A thick, skin-nourishing face cream made with just a handful of ingredients. This is a great option for people with very dry, eczema prone skin (like mine!) and easy to make at home and will last several months, depending on how often you use it.
As I move closer to thirty, I also appreciate a good moisturizer that helps with fine lines. I used to sell this exact cream at markets when I lived in Canada and it was a big favourite with women in their 40s-60s.
I think it’s generally recommended to avoid creams (rather than lotions, which have a lower oil content) if you have acne-prone skin. This is just the face cream that works really well for me – I have fair, easily burned, sensitive dry skin.
Zinc oxide can be helpful in soothing eczema breakouts and in my experience can prevent it from reoccurring in areas that are particularly prone to it. I have allergic dermatitis – I get severe eczema from consuming dairy – and have previously experienced long-term breakouts particularly on my hands and face.
Though I no longer eat dairy and my eczema has reduced to what I consider to be very mild, I still use this gentle face cream on any patches that might show up as well as daily on my face and hands. This can be made without the added zinc oxide for a good basic cream, too.
I want to add a quick disclaimer here that this is homemade, not researched or tested in a lab, and it’s your choice whether you want to try it or not. I’m not inviting argument from people about whether it’s good for my skin or not, because I already know what works for me.
- Olive oil: extra virgin, the main ingredient. Other liquid oils, like sweet almond, can replace all or part of the olive oil, but it is my preference.
- Hydrosol: rosewater, orange blossom water, or witch hazel. Other hydrosols can be used as well, but I’ve only tested with these three. Hypothetically, water could be used in place of the hydrosol. Tap water causes faster spoiling but distilled water would be fine.
- Beeswax: the little pastilles are handy, but weights are provided, so it’s easy to measure it any form. Soya wax can be used to replace beeswax for a vegan option (I haven’t tried this).
- Shea butter: edible but not usually sold with food, it’s easy to find online. You can sometimes find it in health shops and organic/low waste grocers.
- Zinc oxide: this can also be found online – check shops that sell soap making supplies, for example, and you’ll be able to get it there.
Step by Step
Step 1: add the oil, beeswax, and cocoa butter to a saucepan and melt over low heat.
Step 2: remove from the heat and add the shea butter.
Step 3: add the hydrosol.
Step 4: mix with an immersion blender.
Step 5: keep mixing until the cream is emulsified and smooth.
Step 6: mix in the zinc oxide, if using.
Step 7: the cream should be lightened in colour and very smooth.
Step 8: transfer to small jars and cool fully.
I don’t add any oils for scent because I find the cream smells good as is, and essential oils are not such a great environmental choice. If you want to add some, be sure not to use citrus oils or any others that can potentially cause phototoxicity.
I haven’t tried making any creams or lotions without an immersion blender. It might be possible to whip by hand, but I’m not sure (maybe with electric beaters) and recommend using the blender. They can often be found secondhand, a great option if you’re planning to use it specifically for things like creams and soaps.
This makes quite a large batch. Store any extra jars that aren’t currently in use in the refrigerator to prevent spoiling. In the summer months I keep the one I’m using refrigerated, too, if it starts to get very warm indoors.
I don’t recommend changing out the shea or cacao butter. Coconut oil is not a good option, even though it’s solid at room temperature.
Zinc oxide is also the most common active ingredient in sunblock, but this cream is not meant to be used for sun protection. It hasn’t been tested in any form to show effectiveness against UV damage and shouldn’t be used as sunscreen or sunblock.
If you have darker skin, you might see some lightening from the zinc that could make your face look kind of ghostly pale or washed out. If you’re adding make-up over the cream it’s no problem (it’ll be less lightening than zinc-based sunblock) but it can be left out if you want to avoid this altogether.
For people with very pale skin, the zinc can act as a slight evening element for helping with redness in the skin. For my redness-prone skin, it almost acts as a primer and I use it in place of any makeup.
- Melt with residual heat: shea butter will become grainy if overheated – that’s why it’s added to the hot oil to melt with residual heat. Beeswax will take the longest to melt, but be patient and don’t increase the heat.
- Apply twice: I recommend applying the lotion, waiting five minutes, and then rubbing it in again. It won’t fully absorb into the skin (it’s not meant to) and will add a bit of dewiness this way without looking greasy.
- Customise for your skin: depending on whether you need extra soothing cream or want something with a slight pore-tightening element, you can go for orange blossom or rosewater (soothing) or witch hazel (pores).
More Low-Waste Recipes
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Homemade Face Cream for Sensitive Skin
- 250 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 30 grams cacao butter
- 30 grams beeswax
- 25 grams shea butter
- 125 ml rosewater or witch hazel or orange blossom water
- 2 tablespoons zinc oxide
- Add the olive oil, cacao butter, and beeswax to a small saucepan. Heat on low until the beeswax is fully melted, about five minutes.250 ml extra-virgin olive oil, 30 grams cacao butter, 30 grams beeswax
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the shea butter. It will melt in the residual heat.25 grams shea butter
- Add the rosewater or witch hazel to the oil mixture, and use an immersion blender to mix on low speed until fully incorporated (emulsified). The cream will become opaque as it's mixed.125 ml rosewater
- Mix in the zinc oxide until fully combined.2 tablespoons zinc oxide
- Pour the cream into the jars while it’s still warm, as it will solidify as it cools.
- Allow the cream to cool fully at room temperature before refrigerating any extra jars that won’t be in use. It will last up to six months in the refrigerator.
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.
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