Moth and Toad Apothecary

Herbalism, self-sufficiency, and low-waste living

How to Make a Custom Herbal Facial Oil

Luxurious bottles filled with facial oil; naturally exfoliating milk baths; freshly brewed herbal infusions perfuming the air; there are some ancient beauty rituals worth keeping around. These highly customizable, luxurious traditions are often pushed to the side for mass manufactured serums and moisturizers, cutting out the intimate and deeply personal experience with self care that we all deserve to have.

While I love potent concentrates of vitamins, moisturizing ceramides, and effective skincare solutions, I feel like the slow, sensual side of self love gets lost in the stark white bottles on my sink. Since moving back to Missouri a few months ago, I’ve gotten sidetracked with work, forgetting to spend time on myself. To remedy this modern disconnect, I have gone back to making my own skincare as often as time (and my wallet) allows! A very simple and fun way I do this is by making a custom herbal facial oil to use a few drops of every night. It’s not a full routine of ancient beauty rituals, but it’s enough to remind me to take a deep breath and care for myself in the most intimate way I know how; by creating my own products and using them with love.

A quick disclaimer: I have affiliate links in this post! If you make a purchase through one or more of these links, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting me and this blog!

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Why use a facial oil?

If you have dry skin, the lipids in a facial oil work by protecting your skin barrier and filling in gaps where you need a little extra moisture. If your moisture barrier is compromised, you may experience dryness, flakiness, redness, irritation, and sensitization to various products. Oils high in oleic acid are best for dry skin types, which we’ll explore further in this article.

For drier skin types, it’s usually not enough to use a facial oil as your only source of moisture, because they tend to be lightweight and do not contain water-based ingredients to restore hydration in the skin, but they can be the buffer your routine needs to amplify the health of your acid mantle.

If you have oily or acne-prone skin, using a facial oil high in linoleic acid (which is quickly and easily absorbed into the skin) can provide similar benefits without overloading your skin with moisture. If you use a water-based or oil-free moisturizer, adding a lightweight linoleic acid (omega-3) facial oil can provide the perfect amount of protection you need for nightly skin repair.

Some people with oily skin find using a facial oil helpful in rebalancing their oil production, especially if they use or have used astringent products that strip oil from the skin.

Another great benefit to facial oils is how easily you can infuse them with botanicals, resins, and other ingredients of your choice. Let’s get into how you can make your very own custom herbal facial oil!

How to Choose an Oil (or Oils)

When creating a facial oil for yourself, you get complete creative freedom! You don’t have to formulate for anyone else’s preferences, and can make an entirely customized product to love and enjoy! I recommend keeping a few things in mind when choosing an oil (or oils) to use. Here are some questions to ask yourself when experimenting!

  1. Chemical composition: What acids and vitamins is this oil high in? Will my skin benefit from these acids and vitamins? Should I seek out oils with other more relevant benefits? Could I combine this with other oils, or would they be contraindicated/not work well together?
  2. Texture/sensation on the skin: How does this oil feel on my skin immediately after I apply it? Does it absorb quickly enough? Does it absorb too quickly? When I apply it at night, does it last on my skin, or do I wake up feeling dry? Do I wake up feeling clogged?
  3. Sensitivity: Am I sensitive to any of the oils I am wanting to use? When I conduct a patch test, do I feel itchy, experience redness, or other signs of irritation?
  4. Frequency of use: How often do I plan to use this facial oil? Does the frequency of use change how moisturizing I need it to be?
  5. Cost and affordability: Can I afford to use the oils I want to include in my facial oil? When will the oils go bad? What size is most cost effective for me to purchase for this project?
  6. Comedogenic rating: Where does the oil I am using fall on the comedogenic scale? How does my skin react to using it daily? Should I cut this oil with a lighter oil to reduce the chance of clogged pores? Does my skin generally react to comedogenic oils with acne or breakouts?
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Oils High in Oleic Acid

  • Almond Oil (Sweet) – high in vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorous, and copper; lightweight, antimicrobial; may reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and stretch marks over time.
  • Apricot Kernel Oil – high in vitamins A, B, C, and E, contains carotenoids, magnesium, and potassium
  • Argan Oil – high in vitamin E, CoQ10, and melatonin; has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Avocado Oil – high in vitamins A, D, and E, contains lecithin and potassium, can soften and moisturize the skin.
  • Olive Oil – high in vitamin E and squalene, which is a natural moisturizer similar to sebum (the oil produced by our skin)
  • Rosehip Oil – high in vitamins A, C, and F (I recommend infusing this oil without heat to preserve the vitamins), offers a glow thanks to the vitamin C content, exfoliates over time, lightweight texture.
Image by Tatyana Kazakova from Pixabay

Oils High in Linoleic Acid

  • Evening Primrose Oil – a lightweight oil; may reduce pain associated with arthritis; may reduce itchiness and discomfort from skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
  • Grapeseed Oil – high in vitamins C, D, and E, as well as polyphenols; strong antioxidant activity, may help brighten and restore even tone to skin.
  • Hempseed Oil – very lightweight, a “dry” oil; high in magnesium; good for inflammatory skin conditions and acne-prone skin; antibacterial.
  • Maracuja Oil – anti-inflammatory, may work well for conditions such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema; antibacterial; antioxidant-powered; may increase skin elasticity, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles; may help with skin tone evenness and hyperpigmentation.
  • Sunflower Seed Oil – high in vitamin E; antioxidant rich; may help with wound healing.

