DIY Retinol Facial Serum - Dr. Axe

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DIY Retinol Facial Serum


DIY retinol facial serum - Dr. Axe

Although the skin is subject to acne, other skin conditions and aging, as the body’s largest organ, it also has the potential to soak up a lot of healthy vitamins. One of the main vitamins our skin soaks up is vitamin D, which it absorbs from sunlight. The skin can also absorb vitamins from face creams and moisturizers, including retinoids, which contain lots of vitamin A.

Retinoids may be the way to healthier, more youthful skin. Read on to learn more about retinoids, retinol cream and how you can make your own homemade retinol facial serum.

What Is Retinol Cream?

Retinoids and retinol cream products were originally developed in the 1970s as an acne treatment. They also are used as a way to help treat aging skin, psoriasis and warts. Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives. Vitamin A has been known to help with eyesight, and it also helps keep the skin healthy.

Retinoids are derived from animal sources and include retinol. Other sources come from carotenoids, originally from plants, and include beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. The major carotenoids are lycopene, lutein, and zeaxantuin, and are filled with antioxidant and photoprotective properties.

Retinol face cream has many uses, such as minimizing the appearance of wrinkles, helping keep the skin thicker, maintaining the elasticity of the skin, slowing the breakdown of collagen, which helps keep the skin firm, and lightening those annoying brown spots caused by sun exposure and age. Retinoids can speed up the cell turnover of the skin. This process helps even out skin discoloration and smooths the skin.


How to Make Homemade Retinol Facial Serum

First, you’ll want to pour some carrot seed oil and rosehip oil into a glass measuring cup (see the full recipe at the end of this article). Carrot seed oil is high in antioxidants and a great natural retinol, and it comes from the seeds of Daucus carota, also known as Queen Anne’s Lace. Rosehip oil is great because it is high in vitamin C and provides anti-aging benefits such as protection from age spots.

Next, place a shallow pan on the stove with about two inches of water in it and heat the water on low. Place the measuring cup in the pan, acting as a double-boiler. Now, add the almond oil and the apricot oil. Almond oil is great because it acts as a moisturizer and does not clog pores. Apricot oil is also a great moisturizer while offering vitamin A. Add these ingredients and stir, keeping the heat on low.

Add the shea butter and green tea extract. Shea butter will add creaminess to the mixture while providing amazing skin healing benefits. Green tea is known as the anti-aging tea. Green tea extract benefits the skin much in the same way due to its numerous polyphenols it contains. The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits include helping reduce acne while fighting the signs of aging.

It’s no secret that shea butter is great for the skin. Shea butter is rich in both vitamin A and vitamin E, making it the perfect choice for this anti-aging recipe! Once added, stir until you reach a creamy texture.

Lastly, add the anti-aging essential oils, lavender and frankincense. Lavender essential oil does more than relax you; it gives the skin a boost because of its antimicrobial and antioxidant characteristics. Additionally, lavender and frankincense both help reduce age spots. Frankincense also helps eliminate acne, wrinkles and scars.

Lemon essential oil contains a ton of vitamin C and while you don’t want to overdo it because the skin can be very sensitive to the potency of pure vitamin C, one drop added to this mixture can offer some amazing skin-glowing benefits by reducing photoaging. 

Make sure to blend all ingredients well. Remove from heat and allow it to cool. Once cooled, place in a glass container. Using a dark glass container will help it to last longer or you can store it in the fridge.

Apply a small amount to the skin at night before bed. Make sure to apply it to clean skin. Use my Homemade Honey Face Wash, then pat dry.

Related: Bakuchiol: A ‘More Natural Retinol’ That’s Equally Effective for Skin


When using retinoid or retinol-based products, it is best to start with applying them every third day. Given that retinoids can cause some initial irritation, it helps to allow the skin to get used to it before going to daily use. Using it at night helps because using it while in the sun can cause sensitivity to the skin. Regardless, you will need to wear an all-natural sunscreen anywhere that you may be applying the retinol cream.

If you are pregnant, check with your doctor before using retinol or high doses of vitamin A.

Make sure to clean your skin and pat dry before applying the retinol products. To minimize skin irritation, it is best to avoid using with other skin care products — especially if they contain benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, resorcinol or salicylic acid.

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DIY retinol facial serum

DIY Retinol Facial Serum Recipe

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  • Author: Dr. Josh Axe
  • Total Time: 10 min
  • Yield: 30 applications 1x


Retinoids may be the way to healthier, more youthful skin. Learn how you can make your own homemade retinol facial serum.


