This luscious DIY anti-aging face cream recipe contains fresh basil leaves, nourishing hempseed oil, and skin softening mango (or shea) butter.
A while back, I ran across a fascinating scientific study showing a test cream that contained basil extract demonstrated some pretty significant anti-aging effects when applied topically.
The moment I finished reading through it, I knew I HAD to make an anti-aging basil face cream this summer and try it out myself.
Definitely click over and read the study in full (you can find it HERE), but basically, the researchers dried and powdered basil, made an extract of it using 95% ethanol, and then incorporated it into an emulsion (cream) containing paraffin oil and a surfactant.
Obviously, some of these ingredients are ones I can’t just buy from the store (and wouldn’t really want to), but I used that general idea as a base for how I’d frame my face cream recipe.
Since a basil tincture made from straight alcohol might be too drying in a face cream, I settled on making a witch hazel extract with fresh basil instead and I just love how it turned out.
The witch hazel leaves a cool refreshing feeling on my skin that’s very welcome this time of year.
A Few Notes Before We Start
I know that some people have concerns with emulsifying waxes since they’re highly processed. If that’s true for you, you can still use the same general idea of incorporating a basil extract into your favorite beeswax-based cream or lotion recipe. Just don’t try to use beeswax as a direct substitute for the emulsifying wax in this recipe, because it doesn’t work in the same manner.
I chose GMO-free avocado butter (mango butter works well too) and hemp seed oil for their nourishing and moisturizing properties. I have slightly dry skin and also wanted to offset any potential drying from the witch hazel. You can get creative and switch up the butter and oil types as you wish in order to customize this lotion for your skin’s preferences and the ingredients you have on hand.
You need a scale for this recipe. I bought a Jennings JRS scale from Lotion Crafter that’s perfect for making lotions & creams.
For an in-depth resource about making lotions and creams from scratch, plus loads of helpful information about the best oils, butters, essential oils, herbs, flowers, and other natural ingredients to use for your skin type and needs, be sure to check out my Handmade Lotions & Creams eBook Collection!
Combine the basil leaves and witch hazel in a mini-food processor and blend well. Strain the now-green witch hazel into a half-pint canning jar or other heat proof container and weigh it. You should have around 50 g or so. Add enough water until your reach 75 g of liquid.
Weigh the oil, butter and emulsifying wax into a half-pint canning jar (or for easier cleanup, an upcycled tin can). Set the can, along with the jar containing the basil infused witch hazel, down into a saucepan containing a small amount of water. Turn the burner to medium low and heat for 10 minutes. This allows the wax to melt and brings the temperature of the liquid up at the same time.
Remove both containers from heat. Pour the hot basil-infused witch hazel into the melted oil, butter and wax. I like to pour it back and forth a few times (mostly because it’s fun to watch it emulsify in front of your eyes; I’m not sure it’s a necessary step though!) Do the final pour into the half-pint jar or container.
Stir the cream vigorously for around 30 seconds then let it cool for around 5 minutes, briskly stirring off-and-on the whole time. To speed things along, you can set the jar in a bowl with a bit of ice water. It will thicken as it cools and as you stir.
Here’s a video of me making this basil infused face cream. (Sometimes an ad plays first, but the recipe will be right after!)
At this point, I add a nature-derived preservative. Currently, I’m using Leucidal SF Complete at 4% (4 grams for this 100 gram recipe ). You can find that at Formulator Sample Shop. I’ve found that nature-derived preservatives aren’t as long lasting as synthetic ones, so suggest using the lotion up before 3 months if using one.
If you don’t want to use a preservative, that’s fine, but keep your cream in the refrigerator and use it up within a few days.
I found this information from the study interesting: “slight phase separation in the sample of base occurred at 40°C and 40°C+75% RH on 56th day of observation whereas the formulation was stable. This may be due to the antimicrobial properties of basil which protects the emulsion from microbial contamination and degradation.” (i.e. The basil extract itself seemed to lend some anti-microbial benefits. However, keep in mind we didn’t exactly duplicate their extract. Still, it’s interesting!)
Spoon your cream into a glass jar and you’re done!
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