How to Make Your Own Herbal Body Cream

When I first started making soap, people asked me about natural skin care. I tried a few recipes and some of them worked, but some of them–well–not so much. I came across a hand cream recipe that looked good, though when I tried to make it, it came out greasy and often separated. Of course, the original recipe had me using paraffin wax and mineral oil. I knew there had to be a better way.

Choosing Your Ingredients

The oil

I changed the oil in the original recipe to olive oil, but that was a bit too oily. I tried coconut oil, but some people have allergies to coconut. So finally, I made up a combination of grapeseed oil, sunflower and safflower oil. Grapeseed contains a great deal of antioxidants  and sunflower and safflower have vitamins and minerals. Vitamin E is available in the highest quantity in these oils. You could also use sweet almond oil, hazelnut or macadamia nut. All of these have different properties but are similar.

The wax

You’ll also need wax. I’ve used soy wax and beeswax, though any wax should work. You may have to tweak the recipe since all waxes are different – some harder, some softer. Try the recipe (below) and then decide if you need more or less of the wax you’re using. It’s worth mentioning that beeswax can vary by time of the year and different flowers the bees are working with, so you’ll need to be aware of that too.

The water

You can use just about any type of water. I like rain water, though well water or distilled would work too. You can use infused water, like a tea, to get the compounds out of a plant you might be working with. I have used chamomile tea, aloe water (aloe leaves boiled in water, then strained), mint tea and even coffee.

Emulsifier

The last ingredient you’ll need is borax, which is a type of salt. It acts as an emulsifier and natural preservative. If you purchase a large box at your local grocery store it is cheap and can be used for other things like homemade laundry detergent and homemade dishwasher detergent.

Additional Ingredients

Items that you can add in small amounts are butters, like mango butter, shea butter or cocoa butter.  For this recipe I’d add no more than a teaspoon and melt it with your oils. You could also add hemp seed oil or Vitamin E from a capsule. Just stick a hole in a capsule and squeeze it out. Essential oils are great for adding scent and healing properties. Try lavender or tea tree. These should be used in very small amounts, like 10 drops or less. Let your nose be your guide. You could also use a powdered pigment as a coloring agent, but it would have to be very small amounts, like 1/16th of a teaspoon (yes, really!) and it needs to be mixed in oil to get all the lumps out. I don’t bother with color – my cream speaks for itself.

Herbal Homemade Body Lotion Recipe

Remember, you may need to adjust this recipe a bit depending on your oil and wax.

  • 1 cup oil
  • enough wax in the oil to bring it to 1¼ cups
  • ½ cup water
  • ⅛ teaspoon borax
  • any additional ingredients and essential oils

The Process

  1. Place your oils and wax in a heat proof container. I use a glass measuring cup that can handle high heat. Microwave on high for a minute, then check. You’ll probably need 3 minutes. Alternatively, you can place a stainless steel bowl over a pot of boiling water for a makeshift double boiler, melting your oils and waxes in it. Either way, the mixture needs to get very hot, almost to boiling. If any wax remains unmelted, you can stir it and it will melt. Add any butters, like shea butter, to the hot oil and continue to melt.
  2. In another container, heat the water to boiling. Add the borax and stir. This mixture needs to be kept very hot as well. Use a towel or oven mitt when handling.
  3. When you have both mixtures hot and melted, slowly pour a small amount of the water into the oil. Be careful as this can bubble and come to the top. Keep stirring in the water until it’s all incorporated. It should turn to a creamy consistency. If it doesn’t, or if it separates, don’t panic. It just means that one or the other wasn’t hot enough. Keep stirring for a few minutes and then use my soap making trick – an immersion blender. It’s the only way to get it creamy if it separates or is too cool. Blend for about 5 minutes, possibly less. You’ll notice it begin to thicken up and turn creamy. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a whisk or a hand blender, but be aware that they could add extra air. 
  4. When it’s blended and creamy, add a few drops of your essential oil. Stir and sniff. Add more if desired. I use about 10 drops for this size batch. When the desired consistency and scent is achieved, transfer to clean containers. I’ve been using small repurposed baby food jars. They are a nice size to dip your fingers into and the tops can be painted so they look nice.

Other uses

This is primarily a hand cream, but with a little imagination, it can be used for other things. Add aloe water and lavender essential oil for an after sun cream. Use arnica infused oil for a bruise cream(Note: Don’t use arnica on open wounds or internally, as it can be poisonous if used in this way!) Add ginger, turmeric and hot pepper for an arthritis cream. Use mint tea and rosemary essential oil for a foot cream. Add tea tree and lavender essential oil for a cut and scrape cream. And my favorite, add cocoa powder and cocoa butter for a chocolate scented hand cream!

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