  • 1 tablespoon rosehip seed oil
  • 10 drops carrot seed oil
  • 1 tablespoon almond oil
  • 1 tablespoon apricot oil
  • 1 teaspoon shea butter
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil
  • 10 drops frankincense essential oil
  • 1 drop lemon essential oil
  • small glass measuring cup
  • shallow pan
  • glass storage container


  1. Pour the rosehip oil and carrot seed oil into a glass measuring cup.
  2. Place a shallow pan on the stove with about 2 inches of water in it and heat the water on low.
  3. Place the measuring cup in the pan, acting as a double-boiler.
  4. Add the almond oil and the apricot oil to the oils in the measuring cup.
  5. Next, add the shea butter to the mixture.
  6. Add the lavender, frankincense and lemon oils and blend well.
  7. Remove from heat and allow it to cool. Once cooled, place in a glass container.
  8. Apply a small amount to the skin at night before bed. Make sure to apply it to clean, dry skin.


This facial serum should be stable at room temperature for at least a month. For higher temperatures, consider placing in the refrigerator.

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  1. Tammy on

    I read the article and it mentions adding green tea extract but in the recipe there is no green tea extract, so now I’m confused ?

  2. Kara on

    What makes this retinol? I have made several facial oils and creams with these exact ingredients (except carrot seed oil because it is comedogenic) and used them for a year with zero results. In fact, my face actually aged. I switched recently to Murad’s retinol skincare line and my face is so much better.

  3. Brooke on

    Thank you for all you do! I make so many of your recipes and love them!

    Does heating the carrot oil and rosehip oil break down the the vitamins A and C? Maybe I’m misunderstanding what I’ve read in the past.

    In this article,, it says, “…it’s important to note that retinol is a ‘highly-reactive molecule, meaning it can break down – and lose its potency – as soon as it is exposed to sunlight or air.’ This is why it’s recommended to use retinol products at night.”

    I’m concerned that if I heat it to melt the shea butter, the retinol will be rendered ineffective. Please advise :)

  4. Diane on

    What a great article. Shame there aren’t any responses from Dr Axe or his team to the questions raised which I too am curious about…….

      • Debra M Goodrich on

        Theres alot of questions, the ingriedients are listed, be proactive and use your judgment. Like the question of the carrot seed oil or carrot essential oil. Just use what is listed, If you really want to know google it, It will tell you the difference, if you decide to use it, Im sure it wont hurt you. I have been Most of the questions are already answered on his original page like the recipe.

    • Debra M Goodrich on

      I was just going to write a comment on ingredients. Stay away from product label not provided and 3rd party verification is good

  5. Sharon on

    Why not turn it into a cream using ceteryl oils. 3 grams. I use pinch? .. Water. Distilled. 70 grams. Put in water bath heat safe container
    . once all products melted… Oh yeah hot water bath. Low on stove.. Pour water into oils. Once beaten.. Add oils after cool… I always suggest not essential oils but fragrance oils designed for skin…. Thanks Dr axe for clue how to mix this. Get results

  6. Jane Cecil on

    I am using this Retinol cream at night and like it very much but not sure which of his creams I should make for morning use

  7. LAURENS on

    I have just made your cream and find it nourishing for the skin. I have left the frankincense and green tea extract out of the preparation wanting to concentrate only on some properties of the cream. My question, what is the storage life of this cream once prepared? Thank you.

  8. Stella Flores on

    Can I leave the lemon oil out. I have Roceasa and citrus seems to dry it out and make it red.
    Thank you

  9. Shary on

    Hi, can I use this rose hip cream recipe after I do derma-rolling? Retinol is supposed to really get absorbed better in the skin when derma-rolling is done.
    Or will this cause irritation?

  10. Deborah Adams on

    I noticed it starts having little tiny balls in the jar, is thot normal and should I put in frig?
    Retinol Cream with Lavender

    • Debra M Goodrich on

      Mine does that, I think its because theres not a preservative in it to keep it bonded. Im expirementing with whipping my cream with water to make it lighter. I thought it was the separation of the beeswax, so I whipped it extra long with my hand held blender. Its nice and creamy. I put the other containers in the fridge. Im waiting to see if it separates. Being organic Im wondering if it can be fixed. Dr Axe commented on “ceteryl alcohol. Im going to learn on what that does. If the cream stays grainy, oh well. I still like it. If anyone has been able to remedy it, Id like to know.

  11. Gabriela on

    Hi Dr Axe,
    Thank you for your wonderful recipes for the skin. I would like to ask you if I use Tretinoin 0.25 %, Could I use jojoba or argan oil or other oil as a moisturize at night when I use the Tretinoin? Thanks again.

  12. Mrs imran on

    We need CARROT ESSENTIAL OIL or CARROT SEED OIL for this recipe ? there is huge difference in both of them.please mention.

