From time immemorial, women have been using some form of perfume or cosmetics, and creams can have used medicinally too, so to add creams to my posts is obvious. So I hope this post is very helpful to those who want try to make their own.
The specific purpose of a ‘Cream’ is to nourish, protect, soothe and heal. They are an ’emulsion’ for a better word, much lighter than a poultice, and much thinner than a ointment or salve.
Creams could be considered a type of ointment, but they really deserve their own category. Because like so many areas of herbalism, there are similarities, but also enough differences that they need to be categorised differently.
An interesting way to help with categorising a cream, is to say that a cream is either water added to oil or oil added to water, depending on what is being made.
Now most people would say, “but you cant mix oil with water”, but if you use some form of an emulsifier, you can, and depending on how you mix it, the water becomes suspended in the oil.
But why the oil and water mix? If you think about it, a cream is so special, what two things do you have on your skin all at the same time?
Oil and Water!
So by definition and design, a cream is especially designed, ’emulsifying oil and water together” for the skin like no other product.
Now creams do use other additives, which are very important, because then you can get ‘special’ in your design of each type of cream and literally use a different cream for different parts of the body for different occasions.
Some of the more common ingredients are: beeswax, vegetable oils, herbs in the form of essential oils, tinctures, herbal oils, and powders, lanolin and of course water or a water based product such as an infusion/tea or decoction.
At times another product is added such as borax, which acts as a preservative, preventing moulds from forming or directly adding vitamins, like vitamin E, which is very common, because its benefits to the skin, or even minerals/metals such as zinc.
Reasons why to make your own Cream
One of the simplest reasons I can think of for making your own creams is the personal empowerment of making something yourself. So, not only would there be the pleasure of putting on the cream, but you have the satisfaction of knowing that you made it.
One added form of satisfaction that can be gained from making your own is that you can tailor make your cream to your preferences of aromas, textures, flavours, thicknesses, colours, to cater for your mental and emotional sense and even your personal beliefs.
Several examples of these could be:
- You wanted to match a colour to suit your skin colour: to darken or lighten
- A colour to suit your favourite sports team whilst protecting your skin
- You wanted to flavour the cream in case someone gave you a kiss
- Your partner has a specific preference to a perfume, say musk
- You wanted to remind someone of that pine forest you went to
- You are using an aroma as a form of therapy
- Certain textures of some cream bother you
- You want a thicker cream that would stay for longer or give better protection
- Maybe you don’t want a fragrance at all
- Or you have a belief system that you are abiding with, e.g. no alcohol
Another reason is that due to creams being so close to your own skin’s anatomical make-up, any chemicals found in a bought cream, could easily cross your skin barrier and enter in. This is very serious for some people and could make them very ill.
So, if there is an unwanted chemical in that bought cream, it is most likely going to pass into your body. Thankfully, there are very excellent organic products on the market, but they are often very expensive, and practically most people just cannot afford it.
I have heard that in the USA, some women’s liver have to process up to 2 kg / 4.4 lbs of chemicals absorbed through the skin each year.
How to do Creams
How to do creams is really a tricky one, not because they are hard to make, but because there are so many types, uses and possible combinations that they are too numerous to describe.
But, I will describe a few, because we all need something to get us going and to gain the confidence to attempt more interesting ones, and one of the purposes of doing these posts is to empower my readers to give it a go, let alone the health benefits.
So first, here are some suggestions to get you going, I have provided some instructions for two types and a video to help get you started. But to add to this, I have some suggestions in the “Variations of Creams” too.
Cream Base Recipe
This recipe below, if you remove the herbs, can become a ‘Base’ for a cream, and then you can add what ever fragrances or essential oils you wish.
An example of herbs could be Calendula, Arnica, Elderflower or Comfrey, but the best way is to research either one of my posts from my Herbal Compendium or Herbs for Help, or find a suitable herbal book recommending a herb for the condition.
