Health and Diet

DIY Winter Skincare

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Winter is upon us and while we may be glad to get some time out of the midsummer sun, winter weather is hard on our bodies, causing dry and itchy, even cracked and inflamed skin.  When dry skin is not treated, atopic dermatitis (eczema) can result.  Untreated dry skin can also crack and bleed, and those open sores can be the site of an infection.  Fortunately, there are many things you can do to keep your skin hydrated.  DIY skincare products like homemade oils, lotions, and body butters are fun to make, healing for your skin, and are much-appreciated holiday gifts.

Skin is the largest organ of the body and we must take care of it.  Spot treatments will relieve dry patches but for optimal skin health, you should soak in a warm bath with Epsom salts, powdered milk, or oatmeal at least once a week.  Apply some type of moisturizer after your bath or shower, while still wet, and pat dry.  Scrubbing dry can irritate skin, and will effectively remove all the moisture you applied.  Store all of your DIY skincare products in a tightly covered glass jar in a cool, dark area.

Scented milk powder is a blend of one cup powdered milk, 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup cornstarch, and up to 10 drops of essential oil.  Combine the milk, baking soda, and cornstarch in a mason jar and shake to mix.  Add the essential oil and shake again.  Pour one cup into your bath water.

Make a big batch of scented Epsom salts by combining four cups Epsom salt, two cups baking soda, and up to 30 drops of essential oil.  Add a generous scoop to your bath.

To make DIY skincare products, you will use herbs (in the form of essential oils) and carrier oils.  Essential oils are derived from plants and they have therapeutic properties that reduce the discomfort of dry skin.  Never put essential oil directly on your skin; always mix it with a carrier oil.  If you are trying a new essential oil, do a test on a small area of skin to make sure you do not have an allergy.  If you make a skin treatment for a child, it is a good idea to cut the essential oil amount by half.  Arrowroot is also called for in some recipes.  Arrowroot is not necessary, but it does make the lotion less greasy.  The best herbs and essential oils for dry skin relief and repair are lavender, ylang-ylang, tea tree, cedarwood, licorice root, astragalus, calendula, comfrey leaf and root, and marshmallow root.  If you are going to make your own infusions, you can harvest these herbs yourself or order from a reputable herb supplier.

The carrier oils that are best for skin care are coconut, jojoba, sweet almond, apricot, primrose, olive, and hemp seed oil.  To infuse an oil with an herb, wash and pat dry the plant material and place it in a glass jar with a lid.  Cover the herb with the carrier oil of your choice and place it in a dark cabinet for two to four weeks, shaking every day.  Strain oil into a clean glass jar and discard the plant material.

To make a massage oil using essential oils, simply make your base oil by adding 1/2 teaspoon of vitamin E oil to 8 ounces of the carrier oil of your choice.  Add up to forty drops of your essential oil and transfer to a glass jar.  If you want a slightly thicker oil, replace one ounce of the carrier oil with one ounce of cranberry seed oil.

Homemade lotion is inexpensive to make, can be customized to personal preferences, and does not include all of the chemicals found in mass-produced skincare.  It is also easy to make.

Homemade Lotion

  • ¼ cup shea or cocoa butter
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 7 drops of vitamin E oil
  • Up to 20 drops of essential oil.

Melt shea/cocoa butter and coconut oil in a double boiler.  Remove from heat once melted and cool until it begins to set up.  Add essential oil, and Vitamin E oil and mix with a hand mixer.  Add arrowroot powder while mixing.  Continue mixing until the lotion is light and fluffy.  Store in a glass container.

Body butter is similar to lotion, except thicker, and much more expensive if you buy it in stores.  Body butter is the skincare item I like to give as gifts, as you can match the fragrance to each person’s preference and it is a very luxurious and pampering gift.

Body Butter

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup shea butter
  • 1/3 cup cocoa butter
  • 1/3 cup sweet almond oil
  • 2 teaspoons arrowroot powder
  • Up to 30 drops of essential oil (one scent or a combination)

Combine all of the ingredients except the essential oil in a double boiler.  Once melted, let the mixture cool until it begins to set up.  Using a hand mixer, beat until fluffy, about 10 minutes.  Add essential oil and beat for one minute more.n Store in an airtight glass container.

Once you become familiar with the ingredients and basic techniques, making DIY skincare products will become a part of your routine.  It feels great to make a product that soothes and protects your family, and it won’t be long before you venture into more challenging recipes.  Skin health has found its way into the news, and expensive skin products are flooding the market.  This puts you in the perfect position to turn your DIY skincare into a marketable product.

Make, use, and share these products, but also take common care sense of your skin.  Apply a moisturizer after washing your hands and wear gloves when you go outside.  Use warm water—hot water damages skin and cold water irritates dry skin.  If you suffer from dry and cracked hands or feet, apply a thick moisturizer before bed and wear thin gloves and/or socks.  Above all, enjoy pampering yourself and your family this winter.  It will be summer soon and we will be making lotion for gardener’s hands!

Many of the ingredients for your DIY skincare products can be found on Amazon.

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