Homemade Moisturizing Creams

I’m still here, I promise! Still selling oils and everything. There’s just been lots of family demands on my time, so little blogging time, alas. Both kids are sitting around watching television like zombies this morning, though (we’ve all been sick), so I decided to provide readers with directions for making two different moisturizing creams.


I have really dry, sensitive skin that cracks in the wintertime, and my daughters have inherited that from me. We go through a LOT of moisturizing cream. And it has to be unscented, because scented body products give me a headache (I got into the oil business largely through an overactive sense of smell, which means all personal care products I use have to be perfume-free). Unscented natural moisturizers can get expensive, especially if you’re slathering three out of four family members with it at least twice a day, so I started making my own. For the most part, I use whipped coconut oil moisturizer at night, because it doesn’t matter if our skin is a little greasy when we get into our pajamas. But for mornings, we need something that’s going to be absorbed fast, and soothes irritated skin. Here’s how to make both of the moisturizing creams we use in our house.


Nighttime Coconut Oil Cream:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup coconut oil (solid at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon natural Vitamin E oil
  • 2-4 drops of essential oil for scent (I leave it unscented, but I put vanilla essential oil in the mixture when I make it for other people)
  • Mixer with wire whisk attachment – easier with a stand mixer, but still possible with a hand mixer

Directions:


  • Put all the ingredients in a bowl – do NOT melt the coconut oil; it has to be solid in order to be whipped.
  • Mix on high speed with a wire whisk for six or seven minutes, or until it’s been whipped up to a fluffy consistency.

  • Spoon the cream into a glass jar and cap tightly. It can be stored at room temperature or, if the temperature in your house is warm enough to liquify the oil, in the refrigerator.



Daytime Coconut-Oatmeal Moisturizer:

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of oats (regular rolled oats, not steel cut or quick-cooking)

  • 3/4 cup of coconut oil

  • 2 or 3 drops of rosemary essential oil (optional – rosemary oil is good for your skin, but if you don’t like the smell, you can skip it)

  • 1 tbsp of olive oil


Directions:

  • Grind the oats to powder with a food processor, blender, Magic Bullet, etc. Grind them up as fine as you can – anything other than powder and the oats will settle to the bottom of the pan when you’re mixing this up.
  • Put the solid coconut oil in a pan over low heat and melt until it’s completely liquid, but not boiling.

  • Add the rosemary essential oil to the liquid coconut oil, if you’re using it.

  • Add the oat powder to the liquid in the pan and ensure it dissolves. This is a key step. If you don’t wait long enough for the oat powder to dissolve, the cream isn’t going to turn out well. Stir it a few times, and be sure the mixture does not boil at all while you’re waiting. The pan just has to be warm enough to liquify the coconut oil; you’re not cooking anything here.

  • Once the oat powder is totally dissolved in the oil – it will look cloudy, but not clumpy – add the olive oil. Stir to mix.

  • When all ingredients are completely mixed, remove the pan from the heat and immediately pour the liquid mixture into a glass container. Cap the container tightly and put it aside. It will harden over several hours. Stick it in the fridge to make it happen faster.

  • As with the other cream, you can store this on a shelf or in the fridge.


These creams are best for really dry skin. If you’ve got “normal” skin, you may find these too oily, and that they leave a residue on your skin. On the plus side, even if you do get your pajamas a little slimy, the fact that the creams are made with entirely natural ingredients means that everything washes out easily. You don’t need much of either of these creams – a dab will usually go a long way.


From a magical perspective, rosemary is associated with happiness in the home, so you could even call this a magical moisturizing lotion if you wanted. Rosemary is great for your skin, which is why it’s normally used in these mixes, but if you wanted to substitute another essential oil for scent, you could do that. Just be sure it’s an essential oil that will not irritate the skin – cinnamon scented body lotion might sound awesome, but please believe me when I say it’s a really, really bad idea. Sweet orange is probably okay, as long as you don’t go overboard, and scents like vanilla turn out really well.

Hope those of you with dry skin find these recipes as helpful as I have.

