Saturday, October 20, 2012

Herbal Face Cream Recipe Featuring Wild Roses

Creating your own luxurious creams is so rewarding! You can easily formulate sensuous creams, using only the best of ingredients for a fraction of the price you would pay for a similar natural product. 

I first learned to make cream by watching a video of Rosemary Gladstar making her famous perfect cream. I had always been so intimidated by the process and she really made it so accessible. 

There are a thousand variations of this basic recipe. I make it a different time each way so feel free to experiment with the different butters, different oils and different infused plants! 

Let's begin with the ingredients. I think of this recipe in three parts with the butters and wax, the oils and then the waters. 

You can buy all of these organic ingredients at Mountain Rose Herbs. This is where I buy all of my butters, oils, wax, herbs and hydrosol because they have the highest quality products at the lowest prices. Using the links on my blog to purchase items from Mountain Rose Herbs helps to support the information on this blog. 

The Ingredients for Wild Rose Facial Cream

Butters and Wax



1. Begin by weighing out the butters and wax. You'll need a scale to do this. 

In the original recipe Rosemary uses a 1/3 cup of butters. I don't like trying to get hard butters weighed into a measuring cup so I strongly prefer weighing them out with a scale. Rosemary often uses coconut oil and I sometimes to do. So many possibilities and butters to choose from! 

2. Mix together your oils. You are basically looking for 3/4 cup oils of any kind. Jojoba oil, almond oil, apricot oil and almond oil are also nice choices for light carrier oils. 

Olive oil will make a very thick cream that can feel a little greasy. If you've never made herbal infused oils before you can learn how to do so in this video. I use fresh wild rose petals that I harvest myself. If you don't have access to fresh petals you can used dried rose petals

You don't have to use an herbally infused oil either. It can simply be a straight carrier oil

3. Slowly melt your butters on very low heat. I use a pan that I only use for cream and salve making that has a nice spout on it. (I found it at a thrift store for $2!) I use popsicle sticks to stir the mixture. 

4. Once the butters and wax have melted turn off the heat and slowly stir in the oils. You'll notice it start to thicken up a bit. If necessary turn the heat on low again until the oils and butters and wax have completely melted. I then pour this mixture into a large pyrex measuring glass. If you use a blender to mix the waters and butters then pour it into the blender. 

5. Let this mixture cool down in the fridge. It is ready when it is no longer clear and is just barely solid. Don't wait until it becomes too hard, if that happens, reheat and then cool down again. 

6. While the butters and oils mixture is cooling, mix together your waters. You can use distilled water in place of a hydrosol but I strongly prefer the hydrosols since they add additional healing benefits and help to preserve this cream longer. 

Let's pause for a word on preservation...

Preservation is a bit tricky with creams. Some people use grapefruit seed extract, but since this isn't a natural substance and it is potentially dangerous I avoid it. I used to have problems with my creams molding after a few months but once I started adding the cottonwood tincture that problem went away. Be sure to use only very clean instruments when making your creams, then store them in a cool place and they will last for several months if not longer. 

I use borax powder as an additional emulsifier. 

A word on essential oils

Using rose hydrosol and herbally infused oils will scent your creams very slightly. If you want a stronger rose scent you'll need to add Rose essential oils  Warning, these are expensive! I adore the scent of roses so much that I do pony up and pay for the rose essential oil. I use just a tiny bit and it lasts a long time. 

7. Once the butters and wax have cooled they need to be blended at high speed to mix them into the waters. I use a hand held cake mixer to do this. Some people use blenders. I like the ease of clean-up with the hand held mixer. 

What I do is slowly mix the butters, wax and oils mixture until it is all one consistency (generally it is in varying stages of hardening), then I turn up the mixer to high and slowly drizzle in the waters. Once the mixture has thickened and changes consistency I turn off the mixer immediately. You don't want to over blend or the cream will separate. 

8. Now you have an incredibly luxurious face cream that you can easily pour into jars. This recipe makes about 14 ounces of cream. 

Undoubtedly you'll have significant amount of cream in the bowl, blender, on the mixers, spoons etc. I learned from Rosemary that the best thing to do is get naked and use it all up. That's one thing I appreciate from Rosemary, she keeps it real! 

