Thursday, March 28, 2013

Another plug for my awesome body cream - Keratosis Pilaris

When I was about 6 years old, my mom noticed bumps on my face.  She kept me home from school that day and took me to see the doctor.  He said it appeared as though I had dry skin and that perhaps using a different soap would help.  I don't actually remember anything changing from that point, but as I got older I got very bumpy skin on the backs of my upper arms and thighs, as well as having them on my face.  They didn't itch, or hurt.  They were just bumpy.

About 2 years ago I went to a dermatologist for a completely unrelated reason and she took one look at me and said that I had Keratosis Pilaris.  Basically, bumpy skin.  It's caused by excess skin cells that build up around the hair follicles. There really isn't a CURE for it, but there are some things you can do to help minimize the bumps.  One of which is the body cream I made!

I completely stumbled upon that little trick as it was not at all the purpose or even a hope of mine!  The dermatologist prescribed an Ammonium Lactate lotion.  I did try it, and it did work, but I didn't like the smell of it, nor did I like rubbing those ingredients on my skin during a pregnancy, or after while breastfeeding.  So I just stopped using it.

I love using the body cream from head to toe when I get out of the shower.  A couple of weeks after starting to use it, I was amazed at how soft my skin felt!  Even my face was smooth!  It's a lovely feeling to have smooth skin, and from a natural product, for the first time in 30 years!

As I researched a bit, I found that as many as 50% of adults have KP.  It's extremely common!  Some people have had luck with just rubbing straight coconut oil on their skin too!  So that's always a possibility to try if you have it too!  But, in case you were looking for more reasons to love the body cream I make, this would certainly be up there on my list of suggestions for it.  :)  It is really amazing stuff.  In fact, yesterday I noticed my son's hand was very chapped.  In less than 24 hours and a couple of applications, his hand looks almost normal again!

If anyone is interested in buying some, here's the link to my shop page - SHOP

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Eczema Cream Recipe

Ever since I came up with a great body cream recipe last month, I've been working on coming up with a recipe for some eczema cream.  I hear so many people mention this common skin problem, that I thought surely I could think of something natural and soothing.

I've become quite fascinated by all of the amazing and exotic butters and oils that are available online.  I also added to my challenge of finding the perfect ingredients, by making them friendly to those who also tend to suffer from peanut allergies.  I didn't know this until just recently, but those who suffer from nut allergies, also tend to not do well with skin care ingredients like Shea Butter!  Also, a lesser known ingredient that is an important one of my previously mentioned cream, Kokum Butter.  So that meant that I couldn't use either of those two butters as part of the eczema cream I wanted to make.

I found a really interesting butter from New Directions Aromatics called Ucuuba Butter.  It is said to have anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties and be ideal for treating acne, eczema, and dry or irritated skin.  It's also considered to have anti-aging properties, which puts this butter at the top of my list to add to a moisturizing facial cream I intend to work on very soon!  It is brown in color, and has a very earthy smell to it as its made from the Ucuuba tree in Central and South America.

Next on my list to add was a liquid oil.  I found the perfect one at From Nature With Love!  It's called Karanja Oil.  It's a cousin to Neem Oil but less aromatic.  Or, so online info says.  To be honest, I thought it smelled.....grassy?  Perhaps?  This oil is made from the seeds of the Pongam Tree in India.  Karanja Oil has therapeutic qualities that have been used to treat many skin ailments.  Including dandruff, psoriasis, eczema, ulcers, AND it promotes wound healing.  

I then mixed in a small amount of coconut oil, sesame or safflower oil (it's a good source of vitamin E), a bit of water, some essential oils, emulsifying wax, and Grapefruit Seed Extract (as a preservative) and here's a pic of my final product.

The jury is still out as to whether or not it actually works, and more importantly to me, how acceptable the smell is.  It's distinctive.  To say the least.  While I don't necessarily think it smells BAD, it is just a very earthy smell.

Even with the essential oils that I put in, they just didn't completely cover the unusual smells of the butters.  Which, butters tend to have a stronger smell all on their own anyway.  Of course more natural butters and oils from trees will smell woodsy.  But, one of the main essential oils I used was Cedarwood because according to this list - it is beneficial at treating dermatitis, which is basically what eczema is.  Inflammation of the skin.  I also used Geranium Rose (analgesic, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and astringent to name a few), as well as Helichrysum (for dermatitis, eczema, irritated skin).  

