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Making your own Face Cream and Deodorant

With Viv Harris


  • Up to 60% of products applied to your skin are absorbed into your body
  • Parabens, formaldehydes, mineral oils (includes baby oil and aqueous cream), PEGs, artificial colours and fragrances, sodium lauryl sulphate, isopropyl alcohol are all potentially toxic ingredients and we need to avoid them in all skin applied products
  • Remember it's not just skin creams and lotions but cosmetics, shampoos, toothpaste, perfumes, nail polish, hair dyes and deodorants as well as shower gels and washes, bubble bath and also household cleaning products that come in contact with our skin
  • To avoid potential toxicity choose plant based ingredients and products made by companies that have an active interest in health and the environment
  • Be aware of "Green washing" - where a product is promoted as being made from safe ingredients but it isn't

  Why make your own skincare products?

  • Making your own skincare products allow you to choose nontoxic ingredients from nature and cater specifically for your particular skin type
  • You know exactly what is in the product, when it was made and you naturally become educated as to what each ingredient is for.
  • Although the ingredients can be a bit expensive buying in quantity, it will save you money in the long-term if the ingredient products and the final products are stored properly in the fridge and away from light.

Choosing ingredients

Oils - can be used directly onto the skin or emulsified with a water component and create a cream

- Dry/mature skin - use Rosehip seed oil, Hemp oil, Camellia oil, Avocado oil, Olive oil, Borage oil, Wheat germ oil, Apricot Oil, Sweet Almond oil, Macadamia oil
- Sensitive skins - Apricot oil, Olive oil
- Scars and damaged skin - Calendula oil
-  Normal skin - Grapeseed oil, Sweet Almond oil, Sunflower oil, Olive oil
-  Oily skin - Hypericum oil, Grapeseed oil, Hazelnut oil, Soya oil, Olive oil
-  Eczema and dermatitis - Apricot Kernel oil, Avocado oil, Olive oil, Sweet Almond oil, Calendula oil, Evening Primrose oil, Hemp oil, Hypericum oil, Jojoba Oil, Sesame oil
-  Acne - Hazelnut oil, Soya oil, Calendula oil, Hypericum oil, Jojoba oil, Olive oil

Hydrosols - the water component left after essential oils are extracted from the plant material. Used to create creams when mixed with oils or as a toner on its own e.g. Lavender, Rose, Neroli 

Beeswax - used to help thicken creams and butters

Honey - used as a humectant (retains moisture in the skin), Manuka honey has some antibacterial action

Witch-hazel - used as an astringent to firm and tone the skin by constricting the pores and creating a protective layer of firm tissue between the under layers of skin and the elements. Also helps reduce inflammation and assists in healing the skin

Aloe Vera - used as a skin soother for inflamed skin and a great healer of the skin

Herbs and herbal infusions/tinctures - can choose herbs for various conditions a few examples

Dry skin - Marshmallow

- Inflamed skin - Hypericum, Calendula, Oats, Chamomile, Rose petals
- Acne - comfrey
- Eczema and Psoriasis - Gotu Kola, Chamomile, Comfrey, Echinacea (is also antiviral)

Essential oils - used both as natural fragrance as well as specifically for various skin conditioning or normalising.


A few examples:

- Dry/ Mature skin - Frankincense, Rose, Myrrh, Neroli, Sandalwood
- Normal skin - Lavender, Ylang ylang
- Oily skin - Lemon, Lavender, Palmarosa, Peppermint, Tea Tree

A few recipes

Awesome hand cream for gardeners and those with rough hands.

(Adapted from the original recipe from Galen, who lived from 129 AD to 200/217AD, I have rejigged the recipe which I got from Jan and Geoff of Millstream gardens in the Hawkes Bay)


100ml Olive oil
100ml Almond oil
40g Beeswax


Melt the beeswax in 100ml of oil (in a double boiler) then take off the heat and stir in the rest of the oil.

Also heat in separate double boiler, until hot to touch.

150ml Rosewater or Lavender water (I have used Lavender water (or Hydrosol) here).
2 pinches (approx. 1/8-1/4 tsp) Borax (dissolve in the liquid by stirring)

Using an electric stick beater, gradually add the OIL to the WATER (this absorbs best into the skin) in a slow narrow stream, much like making mayonnaise. If the mix separates, allow to cool a little then keep beating. When it's the consistency of condensed milk, add the essential oils of your choice and pour into sterilized jars. (Spray the jars with meths and allow to evaporate or boil.) Don't put the lids on until completely cold or condensation will form and allow bacteria to grow.  This cream doesn't have a long shelf life so keep in the cool and use within 2-3 months. If molds grow on the surface during this time, throw out and make a new batch!

The essential oils I have used are Lavender oil and Spearmint oils (approx. 20 drops of each). Rose oil is the one to use with Rosewater.

NB The use of Borax is a little questionable as it has the low potential to be toxic. Take care with handling and keep away from children. However the extremely small amount used here should be fine (the toxicity is more if you ingest the borax, but it is unknown how much is absorbed from your skin). The alternative is to use an extra 40g Coconut oil in with the beeswax and Olive/Almond oil mix, omit the Borax and the cream still works. (The Borax makes the cream emulsify and set, helps preserve it and makes it look white.)

A note about Galen&

Aelius Galenus, better known as Galen of Pergamum, was a prominent Roman physician and philosopher of Greek origin. During his medical career Galen served as a physician to the gladiators of the High Priest of Asia, one of the most influential and wealthiest men in Asia. He also served as physician to the Emperor Septimius Severus and spent most of the rest of his life at the Roman imperial court.

All Natural Deodorant

6 Tbsp Witch Hazel
2 tsp vegetable glycerine
In a hand pump spray bottle

Add the following essential oils - 

2 drops each of Clove, Lavender
5 drops grapefruit, Lime, Palmerosa
10 drops Lemon

 Shake well before use.

NB You can use any mix of you r essential oils, Rose Geranium is excellent as it has Terpines that kill armpit bacteria.

Possible supply sources

Chemists and pharmacies, Supermarket shelves, Health food shop