Farm­house kitchen

Jean is in a lather of ex­cite­ment over her lat­est skin­care ex­per­i­ments, and so is ev­ery­one she knows.

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Contents - WORDS JEAN MANS­FIELD

The ba­sics of DIY cos­met­ics

My farm­house kitchen smells like a per­fume store at the mo­ment, and it’s not a bad thing.

My sharemilker says he can drive by on his ATV, sniff the air, and know I’m mak­ing soap by the fab­u­lous fra­grances. I think any­thing is an im­prove­ment on eau de cow ma­nure.

My cheese-mak­ing stu­dents have been good test­ing agents for my soaps and balms. I have a steady stream of happy cheese-mak­ers giv­ing me feed­back on my skin­care ex­per­i­ments, help­ing me to im­prove my recipes.

A friend and fel­low cheese-mak­ing tu­tor asked if I was giv­ing up cheese­mak­ing in favour of soap. That will never hap­pen. But I can see that mak­ing soap and cos­met­ics have a lot in com­mon with cheese-mak­ing and they all can be made quite pro­fes­sion­ally in your own kitchen.

The hard­est part with any craft is search­ing for in­spi­ra­tion and in­gre­di­ents. I be­gan with soap-mak­ing and quickly moved into my first skin care suc­cess with a lo­tus beauty body but­ter. Then my niece asked for a lo­tion to help with stretch marks. Af­ter some re­search I came up with a recipe that ev­ery­one loves and you don’t even need stretch marks to en­joy it.

You can also use in­gre­di­ents from your gar­den like herbs, spices, leaves and flow­ers. Fat can be ren­dered from a home­kill an­i­mal, oil pressed from your own olives or nuts, and there’s also milk, an amaz­ing in­gre­di­ent. If you have bees, the honey and wax are re­ally valu­able ad­di­tions.

If you don’t have time, the su­per­mar­ket is in­valu­able for sup­ply­ing many of your needs, so long as you are care­ful to choose some­thing that is safe for skin or body.

But my best friend when it comes to in­gre­di­ents is the in­ter­net. While I like to per­son­ally check out what I am buy­ing when­ever pos­si­ble, some items have to be couri­ered. This isn’t a prob­lem these days as couri­ers or ru­ral post de­liver even large parcels to the door. On­line auc­tion sites are a good start­ing point and key­word searches will find the rest. As with most pur­chases, the more you buy, the cheaper it be­comes. I started with just a small amount but have quickly grad­u­ated to bulk now I am mak­ing balms and salves for ev­ery­one.

I’ve also had great fun look­ing for con­tain­ers to hold my body but­ters and lip balms. You would be sur­prised at the range of un­usual re­cep­ta­cles now re­sid­ing on my dress­ing ta­ble. You can even source very pro­fes­sional lip­stick and de­odor­ant con­tain­ers avail­able es­pe­cially for mak­ing cos­met­ics at home. They only cost a few cents each, and you can also re­use old cos­metic con­tain­ers if you sani­tise them first.

The in­ter­net has lots of recipes. Some good, some not so good. Tri­alling and tweak­ing recipes is the way to start. As I do with my cheese­mak­ing, I keep re­ally de­tailed notes and pho­tos so I can re­pro­duce some­thing that works well.

Go to a class or work­shop. I’m go­ing to show groups how to get started as I want ev­ery­one to see just how easy it is.

you can use in­gre­di­ents from your gar­den, like herbs, leaves and flow­ers

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