How to Take Care of your Hands with Essential Oils

Be delicate, tender and gentle with your hands.
Be delicate, tender and gentle with your hands.

A few years ago I noticed my hands getting a little bit cracked and battered, I have very sensitive and soft skin and it was starting to split around the finger tips from all the bottling and pouring I do at work.  I had experienced this on and off before, but this time I was a little more conscious that it was showing me I hadn’t been taking care of them.  I had stopped using moisturisers on my hands years earlier, as it is an area I’m prone to getting eczema on, and many contain perfume, alcohol and other potential irritants.  But, now they were shouting out for some nourishment, so I made up some simple moisturising creams and ensured there was one in my bathroom, and one at work, so each time I washed my hands throughout the day I gave my hands a little love. I was absolutely amazed that within 2 days, my hands had literally transformed, completely soft and smooth again.  Such a simple addition to my daily routine and of course the action of massaging a lovely cream with essential oils in was another nurturing moment in my day. It was only a short moment after a trip to the bathroom or washing up so it certainly wasn’t taking up a lot of time in my day, but the difference made a huge impact on my day and the way I look after my hands, especially the way I do things with my hands, like unscrew caps, and shut doors, I generally just want to be more careful and gentle with them.

Here are a few blends that I particularly like for the hands; I have specified the number of drops for adding to 100ml container of cream, if you have very sensitive skin then half the amount of drops.

Protective and soothing blend, so great for sensitive skins.

Benzoin 10 drops, mandarin 20 drops and chamomile 6 drops

Deeply nourishing blend, so perfect for very dry, cracked hands in need of some serious care.

Myrrh 16 drops, palmarosa 10 drops and rose 8 drops

Cleansing and anti-microbial blend, great for really mucky hands.

Lemon 10 drops, lavender 20 drops and thyme 5 drops

For various sized pots of cream you can refer to the following blog post link to see how many drops you should use: Blending Instructions

Make your own natural hand cream using my recipe in the following blog post from my Cream Making Workshop:

I love playing around with different creams and flavours but even choosing a lotion you fancy from the supermarket will make all the difference to your lovely, well used, hands and fingers.

Top tips for taking care of your hands:

ALWAYS use washing up gloves when washing up, even if it’s just one cup or spoon, as putting your hands in and out of water especially with washing up liquid in can dry them out! My favourites are from the brand Bizzybee and the ‘luxury household’ type feel absolutely gorgeous inside, it is a real treat putting my hands in them.

ALWAYS use gardening gloves when gardening.

ALWAYS be delicate, tender & gentle with your hands.

Click here to read more on how to take care of your nails with nourishing carrier oils and essential oils.

This is a beautiful article that helps us recognise what gentleness feels like in our body and asks Why is Gentleness Important?

Why is gentleness important? photo care of Unimed Living
Why is gentleness important? photo care of Unimed Living

How To Make Your Own Natural Face and Body Cream

rose creams

Below are the notes from one of the workshops I regularly run, with instruction on how to make your own completely natural face and body cream, with out any chemicals, 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…

Organic Face and Body Cream, Workshop Notes

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.

cream 3

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.

Ingredients:

  • 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

Optional Extras

About the ingredients:

Waters:

Floral waters

There are 2 versions of floral water, you can use the water that is produced during distillation of an essential oil, or you can 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.  They are similar in action to essential oils but much gentler. Rose water is available to buy from my webshop.

Infusions

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).

Oils:

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 oil that has not been refined, as the refinement process will have destroyed many of the nutritious qualities of the oil.

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.

Macerated oils

An infused oil is carrier oil that has been ‘infused’ with the goodness 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 naturally to heat in the sun 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.

Butters

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.

Beeswax

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.

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.

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.
  • Mandarin ~ gentle, toning, light.
  • Geranium ~ balancing, feminine, supports hormones.
  • Neroli (orange blossom) ~ calming, gentle, soothing.

See my webshop for more essential oils that you may like to use.

Equipment

  • Scales
  • Bain marie/ double boiler
  • Measuring jug
  • A decent blender
  • Spatula
  • Pots or containers for finished product -make sure they are cleaned and sterilised by rinsing with some boiling water, and completely dry.