Using a Base Oil in Making Magical Oils

When I talk about magical oils, I usually talk about the three parts (…est omnis divisa in partes tres – that was a joke for anyone who ever took Latin. All three of you.). The essential oil(s), the herbal component, and the base oil.


So what’s a base oil? In the aromatherapy world, a base oil is also known as a carrier oil, since it carries the essential oil to the nose or skin. Normally, a base oil is defined as “a vegetable oil derived from the fatty portion of a plant, usually from the seeds, kernels or the nuts.”(Source: aromaweb.com ). Because essential oils are so strong and because they’re volatile oils (rapidly evaporating), they need to be diluted and “fixed” with something that doesn’t have much of a scent and doesn’t evaporate. That’s where base oils come in.




There’s a number of base oils used to mix with essential oils. Probably the two most popular are sweet almond oil and grapeseed oil. Another popular “base oil” is actually not an oil at all – jojoba “oil” is actually a wax that’s liquid at room temperature. Recently, there’s been a surge of interest in using coconut oil, which is actually solid at room temperature. It’s possible to mix essential oils into coconut oil, however (a subject for another post), and people have had good results – it just takes more work than simply mixing two oils together. There’s going to be a guest post very soon from a coconut oil expert on using coconut oil with essential oils, but I am not that expert.
All I know is that it makes a great moisturizer for hair and skin.


To my way of thinking, the choice of base oil does not matter from a magical standpoint. The magical ingredients are the essential oils and the herbs – the base oil is just there to dilute the essential and prevent it from evaporating, and to help try to prevent pure essential oils from irritating skin.


People are often surprised by just HOW MUCH carrier oil is used with essential oils. For a strongly scented oil, you can use about ten to fifteen drops of essentials to 1/4 to 1/2oz of base oil. Base oils are almost unscented, though many of them have a faint nutty odor, and they carry the smell of the essential oil really well.

It’s easy to overdo it, when it comes to essential oils. Start with the base oil, add the essentials sparingly. And the herbs will get covered later.

Preserving Magical Oils

In previous posts, I think I’ve addressed the fact that natural oils eventually go rancid. It happens to all of them – probably everyone has had the experience of opening a bottle of olive oil and making a face at the smell.

Natural oil products go “bad” because of oxidation, which occurs when light and air hit the oil. This is why Quadrivium recommends keeping your oils in dark glass bottles and storing them in a dark, cool place. Vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant, is used in all of our oils to slow down the process. Nothing will stop an all-natural oil from eventually getting rancid, but using an anti-oxidant additive will make the oil last much longer.
The trick is to find out which kind of Vitamin E oil you have before you add it to an oil. There are two kinds of Vitamin E oil available, one natural and one synthetic. The synthetic oil (dl-tocopherol) has no anti-oxidant properties. Check the label before you buy Vitamin E oil to ensure that it says d-tocopherol, as this means it’s the natural form of the oil and has the anti-oxidant qualities needed.
It only takes a few drops of natural Vitamin E for the antioxidant qualities to work – usually the final product is about 0.04- 0.5% Vitamin E.

mason jar full of oil

Another option that some oilmakers use is benzoin, though Quadrivium does not use benzoin for some reasons that I’ll outline below. Benzoin (styrax benzoin) is a resin, which means it’s sticky and thick. It can’t be added to an oil in it’s natural form. There’s no real essential oil of benzoin, though there’s often products that claim to be essential oil of benzoin. Remember that there are no real rules in place in this regard, and that companies can claim that liquid benzoin is an essential oil when it’s not. In order for the benzoin to be liquid, it has to go through a chemical process often referred to as “solvent extraction.” This means the resin has been chemically processed, and will contain solvents to make it pourable and liquid. Odds are the people using the liquid benzoin have no idea what solvents or chemicals are in their liquid benzoin, which leads to the possibility of carcinogens, allergens, and other issues. In fact, benzoin itself can be an allergen, and there have been cases of people developing a sensitivity to benzoin after using so many products that have used it to prolong shelf life.

This is why Quadrivium does not use liquid benzoin as an anti-oxidant.

