Precious Pressed Serums

Have you ever heard of a pressed serum ?? Well, these little babes  are a  very hot trend which started in Korea. I’d guess most people have never even heard of them yet!

I must say I love to create new  & original types of skincare products. Ones that are multi functional, highly effective, and filled with powerful botanicals that are both safe as well as sustainable.  A bonus if it is easy to travel with or carry around with you as it is not in liquid but solid  stick form.

So, this type of serum ticks all those boxes.

A serum can be known under many names, so it can be confusing to understand this type of product and what it is exactly.

It can be known as an elixir, a facial oil , be water or oil based, and come in gel, oil, or cream  emulsion forms. It is basically a cut above your regular facial products; more luxurious and expensive. That is because it is a high preformance product with lots of powerful extracts and actives, so it is very effective. Much more then a regular cream or facial oil made to simple hydrate or moisturize. It is your moisturizer & facial serum combined into one, so your skin care routine is cut in half.

So a pressed serum is one that is made up of waxes, butters & oils, in solid form, pressed into a pot like a balm or made even more solid and in stick form.  The difference between this product and a balm would simply be that the pressed serum has much more potent & higher end ingredients & actives.

Of course these pressed serms can be made in other forms then oil only , with water based extracts in an emulsion or in a lovely light gel. The key is the ingredient composition. Focus your formulation on anti aging, dry skin, oily skin, or whatever specific target client you have.

Some examples are :

  • exotic butters like Kombo, Sal, tacuma
  • exotic floral waxes or original ones like green tea or orange peel
  • costly oils like açai, blueberry, kukai, chia, pomegranate
  • more Co2 extracts
  • essential oil blends or absolutes and special fragrance blends

I have made a product here for a customer who has quite damaged ( from sun)  and very sensitive skin. She is a big traveller so I decided to make this stick pressed serum , full of healing plants and extracts, and some lovely macerated oils and exotic green tea wax. It turned out wonderfully, and she absolutely loved it and I am proud to say it helped her skin tremendously.

Have any of you made some of these super serums before? I’d love to hear about them.

Need help with formulating one? Feel free to contact me as I offer private consultations and I’d be happy to help you put together your own special blend!!








Beautiful Balms

So what exactly is a cleansing balm? In cosmetics, there are many different types of balms.

Some examples are:

  • hand or foot balm for dry or problem skin
  • a cleansing balm  
  • exfoliating body balm
  • lip balm
  • masque balm, used as a leave on intensive treatment for face or neck or décolletage
  • nail cuticle strengthening balm
  • baby balm for soothing rashes

A balm is a solid, anhydrous (waterless) blend essentially made up of oils, butters, and waxes. It can be used as a base for many different beauty products. Oils & butters will provide the skin with nourishing properties, and wax will provide a solid ‘frame’ to solidify the balm. The different wax types and the amount used in the formula will dictate its’ final texture; its’  hardness or softness.  In general, the more wax it contains, the harder the balm will be. You can play with many different waxes.  All kinds of healing oils, butters, extracts and botanicals can be added to adapt to the skin type you are catering to. Only a small amount is needed when used on the face as these are very rich & deeply hydrating products.

One can play with colors too by adding natural oil soluble pigments. Purple or yellow clays, blue azuline, green oils like avacado, orange ones like buriti or sea buckthorn extract, can give stunning colorful balms. A cleansing balm is an extremely nourishing and gentle way to wash your face without drying. With a clean spatula, take some balm out, so as not to contaminate it with water or dirty fingers. This is a waterless product and has no preservative, so IT IS VITAL NOT TO CONTAMINATE Your JAR WITH WATER . Spread over skin, and you can leave it on fora few minutes to let the beautiful oils and botanicals sink in as with a masque, & then rinse off with a warm cloth.  Skin will be silky smooth , clean, and deeply hydrated.

It takes quite a lot of practice to get the perfect balm formula. Each ingredient will play a role in its’ final texture, so you need to try and get the right combination of oils, butters and waxes to get a nice texture, not too greasy, not too liquidy, melting on skin in a nice way.

Here is a simple but beautiful formula I will share to get you started. This is a gorgeous pink, floral scented balm that is non greasy and silky to the touch. Feel free to change the aroma to any you like. Rose wax can be replaced with beeswax but the hardness will be slightly different.