- Choose 15g / 1/2oz of your chosen herb
- Steep this herb in 250ml / 1/2 pint of boiling hot water for 20 minutes
- Finely strain or filter this tea/infusion into a container
- Place 30g / 1oz of olive oil in a double boiler or place a saucepan in a pot of very hot but not boiling water
- Then add 15g / 1/2oz of beeswax
- Also add 15g / 1/2oz of lanolin
- And begin melting them together
- As they are melting, dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of borax into the infused tea above
- Once the beeswax and lanolin are fully melted in, reduce the heat and slowly stir in the tea
- Continue stirring the mix and when ‘just warm’ add a few drops of essential oil
- Once it begins to thicken, place this into small sterile pots, clean the rims and label
- Keep these in the fridge, and once opened, they should last about 2 -3 weeks
The borax is only to function to prevent mould.
- Fresh flowers – handful
- 150ml of your chosen oil (maybe Calendula or a herbal oil will be more affective)
- 50ml of pure water
- 50 grams of beeswax
- 10 drops of Vitamin E (you can use Vitamin E gel capsules)
- Optional: 30 drops of the essential oil of your choice
- Put the water in a saucepan and bring it into a boil
- Turn it off and add the flowers
- Allow to steep until the water is room temperature
- Strain out the flowers and put them into the compost bin
- Place the flowers into a cloth or bag and squeeze out the remaining juice
- Put the ‘flower tea’ back into the saucepan with a lid
- Take a double boiler and melt the beeswax
- Add the oil to the melted beeswax and make sure it is completely combined
- Add the Vitamin E and stir
- Raise the temperature of the flower tea to the same as the oil/beeswax mix (70 C / 158 F)
- Remove the oil/beeswax saucepan from the heat
- Carefully and very slowly add the flower tea to the oil/beeswax mix, whilst stirring it constantly with a mixer (this can be done in a blender) approximately 1 tablespoon at a time
- Once the mix has become white and stiff as a cream should be, start adding the essential oils, 2 drops at a time stirring them in
- When finished, scoop the cream into small ‘sterile’ jars, clean the rim, place the lid down tight and label
- Store in a cool dark place
The approximate shelf-life is 6 to 12 months
Variations of Creams
To 30g / 1 oz of cream base add one of the following:
- 5 to 15 drops of an essential oil (see below for some suggestions)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons of a Herbal oil
- 1 to 2 teaspoons of a strong decoction or tincture
- 1 to 3 flat teaspoons of a powdered herb
- 1/2 to 1 flat teaspoon of a powdered spice
Choice of Herbs for Creams
The point to made when choosing to add a herb to your cream, is what “Actions” does it do? The question you ask yourself is, what do I want this herb to do, do I want healing, pain relief, soothing or cooling, reduce inflammation, stimulate blood flow, or is there an infection? Once you know what you need, that is the ‘action’, then you can choose the right herb for your situation.
But for now, here are a few suggestions: Calendula, Arnica, Elderflower, Marshmallow, Borage, Cowslip, St John’s wort, Fig wort or Comfrey
Choice of Oils for Creams
Some suggested oils for creams could be:
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Almond oil
- Jojoba oil
- Avocado oil
- Peach oil
- Apricot kernel oil
- Wheatgerm oil
- Sesame oil
- Or your own homemade herbal oil
Choice of Essential Oils for Creams
The list below is by no means comprehensive, but would be a place to start.
- Dry or mature complexions: Rose, Jasmine, Frankincense or Neroli
- Acne or Greasy skin: Geranium, Bergamot, Mint or Lemon
- Rashes: Chamomile, True Lavender, Tea tree, or Peru balsam
- Insect bites: Lemon balm, Bergamot, Clove bud, or Rosemary
- Bruises: Arnica, Clove bud, Sweet marjoram or Niaouli
- Boils and Abscesses: Eucalyptus blue, Lavender, Lemon, or Thyme
- Cuts and Sores: Canadian balsam, Chamomile, Hyssop, or Calendula
Application of Creams
Frankly, all you need to do is gentle circular motions with two to three fingers to work in the benefits, dabbing doesn’t do much.
There really isn’t much to be concerned about with creams, but minor concerns could possibly be an allergic reaction to a herb, or an essential oil (usually because its too strong or with babies), or in some cases, homemade creams begin to ferment and can grow mould in them, even if stored in the fridge.
Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.
Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda
“Don’t put your ideas on Ice cream, someone will lick it off, and then you’ll have none”Herbal Panda