Winter skin care: green tea moisturizing cream.

Green Tea Moisturizing Cream

Since the temperature dropped a week or two ago, my skin has been painfully dry.

I don’t generally like to use store-bought lotions and creams because almost all of them (even “natural” brands) have weird ingredients in them: drying alcohols, toxic preservatives, etc. And the ones that have good ingredients tend to be way too expensive for me. So I make my own.

This week I made a thick cream based on coconut oil (Cocos nucifera), green tea (Camellia sinensis) and oats (Avena sativa). It’s a rich moisturizer—the oats and green tea are soothing and healing, and the coconut oil forms a barrier that protects skin from harsh weather.

This is how I made it.

1. Melt 3-4 tablespoons of grated beeswax with 1/2 cup of coconut oil and 1/2 cup of grapeseed or other skin-friendly liquid oil (more beeswax makes a thicker cream). When it’s thoroughly melted, pour the oil mixture into a blender and let it cool completely.

2. Make a strong infusion from 2 tablespoons green tea and 3/4 cup almost-boiling water (don’t use boiling water on green tea; it destroys some of the medicine). Let it steep for 5 minutes or so. Then pour it through cheesecloth or muslin and wring it out. You should have about 1/2 cup of strong tea.

3. Simmer a small handful of oats in 3/4 cup water for about 10 minutes. Let it sit for a while (at least 1/2 hour). Strain. You should have about 1/2 cup of oat water.

4. Mix the oat water and the green tea together. These are your “waters” (as opposed to oils).

5. When both the oils and the waters are completely cool (it’s easiest to just wait until the next morning), put the waters into a pitcher or another container that’s easy to pour. Then get the blender going on its highest speed and pour the waters in a slow, steady stream into the center of the blending oils. When you’ve almost finished adding the waters, pay close attention. When the cream is ready, the blender will start to sputter and choke a little bit. When this happens, turn the blender off. Your cream is done. You can stir it more by hand if you like, but if you beat it too much it might separate. (This is also a good time to add a few drops of essential oil if you want to scent your cream. I used 5 drops of grapefruit oil.)

6. Scoop the cream into jars, and store it someplace cool. (Since it doesn’t have any preservatives in it, it’s a bit perishable. If you won’t be using it for a long time, you can store it in the refrigerator.)

You can vary the recipe in all sorts of ways, but make sure you have 1 cup each of oils and waters, and that they are at room temperature when you blend them. (The basic proportions of this cream are based on the recipe for Rosemary Gladstar‘s “Perfect Cream,” which can be found on Recipenet or in her many books.)

Some notes:

Because this cream doesn’t have drying alcohols in it like most store-bought creams do, it takes a few minutes to soak in. Don’t worry, your skin will absorb it.

Since this cream feels oilier than store-bought creams, people sometimes worry that it might promote breakouts. I have never found that to be the case. In fact, I’ve used it to soothe acne-prone skin with good results. But everyone’s skin is different, so you’ll have to try it and see how it feels.

New note (11 Feb): If it’s on the cool side in your house (i.e., your room temperature is below 68 or so), you might want to use less coconut oil and more liquid oil so that the final oil mix is soft enough for the blender to work with at room temperature. (The day I made this cream the wood fire in our house was really roaring.)

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