Saturday, February 21, 2015

Product (And a Bit of Process)

I've had one of those phenomenally productive days. I went to the hairdresser, came home and made 2 different sorts of cashew milk (turmeric/nutmeg/ginger and salted cocoa). Secretly, I added some turmeric into the salted cocoa version. You can't taste it and, seriously, that shit is good for inflammation! (I won't bore you with pics of 3 litres of nut milk - I went a bit crazy - but it's been snowing since early this morning and a girl needs occupation.)

Then, cuz I was out of almost everything, I got to work on potions:

This represents 3 hours of work - and I could have done it faster if only I hadn't had a 4-time issue with this:

Lotion B: Neroli and Ylang Ylang
Hilariously, it failed again and again till Scott came down to marinate some steaks and I told him, exasperatedly, about how I couldn't understand my continual problems considering that I was following the recipe EXACTLY.  Whereupon he suggested that I was perhaps using the Fahrenheit reading on my fancy new thermometer, rather than the Celsius reading. Let's just say that was value-added advice. Problem solved!

Yeah, lotions are tricky. I've been researching the process and finally landed on this recipe. (Excellent site I know about thanks to reader Louisa!) You may recall I tried this once before with limited success. The more I read, the more apparent it became that I'd need to bring out the big guns.

Here's the thing: Lotions are a delicate emulsification of water and oil. That balance is tricky to find. It's easy to end up with watery grease - or something weirdly gritty. Not to mention that you don't fuck around with water/oil mixes. If they don't contain a preservative, they will go off very quickly. At which point, you have a germ infested soup that may look and smell completely fine. I cannot be gifting sludge - nor using it myself - so I've had to carefully consider preservatives.

I haven't sourced one "natural" preservative that actually works (according to the peeps who know much more than I, at this point). Moreover, a lot of the natural preservatives are more toxic than the synthesized ones, just to be difficult. I've landed on this one, for the moment. It doesn't contain polysorbates or parabens but, be assured, it's totally test-tube.

How do I feel about this? Fine. But it has clarified something for me: You can make an anhydrous product (one without oil - such as face serum) with little worry using "all-natural" (aka pronounceable / readily available) ingredients. You can't do the same with a lotion - not if you want it to last more than a week. Check out labels next time you're at Sephora or the health food store, for that matter. You will always find emulsifiers and preservatives in those products - no matter how natural. There are certainly versions that aren't toxic, but they're harder to find than drug store crap.

I'm disinclined to use lotions on any part of my body but my hands because I wash them constantly and I need readily absorbable product. My face and body (the majority of my skin surface) have always been hydrated with oil / oil-based butters and I feel better about this than ever. Don't misunderstand, my lotion is pretty damn good - and as natural as it gets, but a lotion isn't strictly speaking "natural". You can't eat it.

But on to other things...

Today I made conservatively $140 of awesome, high-quality product for free! Ok, ok, I've spent a bomb on the ingredients, over time - but once you stock up, it lasts and you get lots of loot that feels free. I upcycled all of my bottles (except for the lip balm pots). Of course, when I give gifts I'll use new bottles, but for myself, I reuse. Exception: Some bottles, shape depending, are really only for one-time use because you can't remove trace amounts of oil completely (once the product is finished). To reuse those bottles is to invite rancidity. So those go in the recycle bin.

What did I make?
  • Lotion B (Ylang Ylang and Neroli) for a friend (little white bottle) 50g
  • Lotion B for me (large blue bottle) 100g
  • 3 lip balms (gifts)
  • 2 Face Serum A - one in the blue skinny bottle, the other in the clear bottle (orange oil), each 20g
  • Body Oil A - Grapefruit, Rosewood and Ylang Ylang (I really like YY), 110g
Not bad for a snow day!

Whatcha think?


  1. I put turmeric all over the cauliflower before I roasted it:). I'm going to say that counts.

  2. It totally counts! Of course, you'd have to drug me to eat cauliflower (ugh, the brains of vegetables). :-)

  3. I've been interested in DIY cosmetics for a while. Specifically, I'd like to make the one product that I consider magic, C E Ferulic. It's very expensive and, worse, it oxidizes long before you can use it up. It starts out thin and watery, then over time thickens and becomes yellow, then orange. And it develops an awful smell. The company claims that it is fine in that state, but clearly this is not true. I've tried buying boxes os samples on ebay or amazon, but they're often fake. So I spend a fortune and keep the bottle in the dark to slow down deterioration. There are a number of recipes on essentialdayspa. It's cheap to make it once you have the equipment. When I stop working I'll do this. In the meantime I'll continue to buy it, and also to spend a fortune keeping the gray at bay.

    1. Yikes - that is pricey! BTW, I've done a bit of looking around and you could totally make this. I've even sourced the ferulic acid (and learned more about the oils in which you'll find it if you want to be "natural"):

      I've also read that it's touted as a better sunscreen than it actually is, just something to keep in mind.

      Most definitely, if it changes texture and colour it is going off - I cannot believe the company won't cop to that. I'd really suggest that you try to make this for yourself. Even if it takes a while, you could probably make versions for 5 bucks. It's not a lotion (if I'm correct, it's a serum right?) so there's not much magic to assembly - it's combination of some oils in a jar. To save 175 bucks (and to use a product that won't go off cuz it's been sitting in a box on a shelf for too long), I think it's worth it.

    2. What I meant was "even if it takes a while to perfect your handmade recipe"...

  4. You are so right. I've never paid quite the full price, I've managed to find sales, but I only buy from authorized dealers so it is always well over $100. I know what the DIYers recommend for the vitamin C, also: L-ascorbic acid that can be bought at Whole Foods (very cheaply). I've hesitated about getting into this because of the equipment investment, too.

    It is a serum. I use it right after washing my face in the morning.

    I don't think of it as a sunscreen. I believe it does repair sun damage, though. I use SPF 40 moisturizer on my face year-round, EltaMD, also on the expensive side. I really need to get into making all this stuff.

  5. When it's time, I'm sure you will! (And then you'll start making it for all of your friends too!)