Strong and Vulnerable

Bernice, our first foster failure, had another seizure this evening. This was a strong seizure. Her legs stiff but flailing as if she were trying to run or swim away, body folded at one moment, hyperextended the next, eyes popping out and sinking at once, and mouth clenched. I held her close to protect her from banging against edges, my hand cupped over her racing heart. How was her heart not exploding under the pressure of these seizures?

I fell to pieces the first time I saw her have a seizure. I woke a little after midnight and I fussed at her.strong

Settle down, Bernice.

When she didn’t I turned the light on.

Steven!!!! Something’s wrong with Bernice! 

I couldn’t sort through any of the questions.

What do we do? Who do we call? How do we get her downstairs? She’s not going to die, is she?

She didn’t, but we learned a lot about seizures into the wee hours of the morning.

We’re Both Strong and Vulnerable

As far as I know, Bernice has about one seizure a month. I probably see most of them since I work from home, and she’s my shadow. Seizures vary from violent (she might hurt herself or me) to limpish (stiff but no flailing or shaking). Sometimes she groans as if she’s in pain or afraid. Sometimes it’s as if she’s not even breathing.

As I hold Bernice through a seizure, I’m amazed that this strong creature is so helpless. Of our three dogs, she’s the strong, buff one. Through a seizure, I marvel at her heart, those delicate layers of tissue continue to pump blood, holding together even as her body seems to be imploding.

During a seizure, strong and vulnerable collide, spilling reminders: No guarantees. In a heartbeat. Life is precious.

I know the seizure is almost over when Bernice begins to pant and drool. Her joints slowly loosen up. She struggles to get up, but I hold her a few seconds more. It takes a few more for her legs to steady. I follow as she hazards a crooked path through the house to go outside. She’s going to be fine.

Yes, we’re also vulnerable. Sometimes, it’s in those moments that we find our strengths, like Bernice’s heart, fragile layers of tissue, solid as a rock as they give her the oxygen and strength to pull through the seizure.

I’m vulnerable, but I’m also strong.

©Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved, 2017.

Rest and the To-Do List

My to-do list was ridiculously long this weekend. I managed to cross out quite a bit of it. After I did a few things that weren’t on the list, I quickly jotted those down and just as quickly crossed through them, tilting the balance of done and still to-dos. I felt a little more accomplished.

Add Rest to the To-Dos

My to-do lists are always ambitious. I’m not alone, and like many who scratch out marathon to-do lists, for years I skimped on rest to tackle them. Recently, I began making it a point to sleep more than four hours a night. It’s hard on my joints, but even when I wake up after four hours, I make the effort to go back to sleep a little longer.

Sometimes as I drift off, work is heavy on my mind. I might have odd dreams of being physically trapped in excel spreadsheets or in div code. One night, when my honey came to bed and spooned me, I barely woke from dreams of HTML and CCS code. I quickly slipped back into dream to figure out the div and flex code for his body spooned next to mine.

To avoid dreams of excel prisons and html relations, I consciously fold ideas from creative endeavors —characters, plots, and personal projects— into that sleep liquid that bathes the brain.

I honestly don’t notice a great difference in the way I feel after two to four extra hours of sleep. I’ve never been a sound sleeper. But I do notice that I have more energy for those creative endeavors. More creative stamina.

I trust those sleeping brain juices. I trust the quiet.

©Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved, 2017.

Congratulations! It’s a hernia!

I realized a few months ago that the chunk at the top of my belly seemed to be independent of my belly. For years I’ve made self-deprecating jokes about my “kitty litter belly,” shaped like a litter box, but maybe just a belly full of kitties.

The chunk grew a bit. I ignored it a long bit. Until I realized I was trivializing when I shouldn’t, and perhaps my cavalier disregard for this growth might even be disrespectful of friends who had dealt with the discovery of dangerous bodily growths.

When I finally mentioned it to people in my life, the response was mostly alarm and that tilted-head, raised-brow look.

OK!! I’ll go to the doctor.

And I did. The diagnosis took mere minutes.

A gigantic umbilical hernia!

Happy the Hernia

He didn’t actually say gigantic or use an exclamation point, but it is big, and . . . (exclamation point please) I am so happy!!!! It’s a hernia!! I’ll name it Happy. I don’t have a square belly! I don’t have a tumor! I have a Happy Hernia!

I didn’t think it would be any more serious than a lump of fat, but, what do I know? Sometimes the odd things that appear on our bodies are not only serious, they are life-snuffing. I’ve been on that journey with more than one friend.

This is not one of those journeys.

I’m grateful. I’m grateful for my health. My knees are wrecked, my back is a little crooked, and I have regular bouts of IBS. But, my heart rate is low, my blood pressure is impressive, I don’t take a single medication, and that lump on my belly is just a hernia!

I’m also grateful for my friends and family. They’re the ones who will make sure I sit still long enough to heal after the hernia extraction. If you’re the praying type, pray for them. Sitting still is not listed among the skill sets on my résumé.

©Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved, 2017.

Thirty Days

Today begins the fourth month of my “commitment” calendar (thirty days more or less), during which I commit to doing something each day. This month, lucky world!, it’s a blog post each day!

I was first intrigued about making a monthly commitment when I heard Matt Cutts on the Ted Radio hour. This sounded doable. Safe. Fruitful.

For my birthday, I created a calendar with beach photos I took during a women’s retreat. That first month, I committed to moving for at least five minutes a day. Yup. Working from home requires unspeakable things. I would go, not only days, but weeks!! with minimal movement. Chained to my computer getting the job done. I was only able to cross out 19 of the 31 days of July, but hey! That was better than any of the previous 6 months! I walked, gardened, mowed, and . . . other things? I can’t figure out what some letters I jotted on my calendar mean (CJ? Jacks? P?), but they all mean I moved at least five minutes. Most often 30 plus minutes.

In August I committed to a cup of green tea every day. After the stress of moving for at least five whole minutes daily, I deserved to relax and have tea. 29 out of the 31 days of August! On 12 of those days I continued to move at least five minutes (mowing and walking).

For September, I set the bar higher: clear the kitchen table. Working from home also requires special talents.  One of those is the ability to turn a blind eye to housework. After twenty plus years as a freelancer, I’m an expert, so even clearing the table was a special challenge.

What’s heartening to me is that the challenges from the previous two months kept chiming in. Not 100%, but often enough to know that the challenges had made a difference. I moved at least 5 minutes (often over 30 minutes) for 23 days, and drank green tea 21 of those days.

