Well, it depends on what I mean by “best.” The following recipe for the most luscious natural face cream ever is not necessarily for the faint of heart. But the returns in healthy glowing skin (and more money in your wallet) are well worth the extra effort.
Okay, I’ll admit it, I am a bit challenged by anything crafty. (I almost got kicked out of kindergarten for not being able to use my little kid scissors to cut construction paper properly.) And this recipe calls for just a bit of skill so it can be a tad daunting for folks like me.
If you happen to be a crafts whiz – or even better a whiz in the kitchen, whipping up complicated recipes with aplomb – then this cream/lotion recipe will be a snap for you.
But even if you’re not, I encourage you to go ahead and give it a try. It’s actually a simple procedure, and I am posting the new and improved method here.
You’ll need a blender or a food processor for this recipe, and the jury’s still out as to which works better. The process is similar to making mayonnaise.
That means the same perils in mayonnaise-making exist with lotion/cream-making. The dreaded separation effect. You see, the goal is to emulsify an oil mixture and a water mixture.
As you can probably guess from this way-too long introduction, I have had varied success in my own endeavors. However. I have had enough success to keep on trying.
I’ll admit I took a long hiatus in making my own lotions and creams. But once I blended up another batch, I was immediately hooked again.
This cream is just so fabulous. And so versatile. It is as rich and luscious as your most high end face cream, but so inexpensive to make that you could use it on your entire body. You can scent it how you like, add your favorite ingredients specific to your skin type, and even package it up prettily to give as gifts for birthdays and holidays.
Once again I have to credit one of my original herbal mentors, the inimitable Rosemary Gladstar, for the basis of this recipe. In my mind she actually invented it – although many other talented herbalists have since used her basic formula to create amazing lotions and creams.
If you enjoy making up your own herbal concoctions – both for natural beauty and for healing – I know you will get a lot out of Rosemary’s books, especially her latest, Herbal Recipes For Vibrant Health.
The Basic Recipe
2/3 cup distilled water
1/3 cup aloe vera gel
1-5 drops essential oil of choice (lavender, rose, grapefruit – whatever you love. Or make a blend)
¾ cup vegetable oil (apricot, almond or grapeseed are good choices)
1/3 cup coconut oil or cocoa butter or a mixture of both (see note below)
¼ teaspoon lanolin (available at drug stores)
½ to 1 ounce grated or melted beeswax
(Most recipes call for grating the beeswax, but of course you have to reserve a special grater for this since you can never get the wax off. That’s fine, but I got sick of grating. Now I put the beeswax into a small glass jar with lid (again reserved for this purpose), put the jar into a pan of simmering water, and let the beeswax melt.
Combine the oils and beeswax in a double boiler pan and set on low heat. Heat just until melting. (Okay – I know, what you’re thinking. You don’t have a double boiler. It’s okay, it doesn’t have to be an actual double boiler. Just rig one up somehow. I managed to do it by placing a glass bowl that fit perfectly over my pot of water. You can also just put a smaller pot on top of a larger pot. The idea is to have your oil mixture set above the heated water so that it warms very slowly. So set up some sort of makeshift double boiler, unless you are lucky enough to own one.)
Once it is melted, remove the oil mixture from heat, pour it into the blender or food processor and wait for it to cool. If you’re impatient you can put the mixture into the fridge to speed up the cooling process. But be careful – it’s important not to let it get too cold. A key to success is having the oil mixture and the water mixture at the exact same temperature.
Once the oils have cooled to match the temperature of the water mixture. Turn the blender on HIGH. Then, take a deep breath and whisper your affirmation that you are now creating the perfect cream. Slowly, in a very thin drizzle, pour your water mixture into the center of the whirling blender vortex.
As the waters start to run out, watch and listen closely. When the blender starts to make coughing, choking noises (and hopefully your cream is looking nice and thick) turn it off. If you still have some water mix left over you can add it slowly while stirring it by hand with a wooden spoon. Be careful not to overbeat though!
