Nourishing Skin Cream Recipe with Marshmallow Root
Instructions for making a silky and moisturizing skin cream recipe with marshmallow root and lavandin oil. Makes one 100ml pot but can be scaled up for larger batches.
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Our skin really takes a beating in winter. It’s cold and windy, and not only are our faces and lips chapped, but the rest of our skin can get a little neglected too. Mine does, at least, mainly because I’m all covered up, and I forget about taking care of it. Dry knees and elbows, shins, and, well, everywhere. For conditioning, I use an oil-based product like a lavender body balm. Before that, it needs moisture, so I decided to whip up a batch of this skin cream recipe.
It’s light enough to be used all over, so I’ve been taking a generous scoop and massaging it in from top to toe. It’s silky and light yet penetrating and feels as lovely on my face as it does everywhere else. I make it with lavandin essential oil, perfect for this time of the year. Lavandin is a type of lavender, but the essential oil has a lot more camphor in it, so it really stimulates the skin and senses.
Marshmallow Root in Skincare
The not-so-secret ingredient in this recipe is marshmallow root (Althea officinallis). Marshmallow is a tall flowering perennial that’s both edible and medicinal — and YES, it’s the original ingredient source for marshmallows. One of the best uses of the plant is in making healing herbal infusions for health and skin. In drinks, it can help soothe upset stomachs, ulcers, and intestinal issues. You’d understand why when you feel the infusion. It’s slightly thickened and very smooth and silky.
It has the same silky and nourishing effect when you use it on your skin. That’s why it’s a wonderful ingredient to add to creams and lotions, especially a nourishing skin cream. You could use it in a lot of other handmade skincare recipes, too: hair detangler, eye gel, after-sun creams, and practically anything, really. You can’t go wrong with using marshmallow extract in skincare.
Using Marshmallow Root in Skin Creams
The part of the marshmallow you tend to use with making lotions is the root. It’s rich in mucilage and infuses easily into cold water. Though it’s available to purchase, you can grow and harvest it yourself too. The root you see in the photos in this recipe is from my own plants. If you purchase it, it tends to arrive a little more chopped up, so don’t be confused.
Growing marshmallow is easy. It’s a stunning plant that reaches well over six feet tall in my garden. Tall stems emerge from the ground each spring, and by August, they’ll be blooming in soft pink flowers. When the stems die down in winter, I’ll harvest some of the roots, trying to disturb my plant as little as possible. I take just as much as I need, clean it, chop it and dry it in a food dehydrator. It lasts for at least a year afterward.
Making Handmade Skin Cream
Making skin lotions and creams is not difficult, but you do need to adhere to several rules. First of all, make sure everything is sanitized before you begin. Running all pots, jars, and utensils through the dishwasher works. Also, make sure to measure precisely and stick to the temperatures and instructions.
Also, any product made with water will be a cozy place for microbes to take up residence. Minimizing them in the making process helps keep them under control. A preservative helps with the rest. Without a broad-spectrum preservative, this lotion will only keep for about a week in the refrigerator. Broad-spectrum preservatives help to keep skin creams free of microbes for up to eighteen months.
Other ingredients in this recipe are a dependable emulsifying wax for binding oil and water together. Cetyl alcohol is a vegetable-based ingredient that thickens and helps emulsify. Xanthan gum is another natural thickener and is even used in the food industry.
More Skincare Recipes to Make
Nourishing Skin Cream Recipe
- 2 ramekins
- Large saucepan
- 10 g dried marshmallow (Althea officinalis) root 0.35 oz
- 150 g distilled water 150 ml / 5.07 fl oz.
- 90 g Marshmallow infusion 90 ml / 3.04 fl. oz
- 5 g Emulsifying wax NF 0.18 oz /1.5 tsp
- 2 g Cetyl alcohol 0.07 oz / 1/2 tsp
- 9 g Sweet almond oil 0.32 oz / 2.5 tsp
- 0.3 g Xanthan gum 0.01 oz / 1/8 tsp
- Broad Spectrum Preservative*
- 10 drops Lavandin essential oil
- Baking soda (also called Bicarbonate of soda) Optional
Make the Marshmallow Infusion
- Combine the dried marshmallow root and distilled water in a sterilized jar. Running the jar through a dishwasher beforehand will suffice. Cover and leave to infuse overnight.
- Strain the thickened water through a mini-sieve and into another sterilized jar.