The calendar challenge doesn’t and will not perfect me. But it makes me a more mindful and balanced person.

October is for Blogging

This month the commitment is to a blog post a day. This feels less “doable” and less “safe,” but here I go! I promise these won’t be introspective posts about how I manage to write a blog post. I have much more to explore: feeling choked, living in echo chambers, murderers, stories, friends, and a smidgin of politics.

So let’s dive into October. I won’t be perfect. It’s after midnight and I’m already late dammit. But I’ll be more balanced. More mindful.

©Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved, 2017.

A Funeral, a Birthday, and a Drop-Dead Party

What do a funeral, a birthday, and a drop-dead party have in common? Everything and nothing. We all have a birthday. We’ll all drop dead. Some of use will get a funeral.

Last night I went to a former neighbor’s funeral who died too young. 53. Today is my birthday. 58th. And tomorrow I’ll have a drop-dead party (explained below). All three “events” are happening on consecutive days during a palindrome week (dates are the same front- and backwards: 71317, 71417, and 71517).

I could dive down a numerology rabbit hole to chase the seven (a number I’ve adored since childhood) or the palindromes, but today is not about numbers. I’m still sorting out what it’s about. The sevens? The palindromes? The shocking news about a man who had been a neighborhood hero during four (yes 4!) hurricanes? The birthday plus drop-dead party?

I’m choked up because until a few days ago (another palindrome date) I thought my former neighbor was fine, living his life with his wife in his new house about 20 miles away. I was wrong. This last eleven months, he endured a flood, cancer, surgeries, chemo, and so much pain. He wasn’t “just fine.”

Don’t assume anyone’s fine.

drop-deadMy throat has been dry for several weeks (months even). I haven’t been able to write, not so much due to writer’s block (I don’t feel blocked), but rather some sort of paralysis: a complicated mix of politics, work, and family. Attending the visitation unchoked my voice just a bit. This week’s string of events floated at least one of my nostrils above the mire that’s kept me under, and I want to share something important.

You’re going to drop dead.

Well, perhaps you won’t drop but on some date (maybe not a palindrome date), you’ll be dead.

Some of us will see it coming, like so many friends of mine, and my recently deceased neighbor.

Some of us won’t.

But it’s coming. Winter (the end of the cycle) is coming.

Be kind about dropping dead.

We’re having a drop-dead party to organize our check out papers.

My friend’s mom gets the credit for this inspiration. One of the sweetest things she did before she checked out was keep a notebook filled with drop-dead information. She inspired me to start my own folder. I have started organizing information about my things, my accounts, and what to do with my body when I drop dead.

The point of the drop-dead party is to talk about checking out, share ideas about what to include in our notebooks/folders, how to make the transition for those who survive us easier, and exercise a little control over a situation in which we’ll have none.

My dad has asked, “Don’t you find that macabre?” My response was no. It’s more morbid to hole up in a corner somewhere and try to figure out what you should do to be kind to your survivors when you check out. Or worse, make no plans at all leaving your survivors to figure it out on their own. Talking about it with friends, writing information and messages, and making plans feels less macabre. It feels like adding a little kindness to an unhappy occasion and taking a bit of control over what we can’t.

I would emphasize that control isn’t the point. The point is making it easier for our survivors: information about our accounts, our ideas for a memorial, memories that are important to us, and what to do with that bag of bones!

Throw a drop-dead party with your dearest friends. It’s not macabre. It’s kind.

© Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved, 2017.

from product to DIY skin and hair care

Three and a half years ago I started dabbling in DIY solutions. My gateway DIYs were household cleaners: dish-washing liquid, dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent, furniture polish, oven cleaners, and even cultured enzymes for cleaners. While I still make household cleaners, it was the oils and butters for DIY skin and hair care potions that hooked me. I clean, treat, and moisturize everything —from the hair on my head to the soles of my feet, from the rough elbow and heel callouses to the delicate eyelid folds— with things I make.

That’s the DIY thrill. “I made it!”

With what?

Vinegar, sugar, salt, honey, beeswax, baking soda, butters, and oils.

But why?

When I tell people about my journey the responses are mixed.DIY skin and hair care

  • Wow!
  • You’re an overachiever.
  • I’ve been thinking about trying that!
  • How do you find the time?
  • Interesting!
  • Why on earth would you do that?

My answers are equally mixed and often vague. Although I’ve tackled some specific needs, I didn’t start down this DIY road because of specific needs. My DIY journey is more of a meandering response to my “How can I . . . ?” curiosity. How can I . . .

  • . . . live a little greener and remove toxins from our home? I’ll turn orange peels and pulp into cleaners!
  • . . . save money? I’ll make my own eye cream!
  • . . . go hard core with my three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle)? I’ll wash those jars and fill them with DIY foot cream!

DIY is doable

Contrary to what you might think, going DIY for skin and hair care doesn’t take that much time. Once you’re in the groove, it takes less time to make your own than it does to go to the store. And in case you suspect otherwise, I’m not an overachiever. In fact, I’m lazy. In just about every endeavor, including work, my efforts are to find the most expedient way to get from A to Z. Honestly, I’m wont to question why I can’t just stop at M or N. What is the merit of going all the way to Z?

So if you’re poised to dismiss dabbling into DIY because it would take too much time and effort, you’re a little bit right but mostly wrong. The learning curve of the first dabblings might feel daunting, but two batches in, you’ll whip up a batch of face wash and eye cream with one hand, while you toss vegetables in a wok with the other. That’s an exaggeration, but I insist: DIY is doable.

The struggles of the learning curve aren’t all bad. My missteps and flops were rarely absolute failures. Often, I found my way to the perfect potion after a misstep or a flop. I credit one flop with shielding me from two to six weeks of transition misery when I went poo-less.

Poo-Less, my real Do-It-Your-Own-Way adventure

I first heard about discontinuing shampoo when one of my daughters went poo-less. She experienced the oily and itchy scalp as it made the adjustment from being stripped of its natural oils and overproducing sebum, to being left to its own devices.

DIY skin and hair care

I had this taken on the day my hair was 12 months shampoo-free, and a full week without being rinsed.

I dove head-first into the poo-less movement last year, bracing myself for the crown misery. Tight for time and effort, I didn’t do much research. I tried one of the first methods I came across and oiled my hair with a mostly carrier and essential oil solution, rinsed well (very well), then went to church.

I’m a wash-n-go girl, so, on my way to church, I drove with the windows down to help dry my hair, shook my head as I left the car, and entered. After the service, I noticed our minister staring dumbfounded at my head. My reflection when I returned to my car revealed why. My hair felt soft and dry but looked oiled and heavy! Oops!

