Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Wishing you a balmy Christmas!

My last blog of this year concerns my new super soft, super whipped night time balm. As anyone who reads this blog knows I'm a great fan of balms; they're so versatile and the whipped variety is a new departure for me. Instead of simply melting the oils and then pouring them I whip them up in stages three or four times until they contain air and are light and almost frothy. I keep the beeswax to a minimum, just enough to set the balm so that the end result is light but penetrative.

This beautifully fragrant balm also contains sweet almond oil, meadowfoam seed oil and shea butter....

Before the last whipping I add essential oil of rose geranium, one of my very favourite essential oils. This balm can be used as a cleanser with a muslin hot cloth but I prefer to use it at night when the aromatic essential oil will relax and calm whilst the oils will work while you sleep; they will soften and smooth and you will wake up to softer skin.

A nice little treat for Christmas Eve!

Happy Christmas to one and all.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

The Coconut Connection...

Sometimes I think I'm a bit slow off the mark.

For some time I've been wondering why my nails are particularly good at this time of year. When I say good I mean they seem strong, they don't split and I actually find myself having to cut them to keep them to a reasonable length. At other times of the year my nails are soft and tend to split very easily.

Today the penny dropped. This is the time of year that my soap making is at its height. I'm preparing batches daily for the Craft Fairs that lead up to Christmas and every day the first thing I do it to dip my hands into my supply of coconut oil.

Coconut oil is one of the few oils that is solid at room temperature so rather than pour it I have to cut it up into small pieces - rather as if I was making pastry. Hence each morning I wipe a fair amount of coconut oil from my hands. So there you have it...coconut oil is the reason my nails are so good. Not rocket science is it!

I realise that come December when I've stopped making soap for a while that my nails will revert to their previous poor state so this morning I decided I'd make a balm to treat my nails throughout the non-soap months. Of course I could continue to dip my fingers in coconut oil but I want something that is a little harder, more penetrating and with essential oils to soften my cuticles and excite my senses.

So this morniing I've formulated my Nail & Cuticle Repair Balm using beeswax, aloe vera butter and, of course, heaps of coconut oil. I've added a drop of Vitamin E for good measure and essential oils of red mandarin and neroli so the balm, I hope, will be an absolute joy to use.

Two small tins to test...

Almost ready...

Why has it taken me so long? Maybe I have a coconut for a brain!

Sunday, 9 August 2015

New Season's figs...

The wait is almost over....

The Khandala Fig Tree

For anyone who didn't know Khandala is the name of our house. Apparently it hails from India and was already on the house gate when we moved in 32 years ago. The fig tree was also here in a very sheltered position tucked away behind the garage. Last year we had to cut it back quite severely but it has rewarded us once again with what looks like a fairly good crop of figs. I can't wait!

Sunday, 12 July 2015

It's that time again....

My daughter, Rachel, and I have been on our annual pilgrimage to the Lavender Fields in Carshalton.

It was a perfect July day, hot and sunny and, as always, the purple vision just takes your breath away, not to mention the heady fragrance and the gentle hum of hundreds of happy bees.

We even resisted the temptation to jump...

I purchased a bottle of their Folgate variety essential oil which to me has a slightly more intense fragrance than some lavenders.

As a regular user of my lavender & camomile calming balm I felt that it would be good to create a night time moisturiser that also promotes restful sleep. So here we have it, my Sleep Easy Night Repair Cream...a double whammy you might call it!

Rich in cocoa butter, shea butter, jojoba and rosehip seed oils this intensive moisturiser will work hard throughout the night whilst the essential oils promote calm and restful sleep.


Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The endless wonders of camellias....

This lovely specimen is a camellia (variety: Brushfield's yellow) and flowering in my garden at this moment. It's a magnificent bush especially when in full bloom and it started me wondering about the benefits of camellia oil. 
A little investigation was called for.

Some time ago I bought a small bottle of Camellia Tea Oil (Oleifera) - a light green oil extracted from the leaves of the camellia tea plant. It seems that this oil has been known to the Chinese since ancient times, largely due to the wealth of properties and benefits it provides. To name but a few:-

  • Emollient. The oil is exceptionally high in Oleic acid (Omega 9) and thus is a brilliant moisturiser being light and easily absorbed by the skin.
  • Being high in Oleic acid means that it is a good anti-oxidant which resists rancidity.
  • Anti-Aging - helps protect the skin from free radical damage
  • Anti-microbial - noted for its anti-fungal properties
  • Astringent - mildly astringent and therefore good at treating scars 
  • Anti-inflammatory - helps reduce skin inflammations
I should also add that Chinese women have been using Camellia oil for centuries on their hair and I can can see this fast becoming the new Argan oil.

However, for the time being I am using it for the products that I make on a regular basis and so far have added it to soap, a facial moisturiser and a skin treatment balm. I also plan to formulate a foot cream since its anti-fugal and emollient properties seem ready-made for this.

The soap is still at the curing stage so as yet I've not been able to test it but the formulation I've used will create a hard creamy bar with excellent cleansing and conditioning properties.

The moisturiser also contains wonderful meadow-foam seed and apricot kernel oils and is scented delicately with essential oils of rose absolute and rose geranium whilst for the balm, I've teamed camellia oil with skin-repairing rosehip seed so what a combination we have here!

No wonder I'm excited!!


I've added a lip balm to the range. With such fantastic emollient properties it was a no-brainer.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Experiments with shampoo

Every so often I read the list of ingredients on the back of my bottle of shop-bought shampoo and heave a big sigh! Further reading on a lot of these ingredients has made me firmly resolved to make my own. I have no intention of making this commercially but I shall be happy when I can create a natural product that cleans my hair, keeps it shiny, smells good and doesn't leave me with a mass of tangles.

Last year I started to experiment. Initially I came up with a product that left my hair really clean and felt great on the scalp. The one big drawback was that it didn't condition the hair and that made it hard to deal with.

However, not to be defeated I have tried again and this time with much greater success. In fact I feel that I have made a product that is really pretty good and may save me having to buy commercial shampoo ever again.

Recently I read about a group of people with the unfortunate name of 'No Poo-ers'! These brave people have completely abandoned the use of shampoo and claim that their hair is now so much better as the hair's natural balance of oils has been restored leaving lustrous, shiny locks.

Now, whilst I'm not prepared to give up shampoo completely I'm hopeful that this move to hair cleaner with no potentially dangerous or controversial ingredients is a big step in the right direction

This is a recipe that is very simple to make and all the ingredients are easily obtainable. I'm sharing this with you.

Recipe for Homemade Shampoo

85g liquid castile soap (a natural liquid soap with no surfectants)
2g avocado oil
3g d-panthenol (pro vitamin B5)
8 drops essential oil of choice*

* I used 4 drops rosemary and 4 drops lemon myrtle essential oil. Lemon Myrtle is perhaps more difficult and more expensive to get hold of so lemon essential oil will work just as well. Mix well and pour into suitable bottle. Remember to shake well before use.

Liquid castile soap is readily available on many websites. d-panthenol similarly, although you may need to find a specialist skin care ingredient supplier.

In my next batch I plan to substitute wonderful Argan oil for the avocado oil so I'll add a note to this blog to report results.