Benzoin resin can also be dried and made into a powder, which can be added to an oil, but that presents another set of problems. There is no way of knowing what is in the powder. The label may say it’s 100% benzoin resin, but unless the user has made the powder themselves, there’s no way of knowing which variety of benzoin is being used (there are several), if the powder is pure resin, if there are added chemicals, or how the powder was processed.
Since Quadrivium isn’t a chemical processing company, and we don’t have the means to test powders for purity, we’re not taking the risk with benzoin powder, either.

Grapefruit Seed Extract is another antioxidant that’s often mentioned when talking about natural preservatives, and it is indeed an antioxidant. However, it’s extracted with synthetic compounds, including methylparaben. It’s also something of a newcomer to the “natural preservative” family and while some people have found it effective, it doesn’t have the track records that benzoin and Vitamin E do.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) extract, also known as Rosemary Oleoresin Extract, is another powerful anti-oxidant that can be used in oils, though it’s much more common in soapmaking. Per the Camden-Grey essential oil site, which sells this product, an oleoresin is an extraction of a natural food or flavoring raw material using selected solvents to remove the vital components; the oleoresin will contain the essential oil and other important non-volatile components which enhance the flavor, act as fixative or contain other desirable properties. ROE is very strong and some people find it irritating to the skin; it’s also a very thick liquid. Most people disperse it in vegetable oil before adding it to their product. As with Vitamin E oil, it doesn’t take much ROE to work as an anti-oxidant – .1% to 1% in a finished product. ROE has a distinct herbal odor, but so little of it is used in the product that it’s not particularly noticeable.
While this is an excellent product, Quadrivium Supplies believes that every plant ingredient in an oil should have a meaning – and since ROE is extracted from rosemary, it retains the magical properties of rosemary, which aren’t appropriate for many of our oils.

If you want to keep your oils from going rancid, you have many options. We use all natural low d-alpha mixed tocopherols, also known as T-50 Vitamin E.

Making A Ritual Oil – Part I

Back before Quadrivium Supplies popped into existence, I made my own oils. I made them because the oils available for purchase mostly consisted of synthetic scents and petroleum solvents.

Making a ritual oil for the first time can be intimidating. Which scents? What purpose? Should there be solid herbs added? Which carrier oil? How diluted should the essential oils be in the carrier? It may possibly be going against my own interests (I do, after all, want you to buy the oil I make), but I think most people who use oils should know how to make them as well. This is my attempt at de-mystifying the process. These are the steps I go through when I’m making a new oil, and I hope you’ll find them useful. If it sends you screaming from the room, remember that my training is mostly hermetic and based in the Western Mystery tradition, so I’m fond of complicated recipes – and you’re under no obligation to make oils the way I do, think about them the way I do, or deal with them the way I do.

oil

Determine Purpose
The first thing to consider when making an oil is the purpose. An oil used to anoint ritual tools and altar statues is going to have a different composition than an oil used to anoint the user’s brow during ritual work or for divination purposes – and both of those are going to be entirely different from an oil that is mixed for a specific purpose, like finding a lover or a job.

Determine Process
Questions to ask yourself at the planning stage:

  • To which table of correspondence do you adhere?
    • I discussed this in an earlier blog post, about choosing a table of correspondence or using the one passed down from your tradition. It’s also totally acceptable to NOT use a table of correspondence, and just use oils that appeal to you personally – you’re the only one using the oil, so if anise and nutmeg seem like a love drawing combination for you, give it a try.

  • Are there personal attributions to scents that will need to be considered when making this oil?
    • It doesn’t matter if every table of correspondence in the world tells you that rose absolute is good for love – if the scent makes you think of a former lover or an unhappy time in your life, it won’t work for you. Same for every other scent. Our olfactory sense bypasses our conscious mind in a very direct and real way, and before you start making an oil, you should be familiar with your emotional response to a variety of scents.
      Go stand in front of an essential oil display and smell some of the oils, noting if you have a strong emotional reaction to any particular scents. If you can, take notes. After about four scents, the olfactory senses get tired and confused, so don’t overdo it. YOU are the one using this oil – you must tailor it to yourself.

