Now that we’ve moved, and I have my own kitchen again, I’ve been playing around with some of my homemade personal care products again . . . I’ve been wanting one of the “Little Dipper” crock pots for doing infused oils and such, and last week we had a full-size crock pot on sale that included one of the small ones for the same price as just the big one. Of course, I couldn’t resist, and this is the first project I’ve used the small one for. (You don’t have to have a “Little Dipper” to make this hand cream, it just makes the process a bit simpler.)
I’ve been wanting to make a new batch of hand cream for a while, because my hands had gotten so rough that they were snagging on the inside of my jacket pockets, but it was so much trouble to run back and forth hauling all the ingredients up to the main house that I kept putting it off. (I’ve been so much more productive since we’ve moved here that it’s just wild . . .)
I’m including an explanation of why I chose the particular ingredients I used after the recipe, including allergy information, so be sure to at least scan that to prevent wasting money and time making something you can’t use. (Important: before starting, please read Using Essential Oils Safely to be sure you don’t do anything that could cause harm to you or anyone else.)
NOTE: I’ve included links for all the ingredients (except the olive oil, which can be bought at any grocery store,) to make it easier for you to find them; as well as a link to the Little Dipper Crock Pot I used in case you want to buy one of those instead of using a water bath. For my Canadian readers, just switch to Amazon.ca for lower shipping costs. The links are affiliate links, and any purchases made through them will help to keep this site online, without costing you anything extra.
Rich, Creamy, and Healing Hand & Body Cream
- 1 C. Shea Butter
(substitute cocoa butter
if you’re allergic to latex)
- 1/2 C. Coconut Oil
- 2 TBSP Olive Oil
- 2 TBSP Jojoba Oil
- 20 drops Lavender (Lavandula officinalis) Essential Oil
- 12 drops Rosemary Essential Oil
- 8 drops German Chamomile Essential Oil
- 10 drops Vitamin E Oil
- Little Dipper Crock Pot or a saucepan with a heat resistant glass mixing bowl that will fit inside it without touching the bottom
- A heat-resistant glass mixing bowl (if you’re using the Little Dipper)
- Either a meat thermometer or a candy thermometer
- A kitchen timer
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Something to stir with (a wooden spoon that can be reserved for non-food use is best, but you can use a stainless steel spoon as long as you don’t leave it sitting in the oils and you wash it thoroughly afterward. (Don’t use aluminum or plastic. Both of these materials can react with the oils and leach unwanted contaminants into your cream.)
- A clean glass jar to store the finished product
- Place the shea butter (or cocoa butter) in the “Little Dipper” crock pot and plug it in. (If you’re using the saucepan and glass bowl, put the shea butter in the bowl, and put enough water in the saucepan to come about half-way up the sides of the bowl when it’s suspended in the pot.)
- Once the shea butter has mostly melted, start checking its temperature every few minutes until it reaches 165 degrees F. When it reaches 165, set your timer for 20 minutes. (This step is not necessary if you’re using cocoa butter. Shea butter contains little “crystals” that don’t fully dissolve unless it’s kept at 165 degrees or more for at least 20 minutes. If they aren’t completely dissolved, your cream will have a slightly “grainy” texture.)
- Once the timer goes off, add your coconut oil, allow it to melt completely, and turn off the Little Dipper, or remove your bowl from the saucepan. (If you’re using the Little Dipper, at this point you’ll need to pour your melted mixture into a glass bowl. Use the potholders, the Little Dipper gets HOT!)
- Add the olive and jojoba oils, stir well, and set the bowl in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to start the cooling process. You want to see a slight sheen on top when you take it out.
- At this point, mix in the rest of the ingredients and leave the bowl on the counter to finish cooling and setting up before putting it in your jar.
Before I started the recipe, I promised you an explanation of why I chose the particular ingredients I used for this cream. If you have any interest in creating your own recipes, or modifying an existing recipe, the explanations will help you learn how to decide on appropriate choices for your own personal needs.
Why I Made the Choices I Did:
The most important thing to keep in mind when you’re deciding which ingredients to use is your intended result. I wanted a rich cream that would moisturize extremely dry hands made rough by the constant hand washing my job requires. I also wanted something that would absorb quickly so that I wouldn’t need to worry about leaving smears of oil everywhere, dropping things because my hands were slippery, or staining my clothes, sheets, or furniture when I used the cream on other parts of my body.
Shea Butter: I picked this because I wanted the base to be a carrier that was solid at room temperature, and cocoa butter makes me itch. (If you have a latex allergy, you’ll want to substitute cocoa butter to prevent allergic reactions to your cream.) A solid carrier eliminates the need to add beeswax to solidify liquid oils; and results in a softer, creamier final product. It, like cocoa butter, is excellent for very dry or damaged skin; with the added bonus of being an excellent addition in psoriasis treatments (and I happen to have psoriasis.) It does absorb a bit more slowly than cocoa butter, but since cocoa butter isn’t an option for me . . .
Coconut Oil: I chose coconut oil as my next ingredient because it is solid to semi-solid at room temperature, but has a lower melting temperature than shea butter. (A spoonful of coconut oil held in the had will almost immediately liquefy, while shea butter has to be rubbed in to melt.) In addition; coconut oil is a wonderful choice for dry, itchy skin; and has anti-inflammatory properties (a bonus in controlling my fibromyalgia and arthritis pain, as well as the skin inflammation that comes with psoriasis.) It does feel oily to start with, but absorbs relatively quickly.
Olive Oil: This choice was made for several reasons as well. Olive oil is compatible with the skin’s natural oils, attracts moisture to the skin, and is another oil with anti-inflammatory properties. (Do you see a pattern here? I have problems with inflammation, so when I have a choice between oils with otherwise similar properties, I’m going to choose the one that is anti-inflammatory.)
Jojoba Oil: This is actually a liquid plant “wax” rather than an oil; and is extremely stable, helping to extend the shelf life of blends. In addition, its absorption rate and consistency are similar to those of our natural body oils; and it contains myristic acid, another anti-inflammatory compound.
Vitamin E Oil: Full of antioxidants, vitamin E oil helps to preserve the other oils and extends their shelf life. Known to be healing to the skin, it’s used in many over-the-counter skin products, including those intended to reduce scar formation.
The Essential Oils:
When choosing your essential oils, not only do you need to consider the properties of the oil; you need to think about their scents, and how they smell together. No matter how good your cream feels, or how well it works, if you think it stinks you aren’t going to want to put it on your body. In addition, some essential oils have a very distinct color, and will affect the color of your final product. (For example, the German chamomile I included is a rich royal blue color. With the tans, yellows, and pale greens of the base oils used, I ended up with a sort of pale willow color. If I’d included carrot oil as well (an orange/red oil), it most likely would have turned some shade of brown.)
Lavender Oil: This is one of my favorite essential oils to use, since I love the scent of high quality lavender oil (the cheaper versions tend to smell sort of medicinal.) Not only does it smell wonderful, it has many properties that are useful in skin care and in the treatment of my fibromyalgia symptoms. Lavender oil is relaxing; anti-depressant; anti-inflammatory; reduces pain, stress, and anxiety; and helps me fall asleep.
Rosemary Oil: This is another oil I use a lot, especially in combination with lavender oil. I enjoy the way they smell together, and the way they work in combination. (Rosemary and lavender is my absolute favorite combination to use for bath salts.) It relieves muscular and rheumatic pain, and has anti-spasmodic properties (Restless Leg Syndrome anyone? It’s not a cure, but it seems to ease the muscle spasms for me.) If you have high blood pressure, don’t use this one, since it can raise your blood pressure even higher; and don’t use it on its own near bedtime since it’s also a stimulant and can keep you awake if it isn’t balanced by a more sedative oil like lavender or chamomile.
German Chamomile Oil: Most people have heard of using chamomile tea to help them sleep, and the essential oil is also very relaxing. It has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as helping to ease stress and anxiety.
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