Cowgirl Face Cream

Who says we have to limit wild food plants to just gastronomique delights? Our skin happens to be our largest organ, and it ‘eats’ and absorbs what we put on it. When I was introduced to California Sagebrush (Artemisia californica) I had to let out a big yeehaw! It is commonly known as cowboy cologne, since it’s said that the cowboys used to rub it all over their bodies before a night out on the town. Well, it’s 2007 and this wanna be cowgirl reckons it’d be alright for the ladies to partake as well.

I have been making my own lotion for some time, not wanting to feed my skin with the colorings/fake scents/preservatives/etc. so often found in today’s skin care products. The following is my favorite face cream recipe, adapted from Rosemary Gladstar’s original. Click here to see her wonderful herbal work at Sage Mountain, or here to order her ‘Herbs for Natural Beauty’ book with the original recipe. Like Rosemary says, smooth it over your body as if you’re anointing yourself with precious balm.

Cowgirl Face Cream

2/3 cup distilled water
1/3 cup aloe vera gel

¾ cup apricot, almond, or grapeseed oil
1/3 cup coconut oil, or cocoa butter
½ to 1 oz beeswax
4 Tbsp dried California sagebrush, packed loosely

Use some cheesecloth to tie up the California sagebrush into a ball. Then drop the ball into a crockpot dedicated to infusing oils, or set up a double boiler on your stovetop (see photo below). Infuse your oils on the lowest heat setting possible for at least 4 hours. If using double boiler method put on lowest setting and cook for ½ hour. Turn off the heat and let stand, reheating when you are ready for the next step.

The next step is to take out your cheesecloth ball of California sagebrush. Sqeeze out all of the oil being held inside and add your beeswax. Oftentimes you will not get an already measured piece of beeswax, but they will have written how many ounces you have on the front of the bag. Heat a knife over your stovetop and use its heat to help cut the beeswax into one ounce pieces. You will then be ready to place your 1-ounce of beeswax into the infused oil (and if you cut the whole chunk into 1-ounce pieces you’ll be ready for the next time you make face cream).

While the beeswax is melting over low heat, in either your crockpot or double boiler, mix your waters. Set the waters aside for later. Once your beeswax is melted into your infused oils, pour them into a blender. Let cool until they become creamy looking (you can speed this process by putting the blender in a cool area). Once it becomes a cool semisolid, turn on your blender at its highest speed and SLOWLY drizzle the room temperature waters into the oils. The key to this emulsion is to pour the waters into the oils, not the other way around. Blend just until it looks like frosting, but don’t over beat…it will thicken as it sets. Pour into cool sterilized glass jars and keep away from heat.

To the Cowgirl in us all!

10 replies
  1. corinne mcbride
    corinne mcbride says:

    does the aloe vera act as an emulsifyer as well as the beeswax? How long would it keep? If I wanted to use more water and less oil would I have to change the amount of beeswax? Is the cream stable?
    Have you tried to put Grapefruitseed oil or benzoin in it to keep? Thanks Corinne

  2. Carol Jacobs
    Carol Jacobs says:

    Hi Sunny – Great to see you at Wild Foods Summit II at White Earth this past weekend! Thanks for the link to your website. Also wanted to let you know that Monkey Flower used to be used for rough Cowboy/Cowgirl hands, especially for ropeburn. I’ve used the variety growing here in the Midwest (found along steambanks)- it’s not sticky, but maybe Calif variety is also worth a try? The same recipe might work. Some drops of an essential oil of choice might help it last longer.

  3. sunny
    sunny says:

    Hello Carol, great to hear from you! How cool about the monkey flower for ropeburned hands. I hope someday to have the opportunity to need it for that reason. 🙂
    much love, ~sunny

  4. sunny
    sunny says:

    corinne, so sorry this message slipped through the cracks. I have put vitamin E to help in preserving the cream. Sometimes the smell changes after several months, sometimes it separates or gets chunky a bit…all having to do with my inconsistencies and whatever is flying around in the ethos that day. I have always stuck to the recipe, and my understanding is that to make the cream the ratio of oil to water (1:1) is key. I’m unsure of the exact mechanics of the emulsion, but I would say that’s a good guess to say that both the aloe gel and beeswax are acting as emulsifiers. Any other readers have input?

    Sending you some cowgirl love, ~sunny

  5. sunny
    sunny says:

    Hello Gay!

    No you don’t need it. You can infuse your oil with another herb appropriate for contact with the skin. The sage is antibacterial and antiviral, so we can’t use it in excessive amounts internally, but it might be useful for people suffering from acne or eczeme.?.

    cheers, ~sunny

  6. sunny
    sunny says:

    Adding vitamin E helps retard rancidity. Also, a friend recently made this and found the recipe to be a bit liquidy, but she wasn’t quite sure of the exact amount of beeswax she used.

    later, ~sunny

  7. Grace
    Grace says:

    Hi Sunny!

    I love your website. I really want to try to make this cream sometime next month. I wanted to ask, how much vitamin E do you usually add?


  8. sunny
    sunny says:

    Hi Grace,

    Happy New Year!!! Have fun making the cream. I swear every single time I make it the consistency is a bit different. So, for the Vitamin E I would recommend 2 drops for the whole lot. Mix it well and that should be enough.

    take care, ~sunny

  9. jeanne
    jeanne says:

    is it the beeswax that keeps the cream, creamy. I made some with cocoa butter and no beeswax and it’s hard as a rock. thanks! jeanne


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