Friday, January 23, 2015

surviving winter and soothing dry hands

This year for me winter is something to be survived. Maybe it's the lack of sunshine. Last winter was so much sunnier. Cold, cold, cold, but sunny. I like sunshine. When I look at the weather report, as I did this morning, and see that the next possible, somewhat sunny day won't be until next Wednesday... well, I don't have to tell you what my reaction was.

Anyway, my point is not to whine and complain. It's just to explain that this winter it's taking a little bit more of a conscious effort on my part to enjoy each day. Joy Lists, flowers, coffee, fragrant candles, good food... surround myself with beauty and with things I love and I feel a bit better.

paperwhite flowers

One idea that I keep coming back to is that I need to take good care of myself. Give myself time and space. Be gentle with myself. It's easy to forget about that, don't you think? One bit of care that I need in the wintertime is for my poor hands. They get so dry. The colder it gets outside the worse it is. My knuckles crack and bleed if I'm not careful. And I'm often not so careful. I'm too busy doing things with my hands. I don't want lotion on them when I'm doing things.

I like making my own natural products and have done so on and off for just about all of my adult life. Truth be told, though, when I made moisturizing creams/lotions in the past, it was not much of a success. Beeswax, lanolin, oils, water... the recipe was age old, but it was a little tricky and it was hard to keep the result from going bad or separating. This fall I noticed some easy looking recipes on Pinterest. I pinned the recipe from this blog and then one day decided I would finally try something similar. I used the same basic technique from that recipe, but I changed the ingredients to fit with what I had on hand. My first attempt turned out well (you may have seen it on Instagram) and so I made another batch. And then on Christmas morning I decided to make up a batch at the last minute to give to my mom later that day. The recipe really is quick and simple. I've been using it on my hands each night and it makes a big difference. When I whipped up another batch the other day (because I was running out), I figured I'd take a couple pictures and share the recipe with you.

The technique is simple. Use equal parts liquid oil and oil that is solid at room temperature. This last time I used a mixture of kukui nut and grapeseed as the liquid oils and coconut oil and shea butter as the solid, but feel free to substitute what you like or what you have on hand.

I used 1 TB of each oil. You don't have to worry about having exact measurements.

making homemade moisturizing cream

making homemade moisturizing cream

To fully mix the oils, gently heat them. You could use a double boiler. I used the microwave (do this slowly on low power with short increments). Eventually all of the oils will be integrated and it will look like this:

making homemade moisturizing cream

Next, chill the oils in the refrigerator to return them to a solid state. It will take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Once it's solidified simply whip them. How you do this doesn't matter. Use a stand or hand mixer, an immersion blender or a whisk (perfect when your batch is small like mine). It will look like cake frosting.

making homemade moisturizing cream

If you want a fragrance (and the added benefit of essential oils) now would be the time to add them. For this small batch use 10-20 drops of whatever oil or oils you prefer (my current cream is geranium). Once you've added the essential oil(s) whip the mixture again to thoroughly combine and then spoon it into a clean jar or canister.

It's fast. It's easy and it's adaptable. For my facial cream I used 2 TB of shea butter and left out the coconut oil. In one batch I used olive oil instead of the other liquid oils. Choose your oils based on their specific properties to address your own skin concerns or issues. I haven't tried this, but you could probably change the proportions of the solid/liquid oils to change the thickness of your cream. Want to learn more? These are some of my favorite resources:

Rosemary Gladstar's Books
The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood
Aromatherapy: A Holistic Guide by Ann Berwick
Mountain Rose Herbs (great place to purchase ingredients and lots and lots of info online including many recipes)

Do you make your own natural body care products? What resources do you use? What are some of your favorite recipes?

12 comments:

  1. I keep my christmas tin of lavender and lemon grass scented hand and body butter on the side table next to "my" chair and indulge in it liberally every evening after finishing the dinner dishes. No chapping. No cracked finger tips so far. This is really good stuff. Thanks, anne.

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  2. Thank you for sharing the recipe Anne. I really want to make more of my own cosmetics. Reading your Mum's comment above, her hand and body butter sounds delightful! I have that book by Valerie Ann Worwood and forgotten about it! I must have a look through it again. I use a shop in London called Baldwins for all my essential oil and herb needs.

    I am sorry that this winter is taking its toll on you Anne. At least we are at the other side of Christmas and nearing the return to the light! It sounds like you are doing some lovely things to counterbalance the dark and dismal days. I bet your house smells delicious with all the candles, oils and fresh flowers around you!

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    1. I hope you make some, Simone. And share on your blog. That shop sounds wonderful. I get some things locally at our food co-op, too.

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  3. I'm with you about winter and the need to consciously look for things to enjoy in these dreary days. Your joy list has really helped me do this, Anne. Thanks for the moisturizing cream recipe. My right thumb tip has been cracking. Ouch! xxx ~ Nancy

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    1. So glad you've been keeping Joy Lists, Nancy. Sorry to hear about your thumb. That can be so painful! Maybe you'll make some hand cream.

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  4. Anne, you completely inspired me and I am definitely to make some creams in coming February. Thank you for sharing and much love to you!

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    1. I hope you do, Aga!

      Sending love back!

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  5. What a fun winter project!
    Love making my own salves...steeping calendula and comfrey in the oil first for several weeks seem to make them extra enriching and soothing. :)

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    1. Ooh yes, I've done that too. Love the way the flowers look in their jar of oil. And comfrey is a miracle plant. Do you grow it? The leaves are supposed to be very good to add to compost.

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  6. Hi Anne. Thanks for the recipe. I use equal parts beeswax, coconut oil and almond or sesame oil to make lotion bars. I add lavender oil and I just love them. They are very greasy but they work wonders. I've had that Valerie Woodward book for years. It's great.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your recipe, too. Bet you could use them on your lips, too. I have some beeswax and I hope to make some lip balm with it. Wonder what the beeswax would be like added to my cream...

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