Shark Sauce & Vita-Sea F.A.Q.!

I am overwhelmed with how receptive everyone has been toward DIY week and my concoctions in general!  Really, I am so happy to hear that so many of you were inspired by this to try your own DIY.  There were a lot of questions that I saw over and over, so hopefully this will help clarify things.  Let me know if you have other questions, I am happy to answer them even if it might take me a day or so to get back to you!

Where can I buy the raw ingredients to make my own Vita-Sea-Rum or Shark Sauce?

I have personally used Lotion Crafter (US-Based) and Skin Essential Actives (Taiwan-based) to get my ingredients.  I then used Amazon Prime to grab most of my supplies.  This guide on /r/DIYBeauty has a list of suppliers as well.

Are you going to sell Vita-Sea or Shark Sauce?

Update:  Yes!  You can buy them at the Holy Snails Shop!

What scale do you use?

I bought this one from Amazon for $10, but I've seen it fluctuate from $8-14.  You also need a calibration weight to use it, which is sold separately for ~$3-5.  I picked this one because it was the cheapest, and had a lot of positive reviews.  It's not the bee's knees, but it will work.  If you get this model, I suggest removing the battery cover on the bottom so it doesn't rock around.  There are many 0.01g scales in this price range, and I'm sure they work just as well or even better.  Do not feel obligated to get this same one.

Can you write out the directions?

Yes, absolutely.  I've updated the spreadsheets to include directions.  I hope that helps.

I can't find the ingredients you used!

Sorry about that - I didn't use the full names they're listed as from where I got them, and there can be a variety of products similarly named.  Let's see...

What is the difference between Sea Kelp Bioferment and Seamollient?  Do I need both?

You don't need both.  I used both because I had them.  Check out this thread on SkincareTalk for more information, but in short, SKB is fermented, Seamollient is not.  SKB can be a little stickier, and Seamollient less so.  I bought both to make some hair care stuff, but if you're only interested in facial stuff, I think SKB is better.  That's just a personal preference.  :)

Will you do another giveaway?  A worldwide giveaway?

I'm definitely considering it.  There was WAY more interest in this than I expected (I seriously thought maybe 10 people would enter) so maybe after I reorder some supplies, I'll hold another giveaway and open it up for everyone.

These recipes have too many ingredients!  Can you simplify it?

There is a Basic CE+FE recipe available here.  I've made a simplified version of Shark Sauce, let's call it Holy Snail Water, available here, and it's literally the easiest recipe ever.

Ingredient % (g)
Niacinamide 5 1.42
N-Acetyl Glucosamine 2.5 0.71
Licorice Root Extract 5 1.42
Sea Kelp Bioferment 86.5 24.52
Optiphen 1 0.28

If the consistency is too jelly for you, you can substitute out part or all of the SKB for Aloe Vera Juice, or even just plain distilled water.

How do you know what you can substitute?

The short version of this is knowing your ingredients.  No, no, hang on!  It's not hard, you just have to know if your ingredient is oil-based or water-based, really.  Aloe vera juice?  That's mostly water.  Sea Kelp Bioferment?  Gooey, but water-based.  Rosehip oil?  That's an oil.  Hyaluronic Acid?  Mostly water as well.  So once you see that, it's easy to substitute.  If a recipe calls for 80% Distilled Water, you can easily fancy it up by adding 80% Hyaluronic Acid Stock (recipe/tutorial coming next) instead.  Or if it calls for 50% Distilled Water, you could do 25% Sea Kelp Bioferment and 25% Aloe Vera Juice.  Does that make sense?  Even your botanical extracts are made up of water, as they're typically a 1:1 ratio of water and glycerin to extract the compounds.

I don't have a Chemistry background and am scared of messing this up...

Shia Labeouf believes in you.  I believe in you.  We all believe in you.
The backbone of DIY is that it's a bunch of amateurs with a can-do spirit.  If you had to have a Chemistry degree and years of cosmetic formulations to do this, it wouldn't be DIY.  You'd be a professional.  These recipes definitely look intimidating - I remember when I first got interested... there was SO much out there to absorb.  It took me weeks before I finally bit the bullet and even ordered the materials.  The recipes were literally just that - recipes, with no directions.  I had to learn a lot on my own through trial and error, and hopefully my mistakes will help you avoid making the same.  (I didn't know how to dissolve the ferulic acid, or emulsify with the Poly 80, or so many other things.)  I suggest starting out with tiny batches - my first couple were 10 - 15 ml.  That way if it doesn't turn out the way you want, you're not wasting a lot of product.  This isn't as easy as mashing an avocado to smear onto your face, but it's not hard.  It's literally just measuring out ingredients and mixing them together, except sometimes it has to be done in a certain order, and sometimes some things have to go into a water bath.

