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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Making Your Own Lotions, Creams and Salves- Part 1

Shelf life is one of the biggest problems one faces when making homemade cosmetic products. They tend to spoil after time and have to be made more often. This is just a small inconvenience when you have the knowledge of knowing that the best ingredients are being used.

To overcome having to throw out spoiled products, just make enough to last until you have to make another batch. Another key point to remember is not to use your bare fingers to mix ingredients as this can contaminate the batch when there are no chemical preservatives being used. Instead use a small plastic knife or spatula or a clean applicator to remove small amounts of the product you are going to apply.

By themselves, oils and waxes will remain stable. It is the introduction of the herbal infusion, or aloe gel, or unsterilized water that presents the problem of mold and bacteria. It is also possible to make or purchase extracts of the herbs you wish to include and use those in your products, rather than an infusion.

Remember to use boiling water to sterilize glass containers. For plastic type containers, use alcohol for sterilizing.

There are two natural preservatives which can stabilize your homemade product. Tincture of Benzoin can be found at the local pharmacy and has been used commercially for a long time.

It is applied at the rate of 1 drop per ounce of product. Becoming more popular each year is grapefruit seed extract, available through herbal supply shops, and is applied at the same rate.

Vitamin E also has preservative qualities. It's not as effective as benzoin tincture or grapefruit seed extract, but 200 to 400 I.U. per ounce will not only help out with longevity, it's also great for the skin.

If you are going to use aloe in your products, use food grade aloe. Fresh aloe straight from the houseplant will quickly develop mold. Food grade aloe has already been stabilized.

If the recipe calls for glycerin, it always means food grade vegetable glycerin. At no time should you use any other type.

The oil from sweet almond, safflower, olive, corn, peanut, wheat germ, jojoba and small amounts of vitamin E oil, are oils most commonly used in making home cosmetics. In the recipes to follow, the ingredient lecithin refers to the liquid type. When lanolin is used it will be the anhydrous lanolin.

One other ingredient you will need is beeswax. Beeswax melts at 148ºF, and melts more quickly if you first grate it up. A hand held rotary grater with the large holes for grating makes grating much faster.

A few other utensils/tools which you will need are a blender, or similar item which is capable of making mayonnaise, since the process of combining oils and water is similar. You will also need a stainless steel or enamel double boiler. It is absolutely essential to melt the waxes and oils in the top portion of the double boiler over hot water in the bottom pan.

Glycerin & Rosewater Lotion:

Long known for its soothing properties, this is the easiest of the skin lotions to prepare. For a small trial size, combine one ounce of rosewater with one ounce of vegetable glycerin. A 2-oz flip-top bottle makes an excellent handy dispenser.

Hot Weather Spritz:

In a small spritzer bottle, mix 1 cup of distilled water plus 3-5 drops of essential oil of lavender. Keep mixture refrigerated and spritz on skin to cool off when needed. This is especially nice during hot weather trips. A man might prefer the spicy scent of oil of coriander, while lemon tends to be gender neutral.

Lavender water or orange water or other floral water can be purchased for this use, but essential oil and distilled water is cheaper.


Ingredients: powdered oatmeal and powdered almond

Both of these powders can be made at home by grinding oatmeal or almonds in a coffee grinder. One other ingredient that can be used is plain yogurt. It makes a refreshing mask when combined with oatmeal and a little lemon juice. Brewer's yeast can also be used.

To make:

Add distilled water, a few drops at a time, to a tablespoon or two of the oatmeal or almond powder until you have a paste. Apply paste on your face, avoiding the eye area, then allow the mask to dry. When ready, use a washcloth and water that is as warm as you can tolerate and place the cloth over your face for a few minutes to soften the mask. Then wash your face clean with warm water and follow with a cool water splash.

You can also use floral waters such as lavender, rose, or orange to make the paste, or you could use honey. Honey and oatmeal masks were often used in the older days. A mask should be applied once a week to revive the skin by getting rid of the dead skin cells.


Step One: Melt the waxes, fats, liquid lecithin, cocoa butter, and honey in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Watch that the mixture gets only warm enough to melt the contents. Beeswax should be grated for easiest melting. Make sure all is blended well and then remove from heat. Allow to cool for about a minute. Add the vitamin E if it is used.

Step Two: In a mixer bowl or blender, add the water, glycerin and herb extract, the tincture of benzoin or grapefruit seed extract, and a few drops of essential oil.

Step Three: While blender or mixer is operating, slowly add the melted oils and waxes into the water mixture. It will begin to thicken. The longer the blending, the fluffier it will become. It will appear to be a little loose at this point, but will continue to harden as it comes to room temperature. Pour into a suitable jar and allow to sit on the counter for 20 to 30 minutes, then cap and store in the refrigerator.

Face and Body Cream:

1/3 cup coconut oil
1/8 cup sweet almond oil
1/8 cup vegetable glycerin
2/3 cup rosewater (or sterile water)
1 tbsp liquid lecithin
1/4 oz. grated beeswax
9 drops tincture of benzoin

Follow directions as given in Procedure above. Shelf life is about one month.


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