Back To The Basics: An Introduction to Fresh Lotion and a Recipe!

What is all natural, anyway?

Let’s get this out there right away.  You cannot buy a truly all natural, truly preservative-free lotion.  Why?  Because lotions are made with water, and water is a great medium for growing bacteria.  Lotions with no preservative will not last longer than a few months.  This is completely unacceptable for commercial products that sit on the shelf for months or years before being sold.  A preservative MUST be used in commercial products.

Second, there are no true all natural preservatives.  Some oils like rosemary, have natural antibacterial properties, but none are strong enough to allow a lotion to sit on the shelf for many months.  Some oils, like vitamin E, are antioxidants and will help keep the oils in the lotion from going rancid, but they do not prevent bacteria growth.

Third, the companies that tout their products as being all natural will ALL contain SOME form of preservative that may be derived from nature, but have been changed in some way to make them actually prohibit the growth of bacteria.  The “changing” of those ingredients, or the refining or processing of them, no longer makes them truly all natural.  Grapefruit seed extract is a good example.  It sounds very natural.  It is not.  In fact, some studies indicate that it actually contains, among other things, parabens.

So, this brings me to the point of my post (and much of my life, I have discovered): if you want to make something that is really all natural, you have to make it yourself, and make only small amounts of it so that you don’t have to throw it out if it goes bad over time.  But to be honest, I’d rather take the risk of my lotion growing mold than slather myself with preservatives  that may ultimately contribute to cancer.  That is why I am sharing with you the concept of “fresh” lotions.  We have no trouble making fresh meals, so perhaps we need to reintroduce the age-old (think pre-preservative era) fresh body products too.

Before the invention of chemical preservatives, people really DID use moisturizers.  It was possible to take care of your skin back then.  Cold creams have been around for hundreds, even thousands of years.  The invention of cold cream goes back to Galen, in second century Greece and is still used now.

Take of white wax four ounces, oyl of roses omphacine a pound; melt in a double vessel, then powr it out into another, by degrees putting in cold water, and often powring it out of one vessel into another, stirring it till it be white ; last of all wash it in rose water, adding a little rose water and rose vineger.
—Nicholas Culpeper (1650), London Dispensatory

 

Before you leave a comment that says something like “this product will go bad in a few weeks or a few months without a preservative” please be advised that I am well aware of that.  I am recommending that you make a small batch and use it up before it can go bad.  Refrigeration can help prolong the shelf life.  Check your products for mold, discoloration, separation or off-smell and discard if it doesn’t seem right.  So far I have yet to have any of mine go bad, despite sitting on my bedside table for 2 months.  And in the meantime, enjoy your fresh body products.  After all, who wants to drink canned milk over fresh milk?  Or eat canned apples instead of a fresh one? Especially ones that are laced with preservatives?  Give your body fresh products with fresh ingredients and see the difference.
What is lotion, anyway?
Let’s talk quickly about lotion.  Lotion is a combination of water and oil to create a less-greasy, smooth product that will make a great hand, body and facial moisturizer.  Water and oil do not naturally combine.  Oil will sit on top of the water.  The only way to combine it is by emulsification, or blending it to force the water to combine with the oil, much like making mayonnaise.  They will combine easier and stay together forever if you have an emulsifier.  True emulsifiers are not natural.  Even the plant-based emulsifiers are highly processed.  Beeswax can be combined with borax to make a true emulsifier.  I am not really a fan of borax and would rather not use it.  You can use beeswax as an emulsifier on its own.  It  is more of a mechanical emulsification (ie. it might eventually separate over time) but it has worked well for me and lasts for months, which is as long as your ingredients will last anyway.
***
So, stick with small batches and all-natural ingredients, and create the highest quality body products that can be offered with fresh, safe ingredients.
***

Basic hand lotion recipe:

Materials

  • Stick blender (immersion blender)
  • Kitchen scale
  • Wide mouth mason jar
  • Spoon
  • Small, thick-bottomed pot
  • Small pyrex liquid measuring cup
  • Spatula

Ingredients

Directions

  1. In a thick-bottomed pot melt beeswax with oil just until it is melted.  Pour into a wide mouth mason jar, set aside and allow to cool until room temperature.
  2. The following ingredients must be at room temperature before beginning.  In a measuring cup weigh and add water, rosemary oil or vitamin E, and essential oil.  Set aside.
  3. When wax and oil combo has cooled down but is still soft, begin blending with a stick blender.  SLOWLY pour your water mixture into the jar in a slow, continuous stream, while blending constantly. Circle around the mixture to make sure it is all blended in, moving the blender up and down, around and around.  Continue to blend for 3-5 minutes to ensure your mixture has emulsified.
  4. Store in a sealed container for up to 2 months.  Refrigeration will help prolong shelf life.

This recipe makes a very basic hand lotion that is great to learn on.  You might want to skip the essential oils and rosemary/vitamin E oils while you practice making emulsions until you have it down pat.  Over the next few weeks I will be adding more recipes that will build off this basic recipe and provide different kinds of skin care.  Watch for the next post which will include a hand lotion with added ingredients to make a drier lotion that helps repair skin damage while soothing irritated or chapped skin.  Enjoy fresh body products!  After all, fresh IS best!

