Monday, 17 January 2011

Invasion of the lizard people

I don’t know about you, but winter means one thing to me (obviously it doesn’t, it means more than one thing. I mean this rhetorically): it means I turn into a lizard. Yes, come early October, there I am with my hideous lizard skin until March. Sometimes there is a bit of variety, which makes the suspense more exciting. What will it be this year? Will I have cracked hands and spend the winter months juggling plasters and neutrogena and swearing every time I have to go near an orange? (Seville oranges! Coming tomorrow with Dave the veg box man! For marmalade!). Will it be the flaky legs? Face like a 2000 year old mummy? No, this year it is dry and itchy ribs and general skin malaise. Fortunately, the worst part of my transformation into a lizard this year has coincided with my decluttering zeal, and I have rediscovered the Whipped Shea Butter I made last year which I got so bored of whipping I squirrelled away into a cupboard. I have un-squirrelled it, and I have been using it, and actually it is rather good, so I thought I would give you the recipe.
Whip that sucker! Whip it into a frenzy!
Now fasten your seatbelts for just a bit of my anti-corporate ramblings, I know this brings out the worst in some people (in fact, I may have to name and shame. Every time I write about the evils of Tesco, my Aunty Kath goes out and does a shop there. Yes she does!). Hmm hmm, clears throat. Home made whipped body butter doesn’t have the same texture as bought – it is oilier, and mine is heavier, because I’m not sure I’m very good at whipping it (but you might be better! Do let me know if you’re successful). Because my skin is so sore, though, I feel ok about putting it on because I know what is in it and none of the ingredients are harmful*, indeed some of the ingredients you can eat. Also, because it doesn’t contain water (which is why it is heavy), it lasts for ages with no need for preservatives. Out of interest, I looked up the ingredients of a commercial body butter which contains shea, like mine. This is what is in The Body Shop shea body butter:

Aqua (Water) (Solvent/Diluent), Butyrospermum parkii (Shea Butter) (Emollient), Cyclomethicone (Emollient), Theobroma cacao (Cocoa Butter) (Emollient), Glycerin (Humectant), Glyceryl Stearate (Emulsifier), PEG-100 Stearate (Surfactant), Cetearyl Alcohol (Emulsifier), Cera Alba (Beeswax) (Emulsifier/Emollient), Orbignya oleifera (Babassu Oil) (Emollient), Lanolin Alcohol (Stabiliser/Emollient), Phenoxyethanol (Preservative), Parfum (Fragrance), Methylparaben (Preservative), Propylparaben (Preservative), Xanthan Gum (Viscosity Modifier), Benzyl Alcohol (Preservative), Disodium EDTA (Chelating Agent), Linalool (Fragrance Ingredient), Coumarin (Fragrance Ingredient), Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone (Fragrance Ingredient), Limonene (Fragrance Ingredient), Butylphenyl Methylpropional (Fragrance Ingredient), Sodium Hydroxide (pH Adjuster), Citronellol (Fragrance Ingredient), Citral (Fragrance Ingredient), Geraniol (Fragrance Ingredient), Eugenol (Fragrance Ingredient), Caramel (Colour), CI 19140 (Colour).

And this is what the cosmetics database says about its toxicity. The other Body Shop body butters get higher toxicity scores (I’m not singling out The Body Shop here, I’m using it as an example because they had their ingredients online – I suspect the ones which don’t have their ingredients online are worse!). Now, I will be honest with you and say that I do not understand chemistry on any deep level, and I can’t pronounce convincingly on the cumulative effect of using parabens & things day after day. My rule in life, though, is the less commercial processing, the better, and anyway I think it’s nice to have an alternative so you don’t have to use commercial products all the time if you don’t want to. So here is my alternative body butter, and I hope it’s useful. The advantage of this is that if you make soap or lipbalm you are liable to have these ingredients hanging about, if not and you are in the UK I use The Soap Kitchen or Fresholi and they have both been very good. (I have also used Aromantic, they were good too).

* Unless you are allergic/ sensitive to any of them. I’ll trust you to know if you are!

Makes about 2 small pots (easily doubled/ halved/ trebled whatever).

100g Shea Butter
30 ml Jojoba Oil (you can buy this in health food shops. It is cheap)
50ml Olive Oil (I just use whatever’s in the house)
1/2 tsp Vitamin E (I add this for extra preserving power – you can leave it out if you want. You can buy it in health food shops too)
Essential oil, probably around 20 – 30 drops or whatever you think. (I tend to use a mix of lavender and patchouli. Also, if you’re pregnant, you need to check the essential oils you’re using are safe).

