How to Make a Gel Base

Posted on September 29, 2015 in Face/ Ingredients

Having a gel base on hand to formulate with can be really handy. Gels are a lot lighter than creams and lotions and are great for making eye gels, serums, acne treatments, oil free cleansers or a soothing after sun.

I always use Sclerotium Gum to make my gels. It is an incredibly versatile, natural polysaccharide polymer produced through the fermentation process of the bacterium Sclerotium rolfsii

Sclerotium Gum creates a stable smooth flowing gel and leaves a luxuriously silky feeling on your skin. It also offers skin smoothing as well as soothing properties and improves the skins natural moisture levels.

It’s fairly easy to make a gel, but be warned, it takes a lot of mixing to get it to the right consistency. The longer you mix the more stable and better the end results will be. 

A stick blender is your best friend when it comes to mixing up a gel but make sure it is fully immersed in the liquid to avoid incorporating too much air.

For smaller quantities, where you can’t use a stick blender, don’t be tempted to use a milk frother – I did, and it was a complete disaster! Even with the milk frother fully immersed it incorporates way to much air and becomes really frothy.

For smaller batches I read that you can shake the mixture in a sterilised sealed jar to form a gel. I’m not sure I would have the patience or the stamina for this as it would need to be shaken for at least 45 minutes. 

An extremely good reason to make a batch I think. So let’s get to it!

Start by weighing out all of your ingredients.

Hydrolysed silk24
Aloe vera0.51
Sclerotium gum24

Next, place the water, glycerin and hydrolysed silk protein into a heat proof jug or beaker then add the aloe vera and stir well. Weigh the jug and ingredients before heating.

Place the jug in a bain marie and heat gently to 70˚C. 

Sprinkle the Sclerotium Gum directly into the water and let it sit for at least 5 minutes before blending.

Adding Sclerotium Gum

Blend with an immersion stick blender until it starts to thicken and is smooth and homogeneous. This may take about 10 minutes. 

Mixing Sclerotium Gum

Once the gel has cooled to 45˚C add the preservative and mix in well.

The gel will take about 24 hours to obtain a stable viscosity.

Voila! your basic gel base is now ready to use. 

This gel base is so versatile and can be used to make lots of different products – crème gels, treatment gels, serums, after sun and gel cleansers.

You can add actives, vitamins, micas and exfoliates directly into the gel but I don’t recommend using more than 10%. If adding oils, including essential oils you will need to solubilise them first.

If you are adding more than 10% additional ingredients to the gel base you will need to add some more preservative.

I hope you enjoy using this gel base as much as I do.

Let me know in the comments below what wonderful creations you turned your gel into.


Basic Gel Base
Yields 200
A versatile gel base that can be used to make many products - eye gels, serums, gel cleansers, after sun etc...
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  1. 179g Water
  2. 1g Aloe vera 200:1 powder
  3. 4g Sclerotium Gum
  4. 10g Glycerine
  5. 4g Hydrolysed silk protien
  6. 2g Preservative
  1. Weigh out all of your ingredients.
  2. Place the water, glycerin and hydrolysed silk protein into a heat proof jug or beaker then add the aloe vera and stir well.
  3. Place the jug in a bain marie and heat to 70˚C.
  4. Sprinkle the Sclerotium Gum directly into the water and let it sit for at least 5 minutes before blending.
  5. Blend with an immersion stick blender until it starts to thicken and become smooth and homogeneous. This may take about 10 minutes.
  6. Once the gel has cooled to 45˚C add the preservative and mix in well.
  7. The gel will take about 24 hours to obtain a stable viscosity.
  1. Voila! your basic gel base is now ready to use.
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  • Reply Cherry January 16, 2016 at 8:13 pm

    It looks fantastic. Can i use other gum, like xanthan or guar gum to replace Sclerotium Gum? and what preservative do you use?

