Saturday, November 30, 2013

Cocoa Butter Lotion Bars

Quite accidentally, I came up with an amazing recipe for lotion bars. I was trying to make a lotion without coconut oil in it. I use coconut oil for almost everything, but Explorer has been complaining of being itchy after I use our normal lotion on him. Thinking it may be the coconut oil, I wanted to try a lotion without coconut oil. I also needed something to use on my hands as they were getting very dry from the weather and the constant hand washing.

Lotions and Potions
I went to my Lotions and Potions cabinet and perused my available ingredients. I decided to go with a base of cocoa butter and add ingredients that would promote skin health. The result was a hard lump of product that would be difficult to scoop out of a jar. I could either add more liquid oils, whip the mixture or make lotion bars. So I melted it back down and poured it into a mini brownie pan. Lotion bars! They worked very well and smelled delicious! But they tended to crumble when they got too warm in my hands.

I remade the lotion bars, this time adding beeswax and making a few other minor adjustments. VoilĂ ! Not only does the beeswax keep the bars from melting too quickly, it also makes the skin softer and keeps the moisture locked in longer it seems. This recipe has ingredients to help heal skin and keep it moisturized. A necessity for the cold, dry winters we have here, combined with the drying effect of washing hands throughout the day.

The small bars are ideal for keeping near the sink and using after every hand washing, but they were not working so well for applying to the boys when I needed to cover their whole bodies with lotion. I ordered a couple soap molds and got to work making larger sized lotion bars. The new bars are about the size of a small bar of soap. They are just right for using on the boys. The boys can even help put their own lotion on now.

To use the bars, I rub them between my hands until I have enough lotion and then rub it into my skin. It is a little oily for a minute or so, but soaks in quickly. With the larger bars, I can rub the bar directly on the boys' arms, legs and torsos and then massage it into their skin.

For the large lotion bars I used:
1/4 cup beeswax
3/4 cup cocoa butter
4 tsp olive oil
4 tsp sweet almond oil
2 tsp vitamin E oil
2 tsp argan oil
1 tsp tea tree oil (optional)
20 drops lavender essential oil (or peppermint essential oil)

This made 4 large bars. It would make about 10 small bars.

Click over to One Drop for the full instructions for making the lotion bars. The instructions and ingredients list there are for making 5 or 6 small bars (2 large bars). Use the amounts listed above to make 4 large bars or about 10 small bars.

Lotion Bars in new mold (purchased on Amzaon)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Our Winter Hair Routine

Enjoying one of the last warm days of the year.
The temperature has dropped in our neck of the woods and with it the humidity. Even though we keep a humidifier running in the boys' room during naps and at night (12-13 hours total per day), their hair has been much drier. We have had to adjust our hair routine.

Today was bath day. The perfect time to regain lost ground when it comes to moisturizing the hair. Explorer's hair is usually free in a fantastic fro, so it dries out very quickly. It also seems that his hair does not hold the moisture as well as Scholar's. When Scholar's hair is in cornrows, it is easier to keep it moisturized, but it has been free for over a week and was getting very dry.

In their bath, I wet their hair thoroughly and add conditioner. I have not tried many different conditioners, but we have found that Aubrey Organics works well for detangling their hair. I let the conditioner sit for a few minutes while they play and then comb out their hair with a wide tooth comb. After their hair has been detangled, I rinse it well.

I apply an ACV rinse. I keep a spray bottle of ACV and water (3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar and 2 cups water) in the bathroom to use on the boys' hair and on mine as well. I spray their scalps and work the ACV through their hair, being careful not to get it in their eyes. I hold a washcloth over their faces while I am spraying. Then I rinse their hair once again.

Today, after the ACV rinse, I applied more conditioner. This time it was Shea Moisture Restorative Conditioner. This conditioner seems to keep their hair more moisturized, but does not work as well as a detangler for us. After a few minutes, I rinsed thoroughly again.

The key for keeping the boys' hair moisturized seems to be in using a lot of oil. I mix together a few different oils for their hair (keep reading for the recipe that I use). I use this oil mixture in our daily spray, but also use it in the winter directly on their hair after bath while the hair is still wet. I drizzle some oil in their hair and work it through with my fingers. Today I ran out of the oil mixture so I used the Healing Coconut Oil Lotion instead. It worked great!

You would think that this would make their hair oily and limp, but their hair just soaks up the oils, so they still need more after this! I let the oils soak in for a few minutes while I put lotion on their skin and then I scrunch in a healthy amount of Babycakes Hair and Body Butter. This product works very well for the boys' hair. I notice a big (and not so great) difference in their hair if I do not use it. It really does make their hair so much more healthy and keeps it moisturized longer.

At this point, the hair routine for bath day can be finished. Today, however, I had extra time and I put some coils into Scholar's hair using Babycakes Honey Butter. Though this is not really a protective style, it does allow me to make sure that all the hair is coated with product to seal in the moisture. It also helps to keep his hair from tangling as much and reduces the amount of lint and fuzz that gets stuck in his hair. Besides, it looks so cute!

Throughout the week, on days we do not have bath (baths are only twice a week), I use the spray bottle on their hair in the morning and scrunch in more Hair and Body Butter. This keeps their hair well moisturized.

Recipe for oil mixture:

1/4 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp jojoba oil
4 tsp Jamaican black castor oil
4 tsp sweet almond oil
2 tsp vitamin E oil
1 tsp argan oil

This oil mixture can be applied directly to the hair and/or added to a bottle of water for freshening up in the morning. I typically add a tablespoon or two of the oil to a cup of filtered water (or filtered water and distilled aloe in equal proportions). This mixture is also handy when I need to keep the hair damp while cornrowing.

Do you experiences changes in weather that affect naturally curly hair? If so, how has your hair routine changed with the change in the weather? Are there things that you need to add to your routine or take out?