For the next couple of weeks, I continued to oil my head, but I followed up with generous amounts of baking soda and vinegar. This, I think, is what saved me from the misery of the transition. After a couple of weeks, I had time to do more research and settle into a routine that suited me.

The takeaway from this experience: when you substitute over-the-counter products with DIY methods, allow yourself space and time to experiment (and fail!) so that you find what works for you.

DIY changed me

The changes range from the condition of my skin and hair, to how I stock my pantry, to my shopping list, and to my mindset when it comes to skin and hair care.

I take my skin texture for granted now and forget that, even in my supple 20s, I had bouts of chaffing and chronically dry, flaky skin. That’s the old me. The new DIY me no longer has:

  • Dry skin
  • Rough elbows
  • Cracked heels
  • Foot fungus

And my head? I no longer suffer from:

  • Itchy scalp
  • Oily hair

I haven’t shampooed my hair in over 14 months, and it has never felt better. My scalp never itches, and my hair never gets oily. In fact (and don’t judge, I was experimenting!), I have gone more than two weeks without even rinsing my hair. Still not itchy, not oily.

The changes in the texture, comfort, and health of my skin and hair are so pronounced that today, if I’m stuck somewhere without my DIYs, I will shun over-the-counter skin and hair products and make my way to the kitchen instead.

The most significant change is possibly my shopping list. I no longer buy:

diy dry skin cream

My first DIY potion: easy eye cream

  • Eye cream
  • Face wash
  • Body lotion
  • Foot cream
  • Face cream
  • Makeup remover
  • Shampoo
  • Hand cream
  • Body scrubs
  • Medicated creams for bites, rashes, and other skin irritations

These things have been usurped by essential and carrier oils, Shea butter, beeswax, and vegetable glycerin. Some of the oils are pricey, but even if I use only the most expensive essential oils, I still spend less money on skin care than if I were buying over-the-counter eye and face cream and body lotions. Add to that, the ones I make work as well and often better. So why would I buy over-the-counter?

Getting Started with DIY Skin and Hair Care

DIY skin and hair care

I use my mixer for whipping body creams more than for whipping up cakes.

Skin care

Figuring out how and from where to dive into DIY can be intimidating. Last year, I posted three pieces on getting started with skin care.

  • The first piece (DIY Skin Care Part 1: Oily Pantry) explains how to stock your pantry so that you always have what you need at hand.
  • The second (DIY Skin Care Part 2: Oily Starters) provides some basic recipes for you to get started. I prefer calling these processes because if you understand the basic process, you can experiment with it, tweaking the ingredients and the ratios to make it just right for you.
  • The third (DIY Skin Care Part 3: Oily Personals) is a list of essential and carrier oils, organized by skin and hair conditions, problems, and so on. This will help you personalize the creams, lotions, and unguents you concoct.

Hair care

Many blogs and websites offer DIY advice for hair care.

If you’re considering going poo-less, you can begin exploring ideas online.

But more importantly you’ll need to allow yourself opportunities to experiment and find the right method for your hair. Of the various poo-less approaches, the one that works for me is condition and rinse once or twice a week, and about once a month, rinse with a baking soda solution followed by vinegar before conditioning. For a while, I was using no conditioner, just soda and vinegar, but my hair needs a little moisture and conditioning. I’m experimenting with DIY conditioners but haven’t nailed it yet. When I do, I’ll share the process.

Freedom

One of the unexpected emotions I experienced on this DIY journey is the joy of freedom.

  • I’m free of the toxins that enter homes and bodies through over-the-counter cleaning and beauty products.
  • I’m free to design my products with the scents and textures I want, targeting the conditions and problems I have.
  • I’m free from the advertising mind games. Even the best packaging and slogans can’t lure me to purchase that age-defying unguent.

Knowing how to make things for myself is one of the most liberating feelings I’ve experienced, and one of the best reasons to at least dabble in DIY, even if you’re not willing to dive in deep yet.

Wishing you fun and fulfilling DIY skin and hair care adventures, whether they’re little dabblings or a lifetime journey!

© Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2017

Knee deep in weeds with friends

Have you ever gone into the woods or walked through the weeds with friends?

weeds and friendsI arranged for a weekend at my home in the hollow with three of my friends. My “country house” sits next to a water hollow, down the hill and through a meadow from my parents’ home. The weather apps told us to expect a combination of thunderstorms and sunshine. The weekend didn’t go off without a hitch or two, but it was lovely. Lovelier even than meadows, water hollows, thunderstorms, and sunshine.

weeds and wings

Walking through weeds with friends

I arranged for this weekend not only because we were overdue for some fun girlfriend time but also because I thought these friends really needed it. They’ve had losses, health scares, work upheavals, and challenges I hope I never have to navigate. Meadows, water hollows, thunderstorms, and sunshine. I thought the weekend was for them, but as I packed to leave and return home, I realized, I was the one who needed it.

My friends

weeds and berry promiesesWe’re knee deep with each other in thorny weeds, simple treasures, corny (sometime crass) jokes, coloring books, tears, Spanish ham, salads, cheese, wine, and whiskey. But the fun isn’t the important thing. The important thing is the net we create for each other. That friendly net is possibly one of the greatest gifts of middle-aged friendships. As parental walls crumble and safety nets of family collapse, that net of friendship is there to catch us when we fall, embrace us when we feel loss, and lift us when we sink down.

I didn’t take photos of the best moments of this past weekend. The photos I took don’t hold a candle to that phone call to the friend who wasn’t there yet, the meals with my parents, playing with colors, spinning wool, belly laughing. Most of the weekend was rainy, but we managed one nice walk, through the meadow, up the hill, in the weeds. These photos are from that friendly walk.wends and fences

Friendship nets form when we let ourselves get knee deep in the weeds with each other. We’ll rarely catch the best of those moments on any kind of camera, because the magic of making the net is better.

 

 

 

 

 

© Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2017

DIY Skin Care Part 3: Oily Personals

Enhance, customize, and personalize your DIY skin care recipes.

One of the most daunting aspects of diving into the DIY skin care movement is the unfamiliarity of the ingredients. When I cook, I have general notions of how using onions and peppers or adding herbs and sauces will impact my dish. Starting out, I was clueless when it came to why one essential or carrier oil might be preferable over another. As I splashed (flailed!) around in a virtual ocean of recipes and possibilities, my shopping list began to resemble the inventory list of a medieval apothecary.

