Make your own moisturiser: It could save you a pretty penny – but can it beat the High Street’s best
DIY beauty: Frances Childs searches for a cheaper way to keep her skin hydrated
My kitchen table resembles an alchemist’s laboratory. Lined up before me I have calendula, neroli and rosehip seed oils. I have wax, cocoa butter and some truly festive sounding frankincense essential oil.
I’ve acquired this collection of exotic potions because I am preparing to cook up my very own moisturiser. One which I hope will perform the miraculous feat of both banishing my wrinkles and saving me copious amounts of cash. At the moment I spend 40 a month on moisturiser — surely there must be a cheaper way to keep my skin hydrated
To begin with I trawled the internet. But the thought of stuffing some porridge oats into a sock and rubbing that across my face — as advised on one site — didn’t appeal. So I turned to Neal’s Yard, the posh person’s Body Shop. And bingo! Not only do they sell all the ingredientsfor making beauty products, they’ve produced a recipe book — Cook, Brew, And Blend Your Own Herbs.
Thumbing through, I pick the sumptuous-sounding Frankincense And Wild Rose Skin Cream, which promisesto ‘treat fine lines and keep skin smooth and radiant’. Ihop onto the internet to order the ingredients and am slightly shocked at the prices — a bottle of neroli oil (produced from the blossom of thebitter orange tree) is 19.90, while frankincense is 13.40. The cheapest requisite is emulsifying wax at 3.08. Altogether the six ingredients come to 68.60.
However,I comfort myself that this initial outlay will be money well spent onceI start producing industrial quantities of moisturiser.The recipe involves melting emulsifying wax and water in a saucepan while warming essential oils and cocoa butter in a heat-resistant mixingbowl. After a couple of minutes, I pour the wax into the cocoa butter and oil and whisk briskly. And that’s it.
It’s so simple that even I (who have been forced, on more than one occasion, to buy back my own lopsided fairy cakes from the school fete) manage to follow the recipe without mishap. The quantities are tiny. Aquarter of an ounce of emulsifying wax, half a teaspoon of cocoa butter, a teaspoon each of rosehip seed and calendula oils and a couple of drops of frankincense and neroli.
In little more than 20 minutes, I am the proud possessor of an absolutely minuscule amount of home-made moisturiser. Frowning, I check the ingredients. Surely it can’t be right that I have produced this thimbleful of cream It might work for a fairy — but they don’t get wrinkles do they I try again, but to no avail. There’s enough cream here to keep fine lines at bay for a couple of days if I’m lucky. After which I’ll have to start melting wax in the kitchen saucepan again — which I’m not sure is entirely hygienic.
Disappointingly, the cream feels thick and greasy. I really don’t want this on my face. It makes my hands feel soft but I resent spending almost 70 on a hand lotion. Neal’s Yard and Ipart company.
However I’m notthrowing in the towel yet. I ring Plush Folly — a company run by Sally Hornsey whose mission is to train people to make their own beauty products, either by going on one of her courses or by using her ready-to-go kits. Perhaps she can help.
ONE: Frances slowly melts the emulsifying wax in a saucepan
TWO: Essential oils are mixed with cocoa butter and warmed
THREE: The wax is added and whisked briskly. And it’s done!
Her Vitamin Enriched Hydrating Moisturiser Kit at 33 looks attractive — there are enough ingredients to make two batches. Sally recommends it for what she politely terms ‘mature skin’. Sadly, I think that’s me. The kit arrives promptly, containing — alongside the obligatory emulsifying wax — luscious-sounding oils. Avocado, vitamin-enriched primrose and jojoba, as well as frankincense, carrot seed and rose. There’s a preservative and in a tiny bottle there’s also something labelled CoEnzyme Q10, which you may recognise from shop-bought anti-ageing products.
Oddly, however, there’s no recipe withinthe kit. The only way I can get hold of that is by logging back on to the Plush Folly website and entering a secret password.What with my secret passwords and CoEnzyme Q10, I’m beginning to feel I’m making something far more dangerous than a mere moisturiser. However, once I start melting wax in my faithful old saucepan and warming the oils in the heat-proof bowl it all feels terribly familiar.
As directed, I add a dash of the Q10 andpreservative to the oils and pour on the melted wax. Whisking it, I experience a moment of triumph and deja vu as the liquid begins to thicken. Within a couple of minutes I have in my bowl something that is unmistakeably a moisturiser and this time, there’s a reasonable amount of it.
Just because this stuff looks uncomfortably like lard, doesn’t mean it might not be working wonders on my skin
I’ve made this cream in half an hour — less time than it would take to go into town, park, select and pay for my normal cream and get home again. It was terribly easy to do, and this time the moisturiser feels lighter. To be honest though, despite all the lovely oils, it smells waxy.
Feeling a bit deflated, I have to admit that although making the moisturisers was much more simple than I’d imagined, I don’t actually want to use either. But I’m not an expert. Perhaps I don’t recognise a good thing when I see it. Just because this stuff looks uncomfortably like lard, doesn’t mean it might not be working wonders on my skin.
So what would a specialist make of my homemade creams Jamming the moisturisers into my handbag I set off to the Harley Street Skin Clinic, in London. The Neal’s Yard product was supposed to be kept in a dark jar, but I figure the inside of my bag is gloomy enough.
Lesley Reynolds-Khan, a skincare specialist at the clinic and author of Look Younger For Longer, fingers my concoctions and purses her lips thoughtfully. ‘Both these creams contain excellent ingredients. But the Neal’s Yard product is very oily and might well clog the pores, bringing you out in spots,’ she says.
Enough said. It’s the cocoa butter, she explains, that makes it so heavy — ‘It would work as a hand or foot cream, though.’ Hornsey’s cream is lighter and two skincare experts I spoke to praised its ingredients. ‘CoEnzyme Q10 speeds up skin repair. It’s a powerful antioxidant that helps delay the ageing process,’ explains Dr Thomas Watcyn-Jones, a cosmetic medicine specialist at the Harley Street Skin Clinic. The avocado and jojoba oils in Sally’s cream are terrific for hydrating and relaxing the skin according to Christina Christoforou, who runs Goddess, a beauty salon in London.
‘I’m not so keen on emulsifying wax though. That’s quite heavy for a facial cream,’ she said.
So, while making the products was fun, I think I should probably go back to using my kitchen for making those lopsided cupcakes. It would certainly be cheaper.
Details from plushfolly.com. Cook Brew And Blend Your Own Herbs — Neal’s Yard Remedies, and Look Younger For Longer: Easy Ways To Drop A Decade by Lesley Reynolds, both from amazon.com