Saturday, July 16, 2011

Glycerin Balsam

Do you every wonder how your toiletries were formulated, or how different the cosmetics your great great grandmother used vary from the ones you use today? Well, I am working on a project collecting old cosmetics and toiletries recipes and it has been quite an experience. I am planning on sharing these recipes and what I discovered. I will give you the original recipe as well as the source from which I received the recipe. I will share the "modern" recipe. Many recipes call for spermaceti, of which we don't have access to. Spermaceti is an oil that comes from the Sperm Whale. Spermaceti was in so much demand, that the whales became an endangered species. The Sperm Whale was nearly hunted to extinction! I will also add preservatives so that these fabulous toiletries do not begin to grow. Come join me as we travel back in time for the making of heirloom toiletries. Here we go!

Glycerin Balsam

The Woman Beautiful
Helen Follett Stevans
½ ounce White Wax

1 ounce Spermaceti

4 ½ ounce Sweet Almond Oil

1 ½ ounces Glycerin

8 drops Oil of Rose Geranium

Melt the oil. Remove from fire and beat in the glycerin and perfume. Stir briskly until cold and white.

I had to make some changes to the formulation before I even headed for the test kitchen. First, there is no way am I going to get my hands on any spermaceti. No point of trying to formulate with a banned product. So I did some research and decided that Palm Oil would act as a replacement for the spermaceti.

Second, I didn't have any white wax (paraffin). I replaced the paraffin with beeswax, both of which contribute similar properties to toiletries.

I also wanted to add emulsifying wax to my formulation to prevent it from separating. So far so good.

Last, I felt the need to add a preservative to the formulation to prevent the mixture from growing bacteria and fungi. We don't work this hard on our projects to lose them to micro-organisms.

Glycerin Balsam (Reformulated)

The Woman Beautiful
Helen Follett Stevans
.5 ounce Beeswax

1 ounce Palm Oil

4.5 ounce Sweet Almond Oil

.25 ounces Emulsifying Wax

1.5 ounces Glycerin

.03 ounces Liquid Germall Plus

8 drops Bourbon Geranium

Put oils and glycerin into a microwave safe container. Heat gently until everything is liquid. Using an immersion blender
combine the ingredients . Once the mixture is cool, add the preservative and Bourbon Geranium. Continue whipping until it is gel like
in constancy and the temperature is no warmer than the room.

Note: This product is intended to be whipped. This helps the glycerin stay in suspension and allow the mixture to remain emulsified.

I really enjoyed this project. The Glycerin Balsam is fabulous and really fun. I must admit that I was rather surprised by the final product. When put on my hands, I liked it but the Glycerin Balsam seemed a little too oily. However, when I used it on the softer skin of my arms, legs and face, I felt as if I were being pampered and spoiled. The Glycerin Balsam really hydrates and protects the skin. Personally, I think the the Glycerin Balsam rivals a lotion with Hydrovance! It was also exciting that I had created a product similar to one used by women over a century ago. That, in itself, was amazing.

I wish to thank those who came on this fabulous journey with me. What fun! I hope you delight in making and using the Glycerin Balsam as much as I did. Enjoy!

Source: Jameson, Helen Follett. The Woman Beautiful . Chicago: Jamieson-Higgins, 1873. Print.

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