How to make an all natural face or body cream

A cosmetic cream is an emulsion, a mixture of its two basic liquid components,  of water and  oil, that normally cannot be mixed due to their different chemical composition. In order for these two basic components to become homogenous (to be emulsified) the addition of a third component is mandatory. This third component is called emulsifier.

Let's see now the main components of a cosmetic cream: 

  • the water phase: distilled water, hydrosols, herbal teas, aloe juice or gel and other aqueous and glycolic extracts are used in this phase. The percentage of this phase on the total of ingredients determines if  our cream will be a water in oil (w/o) or an oil in water (o/w) preparation. 
  • the oil phase: Vegetable oils and butters as well as herbal infused oils can be used in this phase. The organic, cold pressed and unrefined ones are the best as they retain their active ingredients.  
  • the emulsifier, part 1: traditionally and for a long time beeswax was considered (and maybe it is considered till now)  the best choice for the homemade preparations. To a lesser extent also other vegetable waxes such as candelilla, carnauba, mimosa, were used. But is the outcome satisfying enough? It is only if you wish to make a traditional preparation such as Galen's Cold cream, all time classic or the fabulous Cold Cream Reloaded! If you wish to prepare a light cream with a fine texture then you will need to say goodbye to beeswax.
  • the emulsifier, part 2: in order to obtain a light fine cream with a high percentage of aqueous ingredients then you should select one or a combination of emulsifying waxes, Indeed, there are hundreds of them and you should be careful when purchasing. There are emulsifying waxes which are not 100% natural ingredients but derive from vegetable oils and sugars processing. 
  • Active ingredients are the additions that give a cream its main characteristics: These ingredients can be vitamins, honey, anti-wrinkle & anti-aging factors, silk proteins, collagen, moisturizing factors such as hyaluronic acid or urea. There are hundreds of these ingredients and a certain knowledge is required for their selection and they usually constitute 1% - 5% of a creams' ingredients. 
  • Essential oils: They are also active ingredients since apart from their nice scent they give their properties and characteristics to a preparation. For instance the addition of tea tree oil gives anti-acne characteristics to a cream. Most of them are obtained through steam distillation of different parts of plants. 
  • Preservatives: are used to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi and to extend the self-life of a preparation. Bacteria and fungi are growing only in an aqueous environment at a temperature over 20C. If you wish to keep the hygiene standards the usage of preservatives is mandatory. I said preservatives, not parabens necessarily. The most natural preservative is alcohol but it is efficient at a 20% rate. So, we can make a compromise and select a synthetic preservative approved to be used in organic cosmetics thus ensuring the safety of our precious cream. This kind of preservatives are efficient in preventing the growth of bacteria and fungi and can extend the self-life of our home made preparations up to 12 months.
What you’ll need
  • heatproof glass or stainless steel cups  (Pyrex pitchers work great)
  • 1 saucepan to be used  as a double boiler (bain marie). 
  • measuring cups  (1 cup =250 ml) & measuring spoons (1 teaspoon=5ml, 1 tablespoon=15ml)
  • 1 stainless steel whisk or a small hand mixer  
  • 2 stainless steel spoons for stirring
  • high accuracy scale in case our recipe is in grams
  • 1 quick reading thermometer for monitoring the temperature
  • lidded jars to store our cream
You should sterilize your equipment before starting the aromatic cooking. This work cannot be quick and dirty.

How to make a natural cream
  • In a bowl or a Pyrex pitcher blend the vegetable oils, the waxes or the emulsifiers and in general all the ingredients included in the "oil phase". Stir well.  
  • In a second bowl combine the distilled water, hydrosols, aloe vera and all the ingredients included in the "water phase". Stir well
  • Place a heat-proof saucepan filled with water to low temperature. Place the 2 bowls into the saucepan taking care the water to surround the glass to the level of the ingredients.

  • Wait until wax or emulsifiers are completely melted and stir thoroughly until the mixture becomes homogeneous. Temperature should reach 70C=158F.
  • Wait until temperature of water phase reaches also 70C=158F.
  • Take the pitchers or bowls out of the saucepan. Pour the "water phase" mixture to the "oil phase" one.  
  •  Stir thoroughly using a whisk or hand mixer.  
  • Continue stirring until a thick emulsion is formed.
  • Once temperature reaches 30C(=86F) approx., add the active ingredients, the sensitive vegetable oils (the ones containing omega3 & omega6 fatty acids), the vitamins and the essential oils. 
  • Continue stirring until the preparations is completely cool.  
  • Pour the cream in sterilized jars, label and store in a cool place.