In a perfect world, your creation is a beautifully emulsified, sweet-smelling cream. You can pour it into cream jars or lotion bottles and begin to use and give away. Fantastic!
In a somewhat less-than-perfect world you have a little extra water at the bottom of the blender. It’s okay – after all this was only your first try. Some of us still have separation anxiety after years at this. The good stuff (creamy, emollient deliciousness) will sit nicely on top and you can still pour most of it off into your containers.
Before you bottle or jar your cream try it out and smell it. If you would like the scent to be stronger you can carefully stir in a few more drops of essential oil.
Since your cream is 100 percent natural, with no preservatives, it is best to store it in a cool location. You could even put extra jars in the refrigerator. Your cream will become a bit thicker as it cools and sets.
Options and Additions
Vitamin A or E (prick a gel cap of either or both and add 1-3 drops to the water mixture). Adding Vitamin E could help to preserve the cream and make it last longer – in addition to its wonderful skin softening properties. It also is a well-known treatment for scars.
Coconut oil instead of cocoa butter. I’ve always used a combination of both, but I think I’m going to switch to straight coconut oil next time. The cocoa butter has a strong scent of – well – cocoa. I’m finding that it overpowers the smell of the essential oils. Some people love that chocolate-y smell though. So it’s a matter of personal choice. Coconut oil melts at a lower temperature than cocoa butter, so if you’re opting for only coconut oil, and you want a thick cream, you might want to add some extra beeswax.
Carrot Seed Oil – essential oils aren’t just to make the cream smell great. Carrot seed oil is a wonderful addition for those of us with aging skin. It is reputed to help reduce wrinkles and fine lines and is specific for dry skin. It also improves skin tone and reduces sun damage. You can add a few drops to the water mix along with any other essential oils.
Jojoba Oil – The more I learn about this amazing substance, the more I want to use it. Many people use jojoba oil directly on their face, sometimes as an eye cream. If you’re a jojoba oil lover, you could add a few tablespoons to your oil mixture.
Rose Water – you can substitute a good quality rose water for the distilled water. Or just mix some it to make up the 2/3 cup.
As with all of the recipes in this series that call for distilled water – it is best to really go and purchase some distilled water. The resulting product will preserve longer when using it. Regular tap water might contain some bacteria and cause the growth of molds.
Rosemary recommends just using just a small amount of cream on your face – a little goes a long way! It’s extremely concentrated and actually will penetrate through your skin’s epidermal layer and go all the way through to the dermal layer, moisturizing your facial skin way down deep.
When you first try your new cream you might think it feels a bit oily. Don’t worry! This is just temporary and will disappear as the cream is absorbed. Although you want to be sparing with the amount you apply to your face, you can slather as much as you like on your legs and rest of your body.
You can pick up ingredients like almond oil, beeswax and essential oils at your local herb shop or health food store. My favorite online sources are Moonrise Herbs (I’m biased!) and of course Mountain Rose.
Addendum: Okay, after writing this entire post, I realized that Rosemary has updated the method based on a student suggestion. Instead of adding the oils to the water mix, she now suggests slowly drizzling the waters into the oils mix (this is the method described above.)
When I made the cream a few weeks ago I just went from memory and did it the old way, adding the oils into the water mix. And I got some separation. If you follow the instructions above you may find yourself wondering what all this separation anxiety is about. Apparently it happens a lot less when you make the cream this new way.
Now I can’t wait to try out this reversed method!
Have you made your own lotion or cream? How did it go? Share your recipes and stories in the comments!
This is the 5th installment in this Simple Skincare series. Missed the other installments? You can find them here:
Simple Skin Care: How To Make A Natural Face Scrub
Want Radiant Skin? Get It From The Inside Out
Ten Easy Recipes For Home Facial Treatments (Or Feed & Steam Your Way To A Radiant Complexion)
7 Super-Easy Recipes For A Healthy, Clear Complexion
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