Cough, Sneeze, Sniffle…go camping

I leave tomorrow for a week long camping trip, and because I didn’t have enough stuff to do to get ready to go, I decided to catch a little bit of a cold before I went. I’m blaming the husband, I definitely caught his cold, and it’s all his fault. So I’m taking a minute to drink hot tea and write this. But since I only have time for comfort care, and no time to lay around and be sick, I whipped up an essential oil roller pen filled with great stuff to relieve my stuffy nose and take the edge off my sniffles. You could use this blend in an essential oil diffuser; just leave out the menthol crystal and add a little more peppermint. Be sure to check the safety of the oils if you’ve got young children, there’s some question about peppermint and children under age 2. Better to be safe than sorry. Robert Tisserand has a great website about essential oil safety, and several books. He’s my go to guy. 

This makes a 10 ml roller bottle, and while I topped mine off with high proof vodka, you could also use perfumery alcohol-if you can find it-or a lightweight, fast absorbing carrier oil like grapeseed or sunflower. I like having cheap vodka around for projects like this (sure, you say, I can imagine you rolling your eyes now; but it’s McCormick vodka and not fit to drink) and it’s good for aftershaves as well. Buying the cheapest insures we won’t drink it and it stays dedicated for DIY projects. It’s 150 proof or about 75% alcohol, so it’s perfect in all kinds of projects that would normally require rubbing alcohol but where I don’t want that rubbing alcohol smell.

Here’s the recipe: 

Essential Oil Cold and Allergy Roller

30 drops eucalyptus essential oil

30 drops peppermint essential oil

20 drops clove essential oil

10 drops wintergreen essential oil

10 drops lime essential oil

10 drops lemon essential oil

10 drops cajeput essential oil

10 drops tea tree essential oil

5 drops rosemary

Three menthol crystals approximately the size of pencil erasers

High proof alcohol (70% minimum or 140 proof or  70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol, perfumery alcohol, etc.)

OR

Lightweight carrier oil with low scent that’s fast absorbing like grapeseed, sunflower, or safflower. 

10ml glass roller bottle. Although there are plastic roller bottles and they can be slightly less expensive, I suggest you use glass with this high concentration of essential oils. 

Count out the drops of essential oils into your roller bottle, then add the menthol crystals. This should fill it about halfway full, maybe a little more depending on how large your menthol crystals were. Don’t panic, in other words.  

Use a small funnel, an eyedropper, or a pipette to fill up the roller bottle with the alcohol or oil. Add the roller ball and cap. Shake gently to combine. The menthol crystals will dissolve in about 30 minutes. 

Once the menthol crystals have fully dissolved, shake well, then roll over neck and shoulders, across temples, and down chest. Inhale deeply to clear the sinuses and relax. Enjoy! Feel better soon! 

This will last about a year before it loses its potentcy. If you use oils and not alcohol, they may turn rancid so watch for any off smells that might indicate old oil. Otherwise, use it up in that time frame! Makes one (1) 10 ml roller pen. 

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Rosehip Oil Anti-Aging Moisturizer

This moisturizer was created out of desperation and need. I had a little jar of an anti-aging moisturizer I made last fall, but as homemade DIY things don’t have the shelf life of store bought items, it finally separated on me and went bad. I wasn’t especially heartbroken, though. I had really never liked the scent- I used the same percentage of essential oils like you would for body lotion and it was too strong for a face cream-and I know a lot more now about making skin care, so this new moisturizer is pretty awesome by comparison. I included all the skin loving ingredients I could find that are rumored to be helpful to aging skin. The harsh truth is that I’m starting to show my age.  Why not help that with some anti-wrinkle ingredients, some eye care solution, and ALL the humectants and skin penetrating perks like silk peptides, right? 

This is another long, comprehensive post…but I’m including recipes, one for this awesome moisturizer exactly as I made it. I’m also including a recipe for a basic moisturizing cream in case you want to make one but need to know where to start without the fancy additives and cosmeceuticals. In addition, I’m including links to all the different ingredients I’m discussing for this recipe, so be sure to click on those links of the items you are interested in; you’ll get more information on them and also see where to purchase them.  I suggest researching everything you aren’t familiar with to expand your lotion and cream making know how, as many of the additives mentioned in this post are useful when making body lotion, hand or foot cream, and wash off items like surfactant based face wash and bubble bath. Once again: I’m attaching those links about each ingredient so you all can determine what you can and can’t live without if you decide to make this moisturizer. Lotioncrafters is a good place to read up on most of these ingredients; so is The Personal Formulator. You can also just do a Google search on any of the ingredients, read up on them through Wikipedia, or better yet, check out Point of Interest. Down in the far right hand column on that blog is a list of ingredients or there’s a search bar in the upper left corner you can use to search for ingredients by name. You should be able to find nearly everything I list here on the Point of Interest website; she’s very comprehensive. Investigate away! And while you may laugh at reading up on ingredients online, you’ll find that places like Wikipedia  and The Environmental Group’s Skin Deep offer information you can’t find elsewhere. Do I think you need to search every possible source about every possible ingredient? Definitely get some basic information about each one, then read up more on stuff you actually plan to use. 

A couple of things. I measure my powdered ingredients in teaspoons, but I estimate their weights as being 1/4th tsp=”not enough to count alone”, but add up all your amounts and judge accordingly, 1/2 tsp=1g, and 1 tsp=2g. That lets me know how much water to take out so my final product roughly equals the correct grams. In this case it’s 120g or 4 ounces finished product. My much more responsible suggestion is to purchase a scale (a jewelry scale is appropriate) that goes down to .001g and weigh your dry ingredients so you can measure more accurately. They only run between $10-30 for a decent one; I just haven’t invested in one yet so I’m still estimating. Bad, bad me. (Note to self: Buy a tiny scale already, girl!)  Of course you’ll need your handy dandy,  everyday use, digital scale that measures down to 1g for these recipes. I use an Ozeri scale that costs about $15 on Amazon, and it’s perfect. You have to clean it gently- it can’t get water in the internal parts-but Clorox wipes are amazing at getting it sparkling clean, unless I spill melted beeswax on it. That requires a scraper and elbow grease, lol. 