Oils Balanced in Both Oleic and Linoleic Acid (Good for combo skin types)

  • Rosehip Oil – high in vitamins A, C, and F (I recommend infusing this oil without heat to preserve the vitamins), offers a glow thanks to the vitamin C content, exfoliates over time, lightweight texture.
  • Argan Oil – high in vitamin E, CoQ10, and melatonin; has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Other Oils Worth Noting

  • Castor Seed Oil – a heavy, sticky oil when used alone; high in ricinoleic acid, which may help in reducing pain and skin inflammation; high in vitamin E; antifungal and antibacterial
  • Jojoba Oil – lightweight, similar structure to sebum, may help reduce acne by unclogging sebaceous filaments, may help reduce oil production and control pore size over time
  • Meadowfoam Seed Oil – moisturizes the skin well, acts as an emollient, high in vitamin E, and doesn’t leave behind a greasy feeling on the skin.
  • Fractionated coconut oil (MCT Oil) – provides extreme occlusion for driest skin types, antimicrobial, heavier than other oils mentioned here, smooths and softens skin over time
Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay

A Few Types of Vitamins and Their Benefits in Facial Oils

  • Vitamin A – vitamin A exfoliates the top layers of your skin to boost skin cell turnover, which improves the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and dullness. It can also help reduce the appearance of scars, sunspots, and hyperpigmentation over time! If using a vitamin A-rich oil, include an SPF in your daily routine!
  • Vitamin B – there are various kinds of B vitamins, but in general they tend to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, can sometimes help with redness and irritation, can improve the appearance of pores, and help control oil production. I recommend researching the specific B vitamin in the oils you are interested in for more specific information on how it will apply to your creation.
  • Vitamin C – vitamin C is a powerful (albeit unstable) antioxidant. It works by binding to free radicals like oxygen and therefore protects your skin cells from damage. It’s an awesome anti-aging ingredient that works well with vitamin E. It also provides a luminosity to your skin, giving you a vitamin C ‘glow’!
  • Vitamin E – vitamin E works the same way vitamin C does, in that it is a powerful antioxidant. However, it also has some unique brightening qualities. It can help reduce hyperpigmentation caused by scarring and/or overactive melanocytes. It can be used on melasma as well!
Image by Seksak Kerdkanno from Pixabay

How to Choose Herbs to Infuse Into Your Facial Oil

When infusing oils, it’s important to choose herbs that have compounds that are fat-soluble. For example, calendula infuses well in oil because it has a lot of volatile oils (essential oils). Some herbs can be infused in multiple menstruum options with great results, while others are limited to one or two. Research the best way to extract any given herb before infusing your oil with it for the best results.

Look for herbs that support the function of your oils and your skincare needs. Let’s say you have acne and are looking to infuse some hempseed oil and jojoba oil with some herbs. Some excellent choices could be tea tree leaves, lavender buds, calendula petals, and comfrey leaves. These herbs all support acne, healing, and soothing irritation in some way.

It’s also important to test each herb infusion separately to determine if it is a safe option for your skin. I recommend infusing a small amount of oil with each herbs you intend to infuse separately to ensure you can patch test each one individually.

Image by Monika from Pixabay

Why I do Not Recommend Using Essential Oils

Essential oils are extremely concentrated and have many health risks associated with them. Believe it or not, even in small amounts, they can cause irritation, endocrine disruption, and chemical burns. They’re not a safe way to practice herbalism, and tend to cause more problems than they solve. For more information on essential oils and why some people are beginning to let them go, check out Arielle De Martinez on instagram. Her story highlights are full of excellent examples of how and why they have become a topic of hot discussion.

To find good herbs for your needs, I suggest looking through the end of a book such as The Modern Herbal Dispensatory by Thomas Easley and Steven Horne. Be sure to research your herbs individually for contraindications with your level of sensitivity and your other skincare products. Here are three example blends to explore:

Blend for acne: lavender buds, calendula petals, comfrey leaves

Blend for inflammation: chamomile flowers, calendula petals, plantain leaves

Blend for wound healing: comfrey leaves, yarrow petals, calendula petals

I recommend purchasing your herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs, Starwest Botanicals, or Frontier Co-Op! I have had great results using herbs from these three suppliers.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Crafting Your Custom Herbal Facial Oil

Once you know what oils you would like to use, and which herbs will be infused into them, it’s time to get started. You may need to make a few test batches to ensure your skin enjoys the blends you chose, so start small and make more if you are satisfied with your results!

For oils with antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, I recommend infusing them without heat for the least oxidation and heat destruction. You can do this by placing your dry herbs in a jar up to about 3/4 full and then pouring your oil blend over them. Allow to infuse for about a month. The less headspace in your jar, the better! Keep it in a dark, dry place. For blends that also contain oils that aren’t as heat sensitive, you can choose to infuse each portion separately or altogether.

To infuse your facial oil over heat for optimal extraction (and a quicker turnaround time), fill your jar with dried herbs and cover with oil. Place your jar into a pot of water (the water should reach about halfway up the jar) and simmer for about 3-12 hours, depending on your patience and obligations. Keep the oil temperature under 100 degrees F to preserve the integrity of the herbs and their compounds.

After you have infused your herbs, it’s time to strain the plant material. Place a coffee filter inside of a strainer and dump your oil through it. be sure you have a large enough bowl/jar underneath said strainer/funnel to catch your oil! After you are finished straining your oil, funnel it into a dark bottle or jar and use a few drops nightly/weekly/as desired!

Sources I Deeply Appreciated While Writing This Article

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If you’d like to support me, feel free to use these affiliate links when shopping! If you make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. This goes towards the upkeep of this blog and continuing to make more content for you to enjoy! Thank you!

Check out more herbal tips and tricks on my page, Beginner Herbalist Resources! I have tons of great links put in one place for anyone interested in learning more about herbalism and how to get started!

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