Another thing to make clean up easier is to use paper towels to soak up the excess oils before washing the blender and bowels with hot and soapy water. 

Enjoy your creams!

I have to warn you  about making creams, it's addictive! I love watching the oils and water combine to create this totally different substance. 

It's also addicting to create the most luxurious creams for a fraction of the price that you would spend on a similar (though often inferior) product at the store. 

I'd love to hear from you!

Do you have a favorite version of Rosemary's Perfect Cream? I'd love to hear it in the comments below! 


Debra Page said...

Thank you for shar8ing this recipe. Can't wait to make it tomorrow. Is your Apprentice Program a hands on physical deal? Or, hopefully, a corresdpondence course. I live in AL. You were probably too young when we lived at McChord. And I was raaising 4 kids and my husband. Thanx again for the recipe and all the info. Love it.

Lizzy said...

Rosalee, thank you so much for this...I love roses and can't wait to try this. I have used Rosemary's cream recipe with Kukui oil I got in Hawaii...I fell in love with the island and wanted that lovely spirit of Hawaii--aloha--in my cream. Thank you again for sharing.

forest grace said...

Thank you Rosalee. Looking forward to making your creation. Placed my order for ingredients with Mountain Rose Herbs today. Love that place.

forest grace said...

Rosalee, would adding Rosemary Antioxidant help in preserving the creams and also be a defense against possible mold growth ? I dont have cottonwood but I do have the Rosemary Antioxidant ..

Rosalee de la Forêt said...

Seems worth a try forest grace. I've never used it myself, so I can't say for sure.

narf7 said...

13andsginaI bet this face cream smells amazing! I am yet to attempt making cosmetics but must admit, the ingredients list of your wonderful creation looks a whole lot more wholesome than my purchased jar! This tutorial makes it look easy...I might have a go. Cheers for this wonderful "recipe" :)

Pamela - EW said...

Hi Rosalee! I have super super sensitive skin, any thoughts on whether or not this recipe/ingredients list could be an issue?

Rosalee de la Forêt said...

All the ingredients are really safe and gentle Pamela, but everyone's different so I can't say for sure.

Anonymous said...

I love this idea and have ordered some essentials from Mountain Rose Hearbs and can't wait to try out your recipe! Just one question - where do you get the Cottonwood Bud Tincture? I can't seem to locate it anywhere.
Thanks so much!!

Rosalee de la Forêt said...

Hi Marie,

The cottonwood bud tincture is something that I make myself. You could try propolis tincture instead. Enjoy your cream!

Kay Staton said...

Hello Rosalee,
What a lovely recipe for the Rose Face creme! I used to use grapefruit seed extract but then became concered about what I was reading about this. Now I am using ROE(rosemary oil extract). I have never heard of cottonwood bud tincture. If you make this yourself, can you please give instructions on how this is done? Thank you.

Rosalee de la Forêt said...

Hi Kay,

To make a cottonwood bud tincture I harvest the buds in the late winter. Fill a jar with them. Cover that with 95% alcohol. Let that sit for a month or longer. Strain, and then use the resulting extract. I also use cottonwood infused oils in my preparations as well.

Hope that helps!


Spoon Feast said...

Can citric acid be used instead of borax as an emulsifier and a preservative?

Rosalee de la Forêt said...

I'm not sure about the citric acid. I've never used it before.

Unknown said...

We just posted a video of Rosemary making her lotion on the Numen blog, you can find it here!


Thanks Rosalee! I'll be making a variation of these tonight in my class using infused rosemary oil.
Best Wishes
Doc Garcia

pat bortolin said...

This recipe is lovely, however I feel a little concerned that you did not add a preservative, the amount used can be as little as .5-1%. It's peace of mind.

Rosalee de la Forêt said...

I find that the cottonwood is an amazing preservative. Since using it in my creams I haven't had one batch spoil.