  13. Sylvia on

    Another of your posts mentions that carrot seed oil does not contain vitamin A (but carrot oil does). Could you please clarify? thanks.

  14. Kathy on

    Hi. Is there a difference between carrot seed oil and carrot seed essential oil?
    Where do you usually get these supplies from? Thanks.

    • Buffy Tapp on

      Im going to make this recipe for retinol serum. I came across your question on supplies. I just wanted to share with you where i get my essential oil from is called . The quality is great and it is all organic. You can go to their website and read about them. I have ordered many many things and have never been disappointed.

    • Debra M Goodrich on

      I have green tea extract, its a fine powder. What im going to do is make a concentrated tea, strain it and use that water when I whip my butter to turn it into a lighter cream. The only thing is as it will be green, oh well I like green

  15. Vanessa on

    I made this recipe following the ingredients list and recipe directions. It is not a cream, but a rich feeling oil. I put it in a dropper bottle and I’m using it every night. But I’d have preferred the retinal cream consistency. As I made it, I thought one teaspoon of shea butter did not look like enough to result in a cream, and I was right. Next time I’ll double the shea butter.

      • Vanessa on

        Yes, I see a difference but it’s not a miracle worker. I use it at bedtime and by morning when I cleanse and moisturize, my skin looks nice. I noticed a difference in my neck too. Smooth and firm. By the way, I also use Dr Axe’s recipe for moisturizer. The benefit to me is that all ingredients are healthy, so even if it only does as well as commercial products, it’s still a win.

  16. Kathleen Keenan on

    Hi can you simply explain the Retinal cream. Can it be used on very dry sensitive skin. If so, can you tell where l would find the ingredients l need for it.

    There seems to be a lot of ingredients, which l don’t have any.

    I think this cream is going to cost me a lot of money, wish l don’t have.
    Is it possible you might be able to send me some samples first please. Thank very much xx

    • Crystal on

      Hi there

      You can buy essential oils at around £1.50 each if you shop around. Just buy the 10ml bottles and they will last you a long time. You can make all sorts with them, not just this recipe. So I think you could buy everything listed above for less than £20. Which is a lot less than buying fancy creams which can have nasties in them for colouring/preservation etc. So if you look at it that way, it does work out an absolute bargain for the amount of things you can actually make with these oils. I know it looks like a long list but honestly, they start from £0.99p each. Just make sure it says 100% pure essential oils on the description. Hope this helps hun xxx

  17. Elizabeth on

    I tried this recipe and love it! I used liquid green tea extract. Just seemed to make sense. Is there any reason I shouldn’t use this during the day? Are there any ingredients that react in the sun? Thanks!

    • Janine on

      I just made a batch too! Mine is still liquid though, and I even tried putting it in the fridge. Did you find the same thing? Thanks!

      • Janine on

        Mine was liquid also. I wonder if the Shea butter measurement is correct. Putting in the fridge didn’t help

      • Rabiya on

        I added a teaspoon of beeswax to it and it really gave a great balmy texture. I also strongly brewed used liquid green tea but I’m wondering if that means it won’t keep for long? Any thoughts?

    • Mary on

      Lemon essential oil is photo sensitive and should not be used in leave on products if you will be in the sun within 12 hrs of application. Always use a good natural sun screen.

  18. Cat on

    Dear Dr Axe, First of all thank you so much for sharing all your recipes, advices, informations, so precious for all. I suscribe today and I love so much you website! Thank you! My comment have not link in this article but I learned a lot with your article but couldn’t comment on this one. I am a cleaning woman so very concerned by this. I do my own soap, my own laundry dish, my own toothpaste. Thanks to you I will do soon my own dish detergent, but I am very interest to do my own cleaning detergents for my own health, my money save, and my clients own health also, of course. I really hate the odor and taste of vinegar even if I know that is a real good natural cleaner. But I will try to do my own with castille soap and or black liquid soap. The comments were unavailble to the link I share here and also with the link of homemade laundry detergent, but I just want to share this: in the last link the first comment I saw was about HE (High Effenciency) of …. but HE in french mean Huile Essentielle, which is mean Essential oil so it make me smile to see High Effenciency for Essential Oil………… I beleive in all this and I thank you a lot for all what I learn on your website. It’s a very impressive great job you do! I hope you will understand well my english because I am French

  19. Lisa Biggica on

    I just bought all the products to make this cream and the measurements are no longer available. Can you please send them to me.

    Thank you

  20. Sandy on

    There is no rose hip retinol recipe at the end of this article. Can you please provide the amounts of each ingredient and directions?
    Thank you!

  21. Ilene on you give the measurements for each product in your

    I I just wrote your recipe for RETINOL but how much shea butter,
    how much green tea, and are the anti-aging oils the ones
    mentioned in the recipe?




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