One thing I have been doing for a while now is making my own cosmetics. I have not had a need to buy hand creme, body lotion, face moisturiser, face scrub, lip balm, soap, liquid soap, foot creme etc for more than a year.
Setting up was a little expensive. In order to have the flexibility to experiment with different ways of making the various cremes and lotions, it is necessary to have bottles of essential oils, base oils, emulsifiers, waxes, hydrosols and other fascinating ingredients. I source all of my ingredients from New Directions and The Sydney Essential Oil Company, both of which provide email newsletters.
Two books I have relied on to learn techniques and for aromatherapy based fragrances for the lotions an oils are Valerie Ann Wormwood’s ‘The Fragrant Pharmacy: A complete guide to Aromatherapy and Essential Oils” and Carolyn Stubbin’s “Do It Yourself Pure Plant Skin Care”. While I do occasionally use other books, I come back to Wormwood and Stubbin every time I make anything – these books have been invaluable. If you want to try making your own products, these two books are all you need to get started.
As for equipment, while it is possible to buy sepcialised things, I just use kitchen implements for the most part. For hygeine, I have a separate set which only gets used for cosmetics. This includes a stainless steel saucepan, two 500ml pyrex jugs, a pestle and mortar, pyrex bowls for measuring ingredients, along with two themometers, two 100ml measuring vials (these come from The Sydney Essential Oil Company and look very sceintific!). I also have a range of pipettes, and drippers to measure very small amounts of essential and other oils which are used in small quantities.
The basis of most cremes is a simple emulsion of oils and water. The trick is to learn how to keep the creme from separating, and this will depend on the proportion of water to oil, as well as temperature. Stubbin provides an excellent step by step guide to making an emulsion.
At the moment I am using a face treatment oil, which is a blend of oils, in place of a moisturiser. This works very well for my skin.
I’ve also made balms for specific purposes, which involves mixing a combination of waxes oils over heat. Wormwood provides a great guide to various essential oil combinations which can be applied to treat common ailments, including charts that indicate how specific essential oils are best used.
All of the skin products I make (and in the two books I mention) use entirely natural ingredients. It’s good to know what I am putting on my body. One of the things I would like to to learn when we move onto our new property is how to extract the essential oils from plants I grow in my own garden. This will be a whole new and exciting phase of making my own lotions.