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How to Make Your Own Natural Body Lotion

mother and children crying

NOT TOO MANY generations ago, folks either made or grew much of their own food, clothing, and medicinal items. Milk and bread came from the cow and the oven, not from the grocery store. Lotions and salves were made from natural ingredients … and tooth polish did not come in a tube.

My, how times have changed.

We’ve traded health for convenience and handed the responsibility for just about everything we consume over to the watchful eyes of supermarkets and pharmacies.

For a while, that seemed to work fine. Foods were still nutritious and the lotions were still natural. People left the farm and went to work in the factories. Everyone seemed to benefit. The economy was booming, and the American Dream was born.

But the Dream turned into a nightmare

The trip from garden to table is short, but the trip from factory to table can take a long. In order to assure the goods wouldn’t spoil before they could be used, manufacturers figured out how to the “preserve” the contents.

Not like Grandma used to preserve her goods, though, but by  inventing a whole new class of products called “preservatives” – many that turned out to be unhealthy … very unhealthy.

Welcome to the modern world of factory farms

We became so used to factories and assembly lines that even gardening and animal husbandry eventually succumbed to our incessant demand for more stuff at a lower cost. Paradoxically, one of the largest, richest corporations in the world took root by promising “The lowest prices anytime, anywhere.”

skull on dry ground
Library of Congress

In order to produce maximum quantities with minimum effort, chemical companies developed pesticides and fungicides.

Rather than continue with organic methods of fertilization, it seemed prudent to develop synthetic means of milking every last ounce of nourishment from the earth, until what used to be known as “topsoil” became barren, parched, dry dirt — an event decidedly illustrated by the black blizzard known as the Dust Bowl, an event now largely forgotten.

Just about every food, health, and body care product in your home now comes from factory farms, big pharma labs, and chemical company hazardous material tanks. Those low prices come at a huge sacrifice to health.

Only time will tell how much effect the transition from products grown and produced on the farm (or at home) to products produced by multinational corporations will have on life expectancy and serious disease.

By the time average life expectancy plummets – and it is already headed down – the train will be difficult to turn around.

For instance:

That beautiful red apple in your hand is on top of the list for pesticide residue, according to the Environmental Working Group’s 2013 Guide to Pesticides in Produce. The orchard was regularly treated with pesticides (by laborers in hazmat suits). Upon harvest, the fruit was sprayed with a fungicide, then it was coated with wax to seal in the flavor.

It sure looks good in the bin at the supermarket, but our factory farm mentality has resulted in foods contaminated with dangerous chemicals and packed with significantly less nutrition than the consumer gained in the “old days.” We produce more … that is true … but it is of less value.

Monsanto for Food Crops
Monsanto for Food Crops – USDA

What apples and natural lotions have in common

(Warning: Not for the faint of heart)

The chemicals in the lotion you love to massage into your dry, tired skin don’t stop being absorbed until they reach your bloodstream. A 2004 Environmental Working Group study found that an astounding one-third of 7,500 personal care products they tested contained a known carcinogenic.

Moreover, says the EWG, most people think the cosmetic products on the shelf are inspected and declared safe – but the truth is “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has no authority to require companies to test products for safety.”

The chemicals used in those products end up inside your body, but because you don’t “eat them” in the normal way, the FDA has no jurisdiction over the formulation. Moreover, many of the goods sold in the USA are banned as hazardous materials in other countries.

Does that sound a bit suspicious to you?

Drugstore lotions and crèmes may do considerably more harm than most people think. Would you drink gasoline? Then why do you rub petrochemicals on your skin?

How to be sure the cosmetics and lotions you use are safe

You could just get a list of all known hazardous chemicals and refuse to buy products containing those items … right?

Unfortunately, it is neither that simple, nor that easy.

Says the watchdog EWG:

Federal law allows companies to leave many chemicals off labels, including nanomaterials, ingredients considered trade secrets, and components of fragrance (Houlihan 2008). Fragrance may include any of 3,163 different chemicals (IFRA 2010), none of which are required to be listed on labels. Fragrance tests reveal an average of 14 hidden compounds per formulation, including potential hormone disruptors and diethyl phthalate, a compound linked to sperm damage (EWG & CSC, 2010).