I prefer to get most of my essential oils from either Mountain Rose Herbs, or through our Frontier Co-op for Aura Cacia.  In this particular recipe, I did not use pure Helichrysum.  I simply couldn't justify paying the high price just to try it in this recipe.  So I did opt for the diluted in jojoba oil Helichrysum from Aura Cacia.  They also sell a pure one that is not already diluted in a carrier oil, but I ordered the one from their line called Precious Essentials available for just such an occasion!  When you need a bit of a really expensive essential oil to be more affordable!  *IF* I continue to make this for my friends and it is beneficial, then I would opt for the pure oil in the future and use less of it.  But as a trial, I didn't want to sink the big bucks on the pure Helichrysum.

The emulsifying wax was the final touch to pull all the oils and water together to keep them from separating and make it actually a creamy consistency.

I used a double boiler to melt the butter and oils and emulsifying wax.  Pulled off the heat and slowly poured in the room temp to slightly warmed water.  Pulsed a few times with my immersion blender.  Let it cool for a few minutes and then added in the Grapefruit Seed Extract and essential oils.  Pulsed a few more times and then poured it into my containers.

As I get some feedback from friends I can tweak this a bit if it needs it.  But this is my starting point.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Preserving my awesomeness

Last month, I came up with a lotion/cream recipe that has so far out performed even  my wildest expectations!  (will write more about that another time)  I passed out little samples of it to several of my friends and got rave reviews back!  So, I sold some to a few people as well!

Very unexpectedly, 2 peoples developed mold.  To be honest, I am completely baffled by this.  It wasn't just a bad batch because I had been using some for myself from the same exact batch (I just finished off the container yesterday and it never did go bad).  I also STILL have some from the original batch that I made that doesn't even have a hint of molding on it.  So, I really can not explain WHY those 2 peoples' turned yucky.

However, in an effort to remedy the problem and deliver a suitable replacement, I dove into the world of preservatives.  After much research, I settled on trying Grapefruit Seed Extract as a preservative.  It's not the cheapest, but I believe it is closest to my natural way of providing good quality products as possible.  It is paraben free, formaldehyde free, triclosen free.  It's made from the crushed seeds and pulp of grapefruit.

I read several reviews on Grapefruit Seed Extract talking about it's lack of effectiveness, and how it was NOT a natural product.  In a review and test of effectiveness, it was found that not all GSE's actually work.  Some of them are simply not effective, so it's important to get one from a reputable seller.  Be sure to buy from a place that has been tested for effectiveness and it's preservative properties are true.  Like From Nature with Love.

Also, I'd like to address the concerns that I read about it not being a natural product.  I read a lot of outrage that it was not "natural" because of the process by which it is made.  Often times during the process of extracting, it gets introduced to chemicals like benzethonium chloride, or parabens.  However, it is possible to get a good quality GSE that has been tested and does not have that junk in it.  And that is exactly what I did.  Here's a link to the exact product I purchased.

And finally, I found no other, better, more natural, preservative.  One that TRULY works.  The ingredients of which I make my stuff with, are not cheap.  They are not common, everyday, ingredients.  I put a lot of research and thought into my products.  I can't afford to take chances that maybe it won't mold next time.  Or maybe it will and I'll need to replace it again.  Therefore, I must preserve my awesomeness.  :)

For my friends, I'm happy to make stuff and forego the preservative as long as you are willing to accept that it may mold, and not hold me accountable to replace it.  I put on my original body cream recipe that it did not have preservatives and I was not sure of how long it would last.  I did that even before the mold happened, because I was uncertain how it would hold up, and I didn't want to have to replace it, but when it actually happened, I decided that I wanted to preserve my reputation of providing a quality product.  Because I believe the stuff that I make is "da bomb"!  :)  And I don't feel right about just saying, "Aww....too bad!"  Cause that would suck if it were me buying a product that didn't live up to it's expectations.  BUT!  If you tell me you do not want preservative in your product, please do not ask me to replace it if it goes bad.  Ok?  You must be willing to accept that possibility.  :)  The other alternative would be to possibly make it yourself.  That's a suitable solution too!

So, there ya go.  You'll start to see Grapefruit Seed Extract in some of my recipes and this is why.  :)

Monday, March 11, 2013

My Tiger Balm knockoff - a flop? Maybe.

I'd been waiting for MONTHS to make this knockoff Tiger Balm recipe.  It took me For-Ever to get together all the essential oils and supplies needed for it.  But I finally did it.  I made it!  It smells just like real Tiger Balm too!

Why make it rather than just buy the real thing?  Because the real thing has petroleum in it.  Which is made from crude oil.  Yeah!  Let's rub that all over!  Woohoo!  ;)

There are a couple of small variations I made on the original recipe I linked above.  Mostly just different oils. I didn't have, nor did I intend to get, Emu oil or Andiroba Oil.  I also split the peppermint essential oil in half and used Cinnamon Bark for the other half.  Making this more like the Red Tiger Balm, rather than the White Tiger Balm.

