Developer Diaries #2: Pitch pine and Chamomile Eye Gel

Developer Diaries #2: Pitch pine and Chamomile Eye Gel

Preparing to Formulate

I wanted to make an eye gel for a while. Gels always felt so futuristic and unique to me as a kid! I took some time to experiment with rheology modifiers using my homemade botanical extracts. Pitch pine and chamomile are excellent choices for an eye gel because they depuff, calm, refresh, and soothe!

Gelling agents like Sepimax Zen have been hit or miss for me, but I'm determined! After much hemming and hawing and tossing out gloopy, tacky mixtures, I finally formulated a thick gel solution with distilled water, aloe vera juice, Sepimax Zen, and a preservative to create a stable gel that can accept up to 30% additives, including oily emollients like olive squalane!

See Thick Gel Stock Solution & Formulation Guide 

I kept this formula simple, light, and quick to break, gliding like water on the delicate skin under the eyes. This formula is suitable for AM and PM use since it doesn't leave a sticky film under the eyes that might interfere with make-up formulations.

Preparing the Pine Extract

The pine extract is ready! Back in October, I collected pine needles from the Wharton State Forest. I stashed half stashed in the freezer, and half I stuffed into a glass bottle and tinctured with 100-proof vodka. After about 7 weeks, the vodka took on a pretty chartreuse color, bright green, and a pleasing fragrance.

Next, I triple-filtered the extract using paper coffee filters and was satisfied that no little bits remained. Since I'm using 100-proof vodka, it is a self-preserving extract. I do not need to add a preservative because 50% alcohol is enough to stop bacteria, fungi, or mold from growing in the pine extract.

Putting it All Together

Because this is a cold-process emulsion, mixing the formula is straightforward and quick. Here is the formula I settled on:

  • 65.5% thick gel stock solution
  • 20% witch hazel
  • 10% chamomile extract
  • 4%  pine extract
  • 0.5% liquid germall+

Using the premade thick gel as a base, I added each ingredient in sequence, gave everything a good mix with a stirring rod, and then switched over to a milk frother. It's hard to avoid suspending bubbles in the gel while mixing, so I did it in short bursts to ensure the preservative was evenly distributed. And that's it; the gel is ready! I made 100 grams and decanted it into 7ml jars.

How Does It Feel?

A dab on the ring finger is all I need! It's a quick-breaking gel, like a splash of water on the skin. The gel glides on with zero tugging at my eyes and is easy to pat in as it absorbs quickly.

As the alcohol in the pine extract evaporates, it creates a cooling sensation around the eyes! It feels super refreshing to tired eyes, especially if you've been editing a blog article late at night. The puffiness under my eyes was less noticeable. The gel smelled vegetal and light like crushed chamomile stems, pleasant enough for use near your nose.

Final Formulator Thoughts

Some adjustments I want to make to the formulation include using Euxyl PE 9010 as the preservative instead of Germall+. I like Euxyl because the preservative ingredients also act as a fragrance fixative. That means the eye gel fragrance will last longer. In addition, I will adjust the ratio of witch hazel and chamomile extract to create a well-balanced gel that hits all the points.

Finally, all that's left is to think of a cool, enchanting name for the eye gel! I want to evoke a feeling of restfulness, lazy mornings awakened by the Sun, and a reviving hike through the Pine Barrens. I will be revealing the eye gel for purchase soon, stay tuned and sign up to be notified first when it goes on sale!

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