DIY Fail #1: hand cream

DIY Fail #1: Hand cream

One of the many challenges of living abroad is that it is incredibly difficult to find our favorite products from our home country.  This goes for every category of product but is particularly difficult when looking for eco-friendly items.  Because of this, I started trying to make a lot of my own beauty and healthcare products.  But the recurring problem happens when searching for the ingredients to make those products too!

The missing ingredient

I was lucky to start my green journey in Japan after I was well established and knew where I could find all of the ingredients I needed; however, after moving to Korea, I had no idea where to find what I needed (or indeed, even where in the store to look!  I am not ashamed to admit that it took me almost an hour to find the grocery section in my local HomePlus store).

In October, I had to make an emergency trip back to the US and while I was there, I went shopping for everything I would need to make all the eco friendly things ever!  I was proud of myself for planning ahead (as I try not to order too much online to be imported for two reasons: 1. Because that uses so much fuel to get it delivered and 2. I have not been a good language student in Korea and what if it gets stuck in customs?!).  

Flash forward to me getting back to Korea and unpacking my suitcase and guess what’s missing? After all my careful planning, I managed to leave without the jojoba oil.  Way to go, Ash. Way to go.  

Yay, I found it! Just kidding, I didn’t.

The recipe I hoped to use only requires three ingredients: ¼ cup of coconut oil, ¼ cup of beeswax pellets, and ½ cup of jojoba oil or almond oil.  I went to my local HomePlus shop which has a pretty big health section.  After much searching (and inevitable frustration because I am Korean illiterate), I finally asked a store clerk via Google Translate.  Nope.  No jojoba or almond oil  As a solution, since I already had coconut oil, I just decided to add a bunch of extra coconut oil to replace the missing ‘other’ oil.  It’s the perfect plan!

Can you see the flaw?

So, straight to home I went, not to be deterred by such little things as ‘not having all the ingredients!’  I hadn’t been able to find any stainless steel measuring cups (though to be honest, I hadn’t really tried).  I was not to be thwarted though, no matter what!  I adapted the recipe to only two ingredients (and essential oils): Coconut oil and beeswax.  

Lavender oil has the ability to eliminate nervous tension. A perfect scent for someone who forgets essential recipe ingredients.

So, since the beeswax and the coconut oil have the same measurement, and I didn’t have any measuring cups, I just decided to weigh my little brick of beeswax and then add the same amount in grams of coconut oil to it.  To replace the missing jojoba oil, I doubled the weight and added that much more coconut oil in.  So basically, one part beeswax to three parts coconut oil.

The fail

I put all of my ingredients together into a glass jar and put the jar into a pot of water.  Everything melted together so it looked like I was successful!  It wasn’t until later that I realized it had cooled into an unusable brick of wax and oil.  “What went wrong?” I am sure you are asking.

Pro tip: When melting all of your ingredients together, just melt them in the glass jar you want to store it in. Why wash extra dishes??

After much contemplation, I realized two things: first, coconut oil is solid at room temperature, so of course, any cream made of only coconut oil will be solid.  The second mistake was a bit bigger….In the recipe, you can see that the measurements were by volume and the beeswax used by the original recipe poster was pellets.  I put in a lot more wax than the recipe called for!   Oh noooooooo!  I decided to keep the failed mixture until summer so the melted coconut oil would make it easier to spread.

Finally a lucky break!

Flash forward again to now (January–two and a half months after this debacle).  I am back at HomePlus and look what I stumbled upon:

Of course I bought it immediately and rushed home to try it out.  It took two re-meltings before I had added enough of the almond oil to make the brick turn into hand cream.  I am extremely happy about this belated success!  No more dry skin in Korea’s super harsh winter!

Remelting! Be sure not to fill the pot too high or water will splash into your hand cream.

Now that you know how to make the hand cream (and how NOT to make hand cream) why don’t you give it a try and post your success or failure below??  


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