Equipment needed:

Glass or metal heatproof bowl , scale, whisk or spoon for stirring, one smaller beaker or bowl , round container 40ml for balm.

Ingredients100%30 gm
Shea Butter5015g
Jojoba oil4212.06g
Rose wax51.5g
Purple clay2.6g
Vitamin E.5.15g    6 drops
Rose arome.5.15g     8 drops

Method of manufacture

Step 1/ Melt the rose wax, shea butter and oil in a water bath. Stir during melting for a uniform temperature distribution.

Step 2/ Once everything is melted, turn the heat off and remove the beaker from the water bath, stir while it cools down slightly.

Step 3/ When the blend is cooler, under 40°,  add  anti-oxidant  in the mixture, stir well.

Step 4/ Stir constantly in a cold water bath to help thicken  . Make sure no water gets in the mixture.

Step 5/ The clay won’t dissolve in the oil, but we pre-disperse it in part of our oil phase to avoid any clumps. When the balm  comes to a light trace you can add this clay  in the mixture. Blend well.

Step 6/ Add  the EO’s. Continue your cooling and stirring, until you reach the trace you’ve been looking for.Trace is when you can create a line in the balm and it stays , meaning the balm is solidifying as it should.

Step 7/ Pour into suitable jars before mixture becomes too solid, label. Do not cover your container right away to avoid condensation.  After about an hour you can put your cleansing balm for at least 12 hours in the fridge (ideally 24hrs). And then let it adjust to room temperature.

Step 8/ To use, scoop out some balm with a clean, dry spatula and then put it on face and rub all over. Let sink in the beautiful oils for 1 or 2 minutes and then wash off with a hot cloth gently.

Make sure no water gets in your container with this balm as there is no preservative system here so even a drop of water can cause bacteria to grow in this waterless product.

Let us know how your balm turns out if you try this one or improvise and make your own !We’d love to see how yours looks.

Hibiscus Petal Power

 I’ve been meaning to write a bit about this amazing plant and beautiful flower, and to treat you with the creations of some of my lovely fellow formulators. We can make the most incredible products with hibiscus powder, (red and pink skincare is just toooo cool !! )using the dried flower, or even with fresh petals, if you are lucky enough to have access to some!!

 Hibiscus is a real diva to formulate with, but with many powerful actives it is a real bonus in any skincare product. By being difficult, I mean it’s extremely sensitive to PH levels , which will control the final color of the product, so that you don’t always get what you expect. I will share my formulation experiences here, and tell you, in my opinion, the best way to include this magic in your skincare routines to benefit your skin.

A few benefits of this miraculous flower, aka the “Botox flower”

The flower petals are used in skincare, while the leaves are more used for hair care. There is even oil made from hibiscus seeds!!

 Hibiscus has a magical reputation for increasing skin elasticity to give a stunning natural youth-boost.  

With the incredible ability to inhibit the activity of the enzyme elastase, which is responsible for breaking down our skin’s precious elastin, its’ actives help fight the aging process by firming and lifting your skin.

It evens skin tone and can help with hyper pigmentation due to the milder citric and malic acid found in the plant. The AHA and anti-oxidant contents of Hibiscus act as pore-reducing agents and exfoliants, that help scrub off dead skin cells and speed up cell turnover.

Quick masque formula:

Mash up a few hibiscus flowers using a mortar and pestle, add some floral water, then apply them onto your face, avoiding the eyes. Rinse off after 15 minutes to experience a natural face lift! Don’t forget that it’s filled with Vitamin C that also boosts collagen production!

Hibiscus contains natural surfactants that can cleanse the skin in a mild, soothing way. They act as magnets for excess oil, dirt, and bacteria, and gently wash them away without drying out the skin. So I make a lot of gentle cleansing gels by infusing the powder because of this.

Lastly, Hibiscus has a naturally high mucilage content meaning its moisture rich!!  A sticky substance produced by plants to help with the storage of water and food, mucilage makes a fantastic natural gentle skin moisturizer, & helps skin stay hydrated, soft and supple .

With all these amazing elements combined, you have an incredible anti-aging ingredient that with constant use, gives skin a younger, suppler appearance.

