DIY Nourishing and Protective Skin Cream

by Rachel Berry

Over ten years ago I started making my own skin care, and I’ve never gone back! It is so easy, and it feels so much better — plus I avoid the chemicals that are so common in commercial products.

A study by the Environmental Working Group showed that the average American woman uses 9 commercial personal care products a day — many of them containing chemicals like phthalates and parabens that interfere with our natural hormone balances and have been linked to cancer. Watch the short but informative Story of Cosmetics to learn why we need to be informed about our body care products.

I’ve received a lot calls and interest about herbal skin care this season — probably because it’s been so dry. It’s relatively simple to replace expensive commercial skin care — cleansers, moisturizers and face cream — with DIY recipes at home that use organic ingredients. Your skin will notice the difference between store bought and freshly made, and this time of year is a great time to give it a try!


Here are a few tips for nourishing dry skin without chemicals or commercial products:

  • Avoid soap-based cleanser for your face. It is rare that our faces get so grimy that we really need soap to clean off the ick. Believe it or not, using a bit of olive or almond oil to clean the skin works really well — it removes dirt without drying the skin. Apply it with a cottonball or soft cloth, and you will see how the dirt comes off with oil. If you don’t want to use oil, try using a teaspoon of oats soaked for a few minutes in water. It will lightly clean your face while leaving it moist but not oily.
  • Hot showers and baths can really dry out winter skin. Before you go into the hot water, rub olive or coconut oil on your skin to help keep the moisture in your skin from coming out. The oil will soak in your skin, or you can gently remove it by filling a muslin tea bag with oatmeal and rubbing it on your skin.
  • You can make a simple and nourishing blend of oils as a facial serum, with ingredients like rose hip seed oil, avocado seed oil, and a dash of sea buckthorn oil (don’t use too much — it will make your face turn orange!). Some of these oils are more expensive, but they go a long way and really nourish your skin. Oils are easy and work well, but a blended cream will do a better job of absorbing into the skin. I’ve included one of my cream recipes below.


Nourishing and Protective Winter Skin Cream Recipe

.25 ounce pure beeswax (by weight)
2 tablespoons cacao butter
2 tablespoons coconut oil
3.5 ounces almond oil (plain, or infused with calendula or lavender blossoms)
2 ounces distilled water
2 ounces aloe vera

8-10 drops pure essential oils, optional (Choose from frankincense, lavender, rose geranium)

Melt the beeswax in double boiler. Add solid oils until melted, then add almond oil and remove from heat. Pour into a glass blender and let it cool to room temperature (until it reaches a pasty consistency).

Combine the water and aloe vera in a measuring cup, and then turn blender on high, slowly pouring the water/aloe blend into the vortex.

The ingredients will begin to emulsify into a light-colored cream. Stop and scrape the sides of the blender with a rubber spatula as needed until fully blended.

Add essential oils if desired (a total of 1-2 drops per ounce — avoid citrus oils which can result in photosensitivity).

Store cream in sealed glass container, avoiding light and severe temperatures. Use within 4-6 months.

Rachel-Berry-150x150Rachel Berry blends her background in herbalism, health psychology, public health, sustainable living and permaculture to help empower others to use herbal medicine at home for health and wellness. Learn more about Rachel and her DIY classes at




Want to learn more? Here are some great opportunities:

Rachel’s free 1-hour class on making herbal and organic skin creams on March 24 at the HAALo Herb Shoppe has filled up, but she has a full roster of classes through the spring and summer months. Click on the links for more details.

Indulge in a weekend of self-care by joining Rachel Berry April 17–19 for a DIY Skin Care retreat at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur! You'll spend the weekend on the stunning Northern California coastline, making customized skin care treatments directly from the beautiful organic gardens. In between learning how to make (and indulge!) in herbal skin care products, you can participate in yoga classes, soak in hot mineral springs, or simply enjoy the view with a hot cup of tea — it’s all included in your tuition. Read more details about this retreat here.

April 14: Make Your Own Therapeutic Herbal Oils
Learn how to make high quality therapeutic oils from infusing common plants and flowers from the garden in this free class at Sunrise Natural Foods in Auburn. Call (530) 888-8973 to reserve a spot.

April 25: Herbal Medicine Field Series begins
Discover the medicine right outside your door! This 3-class series offers a joyful exploration into how local plants can be used for health and wellness. 

May 12: Getting Started: Using Herbs at Home for Health & Wellness
This free class will offer a broad overview of home-scale herbalism and provide some tips and techniques for incrementally expanding your herbal repertoire in a fun and safe manner. Held at Sunrise Natural Foods in Auburn. Call (530) 888-8973 to reserve a spot.

May 30: Shelter Building and Herbal Tick & Pest Repellents
The 5-part Earth Skills Field Series will deepen your knowledge of the many uses of plants, empower you with foundational wilderness survival skills, inspire a deeper level of connection with our wild, natural world, and transform the ways you see yourself in relationship to the earth. Rachel co-teaches the first class, and students will make herbal tick and bug repellants. Classes can be taken individually or as a series.

June 11: Introduction to Herbal Medicine begins
This hands on, 4-class series is designed for beginning home herbalists who want to feel more confident using self-prescribed herbal medicine for health and wellness.

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