Notes:

  • It is very important to combine your ingredients when they have reached room temperature or your emulsion will fail and your water will separate.  If this happens, drain off the water and use the lotion as a body butter.  It will be greasier but will still make a nice product.
  • Always ensure your hands are clean when you use the lotion to prevent bacteria from entering your lotion.
  • It is helpful to sterilize your utensils first with boiling water to help prevent bacteria from entering the lotion.
  • You can interchange or combine other liquid oils.  Grapeseed oil is known to be one of the least greasy of the oils.
  • If you want to add a solid oil (for example coconut oil or cocoa butter) to your recipe make sure most of the recipe is still a liquid oil so the product doesn’t get too solid at room temperature before you have combined the water and the oil.
  • You can use any infused oil in place of plain oil.  (For example, lavender or calendula-infused oils.)
  • You can use any hydrosol or floral water to replace the distilled water. Check the ingredients first to make sure they are pure. Some people have luck using flower “teas” such as chamomile, green tea or calendula but note that this might increase the spoiling rate.
  • When choosing essential oils keep in mind that citrus-based oils can be photo-toxic. Used in moisturizers on skin that is exposed to the sun can cause severe sunburns.
  • I have linked ingredients to Mountain Rose Herbs, a company that provides high quality, organic ingredients from sustainable sources. Mountain Rose Herbs is my first choice in companies that provide quality ingredients.  Alternatively, most ingredients can be purchased in natural food stores.
  • Here is a link to make your own infused oils

This post has been shared on Homestead Barn Hop #105, Small Footprint Friday #23Wild Crafting Wednesday #82, Waste Not Want Not Wednesday #24Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #67Simple Living WednesdayJoybilee Farm’s Homestead Abundance and Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday.

You might also be interested in Chamomile-Infused Fresh Hand and Body Lotion.

Lip Balm Recipes: Honey Vanilla, Chocolate Chip Mint and Sweet Almond.

Lip Balm CollageMost commercial lip balms contain petroleum products, artificial colors and flavours, and are loaded with preservatives.  Applying these to your lips is as good as eating these ingredients.  Thankfully, lip balm is simple and cheap to make.  You can make it with ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen, or at the very least, that you can find fairly easily in natural foods stores.  With pure, all natural ingredients these lip balms are effective and safe, and they make fantastic little gifts!

Choosing your oils

You can use any cooking oil you like.  Some have better qualities than others.  Choose one with little or no fragrance unless you love the fragrance.  Good ones include olive oil, grape seed oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, sweet almond oil etc.  You can use any of these oils instead of the ones in the recipe.  They will all work well.  You can also use herb-infused oils such as chamomile or calendula to create a very soothing, calming product.

Choosing your butters

Butters are oils that are solid at room temperature.  (Except coconut oil, which is solid at room temperature but classified as an oil, not a butter).  Butters are loaded with enriching qualities.  Cocoa butter, shea butter and mango butter are great choices for lip balms and other body products.  Cocoa butter is probably the easiest to find.  You can substitute any of the butters with each other.

Beeswax

Beeswax is necessary to solidify the product.  If you are vegan you can try substituting carnauba wax for beeswax, but you will need some kind of wax in the balm.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is moisturizing and has antioxidant qualities.  It is also added as a natural preservative.  It helps prevent rancidity, and extends the shelf life of the product.  No natural preservatives are as effective as synthetic ones, so use up your products in a matter of months, not years.  Store any products you aren’t currently using in a freezer in a sealed container.  If you don’t want to use vitamin E you can substitute it for rosemary essential oil, which also has natural preservation properties.

Essential Oils

Essential oils can be substituted for others, or left out entirely.  They do have a bit of a natural preservative effect, but if you don’t want fragrance they can be left out.  Do not use citrus essential oils.  Most citrus (and a few others… worth checking out the link) are photo-toxic and should not be worn when you are exposed to the sun.  Peppermint essential oil contains menthol, a natural analgestic which soothes sore, chapped skin.

Extras, such as honey or chocolate chips.

Again, these can be left out entirely.  Honey is great in body products because it attracts moisture.  It is also naturally antibacterial and… it tastes good…  The chocolate chips are added for color and flavour.  I choose organic, all natural ones to maintain the purity of the product.  Do not add ingredients that are water based such as aloe, or rosewater etc.  Introducing water to your product will allow a bacteria-growing medium into your product which you don’t want, and is completely unnecessary for lip balms.


Choose your recipe below, and follow these directions. 

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients except essential oil in a small sauce pan or double boiler and melt, on low heat.   Stir just until melted.  Do not allow the ingredients to boil!
  2. Stir in essential oil.
  3. Pour immediately into lip balm container.
  4. Allow to cool before moving.  Cap and use!  Or gift!

Here are three “tasty” recipes to choose from.

