Friday, March 16, 2012

A Local Necessity

The air hereabouts is so arid that I, along with quite a few other outdoorsy women I know, make our own super-rich mixtures of cosmetic oils and use them on hands, lips, face, body, hair, eyelashes (to reduce frost accumulation), on cuts to help them heal, on scars to help them fade, as eye makeup remover, as wood polish, as dog paw salve, et cetera. Of course, everyone is convinced that her own version is best, which explains why so many women foist theirs onto the public.

Mine is a mix of approximately equal parts cocoa butter, shea butter, and liquid oil. Typically, I use the canola oil that I use for cooking, but any liquid food or cosmetic grade oil will do. Then I put in a few generous shakes of any natural aromatic essential oil that has preservative properties (I like lemon, although my (male) neighbor T swears by oregano oil as the best antiseptic ever and even put it directly on one of my cuts when he dressed it for me. Reaction at the University Health Clinic when I went in there to have it cleaned and re-dressed? "Your cut smells like pasta sauce!")

I heat it gently:

and remove it from the heat as soon as the last bit of cocoa butter is about to melt.

Then I pour it into containers and let it cool:

Some of my containers are reused from goat's milk cosmetic products. I love behbeh goats!

It takes a surprisingly long time to cool down (about two hours at room temperature, or half an hour sitting in front of a cracked open window), and you have to catch it during the several-minute time window during which it goes from liquid to solid so you can stir while it is doing so so the heavier oils don't sink to the bottom. When it's all cool, it's just a chunk:

When you use it, you have to smear it out like a lip balm, but it melts easily since it's composed of tropical oils.

My neighbor D across the street, instead of mixing solid and liquid fats, uses just straight coconut oil, which already has a perfect, in-between texture. And for aromatic preservative, she cooks in lavender from her own garden. It smells heavenly!


mdr said...

The Taiwan woman who stayed with me also made her own facial cream, I was surprised, but I think hers must be too greasy or something. She got many zits.

Rena said...

I believe rosemary has thymol in it - also present in thyme, of course, but also lavender and eucalyptus maybe? I think there are antibacterial qualities to the stuff.

Dunno if calendula (aka pot marigold) grows up there, but the flower petals have some wonderful healing properties to them if added to a balm. has some sort of extraction instructions but I've never done it myself. If I get cut in the garden I grab a big pinch of the petals and mash them into the wound as a poultice.

Arvay said...

Ouch! I don't think I could bear to "mash" anything into a wound! You must have nerves of steel!