide content. I do get a very slight white caste at this intensity, but it doesn’t look unnatural (as you can see in this picture) and I enjoy seeing evidence of my sun protection. Of course, this probably also has a lot to do with the fact that I spend a lot of time peering closely at myself in mirrors!). If you want completely invisible sunscreen, you may like to reduce the ZnO content to 20%. 18% is generally regarded as the minimum content for effective sunscreen, but I go to 24% because I’m quite overzealous about my skin.

I'm still using this Zinc Oxide

I’m also loving the new airless pumps at Skin Essential Actives. So glam!

As you can see, I put the leftovers in a pot. Not nearly as glam as the pumps.

Lastly, I added a jasmine essential oil rather that rose, as it’s springtime here in Western Australia.

Good luck with your DIY adventures 🙂

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Beyond Skin: Sirene Peacock Glitter Heels

I want these. They are beautiful.

Sparkly, vegan shoes for $100. What’s not to like?

Check out other vegan shoes at Beyond Skin and

Update: I bought these! Can’t wait for them to arrive.

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Comfort Food

I’m not much of a chef.

I hate the clean-up that comes with cooking, and I find being in the kitchen tedious unless I’m preparing a gin and tonic. But, what I have learned over the years is that if you can prepare yourself a few delicious things, your quality of life improves.

I really felt like some comfort food this evening. Salad, no matter how tasty, doesn’t really cut it when you have a cold. So I went to one of my favourite food blogs, Easy as Vegan Pie, and decided to wizz up some pesto and hommous. Both were much more delicious than the photos suggest. I added extra garlic to both for more germ-fighting power (hopefully).

I just slathered the pesto on thick, multigrain toast, and it was awesome.

I went the traditional route and served the hommous with carrots. Probably the easiest way to get some veg in your life.

The best thing about these two is that they are easy to prepare, healthy, and delicious. If I can prepare them, anyone can.

Check out Easy as Vegan Pie for more easy to throw together ideas. Though it’s no longer being updated, it’s a great resource.


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Sickness Shopping

So I’ve got a cold. Which means I’m whinging a lot, feeling sorry for myself, and browsing lots of online stores to try and cheer myself up. My first Hush purchases (sloppy jumper, tee, and joggers) are coming in to their own, so even though I’m miserable, I am undoubtedly warm. I wore the jumper and tee out for breakfast this morning with my Asos skinny jeans and some brown boots, and I think it’s safe to say that I looked a lot better than I felt. Those jeans are fab too. Nice to sit and eat breakfast in a pair of jeans that don’t cut into your tum when you sit down.

Continuing with this theme, I’ve made a second Hush purchase:

I always swore that I would not buy in to the leggings trend (I can remember them the first time around. They weren’t great) but here we are. The model makes them look so good that I couldn’t resist.  So, I purchased the leggings, another tee, and a fine knit jumper. I can’t wait for them to arrive. I love the quality and style of each piece, and wearing truly warm clothes means that I don’t turn the heat on as often. I’m also tempted by this waterfall cardigan, but I don’t suppose even I will be that cold during spring.

Now I’m seriously tempted to buy some Hollister jeans. Style on the Couch swears by the cut and she has great taste in all things. I love the look of these medium wash skinny jeans and these dark wash flared jeans (though I could live without the paint effect). Anyway, let’s see how low this cold can go. These may be the purchases of my future!



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Coffee break shopping – vintage on Etsy

Etsy is still such a great place to find vintage clothing. Great quality, great cut, and very flattering. I’m loving these:

1930s dress from Mistery Mister $125

1940s beaded gown from LostnFound Vintage $298

1950s skirt from English Rose Vintage $26

1940s wool skirt from Starlet Vintage $54

Seriously, once you start buying vintage, you’ll never look at modern clothing in the same way again. Except for the expensive stuff 🙂



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Coffee break shopping – The Outnet

I do love The Outnet, and when their “Country Break Essentials” email landed in my inbox, I knew the edit would be right up my street. Observe:

Oscar de la Renta Tweed Pants $394.96

Iris & Ink Angora-blend sweater $148

Alice and Olivia Tweed Mini Skirt $150

DVF lace skirt $135

N. Pearl Cashmere Sweater $140

Gorgeous clothes. I particularly like those tweed trousers – so 1930s 🙂


Posted in Clothes | 4 Comments