Let’s say we could get the word out to every consumer. Let’s say every shopper in America was absolutely convinced  that there is no way to be sure the lotion or creme on the shelf at the store is safe — would that cause a major shift in buying decisions?

American Chamber of Horrors
FDA – Public Domain

Consider this: In 1936 Ruth deForrest Lamb wrote a book that lambasted corporate and industrial efforts to sidetrack regulations that would help ensure food and product safety.

At the time, Gouraud’s Oriental Cream was portrayed in advertising as the world’s finest “magic beautifier.” In fact, though, the cream contained a mercury compound that was poisoning women.

Did the outcry resulting from Lamb’s book (subtitled “The truth about food and drugs”) stop consumers from buying Gouraud’s Cream, though?

Of course not. How can you pass up a “magic beautifier”?

Assuming you would like to be both healthy and beautiful, you have two choices:

  1. Make your own natural lotions and personal care items: Hey, many people on the planet still prepare their own herbal remedies and natural lotions – and most folks did so in the not too distant past. It’s fun. It’s relatively inexpensive. And you know exactly what homemade concoctions are made of. Yes, it takes time to prepare your own healthy natural products. Yes, it can be a hassle collecting the ingredients. And, yes, you may fail a bunch of times before you “get it right.” Once you succeed, though, you will be proud and happy. And what better way to enjoy some meaningful family time than by working together to do something health-promoting?

  2. Find a reliable source of health-conscious natural lotions and cosmetic products: Lotions and cosmetics are not regulated by the FDA, but the chemicals they contain enter the bloodstream as quickly as if they were food. Companies that “get it,” companies that keep health concerns, not profits, as the top priority are difficult to find … but they do exist. The Haley family, for instance, keeps Stockton Aloe #1 products on hand at home – and the entire family uses them. Do you think the executives from the big box stores bring products home to the family? Can you imagine a mega-store executive shopping the low price leaders? Anyone with a lick of sense knows health is priceless. Skimp on that new car, if you want, but not on your food and personal care items. If you don’t take care of you … who will?

How to make your own natural lotion

Let’s look at a sample formula There are many more possibilities. This is  meant only to show you how easy homemade lotion can be. My goal is to help you gain the confidence and desire to get started.

The primary ingredients in lotion are normally oil and water. The problem is … oil and water don’t mix.

Try this: take a teaspoon of oil and stir it into a half glass of water. Stir rapidly and you can (sort of) get it to mix, but it will soon separate. That’s why the aftermath on the seashore is so catastrophic after an oil spill. Water does not readily dilute oil. Rather, the “black gold” ends up as an ugly, stinky, sickening mess on the beach.

To make your own natural lotion, in the traditional style, you will need to find a way to get oil and water to mix. The magic happens by the addition of something termed an “emulsifier.” Believe me, I’m not a chemist. To understand emulsification, you will want to dig deeper into academia than I’m prepared to go. I can’t tell you how electricity works either – but I manage to switch on the lights and range, pretty well every day.

Here’s how to make a basic natural lotion, using beeswax as an emollient. The Haley’s experimented with beeswax but they didn’t like it. Their Aloe Youth-Derm and Ultra-Healing creams make use of a better emollient mix — but the ingredients they use are really tough to find. My mix won’t compete with Stockton Aloe #1 products. I’m not even going to try doing that.

Once you have the idea down, you can experiment with different ingredients. Depending on what you add to the formula, though, it will be wise to refrigerate your lotion, or use it within a few days.

Is it going through all this trouble for your health worth the effort? Tell me this: what is more valuable than your health?

lotion_ingredients_588
My natural body lotion rescue kit

There are many different recipes available. I considered a number of them, went to my local natural foods store, and came back with the following ingredients:

  • Grapeseed oil, 2 oz.
  • Beeswax, 1.5 oz.
  • Lemongrass oil, 0.5 oz.
  • Purified water, 2 oz.

I already had some organic olive oil and tea tree oil on hand. I’m in business!