My goal for this tri-part post is to simplify the jumping off point for others.

  • Oily Pantry (Click here for Part 1, a list of oils and unguents to keep on hand.)
  • Oily Starters (Click here to explore Part 2: four basic skin-care processes to help you get your toes wet oily.)
  • Oily Personals (Part 3, which follows below, is a set of charts with information to help you customize your DIY skin-care venture.)

The Oily Personals are quick references or cheat sheets that will help you make purchase and blending decisions. The information was collected from close to 100 resources. When information was contradictory and I could not resolve the contradiction, I excluded it. This post includes fourteen charts focused on specific conditions, problems, or areas. This will be expanded later with two additional charts of that list the properties of essential and carrier oils that are popular for DIY skin care.

Oily Tips:

  • Use cold-pressed, unrefined, organic oils.
  • Lavender and tea tree oils can be applied neat (undiluted and directly to skin). But most other essential oils need to be diluted in a carrier oil. A 1% or 2% ratio (essential to carrier oil or total emulsion) is a good rule of thumb.
    • 1% = 6 drops of essential oil to 1 oz. carrier oil
    • 2% = 12 drops of essential oil to 1 oz. carrier oil
  • Most essential oils have about a 2 year shelf life, but the shelf life of a carrier oil can be as brief as 3 months. Do not use rancid oils. Quinessence Aromatheray and Viva Woman offer information on why oils go rancid and tips on how to prevent that from happening.
    • Store oils in a cool place. They can be stored in a refrigerator, but a cool, dark pantry or cabinet is sufficient. Keep in mind some carrier oils become cloudy when refrigerated.
    • Keep bottles tightly closed.
  • Always test oils on “tough” skin before applying them liberally elsewhere, especially if you have nut or other allergies.
  • Avoid these citrus oils if you’re sensitive to the sun or will be exposed to it for a long period of time: bergamot,  grapefruit, lemon (cold pressed), lime (cold pressed), bitter orange (cold pressed).

Oily Personals Cheat Sheet List

These charts are provided for informational purposes only, not in lieu of professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

To jump to a cheat sheet, click on the title.

  1. Improving Skin Appearance
  2. Treating Skin Conditions
  3. Treating Aging/Damaged Skin
  4. Treating Acneic Skin
  5. Treating Fungal Problems
  6. Treating Injuries, Infections, Growths
  7. Treating Diseases and Infestations
  8. Treating Disorders and Inflammation
  9. Treating Muscle, Joint, Nerve Problems
  10. Treating Blood-Related Problems
  11. Treating and Protecting Against Exposure and Bugs
  12. Treating Feet
  13. Treating Mouth Problems
  14. Treating Hair

1. Improving Skin Appearance

Improve Elasticity

Regenerate Tissue

Rejuvenate Skin

Smooth Skin / Fine Lines

Tighten Skin

Tone Skin

Essential Oils
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Myrrh
  • Rose
  • Ylang Ylang
Carrier Oils
  • Argan
  • Hazelnut
  • Hemp Seed
Essential Oils
  • Carrot Seed
  • Chamomile
  • Lavender
  • Neroli
Carrier Oils
  • Hazelnut
  • Jojoba
  • Rose Hip
  • Shea Butter
Essential Oils
  • Carrot Seed
  • Clary Sage
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Myrrh
  • Neroli
  • Patchouli
  • Rose
  • Tea Tree
  • Ylang Ylang
Carrier Oils
  • Safflower
  • Tamanu
Essential Oils
  • Carrot Seed
  • Rose
  • Patchouli
  • Ylang Ylang
Carrier Oils
  • Argan
  • Camellia
  • Jojoba
  • Rose Hip
  • Shea Butter
Essential Oils
  • Clary Sage
  • Frankincense
  • Neroli
  • Patchouli
Carrier Oils
  • Grape Seed
  • Hazelnut
Essential Oils
  • Basil (Sweet)
  • Carrot Seed
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Lemon
  • Neroli
  • Rose
Carrier Oils
  • Evening Primrose
  • Grape Seed
  • Hazelnut

Back to List

2. Treating Skin Conditions

For normal skin, oils that nourish and regenerate are advisable, for example frankincense, geranium, chamomile, lavender, neroli, and rose essential oils with carrier oils such as sweet almond, hemp seed, and jojoba. The chart lists oils for other skin types and conditions.

Dry

Oily

Dull

Mature

Sensitive

Thin

Essential Oils
  • Chamomile
  • Frankincense
  • Myrrh
  • Neroli
  • Patchouli
  • Rose
  • Rosemary
  • Sandalwood
  • Ylang Ylang
Carrier Oils
  • Sweet Almond
  • Apricot Kernel
  • Argan
  • Avocado
  • Camellia
  • Carrot Seed
  • Coconut
  • Evening Primrose
  • Hazelnut
  • Hemp Seed
  • Rose Hip
  • Shea Butter
  • Sunflower
Essential Oils
  • Bergamot
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Myrrh
  • Neroli
  • Niaouli
  • Oregano
  • Patchouli
  • Sandalwood
  • Tea Tree
  • Thyme
  • Ylang Ylang 
Carrier Oils  
  • Camellia
  • Coconut
  • Grape Seed
  • Hemp Seed
  • Jojoba
Essential Oils
  • Basil (Sweet)
  • Geranium
  • Lemon
  • Myrrh
  • Niaouli
  • Rosemary
Carrier Oils
  • Sweet Almond
  • Camellia
  • Jojoba
  • Sunflower
Essential Oils
  • Carrot Seed
  • Neroli
  • Patchouli
  • Rose
Carrier Oils
  • Apricot Kernel
  • Avocado
  • Camellia
  • Carrot Seed
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Coconut
  • Hemp Seed
  • Rose Hip
  • Sunflower
  • Tamanu
Essential Oils
  • Sandalwood
Carrier Oils
  • Sweet Almond
  • Argan
  • Coconut
  • Evening
  • Primrose
  • Grape Seed
  • Neem Seed
  • Sunflower
Essential Oils
  • Lavender
Carrier Oils
  • Avocado
  • Camellia

