Now it’s all officially Spring and the weather here has warmed up some, the layers are slowly being peeled off to reveal a pair of rather neglected and tired looking hands much to my shame…..generally I’m very good about applying liberal amounts of hand cream in the evenings but I’ve been a bit of a slack Alice of late and my poor old hands are really showing their age.
I much prefer making my own hand balms and treatments, mainly because I then know exactly what goes into them, but also my budget never seems to stretch very far for anything too fancy…..and if I can make an effective and pretty cheap (we’re talking pence) cleanser, scrub or general balm from ingredients I’ve already got in the cupboards then so much the better.
This is one of my favourite hand cleansers, it’s nice and gentle and takes as much time to make as a kettle takes to boil to make a cup of tea…..it’s a real store cupboard recipe and if you don’t have vegetable glycerine then you can use a runny honey (it’s a bit stickier but the smell then more than makes up for the goopyness)
I use a spice grinder to grind up the oats and rice really fine, it’s always best to give the grinder a wipe before using it if not you end up with a spicy or curry scented hand cleaner. I try to avoid making up too much at anyone time, it doesn’t keep for long just a few weeks (up to two months in the fridge).
Store cupboard hand cleanser
vegetable glycerine (or you can use runny honey
ground rice (you don’t need to use posh carnaroli rice, plain long ground is fine)
almond oil (a light olive oil or sunflower oil if you don’t have almond)
In a bain marie (I’m not fancy so tend to use a glass bowl sat on top of a saucepan filled with a half inch or so of water on a medium heat), gently heat a couple of dessert spoons of vegetable glycerine (or the runny honey) in the glass bowl, slowly stir in a couple of heaped tea spoons of cornflower to make a thick runny paste…remove from the heat.
Now add a little rosewater, just a splash and stir, mix in a couple of heaped tea spoons of the ground oats and then the ground rice. Mix and add a small dribble of oil.
Continue to mix, if it’s too much like stirring a Christmas pudding then add another splash of rosewater. Once it’s at a nice gloopy consistency then scrape it into a small sterilized jar and if you’ve used honey then it’s better to store it in the fridge.
To use, just scoop out a marble sized bit, and gently rub all over your hands and fingers, pay particular attention to the skin between your fingers as I find this gets the most dry. Wash off with warm water and pat dry…..it’s like a lovely soft massage for your hands and fingers so is nice to use any time of day.
Don’t forget to label it so you remember when you made it…..
Another excellent hand scrub, (though one a tad more abrasive so if you have very sensitive skin then maybe don’t use it,) uses a slightly heaped tea spoon of coarse sugar, a splash of olive oil and a squirt of mild washing up liquid… mix the ingredients between your fingers and hands, you want to really rub it in and spend a good couple of minutes rubbing around knuckles and finger joints…it feels like a proper work out for your hands..wash off in warm water and gently pat dry. This is great for using if you’ve been out in the garden and gotten all grubby. or if you’ve been mending a puncture on a bike…I’ve read that the sewers in the Haute Couture ateliers use something similar to keep their hands soft and smooth to prevent snagging fine silks and fabrics…..
Queen Bee hand balm…..
When I’ve spent a long day piecing or hand sewing or crocheting then my fingers can get a bit cramped feeling or twitchy, it’s not arthritis they just have done a good days work…to reward them and keep the skin in best condition I like to make my own hand balms, it’s a recipe I’ve used on and off for nearly 20 years…when I’ve had a lot on and have been somewhat neglectful of myself and my hands look a bit worn and aged then a few days of using this religiously morning, noon and night soon has them looking and feeling heaps better….although it keeps quite well, I prefer to make just a small amount at a time so I can vary which essential oils I use in it (though it works just fine if you don’t add them)…
beeswax (I prefer the golden almost orangey kind rather than the white)
In a bain marie (again I tend to use a glass pyrex bowl in a small saucepan that has about half an inch of water in it, and have it on a gentle heat) slowly melt a heaped teaspoon or so cocoa butter and a heaped teaspoon of beeswax…..stir gently with a small metal spoon.
Pour in a little almond oil, about 2 dessert spoons and gently warm…..remove for the heat and stir well.
Carefully transfer to a small sterilized glass jar. Add your chosen essential oils if you are using them and stir with a clean wooden skewer or cocktail stick. Allow to cool thoroughly before using…..
Rub in to your hands and fingers, pay particular attention to your fingertips and nail bed, and the skin between your fingers…rubbing this in is lovely and relaxing…the smell of the beeswax is just mmmm eye closingly nice, and it’s good for your fingers and hands as the heat from rubbing allows the oils to penetrate while encouraging the circulation in your hands to speed up a bit.
* I love using rose maroc oil (though it’s a bit pricey, a cheaper option is the gorgeous rose geranium oil…it’s fantastic smelling. I also use lavender and thyme. Another nice combination is regular geranium and lemon (although ladies of a certain age will recognize this as the smell of those little flat tubs of hand cream so beloved of Nanny’s in the seventies.)