How to Make Cosmetic Gel

by Lisa Green ; Updated September 28, 2017

Topical gels are usually clear or slightly opaque.

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At the most basic level, gels are active ingredients suspended in a base of water and a thickening agent, such as xanthan gum. Gels tend to be lighter and less moisturizing than creams or lotions, making them a suitable option for those with oily or acne-prone skin. Cooling, refreshing and more readily absorbed than many other topical formulations, gels are often used to deliver active ingredients in anti-cellulite products and in products designed for use around the delicate eye area. With the right ingredients and know-how, topical gels are relatively easy to make at home.

Pour the spring water into a sterilized glass mixing bowl.

Gradually sprinkle the xanthan gum powder into the water; whisking vigorously, using a fork or an egg whisk.

Blend the mixture using a hand-held or stationary blender to remove any lumps. Skip this step, if your mixture is already smooth.

Add your active ingredient to the mixture. For example, adding 10ml of aloe vera concentrate could be added to make a cooling eye gel. Stir well, using a glass stirring rod.

Transfer the mixture to an airtight glass storage jar.


  • Experiment with different concentrations of different active ingredients, depending on your requirements. Aim for approximately 10 percent active ingredients -- 5 percent if you're using essential oils -- and 90 percent base gel.

    Keep a note of your recipes, so you can duplicate the most successful ones in the future.

    Carrageen, alginates and cellulose gum can be used as thickening agents, instead of xanthan gum.

    Consult the labels of each of your active ingredients for shelf life and storage guidance. Xanthan gum and other natural thickening agents have a shelf life of two years, but other ingredients may keep for a shorter period.

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About the Author

Based in London, Lisa Green has been writing entertainment and women’s lifestyle articles since 2004. She has contributed to the MyVillage and Glam networks and is the former editor of Entertainmentwise. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from De Montfort University and a City & Guilds journalism certificate from the City of Bristol College.