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Creams & Lotions – Recipes

It is so easy to make your own creams and lotion that once you start you will never look back. The advantages are huge; you get to control what goes on your skin, be way more eco-friendly and save a whole load of cash. You can make almost anything the cosmetic companies sell but without the palm oil, dodgy chemicals and weird colours. Though you can have all those too if you want.

Lotion and cream is basically a mix of oills,waxes or butters with water combined using an emulsifier. Lotions are thinner, cream more solid.

Do you really need to make a cream? Many times you can use an oil or butter neat. But sometimes they are just too oily.

Many commercial creams including E45 use mineral oil. That’s derived from the same gloopy black oil we use to make petrol.

ingredients

To make cream or lotion you will need

Oil, butters & waxes.
There are hundreds of vegetable oils. Different skins like different oils and you will have to experiment to find what is best for you. Generally speaking the richer the oil the heavier the cream, the more water you put in the lighter the lotion. There are hundreds of vegetable oils. Different skins like different oils and you will have to experiment to find what is best for you.  See my guide to oils here.

Water
There is much talk of using distilled water but I use tap.

Cooking thermometer
VERY useful .

Emulsifiers:
Water and fat do not naturally mix, you need to use an emulsifier.You have to add other ingredients to turn what is basically salad dressing into lovely thick cream. So in addition to oils and water you will need an emulsifier.

Preservatives
Optional. Oil on its own does not go off – there is no water for bacterial to feed on. Once you have added water to oil then it can. Now your creams are vulnerable to bacteria. Preservatives will help “keep” you r cream. I don’t use it as it can cause skin irritations. And I find cream without I less itchy on my skin. I have had a few pots of cream go mouldy but we are talking maybe 5 in the years I have been making my own creams. You can read up and buy preservatives here Aromantics

Pots
to put your cream in.

Notes On Emulsifiers

The most complex ingredient in cream is the emulsifier. The water and oils are simple enough but this is what makes them bind together.

There are a few completely natural emulsifiers  but they  do not give consistent results.
Most commercially used emulsifiers are manufactured. They are most often derived from coconut oil and palm oil. More recently, rapeseed has been used.
But some are produced from pig fats. Check what you buy.
I have tried a few with varied success BUT
A combination of VE Emulsifier, MF Emulsifier and Cetearyl Alcohol works every time and can be used to make a wide range of products from thick creams to thin lotions.

VE Emulsifier or Glyceryl Stearate is a vegetable-based emulsifier
Cetearyl Alcohol is a vegetable based emulsifying wax
MF Emulsifier or Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate  can be fermented from lactose (milk sugar)but more commonly comes  from nondairy sources such as cornstarch, potatoes and molasses.


Palm Oil
Please note that all the above also may be derived from or include palm oil. Be sure to buy from a good practice supplier. For example there should be something this note on Aromantics VE emulsifier “The Palm oil that is used in both in MF/VE emulsifiers comes from suppliers that are either members of the Round Table of Sustainable Palm Oil or a subsidiary company or who are members of FEDIOL which supports sustainability. FEDIOL is a European industry federation based in Brussels”.
You can read more about palm oil here.

 

Process

Heat the Fat Stage ingredients in a double boiler (or a metal pot on hot water) until above 75°C. Use a thermometer to check.

Boil the water add the MF emulsifier and other Water Stage ingredients to 75°C.

Take off heat. Now pour the Fat Stage into the Water Stage in a slow steady stream before they drop below 75°C.

Mix well – I use a hand blender.

Allow to cool. Whisk occasionally to achieve a nice creamy consistency. As the mixture cools it becomes thicker and more creamy. It will reach its thickest consistency when it has cooled down to room temperature.

When the temperature is below 40°C you can add active ingredients
perfumes or essential oils and other magical things to make you look years younger.

You can also add specialist ingredients to make for example sun tan lotion or self tan.

Put the Cream into jars and label.

Take Care

That everything you use is clean, very clean.
Make sure you have enough pots to store your cream in.
That you label it – and date it. Believe me you will forget!

Recipes & Kits

Here are some sample recipes.

Supermarket Cream (My recipe)

You can buy all these ingredient from the supermarket.  I cut the olive oil with the lighter almond oil because I find it rather heavy.
Makes One liter of cream – have a big pot ready!

Fat Stage

 

  • 20g Cetyl Alcohol
  • 70ml Almond Oil Tesco’s or Asian Shop
  • 30ml Olive Oil
  • 20g coconut oil Tescos or Asian Shop
  • Water Stage
  • 800ml water
  • 40g MF emulsifier
  • Fancy Aromatics RecipeTo be honest I think this recipe has way to many ingredients but I like this company, I have used their products many times and think that this will probably make a nice cream. It is also useful to have a recipe that lists by percentages.You can experiment and use different oils, or even less oils. Just make sure the percentages stay the same. For example you can cut the thistle oil and use 10% Apricot Kernal Oil.

    By percentage
    Fat Stage (above 75°C)
    2% Cocoa Butter
    3% Macadamia Nut Oil
    7% Apricot Kernel Oil
    3% Thistle Oil
    2.5% VE Emulsifier
    2% Cetearyl Alcohol

    Water Stage (above 75°C)
    4.5% MF Emulsifier
    69% Boiling Spring Water
    2% Glycerine

    Third Stage (below 40°C)
    1% Preservative 12 or Eco
    1% Vitamin E Simulated Natural
    2% NFF Complex
    1% Essential Oils of your choice

    From Aromantics

    Rich Tropical Delights Cream (My recipe)

    Much easier far fewer ingredients. I cut the olive oil with Almond because I find it rather heavy.
    Makes One liter of cream – have a big pot ready!

    Fat Stage

  • 25 g VE Emulsifier
  • 20g Cetyl Alcohol
  • 70ml Almond Oil
  • 30ml Coconut Oil
  • 20g Shea butter
  • 10g Cocoa butter
  • Water Stage
  • 800ml water
  • 40g MF emulsifier
  • Design Your Own
    You can adapt the mix of oils for the above recipes based on your personal preference.
    If you want to design you own cream from scratch, follow these guidelines…
    style=”font-size: medium;”>Emulsifiers 5-8%
  • Oils 12-20%
  • Water, Additives, and Botanicals to 100 %.

 

Trouble Shoot
Cream too thick? You cannot add more water once the mixture has cooled. This ruins the cream – it will not rub in. You will need to make a thinner lotion and mix your creams to achieve the desired consistency. You can add more oil and mix well. This of course makes your cream more oily.

Lotions

If you want a thinner cream add more water at the water stage.

Kits

If this is your first time making lotions I can also recommend the Aromantics cream making starter pack from www.aromantic.co.uk  It comes with everything you need including, sadly, 30 little plastic pots to put it in. All the ingredients were wrapped in plastic bags as well. Hmmm. On the plus side, the cream is really easy to make and they send you several different recipes.

Anti Aging, Sun Tan Lotion & Fake Bake
You can add  specialist ingredients to your base to make for example sun tan lotion or self tan.

Buy

Aromantics is a good and ethical supplier of ingredients but expensive. I buy a lot of stuff in bulk from other suppliers. Ebay is a good source. Prices vary so do shop around.

I store my creams in old jars but for display  I have bought some glass jars with metal lids.

Plastic Spoiler

Most plastic base ingredients come in plastic bags but I get huge amounts cream out of one small bag of ingredients so I consider it a worthwhile compromise.

Making Personal Care Products 

Its quicker then  trying to choose between a hundred different shampoos and it’s really simple, fun to do, so much cheaper  and  I get to control what goes on my  body, where it comes from and what environmental impact it has.

Lots more info here on  toothpaste and other products  
and making other stuff – here.

Making creams while travelling

You cannot carry a years supply of home made cream in your rucksack so here are some ideas about making your own home made creams in hotel bedrooms.

Kits
If this is your first time making lotions I can also recommend the Aromantics cream making starter pack from www.aromantic.co.uk  It comes with everything you need including, sadly, 30 little plastic pots to put it in. All the ingredients were wrapped in plastic bags as well. Hmmm. On the plus side, the cream is really easy to make and they send you several different recipes.

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Body Butter

One of the joys of living plastic free is that you have all kinds of useful base ingredients in the cupboards so should you OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAever forget anything, like a birthday say, you can easily remedy the situation with this fantastic bodybutter / intensive repair cream, any old guff to suit cream…. in minutes!

Here’s my recipe for super-fast, super-creamy body butter

60 grams coconut oil – hard
60 grams shea butter

5 grams oil – any oil

Mash it up with a spoon then whisk with a hand whisk to make lovely,fluffy body butter.

I Never Forgot Essential Terry’s Chocolate Orange Love Mousse.

Add some Cocoa and some Sweet Orange essential oil to the body butter

Because this is meant to be used fast, I put it in a hand decorated, compostable, paper/PLA pot from Vegware. Being paper, these are easy peasy to draw on so you can quickly personalise your pot. Few hearts and kisses later, pop the lid on, top with a card and tie up with hairy string. For sure the drawings could have been better but I only had a Sharpy, a fluero highlighter and time was against me.

NB go steady on the cocoa, too much and there is a chance you will end up looking like a politically incorrect, 70’s song and dance troupe. This can work against you in the romance department.

I Never Forgot Rose Essential Hand Repair.

Something for Mum? Here I added some colour and rose essential oil to make. I put this is one of my posh pots – glass with a metal lid….classy!

Base ingredients

I love aromantics and buy most of my stuff from them but there are loads of good guys out there

You can get Coconut oil locally

Containers

Pots, bottles and closures

 

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Coconut Oil

Is a hard oil which has a very low melting point.
When the weather gets warm it will get liquid.

I use it….

to remove eye make up and clean crusty eyes.
as a conditioner. I have very oily hair so I rub it on my hair before showering, leave for 5 minutes then shampoo off. Afterwards my hair is lovely and silky. Village boy has very dry hair so he applies a little after showering. His hair is nice and smooth.
as a general moisturiser. Just slap it on, it is nice and light.
in my homemade creams
as an after sun treatment use it neat or with a few drops of lavender essential oil to help heal sun damage
as a lubricant with these biodegradable condoms

More

Other people use it to do rude things, for cooking and lots of other stuff.

Buy

I buy mine great big glass jar at Kadims, the Asian Supermarket on Blacker Road Huddersfield. You can also get it in a glass bottle from Tescos and of course on line. You can get organic coconut oil from the Half Moon Health shop in Huddersfield.

NB Not quite plastic free as the lid is plastic lined, but as close as you will get.

Buy Online

Biona Org Odourless Coconut Oil 610 ML x 1
Biona Org Odourless Coconut Oil 610 ML x 1
£10.00
Amazon Products

Being committed to local shopping, I prefer to buy that way whenever possible. I would encourage you to do the same. One of the joys of living plastic free is mooching round the local shops seeing what you can source. But sometimes you can’t buy local so I have put together an Amazon catalogue.

Yes we do get an affiliation fee for this, and no we are not entirely happy with Amazons recent history. However, we have always found their service to be good and their packaging usually compostable.

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Oils, lotions & creams Index

Fats and oils are used to keep the skin supple and prevent moisture evaporation. Many oils and waxes can be used neat such as coconut oil.
Or they can be mixed with water as a cream or lotion.
They can be harvested from plants and animals.
Read more about fatty acids HERE

The oils used in creams/balms are usually vegetable derived though I suppose you could use lard if you wished (!)

Types Of Oil, Wax Or Butter
They come in a variety of forms under the following headings – but it is a rough guide only.
Liquid Oil – never solidifies
Solid Oil – firm when cool but has very low melting point so sometimes it may be counted as an oil i.e. Coconut oil
Butters – a solid oil. Has a high melting point. Rather confusing. Milk butter for example acts more like a solid oil, while Cocoa butter is more like a wax.
Waxes – very hard-of a candle (wax), like consistency. Bees wax for example.

Which One?

There are hundreds of vegetable oils. Different skins like different oils and you will have to experiment to find what is best for you.
You don’t need that many. I can make everything I need with a few oils. I have listed them in order of hardness. However some liquid oils can be more oily than solid oils. Castor oil (liquid) is the thickest oil i know and can only be used mixed with others where’s coconut oil (semi solid) is very light

Almond oil a lighter oil. Can be bought in big supermarkets, Asian shops and online
Rapeseed oil – a lighter oil with quite a strong scent but U.K. sourced. Read More
Olive oil – a richer oil can sometimes be bought on tap in the U.K. Used for cooking and cosmetics.read more
Castor oil – a very thick oil – add it to lip balm. Can often be bought in chemists.
Coconut oil– a semi solid light oil which has a very low melting point. Use neat as for everything from hair care to make up removal or add to creams and balms. Can also be used for cooking. Read more 
Shea butter – a rich creamy butter with a surprisingly low melting point. Good for making cream and lotions. There’s an  introduction to shea butter here
Cocoa butter – a hard wax which has a high melting point. Use neat as a lip balm or add to creams and balms.
Bees wax – a very hard oil wax has a very high melting point add to creams and balms to make them firmer.

