As lots of you already know, lately I’ve been all about two amazing DIY skincare items whipped up for my by my friend Chel at Holy Snails. Her Vita-Sea-Rum vitamin C serum and Shark Sauce sea kelp and niacinamide ampoule have been the superstars of my skincare routine ever since I got them, and using them has helped me clarify a lot of dissatisfaction I have with commercial cosmetics products.
Vita-Sea-Rum is a pH 2.5, 15% L-ascorbic acid vitamin C serum with bonus vitamin E and ferulic acid.
Ingredients: Sea kelp bioferment (20%), l-ascorbic acid (15%), propylene glycol (7%), licorice root extract (5%), 1% hyaluronic acid stock (0.0005% hyaluronic acid actual), sodium lactate (5%), polysorbate 80 (5%), castor oil (4%), tocopherol (1%), optiphen (1% – phenoxyethanol and caprylyl glycol), allantoin stock (1% – 0.0031% allantoin actual), ferulic acid (0.5%), citric acid, xanthan gum
Would you look at those ingredients. Why base it in water when sea kelp bioferment comes with extra moisturizing and antioxidant properties? Why do vitamin C without making it optimally stable and optimally effective through ferulic acid and vitamin E? Why not add licorice root extract for additional brightening and anti-inflammatory power? Why not? And every ingredient in it has a purpose, whether as an active, a humectant and thickener, a solvent, a pH adjuster, or a preservative. Skinceuticals has a patent on the C+E+ferulic combo at a pH of between 2.5 and 3, meaning that no other commercial cosmetics company can offer that specific trio of actives at that specific pH, but that doesn’t mean a motivated DIYer can’t make the same thing at home, and customize it to make it even better.
My skin has taken some serious leaps and bounds forward since I introduced this serum into my routine. In conjunction with the Shark Sauce discussed below, the Vita-Sea-Rum is making quick work of the rest of my old sunspots, and my skin has been looking significantly firmer, especially in my problem spots around my mouth. This is ridiculously powerful stuff. And when all is said and done, apparently it costs pennies to make a bottle of it.
Want to learn more about how it’s made? Check out the three-part tutorial:
- Introduction and Some DIY Vitamin C Serum Recipes
- Part 2: The Tutorial
- Alternative Recipes and Modifications
And now for the coveted Shark Sauce!
The idea for this ampoule sprang out of a late-night conversation with Chel. I lamented that all I want is something with lots of seaweed, and lots of niacinamide, and maybe some licorice root extract and sea buckthorn extract, and why is it so hard for cosmetics companies to just make crazy good products?
Chel offered to whip me up something. This is what resulted.
Ingredients: Sea kelp bioferment (25%), seamollient (13.75%), aloe vera juice (9%), polysorbate 80 (9%), niacinamide (5%), green tea extract (5%), licorice root extract (5%), sodium lactate (5%), borage seed oil (5%), 1% hyaluronic acid (0.0005% hyaluronic acid actual), ceramide complex (3% – Ceramide 3, Ceramide 6 II, Ceramide 1, phytosphingosine, cholesterol, sodium lauroyl lactylate, carbomer, xanthan gum), sea buckthorn oil (3%), N-acetyl glucosamine (2.5%), panthenol (2.5%), tocopherol (1%), optiphen (1% – phenoxyethanol and caprylyl glycol)
LOOK. JUST LOOK AT IT.
Known, proven ingredients at known, proven percentages and in known, proven ratios where necessary (the ceramide complex, for example, includes ceramides and fatty acids at exactly the right proportions to repair the skin barrier). No filler. No unnecessary ingredients put in there for fragrance or fanciness or claims.
You know that sea kelp bioferment? That’s the “secret ingredient” of Creme de la Mer, which is in many other respects no more special than blue tin Nivea from the drugstore.
Again, Chel says making a bottle of this costs pennies. It’s an easy process (according to her) and it doesn’t take a fancy lab, manufacturing facilities, ultra-specialized equipment, or a degree in chemistry.
Since I started using this, my skin has been INCREDIBLE. I wake up in the morning and it’s just luminous. My dark spots are bailing faster than rats off a sinking ship. My skin tone is more even. Even the persistent redness around my nose and mouth (which I blame on upper lip waxing) has subsided. This is all in less than two weeks!
Bowing to popular demand, Chel’s posted tutorials for Shark Sauce.
- The recipe is here
- And the tutorial is here, with a giveaway so that some lucky reader can try the magic out!
So here’s my challenge to cosmetics companies: Why can’t you produce something even remotely close to this? With the right percentages of ingredients like niacinamide and a base that’s not just water, but contributes even more skin benefits to the formulation as a whole? Why is it that 90% of products I look at are just globs of water, glycerin, mineral oil, and fragrance, with the really good stuff present in presumably miniscule amounts? If one all-too-modest DIYer can whip this up in an afternoon, why not a big cosmetics brand with all its resources and economies of scale? Shark Sauce is where skincare products should be.
It can be argued, of course, that the vast majority of cosmetics consumers simply aren’t ingredient-savvy enough to care. It’s true that plenty of people are still getting bilked by all kinds of overpriced snake oil (AHEM CREME DE LA MER AHEM). But I think it’s clear that blogs are becoming a first-line resource for consumers making purchasing decisions, and blogs like mine, Skin and Tonics, Holy Snails, Snow White and the Asian Pear, Musical Houses, The Beauty Brains, and so many others are (I hope) making a difference in how people evaluate skincare products.
You guys know I love my commercial skincare products. I continue discovering awesome things with every haul. Shout-out to Tosowoong, whose lines I’m slowly and happily working my way through. But I’ve yet to encounter a single commercial skincare product that can compare to Chel’s DIY potions. A lot of companies talk a big game about their products, but in the absence of published percentages, ingredients lists can be misleading. Results never lie, and I’ve been shocked at the rapid results I’m getting.
Can you think of any commercial skincare products with ingredients and results comparable to Vita-Sea-Rum or Shark Sauce? Tell me all about them, because I’d love to know what I’ve missed! And be sure to enter Chel’s giveaway. That Shark Sauce is magic.