Calamity Jane said...

great detail of the lotion process. i have treid many times, with very variable success! i am extremely curious about the addition of borax. surprised no one else mentioned it. it seems like an awfully caustic ingredient in a groovy herbal lotion. but then, maybe i just don't really know enough about borax. can you point me to any articles or why you feel ok adding it? i don't mean to sound skeptical, i am a big fan of your work, and do generally trust your judgement! also, i wouldn't mind an addition that made the emulsification process a bit more reliable! i just feel like i need to prove to myself that borax is ok....
thanks as always for your wonderful addition to the world of cyber herbal learning!

Rosalee de la Forêt said...

I have done a lot of research on borax. The most condemning study I found was when they fed rats pounds of the stuff. I feel very confident that using tiny amounts, externally, is completely safe. I don't recommend eating it in large amounts.

The definition of caustic is to burn or corrode organic tissue by a chemical action... I don't think that applies here.

However, if you are really worried about this you can easily omit it from the recipe.

Here's a nice summary of this issue:

Thanks for bringing this up! It's important to question things and I appreciate your desire to know more about what's going on your skin.

evolve botanicals said...

Hello Rosalee,

Thanks for providing this recipe. I look forward to making it. I have been reading so much about cottonwood bud tincture and oils. Can you recommend any sources for ordering this product or the dried buds so that I can make my own. I'm having a hard time finding it. Thank you,


evolve botanicals said...

Hello Rosalee,
Thanks for providing this recipe. I look forward to making it. I have been reading so much about cottonwood bud tincture and oils. Can you recommend any sources for ordering this product or the dried buds so that I can make my own. I'm having a hard time finding it. Thank you,


Rosalee de la Forêt said...

Unfortunately cottonwood bud tinctures and oils can be hard to source. You might check with Traci at Fellow Workers Farm or perhaps with

Cottonwoods are fairly common in the north America. I gather mine every spring.

Babes said...

Hi Rosalee, I love this variation of Rosemary's cream since I am a "rose" person! :) Thank you.

A quick question here; if I wanted to omit the mango butter, should I just increase the other butters proportionately?


Rosalee de la Forêt said...

That's a tough one Babes. While you certainly don't have to have mango butter to make a facial cream, I experiment with a lot of batches to get the right feel and consistency. So if you omitted the mango butter and just used shea instead it is going to have a different feel and consistency. Might be great! It also might not turn out, or at least take a couple tries to get it the way you want it.

Sasha and Veronika said...

Great recipe, but I would make slight modification. I would skip the Cocoa butter since it's higly comedogenic (4 out of 5 stars), meaning it will close pores. It is great to use on body, but not face. I tmay cause acne. shea is an excellend, so I would double up on this.

Dora Arevalo said...

Great Recipe, can't wait to try it. Thanks Sasha and Veronica for our recommendation on cocoa butter

Rosalee de la Forêt said...

Thanks for that information about cocoa butter. I've been using this recipe for years and giving it out to friends and family. I've never heard any one say it caused acne. I would definitely keep this in mind if I was giving it to an acne-prone person.

Shea butter and cocoa butter have really different consistencies. If you sub shea butter for the cocoa butter you are going to have a very different cream. It may turn out great, it could be too thin. I've never done that so I am not sure.

Merlins Muse said...

I'd like to try this recipe but what could I use in place of the aloe? I'm allergic to it.

Rosalee de la Forêt said...

I'm not sure what would work as an aloe substitute. You could try omitting it. I've never done that so I'm not sure how it turns out but it should work okay without it.

Rivergirl said...

This is a decent recipe, but I would think it would be a little heavy for the face. It's more like a body cream. My biggest concern is that there is water/hydrosol and aloe in this formula and there is no preservative. This formula will grow bacteria in short order. Refrigeration is a must and it will have a very short shelf life. If you want a preservative free lotion you must use only butters/oils- no H2o and watch the botanicals. They are bug food in water.

Beth Meek said...

Thank you Rosalee for sharing this recipe, I'm looking forward to making it. I have a question about the ingredients in the Aloe Vera Gel that you link to, it contains potassium sorbate which I'm not sure about. I've heard both sides of the story on this ingredient. What are your thoughts?
Thank you

Rosalee de la Forêt said...

I'm not aware of potassium sorbate as being a problem. It's added as a preservative. If you have a reaction to it you could make your own aloe gel from the plant. If you have evidence of it being a problem I'd love to see it.
Thanks for reading!

