My sweet friend Bonnie gave me a gift of homemade lavender lotion for Christmas. Homemade. Lotion. It was lovely. I was flabbergasted. “You MADE this?” Not that I was shocked that Bonnie made it (she built her own chicken coop for crying out loud); it just hadn’t occurred to me that something as lovely as the lotion she made was possible in a typical kitchen. For some reason, I’d envisioned a highly complex process of emulsification + chemistry + lab coats + safety goggles. And in reality, not only was the process quite simple, it was actually quite an eye opening moment of realizing just how much trust we put in the cosmetics that we use on a daily basis. I’m typically not one for obsessive label reading, but when she told me of the FOUR main ingredients in this lotion, I thought that the homemade version has GOT to be better for direct absorption into my body than something with disteraryldimonium chloride or petrolatum as ingredients.
But who am I kidding, how badass (Claire!) of me would it be to make my own lotion? I was MOTIVATED.
So… the instructions and ingredients were supplied thanks to a very fun DIY book named “Making It – Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World” (by Kelly Coyne & Eric Knutzen, available on Amazon); which in my opinion was written for those who wish to have a smaller footprint, be self sustaining, and most likely prep for zombies or daily life in District 13. Either way, their recipe for Silky Cream is the inspiration for this lotion and goes a little somethin’ like this:
For Silky Cream you’ll need:
- 6 ounces of olive oil
- 2 ounces of coconut oil
- 1 ounce of beeswax
- 10-20 drops of essential oil of choice
- 1 cup tepid water
A word of caution though, you’ll need to pay a bit of attention to the hardware you’ll need to build your own lotion before you get too far. This recipe requires you to melt your oils and beeswax, so I’d suggest using older kitchen gadgets or keeping a set to use for your DIY adventures. Fair warning – getting lotion or hardened beeswax off of your tools requires some dedication.
Hardware you’ll need:
- Liquid measuring cup
- Digital scale
- Saucepan for double boiling
- Clean dry containers for storing approximately two cups of lotion
- Spoon or spatula
- Old rags/cloths/paper towels for clean up
For my first lotion making experience, Bonnie was kind enough to both offer me a glass of wine and walk me through the process, and it’s actually quite simple. And so we begin….
- Blender prep: You’ll have better luck with the final stage of the mixing if you pay a bit of attention to the blender before you begin. Simply fill the blender with hot water and let it hang out while you melt your oils. This will warm up the walls of the blender so the oils don’t instantly harden when the touch the glass.
- Measure out your one cup of tepid / room temperature water and let it wait for you.
- Using your liquid measuring cup and digital scale, measure out the olive oil, coconut oil and beeswax. Since we used a glass measuring cup, we used it as our container for our double boiler and set the oils to melt in a water bath.
- Once the oils are completely melted, remove from heat and add your essential oils of choice. (A note on essential oils: Most natural food stores and even a few grocery stores carry essential oils. Just search for the natural/organic section of your store and sniff your way to your oil of choice. Your average bottle holds half a liquid ounce and sells for around $5-10.)
….. get ready…. This part goes fast!…..
- Pour the hot water out of the blender.
- Pour your melted oils into the blender and start it mixing.
- Slowly add your room temperature water into the mixing oils. This part comes together basically immediately as you can see from the video here:
Scrape down the sides of the blender to make sure all of the water has been incorporated (emulsified?) into the oils.
- Transfer the lotion into containers and you’re done! The whole process is remarkably fast, probably less than 15 minutes.
So, at this point – filled with all of my newly created confidence of a lotion maker, I needed to turn on my Claire cap, and make a lotion worthy of originating from the Ridge. And I did so, by simply mixing up my main ingredients to match those that would be available in a Fraser household. And thus, the birth of Minty Sun Bear Lotion.
Minty Sun Bear ingredients:
- 6 ounces sunflower oil (I didn’t have to trade with the Cherokee to get mine. I found it in the baking section at Martins.)
- 2 ounces of rendered bear grease (made that one myself! Check it out here: Rendering Bear Fat)
- 1 ounce of beeswax
- 1 cup of tepid water infused with mint (Also made that one myself. Simply pour boiling water over dried mint leaves, and let steep overnight. Strain off the mint, and Ta-Da! Infused mint water!!)
The lotion making process went the same as described above, and honestly, I feel like I cheated a bit in not whisking the oil and water combo together by hand as one would’ve in 18th century life, but heck…. Unless and until Himself is there to keep me company while I slowly whisk away, I’ll stick to 2015 methods and get it over with in 10 seconds.
The mint infused water did a remarkably great job of adding fragrance to the lotion (which covered the smell of the bear grease, blehh!) and also added a bit of color to the final product (which happened to be a tan/beige color).
And while the actual use of Minty Sun Bear lotion gave me a creepy sense of “oneness with a dead bear”, I was pretty happy with the final product. I did it!
I hope you enjoy. And for any of you lotion makers out there who’d like to share your advice, I’d love to hear it!