DIY Thursday: Homemade Facial Moisturizer

It’s been a while since I did a purely practical post, so I thought I would introduce you to my latest DIY project: homemade facial (or body, if you like) moisturizer. It has no synthetic chemicals or preservatives, can be customized to your preferences, works out to be very inexpensive, absorbs nicely, and seems to work with most skin types — even mine, which breaks out if you so much as look at it the wrong way.

I was originally leery about putting oil on my already oily skin, but having tried several facial oils, including My Skin and Bones and By Nieves, I’ve found that they work a lot better than all the anti-oil products I tried for years. This is the poor man’s version. (If you do have the money, I totally recommend the two I already mentioned.) 

Here’s what you need:

  • Jojoba oil. Trader Joe’s $7 for 4 oz, slightly more for organic at Whole Foods. Jojoba is a shelf-stable liquid wax that resembles human sebum (the oil produced by our skin). It absorbs quickly and does not clog pores.
  • A dark glass bottle (any size between 15ml and 50ml) with a dropper lid or pump.
  • Skin-safe essential oils such as lavender  (anti-bacterial, mild astringent), chamomile (calming, de-puffing), geranium (balancing), rose (moisturizing). Different essential oils are supposed to be good for different things. If you don’t want to bother looking into it, just pick one or two of your favorites.  Be cautious with the citrus oils, which are mildly phototoxic, and don’t go near the ‘fragrance’ oils, which may not be skin safe and can contain all sorts of synthetic chemicals.

If you’re re-using the glass bottle, sterilize it, the lid, and the dropper in boiling water for several minutes. After everything has dried and cooled, add about 1 drop essential oil for every 3-4 ml that your bottle holds, e.g. no more than 5 drops of essential oil for a 15ml bottle.  If you have very sensitive skin or are trying a new essential oil, add less. You can customize it to your favorite essential oil or create your own special blend. Fill up the rest of the bottle with jojoba and shake. Allow it to sit for a few hours.

When you’re ready to use your new moisturizer, massage 2-3 drops on damp, clean skin. It will absorb quickly with little or no greasiness. I prefer to make small batches to keep any chance of contamination down, but since there is no water in this moisturizer, it’s unlikely to spoil and doesn’t need a preservative. Microbes love water, not oil.

Total investment for about a year’s supply: about $15-$20, depending on the essential oils you use. Sounds good to me. My next DIY project is going to be a thick body butter for my dried out potter’s hands. What are your favorite DIY skin and body products?

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62 responses to this post.

  1. Good timing, Jennifer! I am in the process of running out of my facial moisturizer. Though it contains no nasty ingredients, I’d still prefer to make my own – that’s one less bottle to buy, right?

    What kinds of stores sell the dark glass bottle I’d need for this project?

    Reply

    • Hi Andrea! Sometimes I’m good like that. I think you might be able to find the bottles in a beauty supply shop (or — just thought of this — maybe you could reuse a vanilla or peppermint extract bottle), but they might not be necessary if you have a dark, cool place to store the stuff.

      Reply

    • Yup, I keep my facial oil blend in a bottle just like the one pictured and I got it at Whole Foods.

      Reply

  2. Posted by Bridget on 03/31/2011 at 12:21

    Oh my gosh – so simple and inexpensive! I hate spending lots of money on skin care & yet want to take care of my skin too.
    Curious, what do you use to cleanse & what do you use for sunscreen?

    Reply

    • Hi Bridget!

      If you have drier skin, you could try mixing the jojoba with richer oils, like almond, kukui, or avocado. Some people swear by sea buckthorn and argan, but those are definitely pricier.

      I use Blissoma’s Fresh cleanser (I blogged about it maybe a month ago), which isn’t cheap or DIY but makes my skin happy. Some people have good luck using a diluted castille soap with essential oils. For sunscreen, I often go without; I’m indoors most of the time, so I figure I need the vitamin D. I wear mineral makeup, which blocks some rays. When I really need sunscreen, I use one with titanium dioxide by Alba.

      Reply

  3. Love it, this is exactly what I use – jojoba oil with some rose, benzoin and lemon essential oils. It works beautifully and I like to think my skin looks good on it ;)

    Reply

    • Hi Mrs. Green! I should have guessed you’d already discovered this for yourself. :-) I’m not familiar with benzoin, but my last mix had lavender, rosewood, and a little lemon, and I enjoyed both the scent and the DIY-ness of it all.

      Reply

  4. Posted by karen on 03/31/2011 at 14:09

    I use organic olive oil for everything. As a cleanser, as a moisturizer, as lotion, etc… Just adjust the amount, depending on what you are using it for or where. Never thought of jojoba oil though. Sounds like it could be an alternative if I want change.

    Reply

    • Hi Karen! Glad my comment box is behaving for you again. I haven’t tried putting olive oil on my face, but I’m guessing that the jojoba is lighter and absorbs faster. Maybe it would be good for summer or when you need a lighter moisturizer.

      Curious: how do you cleanse with olive oil?