Melt the shea butter in a pyrex bowl in the microwave (keep an eye on it). When just melted, add the oils, and the vitamin E, and stir thoroughly. Then put in the fridge. When it is starting to cool and thicken up, take it out of the fridge, and whisk for a few minutes with an electric mixer. Whisk until it’s thickened a bit and isn’t thickening any more, then, put it back in the fridge to cool further. After 20 mins or so, get it out again, whisk again, then put it back in the fridge and wait a bit longer if necessary. What you are aiming at is a whipped cream texture – just try to get as much air as possible into it in the cooling process (if it never looks like whipped cream, it will still work fine, it will just be a bit heavy). When you have whisked it up to your satisfaction, or alternatively until you want to bang your head against the wall, add the essential oils, put in little pots or jars, and store in a coolish place.

Happy anti-corporate moisturising. What effect will this have on Aunty Kath? I hope it won’t be too inconvenient! ;-).


Vivianne said...

Well, OK: but, all those fragrance ingredients are natural - they are some of the constituents of the essential oils used for fragrance - the allergenic ones that have to be listed by law. I know also there is a huge backlash against preservatives, but just watch and see what grows in something without, even if it's anahydrous, doesn't mean moisture can't/won't get in: and think how many lawsuits there'd be if that damaged anyone.
It bothers me that anti-corporate might mean unsafe, yanno ?
Sodium hydroxide, is, of course, lye aka caustic soda. They use it to make pretzels. That you eat.

Susie said...

That's a good point, Vivianne. Also, I think it's probably fair to say that it's very, very difficult to make anything you're going to sell on any kind of scale without preservatives, it's just the nature of the beast, and makes them safe rather than necessarily oppressively capitalist. If you make your own, on the other hand... ;-).

(Do they honestly make pretzels with lye, though? Gosh!).

Denise said...

Corporations need to use preservatives because they are making large batches that will sitting on shelves for awhile.

Making it at home, you can as small a batch as you think you will. Ever since my Fibro symptoms began, I've noticed higher sensitivities to chemicals and especially fragrances.

I know some natural compounds sound like chemicals with their correct chemical name.

Vivianne said...

It's not just the sitting round on shelves tho' - I had a tub of scrub from a swap, in the shower. No preservative. There was ooky black stuff growing in it within a week.
If you're going to make it yourself, treat it like food: small quantities, store it in a refrigerator, throw away after a few days. Why take the risk ?
Another good source for DIY is James Wong's ''Grow Your Own Drugs''
and ''Of a Simple Nature'' carries some stuff you might need/want for skin stuff :-)

Susie said...

I have sparked controversy!

*Is proud* ;-).

Vivianne, I'm not disagreeing with you (I'm not going to disagree with anyone who had ooky black stuff on a scrub!), but, what is there in a scrub that would go mouldy? (I'm not being sarky, I'm interested). Mine have basically sugar and olive oil, which would just sit about in your cupboard happily for months, and they've always lasted fine. Is it if water gets into it? Or can bacteria get in when you make it?

Susie said...

++ I've got Grow Your Own Drugs but I don't read it because it's on a high shelf (really). I'll get a chair and fetch it down!

West/CJ said...

I'm going to take you up on this recipe, as it sounds truly wonderful for me. Like Denise, I have Fibro, and I've become much more sensitive as well.

And while I believe Vivianne makes a good point on behalf of the companies, I'm in the camp of "if I can make it myself and skip the chemicals, it's probably better for me".

*mutters to self, "must find this book"*

Shea Butter said...

Please introduce me some places for buying shea butter. I live in Texas :)

Vivianne said...

I think it is the water - and fingers :-) that carry bacteria into the scrub. Or maybe I got a really duff batch ....
I'm not actually defending the companies: I'm defending having safe-to-use items for my skin, *whoever* makes them :-)
And here is a Texas supplier of shea butter:

Susie said...

I think it is the water, I googled a bit and other people have mentioned it. This is good to know as I give my mother my sugar scrubs and if she got mould on one she would faint.

I might defend the companies a bit, actually ;-), because when I started looking for things without parabens etc (ages ago) I was confused about why even the natural organic ranges had preservatives. I thought they just weren't trying hard enough. (Really! I did!). Anyway, make fresh, make your own, lots of fun and we'll all be happy we worked out how to do it when it's post-peak-oil and we're having to live in Yurts and amuse ourselves with ukuleles.