Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Making Aromatherapy Creams part 2: books/resources (Skin care/Natural Cosmetic resources/book reviews)

For a good online resource for recipes check Make Your Cosmetics. This site is sponsored by Donna Maria and Handmade Beauty Network. I really love this site, there are lots of good recipes and great ideas! Some recipes may use a few synthetic ingredients (like emulsifying wax and fragrance oils) but most are all natural.

Here are some of my favorite books with cream recipes (mini book reviews):

Dina Falconi's Earthly Bodies and Heavenly Hair : This book explains techniques and the differences between creams/lotions, salves/balms, herbal oils, tinctures, herbal vinegars, powders, etc (check out the last chapter book). It has very easy and wonderful recipes for all kinds of skin and hair care products, including creams (emulsified with beeswax, with and without borax).

Erich Keller's Aromatherapy Handbook for Beauty, Hair, and Skin Care. This book is jammed pack with information, including aromatherapy/essential oil info and usage (which essential oils to use over others for specific skin conditions; there are lots of charts), how the skin and hair functions, skin and hair conditions, and contains a wide range of skin and hair cosmetic recipes. The cream recipes are well detailed; they clearly describe what temperatures the water and oils phases should be at, for those that are concerned with accuracy.

Donna Maria's Making aromatherapy creams and lotions. Depending on who you ask, people either really love this book or they hate it. I think it gives a great technical explaination on cream making, and also has recipes on how to make a few other goodies. It does an awesome job (even better than the other two books above) at describing the various ingredients, except that it neglects to mention natural preservatives. The only thing I didn't like is that it uses a lot of emulsifying wax in its recipes (which is not a natural ingredient), but there are some beeswax and borax recipes too. It may not be a good book for the beginner, as it uses many rare and expensive ingredients, which may be frustrating for some people to find. I, personally, haven't had a problem finding the ingredients, but then again I know where to find most of the ingredients since I make crafts all the time. In a way this is good for the beginner in that it describes the process in great detail, but at the same time some people get frustatrated in trying to track down the ingredients, or the recipes may seem daunting because they contain so many exotic ingredients. These are good recipes for 'fancy/exotic' creams. It has a basic beeswax cream, but mainly has complicated recipes if you want to play with textures (like creams with the floral waxes). I highly recommend it for the technical information.

Dorie Byers' Natural Beauty Basics : Create Your Own Cosmetics and Body Care Products. This book has nice beeswax (with no borax) recipes, and if you want to make a cream with lecithin, this is the only book I've found that has recipes that uses ONLY lecithin to emulsify creams (Donna Maria has recipes with lecithin but if I recall correctly she uses it with a mix of other emulsifiers). The recipes are for hand creams, but they are very nice, and you could use them all over the body/face. There is a fantastic shea butter cream recipe too. This book has many other wonderful recipes in it too. They only thing I didn't like is that ocassionally a few synthetics creep up in her recipes (like using baby shampoo to make an herbal shampoo), but for the most part the recipes are 100% natural.

Rosemary Gladstar. One of the best cream recipes ever. Get either the 'Family Herbal' or 'Herbs for Natural Beauty' (which has the same information; the Family Herbal is like a compilation of many of her little books like Herbs for Natural Beauty). Although it is only one recipe, the instructions for that recipe are awesome. This cream recipe is my favorite for my body skin, and the one recipe that I've based most of my porportions on. It is so rich and versatile, and is simply the best. Gladstars books have many other recipes on skin care, and if you get the Family Herbal book, it is a good resource on herb descriptions, and contains good recipes on natural remedies for all kinds of problems. And the rest of the book--gorgeous layout but extremely useful information. Gladstar is considered one of the best herbalists in the country. One of my favorite herbal remedy books.

Janice Cox books. Very easy recipes; beeswax based creams and some creams made just with stearic acid (which I haven't seen in other guides). I think the stearic acid creams are in her 'Natural Beauty at Home' book (make sure you get the expanded, revised edition which has more recipes). It is a good beginner guide and excellent for a wide range of simple recipes, not just creams. I like her books, and the recipes are nice but they are VERY basic (not very technical, simple ingredients). The creams I've tried from her were ok; I liked recipes from other authors better though. The bulk of the book consists of recipes; a good place to get ideas from. You can usually find Janice Cox books in your local library too (the others may be harder to find in your library though).

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