Here’s how my first natural lotion making project went

  1. I broke the beeswax up a bit, so it would fit, and dropped it into the jar
  2. I added 1/2 cup of olive oil 2 oz. of my grapeseed oil, and 2oz. purified water
  3. I finished it off with about 20 drops each of the tea tree and lemongrass oils
  4. I filled a saucepan about halfway with water, then sat the jar (with ingredients inside) into the pan
  5. I turned the burner to medium and began feeling very proud of myself
natural lotion making
The beeswax is still mostly unmelted

The water began to lightly boil quite quickly, but the beeswax wasn’t melting. I waited. I stirred. I put a lid on the jar, carefully took it out and shook it. Strings of the beeswax were floating, but it still wasn’t melting. Finally, I poured my concoction out of the jar and directly into the sauce pan. The beeswax melted quickly, but the consistency of the mixture remained liquid and did not solidify. I sat it aside to let it cool.

Listen: There were several points in my experiment where I could have been burned severely. Get some boiling oil on your skin and you will never be the same. I was careful to wrap the jar with a heavy cloth and pay attention to what I was doing. Don’t try this at home without considering safety procedures and being really, really careful. Definitely don’t set the kids loose to make lotion. MAKING NATURAL BODY LOTION CAN BE DANGEROUS.

It occurred to me that I probably had not used sufficient beeswax. I prepared to go back to the store, but checked on my jar one more time.

The magic had happened. If anything, the consistency was too waxy. It looked more like a paste than body lotion. It sure smelled good, though! I rubbed it into my skin in celebration! Dr. Haley has nothing to worry about from me, though. No one would ever buy this stuff, and I still prefer Stockton Aloe #1 creams to anything I’ve ever tried. Nevertheless, making my own was a fun and educational experiment.

Will I do it again? Probably not. But I’m glad I did it once.

If you would rather buy your lotion than make it, here are some tips:

Now, for the second possibility — finding honest to goodness natural lotions in a commercial formulation. That can be as tough, or tougher, than making your own.

However: this article will first appear on the Stockton Aloe 1 website. If that is where you are reading it, then help is just a click away. If you’re not reading it on Dr. Haley’s home site — perhaps it is in print, or the links have been removed — navigate to www.Aloe1.com to find Aloe-based products you can count on.

By the way: Why didn’t I use Aloe gel in my first recipe? 

I moved to Oregon recently. In preparation for the move, I allowed myself to run out of the raw gel. Now that we’ve arrived and unpacked, I need to order more — but have yet to do it.

Bad idea.

I know, by personal experience, that both Aloe Youth-Derm Creme and Aloe Youth-Derm Ultra Healing Cream are exceptional products. Right after we received our first shipment, my son burned himself pretty badly. He began applying the Aloe Youth-Derm Cream and — this is a true story — saw his skin restore to better than normal in a matter of days. He is now one of Stockton Aloe 1’s biggest supporters. Any time anyone suffers a burn or a wound, Zeb says, “You need some Aloe cream.”

If you are considering a natural lotion other than the Aloe 1 products, you stand a higher chance of finding a health-supporting lotion by reading the label carefully.

  • Look for organic ingredients — that shows the manufacturer is willing to go to extra expense in order to produce a quality product.
  • Make sure that natural lotions containing Aloe use the pure, raw gel from the inner flesh and not a whole-plant mash that includes the aloin-rich outer leaf.
  • Match the ingredients to the desired result. If I want to soften rough skin, I look for organic glycerin or shea butter. If I need healing, I look for Aloe or tea tree.
  • Get familiar with common ingredients. Don’t base your decisions on how the name sounds. Do the research. Winter cherry sounds like a wonderful fruit, but it is from the nightshade family and the berries are poisonous.
  • Don’t judge the company by the label. There are plenty of natural-looking labels that contain a host of un-natural ingredients. And remember: regulations do not require the listing of ALL ingredients. You would be better off to judge the cover by the book. Look for companies with a track record of concern for health. Look at the people behind the company … do you trust them? And once you find a manufacturer you are comfortable with, support them. If consumers ever figure out they are in control of what gets made and what doesn’t (by voting with their dollars), the world will change.

Admittedly, I am a bit prejudiced. I know the Haleys, and I know they live what they preach. Moreover, I have used the products and found them absolutely top tier.

I discovered the incredible healing potential of Aloe vera years ago. In my book, it is one of the most useful and fascinating plants on Earth.

Read more about Aloe in the many articles devoted to its cultivation and many uses, here in the Stockton Aloe Blog. Better yet, get a pup and start your own Aloe garden.

And … if you have any luck making lotion … please let me know!

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