Photo ©Michael Piazza Photography. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.
Your skin “eats”. Did you know that?
It sure does! It “eats” or absorbs up to 60 percent of what you apply to it (to what degree depends on age, condition and temperature of your skin, state of current health, and the molecular size of product ingredients).
Now that you’re aware of this, doesn’t it make you want to use only those body oils, lotions, creams, and body butters that are made with natural ingredients versus products concocted with synthetics and deleterious fillers (artificial colors, fragrances, mineral oil, propylene glycol, parabens, etc.)? As a licensed holistic esthetician, herbalist, aromatherapist, and author, I’ve formulated skin and body care recipes for the last three decades and I’ve figured out — with much trial and error - how to design these recipes so that the average home cook can become a master kitchen cosmetologist — able to churn out effective personal care products that rival their commercial counterparts.
All-natural skin conditioners, whether rich and semi-heavy or light and silky, improve the skin’s barrier function by sealing in moisture and preventing evaporation. They also lubricate your skin, improving overall suppleness and elasticity. Applying some type of nurturing conditioner, be it a hydrating moisturizer, silky body oil, or thick butter (like the recipe below) or balm, is a daily essential, a vitally important skin care step that should never be skipped.
Chamomile and Olive Body Butter Recipe
Chamomile and Olive Body Butter, photo by Stephanie Tourles
This herbal butter deeply feeds your skin from the outside and especially benefits inflamed, irritated skin. It also makes a fabulous cleansing cream and facial moisturizer for all skin types and a wonderful nail conditioning cream. It even works well to moisturize the ends of dry, frizzy hair if applied sparingly, and is a restorative after-sun cream.
This recipe includes both German chamomile (Matricaria recutita, syn. M. chamomilla) and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile, syn. Anthemis nobilis) essential oils. When combined, they offer many beneficial properties for uncomfortable, distressed skin: calming, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, analgesic, and antihistamine.
Important tips: Read this before you start melting and blending any ingredients! Blending homemade creams, lotions, and body butters takes practice. You’re attempting to combine oily and fatty ingredients with water-based ones — which naturally repel each other — and get them to stabilize chemically and form an emulsion. Just as occurs with homemade mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce, or gravy, though, when watery ingredients and fats are blended properly and at the right temperatures, magic happens! A fabulous cream appears right before your eyes.
In order for everything to blend properly, the fatty mixture should be approximately the same temperature as the watery mixture — about body temperature or slightly cooler.
To make your body butter thicker or firmer, add a tad more beeswax or shea butter. Experiment and see which one produces the consistency and texture you like best. Shea butter will always remain softer than beeswax and it takes much, much longer than beeswax to thicken as it cools.
Prep Time: Approximately 30 minutes, plus 30 minutes to completely cool and set up
Yields approximately 2 ¼ cups
• ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil or chamomile-infused olive oil
•¼ cup unrefined coconut oil
•2 Tablespoons beeswax or vegetable emulsifying wax
•1 Tablespoon shea butter (refined or unrefined)
•1 cup distilled or purified water; or chamomile, lavandin, lavender, or rosemary hydrosol
•1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin
•10 capsules 200 IU vitamin E oil
•30 drops German chamomile essential oil
•30 drops Roman chamomile essential oil
Note: You may add ¼ cup of commercial aloe vera gel or juice for added skin-healing benefits, but if you do this, please reduce the water or hydrosol to ¾ cup.
1. Heat. In a small saucepan over low heat or in a double boiler, warm the olive oil, coconut oil, beeswax, and shea butter until the solids are just melted. Do not allow to simmer, just gently warm the ingredients. In another small pan, warm the water or hydrosol (and aloe vera gel or juice – if you decided to use it) and the vegetable glycerin, and stir a few times until the glycerin dissolves in the liquid.
2. Cool. Remove both pans from the heat. Pour the oils/wax/shea butter mixture into a blender and allow to cool for approximately 10 to 20 minutes, or until it begins to turn slightly opaque. Leave the lid off the blender during the cooling process. Time will vary depending on the temperature of your ingredients and kitchen. DO NOT walk away and forget what you are doing and allow this mixture to get too thick or it will not blend properly and you may have a difficult time getting it out of your blender.
3. Blend. Now, place the lid on the blender and remove the lid’s center plastic piece. Turn the blender on medium speed. Slowly drizzle the water and glycerin through the center of the lid into the vortex of swirling fats below. Almost immediately the cream will turn off-white to very pale yellow and will begin to thicken.
If the watery mixture is not properly combining with the fatty mixture, turn off the blender and give the body butter a few stirs with a spatula, being sure to scrape down any residue from the sides of the blender container. Then replace the lid and blend on medium speed for another 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat this process once or twice more, if necessary, until the texture is smooth.
Turn off the blender and add the vitamin E oil (pierce the capsule skin and squeeze the contents into the mix) and essential oils. Put the lid back on, then blend for another 5 seconds or so, until the body butter is smooth and thick. It should be a pale greenish-blue color.
4. Package and cool. Pour or spoon the finished body butter into dark glass or plastic storage containers(s) — 1- to 4-ounce containers are recommended. Lightly cover each container with a paper towel and allow the blend to cool for about 30 minutes before capping and labeling.
To Store: This body butter is best stored in a dark, cool cabinet. Use within 60 to 90 days. If your storage area is very warm, please use the butter within 4 weeks for maximum potency and freshness. On the day you notice any mold growing in your container, toss it out and make a fresh batch.
If, after a few hours or days, water begins to separate from your body butter, don’t worry. You can pour off the watery liquid and use the resulting super-thick product as a foot, shin, knee, or elbow balm. The mixture can separate if the temperature of the fatty ingredients and that of the watery ingredients are not relatively equal and cool enough when the two portions are blended. Keep trying — making perfect creams and butters is an art!
To Apply: Immediately following a bath or shower, slather this butter on your damp skin — really massage it in. Because it’s very concentrated, begin with 1 teaspoon at a time. If your skin has an oily residue after 5 minutes, you’ve used too much. Simply wipe off the excess with a towel and use less next time around. Body butter may be used daily, if desired.
Recipe excerpted from Pure Skin Care: Nourishing Recipes for Vibrant Skin & Natural Beauty (c2018 by Stephanie Tourles). Photo ©Michael Piazza Photography. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.
Stephanie Tourles is a licensed holistic aesthetician, certified aromatherapist, and gardener with training in Western and Ayurvedic herbalism. She has also written many other books, including her best-selling, Organic Body Care Recipes; Hands-On Healing Remedies; Raw Energy In a Glass; Raw Energy; Pure Skin Care; and Naturally Bug-Free (all available in the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store). Visit her website www.StephanieTourles.com to learn more, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.