 I usually stick with more natural sounding ingredients in my products, and fewer cosmeceuticals or potential humectants because that’s what people seem to want. However, when I’m making stuff for myself I’m less concerned with the label appeal of “natural” and”all natural”, and more concerned with results. Ideally, I think that’s how it should always be, with safety, efficacy, and to some degree cost being the reasons to include an ingredient  over whether or not it “sounds natural”. There are perfectly safe synthetic ingredients to use that will greatly add to how amazing your end product is, and yet some people still freak out if an ingredient sounds “chemical”. Chemicals are scary to some people. Cetyl alcohol and stearic acid are safe and effective fatty alcohols-check Skin Deep- and they help as secondary emulsifiers. They thicken up your concoction and can make it more glidy on the skin. They are inexpensive to buy, and in lotions or creams like this, a little goes a long way. We are using cetyl alcohol at  approximately 4%, or you can substitute half that (2g) for stearic acid. I also used two specialty ingredients from Lotioncrafters: their Wrinkle Defense Complex and Eyeseryl Solution B , which I discuss below. You can leave one or both of those out if you choose. They are both perfectly safe in my estimation but I understand if you want fewer synthetic ingredients in your moisturizer.

Also, if you aren’t concerned about getting anti aging benefits and just want a bad ass moisturizer, you can substitute out your carrier oil. Rosehip oil is recommended for anti-aging because of its retinol content, and it’s high vitamin levels. However, you can trade an equally awesome oil like avocado oil or grapeseed oil for the rosehip oil, and you can leave out the Lotioncrafter’s Anti Wrinkle Defense Serum if you’re not interested in making it “anti-aging”. That would significantly cut your cost down. Other great facial oils are argan oil and evening primrose oil, but they are both more expensive “luxury oils”. They are, however, great for your skin, packed with all the variations of E, some A, and essential fatty acids your skin can use. If you’re acne prone or have excessively oily skin,  try leaving out the mango butter (or any butter!) and use a combination of hemp oil or isopropyl myristate (in place of the mango butter- Isopropyl myristate is a synthetic oil substitute that will make your lotion dryer and less greasy) and ideally hazelnut oil (in place of the rosehip oil) . Be sure to go ahead with cetyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol and stearic acid, or possibly try fractionated coconut oil for a light, less oily finish.  Some other potential oil substitutions include using avocado oil or even extra virgin olive oil for dry skin, as they are heavier, richer oils that are also vitamin packed with A and E. You can also increase how much butter you’re using and decrease how much liquid oil if you have very sensitive, very dry skin. Unless you have an allergy to latex, I would use shea butter for sensitive skin. If you need a more economical substitute for rosehip oil that’s versatile for other things-and good for all skin types, actually -but is still full of great anti-aging benefits, you can try apricot kernel oil. I can’t rave enough about apricot kernal oil. I seriously considered using it but I had rosehip oil that’s reaching the end of it’s shelf life and it needed to be used up. Buy your short shelf life oils in small bottles and store them someplace cool and dark – the fridge is good if you have room. Besides, rosehip is a “dry” oil, leaving a less greasy finish on the skin. Both rosehip and apricot kernel oil have linoleic acid and oleic acids that helps repair damaged skin. You can also substitute shea or sal butter for the mango butter, pretty much always in my recipes, but you do get a slightly greasier product, and sal butter is pretty expensive and hard to source. Raw shea butter is preferred over processed unless you simply hate the smell of raw shea, and could work great as it has excellent skin healing ability according to multiple sources. I went with mango butter, looking for something slightly less greasy and faster absorbing, but it’s a personal preference. Use whatever you have; it’s a very small amount of butter but it thickens the end product and makes it more emollient. Assuming you’re using the cetyl alcohol, you could even substitute virgin coconut oil for the butter in this recipe. If you’re not using the cetyl alcohol, I wouldn’t go that route, as that’s a lot of coconut oil for this style moisturizing cream. So you see there’s a lot of flexibility allowed in the ingredients; just try and do what will work for your skin. Take careful notes so you can replicate this in the future, as the cream seems to be good for 6-12 months before you have to make fresh. 

This makes such a thick, creamy product that I put it into a travel sized lotion bottle (look in the travel section of Wal-Mart or Target to find these bottles- they run about $1 each. It would be expensive if you were making this product to sell, but I expect you could use plastic or glass 4oz jars in that case (you can find jars on Amazon, but I have found packaging to be cheapest at Bulk Apothecary. I do not sell this product because it’s illegal for me to make certain claims about my products, and I could only ever call this face cream- I wouldn’t be able to say “anti-aging” or “anti-anything ” without catching the attention of the FDA. So I’ll give you the recipe and you can make it yourself! 

I don’t expect ANYONE to have all these additives and fun ingredients. I’ve had over a year of making stuff to acquire all these ingredients and I can’t imagine going and buying them all at once. Of course, you can and should buy what will serve you best and you’ll still spend less per ounce than  a you would from a jar of moisturizer from someplace  like Estee Lauder, Clinique, or L’Occitane. You’ll also be customizing your lotion for your skin, so you can leave out things that are in commercial moisturizers but aren’t right for you while adding exactly what you want and need. I will attempt to describe a little about each ingredient as we go through the ingredients list, and you can determine if you really need it. I will also give links on good places to source these ingredients. For the record, I buy my oils at Bulk Apothecary or WSP (very occasionally Amazon if it’s significantly cheaper or I only need a small quantity, like for Rosehip oil-I purchased 4 oz of the NOW brand and stored it someplace dark and cool). I suggest you read up on ingredients that are interesting to you on either  LotionCrafters or The Personal Formulator’s website (there will be the links I’m giving you, and they will go straight to the ingredient in question). This will tell you what the ingredient does, and what concentration to use it in. I tend to use maximum strengths of most ingredients, but if you have sensitive skin you may opt for a lower percentage in your lotion or cream. Lactic acid is the perfect example. It’s a great AHA or alpha-hydroxy acid, and can be used between 2-5%. It’s useful for fine lines and wrinkles, and back when I had cystic acne I found AHA’s to be beneficial (other AHA’s and BHA’s include citric acid or salicylic acid, which are both commonly used in store bought acne preparations and can definitely be added here according to manufacturing guidelines if you choose; you can find citric acid about anywhere online and get salicylic acid at The Personal Formulator. I use lactic acid at 5% of my recipe, give or take, and I am not having any adverse effects. However, if I had sensitive skin I wouldn’t use it any higher than 2%. So, my point now is that there is great information on  ingredients out there. Another place to look is at Point of Interest. Once again, at the bottom right hand of the main page there you can find a great list of different ingredients. Lotioncrafters has a variety of anti-aging products you can read up on as well as the one I chose for my moisturizer. A good example is Antarcticine. Proven in studies to increase collagen production and increase cell turnover, both of which can help with reduction of fine lines and wrinkles. It’s a great addition to your moisturizer, but I went with the Wrinkle Defense instead. Why? Personal preference. 

