A Beautiful Floral Facial Oil

One of my favorite DIY blogs is Marie Rayma’s blog Humblebee & Me. She has a beautiful approach to DIY, creating products for herself and her friends for the joy of it, and never selling. Because she does not sell, she can also go into discussions of the healing benefits of certain products, and she tends to provide recipes that make a reasonable amount of product (for example, five tubes of lip balm instead of fifty).

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She recently posted a recipe for a facial oil serum based on mixing her favorite, argan oil, with evening primrose oil to help heal and prevent hormonal acne. Now, I’d looked at evening primrose oil for that same reason, although I don’t use argan oil. I decided to try blending it with my preferred oil: rose hip. I finally got my order of fresh rose hip oil and a bottle of evening primrose from Mountain Rose Herbs and have been using my oil blend of fifty-fifty rose hip to evening primrose for a few weeks now. It is a heavier oil than rose hip alone and took some getting used to. It also has a bit of a deep-fryer scent to it.

To remedy that, I decided to add some skin-regenerating essential oils, inspired by True Nature Botanicals Face Oil. Now, I love the scent of their oil, but the particular blend skews higher in oleic acid than I like. The oil itself is quite dear, but the ingredients are not a whole lot cheaper than the finished oil itself. That said, the formula is not what I would consider ideal. So I found an Etsy seller who would sell me small amounts of precious floral oils.

I blended 1/16th of an ounce each of jasmine, rose, vetiver, and neroli essential oils, along with ten drops of frankincense essential oil into my bottle of rose hip oil, which had about 3.5 oz. left in it. This I mixed well, and then blended half and half with evening primrose oil. It works out to about a 3% dilution of the essential oils. It has a light fragrance and just covers the oily scent of the oils itself, plus the essential oils are known for being good for healing skin and helping it retain moisture.

I’ve been using the oil for the last several days in the evening, and it is a lovely experience for all my senses, I think having a lovely-smelling facial oil prompts me to take a bit more time massaging my face in the evenings. And I don’t smell quite so much like a fast food restaurant when I go to bed!

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My Homemade Emulsifying Cleansing Balm

Update: I’ve since updated this recipe and talked about it here.

I’ve mentioned my homemade cleansing balm in the past and, as I’ve just whipped up a new batch, I thought I’d share my current recipe. I made this balm last year with some lovely oils and a light scent from lemon and lavender essential oil, but this year I realized I needed something entirely simpler to remove eye makeup after I perform. It’s also high in linoleic acid for my breakout-prone skin. I managed to make it a bit firm this go around, but I’m going to keep the formula because I can gouge out a blob easily enough, and hopefully I won’t have to reformulate in the summer when our bathroom gets much warmer.

I based my recipe on some all-natural cleansing balm recipes I found online, but I knew I wanted an emulsifier to allow for clean rinsing. I decided to use cetyl stearyl alcohol and Polysorbate-20 because they work together and the fatty alcohol acts like a wax, eliminating the need for an additional wax. While they are not entirely natural, Polysorbate is used in foods, so you can find food-grade ingredients if you worry about contamination, and the fatty alcohols can be found from sources that list origin and purity.

I originally used mango butter alone, but decided to add babassu oil because it’s supposed to be lovely for skin care and I had it from making soap. Going back to all mango butter would probably make a slightly softer balm. Finally, I made this with a high level of grapeseed oil for its beneficial fatty acid profile. The oils and butters used add up to 43% linoleic acid and 24% oleic acid. If you have dry skin and don’t worry about spots, I’d highly recommend you try a richer, higher-oleic acid oil, or a more balanced oil, like jojoba oil.

To use this lovely balm, I scoop out about a grape-sized amount and rub it between my hands to melt and then apply it to dry skin. I massage it all around, making sure to get anywhere I’ve worn makeup. Sometimes I give myself a little massage. Then, I rinse my hands with warm water and wet a washcloth under warm-to-hot water. I lay the warm cloth over my face for a bit to steam and then wipe off the balm. If I’ve worn a lot of makeup or sunscreen, I’ll follow with a cream cleanser, but otherwise, I rinse my face with warm and then cool water. It rinses very cleanly and is a nice ritual to end my day. It was lovely to have the essential oils to scent it for a little aromatherapy while my pores steamed, but I found they irritated my eyes so I couldn’t use it to remove eye makeup. So I had to abandon them. If you have less sensitive eyes, feel free to add something to make it smell lovely, but please properly research any ingredients you choose to put on your skin.