      Reply

      • I’m guessing she uses the Olive Oil and Castor Oil method (OCM). :3

        Reply

      • Posted by Trina on 10/07/2012 at 21:51

        DHC has a pure virgin olive oil for skin moisturizing. Another product they sell is an oil cleanser which works exceptionally well and removes make-up too. the best,CPTG (certified pure therapeutic grade) essential oils are doTERRA. a wonderful oil, completley pure. One drop of the cinnamon in my homemade cider-BLISS. One drop of the grapefruit oil in water, Mmm! you’ll drink more water, which is essential for healthy skin,too. i am interested in making my own products so I know what is in them. I did, one year for christmas gifts and they were a hit. made lip balms and salt scrubs. Now that I have doTERRA I would like to try again. Also, aromatools.com for all the bottles, sprayers, roll-ons, droppers, etc!

        Reply

  5. I really should try this, I’m lazy with the DIY approach to skincare, unless its really simple!

    Reply

    • Thanks for stopping by, Juliet. I love the image you have at the top of your blog — I’ll swing by soon for an extended visit. I’m a fellow lazy DIY-er. We should start a club or something. :-)

      Reply

  6. I tried the jojoba oil on my face – pure, with no essential oils – but my skin got even drier than it originally was…???
    I might try the argan oil, it’s supposed to do wonders for the skin.
    My recipe is for a body scrub:
    Fill a small jar for 2/3 with fine sea salt, then add oil – jojoba oil, almond oil or more often a mix of several oils – until the salt is all wet with the oil. Add a few drops of essential oils – I like rose & frankincense – and stir. If the mix is too oily, add more salt. If it’s too dry, add more oil.
    I use it under the shower, first I wet my skin, then scrub, then wet again with very warm water. When I dry myself with a towel, I do it gently, just patting the skin dry. This way my skin is smooth and soft, I don’t even need a moisturiser :)

    Reply

    • Thanks so much for the scrub recipe, Cristina! I’ve used sugar scrubs but not salt ones, so I’ll give that a try next time.

      I’m sorry the jojoba didn’t work out for you. My current facial oil By Nieves is quite a bit thicker — the top two ingredients are organic primrose seed oil and organic sesame seed oil. Maybe that blend would work better for you? I’ve also heard excellent things about argan oil, but price-wise, it’s way off my radar.

      Reply

  7. What a simple DIY-one I can certainly handle! I really need a good moisturizer. I’m going to give this a try. I really need to find one with sunscreen. Any ideas?

    Reply

    • I don’t use sunscreen unless I’m actually going to be out in the sun for a prolonged time. I figure I’m probably vitamin D deficient anyway from spending so much time indoors. I’ve heard that mineral makeup, which I use, offers light protection against the sun, and a hat is of course chemical and irritant free. :-) If you still want sunscreen, I’ve read that the physical ones (containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide) are safer than the chemical ones (oxybenzone, etc.). The Skin Deep database has given high safety ratings to one by Badger Balm, but I haven’t tried it. Hope this helps!

      Reply

      • Posted by Colleen on 02/09/2012 at 07:39

        I read a great book called Super Natural Home by Beth Greer and she has a nice recipe for a sunscreen. Its just distilled water and ascorbic acid powder. I bought the Now brand because I didn’t have a whole foods or trader joe’s near by. Her book also has some other good DIY ideas. I also read another book that has alot of ideas as well and one in particular was a bug repellant. that book is 1001 all-natural secrets to a pest free property. Great for home gardeners.

        Reply

        • Hi Colleen,

          I didn’t know ascorbic acid was a sunscreen (vitamin C?). I use mineral makeup that contains titanium dioxide for just a little protection from the sun, but I figure I probably need the vitamin D more than I need sunscreen. Thanks for the book recommendation!

          Reply

  8. Oh nice … I bet it feels great. My grandmother used olive oil in her cooking and, before putting the bottle away, would drizzle a little in her hands and then rub it into her face, arms and hands. She had the most beautiful skin until the day she died (at age 96). I use witch hazel to cleanse then follow it with shea butter … but it can be a little shiny … so I think your moisturizer would be great. Thanks for sharing your recipe! :-)

    Reply

  9. Posted by angie on 04/05/2011 at 11:50

    This one is too easy not to try! And so economical too. Thanks!

    Reply

  10. Posted by Erica on 04/08/2011 at 08:34

    Interesting article. Just remember not all all essential oils are the same. Most in the stores are not high quality. Double check you are getting Therapeutic Grade, which are more expensive. And only by organic or wildcrafted. The product http://www.myskinandbones.com you mention looks like a great value based on the ingredients.

    Reply

    • Thanks for the head’s up. I buy most of my essential oils from Mountain Rose Herbs, and they’re pretty reputable as a source. I liked My Skin and Bones a lot and recognize that the price comes from the expense of the essential oils involved, but it’s still quite a bit out of my budget.

      Reply

    • Posted by Trina on 10/07/2012 at 21:55

      DoTERRA oils are 100% CPTG (certified pure therapeutic grade) awesome products and service.

      Reply

  11. [...] use already, I don’t know. Excess isn’t green. But I figure that my predilection for lotions and potions is a fairly minor eco-sin in the greater scheme of things, and it’s good to know how to make [...]