Back to List

3. Treating Aging/Damaged Skin

Age Spots / Discoloration

Cellulite

Sun Spots / Damage

Scars

Stretch Marks

Wrinkles

Essential Oils
  • Clary Sage
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Myrrh
  • Tea Tree
Carrier Oils
  • Avocado
  • Carrot Seed
  • Cocoa Butter
Essential Oils
  • Geranium
  • Juniper Berry
  • Lemon
  • Patchouli
  • Rosemary
Carrier Oils
  • Coconut
  • Hazelnut
Essential Oils
  • Lavender
  • Myrrh
Carrier Oils
  • Avocado
  • Camellia
  • Grape Seed
  • Tamanu
Essential Oils
  • Carrot Seed
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Neroli
  • Rose
  • Sandalwood
Carrier Oils
  • Argan
  • Avocado
  • Camellia
  • Jojoba
  • Rose Hip
  • Safflower
  • Shea Butter
  • Tamanu
Essential Oils
  • Frankincense
  • Lavender
  • Neroli
  • Sandalwood
Carrier Oils
  • Avocado
  • Beeswax
  • Coconut
  • Jojoba
  • Shea Butter
  • Tamanu
Essential Oils
  • Carrot Seed
  • Clary Sage
  • Frankincense
  • Juniper Berry
  • Lavender
  • Neroli
  • Patchouli
Carrier Oils
  • Apricot Kernel
  • Argan
  • Avocado
  • Camellia
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Jojoba
  • Rose Hip
  • Shea Butter

Back to List

4. Treating Acneic Skin

Acne

Blemishes

Enlarged Pores

Essential Oils
  • Basil (Sweet)
  • Bergamot
  • Cedarwood
  • Chamomile
  • Eucalyptus
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Juniper Berry
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Myrrh
  • Neroli
  • Niaouli
  • Oregano
  • Patchouli
  • Rose
  • Rosemary
  • Tea Tree
  • Ylang Ylang
Carrier Oils
  • Argan
  • Beeswax
  • Camellia
  • Carrot Seed
  • Coconut
  • Jojoba
  • Neem Seed
  • Rose Hip
  • Safflower
  • Tamanu
Essential Oils
  • Myrrh
  • Rosemary
Carrier Oils
  • Safflower
  • Shea Butter

 

Essential Oils
  • Clary Sage
  • Lemon
  • Neroli
  • Patchouli
Carrier Oils
  • Hemp Seed

 

Back to List

5. Treating Fungal Problems

Athlete’s Foot

Candida (Yeast)

Jock Itch

Ringworm

Essential Oils
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Myrrh
  • Oregano
  • Patchouli
  • Tea Tree
  • Thyme
Carrier Oils
  • Neem Seed
Essential Oils
  • Clove
  • Geranium
  • Tea Tree
Carrier Oils
  • Neem Seed
Essential Oils
  • Lavender
  • Myrrh
  • Tea Tree
Carrier Oils
  • Neem Seed
Essential Oils
  • Geranium
  • Myrrh
  • Oregano
  • Tea Tree
Carrier Oils
  • Neem Seed

Back to List

6. Treating Injuries, Infections, Growths

Blisters, Boils, Burns

Cellulitis

Cuts, Wounds

Skin Infection

Sores, Abscess

Warts

Essential Oils
  • Bergamot
  • Carrot Seed
  • Chamomile
  • Lavender
  • Niaouli
Carrier Oils
  • Sweet Almond
  • Avocado
  • Shea Butter
  • Tamanu

 

 

Essential Oils
  • Geranium
  • Juniper Berry
  • Lavender
  • Oregano
  • Tea Tree
  • Thyme
Carrier Oils
  • Coconut
  • Oregano
Essential Oils
  • Bergamot
  • Chamomile
  • Eucalyptus
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Niaouli
  • Tea Tree
  • Thyme
Carrier Oils
  • Avocado
  • Beeswax
  • Grape Seed
  • Hazelnut
  • Hemp Seed
  • Shea Butter
  • Tamanu
Essential Oils
  • Basil (Sweet)
  • Juniper Berry
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Myrrh
  • Rosemary
Carrier Oils
  • Coconut

 

Essential Oils
  • Bergamot
  • Chamomile
  • Lavender
  • Patchouli
  • Tea Tree
Carrier Oils
  • Tamanu

 

 

Essential Oils
  • Clove Bud
  • Frankincense
  • Lemon
  • Oregano
  • Tea Tree
  • Thyme

Back to List

7. Treating Diseases and Infestations

Chicken pox

Dermatitis

Eczema

Measles

Scabies

Insect / Spider Bites

Essential Oils
  • Lavender
  • Tea Tree
Carrier Oil
  • Neem Seed
Essential Oils
  • Cedarwood
  • Chamomile
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Patchouli
  • Rose
  • Thyme
Carrier Oils
  • Beeswax
  • Jojoba
  • Shea Butter

 

 

Essential Oils
  • Bergamot
  • Carrot Seed
  • Chamomile
  • Geranium
  • Patchouli
  • Rose
Carrier Oils
  • Sweet Almond
  • Argan
  • Avocado
  • Beeswax
  • Camellia
  • Carrot Seed
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Evening Primrose
  • Jojoba
  • Neem Seed
  • Rose Hip
  • Shea Butter
Essential Oils
  • Bergamot
  • Geranium
  • Chamomile
  • Eucalyptus
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Niaouli
  • Tea Tree

 

 

Essential Oils
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Thyme
Carrier Oil
  • Neem Seed
Essential Oils
  • Basil (Sweet)
  • Chamomile
  • Lavender
  • Niaouli
  • Oregano
  • Thyme

 

Back to List

8. Treating Disorders and Inflammations

Hives / Inflammation

Itchy Skin

Rosacea

Psoriasis

Heat Rash

Essential Oils
  • Chamomile
  • Geranium
  • Juniper Berry
  • Lemon
  • Myrrh
  • Patchouli
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Sandalwood
Carrier Oils
  • Sweet Almond
  • Apricot Kernel
  • Argan
  • Avocado
  • Castor
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Jojoba
  • EV Olive
  • Shea Butter
Essential Oils
  • Bergamot
  • Chamomile
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Myrrh
  • Neroli
  • Patchouli
  • Sandalwood
  • Tea Tree
Carrier Oils
  • Sweet Almond
  • Avocado
  • Beeswax
  • Carrot Seed
  • Neem Seed
  • Shea Butter
Essential Oils
  • Chamomile
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Neroli
  • Oregano
  • Rosewood
  • Tea Tree
Carrier Oils
  • Evening Primrose
  • Jojoba
  • Rose Hip
  • Tamanu
Essential Oils
  • Bergamot
  • Carrot Seed
  • Chamomile
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lavender
  • Oregano
  • Patchouli
  • Rose
  • Rosemary
Carrier Oils
  • Sweet Almond
  • Camellia
  • Carrot Seed
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Jojoba
  • Neem Seed
  • Rose Hip
  • Shea Butter
  • Tamanu
Essential Oils
  • Chamomile
  • Clove
  • Eucalyptus
  • Geranium
  • Peppermint
  • Sandalwood
Carrier Oils
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Evening Primrose
  • Neem
  • Shea Butter
  • Sunflower

