Monthly Archives: August 2015

How I save 90% on my facial cream, and get a better product

A few months ago I had the privilege of studying herbal manufacturing as part of my naturopathy degree. We learnt how to make all sorts of creams, infusions and herbal extracts, as well as herbal pills and poultices. When I made a cream for my assignment, I got curious as to the costs of what I’d prepared. 100g worked out to cost $3AUD! This was a revelation to me, as I’d been forking out $45 a jar for years. As it turned out, the cream I made was full of natural ingredients including beneficial medicinal herbs.

The basic formula for making a cream with any choice of herbs comes from the book Herbal manufacturing: How to make medicines from plants (This is not an affiliate link, I just think people need to be empowered to make their own!).

I played around with the formula a bit and here’s what my skin loves. Be careful though, only use the ingredients right for your skin, ask your health professional if you’re not sure. Patch test before use and stop if any sensitivity occurs.

Ingredients I used:
* Calendula flowers/ petals
* organic olive oil
* cold pressed rosehip oil (optional, good for anti-ageing but not suited for rosacea)
* emulsifying wax
* citricidal (from grapefruit, to preserve)
* distilled water
* chamomile flowers/ petals
* vodka
* tea tree essential oil or eucalyptus essential oil
* 2 x 500ml glass jars
* 2 x brown paper bags
* 200ml amber glass jar

Phase One

1. Ensure all surfaces are clean. Wash the 500ml glass jars and place in an oven set to 150 degrees Celsius. Leave them in there for half an hour to sterilise – no one wants bacteria on their face!

2. Place 1 part (e.g. 20g) of dried calendula in a mortar and pestle and grind to smaller size. Place in the sterilised 500ml glass jar and pour 10 parts (e.g. 200ml) of olive oil into jar and seal. Shake jar and place in brown paper bag in cupboard. Shake it at least once daily for two weeks. Strain through clean muslin. This is calendula infused oil.

3. Place 10g chamomile in mortar and pestle. Grind the chamomile and place in the second 500ml glass jar. Add 40ml of vodka. Seal and place in brown paper bag. Shake daily for two weeks. Strain through clean muslin. This is a chamomile tincture.

Phase two: two weeks later

4. Add some ground chamomile flowers to a pot with 100ml of distilled water and simmer down to 90ml. Strain through clean muslin. This is your chamomile infusion.

5. Put two pots half filled with water on low heat. Place a pyrex bowl in each. One will hold the oil mix and one the water mix. Also, wash and dry and then place amber glass jar in an oven at 150 degrees Celsius.

6. In the first add either 30ml of calendula infused oil and 20ml of rosehip cold pressed oil, OR simply just 50ml of calendula oil. Add 1tbsp of emulsifying wax and allow to slowly melt together.

7. In the second, add 10ml of chamomile extract and 90ml of chamomile infusion. Slowly heat to the same temperature as the oil mix.

8. It is essential to measure that the oil and water mixtures are the same temperature before combining. The order of combination is also vital. Remove both mixtures from the heat.Take the water mix and very gradually add to the oil mix, while whisking the oil mix continuously. Keep whisking until all the water mix is added, and the two mixtures are completely combined and have a silky creamy texture. This may take some time but inadequate mixing will cause separation.

9. Once slightly cooler, add 10 drops of citricidal and 5 drops of tea tree or eucalyptus essential oils. Combine with whisk. Pour into amber glass jar. Allow to cool, then seal and label with ingredients and date.

So, that’s how I make heavenly face cream. I’d love to hear from you, do you have a natural cosmetic recipe you’d like to share?

4 ways to help animals without being vegetarian

I have been vegetarian most of my life, and I usually try not to bring it up in conversation. But when out for meals with others, it invariably comes up when the food arrives. I’ve had all sorts of reactions over the years; one of the interesting ones is when people tell me they care a lot about animal welfare, but don’t feel they can go vegetarian so feel there’s nothing they can do. In addition, many people would try to “catch me out” as a hypocrite. I’d be asked things like “Do you eat cheese?”, “Are those leather shoes you’re wearing?” and “Do you still eat desserts with gelatin?”, as though admitting any of these things would render any attempt to reduce my impact on the planet as worthless.

Many of us have this kind of thinking in some area of our life or another. In mental health we called it all-or-nothing thinking, “If I’m not prepared to be a vegetarian I can’t do anything to help animals”.

In reality, most of life exists on a spectrum not at two poles. This includes animal welfare. I wish I’d known when I became vegetarian that ANY efforts are worthwhile, even if they seem imperfect. Maybe I wouldn’t be so hard on myself if I’d known that from the beginning.

So if you’re interested in the welfare of animals, here are some contributions you can make, even if you’re not planning on becoming vegetarian:

1. Tweak your existing diet.
You may consider adding Meat-free Mondays to your routine. Or perhaps smaller portions of meat and larger serves of veggies (your arteries say thank you). Going organic and free range ensures that any animal who ends up on a plate has a better existence while they are alive, and the lack of hormone and antibiotic use provides a better meal for you too. Give some thought to the way each species is treated too – the dairy industry results in bobby calves killed as babies to make veal, and the egg industry is still appalling in its use of cramped cages and destruction of male chicks at just days old. You may find that while you continue to eat meat, you may choose with discernment which ones.

2. Adopt, don’t shop.
Hundreds of thousands of animals end up in shelters in Australia every year. And yet too many people still buy their pets from breeders or worse, pet shops. Many of these animals are bred in inhumane ways, and supporting these industries not only means they are encouraged to continue, but as a result a huge proportion of shelter animals are put down. Adopting from a no-kill shelter, or fostering an animal while it waits for adoption ( a great option for animal lovers who don’t want a 15 year commitment) are truly rewarding ways to show the love. If you can’t commit to an animal, consider a donation to a shelter so they can keep up their great work.

3. Vote with your dollar
Day to day purchases may seem like arbitrary events, but in fact they’re like voting in an election – you get to help decide which company continues and which company closes down. So consider where your dollar is spent. As far as animals are concerned, there is an option to choose cosmetics and cleaning products that are not tested on animals, and clothes that are fur free (watch out for cheap dog fur clothes, ensure anything hairy is confirmed “Faux”). You may even go as far as non-leather shoes and bags. And it goes without saying that when overseas, buy souvenirs that are not made from animals.

4. Get better hobbies
Unfortunately some people still engage in hobbies that base themselves in cruelty to animals. These include hunting, horse racing, dog racing, fights, etc. If this applies to you, may I suggest you dabble in some new interests? If you love the adrenaline, watch humans play sport instead. At least that way it’s a fair game.

And now I want to hear from you. Let me know in the comments below, what’s one thing you do to support animals? And, what new action can you take to make your lifestyle more animal friendly?