New Hand & Body Cream… And A Contest!

You know what’s fun? New recipes. Creating them, testing them, and then bringing them to the shelves of local stores. So this is the start of a series about just that: this summer’s new products.

You know I make butters and balms, right? They can seal in moisture already in your skin, and soften. But now I’m introducing creams and lotions–lighter versions that offer hydration along with softening.

For hydration, you need good ol’ H2O. And that’s where this new formula comes in. It’s still thick and rich, it still uses shea butter and avocado oil, with all their lovely, vitamin-rich goodness. But it also adds a heap of moisture, so if your skin is dry, it hydrates, too.

Here it is being made:

I just want to dive right in there…

Anyway! Back to the point. I’d like you to know about the ingredients that go into this cream, why I chose them, why you should love them… and I want you to help me name it! (As always, check the label of the actual product, in case I’ve altered the ingredients a bit–it happens!)

A good lotion or cream needs water, or water equivalent. This one has two: water and aloe juice. Water is obvious, and everyone knows how great aloe juice is. Right?

Like shea butter, aloe vera is celebrated as a liquid for all occasions, being blessed with being soothing, anti-itching, burn and wound healing, and UV protecting qualities. But wait, there’s more! Aloe vera is also considered anti-inflammatory, cell proliferating, and anti-bacterial. But wait…it’s also considered very moisturizing and contains a humectant and an anti-oxidant. How can so much great stuff get into such a small plant? And is it all true?–Susan Barclay-Nichols

(By the way, Susan’s blog is very worth reading! She’s a straight shooter who isn’t interested in selling you anything, so she gives her educated opinion, and what it’s based on!)

Aloe studies have been inconclusive, likely because plants vary so much in their chemical composition, depending on where they are grown, and seasonal conditions. It is for sure a humectant, drawing water to the skin. For that alone, we’ll take it!

Next up are the oils. Shea butter, avocado oil, and rice bran oil are the first three, and the ones you’re most likely to recognize. Shea butter is obvious: it’s softening, and leaves such a silky feel on your skin. It has some occlusive properties, meaning it will seal in moisture–always a good thing! And it helps thicken up the cream.

Avocado oil is chock full of vitamins A, D, and E, has antioxidants, and is absorbed easily by skin and hair, and it’s a “dry” feeling oil. So nice. I love avocado oil.

Rice bran is less familiar to us, but more familiar in the East. It has loads of Vitamin E and antioxidants–great for mature skin. It can help with wind chapped skin, sun spots, sun burn, itching, and inflammation. That’s one of the prime reasons I use it in my lip balms, by the way. All in all, rice bran is a winner.

Next up, we need an emulsifier. Emulsifiers hold the oil and water in suspension, so that they don’t separate (which looks awful, and isn’t useful). The usual one used in lotions (including by me, sometimes) is called simply “emulsifying wax.” It’s a great product that really gets the job done. But for this cream, I chose something else: Olivem 1000, on the label as sodium olivate and cetearyl olivate), an emulsifier derived from olive oil. I wouldn’t call this a “natural” product exactly–what do you have to do to olive oil to make it an emulsifier? But it is Ecocert certified, and brings the skin loving qualities of olive oil into the cream. It is a humectant, easily absorbed, and has a great skin feel. So that’s a win!

The next two ingredients are thickeners: beeswax (yeah! beeswax!) and cetearyl alcohol (or cetyl alcohol–check the individual product label for the ingredient in your batch). You know what beeswax is: mine is either from my hives or hives of other local, NYS beekeepers. In this cream, it’s a thickener and provides some occlusive properties. Too much beeswax would make it sticky, though, so I also used cetearyl (or cetyl) alcohol. In spite of its name, it isn’t alcohol in the usual sense. It’s a fatty alcohol (and therefore emollient, and really another moisturizer) derived from plants. Again, not terribly “natural,” but not scary either. It thickens the cream, and adds to the silky feeling I wanted to achieve.

Ultra rich, this hand and body creme is just what you need for extra moisture
Ultra rich, this hand and body creme is just what you need for extra moisture

Next up is sodium lactate. It’s produced by fermenting corn or beets, usually. It’s a humectant–so more moisture for you!

And now we’re getting the last ingredients, used at very small percentages–around 1%. But that’s all you need for some things: like essential oils. In this case, bergamot and rosewood. I’m calling the blend “Italian Sunshine,” because it smells lively, sunny, and cheerful, with a woody note that grounds the whole thing. Like the coast of Italy, perhaps, where rosemary and thyme grow wild on the shores of the Mediterranean… I need a vacation. Around 1% of this blend gives the cream a pleasant scent, without turning it into a perfume.

Finally, drumroll please! Phenoxyethanol and caprylyl glycol. What the heck are those? They are the components of what is commercially known as Optiphen, a mild, globally accepted preservative. It’s paraben-and formaldehyde-free, and helps to keep the cream free from contamination.

Why a preservative? Because where you have water, you have life. And while I take care to disinfect all my equipment, wear gloves and a hairnet, use distilled water, and heat and hold my ingredients to kill bugs… this isn’t made in a sterile lab and it will be used in real life, with real (sometimes dirty) hands dipping into it. The cream requires a preservative to help prevent the growth of bacteria, mold, and fungi. Because… yuck.

What about vitamin E, or Rosemary Oleoresin Extract, or Grapefruit Seed Essential Oil? Couldn’t I use those? Unfortunately, those are not preservatives: they won’t keep bacteria, mold, and fungi from growing. They will extend the shelf life of the oils in the cream by preventing oxidization, though. That’s one of the reasons my ingredients re often high in natural Vitamin E, or have added tocopherols.

So: to the fun part. Right now, I’m calling this “Hand & Body Creme.” BORING! Help me find a new name! The person who comes up with the new name will win a 3.5 oz jar of it, along a bar of soap of their choice.

Leave your suggestions in the comments here, or on Facebook, or email them to me at lesli at avitalsapiaires dot com.

The contest is over… when you guys come up with a good name! I’ll announce it here. Thanks, and here’s to finding your muse!



  1. Mindy Dahl says

    I would think it would be simply “love in a jar”… or “luxury”

  2. Lesli says

    There is definitely a lot of love in this: I think the recipe was batch trial 102 or something. And the oils and butters are definitely luxurious…

  3. Kimberly Murray says

    Lavish Luster

  4. Kimberly Murray says

    Heaven Scent

    • Lesli says

      The scent is heavenly, true. Especially if you’re ready for a vacation. In Italy. Which I am.

  5. remusing says

    Honeydew. Radiance. Afterglow. Scentsational. Beelixir

  6. remusing says

    Aloetion. Beemused. Beesoften (like besotten… Get it? Heh). Or simply Beesoft? Still thinking..l

  7. You have all given me some great ideas, but we’re not quite there… I’m reviewing!

  8. Joy says

    Mother’s Embrace

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: