How to create a fuss-free avocado moisturiser
'Why all this fuss?' - you will ask, surely it's simpler to just buy an off-the-shelf natural or organic face cream. For me there was a moment in my life where I started to get obsessed with ingredients and wanting to know what I put on my face every day, call me a control freak but it really started to matter to me. I was shocked by the number of ingredients on the product tag and that I had no idea of what they are - trying to look them up made everything even worse as most turned out to be nasty chemicals. So I set myself the goal to achieve the same quality of product with less but better ingredients.
Creating a cream is a bit of a challenge, but it's also fun and I love a good challenge! This exercise is perfect for your inner nerd as it requires a good understanding of physical processes. For the cream to look and feel like, well, cream, you will need to create an emulsion, which is a mixture of water and oil and it’s the glue that holds it all together. Sometimes it works, sometimes it just doesn't, especially when you iterate a basic recipe too much. So for those of you who like to experiment with ingredients, it's both exciting and challenging to create something new!
01 - Know your waxes and oils
For this formulation you will need butters, oils and waxes as well as a selection of essential oils and emulsifiers and antioxidants. Sounds complicated, but actually once you've bought the 3-4 basic ingredients you can base multiple cream and lotion formulations on them so it's a good long term investment is you are looking to readjust your beauty routine to using homemade products.
For this recipe, I have decided to use Shea Nut Butter for its deeply nourishing and moisturising properties, Avocado Oil because it hydrates and softens your skin and fights acne and blackheads, and Sweet Almond Oil which is a super light carrier and rich on Vitamin E and fatty acids which is perfect for sensitive skin. But really, as long as you stick to the measurements, you can pick your own oils and essential oils according to your skin type. That's where the creativity really begins!
There are several shops and online retailers which specialise in raw, organic ingredients, I am a sucker for everything organic so here's my short list of appropriate online retailers.
I bought most of the ingredients for this recipe on Naturally Balmy, who are a great online destination for purchasing a multitude of natural and organic ingredients. They are a mother and daughter run business with excellent customer service and will provide you with all you need for making skincare products such as bath salts, face masks, scrubs, oils, salves, soap, creams, lotions, oils, serums, butters etc. I found, however, that the choice of organic essential oils was limited, so I shopped them at Livemoor who offer a good range and a free delivery on everything.
Naissance is another great online destination that offers a variety of Certified Organic and vegan ingredients including carrier oils and essential oils to good prices. This September they offer a 15% discount on all Organic products, so a good one stop shop if you want to get started on your formulations!
02 - The magic formula
Finding the right formula was a lot of trial and error, formulation by formulation, because I swapped some ingredients within the off-the-shelf recipe to make the formula as natural as possible, so had to do some testing to get the texture nice and creamy. The below entry level formula uses a small amount of Emulsifying Wax which is made up of Alcohol and Polymers, but ideally I will improve it in future to replace them with all-natural ingreds, so stay tuned.
INGREDIENTS for 100g
(ca 2x 50ml jars)
2 tsp Shea Nut Butter
1 tsp Sweet Almond Oil
1 tsp Avocado Oil
4 tbsp Mineral Water
1 tbsp Emulsifying Wax
1 tsp Vegetable Glycerin
4 drops Ylang-Ylang Essential Oil
4 drops Orange Essential Oil
2 drops Frankincense Essential Oil
10 drops Vitamin E
3 - Abracadabra - emulsify!
Now that you have all your ingredients sorted: let's get physical :-)
First you will need to make an emulsion by following these steps:
Step 1 Place the Shea Nut Butter, Sweet Almond Oil and Avocado Oil in a bain-marie. Heat together in the bain-marie and remove from heat once the butter has melted.
Step 2 Using a thermometer, heat the mineral water in a saucepan to 80°. Add the Emulsifying Wax and Vegetable Glycerin, stir until wax is fully dissolved. You may need to re-heat the water to 80° again if it has not dissolved completely.
Step 3 Add the hot oil mixture to the hot water mixture and, using a hand-held whisk or stick blender, whisk continuously until smooth. It should have emulsified by now into a cream-like texture. Continue to whisk occasionally while the mixture cools.
Step 4 Continue to stir occasionally as the mixture cools. Add the essential oils and Vitamin E and mix well. Vitamin E supports skin regeneration and it's a natural antioxidant, this means that when it is added to oils, it will help to prolong the shelf life of an oil otherwise exposed to oxygen and thus, oxidation. However it is not, as believed by many, a natural preservative for creams as they are a water based product, so will not extend the shelf life of this cream (read more about the shelf life below).
Step 5 Sterilise the jars - this is essential so that your cream has the longest shelf life (up to 6 weeks) as it prevents bacteria from getting in whilst bottling. Boil water in a large sauce pan, submerge jars and lids and cook for up to 10 mins. Use tongs to get the jars out and pour cream mixture into it, leave to cool before placing the lid on. When stored in the fridge, the cream will keep up to 6 weeks, in my experience even longer.
How to use
This cream can be used day and night, personally I prefer to use it during the day and use a nourishing face oil at night time, but it's up to your personal preference. Enjoy your cream!