Back to List

9. Treating Muscle, Joint, Nerve Pain

Aches, Muscle Pain

Neuralgia

Sprains, Strains

Arthritis

Gout

Rheumatism

Essential Oils
  • Basil (Sweet)
  • Clary Sage
  • Niaouli
  • Oregano
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
Carrier Oils
  • Sweet Almond
  • Shea Butter
Essential Oils
  • Basil (Sweet)
  • Chamomile
  • Clary Sage
  • Clove
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Sandalwood
Essential Oils
  • Chamomile
  • Clove Bud
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
Carrier Oils
  • EV Olive
Essential Oils
  • Carrot Seed
  • Cedarwood
  • Chamomile
  • Clove Bud
  • Eucalyptus
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
Carrier Oils
  • Avocado
  • Evening Primrose
  • Tamanu
Essential Oils
  • Basil (Sweet)
  • Carrot Seed
  • Chamomile
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Juniper Berry
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
Essential Oils
  • Basil (Sweet)
  • Carrot Seed
  • Cedarwood
  • Chamomile
  • Clove Bud
  • Eucalyptus
  • Frankincense
  • Juniper Berry
  • Lemon
  • Rosemary

Back to List

10. Treating Blood-Related Problems

Broken Capillaries

Bruises

Chilblains

Nosebleed

Varicose Veins

Essential Oils
  • Chamomile
  • Cypress
  • Geranium
  • Lemon
  • Neroli
  • Rose
  • Rosemary
Carrier Oils
  • Evening Primrose
  • Hazelnut
  • Rose Hip

 

Essential Oils
  • Cypress
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Myrrh
  • Rosemary
Carrier Oils
  • Evening Primrose
  • Hazelnut
  • EV Olive
  • Rose Hip
  • Sunflower
  • Tamanu

 

 

Essential Oils
  • Lemon
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
Carrier Oils
  • Evening Primrose
  • Hazelnut
  • Rose Hip

 

Essential Oils
  • Cypress
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
Essential Oils
  • Basil
  • Cedarwood
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Juniper Berry
  • Lemon
  • Myrrh
  • Neroli
  • Oregano
  • Rose
  • Rosemary
Carrier Oils
  • Evening Primrose
  • Hazelnut
  • Rose Hip

Back to List

11. Treating and Protecting Against Exposure and Bugs

Chapped Skin

Sunburn

Sunscreen

Windburn

Head Lice/Mites

Insect Repellent

Essential Oils
  • Frankincense
  • Myrrh
  • Patchouli
  • Sandalwood
Carrier Oils
  • EV Olive
Essential Oils
  • Chamomile
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lavender
Carrier Oils
  • Sweet Almond
  • Neem Seed
  • Shea Butter
Essential Oils
  • Carrot Seed
  • Chamomile
  • Frankincense
  • Lavender
  • Myrrh
  • Sandalwood
Carrier Oils
  • Sweet Almond
  • Avocado
  • Camellia
  • Coconut
  • Grape Seed
  • Jojoba
  • Neem Seed
  • EV Olive
  • Shea Butter
Essential Oils
  • Bergamot
  • Chamomile
  • Lavender
Carrier Oils
  • Coconut
  • Shea Butter
Essential Oils
  • Bergamot
  • Geranium
  • Peppermint
  • Tea Tree
  • Thyme
Carrier Oil
  • Neem Seed
Essential Oils
  • Basil (Sweet)
  • Cedarwood
  • Clove Bud
  • Eucalyptus
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Oregano
  • Patchouli
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Sandalwood
  • Tea Tree
Carrier Oils
  • Neem Seed

Back to List

12. Treating Feet

Athlete’s Foot

Corns

Sweaty Feet

Essential Oils
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Myrrh Oregano
  • Patchouli
  • Tea Tree
Essential Oils
  • Lemon
  • Tea Tree
Essential Oils
  • Clary Sage
  • Geranium

Back to List

13. Treating Mouth Problems

Bad Breath

Canker (Cold) Sores

Gum Disease

Mouth Infection

Sore Throat

Toothache

Essential Oils
  • Bergamot
  • Myrrh
  • Peppermint
  • Tea tree
Carrier Oils
  • Coconut Oil
Essential Oils
  • Bergamot
  • Clove Bud
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lavender
  • Myrrh
  • Oregano
  • Peppermint
  • Sandalwood
  • Tea Tree
Essential Oils
  • Lemon
  • Myrrh
  • Oregano
  • Peppermint
  • Tea Tree
Carrier Oils
  • Sweet Almond Oil
  • Coconut Oil
Essential Oils
  • Clove Bud
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Myrrh
  • Tea Tree
Carrier Oils
  • Coconut Oil
Essential Oils
  • Clove Bud
  • Eucalyptus
  • Juniper Berry
  • Lemon
  • Oregano
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Sandalwood
  • Tea Tree
  • Thyme
Carrier Oils
  • Sweet Almond
  • Coconut
  • Jojoba
Essential Oils
  • Chamomile
  • Clove Bud
  • Myrrh
  • Oregano
  • Peppermint

Back to List

14. Treating Hair

Oily

Normal

Dry/Damaged

Dandruff

Fine

Thinning

Essential Oils
  • Basil
  • Cedarwood
  • Clary Sage
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Patchouli
  • Rosemary
  • Tea Tree
  • Ylang Ylang
Carrier Oils
  • Avocado
  • Grapeseed
  • Jojoba
Essential Oils
  • Chamomile
  • Clary Sage
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
Carrier Oils
  • Argan
  • Avocado
  • Jojoba
Essential Oils
  • Chamomile
  • Clary Sage
  • Lavender
  • Myrrh
  • Peppermint
  • Sandalwood
Carrier Oils
  • Sweet Almond
  • Apricot Kernel
  • Argan
  • Avocado
  • Camellia
  • Coconut
  • Grape Seed
  • Hazelnut
  • Hemp Seed
  • Jojoba
  • EV Olive
  • Evening Primrose
  • Shea Butter
Essential Oils
  • Cedarwood
  • Clary Sage
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Oregano
  • Patchouli
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Tea Tree
  • Ylang Ylang
Carrier Oils
  • Sweet Almond
  • Aloe Vera
  • Apricot Kernel
  • Avocado
  • Jojoba
  • Neem Seed
Essential Oils
  • Chamomile
  • Clary Sage
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
Carrier Oils
  • Sweet Almond
  • Avocado
  • Grape Seed
  • Jojoba
  • Sesame
Essential Oils
  • Basil
  • Carrot
  • Cedarwood
  • Clary Sage
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Ylang Ylang
Carrier Oils
  • Sweet Almond
  • Avocado
  • Camellia
  • Coconut
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Jojoba
  • EV Olive

Back to List

Copyright © Pennie Nichols, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

DIY Skin Care Part 2: Oily Starters

4 DIY skin care recipes to get you started

I started dabbling in DIY  household recipes as well as DIY skin care two and a half years ago. Although information, advice, and recipes are abundantly available on the Internet, navigating them can be treacherous.

