Friday, March 11, 2011

A Dreamy Cream

I should've known better than to mention the s-word. No sooner had I posted the last blog about spring-cleaning and winter returned with a vengeance. Despite white-out squalls, though, I began the cleaning, telling myself its optimism, not obstinacy, keeping alive my foraging plans.

Whatever delusions I hold, of one thing I'm certain: my hands are in distress! Low humidity, caused by the extreme winter weather, is brutal to my dry, sensitive skin. Add to that wearing rubber gloves and using various cleaners and my hands look like snapper – red and scaly.

What better time to test a new cream? With sensitive skin, I've long sought a moisturizer that both quenches dryness but won't irritate. Sounds simple, but it's proved a challenging quest. Dry skin is hard to conquer, and I've yet to find applications that don't cause blemishes or other irritations. I've tried lotions for sensitive skin, fragrance free, some with aloe, and some with vitamins or other miraculous nutrients considered beneficial. All caused problems for me. However, without some moisturizing, winter feels like a death-by-a-thousand-cuts torment.

Surely there were creams without all the special ingredients. My research said otherwise. Product labels, if they provided the information, listed chem.-lab concoctions, most ingredients unpronounceable and mysterious. At this point in life, I've no interest in learning chemistry just to work out which ingredient (or combination of ingredients) might be irritating my skin.

Instead, I decided to make my own and soon found a simple recipe using only four ingredients: almond oil, rose water, beeswax, and an essential oil. Preparation takes mere minutes, and none of the ingredients cause me irritation. In fact, all are natural and could be ingested without harm. Not that I'm tempted to eat the lavender cream I prepared, but it's good to know the ingredients won't cause illness if any residue were to remain on the kitchen equipment.

I made my first batch on February 9th, reducing the recipe to one-third its volume. The resulting quantity was approximately 4.9 ounces, which lasted a month with both of us using the lotion several times daily on hands, body, and face. (Note: The original article does NOT recommend facial use.) Though it wasn't the impetus for my search, I was pleased when I calculated the cost of each third-recipe batch at only $4.57 – less than a dollar an ounce! That's a minor saving over most body ointments, but a considerable saving over facial creams I've bought.

Most important are the results and, given the tough test this cream underwent over the last month, I think it's as effective an emulsion as most commercial brands we've used. It smells absolutely dreamy, too! Though it's a little oily when first applied, the cream absorbs quickly and leaves skin feeling soft and supple. Hubby tells me it soothes his eczema without the burning or itchiness commercial brands caused. My dividend is, when used sparingly as a facial balm, it hasn't yet caused blemishes.

Dry skin and eczema remain our daily battles, particularly during these final blasts of winter while spring-cleaning rages on, so it's nice having this new cream available. Liberal and recurrent applications are much more pleasant and a little more affordable. Given its harmless ingredients, it's probably healthier for such frequent use, too.