One final note: I make this by weight for precision. I highly recommend you purchase a small digital scale if you want to make homemade personal care products. If you’re looking for sources of ingredients, I purchased my cetyl stearyl alcohol and Polysorbate from Gugu Soap Company, and my oils, butters, and Vitamin E from Wild Herb. I found babassu oil on Amazon.

Emulsifying Cleansing Balm

50g grapeseed oil
20g mango butter
20g cetyl stearyl alcohol
10g babassu oil
10g Polysorbate-20
3g Vitamin E liquid

Melt together the cetyl stearyl alcohol, mango butter, and babassu oil until completely melted. Add the grapeseed oil, Polysorbate-20, and Vitamin E liquid and stir until incorporated. If the room-temperature ingredients start to thicken or flake in the melted ingredients, warm it gently to get them to melt in, but don’t heat too much after adding the grapeseed oil or Vitamin E. Once it’s all blended, pour into a container. I use a wide-mouthed, rather flat 8-oz. Ball jar. Cap and refrigerate for a half an hour, or until just set. Then, you can keep it at room temperature. If you are careful to only put clean, dry fingers into the jar, it should keep for a few months at room temperature.

My All-Natural, Homemade Body Butter

As promised, I have decided to share one of the recipes I mentioned in my No More Dirty Looks profile.

When I switched to safety razor shaving, I decided I needed some decadent way to moisturize my legs after shaving. Of course, because I tend to do my shaving in the evenings now, I don’t want to draw out the process much more than needed, so I wanted it to be easy, quick, natural, and not too messy. I started out using a little of my tallow-and-rosehip oil balm, but I found it didn’t absorb very easily and Boyfriend found my slightly slick legs off-putting.

When I ordered babassu oil for my soap-making, I looked it up and found out that it is also a lovely skin care oil. It absorbs fast, and, despite being used similarly to coconut oil in soap, it doesn’t clog pores the way coconut oil can. So I looked up a recipe to use it in a body and lip balm.

I found one at Swifty Crafty Monkey, who has a wealth of information for the beauty formulator. She gives her amounts in percentages, which is handy. I altered her recipe to forgo fragrance (I added the fragrance percentage to the babassu oil), and ended up with a recipe like this:

49% babassu oil
25% mango butter
25% beeswax
1% vitamin E

I measured out in grams on my soaping scale, making a 100-gram batch for simplicity (1%=1g), and found that gave me exactly 5 lip balm tubes and one 2.65-oz. deodorant container. The lip balm is lovely and silky and absorbs so nicely that it’s my new favorite base for lipstick. I use that right after I shower, then I have a lovely beverage while I gather my things for work, and by the time I do my makeup, I have only a bit to blot off before applying lipstick.

The body butter in the deodorant container is hardly an idea I can claim as my own, but I must admit, it is significantly more convenient than trying to grasp a slippery lotion bar with warm, damp hands after a shower. It glides on slightly damp skin and absorbs almost instantly. I use it every time I shave, and then after a few showers when I’m feeling scaly.

It definitely lends a lovely finish to my shaving ritual, as well.

Vintage Food: Homebrewing Mead

Last fall, Boyfriend and I experimented with brewing. We made several gallons of hard cider and a couple smaller batches of mead. While we’d finished off the cider over the winter, mead is supposed to age a bit longer before consuming, so we just this week opened up our first bottle of homebrewed mead.

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Well, apparently we bottled it before it had totally depleted its sugar because there was a little pop when we pushed off the stopper and tiny bubbles when we poured it. It was just a basic recipe of honey, water, white wine yeast, and a few raisins for extra nutrients. We used a yeast that a friend of ours recommended that yields a sweeter wine, so the finished mead is quite sweet and retains a lot of the honey character. We had used pasteurized local wildflower honey, so there’s a bit of floral character under all the sweetness. It has a strong yeasty smell, but not as much of that translates into the taste. And the bubbles are adorable.

I really enjoyed it with the two somewhat greasy meals we had Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. The first was leftover fried chicken, and the second were local lamb sausages. The sweetness of the mead went rather nicely with the greasy saltiness of the meats. I know it doesn’t sound very appetizing, but it was.

And I could definitely see this as a “sitting and sipping” drink on the porch if it were properly chilled. We also have a batch of cherry melomel (mead with fruit) aging in the cellar, so I’ll have to try that soon. I’m thinking in June when the cherries come out. That one is a bit more special because the pulp from the cherries meant we got less beverage from that batch. I think next time I’ll use cherry juice, or else strain the cherry puree before adding it to the honey mixture. And I’m considering experimenting with some drier yeasts to see if we can keep the honey flavor without quite so much sugar.

But all in all, mead-making was a success!