Oily Starters is the second of three posts to ease others simplify into the DIY skin care revolution. Also check out Oily Pantry (a list of staple oils, butters, and waxes for DIY skin care) and Oily Personals (oil information to help you choose the best ones for you).

If navigating the plethora of information wasn’t sufficiently daunting for me, the recipes were. Even when I cook or bake, I can’t bring myself to faithfully follow a single recipe. I review three, four, sometimes more, recipes, and then go to the kitchen to synthesize or “process.”

Cooking by process in lieu of recipe allows me to use of what I have in my pantry and make substitutions. It also gives me the freedom to tweak whatever I’m preparing based on my mood or hankering. Extracting the process from skin-care recipes, however, took me longer than usual because the ingredients were not as familiar as garlic and tomato paste.

The first process I adopted was for dry, itchy skin, and it has become my most popular post: Dry Itchy Skin? Try This First.

The four processes provided here are a synthesis of recipes and information from some of my favorite DIY sites. Whether you need a jump start to launch your DIY adventure or a little affirmation or redirection for the journey you’re on, I hope these Oily Starters along with the Oily Pantry and the Oily Personals help you develop your own, personalized creams, lotions, and washes.

1. Basic Cream: Whipped Face/Body Cream

Getting the right consistency and texture for lotions, creams, and body bars is a challenge. I followed some recipes faithfully and ended up with lotions that separated. Sometimes the bars were more like creams, and the creams more like bars. Finally I found posts about a process that works for me:

melt → mix → chill → whip

The first recipe I found and tried was from Trash is for Tossers. Now I use a similar process for most of my lotions and creams.

 You’ll need

  1. Double boiler (or a heat resistant bowl that fits tightly atop one of your pots)
  2. Mixer
  3. Base and Additional Ingredients that are right for you
  4. Tub or jar to store it

 Base Ingredients

  • 1 part Coconut Oil 
  • 1 part Carrier Oil (select depending on use and needs)
  • 1 part Shea or Cocoa Butter
  • 1 tbsp. Beeswax granules or flakes for each cup of the oil/butter trio

Additional (optional) Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. Vitamin E Oil for each cup of Base
  • 1 tbsp. Vegetable Glycerin for each cup of Base
  • 5-10 drops Essential Oils per cup of Base

Instructions

  1. In your double boiler, mix and melt the Base Ingredients, along with Vitamin E Oil and Glycerin (if you’re using them). Don’t overheat the mixture, but make sure the Beeswax is melted.
  2. Remove from heat, cover, and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Allow the mixture to harden.
  3. After the mixture hardens, take it out and break up the surface a bit.
  4. Add the Essential Oils you’ve chosen.
  5. Whip until you get a creamy, fluffy texture.
  6. Store in a sterilized container (I use re-purposed food tubs with lids that close well).

Notes

  • makeshift double boilerIf you don’t have a double boiler, place a heat resistant bowl over a pot (make sure it doesn’t the bottom).
  • I modify this basic recipe to make Face Cream, Body Cream, Foot Cream, and Lotion Bars.
  • Using different oils, I tweak the recipe to target specific problems or outcomes: thin skin for my mom, mosquito/insect repellent because I live in Louisiana, anti-fungal for feet, anti-aging for my mid-life face.

2. Eye Cream

Although the Basic Cream process can be tweaked to make eye cream, I generally prefer a simpler eye treatment.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. Coconut Oil
  • 1 tsp. Vitamin E Oil
  • 1 tbsp. Primrose Oil
  • 3-5 drops Essential Oils (one or a combination of Lavender, Frankincense,  Ylang Ylang, Geranium, Chamomile, Cypress)

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl or cup.
  • Whip.
  • Store in a sterilized container.

Notes

  • While this recipe is attractive due to its simplicity, keep in mind that coconut oil melts if the ambient temperature reaches about 76oF. If you prefer creamy vs. liquid eye treatment, store it in a cool cabinet or the refrigerator during warmer months.
  • This eye cream can also be used as eye makeup remover.
  • Tiny jelly or baby food jars and contact eye lens cases are great for storing eye cream.

3. Face Wash Oil

I still remember the scent of my grandmother’s cold cream. As a child I had wondered why she would use creams to clean her face. Shouldn’t she use soap? But cream- and oil-based cleaners are actually very effective, even for skin with acne problems.

Ingredients

  • 1 part Carrier Oil (e.g., Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Jojoba, Avocado)
  • 1 part Castor Oil (Wellness Mama also uses Hazelnut Oil)
  • a few drops of Essential Oil (e.g., Lavender)

Instructions

  • Mix in a sterilized jar or bottle.
  • Before each use:
    • Shake.
    • Pour about 1 tbsp. into hand.
    • Apply, massaging into your face.
    • Remove with a wet warm or hot washcloth.

Notes

  • Several DIY bloggers/sites offer oil-based face wash recipes, but I think Wellness Mama does the best job explaining the practice.
  • I use one part EV Olive and one part Castor Oils (my skin is normal).
  • For dry skin, use less Castor oil and more of the carrier oil.
  • For oily skin, the inverse: more carrier oil and less Castor oil.
  • Don’t mix more than about 1 to 2 cups total. Carrier oils have a shorter shelf life than essential oils.

4. Foaming Face Wash

This recipe comes from one of my favorite DIY sites, Body Unburdened.

Ingredients

  • 1 c Water (preferably filtered)
  • ¼ c Liquid Castile Soap
  • 5 tsp. Carrier Oil (Jojoba, Safflower, Sunflower)
  • 2 tbsp. raw Honey
  • 1 tbsp. Tea Tree Oil
  • 15 drops Lemon Essential Oil

Instructions: 

  • Pour the ingredients in your container.
  • Shake.
  • You’re done!
  • To use:
    • Pour about 1 tblsp. into palm.
    • Massage into face.
    • Rinse.