 Here’s the recipe for the complex moisturizer. Please bear with me; I want you to be able to educate yourself about these ingredients and also know where to buy them. The highlighted words are hyperlinks that will take you directly to either an informational website or a place to purchase or both. 

This moisturizing cream comes out with a pH of 6.0, which is slightly acidic. That’s a good thing; you have an acid mantle on your skin that you want to keep healthy. If you have sensitive skin, use the lower recommended values of things like ascorbic acid and the lactic acid or leave them out completely; decide that based on how much exfoliation you think your skin needs. If you choose to add MORE acidic ingredients like more alpha-hydroxy acids or beta-hydroxy acids (salicylic acid for example), or as an example fruit acid complex (sometimes called “multi -fruit” and a good addition or substitution for lactic acid), be aware that your niacinamide won’t be as effective as it prefers a pH of at least 6 to work. If your overall pH drops below that, niacinamide is not very effective and you’re wasting money by using it. You could just leave it out at that point, or you can research how to pH balance your recipe and add TEA-which is a base-to bring the pH closer to neutral. Learning this stuff about each ingredient is important to understand how they all work together. It’s easy to get overwhelmed as you click on each link and read about the ingredients, but I suggest you make notes on a separate sheet of paper about which ingredients sound like they would be useful for your skin type and price check them. Most of these ingredients are available in small amounts for $6-10, but realize that means you could drop $60-100 easily buying a bunch of awesome additives. If that’s sticker shock to you, research how much a high end, luxury moisturizer costs. The one closest to this recipe is by L’Occitane, isn’t even available locally (because we don’t have anywhere snooty enough to carry L’Occitane) and goes for $130/1 ounce. This recipe makes 4 ounces, with plenty of ingredients left over to make another batch in 6 months when I might need a fresh batch. Also, please include the vitamin C or ascorbic acid if you can. It boosts the efficacy of other ingredients and is just so great for your skin. But get the kind meant for cosmetics from one of the listed sources and not oral vitamin C, which often is bonded to other molecules and fillers in tablets to make it less harsh on your stomach. Grinding up a vitamin C tablet won’t give you the same results as using l-ascorbic acid from Lotioncrafters. Vitamin C powder off Amazon is actually more expensive than from a cosmetics supplier, and still may have fillers bonded to it. 

I will be using the format for lotions as described in my lotion making tutorial. If you’ve never made lotion, please go to my blog posts on lotion making and read up on the process before tackling this complicated lotion. But don’t panic; it’s the extensive ingredients list that makes this complicated, not the process of making lotion itself. 

Ingredient list:

Rosehip Anti-Aging Moisturizer: 120g or 4 oz. As previously mentioned, I store mine in a travel sized hand cream tube. A four oz jar would work as well, but avoid a standard pump bottle as you’ll find this too thick for a pump bottle. An airless pump bottle might be effective, but I have found they are hard to find in 4 oz sizes and are quite expensive. As always, be sure to apply to clean, dry skin with clean, dry hands. I use it at least once a day, and twice a day if I take a shower in the evening.When summer gets here, I will apply a small amount of sunblock on top of my moisturizer once it has sunken in and is “dry”.

Oils phase: 37g; only so high due to the Teprenone -otherwise would be 30-31g or 25% of the total weight. However the Teprenone is an oil soluble additive that must be included here.

8g emulsifier. I used 4g BTMS 225 (I have some that I ordered by accident, but BTMS 50 would be fine, too) and 4g Ecomulse, because I wanted the cationic conditioning benefits of BTMS and the powdery finish of Ecomulse. You can use whatever complete emulsifier you have or sub in another emulsifying system at the recommended amount (example: stearic acid and TPS, or any “all natural” combo that’s out there. I can’t help you with co-emulsifier systems, but there’s information online-but be sure to adjust your water to compensate). I prefer complete emulsifiers. I buy my emulsifier from Brambleberry or LotionCrafters

1g vitamin e oil. I suggest you use either the vit E oil or rosemary oleoresin as an antioxidant for the rosehip oil-and other oils you might choose, like grapeseed -in this recipe. Adding an anti-oxidant is just a good idea, period. Rosehip oil has a short shelf life that’s extended with a good anti-oxidant. If you choose to leave it out, add 1g more of your main oil. You can purchase Vitamin E oil every where, from Bulk Apothecary to Amazon and pretty much anywhere else. I actually used 1g each vitamin E oil and rosemary oleoresin, but one or the other is sufficient.

5g mango seed butter or butter of your choice. Also, consider isopropyl myristate or hemp oil if making this for acne prone skin or skin that’s extremely oily. I got my mango butter from Bulk Apothecary. 

12g rosehip oil. As previously discussed, you can substitute many different oils as desired or even make a blend of 6g each of two different oils. I buy my oils almost exclusively at Bulk Apothecary. However, sometimes it’s difficult to source luxury oils there, and that’s when I turn to Amazon. Be sure to store your luxury oils like rosehip, argan, and evening primrose oil in a cool dark place-your fridge is great!

4g cetyl alcohol; optional….kind of. I really recommend using it as it’s an inexpensive fatty alcohol that is light and glides nicely along the skin, leaving a silky and non-oily finish. You can substitute half of that as stearic acid if you want a richer, thicker cream-you may need to decant to a jar and not a lotion bottle. If you absolutely don’t have or want to use cetyl alcohol, consider using fractionated coconut oil or even regular, extra virgin coconut oil. You’ll get a nicer, less oily, skin feel with the fractionated coconut oil but both lend good fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals to the final product. Fractionated coconut oil is often called MCT or medium chain triglycerides. Look for it by both names at Bulk Apothecary, and you can get cetyl alcohol off Amazon or Lotioncrafter.

6 g Teprenone; from Making Cosmetics. This skin rejuvenation additive is awesome, but I can’t find it anywhere else. See the Making Cosmetics website for more information.

Water phase Final: 60g
1  tsp silk peptides; counts as 2g and you can substitute whatever silk you have or just leave it out (adjust your water accordingly!) I bought my silk peptides off Amazon forever ago, and it was expensive but I got a huge Mason jar full. You can get a bottle of silk amino acids and sub in 3-5g from LotionCrafters

1/4 tsp niacinamide; also known as B3, this vitamin helps with cell rejuvenation and repairs damage- counts as nothing since there’s so little of it. This ingredient I purchased from Making Cosmetics. It’s one of the first additives I ever bought and I use it in all my lotions for myself, as it’s so good for your skin. I believe you can get it cheaper from Lotioncrafters but shipping may be higher so weigh the difference.

1/2 tsp allantoin; often synthesized from comfrey root, this ingredient helps protect against wind chafing and is anti-inflammatory- counts as 1g. I also purchased this from Making Cosmetics, but it’s available at Lotioncrafters and The Personal Formulator. This is another additive I bought early on to add to lotions and diaper rash cream-it makes a difference! 

1/2 tsp aloe vera powder; an alternative is to use aloe vera juice in place of some or all of your water-I suggest 50%-but I wanted to use oat milk in this product (directions below) and add the aloe powder. Some aloe powders are expensive, like the 100x or 200x, but I just use basic strength aloe vera powder- counts as 1g. I purchased mine off Amazon but the 100x and 200x powders are available at LotioncraftersMaking Cosmetics, and The Personal Formulator. While they may seem expensive, they are very convenient over using liquid aloe and a small amount goes a long way.

1 tsp vitamin C powder, known as L-ascorbic acid. This is an antioxidant that has been proven in studies to be anti-inflammatory, and that can stimulate collagen formation and heal skin. It also boosts the efficacy of other ingredients; see Point of Interest. Counts as 2g. 

5g caffeine extract; available at The Personal Formulator, this ingredient stimulates your skin cells, tightens your skin, and if you apply the cream around your eyes, it can help with bags and dark circles. In the past I’ve simply dissolved two caffeine tablets (jet alert tabs) in the hot water and I honestly don’t feel any difference. Both ways I get a little tingle from my moisturizer and it seems effective on my eyes. I’m going to make eye gel soon with caffeine so watch for that!

5g sodium lactate; sodium lactate is a cheap and awesome humectant and film former. I use it in everything from homemade soap-both cold and hot process-to lotions like this. It comes as a powder that you make into a 60% solution by combining 60g of powder with 40g of boiling water and stirring until dissolved, or you can buy the 60% solution. Try  Brambleberry for the premade solution, or Lotioncrafters for the cheaper powder. In this lotion I’m using sodium lactate and not glycerin; you could substitute glycerin here if you already have it.

2 g hyaluronic acid; naturally occurring in your skin, this molecule decreases with age. There’s some evidence that applying it topically makes a difference, and I figure every little bit helps. It’s available at both Lotioncrafters in many variations, and The Personal Formulator

5g lactic acid; covered above: mine came from The Personal Formulator

10g witch hazel; I use alcohol free Thayer’s witch hazel, and buy it locally. I know alcohol free witch hazel is widely available online and possibly close to you. Definitely get alcohol free, though. 

24g fresh oat milk (directions below) or 50% aloe vera juice and 50% freshly boiled water, a hydrosol, or a nice tea like bamboo. You can find aloe vera juice in the laxative aisle of your local store. (Keep refrigerated after opening). Making oat milk will require 1 tbsp whole oats. 
Cool down 20g 

1g Liquid Germall plus or preservative of your choice at the recommended amount. I do not recommend Optiphen ND as it can break emulsions and I’ve had bad luck with it ruining more than one lotion on me.

1 g Chamomile extract; helps with inflammation, available at Lotioncrafters and Making Cosmetics.

1g rosemary extract; overall just awesome for your skin. Read about it at Point of Interest or find it at Making Cosmetics.

2g Green tea extract; helps with redness in the skin, also available at Lotioncrafters or The Personal Formulator.

8g Wrinkle Defense Additive (Lotioncrafters); you really should just click the link and read about how awesome this is. I bought a bottle for my last moisturizer, justifying it by saying I was making a salon quality product at 1/4th the L’Occitane price or less. I’ve been very happy with the results from using this product. 

3 g honeyquat; this is a cationic quatenary polymer. This means it is positively charged and binds to our negatively charged hair and skin to offer conditioning and moisturizing. It’s a humectant, and of course you can always use one. It’s also cool that it’s derived from honey but is a clear amber liquid and not sticky at all. You can pick it up and read about it on Lotioncrafters

3g oat protein hydrolyzed; this is a humectant and film former, and leaves behind a silky after feel. You can use it at up to 5%, but I use a little less due to cost. I think if I had dry or sensitive skin I would use the full 5%. A good alternative would be phytokeratin, which is a smaller molecular and absorbs into the skin even better, but I was out. Hydrolyzed oat protein can be found at Lotioncrafters, they also carry vegekeratin, a vegetable sourced keratin that’s awesome.

5-10 drops chamomile essential oil (good for redness and inflammation)

5-10 drops rosemary essential oil (great for skin)

5-10 drops lavender essential oil (a good skin essential oil)

5-10 drops frankincense essential oil (said to be anti-aging)

5-10 drops cypress essential oil (optional, but said to be excellent for under the eye bags and dark circles)

5-10 drops helichrysum essential oil (definitely optional, due to cost, but smells lovely and is said to be anti-aging. I’ve found it cheapest off Amazon, but you run risks buying essential oil off Amazon. You don’t know the purity level; is it cut with a carrier oil or a blend of essential oils? However, the savings may justify the purchase).

