Cack-handed Kate

left-handed views on the world

On making creams

Also copied across from my Facebook notes, originally written on 28/7/09:

As well as making candles, I also make creams. They are not so very different as creams need melted wax. However, the creams are made very carefully, with full records in my logbook.

The reason I make creams is I had an accident when I was a teenager which damaged the skin of my face. Commercial cleansers and moisterisers tend to make my skin very dry and flaky so I have always used the simplest things I can. Then I bought a copy of Culpeper’s Herbal and got interested in the properties of herbs, which led into aromatherapy… Eventually I tried making up my own creams and found I have the knack.

For a long time the biggest problem was what to put the creams in. For years I paid a ridiculous amount for jam because I bought the little guest jars which were just the right size. But now, thanks to the internet, I have found somewhere I can buy proper glass jars and lots of nice ingredients too.

I stress that the reason I give away creams is that I make them for myself but the smallest amount that can be made results in more than I could use. I won’t accept any money for them and advise a patch test first. A friend who is a microbiologist is going to find out about the necessary tests so I could sell them but what is really intriguing him is that I found a 5 year old jar at the back of a cupboard and there was no black growth on it, i.e. no visible bacteria. A lot of essential oils do have some antibacterial properties but that is amazing!

I did make some creams a few weeks ago but people who had had them before heard and suddenly I had none left. I am still learning, and I am upset that I have wasted some wonderful ingredients. I bought some carnauba wax to try and the books say it is an excellent emulsifier so I decided to use it instead of beeswax in my rose face cream. Then I decided to make twice as much as usual because it is a lovely cream. But it was a disaster! The result is very heavy and waxy, not feather-light like the batch I made last month. However, water bounces off it so it should make an excellent handcream: a very luxurious handcream given it is made with organic safflower oil, organic rosewater and real rose absolute.

I have several aromatherapy books and one on the properties of all sorts of plant-based ingredients. It is quite scary how many list uses in soaps, perfumes, cleansers, etc etc and then, against aromatherapy, say “do not use”. My most-thumbed book is almost ten years old, from when my son went into Culpepers, looked at the book they were using for reference and bought a copy for my birthday, along with lots of goodies like mixing bottles that I still use for oils.

I have despatched one each of the creams with the candles to Victor and Lesley. I also sent two pots of the rose handcream to Aina for her birthday and as a thank you for the wonderful blog her cat TamTam writes. I have promised two other people creams. It is always worth asking if you want a particular cream as I make these quite often.

This time I made:

Juniper and Rosemary: juniper, rosemary and lavender essential oils in a cream made of geranium water; cold-pressed rapeseed oil; avocado oil and carnauba wax. This is for my cronky knee and Will uses it on various joints. This was made on 7th June.

Rich Rose Skin Cream: rose absolute and carrotseed essential oil in organic safflower oil; organic Rose Otto water and carnauba wax. See above for discussion. Made on 22nd July.

One I wasn’t sure what to call and decided on its name because the ingredients are antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral! Not at all glamorous, but sometimes it looks like athelete’s foot might be lurking after a swim (changing rooms, ugh) and this knocks it out straightaway. So “Fighting Fit”: lavender, myrrh and tea-tree essential oils in geranium water; olive oil; avocado oil and beeswax. Made on 22nd July.

Soothing skin cream: lavender, neroli and sandalwood essential oils in geranium water; grapeseed oil; organic jojoba oil; avocado oil and beeswax. Very low dosage of essential oils because for use on the face and neck: Will’s aftershave cream and I use it on my neck. As well as being soothing for the skin the ingredients are also supposed to be good for dry coughs and sore throats, so smoothing some onto the neck could have double benefits! Made on 23rd July.


24/10/2009 - Posted by | Art and crafts | , ,


  1. Great post! Your recipes are lovely.

    I have a question: how do you keep your creams from separating? I started out by making creams with beeswax, but the water (hydrosol, actually) slowly separated out over time.

    I eventually switched to an emulsifying wax, but I like the beeswax so much better.

    You can see the emulsifying wax recipes at but I took the beeswax recipes off because they weren’t working.

    I would appreciate any suggestions…

    Comment by Kyley | 02/11/2009 | Reply

  2. Hi Kyley, sorry it took so long to get back to you.

    Thank you so much for your comments and for your link.

    The water does sometimes separate out over time in my creams, but over months and really any cream should be used within three months anyway. Usually it’s OK though. Because I haven’t had problems with creams separating, I’m really not sure how I avoid it, if you see what I mean.

    The only suggestion I can make is to melt the wax at the lowest possible temperature and use the hydrosol at no more than blood temperature. I chop the beeswax up and melt it with a very small amount of oil, and add the oil slowly. Each time more oil goes in it lowers the temperature of the mix and the wax solidifies again but it’s very diffuse. After the last addition of oil, the moment the last little bit of wax has melted again I take it off the heat and start beating with the whisk. Then I start warming the hydrosol while I whisk and whisk … when the mixture is starting to thicken I start adding the hydrosol, very slowly. Sometimes a cream will take more hydrosol than others, so it’s important to stop when the cream feels right, rather than using the measured quantity.

    It’s worth mentioning for other readers that flower waters might not be proper hydrosols (Kyley would know this). A hydrosol, or distillate water, is produced during the extraction of essential oils from plants. As well as a little essential oil, there will be traces of other, water-soluble, components of the plant in the water that has condensed from the steam passed through the plants. However some flower waters, especially those sold for food use, are actually just a few drops of the essential oil in distilled water, and, in the UK at least, with preservatives because of legal requirements.

    It sounds a bit absurd to re-create a flower water by using the end product (the oil) of the process of which the water should be an intermediate product, but I suppose from the manufacturers’ point of view the ingredients are known exactly. Anyway, I won’t use it because of the preservative and I can’t see the point when I have the essential oils myself. I have used just ordinary distilled water when I haven’t had a proper hydrosol and that has been fine. Specialist suppliers, easy to find on the internet, have hydrosols that are suitable for cream-making.

    Comment by cackhandedkate | 03/11/2009 | Reply

  3. Thanks Kate, I’m inspired!

    Sounds like I need to try to keep the temperatures as low as possible and be more patient (not a strong point!) about the melting speed.

    Also, my recipe didn’t say to mix the oil into the wax until after it was all melted. I can see how your way would work better.

    I think I’ll try grating the wax with my cheese grater so it’s really small. Can’t wait to get started!

    Comment by Kyley | 05/11/2009 | Reply

  4. Hi Kyley, I like the idea of the cheese grater, might try that too.

    Comment by cackhandedkate | 05/11/2009 | Reply

  5. Hi,

    would you mind sharing your recipes with my reader? I am sure they’ll love it.

    I never use carnauba wax. but after reading your post I think I should mention this one to my reader.

    please submit it through this page:

    Looking forward to hear from you

    Thanks in advance,

    Comment by liani | 24/07/2010 | Reply

  6. Hi Liani
    I wasn’t too impressed by the carnauba, so I think you’re wise. I’ll add to your site as soon as I can but it will take a little while as I have a lot of orders to make up right now! 😉

    Comment by cackhandedkate | 25/07/2010 | Reply

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