Creating a product that works for you is really a matter of figuring out which oils and butters have the properties that suit your skin. Typically, people with drier skin prefer butters, and people with normal skin or combination skin prefer lighter oils, such as grape seed or sunflower oil. If you have oily skin, you may not need to put anything on it to keep it from drying out. Even dry skin may improve dramatically if you simply try a soap that is gentler. Because we’ve all been exposed to advertising that leads us to believe we have to use complicated products to stay beautiful, the idea that skin may need no additional moisturizer or only needs a single oil seems too simple.
I typically start with something that I already have on hand and go from there. If you have sunflower oil in your pantry, try that. You won’t have to buy anything special if you like the result. For something that’s more moisturizing, try jojoba or olive or grape seed oil or one of the butters, such as shea butter or avocado butter. Cocoa butter is rock solid at room temperature so if you want to use it in a cream, you have to melt it and mix it with a softer butter.
There are commercial creams and lotions, and some companies market moisturizers, which can be either. The main difference between a cream and a lotion is that a lotion has a larger amount of water, which makes it easier to spread across your skin. It appears white because the oil and water have been emulsified by the addition of an emulsifying agent to prevent separation. I don’t make any lotions because once you add water, you introduce a medium for bacteria growth, which means you have to add a preservative. Many times alcohol is also added, which has a drying effect on the skin. When making your own, however, you can use only the purest ingredients and avoid the need for chemical preservatives.
RECIPE: Body Butter
2 ounces shea butter
1 ounce avocado butter
1 ounce apricot kernel oil
1 ounce sweet almond oil
a few drops essential oil (optional)
Weigh all the ingredients on a digital scale and then mix together using either a mixer or a fork. Add essential oils for fragrance or aromatherapy benefits, and mix well.
Savings: This body butter is similar to a high-end cream that boasts 25 percent shea butter and retails at $42 for seven ounces. This recipe, which has 40 percent shea butter, costs $1.65 to make five ounces, not including the essential oil.
This is an excerpt from Ecothrifty: Cheaper, Greener Choices for a Happier, Healthier Life by Deborah Niemann