Homemade natural moisturizer = excitement!

Happy holidays, ye fellow bloggers and readers! I don’t even really know what “ye” means, but nevermind.

I just wanted to pop up into your RSS feed/inbox/Google search/etc. for two reasons, which are completely unrelated other than a tenuous connection to Christmas. One is this: I decided to make some from-scratch holiday gifts this year, hoping to save money and maybe impress my friends and family a bit. I’m knitting a scarf, but it’s taken me months and the yarn isn’t cheap; I made some cinnamon-hazelnut pear butter and a few soups and jams, too, but I was looking for something different. Finally, I decided I was going to make my own moisturizer. Full disclosure: This was also for my own benefit, because as content as I am to refill my all-natural body lotion at the Big Carrot and use jojoba and coconut oil for the drier months, I was really missing those thick body creams. Also, the weird rashy business around my eyes was coming back and it doesn’t respond well to straight-up oils.

Sooo… into the kitchen I went! I decided to start with some of the ingredients Meghan recommends in her Natural Body Care e-Tutorial — this is totally worth downloading, by the way; not just because I’m friends with her, but because it’s incredibly thorough, 100% healthy and eco-friendly — but of course, as Meghan herself always does, I veered slightly off-course from the official recipe. Here’s the thing I learned with natural moisturizers: EMULSIFIERS ARE KEY. This sounds like an evil toxic word, but it basically just refers to a type of wax that binds water and oil, which you need to do when you’re making these products, unless you want a very thick paste that melts into a rather oily substance when you rub it in (which is fine, for winter, but a bit much for the warmer seasons… it also means you’re not saving much money — the whole thing with adding water is that it stretches the product out more).

Now, some people claim that beeswax is an emulsifier… this may be so, but in all my attempts to use it, the water and oil never really blended together. Finally, I ordered some plant/vegetable-based emulsifying wax from Mountain Rose Herbs (AMAZING site, fyi) — you can find their waxes here — and tried it out. Result: PERFECT MOISTURIZER! So I bought some spice tins, some cute labels and presto — original Christmas gift accomplished. Here’s what one of the tins and moisturizer looks like:

I’m still fiddling a bit with the proportions of oils, wax, water and so forth, but I’m so happy with the final product. It goes on thick and creamy, smells delicious and actually keep my skin moist. It even cured the redness around my eyes!

Here’s the recipe for those interested:

Vanilla-bean and toasted marshmallow moisturizer (note: there are no marshmallows in here; it just smells like ’em!)


– 3 tbsp cocoa butter
– 2 tsp coconut oil
– 1 tsp vitamin E
– 3 tsp apricot kernel oil
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 tsp vanilla beans
– 1 tsp beeswax
– 4 tbsp emulsifying wax
– 1 1/2 cups filtered water

Another note: The vanilla beans are totally optional (mostly, they just lead to more “ooohs” and “aaahhhs” upon opening). You can also switch up the apricot kernel oil for another carrier oil like jojoba or almond oil, or just use more coconut oil. Beeswax can also be left out, but it adds a nice sweetness, I find.


– Using a double-boiler on medium-high heat (a bowl over a pot of boiling water, as you would when melting chocolate), melt the cocoa butter, beeswax, coconut oil, apricot kernel oil and emulsifying wax.
– When all is melted, gradually pour in the filtered water while whisking the mixture, either quickly by hand or with an electric blender. Remember that this solution will get thicker when it cools, so add enough water that it’s slightly more liquid than you want.
– Remove from heat, then add vitamin E, vanilla extract and vanilla beans, stirring until blended.
– Let cool for a few hours and scoop into sterilized pots.


That’s it! Enjoy! Now, onto other green Christmas goodness: My dear friend Mark Leiren-Young, a fellow film critic and environmental author (how often do those two professional roles coincide?) has created a couple of short videos that explore the un-green side of Christmas. What I like about Mark is that he understands why we need to maintain a good sense of humour in the face of depressing eco-stats. So here are the vids (starring his daughter) — watch, smile, and pass along to your pals!


31 Responses to Homemade natural moisturizer = excitement!

  1. Yum! That’s sounds good! It almost makes me want to whip up a batch on the spot.
    BTW, ‘ye’ is Old English for ‘the’…

  2. Kathy says:

    I would love to hear how people enjoyed your home-made gifts this year Vanessa. I’ve done this myself in the past, and am not sure who enjoyed it more – the recipients or ME since the process is always so personally gratifying.

    Please give us a follow-up post! Happy New Year!
    🙂 Kath

  3. I loved your wedding dress!! do you have any more photos or info on the dress???

  4. Sabina says:

    Just wanted to say hi! I’ve just read your book and it really inspired me, thank you! I’ll give the book onto friends and hope it will find its way through a lot of people here in Holland, inspiring many more. Great to see some of your wedding photographs up here. And love this recipe! I’ve just bought a book on making your own cosmetics and this year I’ll try to make some stuff. Just have to look for some (online) shops here in Holland/ Europe where to buy ingredients… Looking forward to it 🙂

  5. Agnieszka says:

    Hi Vanessa, I’m a girl from Poland, I’m halfway through your book and I LOVE IT! I’m a vegetarian since many years, but your experiences are an incredibly inspiring guideline how to make my life even better 🙂 Plus, I like your sense of humor. I think you may be a genuinely wonderful girl out there in real life!

  6. amalia says:

    Thank you, this is the best info I’ve found on the web

  7. Holly says:

    I am curious about what you did with th vanilla beans before adding them–did you mince them in a processor or crush them up with a mortar and pestle? (Is that even possible?) Your lotion sounds absolutely delicious 🙂

  8. Wow! That sounds good enough to eat! Have you tried creating a moisturizer with any essential oils? Oils like Rose, Lavender, Geranium, Peppermint, etc, have properties that can be great for different types of skin.