Instructions

Prepare the ingredient first, measure and weigh the amounts so they are ready to add in at the appropriate moment.

ingredients for cream

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:

buttery blending

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:

Milky blending

and eventually thickens to a cream:

Creamed

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.

pot of cream

Shelf Life

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
  • Coconut
  • 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.

How to Blend Essential Oils – How Many Drops Should I Use?

A simple and creative way to bring essential oils into your everyday life is to add them to daily house hold products.  Something like a shower gel, or face cream would be ideal or even fabric conditioner. Choose something fragrance free or with a natural or mild perfume, otherwise the essential oils you choose may not be noticeable above the fragrance already present or if essential oils are already in the ingredients, adding more could increase the ratio to more than is safe.

Once you have your chosen base, add some of your favourite essential oils to the product and mix them in (see below for inspiration or click here to choose from the range of essential oils). It’s important to know how much essential oil to use because they can irritate the skin if not diluted appropriately.

I have put together 2 charts to help you with this (and a more comprehensive one at the end of the article for when you feel more confident), the first is for general use (which gives a 2% blend strength), and the second for any products being used on sensitive skin, or more delicate skin such as very young or aged skin (which gives a 1% blend strength).

2% General blend strength
Amount of base product No. of drops of essential oil to add
10ml 4
30ml 12
50ml 20
100ml 40
1% Delicate blend strength
Amount of base product No. of drops of essential oil to add
10ml 2
30ml 6
50ml 10
100ml 20

How to mix essential oils into your chosen products:

Sometimes it’s easy enough to remove the cap, add the appropriate number of drops to the bottle and give it a shake to disperse the oils evenly.  I often use a chopstick to stir in essential oils to a pot of cream.  If you have something very thick in a container that you can’t stir through, you may need to pour the product into a mixing jug first to blend the essential oils thoroughly, and then pour back into the original container -a funnel is particularly useful here.  You may also notice that the product becomes a little thinner when the essential oils have been added -this is normal.

Every day body care products and household products you can add essential oils to:

These are some every day products you can easily enhance with a few drops of essential oil, and some suggestions that would work well with their intended use -make sure the original product is fragrance free (organic, natural and children’s products are often more gently scented):

  • Shampoo ~ Rosemary and orange (for dark or thin hair), or chamomile and lemon (for fair hair)
  • Conditioner ~ Rosemary and orange (for dark or thin hair), or chamomile and lemon (for fair hair), benzoin and orange (for all hair types)
  • Shower Gel ~ Lemon and lavender (detoxifying & cleansing), eucalyptus and peppermint (clearing and invigorating).
  • Bubble Bath ~ Lavender and mandarin (cleansing & calming), roman chamomile and neroli (soothing and very calming).
  • Hand soap ~Lavender (cleansing) or rose (nurturing).
  • Face cream ~ Rose and frankincense (for dry, mature skin) or chamomile and neroli (soothing and gentle for sensitive skin).
  • Body cream ~ Benzoin and mandarin (protective and nourishing), geranium and rose (balancing and nurturing).
  • Washing Up Liquid ~ Lavender (cleansing) or basil and lime (fresh and zingy).
  • General Surface Cleaner ~ Lemon or citronella (detoxifying).
  • Bathroom Cleaner ~ Lemon, peppermint, eucalyptus and/or thyme (detoxifying and powerfully anti-microbial).
  • Laundry Liquid ~Lavender (cleansing) and lemon (detoxifying).
  • Fabric Conditioner ~ Lavender (cleansing) or geranium and orange (balancing).

Caution: Because many of these products are usually already fragranced, I would recommend you choose a fragrance free version, or something with a very gentle scent that you can enhance with additional essential oils.   A brand called Urtekram do a perfume free range that would be suitable.  Children and baby products are often fragrance free, and can be gentler with less aggressive ingredients, although this is not always the case.  Organic and sensitive skin ranges may also be fragrance free.

Tip: If I have any essential oils that are past their best then instead of throwing them away I use them in cleaning products around the house.

Essential Oil Blend Strength Chart – how many drops of essential oil to use when blending.

Use this chart to help you decide how many drops of essential oil to add to a base.

  • Up to a 1% blend strength – for use on the face, delicate and sensitive skin.
  • Up to 2.5% blend strength – or general use on the body
  • Up to 5% blend strength – for perfume making or when you are treating a specific area eg. a balm for chest infection or arthritic knee.

Screenshot 2017-07-28 13.08.18