Beginners Cosmetics (Lesson One: Kelp Face Cream)

Homemade Kelp Face CreamI recently enjoyed my first ever facial.  I felt kind of like the last party guest to arrive at the spa.  Did I really live in New York City for 12 years and never once get a facial?  Yep.  The experience put me to contemplating my beauty routine.  No one has ever asked me before to spell out what I use to keep these cheeks supple.  And I realized that my “beauty routine” was pretty much buying whatever drug store products happened to be on sale.  Or finding an inexpensive retinol cream on Amazon when too lazy to drive to town.  (I couldn’t even remember who made it- Natural…Something or Other?)

Now, when I was a young, smooth-faced 20 year old, I was lucky (perhaps unlucky?) enough to get my hands on a couple sample-sized tubs of La Mer face cream.  Wonder of wonders, that stuff is forever emblazoned on my memory as the most delightful and fantastic beauty product ever to touch my skin.  Of course, at $155 per ounce, I’m as likely to ever use this magical cream again as I am to wake up besties with Sharon Stone (who swears by it, of course.)  Needless to say, that brief taste of face luxury was all I’ll ever get.  But I have a kitchen.  I have the internet and a friendly UPS driver and some long-practiced food prep skills.  Low and behold, there is a whole world of DIY lotions, creams, shave gels, hair care, lip balms just waiting for my double boiler.

Several Amazon orders and a few hours of internet research later I was equipped with a plan and supplies to make my own all natural, not-really-La-Mer-but-still-quite-wonderful face cream.  I used an amalgamation of recipes cribbed from various hippy/organic/new age websites.  There would be no crystals or breathy Yanni remixes involved.  Honing in on a seaweed face lotion, since La Mer’s self-touted secret super ingredient is fermented sea kelp, I started with The Hungry Mouse’s Mermaid Lotion, adapted from Janice Cox’s book, Natural Beauty At Home.  I used kelp powder instead of Irish Moss, and my end product was much more liquid than lotion.  I whipped it up with unrefined shea butter to get a more luxuriant, thick cream.  Just a small dab of cream, warmed in the hands and applied on the face and neck will go far (much like its fancy French inspiration.)

Homemade Kelp Face Cream Ingredients

Kelp and Shea Butter Face Cream Recipe:

  • 1T Organic Kelp Powder
  • 1c distilled water
  • 1/4c aloe vera gel
  • 2T avocado oil
  • essential oils of your choosing (I used lavender and tea tree oil)
  • 4oz unrefined shea butter
  • 1/4t Vitamin E oil

Combine the kelp powder and distilled water in a small heavy-bottomed sauce pan and let sit for 20 minutes.  Heat to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes until it is thickened and somewhat gelatinous.  (Warning- low tide smell.  Just imagine you’re at the beach and it’s not so bad.)

Strain the mixture into a clean bowl (I used cheesecloth and a fine mesh sieve.)  Whisk in the aloe vera gel and then the avocado oil, whisking until emulsified and well incorporated.  Add the vitamin E oil and essential oil(s) til you reach your scent preference.  (Next time I will use significantly more essential oil for a stronger scent- at least 20 drops.)

Add the shea butter to another clean bowl and mash it with a fork or spoon to help soften it slightly.  Add the kelp mixture and mash together to combine.  Using a hand held electric mixer, beat at high speed for about five minutes until whipped up and fully combined.

That’s it.  This recipe made about 8oz of face cream.  I stored it in two 4oz jelly jars for ease of use- you want to store it in glass jars or thick plastic.  From my research, it’s best to make what you can use within several months since there are no chemical preservatives.  It is a thick, rich cream and a little goes a long way.  But the oils absorb nicely into your skin and leave a very soft, moisturized surface.

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