  9. […] york snow braxton miller braxton miller noreaster noreaster steve miller band boston weather GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", […]

  10. Detox says:


    […]Homemade natural moisturizer = excitement! « Green as a Thistle[…]…

  11. Safflower Oil…

    […]Homemade natural moisturizer = excitement! « Green as a Thistle[…]…

  12. Marsha says:

    Since most of the natural creams are to be applied immediately or refrigerated for longer use I was wondering how long this cream would stay

  13. DD says:

    You really should use distilled water at opposed to filtered… and keep this in the refrigerator if it isn’t going to be used in a very short period of time (like a week). There is nothing in this recipe that is any sort of preservative and just sterilizing the containers isn’t going to do much to keep it from going bad.

  14. Ashley says:

    I am a little over halfway through your book, and I just love it! I live WAY out in the country so I could never not have a car, but I am so craving the liberation of being free from car payments and gas costs!! Great job 🙂

  15. Erik says:

    making it yourself is the best way. its not only green and cheaper in the long run but it gives you a sense of comunity pride and accomplishment knowing you can make things yourself

  16. […] Homemade natural moisturizer = excitement! « Green as a ThistleDec 20, 2010 … Here’s the thing I learned with natural moisturizers: EMULSIFIERS ARE KEY. This sounds like an evil toxic word, but it basically just refers to a … […]

  17. Whitebark says:

    I’m halfway through your book and I’d like to congratulate you – not on how green you’ve become (because I think you’d admit that you’ve got a ways to go) but because you started out so completely ‘un-green’. At 37 myself, I didn’t realise that there were still younger people existing in Canada who were so completely blind about what they were doing. Half the stuff you had to change, I grew up doing with my family in Ontario and we didn’t call it ‘green’ we called it ‘normal’. So although this compliment sounds backhanded, it’s genuine. But I would also like to point out that you appear to have fallen for some of the traps that you alluded to in the book. For instance – before calling bamboo ‘green’, you should do some research. It’s not. 90%+ of our bamboo comes from China, where the poorer rural farmers cut down natural forests to set up bamboo plantations and then cause massive cancer increases downriver with the chemicals required to process the fibre. There are some environmental laws there but they are difficult to enforce and are mostly ignored in the case of bamboo. I’m not saying bamboo is any more evil that regular cotton, but it bugs me that they can market it as ‘green’ instead of just admitting that it’s simply cheaper for the grower. And this last post from you – although it’s great that you aren’t supporting the cosmetic companies, I’m sure you might have been able to find a moisturizer ingredient that wouldn’t be as un-environmental as cocoa butter (hemp seed oil?). In short, I’ve learned over my years in plant conservation that just because it comes from a plant, doesn’t mean it’s ‘green’. http://www.gomc.com/firstpage/199906065.pdf I know it’s difficult to do *everything*, but I thought you should be aware.

  18. Janice says:

    great post! question though, how long would this moisturizer last before it goes bad? thanks!

  19. LOVE THIS! I also make my own deodorant; equal ratios of baking soda, corn flour and coconut oil. The baking soda cuts any odor, the corn flour soaks up moisture and the coconut oil leaves your underarms super smooth and silky. I put mine in an old speed stick container and use it in the same way.

  20. Dorothy says:

    Dorothy of Oz is sure to be an instant classic for the whole family. The film is due out next year but the buzz being created is undeniable. Between the vastly talented cast and the original music, how could you not be excited! Glee’s Lea Michele is in the title role as Dorothy Gale and she will bring such a fresh sound to the legendary character. Let us not forget Martin Short, Bernadette Peters, Kelsey Grammer, Dan Aykroyd, and many more bringing life to both new and older familiar characters!! Dorothy of Oz has all the components to be the new family favorite!

    • Ryann says:

      Me and my daughter’s love Lea Michele and we are always watchin glee! This movie sounds cute and I’ll be bringing my girls to see it when its out for sure.

  21. nich says:

    The moisturizer sounds great! Just wondering how long it lasts for? Do you store it at room temperature or in the fridge?

  22. whoah this blog is fantastic i like studying your posts.

    Keep up the good work! You realize, a lot of people
    are searching around for this information, you can aid them greatly.

  23. CURE FOR CANCER says:

    I am grateful to Doctor smith for saving my life with his source of getting the Hemp Oil medical service am so happy that i am no more a cancer patient anymore and i will ansure you that your Cancer problem will be cured by his source contact him on his email: drsmithwilliams2013@gmail.com or call the Dr smith phone number for more help +2348158618150

    From Lura Zane



  24. Samantha R. says:

    You guys should really try natural lotion from http://www.naturalwayorganics.net not harsh and very mild for your skin. Also, it’s affordable and chemical free and you don’t have to make it yourself.

  25. How much lotion does this recipe make? Distilled water would make it last at least 3 months right?

  26. nicepoethere says:

    What a great recipe. Love do it yourself things like this.

    Patrick P. Stafford
    Creeklife Supporter

  27. Wanda Rachel says:

    Sound very good natural moisturizer cream this is not a normal task for me..but your blog make me happy now i have experience how to make a great moisturizer cream in homemade with my own hands thank you so much and nice recipe..God bliss you.

  28. Because the admin of this web site is working, no question very quickly it will be
    renowned, due to its quality contents.

  29. moisturizer says:

    Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful article.
    Thanks for supplying this information.

  30. Hola! I’ve been following your site for a while now and finally got the bravery
    to go ahead and give you a shout out from Porter Texas!
    Just wanted to say keep up the fantastic job!

%d bloggers like this: