It all started innocently enough… with an article about the Environmental Working Group’s study on kids and sunscreen. As I possess both of those things, I was curious. One thing led to another and soon I was looking up ALL our products in their extensive database, Skin Deep. I am a big fan of the EWG and their efforts to demystify information about toxins in our environment. I’m also a big fan of databases, so Skin Deep was perfect for me. Maybe too perfect. Down the rabbit hole I went, tossing out shampoos, lotions, and makeup along the way. This is not to say I went “no poo” or started wearing patchouli, but over the past year I have radically changed what we apply to our skin and hair in this house. Thanks in part to an excellent book, No More Dirty Looks, that outlines the history of the cosmetics industry, the primary toxins in our products, and how to avoid them, I streamlined what I actually buy and started making some things myself.
There is a wealth of information and recipes on the web for DIY cosmetics, but let’s face it – many of them are either too complicated (calling for ingredients more suited to science experiments than organic beauty products) or result in the cosmetic version of clothes you sewed yourself when you’re just not that good at sewing. They do the job, but are a little off. Or some just don’t do the job. Like DIY mascara.
But lotion is a different story. I had a hard time finding something I liked that rated lower than a 3 (moderate hazard) and was game to try a recipe. For awhile, I was just using coconut oil – which I loved – but left me feeling like a macaroon. Lotion is something you use almost every day and your skin is your biggest organ, so it seems logical to try not to slather chemicals all over it on a near constant basis. Just sayin’. Plus, my youngest daughter has sensitive skin and I wanted to try making something she could use, too. The answer came from Pure Natural Diva, a website devoted to non-toxic living. This recipe uses only 5 basic ingredients and can be made in 20 minutes. Here’s how:
HONEY CITRUS BODY BUTTER
STEP 1:Gather your ingredients. You will need:
2 Tablespoons of Beeswax (You can buy cosmetic grade beeswax from Amazon – the pellets are easier to work with than the blocks).
1/2 Cup of Grapeseed Oil
1 Capsule of Vitamin E Oil
2-3 Tablespoons of Distilled Water
10 Drops of Citrus Essential Oil – or to preference
STEP 2: Combine the grapeseed oil, beeswax and vitamin E oil and heat until the beeswax has just melted. You can either do this in a double-boiler on the stove, or in a pyrex bowl in the microwave (2 minutes).
STEP 3: Aerate! Using a hand mixer, beat the oils on high while adding the distilled water a little bit at a time. After a few minutes, a curious transformation will take place:
The mixture will turn from oily to milky! You can control the thickness of your lotion by how much water you add, but the recommended amount is 2-3 Tablespoons. Once you have achieved your desired consistency (after about 5 minutes of beating) add 10 drops of whatever essential oil you choose (I tend toward lemon). Turn off the mixer and let the lotion sit for 15-20 minutes before putting it into the container of your choice.
It’s that easy and makes roughly 1 cup of lotion. Although it is recommended to store the lotion in the refrigerator (which is nice in the summer), I have kept it in my bathroom for up to 2 months without it spoiling. This winter, when it is really dry, I suspect we will use up each batch in well under a month. It’s cheaper than any lotion I like and I know exactly what’s in it.
I must add that the success of this endeavor has been somewhat of a gateway drug for me. Just last week I was boiling up flax seeds to squeeze through knee-high panty hose on my way to making a hair product that didn’t turn out so well on the first try – more on that later. And my friend, Alexa Wilding, who has her own alchemical kitchen of potions loaned me her copy of Pratima Raichur’s book, Absolute Beauty, which is chock full of recipes made from ingredients you should have in your kitchen (if you don’t already). “Hurricane weekend” was spent mixing up powders and oils – the perfect thing to do in your kitchen when you don’t actually feel like cooking.
Lotion is easy. Believe me, it’s the hair products that are a challenge! Any advice?