Why are all these 5-10 drops? Well, you could definitely use 10 drops of each if you were making body lotion. However, I like stuff on my face To be lightly scented. So start with 5 drops, whisk, and add more-1 drop of everything, then whisk, sniff-and continue until it’s ok. Don’t overdo it. Essential oils are strong, you don’t need a lot to reap the benefits. Also, if you have an essential oil blend you prefer, use that. Just avoid citrus essential oils as they are photo-toxic and you could end up with a nasty sunburn. 

Where do I buy essential oils? I buy them from Bulk Apothecary, Brambleberry, and I buy the NOW brand off Amazon frequently because they are affordable and smell awesome. They even carefully state if their oils are a blend, like their Jasmine oil is definitely not pure Jasmine oil but a blend. So watch that. If all you’re after is the fragrance, blended oils are great.If you want the beneficial effects, it’s better to get the pure essential oils. 

Directions
Make as if making a standard lotion. Place your oil phase ingredients in one (1 cup) glass measuring cup and put your water (double the amount of water to make oat milk!) in another. Set both cups in a shallow, flat bottom saucepan and add enough water to the pan to come up about 1″ from the bottom of the cups. Set to simmer, and once the water in the cup is simmering as well, set a timer for 2 0 min. 

Prepare the oat milk by removing the boiled water from the saucepan and adding 1 tbsp whole oats. Let sit 20 min. Strain, reserving oat water and measuring out 21g. Add remaining water phase ingredients to oat water (milk) and return to heat briefly until the same temperature as the oils. 

Mix the oils and water phase in a separate, room temperature bowl, and whisk thoroughly. Keep whisking gently at intervals until lotion reaches room temperature. Add cool down phase ingredients and whisk to combine. Decant to a squeeze bottle or jar. This will be too thick for a pump bottle. 
I’ve been using this for a few weeks now and I love how it feels. It’s packed with humectants, so you have to apply it very lightly if planning to wear make up or your skin will get sticky quickly. That’s probably it’s one flaw. If I had to make it again, I would choose silk peptides and leave out sodium lactate, or maybe leave out both since there’s so many other film formers in this. Adding glycerin instead of some of the humectants is also an option. Anyways, I would go with just one. However, right now while it’s so dry, it feels awesome. Where I live, even during the damp spring season, my skin needs a good moisturizer, and it’s terrible in the winter. 

Here’s a recipe for a basic skin cream, if you want something conditioning and moisturizing but not as complicated as the previous recipe. It still contains a few things I think everyone who makes lotion should have, and you can find those ingredients at Lotioncrafters or Bulk Apothecary. 

Skin cream (95g, or 3.5 oz)

Oils phase (31g)

7g BTMS 50 or other complete emulsifier

7g shea butter 

4g cetyl alcohol (or fractionated coconut oil)

1g vitamin e oil

12g rich oil like apricot kernel, avocado, or even olive oil (consider infusing your oils with calendula -directions below)

Water phase (58g)

5g vegetable glycerin OR honey. Honey is a great humectant and useful if you don’t have glycerin
25g aloe vera juice; or 1/4tsp aloe vera powder and 25g freshly boiled water.

28g freshly boiled water; you can also make oat milk as described above. 

Cool down phase (6g)

1g preservative like Liquid Germall Plus. I’m using this at slightly higher the recommended rate because we have ingredients like honey, aloe and oat milk which are prone to spoilage. 

2g vegekeratin or hydrolyzed protein. If you choose a hydrolyzed protein, you can go with rice, baobob, oat or wheat. Read up on them all and pick the one that works for you, or choose the keratin which is very versatile

2g Green tea extract. The benefits of this are worth the investment. You can use it up to 5g if you prefer. 

1g (20 drops) essential oils of your choice. For something simple, use just chamomile essential oil. 

Read previous directions on how to make oat milk and lotion. This one will also be too thick to store in a pump top bottle; I recommend the hand cream bottle or a jar. Remember to use clean, dry hands to apply to reduce the chance of introducing pathogens into the jar. 

Once you’re comfortable making a cream, you can change it to something more like I’ve written the first time. This basic cream with humectants would still do a great job of moisturizing your skin, but I would be more inclined to use it as a hand cream since its lacking all the skin treats of the first version. Create your own facial moisturizer using ingredients you choose for your skin type. 

Green Tea Face Toner

This past week, I made new moisturizer and new toner. I’m making posts for each. The toner is incredibly simple, and yet due to a new ingredient I’ve started working with in soap and beauty products, it’s awesomely hydrating and skin softening. I’m talking about sodium lactate. 

Sodium Lactate is a salt that is naturally derived from the fermentation of corn and beets.Despite the “lacta” in the name, it has nothing to do with dairy and is safe for people with a milk allergy. It’s an amazing humectent, or in other words, it pulls moisture from the air and traps it next to your skin’s pores, preventing trans epidermal water loss. When making soap, it hardens soap faster so it’s easier to unmold from silicone molds and slices cleaner. Too much can make your soap brittle, though, so it’s important to use as recommended. In lotions, creams, toners, shampoo, and conditioner, it’s my new fave ingredient. It’s extremely economical and you get excellent results with as little as 3-5% in your product. 
This toner owes its skin softening silky feeling to a combination of sodium lactate, and fractionated coconut oil that I added with some polysorbate 80 to help it emulsify into the liquid. 

*You can mix up the herbs and teas you use here. Just add up to about 2 tablespoons of tea and loose herbs or 6 teaspoons. 

Green Tea and Chamomile Toner

125g alcohol free witch hazel

115g distilled water, boiled for five minutes

2.5g Optiphen or Liquid Germall plus

2g chamomile essential oil

6g sodium lactate 60% solution

1 green tea teabag or 1 tsp loose leaf green tea

1 chamomile teabag or 1 tsp loose leaf chamomile tea

1 bamboo teabag or 1 tsp loose leaf bamboo tea

1 tsp calendula leaves

2 tsp white willow bark 

Pour boiling water over herbs and teabags and set aside to come to room temperature. Mix remaining ingredients in 250ml or 8oz container (I find a squeeze bottle works well). Once the tea is cool, strain it and then add to the bottle. Add other ingredients. Shake well. Shake well before using each time. Watch carefully for any signs of spoilage and toss immediately if goes bad. Should last approximately 2 months. 