    • Reply moirabrindle January 16, 2016 at 10:31 pm

      Thank you Cherry!
      Yes, you can use other gums to make this gel if you don’t have access to sclerotium gum. I use sclerotium gum as it’s really stable, has great viscosity and a lovely skin feel.
      If you were to use guar gum, use it at 2%, the same as the sclerotium gum. I do find that guar is not as stable as sclerotium gum and when used in emulsions, has a low viscosity modifying effect.
      Xantham gum is a good reliable gum and fairly cheap too, that’s why you see it in so many product formulations, but it can leave a sticky residue if too much is used. I would use it at 1% in this formulation.
      The preservative I’ve used is liquid germal plus (a good broad spectrum preservative) as gums, botanicals and proteins need really effective microbial preservation.
      I hope this helps. If you have any other questions – please ask away!

  • Reply jane June 11, 2016 at 10:48 am

    Would you be so kind to let me know if this is stable and how long will this stay fresh?
    Also, where may I purchase Aloe Vera powder and Sclerotium gum … never heard of it unfortunately..thank you…

    • Reply moirabrindle June 12, 2016 at 11:22 pm

      Hi Jane,
      Yes, this is very stable. Sclerotium gum is an amazing gum and gives a very soft, silky skin feel. It is more expensive than Xanthan gum but for a more luxurious gel based facial serum it’s definitely worth the additional cost.
      You can add up to a total of 10% additional oils/extracts to the finished gel base but you will need to use a Solubiliser to disperse them homogenously. If you know what extracts you want to use in your formulation it would be best to calculate them into the starting formula.
      Where abouts are you based as I may be able to let you know of a suuplier for sclerotium gum in your country.

  • Reply jane June 11, 2016 at 10:51 am

    May this base be enriched with EOs,extracts,oils and how will it react? Will the texture change?

    • Reply moirabrindle June 12, 2016 at 11:28 pm

      Yes, it can. You can add an additional 10% to the finished gel without destabilising it but you will need to solubilise the oils to get them to disperse homogenously.

  • Reply jane June 14, 2016 at 6:54 am

    Dearest Moria,,, huge thank you for such a detailed reply! I really appreciate your attention to detail!
    I live in Fremont, California and would absolutely love to find a good supplier of Sclerotioum gum, if you can recommend one.
    May the hydrosoll or herbal infusion be used in the place of water?
    Also, what Solubilizer would you use in case of using extracts, EOs… ? Thank you..
    Would you do videos, you have such a gift for teaching and breaking things down!?

    • Reply moirabrindle June 14, 2016 at 12:45 pm

      You are more than welcome Jane.
      You can get Sclerotium gum for Ingredients to Die For –, I’m not sure how far they are from you but they post worldwide so its not an issue.
      You don’t need to use a solubiliser if you are only adding extracts in glycerin. but if you want to add any oils, including essential oils you will need to use a solubiliser. Which solubiliser you use will depend on how natural you want your product to be. The Herbarie (in the USA) stock some natural solubilisers like PlantaSol CCG, or you can use Polysorbate if you are not worried about natural.
      I am in the process of writing an online course and am hoping to have something available by the end of July. I will be initially offering an online workshop showing the basics and teaching how to make four skincare products, then will release a comprehensive Certifcate and Diploma course which will probably be available at the end of August of beginning of September.
      If you are interested in receiving more information about these courses, register your interest here and I will keep you posted.

  • Reply jane/ Yeugeniya June 23, 2016 at 5:55 am

    So grateful… secured my place for future classes… can not wait!

    • Reply moirabrindle June 24, 2016 at 7:31 pm

      Your welcome! I should have the first online workshop live by the end of July, then the certificate and diploma will follow.

  • Reply L.K ali January 21, 2019 at 2:45 am

    If I want to add niacinamide when should do I do that? Can you please help.