A quick toner:

To help with greasy skin, hibiscus tea as a facial toner is a quick remedy! You can make hibiscus tea then pour it into ice cube tray and freeze for 2 hours. Use an ice cube all over your face after cleansing it to tone your skin naturally, tighten large pores and regulate the amount of sebum secreted on your face, bringing skin back into balance for a glowing complexion. I make other toners and adding a natural preservative of course, use the infusion along with some powerful botanical extracts for an overall lift.

Hibiscus leaves (petals too!) have many benefits for hair care as well, helping growth and strengthening existing hairs with their high amino acid content. It also can help delay premature graying. Their high mucilage content means when crushed, they are slippery and slimy, so incredibly moisturizing! That’s why you can find hibiscus in curly hair products especially those that are designed to provide slip & hold while sealing in moisture.

A quick DIY hair oil:

 If you are lucky enough to find some fresh ones, dip 10 to 15 leaves of Hibiscus in coconut oil completely then leave the mixture for 3- 6 weeks in cool dark place. Strain the coconut oil to remove leaves. This oil can be used for massaging the hair.

Hibiscus Hair Rinse for Silky Strands:

 In a large glass beaker, pour 4 cups of hot water then steep 1 tbsp of dried hibiscus for 20 minutes. Use this infusion as your final hair rinse after showering and conditioning.

Formulating with Hibiscus

Hibiscus is rich in antioxidants, called anthocyanocides, which are famous for fighting free radicals caused by sun & pollution.  These anthocyanocides also have astringent properties, so they help reduce pore size. Virtually any flower that is red, blue, or purple contains a class of organic pigments known as anthocyanin that change color with pH levels, causing  change in color at a particular stage of chemical reaction. This makes hibiscus powder , such a beautiful natural colorant, so difficult to work with if we want to keep that beautiful red. A little powder goes a long way, so dose with a very light hand!! You can get a range of colors from pink, blood red, deep burgundy according to the percentage of plant/water ratio. A cold water extract will produce a blood red infusion. Many chemicals, such as your surfactants or preservatives, can cause extreme color variations. The lower the PH, the nicer the color is, I have had beautiful hot pinks, and some beautiful red as roses too, but as we need to keep it at the appropriate ph to accommodate our preservation system, the color changes and it becomes challenging to keep it pretty. You will need a good PH meter and lots of experimenting to get it the way you like.

A word of caution, hibiscus can be an irritant and I would not recommend it for sensitive skin types. It can cause redness or even burning if not used properly. I highly recommend using this plant in small doses in a formula. Great news is, the cosmetic industry is investing heavily on preparing liposomal preparations of Hibiscus that can be absorbed by your skin without irritation, a testimonial for its’ skin benefits.

 I have made cleansing gels, toners, masques, and gels with homemade glycerites, dried flowers whole and in powder form.

Color sensitivity means that this product won’t stay pink or red for long though, so I make products to last about a month, in smaller 30ml bottles and kept in the fridge. Light and oxygen will make the product change color faster, usually to a brownish version of your original.

Anti oxidants and chelaters will help improve the photo stability of products made with these difficult natural colorings, but PH adjustment, keeping your product away from light and an airless packaging will definitely make the color last longer.

Now I will introduce you to my fellow formulator Nellie Bahchevanova , who has created a stunning pink hibiscus gel, and she has been kind enough to share her experience here with us.

Interview with Nellie:

Q: Please tell us a bit about you, where you are from, how and why you started creating natural skincare?

A: Hi, Caroline! First of all I would like to thank you for having me as a guest in your lovely blog. My name is Nellie – a 24 years old Green Beauty Artisan from Bulgaria.

My journey into organic skincare started with a few DIY tutorials and I immediately fell in love with the process. My desire for clean beauty grew bigger and bigger and I started trying to make emulsions and explore new organic ingredients. Half a year after my first body lotion I was invited to a Handmade Summer Bazar and this motivated me to create a wider range of serums, creams and moisturizers. At this point I enrolled into a few organic skincare classes and turned my hobby into a lifetime journey of learning and creating.

Now as a Green Beauty Artisan my main goal is to create beautiful and efficient skincare, incorporating the magic of nature into my formulations. I am also a proud owner of my own Etsy store  https://www.etsy.com/shop/AetherCosmetics where I am able to share my creations with the world.

Q: Please share how you created your gel and why, what procedure you used to get the pink dye from the herb, and how you incorporated it into your formula?  Did you use any other natural colorants in addition to the hibiscus to get such a bright pink?

