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Anti-aging Skincare: Boost Collagen and Defy Gravity

Updated: Apr 8

serum dropper woman's face
Homemade skincare serums are inexpensive, easy and fun to make.

We’re transitioning from the cold, inward winter months to the buoyant, expansive energies of spring. With each seasonal transition, our bodies undergo significant, sometimes invisible shifts. At the level of the skin, however, changes are often quite apparent. Let's lean into this transition by supporting our skincare needs. By doing so, we will feel and look our best - naturally.

Before sharing my favorite skincare routines, lesser-known practices that are really gaining ground, and my homemade skin serum recipe, I want to clarify a few things:

  • You are a child of the Universe - literally made of star stuff. As such, you are always already absolutely gorgeous.

  • Getting older/wiser is a Gift. Truly. Even when it doesn't seem that way.

  • A relentless quest for the fountain of youth can really mess stuff up. And by stuff, I mean your source-given confidence, self-worth, connectivity, aspirations and so on.

So. Please think/do all that you can to love yourself as you are. Accepting and even celebrating aging and the changes it brings, is ultimately the healthiest, happiest and most beautiful way to live.

Ok. Now for my favorite, vitalizing routines. Then onto The Serum recipe - a beloved blend that nourishes and plumps skin, promotes collagen, smoothes skin tone, fades brown spots and makes skin luminous . . . 


Many dermatologists agree that the below food-as-medicine choices boost skin health. Of course, every body is different. Be sure to rule out allergies and sensitivities and find whats truly yummy for you.

Fatty fish - Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation in the body and skin. Fish also provides protein, vitamin E (an antioxidant), and biotin which encourage keratin production - essential for healthy skin. Antioxidants protect against free radicals, that can otherwise can accelerate aging.

Nuts and seeds - High in biotin, protein, vitamin E, which counter oxidative stress as well as UV light damage

Pumpkin, sweet potatoes and carrots - Rich in carotenoid beta-carotene - a precursor of vitamin A, known for it’s anti-aging properties in the skincare world.

Avocados - A terrific source of healthy fats and nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E.

Vegetables & Fruits - generally associated with good skin health. Vitamin A and C, found in most vegetables and fruits can reduce the appearance of fine lines and boost collagen production 

Dark, leafy greens. I don’t think I’ve written a post that doesn’t emphasize the significance of dark, leafy greens. They provide loads of nutrients to the whole body, including the skin.

High Water Content Foods are extremely hydrating and nourishing for the body and thereby the skin. Think cucumbers, watermelon, celery, peaches, tomatoes, lettuce, watercress and so on. Water-dense foods are especially effectively hydrating during hot spring and summer months.

Foods and/or supplements that contain Collagen, Zinc and Biotin - all improve hydration and skin health. Colostrum has also been linked with skin elasticity and reduced inflammation.

With all the above-mentioned goodies, perhaps it will now be easier to avoid excess alcohol, processed foods, and overly sweetened desserts and bevies - all of which tax digestion, burden different organ systems and dehydrate the body and skin.


I’m one of those unlucky folks who cannot tolerate concentrated or synthetic ingredients on my skin. I once tried a vitamin C concentrate and my whole face was ruddy and raw for days after.  Ouch. No gracias. Out of necessity, I started making my own nutrient-dense facial serum with terrific results. The formula and application are simple. You'll find the recipe at the end of this post, along with a little background on each ingredient.

Rituals & Routines

Cleansing & Exfoliating I love a good scrub. I scrub every day. Even though an aesthetician once told me not to. I’m not suggesting that you do. Maybe once or twice a week? It’s up to you and how your skin responds. If you're game:  Wearing a pair of “scrub gloves,” gently foam or cream your favorite facial cleanser between gloved fingers. I prefer bar soap because there’s less packaging. I’m a longtime believer in the Rose Hip and the Honey Calendula glycerin bars from my favorite soap maker, The Gardener’s Apothecary. There are a ton of great options out there - find (or make) what’s best for you!  With the scrub gloves, gently exfoliate the skin of your face in slow circles. Make sure to include the skin of the neck, behind ears and the décolleté. Gentle gentle. These areas can be quite delicate and sensitive. Apply minimal pressure. The intention is to only clear away debris and dead cells at the very top-most layer. It’s great to softly buff the lips. Avoid the fragile area around the eyes. Rinse off cleanser with warm water to encourage circulation and then cool water to calm the skin and tighten pores.

