How To Make And Store Your Own Skincare Products Safely

by Gio
how to make and store your own skincare products safely

So you want to make your own skincare products?

It’s not as easy as you think. You can’t just mix up a few drops of olive oil with a big dollop of glycerin, add a spoonful of vitamin C powder and voila, you have a product that works.

It’s way more complicated than that…

For starters, you need to make sure your own skincare products last as long as possible. Cos who has the time to make a new batch every day, right?

This means using the right packaging and preservatives to keep your precious concoctions safe from germs, light and air (they oxidise natural ingredients, making them go bad faster).

Don’t know where to start? Here are a few tips on how to make your own skincare products safely:

1. Wash your hands and sterilize your tools

I know you already know this, but I’ll say it anyway.

Before your start to make your own skincare products, sterilize your hands and tools to kill any bacteria you may transfer on them.

Wash your hands, clean your work surface, your spatula, your bowl and anything else you’re gonna use with hot water or Isopropyl Alcohol.

Make sure they are completely dry (either let them air dry or use a clean paper towel) before you use them. Bacteria, fungi and yeast thrive in moist environments. A few drops of water in your bottle may seem harmlesss, but it’s just what those pesky bacteria need to spoil your own skincare products.

One more thing: use a spatula or a spoon instead of your fingers to pick the small quantities of ingredients you need.

Related: How To Wash Your Hands Properly

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2. Make small batches of your own Skincare Products

There’s a reason why moisturisers or serums come in 30ml or bigger bottles. They use preservative systems that are tried and tested to last for months up to a couple of years.

You won’t have access to those preservative systems or the opportunity to do professional testing to estimate how long the preservatives you can use will last. Heck, you may decide not to use preservatives at all.

That’s why it’s safer to make small batches of your own skincare products. You don’t want to make a big portion only to find tiny black dots scattered all over it a few days later.

(FYI, those black dots are bacteria. Throw the concoction away!)

Homemade skincare products have shorter shelf lives, especially when:

  • They don’t use preservatives: I always recommend to add at least a couple of natural preservatives to make your own skincare products last a little longer.
  • They contain water: A common ingredient in skincare, water makes antioxidants and other goodies spoil and go bad faster.

So make a small batch – just enough for a few days – and store it in the fridge. The lower temperature will help it last longer.

Related: Are Natural Skincare Preservatives Effective?

diy sunscreen is dangerous

3. For bigger batches, use preservatives

If you want to make a bigger batch of your own skincare products, you MUST use a preservative. NO exceptions.

Nope, I’m not talking about vitamin E & co. Antioxidants aren’t preservatives. They help the active ingredients in your homemade skincare products last longer, but they don’t protect you against bacteria and fungi.

Essential oils are a common choice. Lavender, rosemary, lemon and sage (to name a few) have antimicrobial properties that can protect your products from bacterial contamination.

But, they’re not without side effects. The problem with essential oils? You need a high dose to act as preservative. That’s irritating.

If you want to go down this route, do your due research to figure out how much essential oil you can use safely.

Some online shops also sell preservatives DIYers can use to make their own skincare products last longer. These work better but, again, do your research to figure out how to use them properly.

Related: Parabens Alternatives: Which Ones Are Safe And Effective?

how to make your own skincare products

4. Store your own skincare products properly

I know I sound like a broken record, but homemade skincare products oxidize and lose their effectiveness when exposed to light and air.

Packaging matters as much as the ingredients you’re using. What’s the point of creating a wonderful homemade moisturiser if you’re gonna put it in a see-through jar that’ll make it go bad faster?

Always store your homemade skincare products in opaque and air tight containers. I like to use small dispensing bottles and tubes as they help avoid bacterial contamination.

That’s not all. Even if you’re packaging your own homemade skincare products properly, make sure you’re storing them in a cool and dark place, like your fridge. Leave them under hot sunlight or near your radiator and the heat will spoil them faster.

Related: Why You Should Avoid Jar Packaging

How do you make and store your own skincare products? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Denise April 11, 2012 - 6:25 am

Great helpful article!!! I am planning on making my own cleansing oil (the OCM method) with Castor oil and 1 or two carrier oils (and an emulsifier) and I’m so excited! =) I already have a small plastic bottle (plastic is okay, right?) and I will follow your tips on making a small batch.

I hope hot water is enough to sterilize the bottle. Do you happen to know how long my Cleansing Oil would last, I think it just depends on my carrier oils, right? Like, 6 months or so.

beautifulwithbrains February 25, 2013 - 9:06 am

Denise, I’m so sorry for not replying sooner, I’ve only just seen this now. 😳

I guess you don’t need my answer anymore, but here it is anyway. Yes, plastic is ok and yes, it depends on the carrier oils. Still, I recommend you do small batches that will last only a few weeks, just to be on the safe side. And if you’ve already tried it, please let me know how it went.

Barbara December 14, 2019 - 4:49 pm

I just wanted to add to this because I also mix my own oils for OCM. I usually make a bottle of 60-100ml. That it lasts me for about…3-5 months. My oils keep changing but I always have 10% Castor oil. The rest ranges from raspberry, avocado, jojoba, sweet almond, camelia, argan, rosehip, baobab, sunflower, olive, sesame, neem to marula. I usually mix three to five different oils. The only essential oils I have ever used are carrot and geranium rose, separately. Twenty drops for a 100ml bottle. I usually also add 10% vitamin E. I’ve been doing this for two years and I have never had an allergic reaction nor have the oils smelled bad or seen black dots. I’m not saying it did not go bad, but to my limited knowledge it does not seem to have ever been the case.


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