These are the notes from one of the workshops I regularly run, with instruction on how to make your own completely natural face & body cream, with out chemical emulsifiers or preservatives. Please ask any questions as these notes are designed to go with a practical session, but they should be clear enough for you to re-create your own version of this yummy cream yourself…
Introduction – During the workshop we will go through the process together of making your own completely organic, natural face and body cream, without using any chemicals, emulsifiers or preservatives.
When the cream is ready, and you have your own pot to take away, you can choose to mix in essential oils or not, and if so, you can choose one or a few different essential oils to mix in, and a blend strength that suits its intended use (up to 1% for the face, and up to 5% for the body). See blend strength chart in my previous blog for more details.
If you decide to make your own cream after the workshop, then you can follow the recipe used, but you may like to vary the ingredients a little according to your skin type, or to get a specific effect.
Just be aware that you need to keep the ratios of different types of products the same -so keep the amount of water, oil, butter and wax products used the same. There is room for a little variation here, you just need to be aware that if you use more water products, the cream will have a thinner consistency, and if you use more solids then it will be thicker in consistency, so you can tailor this to your desire too.
The recipe we will use is for a simple cream involving no chemical emulsifier. Most cosmetic creams will use an emulsifier of some kind -usually emulsifying wax. This is because to make a cream, you need to mix oil and water together, two substances that don’t like to mix with each other. An emulsifier kind of thickens the two and makes them like each other. They are made from chemicals, and cannot be natural or organic. So this recipe is a little tricky, as it involves mixing the ingredients carefully so they don’t split. But, with patience and care, it is possible (it is in fact similar to how mayonnaise is made). You will need to use a fairly good blender, whereas with an emulsifying wax you can usually just whisk the ingredients. The recipe does include beeswax, and this has some naturally emulsifying properties which helps the process.
- 200g Floral Waters/ Herbal Infusions – or blend of both.
- 70g Butters/ Wax – I like to use 35g of Shea Butter & 35g of Coconut Oil.
- 130g Base/Carier/Vegetable Oil – I use a blend of different oils including Olive, Apricot, Avocado, Macadamia, Rosehip (see my range of carrier oils for inspiration).
- 10g beeswax
- Aloe vera gel or Aloe vera water –include this with the water ingredients (50ml aloe, 150 floral water).
- 5ml vitamin E
- Essential Oils: 0.1 – 2% blend strength for face creams and 1 – 5% blend strength for body (see blend strength chart in my blending blog for more details). For this recipe 1ml (20 drops) of essential oils would be approximately 0.25% blend strength which is usually enough.
About the ingredients:
The water part of the cream is the problem area, when a product contains water it means it is prone to growing bacteria, as water contains oxygen, and bacteria thrive in this environment. Don’t use water from a tap, buy bottled spring water or try the following:
There are a few versions of floral water, you can often purchase the water that is produced during distillation of an essential oil, this is known as the by-product, but in the workshop we use a rose water that is distilled from organic roses in the Bulgarian rose valley, and the process is carried out for the sole purpose of making rose water (rather than a by product of making essential oil). This gives a much stronger scent and longer shelf life. The copper still makes a much better quality product than the more commonly used stainless steel stills. This Rose water is available to buy from my webshop. You can also use a handmade version, which is spring water mixed with an essential oil, left for a week or 2 and shaken intermittently, and then filtered. Floral waters are similar in action to essential oils but much gentler and can be applied directly to the skin, they really enhance the cream and because they have natural anti-bacterial properties, they help to protect the cream from going off.
An infusion is just like making a cup of herbal tea (a proper cup of herbal tea that is not made from a dried up old bag of dust). You place your choice of herbs in a tea pot (or cup) and pour boiling water over the herbs (make sure the water is ‘spring water’ and not from the tap to avoid contaminating the cream). One heaped teaspoon (double the amount if using fresh material rather than dried) to 175ml of water is a standard therapeutic infusion. If using a cup, make sure you cover it to keep the volatile oils from escaping with the steam. Leave to steep for 10 minutes, and strain before use (any little bits of plant material will contaminate the cream so ensure it is fine strainer).
Carrier Oils (base oils)
These are cold pressed from the fruit nut or seed of a plant, for example olive (fruit), almond (nut) or sunflower (seed). Make sure you use good quality organic oil that has not been refined, as the refinement process will have destroyed many of the nutritious qualities of the oil. However, you might choose to use a refined oil if the smell is not to your taste, they can be quite strong for example coconut or avocado.
These are some of my favourite base oils to use on the face:
- Avocado ~ rich, nourishing, hydrating.
- Rosehip ~ one of the best base oils for helping scars to heal.
- Apricot ~ gentle & suitable for all skin types.
- Macadamia ~ rich, nourishing –has a gorgeous nutty scent.
An infused oil is carrier oil that has been ‘infused’ with the qualities of a herb or flower for example marigold/calendula or St. Johns wort. Generally the plant material is immersed into a carrier oil e.g. olive or almond oil, and either left in a warm dark cupboard over a period of weeks, or heated gently in a bain-marie for a couple of hours. The oil absorbs many of the plants properties and the leached plant material is strained out of the oil through muslin cloth after 2-3 weeks.