- Measure how much one of the heat-proof jars weighs and jot that measurement down. Next, measure 90 g (3.04 fl oz) of the marshmallow infusion into that jar. Reserve the remaining marshmallow infusion for another batch and/or use it when adding the preservative later on in these steps. Freeze it if you'd like to use it later.
Prepare the Oil & Water Phases
- Measure all the oil phase ingredients except the xanthan gum into a second heat-proof jar. Measure the xanthan gum into its own small ramekin. Next, place the main heat-proof oil phase jar in the pan with the jar of marshmallow infusion (the water phase). You're aiming to melt and heat it to the same temperature as the water phase.
- You're ready for the next step after the contents of both jars are about 75°C/165°F and the oil phase is completely melted.
- If you can fit the head of the immersion blender inside your heat-proof jars, that's great. If not, pour the oil phase ingredients into a larger sterilized container, but remember to take its weight measurement first.
- Sprinkle the xanthan gum into the oil phase jar and blend it in with the immersion blender before it has a chance to gum up. I'd recommend that you sprinkle just a little at a time until it's blended together.
- Pour the water phase into the same container as the oil phase. Use the immersion blender to emulsify the two. You'll see the mixture quickly change into an opaque white cream. With smaller batches, like this one, the immersion blender is likely to leave air bubbles in the lotion. It's not a huge deal if the lotion is for personal use. Larger batches won't have this issue since the head of the immersion blender will keep below the surface of the ingredients.
- When it looks fully emulsified, tap the remaining cream from the immersion blender's head. At this stage, it might be runnier than you're expecting. It won't reach its full thickness until it's cool. This brings us to the next step, allow the lotion to cool to 45°C/110°F.
- When the cream is at 45°C/110°F, add the essential oil and broad-spectrum preservative*. If the brand you use comes as a powder, mix and dissolve it in a teaspoon of leftover marshmallow infusion before adding it to the cream.
- Now we need to test for pH. Dip one of your pH papers into the lotion, scrape it off and compare the color to the ones on the pack. Lotion and skin creams need to match the pH of your skin, or they can be irritating. If the pH is between 4.5-5.5, you're spot on. If it's too acidic, dissolve the tiniest amount of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) with a tiny amount of warm marshmallow infusion. Pass it through the sieve and into the lotion. Take the pH again and adjust again if needed.
- If anything goes wrong with your lotion's emulsion, you'll tend to know within the first few hours. If this is your first time making lotion, scoop it into a sterilized clear glass container and wait. If after those few hours the lotion is holding its emulsion you're good to go. Decant the lotion into a sterilized cosmetic jar and use within six months of dipping your finger into it. Depending on which preservative you use, the lotion will have a shelf-life of up to eighteen months.
Hi , I am taking a herbal course and I learned that hollyhocks were in the same family as marshmallow and you can use them interchangeably. I’m planning on planting both in my garden this year. I’ve never grown marshmallow, but I adore hollyhocks.
It’s very snowy here on my mountain in North Idaho. I won’t be able to divide my rhubarb at the earliest, till April, more likely though late May. Through today we’ve had over 5 feet of snow and we have 2 1/2 more snow months to go.
Hollyhocks are a lovely cottage garden flower too! Lovely to hear from you TeresaSue and stay warm in your snowy mountain home :)
Wher can I find Geogard Ultra?
Hi Arlene, Geogard Ultra is the brand name of a cosmetic preservative containing Sodium Benzoate and Gluconolactone as the main ingredients. You can get it from cosmetic suppliers such as the Soap Kitchen in the UK and a version of it is sold as NeoDefend by Lotioncrafter in the USA.
Thank you for another lovely recipe.
I have some marshmallow root powder, and am wondering if 5g of that would be roughly equivalent to 10g of the root?
Really enjoy your site. I found it nearly 4 years ago, when starting to make CP soaps with only natural colorants.
Thanks for all your hard work!
Anna from Canada ;)
Hi Anna, since the root is ground up (more surface area) then you can expect to extract more from it than with whole roots. Using your 5g powder instead of 10g whole root sounds fine to me :) I’d also stir the powder a couple of times while it’s in the water and allow the powder to completely settle to the bottom before straining the water. Otherwise, it may add a gritty feeling to your lotion.
Can guar gum be substituted for the xantham gum, and if so, at what ratio?
Hi Marilyn and yes you can. Usually, you use 3 parts guar gum for every 2 parts xanthan gum so in this recipe it would be 0.45 g.