Gentle Massage & Sunscreen. I like to apply moisturizers while the skin is still a bit dewy after cleansing. This helps maximize the hydrating affect of The Serum. I add a few drops to my fingertips and gently massage into the forehead, around the eyes, the temples, the cheeks, along the nose, along the cheeks, jaw, neck and chest. Rubbing in slow, light circles across the face and neck takes less than a minute, feels really nice and increases circulation, which can encourage collagen and elastin production. I let The Serum absorb for a few minutes before applying my favorite sunscreen.* Daily sunscreen protects skin cells from damaging ultraviolet radiation which cause sunburn, premature aging and even skin cancer. Sunscreen is a big deal. I cannot emphasize it enough.

Gua Sha. When I actually make the time, I'm amazed at how Gua Sha can vitalize the skin. I prefer practicing Gua Sha right after a hot shower, when my facial serum is sinking in. It's also easy to do when relaxing for the eve, listening to an audible book or watching the telly. Gua Sha is an ancient skin “scraping” technique that typically uses a flat stone or coin to elicit ‘Sha' or redness. The red marks of friction encourage the skin to heal itself. For the delicate facial skin, vigorous scraping has been replaced with gentle gliding, usually with a jade or rose quartz stone tool. The tools can be found pretty much everywhere now, though they were modernized several years ago by Wildling. One of Wildling's founders, the lovely Britta Plug, offers great instructional videos of how to safely Gua Sha. No need to take my word for the efficacy of this two thousand year old technique. Multiple studies show that Gua Sha stimulates circulation, promotes lymphatic drainage (de-puffs), helps produce collagen, decreases inflammation, temporarily sculpts facial muscles, diminishes dark circles and tightens skin. Aim for two to three times a week and increase from there. Please note that Gua Sha is not recommended for people with sunburns, rashes, or blood coagulation issues.

Face Yoga. Ok. I don’t practice Facial exercises or “Facersize!™” nearly often enough. I’d like to! Consider this a well-intentioned place-holder for my future self.  There are dozens of reputable people sharing 5-10 minute-a-day protocols for facial toning. Google “Face Yoga” and you’ll see. If and when I find a dream routine that I can magically stick to, I’ll update this post with a link. In the meantime . . . the premise behind Face Yoga or facial exercises is that as we age, the face loses fat and muscles. The round suppleness of youth lessens and the skin begins to wrinkle, sag and hang. By practicing targeted exercises that build up different muscle groups in the face and neck we can “lift” the downward droops to a more redolent, vital and vibrant appearance. I have friends who swear by Face Yoga. It works! And. It requires consistent practice and patience. One day!

Facial Acupuncture. Did you know that I practice Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture? I do. Specific points on the face improve circulation, release stress/tension and stimulates collagen production. Many recipients report a reduction in wrinkles, improvement in skin elasticity, and a general glow. There are entire protocols for different issues or areas of concern. Just ask.

Ok. And now . . . Without further ado . . . The Serum

facial serum with honey
The Serum is made with only 5 organic ingredients.

When purchasing any oil, select from organic, cold-pressed varietals to ensure that the products are fresh and safe from synthetics, chemicals and pesticides. There are dozens of oils that are indicated for best-results skincare. I’ve refined my serum to 5 ingredients. I make a batch about every month and dispense it into dark glass bottles with droppers or pump dispensers. Leftover ingredients are kept in the fridge. The bottles and ingredients can all be found online. Some can be found at health food stores and apothecaries.

If you have oily, combination and/or acne-prone skin (like me!), you might wonder, "is she nuts?" Great question. Although oil-based products seem counterintuitive for us oilier-skinned sweethearts, formulas with specifically tailored oils can reduce inflammation, heal skin and clear rather than clog pores. We know that the skin naturally produces oil to maintain hydration. Yay. Cleansers that strip oil from the skin actually promote an over-production of oil, which can result in clogged pores, blackheads and blemishes. Boo. Customized oil-based products, on the other hand, lock-in hydration so your skin stays plump, supple and soft. The right oils also shield the skin from harmful UV rays and environmental free radicals, which can otherwise trigger premature aging and increase skin cancer risk. More specifically, research has shown that the essential oils of myrtle, lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus, and oregano all have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. A very little goes a long way with essential oils (2-3% dilution). If you're curious to try, perhaps try 12-16 drops of a single essential oil in 1 ounce of carrier oil to see how your skin responds.

I apply my facial serum in the shower, right after cleansing the face. At night, I apply after washing my face at the sink. I have bottles of The Serum in the shower, the medicine cabinet and in my travel/over-night bag. I never want to be without it. 

