My mom always said, “never put anything in your vagina that you wouldn’t put in your mouth.” An OG feminist and sex ed teacher in the ‘70s, she was forced to wear skirts instead of pants to her first teaching gig to keep her ladylike. But by the ‘90s, Mom said pretty much whatever she wanted. She’s probably the reason I roll my eyes so well. But I guess the germophile doesn’t fall far from the bush because I come to you today with some kindred advice:
Dear reader, please don’t put anything on your SKIN that you wouldn’t put in your mouth. Because what is on the skin goes IN. Our epidermis is our largest organ. It helps us detoxify through sweat and the sloughing of dead skin, but it’s also a lot like our mouths, meant to monitor and absorb our environment. The only difference is that if you put something in your mouth, it goes through the protective arsenals of stomach and intestines before it hits the bloodstream. This is why many holistic practitioners use herbal baths, salves or poultices to administer their remedies: it’s the fastest way to get something into your blood.
For some reason, this is easy for us to comprehend when a doctor prescribes us cortisone cream for our joints; yet we don’t always think about it when we rub ourselves down with body wash or lotion made of synthetic ingredients that would tongue tie the greatest Shakespearean actor. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) for example, is a known endocrine disruptor and carcinogen. And phthalates, used for synthetic fragrance, are linked to early puberty, reduced sperm count, and kidney and lung damage. So if you want to improve your health and balance your gut microbes, start with ditching the synthetic preservatives and fragrances and opt for ingredients you can pronounce.
Of course, I know that this is not always the cheapest route. When my taste for luscious natural products started outpacing my budget, I went hardcore DIY. Most of what I needed was right in my kitchen. My husband looked at me sorta funny when I started slathering honey, olive oil and spirulina on my face, but I knew I was onto something. When I ordered a one-pound block of shea butter online, things really got good. What I share today is the very slather-able, totally gift-able, whipped shea butter that emerged from this foray into clean, natural, home beauty. All the feminists in my life are gonna get a jar this Christmas, men and women alike.
Like all my recipes there is a lot of flexibility here, but you generally want to follow a ratio of 50% shea, 25% coconut oil, and 25% liquid oils. I like the antifungal and antimicrobial properties of olive oil, but red raspberry seed oil, carrot seed oil and sweet almond oil all work well too. In terms of scent, I love frankincense and lavender, which nourish aging skin, but you can go nuts and make the pumpkin spice lotion of your dreams if you want. Melt, swirl, whip and rub your way to a spa day right in your kitchen. Just be ready—because this fluffy body butter looks like frosting and is going to be really hard not to put in your mouth.
jars with tight-fitting lids for final product
medium pot & metal mixing bowl (or a proper double boiler if you have one)
hand-held or stand mixer
½ cup shea butter
¼ cup coconut oil
¼ cup olive oil (or a combination of other liquid oils)
30 drops of your favorite essential oil for scent
(I use 15 drops of frankincense and 15 of lavender)
- In a double boiler, melt shea butter, coconut and olive oils together
- Once it is completely melted, add 30 drops of your favorite essential oils (avoid citrus oils as they are photosensitive and can damage skin in sunlight)
- Let cool in the fridge or on the counter overnight until completely solid
- Using a hand-held or stand mixer, beat for about 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl a few times (it will lighten in color just like creamed butter)
- Using a spatula, transfer this heavenly whipped gorgeousness into a clean mason jar or other cute container
- It will keep for six months in an airtight jar in a cool place. I store mine in the fridge—with a distinct label, so nobody mistakes it for frosting