Also, don't forget that there are wonderful communities out there who are full of supportive, friendly people, who've been there, done that.  r/DIYBeauty has an outstandingly knowledgeable mod and everyone is very friendly.  I lurk around on Essential Day Spa's DIY section for some killer recipes.  I'm still a novice too, and we can all learn together.  I think the more people who get in on the #DIYRevolution, the more we can inspire (or force) big cosmetic companies to shape up and start making products that actually have a good enough concentration of the right ingredients to produce the same dramatic results that we can get, playing mad scientist in our pajamas in our kitchen.


  1. Thank you so much for your generous work in sharing all of this information with us! I definitely would preorder/prepay for the Shark Sauce, and I would happily pay whatever you want to charge so that you can cover not only the costs of materials, but also your labor, Fifty Shades of Snails' marketing, and just the extra $$ you deserve for doing all of this. However, I realized that all of us begging you for this is akin to begging a food blogger to send us food, and I'm just grateful to you for making available these resources so we can try our hand at it ourselves. You've inspired me to poke around the DIY realm. I think one day I will work up to making Shark Sauce or something similar, once I've done a bit more investigating and feel more confident in my abilities to pull it off. You're trying to teach us to fish so we can eat for a lifetime, not just give us fish to eat for one day. In the meantime, though, I'm happy to purchase this amazing stuff from you.

  2. Thank you for the recipe for Holy Snail Water! I have a question that I should probably just research myself but I wouldn't even know what questions to ask. Say I wanted to add ceramides to the holy snail water--I read somewhere that they have to be combined with some sort of lipid in order to be effective? Would that be the reason for the oils that you included in the full recipe, or is the ceramide complex from lotioncrafters formulated with enough/the correct lipids? (Sorry...Lots of questions and not enough research...)

  3. I was wondering if you could recommend some ingredients to make a serum just as awesome targeted towards blemishes/acne prone skin?

  4. I'm determined to try making something once I get some of my sewing stuff finished, it's just a bit too hard to be a mad scientist when you have to do it on the living room floor because all of your tables are covered in fabric! I appreciate all the work you did with testing and sharing it's really been inspiring and it really really makes me want to get a lab coat out!

  5. Thank you very much for the awesome tutorials. I am really inspired to start DIY my skin care products but am very overwelmed. i want to start with something very simple and would like your advise on mixing in some niacinamide to Cosrx Galactomyves 96 W.Power Essence. It already has niacinamide in it so i thought it shld be ok to add some more? sellers of niacinamde mentioned these can be added to buyers serums and lotions .
    Thanks & look forward to hear from you

  6. I don't like advising people to modify finished products. This is because commercial products already have a certain % for preservatives, and have been mixed a certain way. Adding things to it could throw off the balance. Any seller who sells raw niacinamide and suggests they could just mix into pre-existing products are dubious. You technically can, but you must be very careful. Just because a product spoils does not necessarily mean you will see mold growing in it. That's not the answer you were looking for probably, but that's my honest opinion. I hope it helps! :)

  7. Niacinamide definitely can help with blemishes and acne. If you wanted a super simple recipe, this is a case where you could just do 94% Distilled Water, 5% Niacinamide, and 1% Preservative. Niacinamide is pretty stable, and typically doesn't need any pH adjusting. If you wanted to thicken it up, as water might not be the best consistency, you could just add a pinch of xanthan gum. If you can afford a little more, I highly suggest you get N-Acetyl-Glucosamine and add it in there too at 2.5-3%, as it makes the niacinamide work even harder for you. :)

  8. The Ceramide Complex from LC has the ideal ratio of cholesterol/lipids already. :) Its suggested usage rate is a max of 5%. :)

  9. Valerie LeBretonJuly 21, 2015 at 1:32 PM

    ..I gave in, order is being placed now. I'll start small for once.

    I think I may be lying to myself again.

  10. Thank you for the advice. I agree its not worth taking risk specially in a hot humid place like HK.
    I like the look of the simple recipe you posted below. It's less daunting :-) to me so I may have a go at it. First I need to get hold of a scale that can measure such small quantities.
    Thanks again for sharing all your hard work & knowledge with us. It's much appreciated.