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How to enjoy DIY skin care, save money and avoid making a mess

Dear Skin Actives clients: I want to discourage you from spending money with us, or, rather, discourage you from wasting money

I don’t want you to buy actives “just because”. Buying too many actives and mixing them “willy nilly” leads to disappointment and we at SAS prefer to keep our clients for many years.

Before mixing your own products, I suggest you try our pre-mixed products.  Look for the product that corresponds most closely to the type of skin or skin problem you may have. Try to decide what your aims are for your skin, then we can work out together how to achieve those aims.

Trying first our pre-mixed creams or serums will give you an idea of what can be achieved. If one or more of our pre-mixed products help (a bit, or a lot) then you can try to improve on them by mixing your own. If you will mix your own products, be prepared for some messy results at the beginning. Don’t throw away a messy serum or cream, the activity it will still be there and you can use the “mess” as a concentrate by mixing a fraction of it to a base cream.

It is a bad idea to try to imitate an expensive cream: you may assume that if a product is expensive then it must be good.  In my experience, there is no correlation between price and quality. But if there is a product you really like, go for it. Try to identify what it is that you like in the product: is it a make-up effect, is it the “feel” or fragrance or is your skin looking younger after a month or so of use? If it is the fragrance or color you like in the expensive product, it is very unlikely that you will be able to copy those attributes. At Skin Actives, we don’t sell fragrances or coloring dyes, although we have some actives that will color your creams and a couple of fragrances that you can use to personalize your products.

What you will need

The most important element in mixing your own skincare product is a notebook to write down exactly what you are doing. If you get that “magic potion” you always dreamed of you will want to be able to reproduce it next time.

A small scale that can weigh up to 250 gm and will give you 0.1 gram, they go for about $12. A kitchen scale is also useful but it may not help if you are trying to weigh very small amounts of actives. Half a teaspoon could be a useful measure for sugar in a recipe, but weighing a powder is more convenient.

Scale: 1,000 by 0.1 gram.

Base cream: try one of ours first, Canvas cream if you have oily or normal skin, or European if you have dry skin.

To decide what you are trying to achieve, our list of “essentials” will help you find out the main activity of an ingredient.


“I purchased the base canvas cream and kojic acid dipalmitate 4 ounce. I want lighter complexion. I was wondering if I mix 8 ounce kojic acid with the cream base. What happens. Is it more powerful and lightening?”


It will probably make a mess of the of the whole thing. You can’t dissolve 8 ounces of kojic acid dipalmitate in 4 ounces of cream. Just try and you will see. Or try to dissolve 1 pound of sugar in 2 spoonfuls of water. Same thing.

***Our forum member Panda gives a very nice description of the DIY process:

I am going to give you my version and hopefully, others will chime in. My best answer is sometimes it’s hard and sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes it works well and sometimes it doesn’t.

Start with a base that you like. That is the important part. Then mix small batches from there. As you prepare to add each active do a search on the forum and see what issues others have faced when trying to incorporate this active – like does it need to be mixed with water or heated. Add your actives one at a time and try the mix out for a few days before you add more. Some find that alpha lipoic acid stings, some don’t. If it stings too much you may need to reduce the concentrationby adding more basemix. Some actives require a day or two to fully dissolve (licorice).

Some actives can make the base cream thin (DMAE), some can make it gritty (betulinic acid), some can make it too thick (hylauronic acid), and some can give it a color that will stain your skin (grapeseed). See why it is so hard to answer this question! But if you start slow and make small batches you can recover from most anything and end up with a beautiful result. I hope this helps! ***


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