Please note that the ingredient measurements are approximate.

The Serum Recipe

1.5 oz Organic, pure cold-pressed Rosehip Oil

.5 oz Organic Black Cumin Seed Oil

30 drops Organic Marula Oil 

20 drops Organic Seabuckthorn Seed Oil

20 drops Organic Carrot Seed Oil

Blend all ingredients together in a 3-4 oz dark glass bottle by shaking. It’s helpful to shake bottle before each use. I recommend a 3-4 oz bottle so there's enough room to dilute with a carrier oil if so desired.

You'll notice that The Serum has an herbaceous scent - aka medicinal. Carrot seed oil has a strong fragrance in particular and may not be for everyone. If you prefer a floral scent, reduce the Carrot and Sea Buckthorn and add a few drops of the essential oils of Ylang Ylang and/or Neroli. Both smell delightful and are great for skin health.** For safety’s sake, always dilute any essential oil in a carrier oil.

The Serum is also pretty orange in color and a tad thick. You only need to use a small amount. If you prefer a lighter color and lighter texture moisturizer, dilute the whole batch with 1-1.5 oz of organic Jojoba, Argan, or Squalane Oil. This is your serum, please experiment to find your perfect blend.

The Serum Ingredients

The actions of each of the oils are based on topical application. 

Rosehips are the tiny fruits of a rosebush. The oil pressed from these fruits are medicinally potent and are a safe skincare product. Rosehip oil contains more vitamin C than citrus fruits. Vitamin C helps hydrate, firm and refresh skin at any age. Rosehip oil is also rich in Vitamins A and F, and essential fatty acids like oleic acid, alpha-linoleic acid, palmitic acid, linoleic acid and gamma linolenic acid. With all that goodness, Rosehip oil is deeply healing. It reduces inflammation and hyper-pigmentation, increases collagen production, reverses sun damage, reduces wrinkles and can reduce breakouts. 

Black Cumin Seed Oil hydrates, soothes, and nourishes the skin, and promotes reparation and regeneration. Black cumin has anti-fungal qualities and can reduce blemishes resulting in a smoother and clearer complexion.

Marula Oil is high in vitamins C and E and helps "reverse age" the skin because it inhibits enzymes that break down collagen and elastin. It diminishes wrinkles and pigmentation similar to retinol, but without the stinging and burning. And, its safe for pregnant women. 

Sea Buckthorn Oil was used by Greek and Tibetan healers for centuries. The oil is made from the pulp of the sea buckthorn berry. Rich in Vitamin C, Omega 3, 6, 9 and the rare Omega7. It’s high antioxidant content helps neutralize harmful free radicals and promotes skin health. It reduces swelling and inflammation, hydrates the skin and promotes elasticity.

Carrot Seed Oil is rich in the antioxidants carotene and vitamin A, and is considered one of the best anti-aging oils available - without the side-effects associated with retinol products such as dryness and irritation. Carrot seed oil helps diminish wrinkles and scars, and promotes cellular regeneration. The oil can remove toxins and reduce swelling, giving the skin a fresh, youthful appearance. 

All right, my already-very-pretties. I hope that some of this is useful and helps enliven your skincare and health-in-general routines. There's something wonderful about making our own products, especially when we use only high-quality, organic ingredients. We get to tinker and tailor a custom formula that suit our specific needs, usually with less of a carbon footprint. As always, I'm not a doctor. Nothing here should be misconstrued as medical advice or be considered a substitute for dermatological or medical care.



*The Super Salve Company recently added the chemical Avobenzone to their previously flawless, no-longer-zinc-only-based Sun Salve. A real shame. I’ve since been looking elsewhere for my sun protection needs. I’ll update this post once I find a solid, all-natural alternative that does not contain additives and chemicals that are considered harmful. Sigh.

**Ylang Yang heals and reduces redness and skin irritation; Neroli has anti-aging properties and helps balance sebum levels without over-drying skin; Lavender oil hydrates, reduces inflammation and redness; Calendula heals and repairs; Tea Tree oil has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties that can reduce acne and pimples; Orange essential oil is alkalizing, detoxifying and is a real mood booster; Frankincense evens skin tone and highlights the complexion; Helichrysum restores radiance and reduces the appearance of wrinkles, lines, and blemishes; Rose (flower) balances the skin’s moisture levels and helps reduce the appearance of blemishes. A general reminder: all essential oils are concentrated and can irritate the skin if undiluted. Be sure to dilute all essential oils in a carrier oil and only use a small amount, especially as you begin this journey of discovery.

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