This recipe is intentionally very simple. You can use it as a template to make your own custom-made creams. You can get different textures and effects on your skin by slightly changing the proportions of oil, water and emulsifier, using different vegetable oils, floral waters, water-based gels, and various active ingredients.

You can use volume measurements for liquid and dry ingredients, and have fairly consistent results, but if you want to reproduce a recipe exactly, use weight measurements for the dry ingredients. To make a basic fluid moisturizer you’ll need:

Ingredients (yield, approx. 100ml)

  • 10 ml Vegetable oil or butter (oil phase)
  • 82 ml floral water, infusion or aloe vera gel (aqueous phase)
  • 5 g. co-emulsifier (I use Olivem 1000 with very good results)
  • About 20 drops preservative (choose a broad-spectrum one, preferably certified as suitable for organic cosmetics; the one I use is called Cosguard)

And that’s it! You can of course add essential oils, scents, plant extracts, vitamins and whatever else fits your skin’s needs to make the moisturizer a bit more potent. The above ingredients will make a very basic moisturizer that will already have the benefits of the chosen oil and aqueous phase.

Tools needed:

  • 1 small bowl (stainless steel is ideal, it’s non-reactive, easy to clean, and it conducts heat/cold very quickly, but glass or porcelain are fine too – avoid plastic as it can leach toxic substances in the moisturizer during the heating process, or reactive metal such as tin or aluminum)
  • 1 small saucepan wide enough so the stainless steel bowl fits in it, with its bottom partially immersed in simmering water (to make a bain-marie)
  • 1 bowl, big enough for the moisturizer bowl to fit, filled with ice cubes
  • Measuring tools, or electronic scales
  • 1 small whisk, hand or electrical (I’m a lazy girl so I use a small electric one that’s actually a cappuccino foamer)
  • 1 small silicon spatula or a big syringe to transfer the moisturizer in the final container
  • 1 container for the moisturizer (pot, tube, bottle…)
  • Labels

Tools

NOTE: it is best to have tools used exclusively for making cosmetics, but if you don’t want to invest too much right away, you can use cooking utensils. Just make sure you clean them very well before and after using, and avoid using wood and plastic, because you wouldn’t want to risk making cream that smells like garlic, or eat salad with a cosmetic fragrance aftertaste.

Method:

  • Very important first step: sanitize all the equipment before use (bowls, measuring and mixing tools, container). I start by washing everything in very hot water with a squirt of dishwashing liquid, air dry or dry with a clean tea towel, and then wipe with 70° rubbing alcohol just before use.
  • Very important second step: wash your hands really well, clean the surface you’ll work on and put a couple of clean tea-towels on it to catch any messes.
  • Measure the oil and pour in the bowl.
  • Measure or weigh the emulsifier and put in the bowl.
  • Measure the aqueous phase (mineral or floral water, aloe vera gel…) and pour in the bowl.

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  • Put the bowl in the saucepan filled with water so the bottom of the pot is immersed, and heat over a medium flame.

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  • When the water simmers, lower the flame and heat up until the emulsifying wax has melted.
  • When the emulsifier is completely melted, remove the bowl from the pot (using a cloth or heatproof gloves to handle it of course, because it will be very hot).
  • Using the electric or handheld whisk, start by mixing thoroughly the melted/heated ingredients. The mix will become white and opaque, but it will still be very liquid.
  • Put the moisturizer bowl in the ice bowl to speed up the cooling process, and keep on whisking. The cream will thicken as it cools.

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  • You can now add the preservative and essential oils or organic fragrance. Just count the drops, and mix in using the whisk.

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  • You can now pour/spoon the moisturizer in the clean pot.
  • Label your creation (I usually put the main ingredients I used and the date) and enjoy!

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A word on conservation: Cosmetics made in optimal hygiene conditions will usually keep for 2 to 3 months. I’ve made creams stored in airless pumps that lasted a bit longer, but always use caution and common sense: if the cream gets moldy, separates, smells off or rancid, throw it away. Another word of caution: just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s harmless, so be careful when using essential oils, they are active ingredients that get absorbed by the skin and go in the bloodstream. Finally, stop using if you have any redness, discomfort or burning sensation.

Supplies: I buy my ingredients from this supplier: Aroma Zone They ship internationally, but their website is all in French (they have an English version but it’s very limited, it only covers the essential oils they sell). They also have fantastic resources, tutorials (again, all in French), and I’ve always been very happy with their service. They ship quite fast, they have good prices (and no I’m not sponsored by them in any way…) I also make my own oil macerations and floral waters (more to come about that), and buy some of my raw ingredients (oils, butters, clays) in local organic shops. I did a quick google search and found a few English-speaking online shops, based in the US, the UK and Australia. They all seem to have an OK selection but I can’t vouch for them because I haven’t tried them. http://www.theherbarie.com/ http://www.lotioncrafter.com/ http://essentialoilsonline.co.uk/index.html http://www.ofasimplenature.webeden.co.uk/# http://www.nccosmetics.com.au/home

Photos by the lovely Mara Pellizzari