Oils Used in Natural Homemade Hand Cream
First, you will need to choose which oil or combination of oils to use for your hand cream. There are many different oils to choose from. Here is a short list of different oils that are commonly used in skin care products.
Almond oil: also known as sweet almond oil, it is an emollient for all skin types.
Apricot oil: soothing and good for sensitive skin.
Avocado oil: a very rich oil that contains many vitamins and essential fatty acids, avocado oil is a good choice for those with sensitive skin or suffer from skin problems such as eczema or psoriasis.
Coconut oil: widely used in cosmetics, coconut oil helps retain moisture and soothes and protects irritated skin.
Grapeseed oil: a light oil that is non-greasy and easily absorbed. Good for sensitive skin.
Jojoba oil: a rich, easily absorbed oil that is actually a liquid wax derived from the seed of the jojoba plant.
Olive oil: one of the best and most widely used oils, olive oil makes a wonderful addition to creams and also has a stable shelf life and resists becoming rancid.
Other Ingredients in Natural Homemade Hand Cream
Beeswax: helps to hold in moisture, and also keeps the cream semisolid at room temperature. Beeswax is available in blocks, which must be grated with a cheese grater, or in small pellets.
Water: blends with the oil to make an emulsion. Rose water is nice to use, but distilled water or tap water will work.
Aloe vera gel: heals irritated skin.
Lanolin: an oil that comes from the wool of sheep; it helps to moisturize skin. Some people are allergic to lanolin, and develop contact dermatitis. If you are unsure whether or not you are allergic to lanolin, it is best to test a small amount on your hand first. Lanolin is optional and used sparingly in skin care products.
Essential oils: a few drops of essential oil will add a pleasant scent and also help to preserve the hand cream.
Vitamin E oil: in addition to healing properties, vitamin E oil serves as a preservative.
Basic Recipe for Homemade Hand Cream
The cream has two components: water and oil. When combining the two, they should be warm but not hot, and both the oil and water should be approximately the same temperature.
Combine the water components:
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup aloe vera gel
1/4 teaspoon of borax can be dissolved in the water component to aid in forming an emulsion with the oil.
Warm slightly on the stove.
Combine the oil components:
- 1 cup oil (this can be all one type, such as olive oil, or a combination of 3/4 cup lighter oil such as almond or grapeseed, and 1/4 cup heavier oil, such as avocado, coconut or jojoba)
- 1 ounce beeswax, grated or pellets
Combine the oils and beeswax in a double boiler or crock pot and heat until the beeswax is melted. Stir it well to mix the beeswax thoroughly with the oil, then allow it to cool to about 90 degrees.
- Add the contents of a vitamin E capsule and a few drops of essential oil if desired.
The trick to making successful homemade hand cream is to get the oil and water, which are by nature incompatible, to blend into an emulsion that does not separate. This is best accomplished by using a blender, and by making sure that the oil and water components are the same temperature when they are mixed.
Pour the oil component into the blender and turn it on. While it is spinning, carefully pour the water component into the center of the whirlpool and blend until it turns white and becomes thick. Pour into clean glass containers. The cream will continue to thicken as it sets. Blend in short bursts of about 10-15 seconds, and stir with a spatula if there are areas of water that aren’t mixing with the oil.
It may take some experimentation with proportions of ingredients and temperature to get the cream to blend into an emulsion.
Adapted from Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, Storey Publishing, 2008.