Notes

  • I initially made this for my children because it targets acne. Eventually, I made some for myself because I love the way it makes my skin feel.
  • I alternate washing my face with this and the Face Wash Oil.
  • I often substitute out the Jojoba oil for Avocado or Grape Seed Oil.
  • Sometimes I use Lavender Essential Oil with or instead of the Lemon Essential Oil.
  • Body Unburdened uses a pump for the foamy wash. I usually pour mine into a sterilized plastic dish-soap bottle, which doesn’t shatter in the shower.

Part 1: Oily Pantry

Part 3: Oily Personals

Copyright © Pennie Nichols, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

DIY Skin Care Part 1: Oily Pantry

Arm yourself for the DIY skin care revolution.

Introduction

Japanese Facial Massage at Ten Thousand Waves. Heaven. As I became aware that my therapist was finishing, I braced myself for her spiel: what my skin needed, the routine I should follow, the products I should use.

“Your skin looks great. Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it,” she said as she wiped her products from her hands.

A bit baffled, I blurted. “Coconut oil!”

“Well, keep up the coconut oil!”

Middle-aged, pudgy, and far from fit, I take the compliments that come my way. This one was particularly pleasing. Coconut oil, however, wasn’t the whole story, not even the only story. For the last two and a half years, I have been dabbling in DIY ventures. At first I focused on laundry detergents, dish soaps, furniture oils, and other household products, but I eventually took a crack at DIY skin care.

I’m no expert and I credit other, mostly younger, women, who have explored, researched, and shared information and recipes for DIY cleaning and DIY skin care. Thanks to them, you can Google just about any condition or problem and find a DIY recipe for it. Most are good, some are great. A few, frankly, are hogwash.

Navigating the good versus bad recipes, however, wasn’t my biggest challenge. After a little exploring, I was drowning in new information and I compiled a $300 list of oils to buy. Not only had I never heard of some of the oils on my list, I also wasn’t sure why one oil versus another was necessary, except that it was in the recipe. I tumbled down the DIY rabbit hole.

This tri-part post is my effort to help others avoid slipping down that rabbit hole and arm themselves for their own DIY skin care revolutions.

  • Oily Pantry: Presented below, Part 1 is a list of oils and unguents to keep on hand, with notes about equipment and safety.
  • Oily StartersClick here to explore Part 2: four basic skin-care processes to help you get your toes wet oily.
  • Oily Personals. Click here for Part 3: charts with information to help you customize your DIY skin-care venture.

Oily Pantry

The staples of my oily pantry.

The staples of my oily pantry.

The list of products you should have on hand will vary based on your skin needs and personal preferences. You may be pleased to find out you already have some these in your kitchen pantry.

  • The Staples are your starter kit or must haves for DIY skin care.
  • The Complements are good to have.

They appear in alphabetical order, not in order of importance, because the hierarchy will vary depending on your needs. If you explore the Oily Personals, you may decide that some of my Complements are your Staples, and vice versa. Regardless, this list will allow you to try the Oily Starters.

Staples

  • Beeswax flakes or granules
  • Carrier Oils
    • Castor Oil
    • Coconut Oil
    • 1-3 additional oils: Sweet Almond, Jojoba, Avocado, Sunflower, Grape Seed, Extra Virgin Olive)
  • Liquid Castile Soap
  • Essential Oils
    • Geranium
    • Lavender
    • Lemon
    • Tea Tree
  • Raw Honey
  • Shea Butter
  • Vegetable Glycerin
  • Vitamin E Oil
  • Apple Cider Vinegar

Complements

  • More Carrier Oils
    • Argon Oil
    • Camellia Oil
    • Primrose Oil
    • Rosehip Oil
  • Cocoa Butter
  • More Essential Oils
    • Basil (Sweet)
    • Bergamot
    • Carrot Seed
    • Cedarwood
    • Chamomile
    • Clary Sage
    • Clove Bud
    • Eucalyptus
    • Frankincense
    • Juniper Berry
    • Myrrh
    • Neroli (Orange Blossom)
    • Niaouli
    • Oregano
    • Patchouli
    • Peppermint
    • Rose
    • Rosemary
    • Sandalwood
    • Thyme
    • Ylang Ylang

Online sources for buying oils are abundant, but my go-to source has been Bulk Apothecary. Their site provides useful descriptions, and I’ve never been disappointed with the quality of the products I receive. You can also Google just about any condition preceded by “Essential Oil for” and find information. Take care when exploring because not all online offerings are equal. These are three of sites I visit that provide some of the most thoughtful, useful information about essential and carrier oils, as well as DIY ideas and health/beauty advice.

Oily Safety and Equipment 

Shelf Life

  • Most essential oils have two-year shelf life, so stocking up on these is fine. However, you should avoid overstocking your pantry with carrier oils, as their shelf life is more limited.
  • Although some DIY concoctions will last much longer, you should only make amounts that you can use within six months. Including oils that extend shelf life (lemon essential oil and vitamin E oil, for example) is helpful. You can also refrigerate your lotions and creams, but this is not always convenient.
  • Store in a cool, dark cabinet.
  • Keep lids tight.

Sterilization

As with canning foods, cleaning and sterilizing your equipment and containers is important.

  • Run containers through the sterilization cycle of your dishwasher.
  • Microwave containers in a baby bottle sterilizer.
  • Place containers on a canning rack in a pot of water and bring to boil. Boil 10 minutes.

Equipment

oily-pantry-equipment

I use a make-shift double boiler: Pyrex mixing bowl and sauce pot. Remember to use plastic or metal spatulas, never wooden, to avoid introducing unwanted bacteria into your lotions and creams.

Although having dedicated equipment is not absolutely necessary, it is advisable. Oils and scents can be hard to remove. You will need some or all of the following to whip you your DIY concoctions.

  • sauce pan
  • double boiler or make-shift double boiler (sauce pan and heat-proof mixing bowl)
  • plastic or metal spatulas: Do NOT use wooden spatulas.
  • whisk
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • mixer
  • containers and lids: I use re-purposed glass and plastic jars, food tubs, and bottles. Baby bottles are a great size for storing face and eye creams.

Part 2: Oily Starters

Part 3: Oily Personals

Copyright © Pennie Nichols, 2016. All Rights Reserved.