A very crunchy post about making lotion, plus some wacko theories

My stomach problems have made me really interested in ingesting more probiotics lately. I’ve started making milk and water kefirs, have been eating more yogurt, and even begged a kombucha starter (a tangy cultured tea drink) off a friend of mine. See, the theory is that over time certain products such as antibiotics or a high-sugar diet can slowly kill off the native beneficial flora that is your gut’s natural ally. Without those flora digestion becomes much more problematic, and problems develop. So you drink/eat lots of live probiotic foods to repopulate your gut. It’s generally accepted to work to some extent.

So that got me to wondering about my skin. The largest organ in my body and it suffers from a host of little problems – dryness among others. I found myself putting on lotion to counter the dryness, which just made it dryer and itchier in the long run. In fact, all these skin problems seem to date back to when I first started slathering myself with cheap lotion to begin with.

I started looking at lotion. What is it? In its simplest form, an emulsion of oil and water. But the commercial varieties are also loaded with anti-microbial chemicals. Makes sense, right? You don’t want your lotion teeming with bacteria and yeasts. But the thing is, your skin should be populated with its own beneficial native flora and fauna. (Skin is not sterile. It’s actually pretty disgusting if you look at any super-magnified photos). And what happens when you slather those things with low doses of anti-microbial chemicals over and over and over, year after year? My theory – I may have killed off my skin’s native populations. And that could be contributing to the skin problems I’m experiencing.

So I thought I’d experiment. My hope is that if I switch to an antimicrobial-free lotion, my skin may restore its own natural balance over time. If my wacko crunchy probiotic-skin theory holds any merit, I hope to see an improvement in its condition within 6 months.

I’ve always wanted to learn to make lotion, anyway.

I ordered some skin-soothing oils and extracts from The Soap Dish and got to work.

The water phase: honey, antioxidants (green tea & olive leaf extract to prolong shelf life), and a strong tea made from homegrown organic chamomile and calendula flowers – both of which are reputed to have anti-inflammatory properties.

I thought long and hard and added a bit of homemade bourbon vanilla extract as well, as a preservative. I had originally wanted to make this preservative-free (see above) but I thought such a small amount was probably nothing compared to what was in the lotion I had been using. I also think it is likely to dissipate over time.

The oil phase: shea butter (very moisturizing), rosehip & evening primrose oil (used in the treatment of psoriasis and eczema), and aloe vera oil (soothing) mixed with emulsifying wax.

Heat each phase separately and then trickle the oil into the water while using an immersion blender:

And it made a thick, luxurious lotion.

It had a nice, very subtle chamomile fragrance. I could have left it as-is, but I decided to add a bit of Balsam Peru essential oil (smells a bit like amber and vanilla) because I like the fragrance and it’s also supposed to have healing properties.

The lotion had a very nice feel. Because it is so oil-rich it did leave a touch of shine behind, but it disappeared within 15 minutes. I figured it’s just the price I’ll have to pay for a lotion moisturizing enough to help my ultra-dry skin. Two hours later and my skin is still very soft and supple, with no need to reapply.

It made over a quart of lotion! I put about a 1/2 cup in the white jar, which I will keep in my bathroom cabinet. The quart jar will go in the fridge and I will use it to refill the white jar periodically; like I said this is a (nearly) anti-microbial-free lotion and so any excess must be kept in the fridge.  The little jar on the right is a small gift for a friend of mine who suffers from rosacea and eczema.

For those of you interested in trying this at home, here’s the recipe I designed. Note: this is not a cheap lotion to make! – but I hope the long-term benefits will be worth it.

Next time I think I will 1) eliminate the alcohol, 2) buy water-based aloe vera gel and use it in place of the alcohol and 3) add more honey, which is a humectant and has preservative qualities of its own.

(Nearly) Preservative-free Skin Soothing Lotion (until I come up with a better name). Makes about 1 quart.


  • 2 oz shea butter
  • 2 oz rosehip oil
  • 2 oz evening primrose oil
  • 2 oz aloe vera oil
  • 2 oz emulsifying wax
  • 0.5 oz balsam peru essential oil (add last!)


  • 12 oz (by volume) calendula/chamomile tea, at about 100F
  • 1 oz antioxidant compound (Olive leaf extract, African Red Bush Extract, Ginko Biloba Extract, Camelia Sinensis (White Tea) Extract, Camelia Sinensis (Green Tea) Extract, Water. Found here.)
  • 1 oz honey
  • 4 oz vanilla extract (or bourbon, whiskey, etc)

Melt oils – except fragrance! – gently together in a vessel with a pour spout. Warm waters together in a large bowl. Begin mixing them with an immersion blender on low. Veeeeery slowly drizzle in the oils until completely blended. Keep blending for another 2 minutes while you drizzle in the balsam peru (fragrance) oil.

Put a small amount in a vessel for daily use and -important!- keep the rest refrigerated.

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