How To Make A Natural DIY Face Serum For Glowing Skin

Last Updated:

In this post we have an intensive, concentrated DIY face serum for aging gracefully & achieving radiant, firm, and hydrated skin. It’s very intensive and highly concentrated; if you use this under your homemade face cream, it will help it penetrate the skin. It will also boost hydration by forming a barrier to reduce water loss.

Natural face Serums are the hottest new skincare treatment in Europe right now, and so they should be. These skin-nourishing homemade serums can slow down the early signs of aging, soften the appearance of wrinkles, and brighten, firm, and hydrate the skin.

diy face serums
diy face emulsions

Want To Ditch Store-Bought Moisturizers Forever?

Get 50% OFF my Face Creams & Moisturizers Course Today!

What Are Face Serums? 

Clinical studies have shown that when using a face serum, fine lines and coarse wrinkles improved by 27 and 15 percent, respectively.

So, what exactly are these ‘high performance’ skin care products we call serums? Well, let’s dispel the myths a little. There is nothing inherently different between serums and other facial moisturizers when it comes to the structural part of formulations. 

While we have different types of serum, they all kind of have regular counterparts that we don’t call serums. There are diy face oil serums that look just like facial oils, gel serums that you’d easily confuse with gel moisturizers, and of course, emulsion serums are becoming more and more popular too. 

However, the main difference between them lies in the active ingredients. We see nice extracts and essential oils in just about all of our DIY skin care products, but homemade face serums are a cut above. They’re usually built around 1 or 2 extremely potent actives that will bring about a significant change to the skin. 

It’s also worth noting that serums are not designed to be used on their own, so generally, they’re formulated to be a little lighter than regular moisturizers. However, I have seen some pretty thick products being sold as serums, so this one seems not to matter as much. 

When To Apply Your DIY Face Serum?

Gentle DIY hydration serum

This will depend entirely on the ingredients you’ve formulated your serums with. However, the recipes found on this page can be used daily, either morning or night. If you find this is enough hydration for your skin, it can be the only moisturizing product you use on the face. But I would use this in conjunction with your normal facial cream or wrinkle cream.

There are no hard or fast rules when it comes to this, except that water-based products should always be applied to the skin first.

For example, if you use an anhydrous (all oil) facial serum, but follow up with your regular gel moisturizer, you’ll find that the gel will have a hard time sinking into the skin. This is because it struggles to penetrate that lipid barrier you’ve just applied in the form of your oil serum.

So apply your DIY face serum daily, either morning or night (depending on if you’re serums have ingredients like retinol that make skin more sensitive to the sun), and be sure to follow the laws of solubility – always apply water-based products first.

So let’s hone in on those active ingredients and see what exactly we’re dealing with. 

What Other Ingredients Can We Use In Serums?

carrier oils

Beyond our lovely actives, you will find that many of the ingredients you’ve used to make other types of moisturizers will also feature here. 

Key foundation ingredients, such as carrier oils, hydrosols, cosmetic butters, silicones and their natural counterparts can all make an appearance, depending on the type of DIY face serum being formulated. 

These ingredients make up the bulk of our product, and function as a ‘carrier’ for our other ingredients. This is why the name ‘carrier oil’ exists. Potent activities, including our essential oils, are not safe to be applied directly to the skin. 

Foundation Ingredients

By using these foundation ingredients, we essentially dilute them, making them safe for our skin. But these ingredients also carry benefits of their own.

Let’s take almond oil as an example. This is a carrier oil, and you can expect to see oils like this as foundation ingredients in all oil and emulsion serums. Almond oil can be deeply hydrating, and nourishing and is absolutely packed with vitamin A (retinol). 

Oils act as ‘occlusives’, meaning they form a barrier that will slow down water loss from the skin (i.e. keep the skin hydrated for longer). So if you use an all-oil serum as the last step of your morning routine, before applying your regular sunscreen, it can actually help to minimize dry, flaky skin! 

Functional Ingredients

Certain functional ingredients will also be necessary, such as cosmetic gums, emulsifying waxes, antioxidants (vitamin e, rosemary co2 extract) and preservatives. These ingredients serve a purpose in the formulation, beyond bringing about aesthetic change in our skin. 

For example emulsifying wax, or e-wax for short, allows for water and oil to sit together harmoniously in a formulation. Without it, the molecules of oil and water will actively repel each other, preventing a stable, homogenous formulation. 

Another great example of a functional ingredient is our preservative. This is a necessary addition to any formulation that contains any amount of water. This is because water is the key for microbial growth, and so without a preservative our products become unsightly and downright dangerous! 

The amount of different functional ingredients you will require will depend on the type of homemade face serum you’re using. The most simple, and easy to make serum type is probably all oil serums. In fact, you only need one functional ingredient and that’s an antioxidant. 

These ingredients, depending on the type of face serum being made, are none negotiable. After all, you’ll never get an emulsion if you’re not using some kind of emulsifying agent. 

What Are The Best Ingredients For My Skin Type?  

essential oils for face serums

This is going to depend entirely on what kind of skin you have, and everyone is unique. However, most people fall into certain categories of skin type; oily skin, dry skin, mature skin and sensitive skin. 

I thought I’d give you a few tips when selecting your ingredients by giving you a few options for different ingredient categories for different skin types:

Oily Skin:

Would best benefit from a gel serum, or light emulsion serum. I always say go for water based products if you have oily skin. 

While natural carrier oils and aromaceuticals can be wonderful at balancing oily skin, it’s important to make the right choices in order to avoid adding extra unnecessary oil. 

For your activities, I would try an AHA or BHA, as this will help turn over some of those skin cells and prevent pore clogging. 

While bacteria are generally the cause of most acne breakouts, it’s a combination of pore-clogging and the presence of bacteria that really causes that inflammation. 

Even if you suffer from oily skin without acne, an AHA or BHA will help the skin feel less congested and allow the skin to breathe more. 

If you need to use anything oily on this type of skin, I would always recommend opting for Olive Squalane. This carrier oil will mimic the natural oils of the skin, and won’t clog pores as easily. 

Dry Skin:

You want to pack any face serum recipe intended for sufferers of dry skin with as much hydrating power as possible. Try to synergize your ingredients for this, pairing things like cosmetic butter with nourishing oils. 

If you want to make use of some activities, consider hyaluronic acid, which is a powerful humectant that can help keep the skin soft and supple. If this is difficult to get hold of, you can substitute for d-panthenol, which is deeply hydrating and wonderful in any water-based product or an emulsion. 

Mature and sensitive skin: 

These are almost subcategories, as it’s possible to have mature or sensitive skin that is also dry or oily (although mature skin tends not to be oily).

Therefore, you will want to synergize your serums with ingredients that are potentially good for both. This is easier for mature skin, as dry and mature skin ingredients have a lot of overlap.

Rose (hydrosol and essential oil) would be great in emulsions, but in anhydrous or all water formulations you can only use one or the other (hydrosol for your water-based serums and essential oil for all oil serums). You can learn more about this in my Luxury Serums Course.

What Equipment Do I Need To Make Face Serums?

This will depend on the type of homemade face serum you’re making. But for oil serums and gel serums, all you will need is a mixing beaker, mixing whisk or spatula, digital weighing scales, and a bottle/pot to store the product. 

How Can I Make An Anti Aging Face Serum? 

making a face serum

When making DIY anti-aging face serums, you’ll want to synergize your ingredients to help support mature skin, and help ease some of the symptoms we associate with it. 

Ingredients that are intensely hydrating are a must, as they will help the skin feel and appear more supple. Beyond this, you’re looking for ingredients that are high in antioxidants. Research shows that antioxidants can help bind free radical agents in our skin that contribute to skin aging.

Certain essential oils contain very high concentrations of antioxidants, including lavender and rose essential oils. However, rose essential oil is exceptionally expensive, and you can get a lot of that antioxidant power by opting for Rose Otto Absolute for a DIY face serum with essential oils.

Beyond this, look for ingredients that can help smooth or brighten the skin. Skin that looks dull, tired or uneven in complexion can contribute to the aging appearance of mature skin. Vitamin C and distilled lemon essential oil can help with this.

How Do You Make Face Serum Natural?

mix the content of the two beakers together
Photo Credit: marevgenna via Deposit Photos

While many serums on the market are natural, many are also not. Whether a product is accepted in natural skin care is a complicated issue, and you’ll receive different answers from different people. 

Ultimately, what makes a DIY face serum natural is the use of naturally sourced ingredients. Natural carrier oils, essential oils, functional ingredients such as xanthan gum, an Ecocert preservatives (where necessary) and various actives can all be natural. However, how they find their way to you is often an unnatural process. 

For example,

  • An ingredient might be made from coconuts, but it might also need to pass through several unnatural processes to become that ingredient. 
  • Many ‘natural’ ingredients are actually synthesized but are still considered natural because the chemicals that make up said ingredients can be found naturally occurring somewhere in the world. 

This is a problem because the term ‘natural’ is not fully defined by lawmakers, and there are few regulatory standards in place to make sure that our ingredients marketed as natural actually are what they say on the tin. 

Therefore, it’s important to do your research on your own ingredients and ask yourself what your line is. Nobody can tell you what works for you besides you, and you should follow your own formulation ethos as much as possible. 

Two Natural Face Serum Recipes

Gentle DIY hydration serum

Gentle DIY Hydration Serum Recipe

This DIY serum is a good all-rounder that's suitable for all skin types, It has wonderful hydrating, soothing, and antioxidant benefits, to keep the skin soft yet supple.
5 from 1 vote
Print Comment Pin Share
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 50 grams
Author: Angela Wills

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If you buy via the links here I may earn a small affiliate commission at no cost to you.




  • Weigh and place your hydrosol and distilled water into a beaker.
    25 grams Sweet Orange Hydrosol, 19 grams Distilled Water
    Weigh and place waters into a beaker.
  • Add the fruit extracts and the aloe vera powder to the water. Stir until the aloe vera powder has fully dissolved. Depending on the fruit extracts you have used, the color of the water may become cloudy or discolored. This will not have any impact on the performance of the serum.
    0.75 grams AHA Fruit Extract , 0.25 grams Aloe Vera Powder
    Add the fruit extracts and the aloe vera powder
  • Add your preservative and stir again. It may look like the preservative is not fully dissolved at this point, set it aside and leave it to stand while you mix up the gum and glycerine.
    0.5 grams Preservative
    Add your preservative and stir
  • In a separate container weigh your glycerin and xanthan gum. Stir until most of the gum has dissolved. This can take a little while, you can quicken it up by squashing the gum against the container with a silicon stirrer.
    Then, once the gum has been dissolved, grab your beaker containing the water, and give it another good stir to ensure the preservative has now disbursed.
    4 grams Glycerine, 0.5 grams Clear Xanthan Gum
    weigh your glycerin and xanthan gum
  • Now It's time to mix the content of the two beakers together. If you have a small flexible silicon spatula, you can usually scrap the gum into the water with little waste. If not it may be easier to add water to the gum.
    Once combined the serum will seem relatively thin and watery. As the gum dissolves into the water it will thicken up. You can speed this process up, by using a mini milk whisk. If you do use a mini whisk try to keep it as close to the bottom of the beaker as possible. Otherwise, you could stir it well and leave it to sit for 30 to 60 minutes. This should be enough time for the serum to thicken up.
    mix the content of the two beakers together
  • Transfer the serum to a suitable bottle and leave it to rest for 24 hours before using. The xanthan gum will continue to thicken over these 24 hours.
    2oz Serum Bottles
    Transfer the serum to a suitable bottle


  • Hydrosol: If you don’t have sweet orange hydrosol, you can substitute it with another hydrosol like rose, lavender, or chamomile, depending on your scent preference.
  • Fruit Extract: There are many different fruit extracts available to try, such as strawberry, blueberry, and AHA fruit extract which is a mix of fruits and sugars. You could also consider other extracts like green tea for antioxidants, or cucumber for soothing properties
  • Aloe Vera Powder: You can use aloe vera gel instead of aloe vera powder. Although you will need to use a higher percentage. I would use around 4.25g and lower the distilled water by 4g. It may change the texture slightly, but the serum will still turn out great.
  • Preservative: Ensure that the preservative you use is suitable for water-based formulations. Common water-soluble preservatives include preservative eco and Germaben II. Just remember to always follow the recommended usage rates for your chosen preservative.
  • Glycerin: Glycerin can be substituted with glycerite or another humectant like hyaluronic acid or propylene glycol if you prefer or have them on hand. To be honest, Glycerin is one of the best and cheapest humectants on the market, so this would always be my first port of call. 
  • Xanthan Gum: If you don’t have clear xanthan gum, you can use regular xanthan gum or other natural thickeners like guar gum. This will however change the look of your finished product, giving it a more cloudy appearance. If you are storing it in an opaque/tinted bottle this shouldn’t be a problem.   
homemade hydration boost serum

Rosehip & Camellia Hydration Serum Recipe

This easy-to-make DIY face serum is suitable for all skin types, but is especially beneficial to dry, mature, and sensitive skin, due to the nourishing and hydrating ingredients.
5 from 5 votes
Print Comment Pin Share
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 50 grams
Author: Angela Wills

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If you buy via the links here I may earn a small affiliate commission at no cost to you.