Does it work?  Yeppers!  It sure does!  Hubby loved it on his sore back last night.  However, it irritated my skin.  I had tingling, burning, itching, red splotchy places on my arms and hands from rubbing it onto him.  So, for me, it's a no go.  The essential oils are probably just too powerful for my sensitive skin.  This recipe is approximately 50% essential oils.

Also, this is not a cost effective endeavor as I made it, unless you are REALLY wanting a petroleum free product.  I figured up the price per gram for each of the essential oils used and then multiplied that by the number of grams for each one used.  The essential oils alone cost me over $10.  That didn't take into consideration added shipping costs, the menthol crystals, nor the solid oils or beeswax I used.  Oh, nor the cost for the tins to put it in.

It made 2 - .8 ounce containers.  So, not even 2 ounces.  Which, you can purchase a 1.7 ounce container of Tiger Balm for just under $10 through the Frontier Co-op Wholesale group (if you have one local...which we do).

Finally, you COULD cut your costs a bit by using different, less expensive essential oils.  I order mine from Mountain Rose (see the little link on the side of my blog under Favorite Suppliers).  So, technically, subbing out the Cinnamon Bark alone for a much cheaper one from...say...Aura Cacia, purchased through Frontier would make it more cost effective.  But I used all Certified Organic Essential Oils from Mountain Rose.

So, for ME, this was a flop.  For my husband, it was GREAT!  And I COULD make it more cost effective. If I do make it again in the future, I definitely WOULD trade out the cinnamon bark for a cheaper brand.

Without further ado, a recipe for you.  :)

In a double broiler, melt together

10 grams of shea butter (or any other hard butter, like cocoa butter, etc)
10 grams of beeswax
6 grams of coconut oil
1 gram of sesame oil (vitamin e oil is good too, I just used sesame cause it's what I had and it's high in vit E content)

While it's melting together, weigh out your essential oils

5 grams Camphor
6 grams Cajuput
1 gram Clove Bud
4 grams of Cinnamon Bark
4 grams of Peppermint

Also, weigh out 4 grams of menthol crystals, or menthol essential oil.  Since Menthol Essential Oil is solid at room temp, crystals are an equal replacement here.

When your solid oils and beeswax are thoroughly melted, put in your menthol and let it melt as well.  Which, by the way, it will melt between 105 - 111 degrees.  So it doesn't need to be overly hot.

Once that's all melted together, take off the heat and pour in your essential oils and gently stir to incorporate. Then pour into your awaiting container.

It sets pretty quickly, so enjoy!  :)

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A Confession of Sorts

This may just blow the mind of some of my friends.  But I'm gonna out myself anyway.  As I was cleaning today, it dawned on me that I bet many people would never guess this about me.  So I decided I'd make it the topic of my next post.  Are you ready?  Here it is:

I do not use earth friendly cleaners.

There.  I said it.  Now pick your jaw up off the floor.  :)  And hear me out.  :)

I KNOW you can use lemons and vinegar and baking soda and people rave about their effectiveness.  I agree.  They are lovely and wonderful.  BUT!  They do not provide clean for as long as the harsher store bought stuff and you have to clean more often and put a little more scrub power into it.  I know, I'm lame, but seriously, I just don't have it in me.

I make my own soap, lotions, laundry detergents, we grow or raise the majority of our own food, I school the kids at home, cloth diaper, etc. this is one area that just isn't worth it to me!  Its toilet bowl cleaner, and shower cleaner.  That's it.  Anything else is simply soap and water.  But when it comes to the shower and the toilet....I don't care, really.  My butt is not sitting in the toilet and if ever there was a place that harsh chemicals were called for, it's the toilet.  6 people, 1 toilet, yeah, give me the big guns.  And the shower, well, I'm lazy.  I don't clean the shower nearly as often as you'd probably think is necessary.  Plus, we have really hard water from the well.  By the time I get around to cleaning the shower, the hard water stains are really tough to remove.

Now, if I actually had the opportunity to clean on a regular basis without a child screaming and pulling at my leg wanting love and picked up, then I'd probably still be using lemons and baking soda.  I think it's wonderful!  But, it's my small compromise.  One of these days, I'd do anything to have another chance to pick up or comfort my little ones when they want nothing but to be somewhere else.

So for now, I'll take the quicker, easier way out so I can spend more time with the kiddos.  In fact, today was the first time I'd scrubbed the shower in probably 3 months.  I sprayed on the kaboom, left the room for 15 minutes, came back, rubbed it off, rinsed and done.  Thank you very much.  While I was doing so, I thought MAYBE one of my friends would like to know that I am not Mrs. Homemade and Earth Friendly everything.  I do still have my vices.  :)  So there ya go.  :)  The truth is out.