We had our first snow of the season (Kate's first snow!) and it's still sticking around as the Arctic outflow is keeping temperatures down. Rather unusual for here in November; that's more like January. So we're all suffering from really dry skin and chapped lips & cheeks this week. So off to the pantry to mix up some winter relief.
Rich Body Lotion
A beautiful thick lotion that feels silky going on and smells even better.
Steep about 1 tbsp herbal blend (I use 1 tsp rose petals, 1 tsp comfrey root, and about 2 tsp calendula petals) in:
100 mL boiling water (distilled is recommended)
for at least 15 minutes. Drain into a ceramic dish or glass measure to cool. Once cool, add:
2 tbsp aloe vera juice
2 tsp witch hazel extract
Melt in non-reactive double boiler (I place the oils in a ceramic bowl over a pot of water and simmer):
100 mL carrier oil (I use grapeseed oil)
1/2 tsp grated cocoa butter
2 tsp grated beeswax
2 tbsp shea butter
Once the oils have been melted, get the temperature up to 175 F (I use a candy thermometer), keep stirring & heating for at least 20 minutes to properly and completely melt the shea butter, otherwise it'll crystalize into little bits in your mixture once cooled.
Let the oils cool down once finished, so that they're still at least mushy if not totally liquid, but not still super hot.
Gradually pour your herbal liquid mixture into your oils while using a stick blender to thoroughly beat everything together until creamy. Make sure to do this part gradually and thoroughly so that a proper emulsion forms, otherwise you'll get separation of the oil & water. You may wish to add essential oils at this point; I use about 10-15 drops altogether, but you can use up to 25-30 drops. Suggested essential oils would include lavender, citrus, rose geranium, depending on what you need or what the purpose is for.
...which also doubles as a great baby bum balm!
Essentially, you want these proportions:
25% solid at room temperature (e.g. coconut oil or shea butter)
15% brittle at room temperature (e.g. cocoa butter)
40% liquid at room temperature (e.g. pomace olive oil or grapeseed oil, cold pressed for either)
So when I make it, I use:
20 g beeswax
25 g shea butter
15 g cocoa butter
40 g grapeseed oil
1 tbsp total of rose petals & calendula petals
10 drops of essential oil (e.g. lavender, tea tree, rose geranium)
I heat up the grapeseed oil separately in a Pyrex measure in the microwave, then infuse about 1 tbsp altogether of rose petals and calendula petals while the other oils are melting & heating, then strain it. If you're coordinated enough, you could do this a few days in advance so that the herbs have some opportunity to infuse into the oil; if you do, keep the oil in a warm spot, like a sunny windowsill (hah! around here?) or on top of the refrigerator.
As with the lotion, I heat up the beeswax, shea and cocoa butters in a double boiler, heat to 175F and hold for 20 minutes, stirring regularly. Once that's done, I add the strained oil infusion to the hot mixture and bring it back up to 175F, stirring. You can remove from heat, let cool a little, and stir in any essential oils at this point if you wish. I pour it into clean plastic jars that I got for the purpose (a long time ago), but I'm sure Tupperware/Rubbermaid or margarine/cottage cheese/cream cheese containers would be just fine. Let cool, and it'll solidify quite solidly. You have to scrape it a bit with your finger or thumbnail and rub it in your hands to soften it a bit before applying, but it works really well once warmed. If you want it a little less solid, you can always change the proportions by increasing the amount of grapeseed oil in the recipe.
Whipped Shea Butter
This is now my favourite dry skin relief.
10 oz Shea butter (preferably unrefined, cold pressed or however the equivalent works for it)
6 oz carrier oil (I used grapeseed oil)
Melt the shea & oil in a double boiler (as before, I use a ceramic bowl set over a pot of boiling water) and bring up to 175F. Keep at that temperature, stirring regularly, for 20 minutes.
Cool over a bowl of ice water, add your essential oils, then whip using a hand mixer or stand mixer, until it reaches "soft peak" stage (like whipping egg whites or whipping cream). I didn't wait that long; mine got just to the equivalent of "trace" when making soap (which means you can dribble some of the mixture over the surface and write with the dribbling). Pour into your clean containers, and it'll set up into a mousse/paté like consistency.
This makes a HUGE batch, so feel free to halve or even quarter the recipe; although with one family member that has psoriasis, one with eczema, and all of us with dry hands, we'll go through it pretty darned fast. The consistency when cool is fabulous, creamy smooth, it melts into the skin instantly and stays moisturized for a long time.