Chocolate Chip Mint

Honey Vanilla

Sweet Almond

Mountain Rose Herbs has exceptional quality, certified organic herbs, spices, essential oils and more.  They maintain a strict emphasis on sustainable agriculture.  I highly recommend them for outstanding quality and service.

Notes:

  • Each recipe fills 2-3 tubes or tubs.
  • You can purchase the lip balm containers at Mountain Rose Herbs.  Search “lip balm containers”.
  • Use up in a few months to avoid the oil from going rancid.

This post has been linked to Homestead Abundance #1Waste Not Want Not #9 and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #57.

Whipped Body Butter Recipe: 2 Simple Ingredients

“Decadent, smooth and rich.”

This Christmas I am, once again, attempting to make (almost) all of my Christmas gifts.  A great gift to give is something that can be used up.  Natural body products are not cheap to buy, but they can be fun and economical to make.

Body butters are oil-based and contain no water-based ingredients.  They are a mixture of oils and butters.  They are very hydrating, but they tend to be greasy.  I have been searching for a way to make oil-based butters smooth and light.  I have finally come across a simple way of dealing with butters: you whip them.  Like whipping cream.  This makes them soft, light, and less oily since there is air whipped into the product.  You can add any essential oil you like, and the overall appearance, texture and hydration is decadent.  The final product feels and looks like whipped cream.  I was very tempted to eat mine…
One thing to keep in mind with whipped butters, however, is that they are really only an oil and they will “melt” back into their oil state IF the temperature at which they melt is reached.  For example, a coconut oil-based whipped butter will melt at 24C (depending on what temperature your oil melts at.  Different coconut oils have different melting points).  Other butters may have a slightly higher melting point.  If your house gets higher than that melting point, or you keep it in a steamy bathroom, or on top of the dishwasher (which I did) it will melt back into an oil and you will have to re-whip it.  You can keep it in the fridge if you are worried about the temperature.

Does it stay like whipped cream for a long time!  YES!  It does.  How long?  I don’t know, but it hasn’t melted on me yet, and so I’d say weeks at least, if not permanently.With a mild and delicious cocoa fragrance, it isn’t necessary to add extra fragrance, but you certainly can if you like. Do not use citrus essential oils in body products since they are photo-toxic when exposed to sunshine. I am not a huge fan of the smell of coconut oil and so I choose the coconut oil that is fragrance-free.

Is this product non-greasy?  No.  It doesn’t contain alcohol or any other ingredients that “dry it out”.  But it is much less greasy than heavy, unwhipped body butter, and it will depend on the butters and oils you use (some are less greasy than others).

Over the next few weeks I will be playing with different ingredients, including kokum and mango butter, two butters which are less oily than cocoa butter and coconut oil.  I have shea butter which is extremely hydrating, and I will also be experimenting with infusing herbal extracts such as calendula, chamomile, green tea and lavender, into some of these oils to make whipped butter recipes that provide soothing, calming and anti-aging properties.  Subscribe to be updated regularly or “like” us on facebook so you know when these new recipes are available.

Ingredients:
6 oz. Coconut Oil (fractionated coconut oil is less greasy but any kind will work)
2 oz. Cocoa Butter
Essential oil if desired.

Materials:

  • Electric mixer and stainless steel bowl
  • Scale
  • Small pot
  • Pyrex measuring cup
  • Whisk or fork
  • Spoon
  • Spatula
  • Storage jar and lid

Directions:

  • In a small pot or double boiler, over low heat, melt 2 oz. of cocoa butter.
  • Add and melt 6 oz. of coconut oil.

  • Once oils are melted but NOT boiling, immediately remove from heat, pour into mixing bowl and refrigerate.
  • Once your mixture looks slightly opaque, remove from fridge and whip.  I use a stand mixer which makes the process go a lot faster.  It will get creamy quickly, but won’t whip immediately.
  • Once it is creamy put it back in the fridge for another 5 minutes or so and whip again. 
  • Once it starts to whip like whipping cream, you know you have it.  If it doesn’t, put it back in the fridge for a few more minutes and try again.  It could take up to 10 minutes of solid whipping to turn it into whipped butter.  It will get quite “stiff” and feel like chocolate mousse if you whip it long enough.
  • Once it starts to form soft peaks you can add your essential oil (if desired) and you are done!
  • Spoon it into jars and put lids on.
  • Store in a cool location.

 

Notes:

  • If you are looking for a good source to purchase body product ingredients check out Mountain Rose Herbs.  Exceptional quality, certified organic ingredients.
  • Cocoa butter helps increase or maintain skin elasticity and is very hydrating.
  • Coconut oil is, among many other things, rich in antioxidants and contains natural microbial and antibacterial properties making it a great oil choice for body products.
  • A little goes a long way.  Use a small amount!

This post has been shared on Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways 56, Farm Girl Friday Blogfest #12, Homestead Barn Hop #91, Seasonal Celebration Wednesday #42, Wildcrafting Wednesday and Waste Not Want Not Wednesday #8.