in which we get greasy

Right, so that title is going to bring me some interesting guests, but I’m not changing it now.

Before I even get started telling you how to make a high- test muscle- rub at home, I need to give you a warning: whatever you do, please remember that coconut oil doesn’t stay solid, okay? I mean, it melts in the hand, but it will melt in a jar, too, if you hold it for a little while or if the room is warm. So if you leave it on the couch, say, and you don’t put the lid back on, it is COMPLETELY POSSIBLE that half of the contents of the jar will run out and soak a couch cushion and then your entire living room will smell like eucalyptus for a week. While not terrible this is SO MUCH LESS THAN IDEAL and may result in a little online shaming. (What’s up, sweets?)

(If this happens to you: soak up whatever you can, then rub baking soda, cornstarch or arrowroot powder on the stain along with some Dawn or Dr. Bronners (wool wash would work here in a pinch, but $$$ and that lovely scent will be eclipsed by those essential oils) into the stain with an old toothbrush to soak overnight. Brush off excess in the morning, then launder as usual, probably twice. It possibly won’t come out completely, but it will dramatically improve. I recommend baking soda and Bronners, but use whatcha got. Really, what I recommend is that you just don’t do that thing.)

Okay: here’s what you need in order to make this rub.

  • Double boiler, slow cooker or well- watched small saucepan
  • Measuring cup (1 cup, at least)
  • 1 cup coconut oil (refined or unrefined, dealer’s choice)
  • Eucalyptus essential oil *
  • Peppermint essential oil
  • Ginger essential oil
  • Clove essential oil
  • Vitamin E oil
  • Metal or plastic soup spoon for mixing
  • storage container- I like to reuse jars!
  • Optional: pyrex bowl to use with saucepan to make double- boiler

This is one of the easiest things I make— there are almost no stages to it. Salves and infused oils are usually really simple!

Get your double boiler, slow cooker or saucepan up to medium heat; you’ll start melting 1 cup of coconut oil in that right away. If you have a Pyrex bowl and a saucepan, you can use that on top of your small saucepan to create a double- boiler and melt your coconut oil there. Allow it to melt, gently, but never allow it to approach a simmer.

Once the coconut oil is liquified, begin adding the essential oils.

First: add 45 drops of eucalyptus essential oil. (Like I said, this packs a bit of a whallop.)

Next: add 30 drops of peppermint essential oil. (These two are our primarily cooling oils.)

Third step: add 20 drops of ginger essential oil. (This is a skin- warming oil.)

Fourth: add 12 drops of clove essential oil. (Our final warming oil; clove is very strong and takes the lightest hand.)

Finally, add a teaspoon of Vitamin E oil to extend shelf life and allow everything to warm together on medium/ low- medium heat for ten to fifteen minutes. Pour into your storage container and allow to cool slightly before using; it will probably begin to set, depending on the ambient temperature in your space, but will liquify again once you touch it. Use within 12- 18 months.

A couple of notes:

*There are several different varieties of eucalyptus essential oil available on the market. For this application, I recommend eucalyptus globulus, or if you generally find the smell of eucalyptus too strong, eucalyptus radiata. Personally, if scent is an issue, I’d split it right down the middle- 22 drops of one, 23 drops of the other. I prefer eucalyptus globulus because it provides a stronger sensation on the skin, but feel free to experiment. If you’re looking at oils and the label just reads “eucalyptus” without any species specifications, don’t buy that brand. Over 70% of the eucalyptus oil in the market is actually a Chinese- made camphor laurel derivative— not actively harmful, but also not what you’re actually trying to buy.

*If you see something labeled as “eucalyptus true”, it’s almost always eucalyptus radiata.

Buying better oils will get you better results; much like olive oil, or vegetables, or anything else that comes from plants, freshness and processing matters. Don’t spend more than you can afford and don’t believe the hype every company spouts (marketing is malarkey after all), but you’ll see a big difference between using the stuff you can grab at the grocery store vs steam- distilled essential oils. It’s like yarn: I can make a totally serviceable, attractive set of mittens out of inexpensive wool, or I can go luxe and make something uber- comfy that might last a little longer if I splurge on some super nice but pricier well- spun farm wool. They’re both great- but what fits my life & wallet right now?

There isn’t a right answer (because budgets and lifestyles), just be aware that the results can differ. The clove oil is strong enough that you can fudge it here- if it’s a bit weak, just add more. If I needed to make choices on where to spend, I’d invest in the eucalyptus oil. It’s dead cheap, really useful, and you can dry your own ginger to make infused oils which you use for your base as a workaround. (We can talk about that in a different post, but seriously, it’s easy and makes you feel a bit like a kitchen witch.) I’m not going to endorse any one company on the blog, but if you want to hit me up on email I’ll let you know who I’m into- there are some good folks out there!

Since I’ve been talking about making these things lately, and passing out some of these recipes and samples, I’ve been getting more and more questions about all of this- skin care, the making of bath and body supplies, and most especially the why behind all of it. I’m working on a post to talk about that— both why I do this, and why I think it’s a good idea for other folks to think about making their own self- care supplies, too. It isn’t as far- out there as you might think, and I’m told I smell pretty good, too, so either the folks around me are SUPER compassionate and can’t stand to tell me what a cosmic failure this has been for the last few years or it’s actually working out.

Have you made any of your own soaps, lotions, creams, salves, etc? How’d it go, and are you still using them? Do you have any favorite suppliers, websites, blogs? Anybody out there oil cleansing? That’s been a huge part of my regimen for years now, and had a lot to do with getting me into this hobby- once you start playing with different oils and start seeing how your skin reacts to them it’s a bit hard to stop. I’d love to hear your experiences, negative and positive!

  One thought on “in which we get greasy

  1. April 7, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    Since I started my etsy shop (Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe) I’ve gotten super interested in homemade beauty routines. Even before that, actually, I began shopping at Lush and buying natural products. Reading “No More Dirty Looks” basically solidified for me how full of JUNK most beauty products are, and convinced me to switch to a natural deodorant, mascara, and concealer. I don’t make these things myself, but I’m willing to pay someone else to. There’s a great book out there with lots of DIY recipes called The Natural Beauty Solution, written by someone who works at From Nature With Love, a DIY-soap-and-lotion-supply store based in CT.

    • April 8, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      Lush had a HUGE influence on me, too! When we came back to the States there was about a 1- year gap before they arrived here, and I started learning how to make bath bombs right away in order to get my fix. I’m going to have to pick up a few of those books, though- thanks for the recommendations!

  2. April 8, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    Nice blog Loved your blog !! Follow me –

  3. CJ
    April 10, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    I’m making this today! I did spurge on the eucalyptus and my kitchen smells amazing right now. One thing I’ve found when I make things is that I like to try to feel what I want to feel when I’m using the product. I know it sounds a bit woo but if I’m hoping this will relieve some tension & pain in my body I want to be relaxed when I make it. I’ve been doing a LOT of deep breathing since I actually need the product right now but I find it works with the smell association to try and find a nice mind space while you are making stuff. I’ll let you know how this works! 💗

  4. rainbowgoblin
    April 11, 2016 at 7:30 am

    I live around the corner from a mail-order organic DIY cosmetic supply shop, so I can save big on shipping (a big deal, I live in New Zealand) so I’ve been experimenting a bit with oil cleansing mixes, moisturisers, lip balms, etc. I’m stuck on shaving cream… I tried a recipe that sounded perfect and it was a disaster, and I’ve been gun shy since, but I feel dumb about it so I won’t buy shaving cream now and I’m just using soap. Do you have a good recipe?

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