Using Them Neat
Many oils and waxes can be used neat.For example I use
Coconut oil for moisturising, removing eye makeup, cleansing and massage:
Cocoa Butter or bees wax – instant lip balm, deep mousturising treatment for nails:
Shea Butter deep moisturising, barrier cream.

Combining Oils & Waxes
Sometimes a wax is just too hard and an oil too liquid. Oils and waxes can be combined to create a more usable product. Examples would be combining a hard wax like cocoa butter with a softer oil like coconut. these are my favourites:
Body Butter
Lip Balm

Cream & Lotions

But still there are times when oils are are just too… oily. In this case you need to dilute them using water. As Water and oil don’t mix you will also need to add an emulsifier. The end result is cream or lotion.
To make cream you will need the following
Fatty acids of your choice- oil, butters & waxes.
Water
Emulsifiers: Water and fat do not naturally mix, you need to use an emulsifier.
Preservatives
Pots to put your cream in.

Active Ingredients
The cream or oil can be used as a carrier medium for active ingredients such as…
Suntan Lotion– add Microfine Titanium Dioxide OR Zinc Oxide to make a suntan lotion
Self Tan– Add DHA to make a fake bake that really works .
Magic, age defying, cellulite busting potions- scour the internet for all the gubbins, the AHAs, enzymes and crushed pearls that are supposed to grant instant beauty and add them too. I can’t promise results, but it’s fun experimenting.

RECIPES

Here are some cream and lotion recipes

Containers
Once you have made your creams and balms you will need to store them. You can find a range of pots, bottles and closures here.

More

For the last 5 years now I have been I have been using home-made cream on face and body with no side effects. The plastic pots from the original kit have been reused a number of times. In fact they are still in use. They are great for traveling.

Buy 

Check here or visit individual posts for purchase details.

PLASTIC SPOILER
Some of the above will come plastic packaged. As I get huge amounts  out of one small bag of ingredients so I consider it a worthwhile compromise. It still represents a huge decrease in plastic consumption.

Making Other Personal Care Products Hairspray featured

Its quicker then  trying to choose between a hundred different shampoos and it’s really simple, fun to do, so much cheaper  and  I get to control what goes on my  body, where it comes from and what environmental impact it has.

Lots more info here on making your own personal care products

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Toner – skin

I have long had the complexion of a teenager – all spots and grease. While in India this situation got a whole lot worse. In desperation I made myself a face wash out of apple cider vinegar. I normally use this to make a conditioning rinse for my hair so I figured that’s what’s good for the clogged up hair might work for the blogged pores. It works – it really does.

Here’s my recipe

2 parts Apple Vinegar

3 parts water

1 drop of lavender oil for every 2 ml water

Shake well before use.

 

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Soap

I use soap to

  • wash my body I don’t like using soap on my face so I cleanse with oil and water.
  • instead of shampoo.
  • washing the bath and other household cleaning chores.

Making Soap

Soap is made from lye, oils or fats (animal or vegetable) and water.

Saponification

When these three are mixed together a chemical process called saponification takes place. The end result is soap

In the olden days soap makers used lye obtained from wood ashes. Find out how, here.

Modern day soap makers use Sodium hydroxide (NaOH), also known as lye and caustic soda. This is made from salt and is very caustic See how that is made here.

History

In the olden days making soap was a labour intensive process. There were plenty of animal fats but making lye took forever. And it wasn’t very reliable. Then in 1791 French chemist Le Blanc discovered how to make Soda Ash from salt. Soap got much easier and cheaper to make and the great unwashed could finally afford a bar in every home.

How does it work

Alkaline & Organic Soils

Soap is alkaline which means it will work well  with organic soils ( dirt). Alkaline emulsify grease.  Fatty acids are normally insoluble which is why they cannot be cleaned using water alone. The alkaline breaks down fat making them dispersable in water. Read more here

Soap & Germs

But folk were not just cleaner but safer too. Soap does actually kills germs but it does a good job of physically removing them. 

Whats in YOUR soap

Here are some of the things you might find in your soap.

sodium tallowate  is from animal fat usually from cows

Sodium lauryl sulfate (commonly known as SLS)  and Sodium laureth sulphate and sodium laurel sulphate also attract dirt so work in the same way as soap but they create more lather. This is the main reason they are added – to create lots of lovely lather.  They are a known skin irritant. Internet claims that they cause cancer are unproven.

Synthetic fragrance  – which may contain DEO a phthalate used as a solvent and fixative. Despite the general bad press about phthalates this one is considered safe.

Palm Oil and Palm Kernel Oil (PKO) are used in soap making  because they make the soap more bubbly and result in a harder bar.

Palm oil –  comes from Malaysia and Indonesia. They have cut down hundreds of acres of rainforest to make way for huge plantations of palm oil. This has impacted adversely on the habitat of the orangutang  a now endangered species. You can find out more about it and why we minimise our use of palm oil, here .

Buying Soap

Bar Soap

Soap Flakes

I don’t buy soap wrapped in plastic.I don’t even buy soap wrapped in boxes – there’s no need for it. I buy soap loose.

There are a lot of artisan soap makers producing high quality sustainable soaps. You will find them for sale in health food shops and on Etsy.

Or you could make your own. Read this from Jen of Make Do And Mend Life

Here are some recipes for making Castille Soap

 

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Fake-bake plastic-free

Every year they, the fashionistas, say that pale is interesting – well up here in the windswept north of England where the sun don’t shine,  pallid is the norm and we hate it.

So refusing to bow to the indignities of our location we paint our selves with bisto and draw lines on our legs with eyeliner – no sorry that was the war. We stain ourselves brown with self tanning lotion.

But that comes in a plastic bottle and you know what I think about plastic bottles, so I make my own.

Home made self tan 

Add self tanning additive DHA to a base cream.

As taken from the aromantics website – they are the guys I buy my DHA from

A Self-Tanning Agent, DHA is a natural substance derived from the bioconversion of glycerol extracted from Palm or Rapeseed Oil. DHA is also present in the human body. As a consequence, the risk of an allergic response is very low. The result of using DHA is a natural looking brown or golden hue to the skin, without exposure to the sun. The induced tan provides photo-protection against UVA radiation. To use, dissolve in a little cold water and then add while the product is under 40°C. Add 5-8% to Self-Tanning Preparations and 0.5%-3% to Sun Screens. The raw material needs to be kept dry, away from light and in the fridge. NB pH needs to be under 5.5. Test your product with Litmus Paper and either add Lactic acid, Citric acid or Ascorbic acid to reduce the pH, if necessary.

It works – though you might want to play around with the percentages – the first batch I made was rather strong for my  white, white skin.

I have added this to my own home made lotion but I see no reason why you couldn’t add it to a bought lotion. However making your own is really easy – for more details click here.

You can also add it to your home-made suntan lotion to get a golden glow while NOT burning.

NB the DHA comes in a small plastic tub. You can make loads of the stuff from one tub. So while the base ingredients come packaged in plastic this represents a massive reduction in plastic consumption as one small tub replaces a number of bottles.

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lip balm

Well looks like winter is finally here – again – and the need for a good lip balm has never been greater. Needless to say I take issue with the plastic tubes and pots that commercial balms are packaged in – especially as they are used only once then thrown away. So I make my own.

1 tablespoon beeswax pellets or olive oil flakes
1 tablespoon roughly chopped shea butter
1 tablespoon grated cocoa butter
1 tablespoon sweet almond oil
1 tablespoon castor oil
Melt the whole lot together in a bowl in a pan of hot water. Mix and pour into little pots (from here or other online stores) to set.

The end result is a really nice, very effective lip balm.

Pots and ingredients can be bought on line from www.aromantic.co and other companies.

However if like me you work out doors, digging mud, applying lip balm from a pot with grimy finger is not ideal. So I refill my old lip balm tubes – you will need to wash them out and rewind them first – obviously. Sometimes you have to push the base plate down a little before they will wind back.

Or you can buy new, empty tubes from here or  www.aromantic.co

Filling the tubes is fiddly and a small funnel helps. small funnelsYou can get these metal ones here.

 

Mouth diameter is 3.2cm Spout diameter is 4mm Inner spout diameter is 3mm Total height 2.8cm

NB

One more advantage to making your own balm is not being poisoned! In addition to the synthetic preservatives and flavours, white petrolatum, the basis of many shop bought balms, is derived from petrol. Yuk. Every time you put it on your lips you ingest a little – make your own and you know what you are eating.

Plastic alert – most of the products will come plastic packed but you will ultimately be cutting your plastic consumption.

Find more homemade makeup and other stuff here