A: I’ve been thinking for a long time to create a product with hibiscus – I simply love this flower! It’s not only beautiful, but also has such amazing properties for the skin. After reading an article on natural colorants I got inspired to create a hibiscus glycerite. The process of making glycerites is very simple, yet it requires some patience. I let my glycerine sit for 7 days to extract all the goodness form the dried hibiscus petals. The glycerite turned into a beautiful plum color and no scent. I incorporated it into an oil-free face mask because I wanted to avoid using emulsifier. Skipping the emulsifier I managed to keep my gel clear and hence give it a bright color when adding the Hibiscus glycerite. To maintain the lovely tint I had to first adjust the pH and then add the glycerite, as some natural colorants are very sensitive to the pH of the formula.

In my formula I have also incorporated Allantoin powder which has some amazing benefits for the skin and also added a slight shiny feel to it. Besides the Hibiscus glycerite no other additional colorants have been added to the product. The secret to achieving bright color is in the process of adding the ingredients.

Q: It is rare to see a hot pink beauty product that is 100% natural, what a great thing!!  Do you use glycerites often to color your products?

A: The above mentioned anti-age gel mask was the first time I tried to use glycerites in my formulations. But definitely won’t be the last. The vivid color that I managed to achieve gave me an inspiration and I am now in the process of experimenting with different glycerites. I have filled a few jars with different herbs, powders and plants to infuse and can’t wait to start formulating new goodies.

I’m happy to share with you my face mask for acne prone skin that I successfully colored with this natural colorant. 

Feel free to check out my creations on my Facebook page  https://facebook.com/AetherCosmetics/ or follow Aether Cosmetics on Instagram  https://instagram.com/AetherCosmetics/ for new updates and step-by-step posts how I create my green beauty.

The coloring agents in Hibiscus flowers are anthocyanins and are widely used in organic coloring. Anthocyanosides provide the red tint of the berries, red cabbage, plums, etc. The hue of the pigment is pH dependent and may appear red, blue or purple. This pigment is hydrophilic (water-soluble) and therefore plants containing it cannot be used in oil macerations.

Q: Have you tried making other colorful products with hibiscus, water or oil based, with powder or other extracted forms of this plant?

A: No, this is the first time I’ve included Hibiscus in my formulas. Powdered Hibiscus would work great as an as it will enhance the exfoliation thanks to the alpha-hydroxy acids in the plant.  Unfortunately hibiscus cannot be used in anhydrous formulations, as the coloring agent is water-soluble, however it can be incorporated successfully in an emulsion.

I hope you enjoyed this blog. I would really love to see some of your hibiscus creations if you would like to share them with us! Until my next blog…keep on glowing!!

Golden Calendula

  I simply adore calendula!! It’s name, it’s color, it’s healing effects, it’s got  soothingness  written all over it!!

Known as well as pot marigold, (Inci: Calendula Officinalis )  is part of the daisy family. There are several other species of marigolds, so don’t confuse this one with others like corn, desert or marsh marigold.

The Germans cooked it in their soups and stews, used as a saffron substitute, in hearty pot dishes, thus the nickname “pot marigold.” Historically speaking, everyone from the Greeks, Romans, Indians and Arabs used this plant as a medicinal herb, dye and cooking ingredient.

Following the sun, opening in the early morning and closing as the sun goes down, it tends to bloom once a month, usually at the new moon, following the calendar, (calends) hence the name Calendula. Weren’t those ancient latin speakers clever??

Growing in northern Mediterranean, western Europe, and southeastern Asia, this flower has been used since the 12th century and is assumed safe, non irritating and non toxic .

I love it for its’ gorgeous color, infused in oils it leaves its golden hue in them, while it turns yellow if infused in water. It has been used as a colorant in food, (cheese) clothes and cosmetics. The fresh petals can be used  to spice up salad with it’s stunning orange or yellow petals!!! This won’t turn your homemade skincare creams pure orange that easily though !! I use buriti oil to get a really orange cream, just a tip!

This lovely, delicate yet effective flower will give some serious healing power and benefits to your cosmetics.

