In this post you’ll find a selection of the simplest and most effective DIY Face moisturizers.
I will explain what are the most basic ingredients you’ll need to effectively moisturize your skin and in what steps to apply them, in the most beginner-friendly approach to DIYing your face moisturizer.
This means that I will not feature any DIY oil and water emulsions, aka creams and lotions.
You can DIY a cream for sure, but I wanted to write a sort of entry-level post about face moisturizers that anyone could do, without hassle or prior knowledge.
Making a cream can be simple or complicated, but even the simplest cream will require some basic equipment, a proper emulsifier (to mix the water and oil phase correctly), and of course a preservative.
Since making a cream is a bit more involved and not everyone wants to bother (I mostly don’t, to tell you the truth), I decided to leave that for a separate post.
Here I will explain the difference between hydrating and moisturizing (and why you need both). The simple way to do it, without making a cream. I will then give you a list of the 3 most effective hydrators, followed by a basic recipe for a face nourishing oil, according to skin type.
In total you will need as little as 3 ingredients for your DIY face moisturizer (one of which might be water)!
Moisturizing gets used interchangeably with hydrating, but it is not the same thing.
Hydrators are ingredients that bring water to the skin (humectants), plumping it and keeping it supple. Moisturizers are ingredients that bring emollients (oils) to the skin, smoothing it and helping lock in the hydration.
All skin types require hydration and moisture. Dry, normal, and oily are skin types defined by the amount of sebum (natural oils) they produce, but all of them can get dehydrated if they lose too much water.
Likewise, your skin may be well hydrated, but if you lack a proper protective barrier (i.e., the skin’s own oil production is inadequate) your skin will feel dry because the water is lost by evaporation.
Hydrators and moisturizers can be separate products, or they can be combined into one.
A cream or lotion is a good example – it has a water phase and an oil phase mixed together. It adds hydration (water) and it helps to smooth the skin and keep the skin from losing that hydration (oil).
How to properly moisturize your skin?
To make a proper DIY face moisturizer you need to give it water AND oil.
You can do that through a classic moisturizer, a.k.a. a cream. Or you can make it really easy and use a hydrating toner (water based), followed by a nourishing face oil to help lock in that hydration, nourish the skin, and smooth it out.
This post will go over this last method.
So, below is a list of the best and most convenient hydrators and moisturizing oils.
- Simply pick one from the list of hydrators to use as a toner, after you clean your face.
- While your skin is still wet from that, apply the face oils of your choice (under the moisturizers section), performing a massage until you feel that everything has been absorbed.
You can use this quick lymph draining face massage for added benefits.
Most effective DIY face moisturizers
Pick one of the hydrating ingredients from the list of hydrators below.
Pick your carrier and essential oils from the list of moisturizers that will follow.
Combine in your hand and apply to skin.
Apply the hydrator first and follow with the oil mixture.
…and badda-bing, badda-boom!
DIY face moisturizers - Hydrators
So, hydrators will draw water to the skin (humectants). This means that they will pull water from the atmosphere or, if there is low humidity, from the deeper layers of the skin.
By attracting water to itself and spreading out in the top layer it produces a bulking effect, smoothing out wrinkles and lines. They literally plump the skin and it’s the first step after you’ve cleansed your face.
Pick one of the 3 options below for the first step in your DIY face moisturizer.
1 - Hyaluronic acid (HA)
HA is a substance the body produces for the purposes of retaining collagen, increasing hydration and lubrication. It’s found in highest quantities in the skin (more than 50%), as well as inside joints and tendons.
You find it as an ingredient in a lot of beauty products, but many people don’t realize you can buy the HA powder and just make your own stuff – it’s a lot cheaper!
You mostly find two types of hyaluronic acid powder for sale: high molecular weight (HM) and low molecular weight (LM).
The HM acid works on the top layer of the skin only, but the LM acid is able to penetrate the stratum corneum (outer layer of the skin) and reach deeper. It can also carry active ingredients to the deeper layers of the skin – it’s an effective delivery vehicle. (*)
Basic Hyaluronic acid gel recipe
The basic recipe for making your own HA gel is incredibly simple!
- 1gr of HA powder (approx. 1/4 teaspoon)
- 100gr/ml of distilled water (approx. 1/2 cup)
Add together and let it sit for some hours, or overnight.
The powder will slowly absorb the water and become gelatinous and gooey.
Once you see that all the powder has disappeared, stir the gel slowly to make sure it’s even and you’re done!
