How to make a skincare product?

Mar 17, 2022 | The basics

I clearly remember the desire to make DIY cosmetics such as shampoo and a face lotion that will finally heal and take take care of my skin. But I wondered for quite a while: how to make skincare product? This was something that always looked so far away because I didn‘t know where to start. Everything looked soooo difficult.

When I looked at the ingredient list of each product that I bought it gave me so much frustration that I just almost gave up. Most of the materials used in skincare products sounded to me like they were different language or a code.

Up until one day when I saw that people are deconstructing this whole cosmetic thing and wanted others to know which ingredients were safe, which might clog pores or which can increase itchiness to the skin.

From that moment I have slowly increased my knowledge on most of the ingredients. And I began to understand how to make skincare products. However, it took me a while.

I want to make your cosmetic formulation journey easier for you. So here are my tips on how to start even when you feel desperate.


how to make skincare product?

1. first 5 ingredients

When you look at the ingredient list you should know that the 5 first ingredient usually make a majority of the whole formulation. All of the ingredients are listed in order of the most amount used to the least amount used. 

The rest of ingredients that are used in 1 % or less can be listed in any order meaning that you would not know which of the ingredient has a higher usage rate or lower.

However, you should know that rarely preservatives are used more than 1%, so if you see the preservative somewhere in the middle of the INCI list, you should know that the rest of the ingredients probably don’t do much in the formulation. 

Unless, some of those ingredients are very effective at small amounts, like hyaluronic acid.


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2. Read the whole ingredient list (INCI)

Pick any skincare product that you like and would like to make it yourself. Then look at the ingredient list and write everything down. Even when there are lots of strange words. Write it down no matter what your first thoughts are.

After a while you will start to notice the same ingredients and everything will be much easier.

For example in the photo below you can see a full list of ingredients of a ‘BALANCE’ solid shampoo made by Lithuanian cosmetic company SOLIDU. 


3. Get to know each ingredient that you have listed

Google every cosmetic ingredient. This probably sound very simple, but google EVERY ingredient even you find something that think you know it.

I mean, I thought I knew what is cetearyl (cetostearyl) alcohol is, but… did I? The first thought was that it is an alcohol and it should be really drying to the skin, so why should I be bothered to look it up. But I was wrong. Not all ‚alcohols‘ are the same.

If you want to know more about cetearyl and cetyl alcohols, read these:

The same goes to acids. Stearic acid could not be any more different that the salicylic acid. So, look everything up and write it down.

In the photo below you can see Hyaluronic acid 4D ingredient sold by Lotioncrafter and the info they are providing. Read that info and look at the additional SDS&Tech Data and Formulation guide. Easch supplier has its own way of providing supporting information, but find it and read it. It is so useful.


4. Purpose and usage rates

When you have looked up each cosmetic ingredient try to understand its purpose in the formulation. Sometimes the same ingredient can have dual purposes in cosmetic products. Write that as well.

Also, write the usual/typical usage rates. This will give you a more wide view how potent they are and how versatile they are.

All those little things add up and you will get to know how to make skincare product.

If you want to know how to research ingredients – take a look at my other blog post. There I share a lot of useful links.

5. Make a list of recipes

Look up the recipes that are worth trying. If you are into making some face masks from food, then it usually doesn‘t matter where the recipe came from.

But if you want to make skincare products such as like body butter, a lotion, a shampoo – I would suggest trying those that suppliers are recommending. Even then try to look at the formulation critically.

Personally, I don‘t really trust the recipes which don‘t show the used percentage of each ingredient. For me it looks very unprofessional.

I also avoid the recipes which state ingredients in different measurements. For example: a spoon of jojoba oil, an ounce of grapeseed oil, half a spoon of emulsifying wax, etc.

The usage of different measurements includes a lot of space for mistakes and you cannot be guaranteed that you are weighing the same amount of ingredient each time.  

So, make a list of reasonable and trusted, simple recipes that you would like to try making.

6. Make a list of ingredients

When you have your recipes, then you can start getting them. Look at the price, amount of the ingredients, check if they are vegan, refined, fair trade or have any other criteria that is important to you and buy small amounts of ingredients.

7. Equipment

If you want to know more about the needed equipment, take a look at my post on this topic.


8. Enjoy it

I know that some of the ingredients can be pricey. And you don‘t want it go to waste. However, forget about the price of those ingredients that you got – start enjoying the fun of making and try to learn from your mistakes.

So, another time when you make something good or bad, you can actually make conclusions what do you like, what is not worth it and finally you will start to formulate better.


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