I first heard the name Rosemary Gladstar from a talented herbalist friend of mine named Jodi McKee, who runs a gorgeous health and wellness shop in Wyzata, Minnesota called Jewelweed. Jodi encouraged me to check out a book called Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health as a place to begin studying the art and science of herbalism.
I have since learned that Rosemary has been educating the world about herbalism, plants, and the relationship between health and environment for over thirty years. She is also a fierce protector of every human’s right to the “collective heritage and knowledge” of herbal traditions. From what I have seen, Gladstar offers her recipes freely and generously in many formats online and in print.
I’ve learned “Rosemary’s Perfect Cream” is a staple for many, and she has instructional videos of her specific recipe online if you’d like to hear her personally teach it. All for free.
Her only stipulation in exchange for her knowledge is that “you cannot think any negative thoughts about your body when you use this recipe.”
I love the idea that every time the lotion is used, it be associated with feelings of gratitude, and as a balm to anoint one’s self with well-being. A perfect Little Ritual to introduce into my life this summer.
This week I made my first attempt at following Rosemary’s instructions – which she encourages you to experiment with based on your own preferences. Outlined below is how I adapted her recipe with the items I had available. I am thrilled with the way it turned out. This somehow rich yet light moisturizer is positively decadent.
The Loveliest DIY Face Cream
2/3 cup filtered water
1-2 tsp Vitamin E (optional)
1/3 cup Aloe Gel
Essential Oils if desired (I used a Citrus Blend)
1/3 cup Organic Coconut Oil (unrefined is best, but I only had refined)*
1 Tablespoon Organic Raw Shea Butter
2/3 cup of Macademia Nut Oil
1/3 cup of Avocado Oil
1-2 ounces of grated beeswax
FYI You will need a blender with a strong motor for this recipe!
1. Whisk the liquids in a glass cup or dish until well combined. She advised to add more essential oil than you think you will want in the end product, as it will become diluted by the oils later. Also Gladstar notes to be sure to use filtered or distilled water to avoid introducing bacteria into the recipe. Set liquids aside.
2. In a double broiler over low heat, combine all of your oils and heat until just melted. Stir to combine well and set aside to cool to room temperature. It is very important to let it **completely** cool prior to mixing with the liquids.
3. The cooled mixture of oils will form a thick gel. If it has not completely cooled, it will look thinner and will ruin the recipe! I speak from experience with a batch I ruined today. Using a rubber spatula, scrape them into a high powered blender. Replace the lid and turn the blender on high speed.
4. Once the blender is running, begin to drizzle the liquid mixture into the covered pitcher’s lid window.
5. Watch carefully as it shifts from a gel to a thick, white, cream – the transformation is really exciting to see. Stop and check it if you are in doubt of whether or not you have the liquid and oils well-combined, as you don’t want to over-beat this recipe. Any remaining oils from the sides can be stirred by hand, so stop as soon as you think you might have reached the emulsion point. This only takes a few seconds.
6. While the cream is still thin, pour it into clean recycled glass containers. It will thicken as it sets. The cream should last a few months, but if it grows mold, according to Gladstar it is likely because bacteria was introduced from tap water, recycled lids, or it was stored in a warm temperature environment. If you keep it in the refrigerator, it will keep even longer.
By the end of the day, you’ll have the loveliest, completely natural cream to use anytime and anywhere your skin needs hydration. It takes only a very small amount of the lotion to cover your entire face. While it initially feels heavy, it soon becomes quite light and does not feel oily for me.
*Watch Gladstar’s instructional video online to learn about other options for oils to use in place of the ones I chose above. She offers options for specific skin types.
Enjoy, and please let me know if you try it! I agree with Gladstar, that traditions involving food, remedies, and plants should be re-connected on a personal basis with every human household, so that we can sense, taste, smell and feel the quality and nourishment nature provides when we mingle with her respectfully. And alternatively, so that we may recognize both overt and subtle clues indicating compromised quality or assault to nature, and ultimately our own health, which helps us know when to take restorative action.
So why make stuff that is often easier (and sometimes even cheaper) to buy? I like to do homestead and DIY projects because, for me, making stuff is just plain fun – at times it’s even meditative. But equally as important to me is the fact that there are often far fewer chemicals, pesticides, waste and plastics involved with things that are homemade. I also tend to appreciate the things I take time to bring to life by hand more than anything I quickly purchase on impulse.
I believe humans are wired to create. I find it interesting that when I take time to “make”, I am always more deeply satisfied at the end of the day. Additionally I love the bonus of community-building that can occur when I share or trade the things I make with others.
Try making something this week, however simple, and see if it doesn’t enrich your life and health too!
(PS. Jewelweed can ship and takes orders online and by phone. They often carry Gladstar’s book and additionally offer the most gorgeously packaged boxes of quality herbal healing products!)
If you’d like support creating your own rituals, yardsteading and nature connection practices, check out The Handmade Life! There I offer nature-based coaching sessions, share herbal traditions, handcrafted goods, DIY workshops and herbal consultations.