Catherine Winter-Hébert

DIY: Make Your Own All-Natural Moisturizing Face Cream

filed under: DIY

cream, face cream, moisturizer, parabens, pthalates, coconut oil, olive oil, hydrosols, essential oils, rose, neroli, beeswax, carnauba wax, vegan cream, care products, body care

Image via Shutterstock

It seems like every other day, a new report gets shunted about online that lists all the horrible, harmful effects that ingredients in daily personal care products can wreak on our health. Parabens and phthalates are showing up in breast milk and body tissues; synthetic preservatives are polluting waterways… Just about everywhere we turn, the bad news bears peer around corners, admonishing us for the toxins we slather ourselves in. There is a way to absolutely ensure that the products we use are gentle on both our bodies and our environment, and that is to make our own.

Many naysayers will decry making products at home for a variety of reasons, from the possibility of homemade products going bad quickly to the negative stigma associated with being a bark-eating hippie slathering oneself with mashed avocado (which actually works amazingly well, fyi).

This recipe is a variation on the WildCraft Face Cream recipe from Mountain Rose Herbs. It’s a personal favorite, and very rich. As it’s such a thick, oil-based cream, it’s likely most effective for those of you who have dry skin that likes to suck up moisturizer as soon as it’s applied.

What You’ll Need:

  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Whisk(s)
  • Various stirring implements
  • Glass or stainless steel bowls
  • Glass or stainless steel saucepans
  • A double-boiler 
  • A blender or food processor
  • The ingredients listed below
  • A variety of clean lidded jars (sterilize these in a boiling water bath and then let them air-dry)
  • A spatula
Ingredients for making face cream

Image © Deb

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup organic olive oil
  • 1/4 cup organic sweet almond oil
  • 1/4cup organic grapeseed oil
  • 1/16 cup organic coconut oil
  • 1/16 cup beeswax pastilles (for a vegan version, use carnauba wax)
  • 1 cup organic hydrosol of your choice (I use rose hydrosol, and it smells gorgeous)
  • 1/2 cup organic aloe vera gel
  • 1/4 tsp vitamin E oil (a punctured capsule should be perfect)
  • 8-15 drops of essential oil (lavender, rose, orange, neroli, or sandalwood all work well)
Double boiler

Image © Moomin Molly

Prep:

STEP 1: Blend the oils together in a stainless steel or glass saucepan, and warm on very low heat; the oils should be warmed through, but not be allowed to really heat up.

STEP 2: In another saucepan or double boiler, also on low heat, heat the wax pastilles until they’ve melted completely.

STEP 3: Take your hydrosol and the aloe vera gel, and combine them gently in a bowl. I generally use a small whisk to blend these, but take care not to whip them up: just swish them together slowly.

STEP 4: If you have a double boiler, warm it on low heat to prepare it for the last step. If you don’t have one, you can place a pyrex measuring jug or a clean, thick glass jar in a heat-proof saucepan that’s filled with enough water to surround the glass to the halfway mark.

STEP 5: As this will make a fairly sizeable batch of cream, be sure to have several clean glass jars and lids ready to go. I find that I can fill 5 baby food jars (the ones that are around 4 oz/128 ml) 3/4 of the way full, but you can also use smaller lidded cosmetic tins (1 oz or 2 oz sizes) as well.

Pouring oil into blender

Image © Moomin Molly

Making the Cream:

STEP 1: Take half of the warmed oil mixture and pour it into the double-boiler you’ve pre-heated. Add about 1/4 oz of the melted wax, and stir gently. This mixture should be wholly liquid, so if you find that the wax is starting to harden or congeal, the water in the lower part of the double-boiler isn’t warm enough: raise the heat a little bit and stir softly until everything’s liquid again.

STEP 2: In either an upright blender or food processor, combine about 6 oz (3/4 cup) of the hydrosol/aloe blend with the vitamin E oil and the essential oil* of your choice.

*Note that you don’t have to add essential oils if you’d prefer a fragrance-free cream, but if you do decide to add them, either just use one scent (such as rose, lavender, etc.) or a combination of two that complement one another well (like jasmine/neroli, or rose/sandalwood).

STEP 3: If you’re using an upright blender, remove the lid, turn the blender on low, and pour the warmed oil/wax mixture slowly into the very center of the spinning mixture below, taking very special care that you pour it in a steady, slow, thin stream. This is to ensure that the ingredients emulsify smoothly and don’t clump up. If you’re using a food processor, divide the warmed oil mixture in half and get a friend to stand across from you and pour slowly and steadily at the same time that you do: this will allow the mixture to be divided equally.

The cream will look a bit weird until it starts to thicken, but the sound the blender blades make will change to a lower pitch as the ingredients get thicker and creamier. Turn off the machine and use your spatula to scrape around the inside of the blender/food processor bowl and around the blades. This will scoop up any errant bits and moosh it all together well. Once you’ve done this, pulse the machine a couple of times to mix it well one last time.

STEP 4: Use your spatula and spoons to decant the cream into your jars. Use the spatula for getting every last bit out of nooks and crannies, but use the spoons to actually transfer the cream into the containers, as you’ll have greater control. Label these jars clearly with the date you created them and the scent that you used. If you keep the jars refrigerated, they’ll last for up to a year. Should you happen to notice that the contents smell a bit “off”, or if you see any mould on the cream, discard it immediately.

 

Coconut Oil Cream

Image © Chiot’s Run

You’ll repeat this entire process for the second batch of your cream. Making your moisturizer in two batches like this is actually ideal, as you can create two different scents, if you’re so inclined. Feel free to experiment with different oil combinations, essential oil scents, etc. to see which work best for you. For example, the original recipe called for sesame oil instead of sweet almond, but that made me break out like crazy so I switched it out.

If you find that this cream is too rich and oily to use on your face, you can use it as a hand cream instead—for a hand salve, you’ll have far more options with regard to the EO scents that you choose, as the skin on your hands is much less sensitive than facial skin, and is less likely to break out or react negatively to oils like lemon, rose geranium, calendula, and such.

An avid permaculture gardener, locavore, and novice (but enthusiastic!) canner, Lana Winter-Hébert joins Inhabitat after spending the last decade working as a writer and event guru for non-profit/eco organizations. In addition to her work with this site, she writes features and blog posts for Vegan Cuts, Green Pigeon, and several event planning websites based in London, UK. Currently, Lana divides her time between writing, and doing collaborative projects with Winter-Hébert: the design studio she runs with her husband. Best described as “endearingly eccentric”, she spends any spare moments wrestling with knitting projects, and devouring novels by obscure Czech writers. A Toronto native, she has recently chosen to leave that splendid city in favor of a tranquil lakeside nook in rural Quebec, where she and her Sir co-habitate with two hand-raised sparrows that live in their writing-desk.

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11 Comments

  1. Émilie Bélisle-Daly July 26, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Hello Lana, I just made this cream with a few adjustments (no olive oil, replaced grapeseed oil passion fruit oil, etc.). It turned out beautiful and I am happy to have such a great, easy recipe for face cream. Next I will replace the rose water with distilled water as I find the scent a *little* strong, but overall so happy about this cream. The fact that it can be modified to adapt to each person’s preferences is fantastic, too! :)

  2. Vickibe April 29, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    If you are allergic to coconut what can you use in it’s place? I really want to make a great olive oil based face cream or lotion.

  3. LookGoodSmellGood April 5, 2014 at 6:24 am

    The requirements, the ingredients & the process is very thorough & meaningful….I will definitely try this… :)

    Thx Lana for sharing… :)

  4. jcbooth March 22, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    Automatically I find myself trying to convert the receipt from “cup measurements” to weight measurements. Do you know of any converter tool that will help with this quickly?

    Thanks!

    Jan

  5. Catherine Winter-Hébert Lana Winter-Hébert March 15, 2014 at 9:24 am

    That has happened to me as well. Making cream tends to take a few tries to get the process right: I’ve actually found that I prefer to use an electric mixer on its highest setting rather than a blender, and when I pour the liquid into the oil, I pour very, very slowly, in a stream that’s no more than a couple of mm wide (barely a trickle), right into the blades themselves.

    If you try another batch and have the same issue, please let me know!

  6. Jess Wishon March 14, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    My batch did not emulsify very well at all. I had a very thick cream and then about a quarter cup of excess liquid. Not sure what I did wrong.

  7. Catherine Winter-Hébert Lana Winter-Hébert February 24, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    When it comes to preservation and such, sure: preservatives and emulsifiers are needed to keep a cream like this shelf-stable and safe at room temperature for long periods of time. That said, much like food that hasn’t been filled with preservatives, it will remain safe and stable for a shorter period of time if kept refrigerated. Some people choose to use a beeswax + borax emulsifier in their creams, but I haven’t found it necessary for the small amounts that I’ve created, especially since they’re usually used up before they’d even dream of separating.

    This recipe was created by Rosemary Gladstar, one of North America’s foremost herbalists, and has been created by countless people around the world for many years, without any issues. Keeping things safe really just requires a bit of diligence with regard to hygiene, and common sense: make small batches with sterile equipment, keep the cream refrigerated, make sure hands are clean before scooping and applying, and discard if it separates or goes “off” in any way.

    I’ve been using this recipe for years with no negative results whatsoever. :)

  8. Stacy Gamble February 23, 2014 at 9:56 am

    With all do respect, you’re promoting a dangerous and overall bad formulation: You have water based botonic ingredients with no preservative, no heating and holding to kill bacteria and lack of an emulsifier to combine and stabilize the mixture of oil and water ingredients.

    Starting with the most important, any water based botonical such as aloe and hydrosols MUST be properly preservred (and no, essential oils are not preservatives, they’re antioxidants).Otherwise, a host of bacteria and mold will overtake your creation before you can even see it. Preservatives were created for your protecion, they’re not an evil company additive that’s been developed to harm you. Lack of a broad spectrum preservative can make you very, very ill.

    Heating and holding: again, with water based ingredients the formula but be heated to an adequate temperature and held to ensure unseen mold and bacteria is killed. No matter how sterile your environment, there are always unseen creepies that you do not want mixed into your formula.

    Lastly, unless you use an emulsifier to combine the water and oil ingredients you’re going to have a lumpy, separated mess. The mechanical mixing may emulsify it for a short time but it will soon separate.

    For your readers safety, please don’t knock preservatives then promote a dangerous formula that absolutly requires them .

  9. killu60 January 30, 2014 at 4:24 am

    How many ml is 1 cup?

  10. Bella1953 December 31, 2013 at 12:20 am

    Where can I find 2 oz. and 4 oz. Glass jars? I am looking for brown or blue glass.

  11. Lisa Drudge November 13, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    I made this today and the first part of my batch turned out perfect! The second very runny…not sure what I did. Is there anything I can do to try to firm it up a little bit? I appreciate any help you can give me.

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