Preservatives are not optional here, not even if you store this in the fridge. With all this botanical food, bacteria will set up shop in a heartbeat and they are invisible. You’ll see mold in three days or less. Gross. Use the preservative! 

Masked bandit

About once a week, I like to do a mud mask. Usually I just wash my face with water, but inevitably I have a day or night where I get very sweaty (night sweats, they are a thing!) and I will feel very oily and slimy on my face. 

My favorite thing to use is my rose clay bar, which I just run under warm water, rub a little to “lather” up some clay, then rub on my face. As long as I store it back on the shelf to air dry, it works great and has been long lasting; I think I’ve had it nearly a year now. 

Today, though, I went for something new and whipped up a green clay and honey mask. Here’s how you do it:

3 tsp kaolin clay

3 tsp French green clay

1 tsp raw honey

1 tsp Apple cider vinegar (optional)

Warm water

Add everything but the water to a bowl. Start adding water, one tablespoon at a time and stirring well until you get the consistency of frosting. Apply to face, let dry about 15-20 minutes or until feels tight and slightly uncomfortable. Get a washcloth wet and lay it across your face for a few minutes before removing mask to soften things back up or remove in the shower. Apply facial oil like argan, evening primrose, or rose hip, afterwards for moisturizing purposes. Or if you’ve made an amazing moisturizer, now’s a great time to use it!

No pictures today: my phone didn’t charge last night and so it’s dead. It apparently got knocked off the side table in my sleep and came disconnected from the charger. It had enough charge to wake me up early this morning before powering off. Thankfully! But it’s charging now. The upshot for me is I don’t have to make silly selfie faces in this clay mask for you. I will give you a few old pics: 

Here is my rose clay bar. It is made of rose clay, kaolin clay, coconut oil, aloe vera, and witch hazel. To learn to make a rose clay bar check out this link here!

Here is an old pic of me in a bentonite clay mask from when this blog first started. Today is the same, just shorter hair and darker mask. Lol. 

Enjoy your DIY mask! 

Unicorn Shimmer Balm

This DIY is adapted from the original recipe posted by Rebecca’s Soap Deli. You can find their version here! I’ve taken the directions pretty much word for word, so I can’t claim any originality here. I did make substitutions that I will explain, and I converted to metric because I work in metric. 

DIY Unicorn Body Balm

I picked Ingredients to give a more dry and silky feel, you can change your butter, oils, and emulsifier to suit yourself. 

Ingredients:

40g grapeseed oil

24g fractionated coconut oil 

28g emulsifying wax (I used BTMS 225; I ordered 225 by accident instead of BTMS 50 and am finding creative places to use it. In this balm, it should help leave a silky after feel on the skin. You could use Emulsifying Wax NF for a heavier feel, or Ecomulse for a powdery finish)

24g Mango butter (once again, chosen because it feels dry and silky when rubbed it. Go with shea or sal butter for something more creamy)

10g cyclomethicone and dimethicone mixture (from LotionCrafters)

0.5 gram vitamin e oil 

4g skin safe fragrance oil of choice

1 teaspoon arrowroot powder (cornstarch will work)

1/4 teaspoon each of three mica colors of choice 

3/8-3/4th of a teaspoon flashing pearl, shimmer pearl or silvery white pearl mica

Instructions:
You will need a digital scale for this project. A regular kitchen or postal scale will work for this particular project. I use an inexpensive Ozeri scale I bought off Amazon for under $20 and has served me well. 
Begin by weighing out the mango butter and emulsifying wax. Combine in a large glass Pyrex measuring cup, then melt in the microwave at 50% power. (Alternately you may also use a double boiler.)

Add cyclomethicone/dimethicone mix and stir well. Using a measuring spoon, measure out one level teaspoon of arrowroot powder. Stir or whisk into the melted mango butter and emulsifying wax until the arrowroot powder has dissolved and there are no clumps.
Next, weigh out the grapeseed oil and fractionated coconut oil. Stir or whisk into your DIY unicorn balm mixture.
You can substitute the grapeseed oil with another carrier oil if desired such as sweet almond, or use all fractionated coconut oil. Just be sure it is liquid at room temperature. If you are substituting the fractionated coconut oil, choose another liquid at room temperature dry oil for best results. Other dry oils I like are rosehip seed oil, hemp seed oil, and especially hazelnut oil.
If you using a fragrance oil, weigh out and stir in the fragrance. You can also use an essential oil or essential oil blend of your choice.
Now divide the DIY unicorn balm base into three containers. Each container should have 38g in it. 
Using a measuring spoon, add 1/4 teaspoon of your first mica color to one container of the unicorn balm. Stir well to combine. Repeat with a 1/4 teaspoon of the next mica color in the second container, and then add 1/4 teaspoon of your third mica color to the last and final container, mixing after each addition. (Please note you do not want to use lake dyes for this project.). 

Now add 1/8 teaspoon of your flashing pearl, shimmer pearl or silvery white pearl mica to each of the three colors. This will give skin a very subtle shimmer. For more obvious shimmer, increase the amount used to suit. Stir each container well to ensure all of the mica is thoroughly combined in each container. You can also add microfine glitter, either in shades to match each color or just holographic to work with them all. 

Once the individually colored DIY unicorn balms start to solidify from a liquid state, stir again. Then scoop one of the colors into your container(s) so it fills 1/3rd of the container(s) you are using.

Repeat with the rest of the colors until your container(s) are filled.

Now use a mini spatula or the flat side of a knife or a spoon to swirl the top layer of the DIY unicorn balm. Finally, dust the top of your unicorn balm with the Diamond Dust, white or pearl mica.  Allow the unicorn balm to completely set up, then gently smooth the tops with the back of a spoon. Screw on the lids to your containers. Your completed DIY unicorn balm will have the consistency of a cream or thick lotion.

Makes 130g or 4 oz. 
This is so luxurious! And although it goes on green and purple, once you rub it in, the color fades and the shimmer is barely noticeable as well. I couldn’t even capture any shimmer on a photo after I slathered my arm in the balm:

Overall I’m very happy with this. You could easily make it with shea butter and Ecomulse for a richer butter with a powdery finish. That’s the next combination I’m going to try, and see how it comes out. I think I will stick with grapeseed oil since it absorbs quickly, and fractionated coconut oil or another dry oil. I have plenty of the coconut so I’ll stick with that for now. 

I’ll have this listed in the Etsy shop shortly for anyone who doesn’t want to make it themselves. 

My skincare routine

I’ve been asked about my skin care routine, especially for my face. I have what advertisers would call “early middle age” skin, so my products differ slightly than most tutorials out there. I thought I’d write about what I do, and how I do it. 

I’m rockin’ a pixie cut these days instead of these pinned up half dreads, but my face hasn’t changed much in six months. This is my no make up, just woke up and haven’t had coffee yet, grumpy face.

I should discuss my environment. I live about 25 miles outside of Wichita, Kansas, USA, which has the double whammy of having less than ideal humidity for your skin most of the day (perfect in the early mornings, dry the rest of the day and night), and a non-stop wind that averages at least 10mph and buffets your skin, stripping away moisture even more. Dry, chapped lips are a constant here, and dry itchy skin a common complaint. 

The Keeper of the Plains, Wichita Kansas. 

As far as acne goes, my skin is blessedly calm these days. I fought cystic acne through my teens and twenties so it’s great to have those days behind me. I have one spot on my chin that gets the occasional pimple, from my hands laying on it while I’m sleeping. Other than that, I’m good. I also don’t have particularly sensitive skin. As a result, what works for me might not work for all of you. 

Chai Spice lip balm. One of my favorites. 

Red Velvet lip balm. It goes on sheer so you can build up the color to however dark you like.

Everyday, the one thing I grab all day long is lip balm. Even if I get lazy and skip moisturizer, I’m never going to skip lip balm. My favorite, hands down, is my shea butter lip balm but if I want something tinted, I reach for red velvet lip balm. Both are fantastic. I’m also working on some more, but they aren’t listed in the shop yet. 

My moisturizing cream experiment with helichrysum and carrot seed oils.

After lip balm, the next thing I use daily is a moisturizing cream I whipped up that features goodies like argan and rose hip oils, and mango butter. It’s not as oily as you’d think, being 2/3 water, and has silk and glycerin to help trap moisture near my skin all day long. I added lactic acid, caffeine, allantoin, niacinamide, and dl-panthenol. My skin has been great since I started using it regularly. 

Surfactant cleanser that’s gentle and packed with skin goodies and humectants. This bottle was only ever half full, and I’ve used it as bubble bath for the kids a few times because it only takes a few drops for my face. 

My rose clay bar. I’ve had it forever and am slowly whittling it down. It has coconut oil and aloe in it, but was dried hard before I used it. As long as I keep it dry between uses it stays mold and germ free. 

For my face, I tend to just use water unless it feels really oily, then I break out the surfactant based cleanser I made. Once a week or so, I wet down the rose clay bar and make a mask for my face and enjoy that. It’s handy to be able to just get it wet and rub it across my face. 

Summer shimmer lotion

Citrus Sugar Scrub: lately I’ve been making my sugar scrubs with cocoa butter and leaving them unscented. 

For daily dry skin, I like to use whatever lotion and sugar scrub I’ve concocted recently. You can get a good idea of what I might be using by reading what I’ve posted about in the past few months. I tend to stick to the same recipe or formula over and over once I have it down. I wash with whatever bar of soap/shampoo I’m using on my hair at the moment, or with whatever liquid shampoo I’ve created. Lately it’s been cinnamon patchouli bars I formulated especially for my hair type but it could be anything; rainbow swirl, ocean breeze, molasses, etc. 

Cinnamon Patchouli bars 

Rainbow Swirl bars

Green Smoothie Shampoo with Calendula And Bamboo

And that’s about it. I’m pretty low maintenance. Most of what I use is made by yours truly, and I’m pretty proud of that. It’s ever changing as I make new things and need to test them, with a few exceptions. I’m pretty devoted to that moisturizer. I always finish one shampoo bar before I start a new one, but since I use them on body and hair they go pretty fast. I make my lotions the same way pretty much every time, but I like to vary up the essential oils or fragrance oil so I don’t get bored. When all else fails I fall back on the trifecta of tea tree, lavender, and rosemary and can’t recommend them enough. 

What products do you rely on faithfully? 
 

Lotion Making Tutorial part two

I want to discuss making a more complex lotion, one with humectants and skin loving goodies in it, but before I can do that, I really feel like you need to understand how lotion works with your skin and also why we use certain ingredients. So yes, this is going to be another long blog post!

The Chemistry of Your Skin (this next part was taken in large from the Point if Interest blog. Kudos to Susan for having done such thorough research).

Healthy skin contains about 10% water. The water in your skin influences elasticity, tensile strength, barrier characteristics, and the appearance of your skin. If you’re running with less than 10% in your skin, you’re too dry and you’ll need to get more moisture in there somehow. You can live in a more humid climate (apparently 60% is ideal, so those of us in Kansas are lucky because the average here is 66%, although the barometer in my house tells me it’s only 50% now that it’s winter), drink more water, prevent further damage, or draw or apply water to your skin.

Our stratum corneum-the outermost layer of your skin-contains a natural moisturizing factor (NMF) of its own. It is a complex mixture of water soluble compounds, such as amino acids, organic acids, urea, and inorganic ions. This NMF makes up about 10% of the stratum corneum. Some major components of the NMF are sodium lactate, urea, and sodium PCA. When we absorb water from the atmosphere (or lotions!), this water dissolves these molecules and they act as humectants in our skin, drawing water in from the atmosphere. But if we live in arid climates, have done some kind of damage to our skin (side note: a week in the desert every year is damaging to your skin!), the NMF gets compromised and doesn’t keep us moisturized. This is where we use our lotions with humectants to help protect and repair the damage.

But water alone isn’t going to quite cut it. It evaporates too quickly to really make a huge difference. This is where our oils and other ingredients come in.

We need three things to moisturize our stratum corneum:

1) Occlusion: We need to reduce water loss (trans epidermal water loss or TEWL), from our skin. So we use oils, film formers, and other ingredients to trap the water in our skin.