  • Will this oil be used on skin?
    • This matters, but probably less so than the above two questions. This is more of a practical question than a magical one – you want to know if it’s going to be used on skin so you can avoid essential oils that are known to irritate, maybe use a different carrier oil, and generally be more picky about ingredients than you might be if you were using the oil to anoint a candle or your ritual knife.

  • Will you be using solids, or just oil?
    • This is one of those decision that depends on not only your particular magical tradition, but your personal convictions. Most people don’t actively think about this, but I think it’s something to consider before you start making the oil. Do you want solid herbs or powdered herbs or curios of any kind in your oil? Some people feel that including solids adulterates the oil, others feel that an oil without a solid ingredient as a focus for magical intent will have much less power. Deciding ahead of time how you feel about solid ingredients in magical oil will prevent any last-minute decision making that can’t be undone.

  • Determine how much oil you’ll be making.
    • I’d say it goes without saying, but I’m saying it. Making 8 ounces of oil is very different than making a 2 dram bottle, and I know this from experience. Unless you’re making oils for sale, or distributing them to friends, try to refrain from making huge amounts. Since there are no synthetics involved, the oils can go rancid and if there’s solid plant material in them, that plant material can degrade or dissolve and leave unusable sludge behind. There’s also the small matter of supplies – you’re going to need a LOT more raw material if you intend to make your oils in 8 ounce jars.

And just think, you haven’t even started MAKING the oil yet….

It’s not really that complicated or difficult, despite how it sounds. People make oil all the time with no tables of correspondence, no advance planning, and use pendulum divination, tarot, guesswork, or their own preferences to decide what oils go into the mix. This series is intended to give you an idea of how I’ve approached making oils for a number of years, and to provide a general sense of what some people take into consideration when they make an oil.

Oil and Water

With a lot of the success and drawing oils – Crown of Success, Money Drawing, Love Drawing, Get A Job, etc. – I’ve talked about anointing a resume or other kind of paper with oil. Recently, I got an email from someone who wanted to be absolutely sure she didn’t leave an oil smudge on her paper, which was a perfectly legitimate concern, and asked me if Quadrivium Oils can be mixed into water.
Short answer: sure!
Long answer (oh, you knew it was coming): Turning a magical oil into a sprayable water while retaining the magical properties requires a few things, but it’s pretty easy to do. You do have to use up the water within a few weeks, however, if the solid matter in the oil is added to the water. Even dried herbs get moldy when they sit in water for two months.

glass spray bottles

What you need:

  • The solid herbal ingredients from the oil – you can get them out of the oil bottle by decanting the oil into another container and straining out the solid ingredients with cheesecloth. If you happen to know the solid ingredients, you can just use those without going to the trouble of straining your oil.
  • An eyedropper or pipette.
  • About eleven drops of oil per cup of spray you intend to make.
  • A good-sized pot with a lid.
  • Distilled water.
  • A glass bottle with a spray attachment.
  • Your stovetop.

First, separate the oil from the solid ingredients, as explained above. Measure out how much spray you’d like to make, and add that much distilled water to the pot. Put in the solid ingredients from the oil. When the water has started boiling, add nine or eleven drops of oil per cup of water. How much oil you add will determine the strength of the fragrance in the water – use a light hand and don’t dump the whole bottle of oil in, unless you’re making a vat of spray water. Allow this mixture to boil for about three to five minutes, then take it off the burner and cover it immediately. Allow the water to cool completely, while covered.
At this point, you can either strain out the solid ingredients from the water, or leave them in. My personal preference is to leave the solid ingredients in the water, as they’re an integral part of the mixture. As mentioned above, though, this means you have to use up the water/oil mix more quickly, as the solid herbs can get moldy.
Fill your glass bottle with the water and add in some of the solid herbs. Attach the spray top. Ta-da! You now have a scented water made from magical oil that you can use on….pretty much anything you like. It’s diluted enough that it won’t leave stains on paper or fabric, and can even be used as a room freshener. I like to use a Van Van water to spray on unscented dryer sheets before I put my family’s clothes in the dryer, and my kids insist that their room be sprayed with it before bed. According to them, it chases away nightmares and monsters. There’s lots of uses for these sprays. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making them, I’m happy to do it for you upon request.