You can keep it in the fridge for about 2 weeks or so without preservatives. If you add a preservative, it will keep for much longer, of course. I find that I use up the 100ml very easily within that 2-week window, using it on my body and face.
You can either use the gel directly on the skin, or use it as an ingredient in whatever DIY lotion or creams you want to make.
2 - Glycerin
Glycerin is actually a more powerful humectant than HA, meaning it draws even more moisture to itself.
If the humidity in the atmosphere is at 6% or less, glycerin doesn’t act like a humectant at all, but instead as a moisturizer and skin conditioner.
It also helps restore the barrier function of the skin, so it’s useful in healing and protecting it, slowing down water loss by evaporation. It has also been proven to protect against irritation from harsh cleansers and chemicals like acetone.
These beneficial properties refer to diluted glycerin only, since pure glycerin has actually a drying effect. It has been shown to be most effective when diluted in a water-based solution. Commercial formulas usually have it at low concentrations, between 1 and 10%.
It has also been shown to have antiviral properties, for instance against herpes simplex.
Basic glycerin hydrating toner
- 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) or ½ Tablespoon (7.5 ml) glycerin
- 100 ml (approx. ½ cup) distilled water
Pour some rubbing alcohol in a glass spritz bottle, put on the lid and shake well for half a minute or so.
Pour out the excess alcohol and set aside for another 10 minutes. This will sterilize the bottle before we pour in the ingredients.
Glycerin is a bit prone to bacteria, although I have to say I’ve never really had a problem with it and I don’t use preservatives. Just sterilize the bottle, use distilled water, and you can keep it in the fridge as well to extend shelf-life.
Mix the ingredients together in the bottle and shake well. It’s ready to use!
3 - Aloe Vera Gel
Depending on what you pair it with, it can also help draw other substances deeper into the skin.
Generally, the smaller the molecules, the greater the “pull” effect aloe vera has on other ingredients. This makes it a good one to pair with essential oils, for instance, since they will reach deeper into the skin.
How to use aloe vera gel
- 1 dollop of good quality aloe vera gel (as pure as possible)
- 2 cm / 1 inch of aloe vera leaf. Cut open to expose the inner flesh, slash some cuts into both sides of the inner leaf, and rub them all over your face and neck.
If using a commercial gel, you can mix it directly with your choice of face oils (from the category below) in the palm of your hand and apply that straight to your face and neck.
DIY face moisturizers - Oils (moisturizers)
So, you need water first and then an oily coat that will help your own skin’s protective barrier do its job, of preventing that water from being lost.
Pure nourishing oils are a great addition to your skincare routine, either mixed in the moment with some water or toner in the palm of your hand, or applied directly to your skin while it’s still wet.
Either way, apply and massage it in until you feel it has been absorbed.
If your skin is dry or needing extra protection (like in cold weather) you can use butters instead, either alone or mixed with another oil for a richer feel.
Basic nourishing face oil recipe
- 30 ml / 1 oz dark glass bottle with a dropper.
- Fill it with your choice of oils – you can stick to just one, or mix two or three (see below).
- Add 6 to 12 drops (1% to 2% concentration) of your choice of essential oils (also below) and shake well.
To use, simply squirt half a dropper onto the palm of your hand and apply that to your face and neck, while it is still wet from the toner (hydrator).
Massage into skin until it is absorbed.
If using butters, just rub a small dollop between your hands to melt it and apply to skin, after the hydrator/toner.
If you want to mix butters with some oil, just put both in a glass jar and melt it in a water bath until liquid. Mix well and set aside to cool down. Depending on how much butter and what kind of butter you used, it might be more or less thick.
Pick one or more carrier and essential oils from the list below for the second step in your DIY face moisturizer.
Which oils to choose according to skin type
For oily or combination skin
The skin tends to overproduce sebum (natural oils), so it’s best to use lighter, fast-absorbing oils to avoid clogging your pores.
Sensitive and/or irritated skin
Go for thicker and more protective oils and butters. Olive, avocado, sweet almond and coconut are good choices. Also, any of the butters (cocoa, Shea, mango – in decreasing order of thickness and protection).
So I hope you found it useful. I’ve been using this method for DIY face moisturizers for over 15 years and it’s definitely my favorite. It allows a lot of customization and I can be sure that the ingredients are always 100% fresh.
Please let me know if anything isn’t clear or if you have any questions in the comments below.