Perhaps the easiest way to learn about incorporating natural plant additives into cosmetics is with cold oil infusions. And by cold, we mean room temperature! The premise here is simple–stick a beneficial botanical and a shelf stable oil in a jar, let them hang out together for a few weeks, strain the botanicals, and viola! You’ve got yourself an awesome oil infusion!
As simple as this process is, there are a few ground rules you’ll want to follow.
First let’s talk oil! It’s really important when choosing oils for infusions that you select high quality oils with long, stable shelf lives. I look for oils and butters that have a minimum of one year to ensure the quality and longevity of products. For example, if we used Grapeseed oil which has a shelf life of just 3 months, by the time it has finished a 4 week infusion you’re only left with 2 months to use the oil in a product, sell the product, and have a customer completely use the product before the oil begins to go rancid. That, my friends, is just not enough time!
Customers (or friends and family whom you gift products to), will hang on to stuff way outside the bounds of what you would expect. Like my mom, who called to say she was running low on the face wash I had given her 3 years prior! Yikes! So you have to make sure you’re using oils that can hang as long as possible! My favorites are Olive, Jojoba, Meadowfoam, Avocado and Fractionated Coconut.
Next up, let’s talk about the botanicals themselves! You can infuse oils with flowers, grasses, herbs and pretty much any soft part of the plant. Barks, roots, and hard/woody parts of plants don’t infuse well into oils, but we will cover how to extract their potent constituents at a later date. When using these botanicals and herbs in cold infusions they should be completely dried, since water content can lead to rancidity and mold!
When it comes to sourcing botanicals, you can responsibly forage items if you live in an area where it’s possible. Just make sure that pesticides aren’t in the picture. For example, I will happily harvest dandelions from my own yard, but forego picking ones in the public park because I can’t be certain that they haven’t been treated with chemicals. This week in Patreon I shared my spring foraging in the local bayou where I was able to collect tons of clean dandelions!
If you’re not a forest dwelling fairy that has easy access to an abundance of fresh, untreated botanicals, or you don’t relish the idea of wading though a swampy bayou with snakes and gators, then consider buying them online, which is what I usually do! Of course if you can grow your own herbs, or have a lot of areas to forage then cool, but if not, there’s no shame in the online game!
The last thing we should mention is the container in which you infuse! It really should be glass and preferably will have a lid–although I’ve made do without proper lids before! You definitely don’t want to use plastics which will eventually leach into your infusions and contaminate them! I’m a pickle addict so we have an alarmingly large collection of clean, empty pickle jars at my disposal, but I also have tons of canning jars that I keep around. Other than the container being glass, it should, of course, be clean!
And that’s basically al you need for containers! They don’t have to be fancy, and can definitely be upcycled!
Now you’re ready to make your first cold oil infusion! In the next blog post I’ll show you how I created an infusion of juniper berries and olive oil, so gather your supplies and you’ll be able to create a cold infusion with me!