Skin formulation ingredients

Skin cream formulation: Ingredients

Hi. Making skin creams at home is very fun and creative. But how to start? What are the ingredients that cannot be missing for the formulation of skin cream?
In this post I answer these questions, listing the main ingredients that (according to me) you must have. As I wrote in my previous post “Skin cream formulation“, cream is an emulsion composed of two phases, one aqueous and one oily held together by an emulsifier. To this cream are often added further substances called actives with some particular functions (anti-aging, antioxidants, etc..).
Let’s dive into the skin cream formulation by knowing more about the ingredients, classified into 3 groups called phases A, B, and C..

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Skin cream formulation: Ingredients Must-have

1- Phase A

Ingredients: phase A


Phase A is the aqueous phase. One ingredient that cannot be missing is distilled water. Water is the main ingredient in our preparations. For DIY cosmetics, the use of distilled water is preferable to tap water because it guarantees better safety and hygiene. To personalize your creams, you can use hydrolats to completely or partially replace distilled water.

Some examples are:

  • chamomile water for delicate skins (find it here),
  • rose water for an anti-aging effect (find it here),
  • thyme water for skin that may suffer from acne.

Vegetable Glycerin

Vegetable glycerin is an important compound for cream formulations. It is an odorless and colorless liquid and plays a key role in preparations. Glycerin is a humectant with hygroscopic properties. Its function is to reduce water loss, thus keeping the skin or hair hydrated. Glycerin can be purchased on Amazon or Dragonspice.

Xanthan Gum

Xanthan Gum is a gelling agent derived from sugar. It is used in gel preparations (around 1-2%) or to stabilise emulsions (0.2-0.3%). I think this product is essential in the preparation of a cream because it makes it softer and easy to apply. You can find it on Amazon or Dragonspice.

2- Phase B

phase B

Phase B is the oily phase. Here we find butters, oils, waxes, and emulsifiers. For the preparation of a simple cream, I recommend buying a butter, a heavy oil, a medium one and a light one and of course an emulsifier.


Impossible not to have Shea butter in your collection. In addition to fatty acids, shea butter is a source of vitamins A and E, which are excellent natural antioxidants, and Phytosterols that act as anti-inflammatories. In general, I buy for my formulations refined shea butter because I am not sure if in the unrefined one pathogens or bacteria are absent. You can buy it on Amazon or in Dragonspice (Affiliate links)


As already described in my previous article, oils are classified according to their viscosity. Some examples are:

I would recommend the purchase of one oil per category to have a good mix between them.


The emulsifier is essential in a cream formulation. It is the molecule that keeps together the aqueous and oily phase, keeping the mixture stable over time. There are many emulsifiers but I would recommend the easiest one. Olivem 1000 (INCI: Cetearyl Olivate/Sorbitan Olivate) is a self-emulsifier that doesn’t need a second compound called co-emulsified to create an emulsion. You can find it on Amazon or Dragonspice.

3- Phase C

Phase C

Phase C is the one that is added after the emulsion has taken place. It consists of several substances that characterize the function of the cream itself such as nutritive, anti-aging, emollient, etc.. In this phase, thermolabile oils can also be added (phase B), to avoid their damage with the temperature, such as rosehip oil and linseed oil. The active ingredients I recommend are definitely.

  1. aloe vera gel and its 1000 beneficial properties,
  2. vitamin E or tocopherol as an antioxidant and
  3. Cosgard as a preservative (it works within pH range:  2-6; poor protection against gram-negative bacteria).

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These are the ingredients that in my opinion are a must in the formulation of skin cream. These ingredients allow you to start creating a simple and nutritious product. I hope this post has been useful to you and now just have fun with DIY! 🙂

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