Again, these have been cold pressed from part of the plant, and include Cocoa, Coconut, Mango, and Shea. They are solid at room temperature, and bring a creamy effect to the product and have a nourishing effect on the skin, usually high in vitamins and fatty acids.
This is what helps the cream to emulsify, try to find a good quality and trustworthy source. It is also an emollient, very soothing and protecting for the skin. If you are vegan and want to avoid beeswax you could try coconut wax or candelilla wax.
Vitamin E – optional
This is a great natural preservative.
Essential oils – optional
Essential oils are normally steam distilled from various parts of plants such as flower, leaves, fruit, roots and bark. With citrus oils it is usually just pressed from the peel, and for some delicate plant material (usually flowers and blossoms) will use a solvent to gently extract the oil. They have a strong scent to them, so are a lovely way to personalise your blend, but also have very potent healing properties that affect the body on a physical level as well as the way we feel. Even though the cream is complete on its own, the essential oils will bring another dimension to the effect and can also help to support the shelf life as they are naturally anti-bacterial to varying degrees.
These are some of my favourite essential oils to use on the face:
- Rose ~ hydrating, nourishing and deeply nurturing.
- Lavender ~ cleansing, clearing, gentle, antimicrobial (see my blog post on Lavender for more details).
- Benzoin ~ protective.
- Chamomile (Roman chamomile)~ soothing, calming, delicate, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergy, (see my blog post on chamomile for more details).
- Myrrh ~ deeply healing, great for scars (avoid in pregnancy).
- Mandarin ~ gentle, toning, light.
- Geranium ~ balancing, feminine, supports hormones.
- Neroli (orange blossom) ~ calming, gentle, soothing.
- Bain marie/ double boiler
- Measuring jug
- A decent blender
- Pots or containers for finished product -make sure they are cleaned and sterilised by rinsing with some boiling water, and completely dry.
Prepare the ingredient first, measure and weigh the amounts so they are ready to add in at the appropriate moment.
Melt all the solid oil base products by gently heating them in a bain marie or double boiler. Then add the liquid oil products to this, you may need to heat it through a little more, as the cool liquids can cause the mixture to begin solidifying again.
When they are completely melted pour this mixture into a blender and let it cool down for a few minutes. The melted mixture should become a little opaque in colour, but not to the point that it is beginning to solidify, see it has a buttery appearance.
Put the blender on a low setting and add just a little of the water based products at a time. You will see it become milky in appearance:
…and eventually thickens to a cream:
Take your time when adding the water and blending, as adding too much water initially will make it difficult to emulsify and it will be more likely to split. If the cream splatters up the sides of the blender, use the spatula to get all the mixture in the bottom each time you add more water, so the entire mixture is evenly blended.
If you decide to add Vitamin E and essential oils to the cream, do this at the very end as you do not want to expose them to heat. Pour the mixture into some little pots or jars. Ensure they are clean and dry –I usually pour some boiling water into them to sterilize them first and then dry them. Pour the cream as soon as it’s ready, as it will become thicker as it cools, and more difficult to get out.
As in the workshop, you can add essential oils at this point too–if you have several containers and you want to create different blends for each one, then it’s ideal. I find it quite practical to use a chop stick to stir them through.
Because this cream is very natural and does not contain chemicals or preservatives, it is likely to only last 2-3months. I would recommend keeping it in a cool dark cupboard or in the fridge if you can. It will usually only go off if it becomes contaminated somehow and this can often be due to bacteria in the water based ingredients. Make sure you don’t use any water from the tap if making an infusion, use spring water. Ensure all equipment being used is sterilised.
Using your cream
Having made the cream from scratch, and knowing all the wonderful ingredients that go into it, it can help me to be a little more focused on my skin care routine, to be more appreciative of this time with myself. It’s particularly lovely to massage gently around the jaw, and to take this time to let go of any tension held in this area. In doing this I become more aware of the tension held in other areas in the face –including cheeks and eyes! I also use the cream on my neck across the top of my chest, massaging just under the collar bones which delicately allows me to become more open around the chest area, I can feel the difference in my whole body especially my posture, when I do this. Basically, just enjoy and appreciate using it on any part of your body.
Here are some ingredient variations for inspiration when designing your own versions:
Rich, hydrating and nourishing, for dry and mature skin
- Rose floral water
- Avocado, macadamia
- Coconut, shea
- Rose, frankincense, myrrh
Gentle and soothing, for sensitive skin
- Neroli floral water, chamomile infusion
- Apricot, camellia oil
- Neroli, Chamomile, Mandarin
Eczema, delicate itchy and damaged skin
- Lavender floral water, chamomile infusion
- Evening Primrose, starflower/borage oil
- Coconut oil, shea butter
- Chamomile, lavender, benzoin
Light and balancing for young, oily, combination skin
- Geranium floral water
- Grape seed, apricot oil
- Coconut oil, shea butter
- Geranium, lemon
Creams for Sale: I make versions of these natural face and body creams at regular intervals, so if you would like to buy one CLICK HERE to view the bespoke products on the webshop. Feel free to request specific ingredients, or preferred effects (eg. very hydrating or very gentle) as I am more than happy to design it to your requirements.