2) Humectancy: Humectants will help retain water in the skin and will draw water from the atmosphere.

3) Emolliency: We add moisturizing ingredients so we aren’t bothered by the rough, dry, skin, and to keep it from getting further damaged.

So how do we make products-in this case a lotion, and later a cream-with all this in mind?

Emollients:

There are many emollients you can choose from- oils and butters are the most common. Also known as vegetable triglycerides, they are the main ingredients we use in lotions to soothe and moisturize our skin. Different oils offer different benefits-longer shelf life, lovely vitamins-so you can choose you oils and butters to suit your needs.

Hydrolyzed proteins like oat, wheat, corn, silk, soy, and baobob are film formers and emollients. They contain oligosaccharides and amino acids. They are water soluble, so not appropriate for oil only creations like body butters, but exactly what we can use in a lotion.

They work on your skin by penetrating the outer layers of the stratum corneum and function as moisturizers. They also work as irritant mitigators, which makes them a great addition for facial products. In hair care products, they can penetrate the cuticle into the cortex of the hair, and help reduce cortex damage.

They also help you retain moisture in your skin and hair, so they have some humectant properties.

Occlusion:

This is the way we prevent TEWL (trans epidermal water loss) from our skin. We want to trap that water and prevent it from evaporating from our skin, and protect our skin from further damage while it repairs itself.

All the things discussed so far that offer emolliency- oils, butters, proteins-will trap in moisture and do double duty of making the skin feel softer. But there are other ingredients that we can use to occlude the skin called barrier ingredients.

The butters-cocoa, shea, mango-are great barrier ingredients. Each butter has its own benefits, but the key is that they stay on your skin. (Personally I’m very fond of shea butter, I prefer it almost always over anything else).

You can add aloe vera as gel, juice, or powder in about any quantity you want in your recipe. Aloe vera has trace electrolytes that may be beneficial to your skin.

There are other things that are great for occlusion, like beeswax and allantion, but for the purposes of our lotion we don’t need to cover them right now. Just think of everything that might be a physical Barrier on your skin in lotions and creams, body butter and lotion bars.

Humectants: What are humectants? They are hygroscopic ingredients that can draw moisture from the atmosphere to your skin. Ideally, we use them at 2-5% in lotions to make skin feel more moisturized. Currently there is some debate if using humectants in a non-humid climate such as the desert states is effective. It’s interesting for sure!

My favorite humectants are:

Glycerin-cheap, easy to use, and plentiful. It helps thicken your lotions a little. If you use it in surfactant based systems like shampoo, it’s fantastic as it’s actually will increase bubbles. Use at up to 5% is what she has written here, although Susan goes ont to recommend 2-3% as feeling “less sticky” and I’ve always used at around 10% with no problems. To each their own, I guess.

Silk peptides: Silk molecules are the same size as the protein molecules in your skin and hair, which allows silk to replace areas of damage and strengthen those areas. It makes your skin and hair silky soft and smooth with very little use. Use at about 2-3%

Propylene glycol: readily available, but I’ve never tried it. A lot of people don’t like it because it has a negative image as being a harmful chemical, although it’s actually very safe.

Sodium Lactate: derived from beets, this product is used to harden soap bars so I always have it around. At 3%, it has exfoliating properties as well as humectant properties. Win win! It also has some anti-acne properties, if that’s a concern for you. Works great in water based products like toners. It’s been my new favorite ingredient and I find I’m putting it in everything. 

So what will we use this time? Just silk and glycerin.

Modified “First” Lotion with Humectants

Oils Phase

15% oils (liquid oil, like olive, sweet almond, sunflower)

5% shea butter

6% Ecomulse or other complete emulsifer

Water phase

60% water

8% glycerin

2% silk peptides

Cool down phase

1% fragrance or essential oil

0.5%-1% preservative, as indicated on bottle

Weigh out your water phase ingredients, making sure to tare the scale inbetween each one, in a heat proof container such as a pyrex measuring cup and cover loosely with foil.  Measure out your oil phase ingredients, making sure to tare the scale in between each addition, and place both cups into a saute pan that contains about 1″ of water. Bring water phase ingredients to boil then simmer for 20 minutes. Oil phase ingredients should melt during this time and need to be stirred occasionally. When 20 minutes is up, combine both cups in a heat proof container and whisk. Voila! Lotion! Mix with stick blender for a few seconds until light and fluffy, then whisk a little more. Let cool until contents are just warm to touch. Add cool down phase ingredients and whisk again until well incorporated. Decant to pump bottle.

The best way I know to get lotion in a pump bottle is to use a funnel and a flexible silicone spatula for smashing it around in the funnel so it goes down. Susan at Point of Interest recommends putting your lotion in a piping bag, like icing goes in, and squirting it in the bottle that way. I haven’t tried it, yet, but if my lotion ever thickens up on me a lot before I can get it in the bottle I will keep that in mind for sure.

I’m sure you’re curious how to make a thicker lotion, like a cream, to use on elbows and feet. Here’s a recipe:

Oil Phase

10% oils (Olive oil is a great choice here, as it’s thick and rich with vitamins A, E, and D)

10% shea butter-you can use any butter like shea, mango, sal, or even cocoa butter.

8% coconut oil (Extra virgin kind, that’s solid at room temperature. NOT the fractionated coconut oil!)

7% Ecomulse or other complete emulsifier

Water phase

50% water

10% glycerin

3% silk peptides

Cool down phase

1% essential or fragrance oil

0.5-1% preservative

The directions are the same as for a lotion, except you mix it with the stick blender a little more and decant it into a jar instead of a bottle. A small, 4 oz Bell jar would work, or even a small jelly jar although there would be extra room at the top. If you want to get fancy and make this an awesome foot cream, add 5% (approx 5 grams for a 100g product) menthol crystals to the oils phase (keep your face out of the steam to avoid irritation) and you’ll have a nice tingly foot cream when it’s all done. Menthol crystals are easily available on Amazon or from Brambleberry and Bulk Apothecary. Lotioncrafters has started carrying them, too. You can also just increase the amount of essential oil up to 5% and use peppermint and camphor (if you have camphor).

That’s all I have for lotions… Be sure to ask questions if you have any!