Weekend Adventures and Concoctions

This weekend was the last of my little holiday, so I decided to make the best of it. I got up Friday and dressed to go out, only to discover that my boots had a broken heel. So after three years, I would have to go shopping for a new pair of boots. Boyfriend and I ended up at the mall on Sunday, where I tried on nearly every pair of brown leather boots without too much of a heel. I settled on what is essentially the boots I bought three years ago, with slightly updated styling, and in brown instead of black. I am a creature of habit.

Saturday I decided to do some concocting. In addition to bottling the final two batches of mead and cider we had in the cellar, I decided to whip up some experimental cosmetics. I tried my hand at making my own cold cream. While the recipe isn’t quite finished yet, I managed a successful second batch, based on the classic Galen recipe, only with grapeseed oil instead of olive.

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My other experiment is a bit more out-there. Inspired by the brand Vintage Tradition, and also the packet of leaf lard I found in the bottom of the deep freeze, I decided to make myself a lard-based face cream. I rendered the lard, and then mixed it with grapeseed oil to make it softer, along with some sea buckthorn oil, carrot seed oil, and lavender essential oil for skin benefits. The rendering lard smelled pretty awful, but at the moment it smells mostly of carrot seed oil, which isn’t as bad as the lard, but not so great.

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It cooled to a creamy white color, with a nice soft consistency. I’ve been using it for two nights now, but it’s probably too soon to say if it’s having any effect. If nothing else, it’s certainly an old-fashioned way of taking care of my skin.

My other event this weekend was a decision I made. I’ve decided to abandon my stretched earlobe piercings and downsize to a traditional earring style. I think it will fit in more with my current personal style. While out shopping for boots, I also picked up some nice understated stud earrings to help with this. It was an eventful weekend, and a productive one.

Homemade Beeswax Balm for Lips and Cuticles

In my post on skincare, I mentioned my homemade beeswax balm that I keep by my bedside to protect lips and cuticles while I sleep. I’ve always found beeswax has provided a superior balm for my lips. I lick and bite my lips and drink often, so I sometimes find it hard to keep my lips from getting chapped. Add the cold weather to that, and you have a recipe for flaky, sore lips. This does not give a nice canvas for lipstick, one of my favorite makeup items, so I generally have close to a half a dozen little tubes of lip balm around me in purses and drawers and makeup bags. But I’m so picky about the balms I like that I decided to make my own.

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I based this balm in on recipes I found online, but adjusted it for my own preferences. Many recipes include shea butter, which is a wonderful butter for a lot of people. The problem is that I find it makes me break out, and because I wanted this to be a sort of all-purpose balm, I needed all the ingredients to be friendly to my entire person. I chose avocado oil because it’s full of good fats, but doesn’t have as strong a smell as olive oil, and I’m planning on giving this batch away as gifts. Any other neutral oil would probably work, or you can try olive oil and see if the smell bothers you. And unrefined, yellow beeswax, gives it a lovely faint honey scent. I include a bit of Vitamin E as a preservative.

This is really an all-purpose balm, meant to protect any skin that is feeling dry or chapped. I mostly use it on lips and fingers. I keep a tin of it next to my bed, and a tube of it in each of my purses. Before I go to bed, I scratch out maybe the tip of my thumbnail’s worth and rub that on my lips, and then use a whole thumbnail’s worth to dab onto each fingernail so I can massage it into my cuticles.

This is a very waxy, rich balm, so feel free to increase the oil to 2 oz. if you want something a little softer. I like the firmer balm, especially in the winter because it really protects skin from the elements. I’ve been known to put a little on my nose when I’m out on a cold, windy day. You can also make substitutions for the oil and butter. A lot of recipes use coconut oil and shea butter. While there are vegan substitutes for beeswax, I’ve never found them equal in quality, so your mileage may vary there.

I got my ingredients and the lip balm tubes from Wild Herb Soap Co. on Etsy, and my tins thrown into a random order of herbs from another source.┬áTo make the rig for holding my little lip balm containers, I used an old egg carton flipped upside-down. I plunged my sharpest paring knife into the center of each cup in an X, and then turned the knife around and used the knob on the handle to open up each X to fit a tube. It’s really quite a handy way to keep the little guys steady while filling them and cost me nothing beyond the eggs, which I would have eaten anyway.

Homemade Lip and Cuticle Balm

1 oz. unrefined beeswax
1 oz. raw mango butter
1.5 oz. cold-pressed avocado oil
~1/16 oz. liquid Vitamin E

Heat the wax, butter, and oil just until everything melts, stirring often. Add the Vitamin E and stir in. Fill containers. Makes about 1/2 cup of liquid, by volume.