All skin creams are based on a combination of melted waxes, oils, and scented waters, which must all be at a similar temperature.
Unlike ointments, creams blend with the skin and have the advantage of being cooling and soothing while at the same time allowing the skin to breathe and sweat naturally. They can, however, deteriorate quite quickly and are best stored in dark airtight jars in a refrigerator.
Small quantities of such extra ingredients as tinctures, powders, and essential oils can be added to a cream before or after it is put into jars. Adding an essential oil, as 1 ml tea tree oil to 100 ml of cream, counters mold growth and lengthens shelf-life.
Spooning creams into jars is an acquired skill. It is best to start with a small spoon and to use a knife around the inside edge to remove air pockets. Be sure to use a wide mouth jar as some creams will be too hard to remove afterwards. If this happens, reheat gently.
Always label and date the preparations. Keeping a record of each recipe and its success or failure is a good idea as well.
Since perishable ingredients are involved, refrigerate creams and use within a few weeks. To prevent the addition of bacteria during use, be sure the hands are clean before dipping into the cream.
Herbs Commonly Used in Creams
- Aloe Vera sap is soothing and healing.
- Avocado is high in oils and nutrients, making an excellent skin food.
- Borage is good for dry, sensitive skin.
- Calendula is healing, especially for rough or damaged skin.
- Chamomile is gentle and soothing and softens, as well as whitens, skin.
- Comfrey is healing and soothing, containing allantoin, a protein which speeds up cellular renewal.
- Cucumber is a good cleansing agent and toner, as well as being soothing and healing.
- Dandelion contains a rich emollient useful in cleansing creams for dry, mature, and sallow skin.
- Elderflower is a good overall tonic for all skin types. It also softens, smooths wrinkles, fades freckles, and soothes sunburn.
- Fennel is cleansing and soothing. Crushed seeds can be added to face packs.
- Houseleek is healing, softening, and soothing.
- Ivy relieves sunburn and helps to disperse trapped fluids and toxins in the fight against cellulite.
- Lady’s Mantle is healing and soothing for sensitive or rough hands, and makes a good astringent for large pores.
- Lavender is healing and a gentle cleanser and tonic for all skin types.
- Lemon is an astringent that restores the skin’s natural acid balance.
- Linden blossoms soothe and soften and are good for deep cleansing.
- Marshmallow is a healing softener for dry, chapped hands and for sunburn.
- Nettle is a deep cleanser, particularly good for oily skin.
- Orange Flower is an excellent skin tonic, helping to restore the skin’s acid balance. It is also good for dry skin and broken capillaries and stimulates cell replacement.
- Parsley is a good conditioner for dry, sensitive, and troubled skin.
- Peppermint is a stimulating astringent that clears the complexion.
- Rose has a soothing, gentle, cleansing action that refines and softens the skin.
- Rosemary is an invigorating tonic and antiseptic which boosts circulation and deep skin cleansing.
- Sage is a cleansing, stimulating astringent which tightens large pores.
- Thyme is a gentle stimulating and antiseptic cleanser.
- Violet is a gentle, soothing astringent.
- Watercress, as an expressed juice, can help clear blemishes.
- Witch Hazel is soothing and astringent. Distilled witch hazel contains 15% alcohol.
- Yarrow is a healing and cleansing astringent.
- 30 g dried herb (75 g fresh)
- 150 g emulsifying wax
- 75 g glycerine
- 80 ml water
Melt the emulsifying wax in a glass bowl set in a pan of boiling water or use a double boiler. Add glycerine, water, and the herb. Stir and simmer for 3 hours. Strain the mixture through a wine press or jelly bag and stir slowly, but continuously, until it cools and sets. With a small knife or spatual, place the set cream into dark glass jars. Tighten the lids and label. Store in the refrigerator immediately.
Waxes are generally melted over a low heat. Oils are warmed and beaten into the wases. Then the heated water is dribbled into the blended wax and oil and the mixture stirred until cool. This takes about ten minutes. If the process is rushed, the oil and water may separate.
The proportions that govern consistency are easy to adjust. For a firmer cream, add more beeswax. For a softer cream, add more oil. Adding more water will make it lighter and fluffier, but it will also encourage the ingredients to separate more easily. Adding such mucilaginous herbs as marshmallow will make a cream spongier.
Glycerin and Rosewater Cleansing Cream
- 4 tablespoons lanolin
- 2 fluid ounces almond oil
- 1 tablespoon glycerin
- 1/8 teaspoon borax
- 3 tablespoons rosewater (or any herbal infusion)
- 1 teaspoon zinc oxide ointment
- 6 drops essential oil of rose
Melt the lanolin. Gently heat the almond oil and glycerin. Slowly pour the oil and glycerin mixture into the lanolin, beating constantly.
Dissolve the borax in the warmed rosewater and add gradually to the lanolin and oil mixture, beating constantly. Make sure all the ingredients are about the same temperature when they are mixed together or the mixture may curdle. Set aside to cool.
When cool and creamy, beat in the zinc oxide and rose oil. Spoon into prepared jars and label.