I ran out of my usual lotion last week. I have been using St. Ives for years. I’ve enjoyed various formulas they’ve come out with. Generally speaking they use very mild scents and they’ve always been affordable. All natural they are NOT. I have branched out time and time again to find an all natural replacement for it but no formula has met my needs. My skin is sensitive and very dry. I use hand lotion obsessively. I am very picky about what it should feel like and how it should perform. I think everyone’s skin responds differently to moisturizers and so what works for me will not necessarily work for others.
When I got down to scraping the bottle of my St. Ives lotion I bought a replacement for it, once again telling myself that some day I would just try to make my own lotion. I had a neighbor once who said she and her mom make their own lotion every year and said it’s really easy. However, needing lotion RIGHT NOW TODAY THIS MINUTE I brought home a familiar formula of St. Ives called “Intensive Healing” and opened it up and slathered it on my dry legs and was instantly overwhelmed by the most potent fragrance – perfumey and strong enough to knock a horse out. This was new. They don’t usually have such obnoxious fragrances and usually the fragrances smell pretty natural. This scent that accosted me from my own skin reminded me of a certain cologne-stinking produce man I have a secret and strong dislike for.
Not okay. Not only that, even if I could stomach such a strong scent on myself, I am not okay with accosting other people with chemical fragrances that may give them headaches or worse – make them sick. So I hit the lotion isle at Rite Aid hoping to find one last bottle of my tried and true lotion. They didn’t have any. I read every lotion bottle on the shelf. Every damn one. I’m pretty sure I made the Rite Aid employees very nervous. The ingredients lists, even on the “natural” bottles, read like foreign languages. Partly this is due to the fact that most of the companies list ingredients like vitamin E in fancy-pants science lingo. Still, do I need all that crap in my lotion?
Remember: skin is the largest organ of your body and what you put ON it goes IN in it. Into to your system. Toxins enter your system easily through skin.
I complained about my lotion problem to my mom and she got all excited to try making our own. I love this about my mom. She is the greatest inspiration to me to make my own medicines and go the natural route. She brought me up that way. So we consulted our Rosemary Gladstar herbal recipes book and found she has a “perfect” lotion in it. Last night we made it.
What it has in it: Coconut oil, sweet almond oil, grapeseed oil, 8 vitamin E capsules (emptied), linseed oil (a tiny bit), beeswax (we used 1/2 ounce for this batch, the recipe says 1/2 to 1 ounce), filtered water, aloe vera gel, and some essential oil (grapefruit).
How did it turn out? It’s thick, which is what I like in a lotion. It smells like coconut, which I don’t like (though it’s a huge improvement on the nasty loud smelling bottle I have to ditch on someone who likes that kind of thing). It has a greasy feeling finish, which I don’t like at all.
How hard was it to make? Easy! It worked really well following Gladstar’s directions. It didn’t separate on us and it didn’t require any special equipment. Cleaning my blender and the bowl we used may require a trip through the scouring hot dishwasher to remove all trace of the beeswax but that’s a small price to pay.
Is it less expensive to make your own than to buy it? That is highly dependent on what oils you choose to use. It is also difficult to cost because this recipe called for a tsp of lanolin but we had to fork out $11 for a whole bottle of it. Stored properly the lanolin will last a very long time and we can use it for many batches (maybe as many as 10) which makes the cost difficult to determine. We also had to buy vitamin E in capsules, we only needed 8 of them but had to buy a whole bottle. That was another $10. I think if you use inexpensive oils you can make a very cheap lotion. While cheap is good when on a budget like we are, I insist on good quality so I’m willing to spend more for sweet almond oil. Buying bulk oils online is probably the best way to reduce the cost of making it.
How much does one batch make? We got a total of about 16 ounces of lotion.
I have two other books with lotion recipes in it and I also have a friend who makes lotion professionally who has offered to let me make some with her. My plan is to devise a master formula to meet my personal preferences and learn enough about how to adjust it so that I can make suggestions to others who want to try their hand at this but who may want a different sort of performance from their lotion.
Biggest question I need answered: what controls how greasy a lotion feels? The main ingredient in lotion is oil and obviously oil is grease – is it the amount of water that tempers the greasy feel? Or does the beeswax also temper it? Are there certain kinds of oils that are more or less greasy feeling?
I’ll report back when I’ve made my second batch.