Rosalee de la Forêt said...

Rivergirl: I've made this recipe for years and I only use cottonwood tincture (as stated in the recipe). I never have batches go bad.

evolve botanicals said...

Hello Rosalee,

Thanks for recipe. My first attempt to repeat it did not turn out so well. Sometimes it takes a couple of attempts for me when making new recipes. I couldn't find cottonwood tincture, so I tried using Chaparral tincture instead. My cream separated after a few days and it somewhat gritty after blending. Does borax powder dissolve in the waters before you blend it with the oil/butters? I want to try the recipe again to see what I could do differently.

Rosalee de la Forêt said...

Making creams is admittedly a bit difficult at first. When I first started I had random problems like this but after a few batches I've had reliable creams ever since.

Some things to consider:
You need to whip the cream together fast. I now use a food processor and it works great.

The temperature of the hardened waxes needs to be the same temperature as the waters portion. I know some people measure this with a thermometer. I've never felt the need to do this myself.

I don't use borax anymore. I don't think there is a problem with borax, but I stopped using it and my creams are still great.

workingirl said...

Any idea how long this cream will last with no preservative in it? Sitting out on the counter?

This facial cream is absolutely wonderful but I too cannot get the water to stop separating from the creams and oils. Any suggestions what to do with a batch that is already made?

Rosalee de la Forêt said...

Ever since I started using cottonwood tincture in my creams they haven't spoiled. If you are concerned with spoilage I recommend doing the same or using Rosemary Antioxidants which you can get from Mountain Rose Herbs.

I don't know why your cream is separating. I've had that happen a tiny bit, but it didn't affect the quality of the cream. If it is happening too much then some troubleshooting needs to happen. Without looking over your shoulder while you make it, it's hard to say what is going wrong. You could try whipping up the cream again to see if it helps with this batch.

Rosalee de la Forêt said...

And to make a guess... without preservatives, and if you were really careful and clean when making it, it could last several months on the counter.

workingirl said...

Thanks Rosalee, I'll try the Rosemary Antioxidant. I appreciate your answer. The separation doesn't affect the quality of the cream, it just makes it look gross. I love the cream for my face---I just wanted to give the extra that was made to some of my friends and I want them to be impressed. Maybe I'll try blending the batch in a blender. Not sure. I think making cream like this takes some "know how".

I've read that hydrosols can spoil quickly. Is that true?

Rosalee de la Forêt said...

Hydrosols never spoil, they may lose their oomph over a period of time though.

Also be sure that your oils and your waters are the same temperature before blending. That may be the biggest trick to creams.


Hello and welldone for this increadible cream....Rosalee I have a problem....I can't find mango butter, rosehip seed oil and cottonwoodbud tincture...Can I use something else? Can everyone use this cream or is for spesific ages? Is it ok for oily skins?

Thanks :)

Rosalee de la Forêt said...

You can leave out the rose hip oil. You can create a similar recipe without mango oil it may just take some experimenting to figure out what percentage of other butters to use in its place. For example you could try using more shea butter and coconut oil.

I use the cottonwood tincture to help with preservation. If you leave that out you may want to keep your creams in the fridge. You could also try using a rosemary tincture in its place. I've never done that but rosemary is a great antioxidant that will help prolong the shelf life by avoiding rancidity.

I've gifted this cream to many many friends, all with different skin types. I haven't heard any complaints yet, just requests for more cream. :)

Melanie Brown said...

I made this cream and followed majority of the ingredients. I used some different oils, same butters+waxes, and instead of borax I used liquid lecithin from Mountain Rose as my emulsifier. Two you know at what point I should add the lecithin? I noticed it sort of globbed up and maybe I should warm it with the oils? Second...the texture was lovely at first but after sitting in the jar for a couple of days it became slightly gritty while applying it to skin. Any idea why this happened? Thank you so much Rosalee!

Rosalee de la Forêt said...

I've never used lecithin before and I've never had my creams turn out gritty. The most common error is having the oils and waters at different temperatures when you mix them together. If the oils are still too hot as compared to the waters it can create problems. I know creams can be tricky, but once you get them figured out it'll be like a favorite recipe that you can easily make over and over again.