    Reply

  12. [...] my preference has always been for the latter. I cook my food from scratch, line dry my clothes, mix up my own moisturizers, bake my own bread, and even fold my own kitty litter bags out of old [...]

    Reply

  13. So easy! How long will the keep?

    Reply

    • Jojoba oil and essential oils are both very shelf stable, so at least a year if you use a dropper lid and don’t get bacteria into it. Oils are not very conducive to bacterial growth, so that helps.

      Reply

  14. [...] ($1 a box) and jojoba oil ($6 for 4 oz at Trader Joe’s). Instead of straight jojoba, I use my homemade facial moisturizer, which is just jojoba oil and a few essential oils (lavender, rosewood, lemon) so I can incorporate [...]

    Reply

  15. Posted by Norma J. Canham on 12/17/2011 at 19:10

    Thanks for all the info and comments. My particular problem is that what seems to work fine for the lower part of my face will irritate my eyes, even if I avoid putting the moisturizer near the eyes. Mineral oil for me is the worst eye irritant.

    Normac

    Reply

  16. Posted by J on 02/02/2012 at 09:54

    I mix up a similar recipe for my hair; jojoba, almond, and some yummy scented oil. It does double duty as a deep heat conditioner (just apply in a larger amount, wrap with plastic and leave until you’re ready to shower and shampoo the excess out) and as a leave in conditioner to eliminate frizz. After I wash my hair I towel dry it and then rub a few drops of the oil between my hands to warm it up and then quickly run my fingers through my hair to distribute the oil. It smells nice, gives my hair a nice sheen, and really cuts down on frizz. Plus, it’s much cheaper than all the commercial hair products and works much better for me (with super sensitive skin, I don’t have to worry about what I’m putting on my body). You don’t need much either; with chin length hair (but very thick), I use maybe two to three drops, sometimes four at the most.
    I don’t even buy the bottles; I reused a glass vanilla extract bottle for my first batch.

    Reply

  17. Posted by Colleen on 02/09/2012 at 07:57

    I read and have tried this great bath for detox. it’s basically 2-3cups epsom salt, celtic or hymilean sea salt, if you don’t have a water purification system use a cup of baking soda to neutralize the chemicals in your tap water. You can also add fresh ground ginger or ginger spice (a tablespoon) it’s recommended to do a dry skin brushing before the detox bath. also drink plenty of water before during and after the bath. Sit for 20 or for max benefits 40 minutes. This is the website I got this from http://www.whole-body-detox-diet.com/detox-bath.html
    The reason I posted this is because it was also recommended to use either olive oil or coconut oil (extra virgin, raw, unfiltered, organic, cold pressed) on your skin right after the bath. i have not done this bath in a while but my friend always uses coconut oil on her skin and even in her hair. she has great skin. I will be trying this now that I am off the HCG diet and can use the coconut oil again.
    Good Luck

    Reply

  18. Posted by Jill on 02/22/2012 at 16:05

    Great article! Very well written and informative! If you are still hunting for a good thick body butter for your hands, check out my product, it’s called SoftShell and it works GREAT on crusty feet, elbows, hands, you name it!! I make it myself and just started selling it in November of last year. Here is the link to my Etsy page. Thanks!! =)

    http://www.etsy.com/shop/SoftShellBodyButter

    Reply

  19. I’m buying chamomile oil now! Thanks!

    Reply

  20. Posted by cheryl rodriguez on 03/01/2012 at 08:19

    Do u have other ideas? I love this kinda stuff! My skin has been horrible l8tly! I used honey n stuff n its coming out great! All the products at the store irritate my skin :(

    Reply

  21. Posted by DK on 07/04/2012 at 19:32

    Try Shea Butter for sunscreen.. Per Wiki; Shea butter is used as a base for medicinal ointments. Some of the isolated chemical constituents are reported to have anti-inflammatory, emollient and humectant properties.[6] Shea butter has been used as a sunblocking lotion and has a limited capacity to absorb ultraviolet radiation.

    Reply

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    Reply

  23. Posted by Kyndal on 08/02/2012 at 02:25

    Sea buckthorn seed oil has been my favorite/best moisturizer for quite a while now. However, it’s a pain to get because not only is it 16 bucks, but i have to order it, and pay shipping and everything.
    I really want to try using Olive oil as my main moisturizer from now on.
    I have an important question though: Is olive oil safe as an eye moisturizer? cuz i rub my eyes a lot, and I know my moisturizer is going in there.
    All advice is greatly appreciated. (because my skin has been heinous lately)

    Reply

    • Hi Kyndal,

      I’m guessing that getting oils into your eyes isn’t really ideal, but I doubt the amount going into yours is an issue. I’ve heard lots of people remove eye makeup with olive oil, and that hasn’t seemed to produce any problems. Just make sure the olive oil isn’t rancid. :-) And I wouldn’t put oil directly into your eyes unless you hear otherwise from a reputable doctor.

      Reply

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  26. Posted by Violet on 03/24/2013 at 08:51

    Have any of you tried using organic canola oil? I’ve heard it is lighter than olive oil (and cheaper, too), but I’ve never tried it myself.

    Reply

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