There is only so much that you can write about your love for soapmaking. So today I am going to let you in on a few secret ingredients that you probably do have in your kitchen that I find indispensible when it comes to "handmade" beauty products. There is a lot of really great information on the healing, moisturising and cleansing properties of each of these items. Plus I have a fantastic collection of lots of superb recipes that you can throw together in the time it takes to ignore a tv commercial. But in order to keep the posts within quick, readable length, I will break all of this up into a series of posts, and maybe try to include a recipe at a time on the featured ingredient. But anyway, why would you want "handmade" instead of the easy-peasy, tubed, tubbed, sacheted and gorgeously packaged expensive shop bought beauty products? I am 31, in July I will turn 32. Without trying to bolster my ego, I must brag that I do have fantastic skin for my age, glowing, taut and healthy, no signs of wrinkles (yet), I hardly ever have acne, whiteheads or blackhead breakouts and in fact I often have to convince people with some kind of identification that I am in my thirties and not early twenties. I think the reason I have been able to maintain my skin's excellent condition is because I have always eshewed synthetic products in favour of a more natural approach. I have always had quite an interest in natural ingredients, and when I was a little younger I used to love splurging on products with natural ingredients.
One day I ran out of my "Ground Oatmeal Cleanser" and decided to try and make some up myself, so I had a look at the back of the tube listing all the ingredients figuring that I would be able to whip it up myself if I got the formula worked out. It didnt give me much to go on, and there seemed to be a lot of stuff that didnt seem quite natural to me. I decided to research some more on it and much to my horror I discovered that usually, the concentration of "natural" product in ratio to all the other filler ingredients is less than 2%. In a more in-depth investigation of all he stuff that I was using I realised that I was in fact "cleansing" my skin with more synthetic filler than the supposedly natural extract that was advertised as making the product superior to the others. For instance, did you know that to create that rich, super foamy lather - a lot of products add in a "surfactant", a foaming agent and more often than not - the added surfactant is notoriously drying and an irritant to sensitive skin types.
Anyway, this terrible discovery served as a catalyst in my quest to make the best possible natural products from ingredients I knew to be beneficial, and with the added protection of knowing and controlling exactly how much of what went into them. I only trust my own stuff now, and my skin is a testament to it. Anyway - all the above is probably filler -let's get to the meat of it.
Almost every (particularly South African) kitchens have these ingredients that are indispensible to the homemade spa.
- HONEY (The kind from organically farmed bees is the best)
- OATS (Again, organically grown - but good ol' Jungle Oats or Quaker Oats
work just as well in a fix LEMON/LIME (fresh organic with pulp is the best - but Lemon juice works as well ) OLIVE OIL (Extra virgin) AVOCADO OIL (slightly expensive but more about the brilliance of this later) ROOIBOS TEA GINGER ROOT (Fresh or Powdered - I find that powdered is easier to use and store) CUCUMBER AVOCADO FREE RANGE EGGS PLAIN YOGHURT BANANAS TUMERIC (Yes, you're going to be needing this alot) CHAMOMILE TEA (plain powdered flowerheads) FRESH TOMATOES (must be organic and not GM) NATURAL CANE BROWN SUGAR GOATS MILK (finding Goats Milk in South Africa is difficult - will list suppliers later) UNIODATED MEDIUM GRAIN SEA SALT COCONUT MILK CORN STARCH/FLOUR BICARBONATE OF SODA (not Baking Powder) EPSOM SALTS (aka Magnesium Sulphate) CITRIC ACID (now go and dust off your sour worms into a nice jar)
Now here is a list of stuff that you may not have - but you should try and get your hands on as soon as you can. These items are regularly available at Health Stores and most Pharmacies.
TEATREE OIL (absolute must, must, must) LAVENDER ESSENTIAL OIL EUCALYPTUS ESSENTIAL OIL ROSEHIP CARRIER OIL JOJOBA CARRIER OIL VITAMIN E OIL or capsules SANDALWOOD or PATCHOULI (for me these are mainly about how great they smell) COCOA BUTTER (raw form - is great with almost anything) CAPE ALOE POWDER COSMETIC WITCH HAZEL
Most people should have the following basic ingredients - HONEY, OATS, LEMON JUICE and OLIVE OIL so I am going to tell you how you can use all of these to make a fantastic cleanser.
If you have a coffee grinder or a mill - grind up as much the oatmeal as fine as you can. How much oatmeal you use is relative - I usually just grab a handful.
Incorporate lemon juice into the ground oatmeal - I like to use about 2 to 3 Tablespoons. The reason why I add the lemon juice first is that - honey can be a bit of pain to incorporate into dry oatmeal, but if you moisten up
Now add about 2 Tablespoons of honey. A handy hint is that if you warm up the honey first, it makes it runnier and easier to blend into the rest of mixture. Try not to nuke it - nuking is terrible and exposes you to unnecessary radiation. Just boil enough water in a kettle, and either pop the honey bottle in there - or measure out the amount into a little container and warm it up that way.
While Olive Oil is an excellent mosisturiser - it can be a bit, well.....oily. I usually just add enough to make the mixture pasty enough to spread. If you are adverse to the Olive Oil, just add more honey or lemon juice, or even a little bit of water (Rosewater is an excellent substitute)
Blend everything together until you get a nice paste, fluid enough to spread, but thick enough to stick. Apply paste to your face - I do the the neck and decollete area as well. Wait for 10 - 15 minutes until it starts to solidify or harden a bit and then rinse off. The worst part of this cleanser is waiting the 10-15 minutes - so do what I do, search a few great articles/blogs on the web and before you know it - the time has passed. I have a friend who is very into Transcendental Meditation, I reckon she would say you could meditate for that length of time.
Alright - that's it for me for now - I am off to take a decadent rooibos, goatsmilk and Epsom Salts bath - the only thing that gets rid of the post-jog ache and phew!