Developing A Formula: Cookie Dough Facial Polish With AHAs

Developing A Formula: Cookie Dough Facial Polish With AHAs


This week I’m continuing to work with  OliveM 900, but wanted a fun, new formula to play around with. I recently acquired some  rosehip wax, and have also been wanting to work with  alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) as they are neat little exfoliators and great for sloughing off dead and dry skin cells, resurfacing and brightening the skin. So I thought I would walk you through my process of creating and developing a new formula and product. This thinking could be applied to any product development.

Developing a product is all about deciding what you want it to do, deciding on the best ingredients to do that job, and then testing and tweaking to make it all fit together. It's basically a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces are ingredients. When you fit them all together correctly they make a bigger picture: your final product that works to achieve a specific skincare objective.

The only thing you really need is knowledge of your products, so get to know your products: their properties, their benefits, how they work, any requirements they have, etc.

Let's dive in.


Deciding on a product and objective

My first step was to decide on a type of product to make based on the ingredients I wanted to use. The properties of your ingredients can help you out here. Rosehip wax is a beautiful, gentle exfoliating wax made from rosehip oil and ground rosehip seeds, creating a waxy substance that is uniquely soluble in both oil and water. AHAs are also exfoliators. So I thought why not make some kind of exfoliating facial polish by combining the two!


Product requirements & emulsifier

Since the oil-based rosehip wax would make up the majority of the formula but AHAs are water based, I would need an emulsifier to combine the two. It would essentially be a W/O emulsion so I chose OliveM 900 which is a water-in-oil (W/O) emulsifier made from olives - perfect for the function.


Ingredients for action

Next I wanted to add some cleansing action to the facial polish, so I added a little lauryl glucoside (a surfactant) for cleansing power. I could have chosen any surfactant but I didn’t want one that was too liquidy as this would ruin my W/O formula. Lauryl glucoside is a very thick paste so this suited. 



Lastly, since there was water in the formula I needed a preservative. I decided on Geogard Ultra which is in powder form, to also limit the amount of liquids in the formula. When choosing a preservative you should keep in mind the conditions it works best in. I wanted a preservative that would work in pretty acidic conditions since AHAs are acidic. Lauryl glucoside has a pH of around 11-12 which would temper the acidity of the acids a bit, but since I was planning on using the surfactant in quite small amounts I guessed that the overall formula would still be acidic, and this is also what we want in a skincare product as our skin’s pH is around 5. So the preservative needed to work in acidic conditions. Geogard Ultra does this just fine.


Product testing

All I needed to do now was tie all the ingredients together into an exfoliating and resurfacing polish! This process can sometimes take many attempts to get a satisfactory final product. I usually start off with just combining rough amounts of all the components without measuring anything, just to see what I need to do to make the formula produce the product I have in mind. So this is what I did: sample #1. I was lucky and got mostly what I wanted in the first attempt, but I needed to fine tune it, and of course turn it into a proper formula. It took me another three attempts of measuring, adjusting and tweaking to get a product I was happy with. One sample was not viscous enough to be the ‘cookie dough’ consistency i wanted (ie. too much liquid or not enough wax - I ended up tweaking both), while another had too much surfactant as I found it drying on my skin. So I ended up increasing the rosehip wax, decreasing the lauryl glucoside, and decreasing the amount of water.



Many AHA serums are leave-on products so they use low amounts of actives to prevent sensitivity. I used a decent amount of AHAs because this is a rinse-off product that won’t stay on the skin long, only very small amounts of the facial polish are used at a time, and extra water is being incorporated when using. So the amount of AHAs effectively reaching the skin will probably be quite small. I have tested the facial polish on my skin and I did feel some tingling, but it didn’t last long once rinsed off. Nevertheless if you experience an adverse reaction to the product please decrease the amounts of lactic and malic acids, or discontinue use. 


The final product all comes together in a very ‘cookie dough’ consistency, with a subtle nutty, fruity, slightly tart scent from the rosehips. When mixed with a little water it turns into an exfoliating milk which you can massage your skin with. This facial polish is a divine little mixture of AHAs and plant waxes and is totally unique! 


Here is the formula if anyone wants to try it out:

Cookie Dough Facial Polish With AHAs

Oh and it's also vegan!

Oil phase

44%  rosehip wax

10%  lauryl glucoside

6%  OliveM 900


Water phase

19%  lactic acid

12%  malic acid

8% water

1%  Geogard Ultra



The basic method is to combine like with like, so all the oil based ingredients together and all the water based ingredients together. Lauryl glucoside could go in either category but I chose to combine it with the rosehip wax because it was easier to mix together as their consistencies were similar.

First blend the rosehip wax and lauryl glucoside together. Next, melt the OliveM 900 (it melts at 65-75 degrees so you need to heat it to around 70 degrees - use a thermometer), and gently warm the rosehip wax mixture a little to incorporate the OliveM 900. Dissolve the Geogard Ultra in the water, then stir in the lactic and malic acid; you may need to gently heat the solution to get everything to fully dissolve. Add the AHA solution to the rosehip mixture. It will thicken up as you mix it and overnight. It will be a thick cookie dough type texture so mush it around for a few minutes with a silicone spatula until everything is well incorporated.

To use, take a small amount in your palm, wet your face and dribble some water into your palms, rubbing together to create an exfoliating milk. Massage into your skin, then rinse off. Follow up with a hydrating moisturiser. I would recommend using this facial polish at night before bed, as AHAs can cause sensitivity to sunlight (although this is a rinse-off product not a leave-on so it is less likely). Depending on your skin type I would use it 2-4 times per week.



If you wanted a cookie dough scent you could add in some  essential oils - vanilla might work well to convey a cookie smell. I have not added any essential oil in the original formula because I love the subtle fruity scent of the rosehip wax.

The physical exfoliation in this formula is very gentle. If you want some extra exfoliating particles, I highly recommend adding in some  orange peel powder

A fun idea could be to roll small balls of the facial polish dough, that way they are ready to use: take a ‘cookie ball’, add some water, wet your face and massage into skin. The balls can be stored in a tin for a funky look.

I hope you enjoyed my formulation development process, and of course the final product which I think is pretty neat! Now try your hand at developing your own formula.