    • Reply moirabrindle January 21, 2019 at 11:50 pm

      Hi, you would add it to the water with the glycerin and silk and then heat. Once heated then add in your sclerotium gum as this helps it to disperse easier, I hope this helps. If you have any further questions just let me know.

      • Reply L.K ALI January 22, 2019 at 2:51 am

        Thank you so much. I have literally searched everywhere about sceloritum gum here’s where I found what I wanted.

        • Reply moirabrindle January 23, 2019 at 9:01 am

          You’re welcome!

      • Reply L.K ali January 22, 2019 at 5:00 am

        HI, I just came back after preparing the gel. But, I can see small air bubbles trapped. Will there be a problem after few days or months?
        And, I have used gluconolactone and sodium benzoate as preservative. Can you please tell me will it be better to go for liquid preservative such as phenoxyethanol rather than solid powder?

        • Reply moirabrindle January 23, 2019 at 9:11 am

          The air should dissipate over a couple of days and shouldn’t cause a problem. Unfortunately it’s difficult not to incorporate air into small batches, even using overhead mixers in the lab. With regard to the preservative, using something like Euxyl PE9010 (phenoxyethanol & ethylhexylglycerin) would be a good option as it will be easier to incorporate and has a strong broad spectrum efficacy and is heat and pH stable. I hope this helps.

          • L.K ali January 24, 2019 at 5:24 am

            Here in my place, it was tough to find phenoxyethanol & ethylhexylglycerin but I got this preservative:
            PHENYLETHYL ALCOHOL + Capryl Glycol. According to few sites, it’s water solubility is 0.6%. So, I thought of solubilising at least 1% in propylene glycol and then adding it to water. Will this cause any problem with the formulation?
            Thank you so much for taking out time to reply.

  • Reply moirabrindle January 24, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    I’ve never used Phenethyl alcohol and caprylyl glycol as a preservative before but I’ve seen it used in products claiming to be ‘preservative free’.It’s an emollient and also the phenethyl alcohol smells strongly of rose so some people claim they’re using for that purpose in their product. Check the usage rate with your supplier, I know Tristat Stabil (Phenethyl alcohol and caprylyl glycol) usage rate is 0.6 – 1.2% with water solubility 0.6%.
    Just a side note, I don’t feel happy with using a ‘preservative free’ claim when a product that needs preservation is using an ingredient that has an antimicrobial action. Where are you based?

    • Reply L.K ali January 25, 2019 at 4:59 am

      I am from India. I neither go for products that claim “preservative free” nor will I write or endorse such claims for my own. My priority is my product should be safe and free from microbes. I even try explaining people about the necessity of using preservatives in cosmetics. That’s the reason I first went with Gluconlactone + Sodium Benzoate. But, I have been reading a lot of the possible pH drift with this preservative. Some have even said that crystals of benzoic acid may appear after few months.
      I asked suppliers for Phenoxyethanol + Ethylhexyl glycerine but all I could get was PHENYLETHYL ALCOHOL + Capryl Glycol. I am yet to receive the preservative. Can you please tell me if this preservative system works in real sense?

  • Reply moirabrindle January 25, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    Hi, I’ve never used this preservative so can’t vouch for it’s efficacy, sorry. The only way to tell if a preservative is working in a formula is to have it tested. I’ve used Geogard Ultra (Gluconolactone (and) Sodium Benzoate) in toners and they’ve gone through stability and PET and not experienced any major pH drift. Geogard Ultra has a pH range of pH 3 – 6, so the products final pH needs to be about pH5 to allow for drift over the shelf life. It’s heat stable so can be added to the hot water phase to help it dissolve. If these are the only preservative available to you, you could try them both and see which one works best for you, and more importantly which holds up to PET. You will need to also consider the other ingredients in your formulation and make sure they are compatible with the required pH of the preservative you decide to use.

    • Reply L.K ALI January 27, 2019 at 1:28 am

      Okay. I’l do that and thank you for helping me out. Happy Weekend 🙂

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