I’ve had a lot of requests for a straight-up face cream, but for some reason or another, I haven’t really strayed into that territory too much until now. That’s mostly because I adore oil-based serums; my skin loves their potency, and when a serum is 100% oil based that means you can really load your skin up with all kinds of fatty acids that are amazing for your skin (linoleic acid 😍) without any water diluting them. But… when winter sets in and dehydration begins to be a chronic issue, the appeal of including water becomes much more obvious. So, here we are, with a recipe for a richly hydrating Winter Solstice Facial Cream. I love it, and I think you will, too.
Once you decide you’re going to include water in something, there are so many exciting ingredients you can use—water soluble ones like silk, herbal extracts, allantoin, hydrolyzed proteins, and floral waters. When I first started brainstorming up the ingredients I wanted to use in this cream I had a pretty long list of fun water soluble goodies I wanted to include, but I managed to restrain myself. I limited myself to silk, allantoin, and rose water. Silk has long been a favourite ingredient of mine; it helps keep your skin hydrated and is said to have anti-aging properties. Allantoin is pretty darn amazing, really. It helps protect the skin as well as boosting cell regeneration, and the FDA has approved it to help protect and prevent chapped, irritated skin (brilliant for winter!). Rose water smells pretty and brings some soothing, skin-toning rose goodness to the party.
I had some fun with the oils part, too. I wanted to be quite cognizant of sticking with ingredients with relatively low comedogenic ratings (how pore clogging things are). For the oils and butters I chose a blend of argan oil, olive squalane, and mango butter. I’ve been using argan oil on my face for years and I love it. Olive squalane is really neat; it’s squalane that’s been derived from olives (as opposed to fish). It’s a lightweight, fast-absorbing oil that quickly and easily penetrates the skin. It’s also an antioxidant and helps prevent UV damage (though it’s not a sunscreen!). Mango butter has a wonderful dry touch finish to it and a comeodogenic rating of zero, which is as good as it gets.
For an emulsifier I chose BTMS-50 for its wonderfully powdery finish to make for a lighter feeling final product, though you could use a different complete emulsifying wax if that’s what you’ve got. I included some cetyl alcohol to make the lotion extra creamy, but if you don’t have that, you can use more mango butter instead. Vitamin E rounds off the oil part with some additional anti-oxidizing, healing-boosting goodness.
Our cool down phase includes some panthenol, aka vitamin B5. Panthenol is a great humectant and moisturizer, attracting water to the skin and hold it there, keeping our skin feeling soft and hydrated longer. And, of course, our preservative is included in the cool down phase. For essential oils I chose a soft blend of lavender, spruce, and cardamom, but there’s plenty of room to play here. If you prefer to let the rose water shine you could leave out all the essential oils, or you could add a bit of rose absolute. Benzoin would be lovely with rose as well. If you’d like to boost the anti-aging properties of this cream you could add some carrot seed essential oil, or perhaps some tea tree to help fight acne. Have fun with it!
The end final Winter Solstice Overnight Face Cream is lovely. It’s rich and creamy, and glides over the skin like a dream before sinking in. When I use it on my hands it absorbs in a silky flash, but it takes a bit longer to sink into my face. I’ve been using this morning and night, after I wash my face with some black soap, and my skin has never been better. It’s hard to say how much of this is this cream, but suffice it to say, I’m positively chuffed with how my skin looks these days. Once the cream has absorbed, my skin feels plump and hydrated, but not at all oily. I’m loving this stuff, and you should definitely make some!
Winter Solstice Face Cream
Prepare a water bath by bringing about 3cm/1″ of water to a bare simmer over low to medium-low heat in a wide, flat-bottomed sauté pan.
Weigh the water, rose water, allantoin, glycerin, and silk into a small heat-resistant glass measuring cup. Cover that measuring cup with some foil, and place the measuring cup in your prepared water bath to melt everything through. Weight the olive squalane, argan oil, mango butter, cetyl alcohol, vitamin E, and BTMS-50 into a second heat-resistant glass measuring cup and place that measuring cup in the water bath as well.
Heat both parts through for thirty minutes; this ensures the oil part is thoroughly melted, helps the allantoin and silk fully dissolve in the water part, and helps kill anything that might be living in our water part.
After thirty minutes, pour the water part into the oil part. Remove the measuring cup with the two parts from the water bath and set it on a dishtowel to insulate it from the counter top. Using an immersion blender, blend the solution together, in bursts to prevent the lotion from leaping out of the measuring cup. After a minute or two of blending, leave it to cool for ten minutes before returning to blend it some more.
Do that a few more times until the cream is only a bit warmer than room temperature, and then stir in the panthenol, liquid germall plus, and essential oils. Transfer the cream into a 120mL/4oz plastic pump-top bottle or jar (I used this one from YellowBee—you’d need two for this batch size, or you could use the 100mL version).
To use, smooth a small amount over just-washed skin.
Shelf Life & Storage
Because this cream contains water, you must include a broad-spectrum preservative to ward off microbial growth. This is non-optional. Even with a preservative this project is likely to eventually spoil as our kitchens are not sterile laboratories, so in the event you notice any change in colour, scent, or texture, chuck it out and make a fresh batch.
I do not recommend scaling this recipe up as 100g is quite a lot of face cream! After three weeks of 2–3x daily use I’ve barely made a dent in mine.