As an herb

Some characteristic properties are that it is protective, moisturizing and anti-aging. Its natural anti oxidants protect, and it is rich in carotenoids as well, which give the flower color. These are a key ingredient to helping skin look youthful and healthy. It is gentle, soothing and hydrating, and is used safely for babies and for dry, chapped, irritated and sensitive skin.. Plus, it also possesses strong vulnerary properties (inhibiting tissue degeneration and stopping the bleeding in wounds), making it an excellent treatment for bruises, burns, cuts, sores, ulcers, wounds, rashes, eczema, etc…

So, it is the one medical herb to definitely have at home, for so many minor skin irritations, and taken internally, it is also super beneficial, just have it as a cup of tea!!

The herb stimulates the production of collagen at wound sites and minimizes scarring. The flavonoids and saponins contained in extracts of the plant have been shown to not only promote skin healing and repair, but also significantly reduce inflammations, speed up the healing time and strengthen the healed areas of skin. It’s also been shown to cure fungal disorders such as Athlete’s foot. The antibacterial and immunostimulant properties make it extremely useful in treating slow-healing cuts  (and for people who have compromised immune systems) .

Calendula in your cosmetics

In cosmetics, it’s mainly used in the form of an oil extract, or a more potent CO2 extract. In a cream ,it is used as a skin conditioning agent, along with all its other previously mentioned healing properties.

Many view this flower as a powerful skin regenerater and anti-aging ingredient, ( that’s what we like!)  because it’s been proven to stimulate the metabolism of glycoproteins, nucleoproteins and collagen during the skin’s healing process. Secondary to its medicinal uses, oil extracts of this flower are often used to add a floral scent to products.  Due to its multi-faceted role in cosmetics, you can find it in a variety of products such as facial moisturizer/lotion, anti-aging treatment, body wash, sunscreen, cleanser, bath oil, eye cream, lip balm and conditioner. So it can be used in almost any skincare product , even for little ones, and for the most sensitive skin types.

So how to use it in our skincare products??

The best way is to use this herb is in its’ extracted form at 1-2.5%  max. The whole plant is used. Very little is needed in a formula to be effective, and it is much more powerful then when used as a macerated oil , tincture, or herbal infusion alone. They can be used together in combination to optimize the effects of the plant.  Extract CO2 contains faradiol monoesters, the actual anti inflammatory component, and phytosterols, which  have photo-protecting, anti-ageing and wound healing properties.

Used in combination with saint john’s worts oil ,  chickweed or marshmallow oils ,  you have a very effective anti itching cream. For wound healing and inflammatory conditions use in synergie with comfry oil , for sprains and bruises you can add arnica to your formula.

Macerated in coconut oil, with its’ caprylic capric triglycerides, a specific type of esterification of coconut oil fatty acids, will results in a more stable and skin loving formula, and your oil will have a very long shelf life as well.

Let me share my healing balm recipe to have around for the days when your skin is irritated with something or anything, hope you like it!!! It smells spicy and divine, but feel free to use other Essential oils if you prefer another scent. Lavender is good for just about everything.

My Calendula Healing Balm Recipe


Ingredients 60 gm
Shea Butter 20 gm
Calendula in Apricot oil 10 gm
Comfrey in Sunflower oil 10 gm
Avocado oil 5 gm
Rosehip 3 gm
Vitamin E .5 gm
Beeswax 9 gm
Bisabolol 1 gm
Calendula CO2 extract .5 gm
Chamomile CO2 extract .4 gm
Essential oils cinnamon, ginger .3 gm each

Manufacture Method

  1. Gently Melt wax & butter in a glass or metal bowl, on double boiler till melted.
  2. Remove from heat, and add infused and avocado oils , except rosehip, which is heat sensitive. Sir, until mixture is slightly cooled.
  3. Add rosehip oil now and mix together.
  4. Put mixture on ice bath and stir with whisk to help cool faster and to coagulate smoothly.
  5. Once under 40°, add vit E, bisabolol, extracts and Essential oils, stirring after each addition, before the whole mixture starts to solidify. This can take awhile, so be patient. Can put mix in fridge a minute or two, then take out and keep stirring until you get a trace (form a line in the balm and it will hold). 
  6. Quickly pour into a small jar before it goes hard. Keep open for an hour, then put on your lid so no condensation forms, this is a waterless balm so we don’t want any water inside.

Wait 24 hours till the balm solidifies completely, then use on any super dry or irritated spots.

Hope you enjoyed this blog, I’d love to see any photos and know how it went if you tried the recipe out !!





The aromantic guide to using Botanical CO²  Extracts in natural skin , by Kolbjorn Borseth