Monday, February 3, 2014

Making Homemade Lotion

    On a personal note, I have been on a weight loss journey for the past year and a half.  I had a combination of baby weight, extra weight, cesarean section surgery and loss of general muscle tone.  In August of 2012, my doctor urged me to take care of myself, to lose weight, exercise and become a healthier person overall.  I started with walking, and providing a healthier diet to our family.  I made great strides in creating whole food recipes that my family enjoyed and I concentrated on smaller portions for myself.  I lost 17 lbs by the end of October and then winter set in and the holiday season and 5 pounds crept back on.  In late February or Early March, at another doctor's appointment I had a renewed interest in losing weight and getting in shape.  I received a gift of a Fitbit One, pedometer and activity tracking device, and at first I saw it as something negative.  Then I realized the good intentions behind the gift, and I began to use it as a tool.  Though I have had a goal in mind of those 10,000 steps per day, 10 floors climbed, 30 very active minutes,  and 5 miles traveled, I used it more as a reminder, than a regimen.
     In April our family joined a local gym and all of us began using the facilities to meet our needs and interests.  I found that I really enjoyed Zumba, weight and resistance training, and cycling classes.  Other things that I enjoyed like swimming or yoga didn't seem to work into my schedule over time.  I made a commitment to going to the gym that grew to four days a week, for varied amounts of time, as well as a date to walk with a good friend one day a week.  As a family, we tried to make outings active and included walking or hiking as part of the experience.
    The weight I was carrying slowly began to melt at about a rate of one pound a week.  Though I was weighing less on the scale and measuring less inches, I was noticing that loose skin was beginning to appear in different areas of my body.  I dove into research to figure out if there was anything I could do to help with minimizing and tightening skin on my nearing 40 year old body.   I found that eating a healthy diet with plenty of antioxidants and healthy fats would help, as well as drinking plenty of water.  Continuing with weights and resistance would work over time as well.  Then I looked into recipes  for homemade lotions or creams and I read in several places about the skin restoring and tightening properties of Castor Oil.  I bought some in the laxative section of my local grocery store and tried to apply the thick oil directly, and it was sticky and viscous and it pulled at that loose skin in sensitive areas when I was trying to smooth the oil on.  Not pleasant.  So I looked again to see if I could do something to make it into a lotion.  I found a recipe on Wellness Mama blog and when I looked back on it today, I see a note that the recipe has been changed, but not a notation of the date of the change, so now I am unsure of the recipe I used for my jumping off point.  I remember at the time that I swapped Castor Oil for the suggested Olive or Almond oil.  I have been using this on and off for a while with some small noticeable result, but at the same time I was doing all the other suggested remedies of eating well, drinking water and weight bearing exercises.  I couldn't definitively say that it was the pasty lotion that was helping.
    Sometime in October, I was checking in on some of the blogs that I read, but don't subscribe to, because I like to read when I have time and desire and not be inundated with emails about recent posts, or use an RSS service that I would have to log into and be regular about using.  I just have a few bookmarks, and when I need to think of something else, I peruse the posts back until I see something familiar from the last time I checked in.  Anyway, I was looking in on one of my favorite blogs, Northwest Edible Life,  and back in September,  Erica had a post about Dry Brushing and the benefits, complete with before and after pictures of her legs.  At the time, I thought to myself, "Wow, looks easy, but when would I have time to do that?"  Well, it turns out recently that I have had plenty of time for that, especially when I am up before the rooster crows (actually, we have no roosters in Downtown, at least not in my neighborhood) with my mind racing a mile a minute.  For about the past month I have been dry brushing most every day and applying the homemade Castor Oil lotion that I mentioned above.  Within about two weeks, I saw a remarkable difference.  The large bat wings of loose skin on my upper arms was diminishing, the bunchy skin above my knees had minimized, the seersucker looking apron of stretch-marked belly was smaller, even the deep wrinkles on my decolletage have smoothed and begun to fade, and as a bonus, my scaly elbows have turned buttery soft and supple.  Miraculous!
    Yesterday, I used the last of my Castor Oil lotion, so I set out today to make a new extra large batch with some changes.  The last batch didn't have enough essential oils to mask all of the castor oil and coconut oil smells, so I wanted to increase those and try a new scent combination, lavender, rose and orange.  I had some languishing Calendula Salve from last summer, that is great for burns, abrasions, insect bites and other skin ailments, but the recipe had made way more than we could actually consume, so I wanted to incorporate some of the excess into my new batch.  I hadn't been happy with how hard and rock solid the past batch was, between the coconut oil, the beeswax and the near constant 63 degrees F of the basement restroom that I use, I spent a lot of time cleaving chunks of lotion from the jar, then laying on my skin to soften and melt, and finally spreading it around.  I would rather have something more like a body butter. 

Here is what I tried:

Homemade Body Lotion
8 fl oz castor oil
8 fl oz prepared calendula salve, melted
8 fl oz coconut oil, melted
1 oz beeswax, grated

essential oils - add what scent you like in the amount to achieve the strength you prefer.  I added rose, lavender and orange.  The rose EO turned out to be diluted to 5%, so I added quite a bit, but the scent is still too faint.  I will keep my eye out for a 100% rose essential oil for the future. 

    I melted everything in the microwave, very gently on 50% power, only until melted.  There are some people that would argue for melting these waxes and oils on the stove, in a double boiler.   I cooled everything down to room temperature and then I started whipping it up in the stand mixer, to get a frosting like consistency.  It wasn't cool enough, so I stuck it out on my 48 degree F back porch, until it was nice and cold, then whipped it again.  I filled 3 - 8oz wide mouth jars, and one little spice jar too. 

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