  • Weigh your carrier oils and eco silk into a small pourable beaker and give them a stir.
    18 grams Olive Squalane, 14 grams Rosehip Oil, 10 grams Camellia Seed Oil, 5.5 grams Isoamyl laurate
    Weigh your carrier oils and eco silk into a small pourable beaker
  • Add the remaining ingredients then stir again so that all the oils are thoroughly combined.
    1 grams Coenzyme Q10 Q-MAX, 1 grams Vitamin E Oil, 0.25 grams Neroli Essential Oil, 0.25 grams Petitgrain Essential Oil
    Add the remaining ingredients then stir
  • Transfer into a suitable bottle ready for use. Give the oils 24 hours to fully synergize before using.
    2oz Serum Bottles
    Transfer into a suitable bottle


  • Olive Squalane – I would go for a light none greasy oil such as fractionated carrier oil. 
  • Rosehip OiL – Argon, jojoba, and peach kernel would be suitable substitutes   
  • Camellia Seed Oil – Argon and evening primrose are both good choices  
  • Isoamyl laurate – Isoamyl cocoate is very similar, otherwise, you could substitute it with more rosehip oil. 
  • Coenzyme Q10 Q-MAX –  Substitute with more vitamin E, calendula CO2 extract, or Bisabolol.
  • Neroli and Petitgrain essential oil – Could be substituted with lavender or sweet orange. 

Unlock The Secrets Of Luxury DIY Face Serums

In the Luxury Serums Course, we delve into the art of formulating & creating sophisticated face serums that rival even the most expensive skincare on the market!

Step away from the unreliable realm of free online DIY skincare recipes & embark on a journey to master proven recipes & techniques.

[ Elevate Your DIY Skincare ]

I can say with confidence all of these homemade anti-aging serums work well and you won’t be disappointed. Better yet, these ingredients are all natural too! With advances made in natural skincare, it’s possible to formulate some amazing natural face serums that can really pack a punch.

Let me know how you get on with these recipes in the comments below. And if you’re interested in learning more about DIY face serums, and how to take them to the next level, then consider my brand new Luxury Serums Course.

Hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about these wonderful cosmetic creations. I’ll do my best to answer any questions or help you troubleshoot.

Author: Angela Wills

Title: Founder and Author - Savvy Homemade

Expertise: Beauty Recipes, Skincare Formulation, Soapmaking, DIY Crafts, Parenting

Angela Wills is an author, founder, and the driving force behind Savvy Homemade. With over fifteen years of experience, she brings a wealth of knowledge and dedication to every post she writes. She is fearlessly dedicated to creating tried and tested beauty recipes, skincare formulations, soap recipes, and many other DIY crafts that will work for everyone. Angela has a Diploma in Skincare Formulation, is a proud member of the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild, and infuses each DIY product with her passion and expertise.

Discussion (38 Comments)

    • I would swap it out for something like allantoin, but it would make it a little more cloudy. You could also use d-panethnol too, but you might want to use more of it than the aloe (you can take it out of the water part).

      Otherwise you could use whatever water soluble extract, in safe concentrations for facial skin, that you like the sound of. Experimentation can lead to wonderful new formulations!

    • Hi Maria,

      Castor oil is not a great preservative. If you’re looking for something for an oil all recipe, you’ll want to use either vitamin e or rosemary co2 extract as your antioxidant. I prefer vitamin e, as it has almost no odor, and won’t affect your scent profile.

      If you’re trying to preserve a water-based serum, you’ll want to make use of a broad-spectrum preservative that is effective against both gram positive and negative bacteria. Something like Geogard, Saliguard (Plantaserve P) or Preservative Eco will work just fine.

    • Hi Janet,

      There really is no good substitute I’m afraid. Squalane is such a unique ingredient. However, you could try and make use of some hydrolysed silk peptide, but you just won’t get the same benefits.

5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

Join the conversation

Rate Project