I started making face cream about 6 years ago for my family. I kept the original recipe for most of those years. Some people asked for a softer and scented cream, so I started experimenting. The creams really started taking off and I was making and selling more and more at the farmer's market.
The most important thing was that all the ingredients be all-natural and to stay away from common ingredients found in even all natural creams that aren’t entirely safe or are bad for the environment- like parabens (a cheap synthetic preservative found in almost everything white and creamy that goes on the skin. 90% of biopsied tumors have parabens in them), anything made with palm or soy, borax, e-wax (emulsification wax or vegetable emulsification wax) and to use as many ingredients as possible that won’t clog pores. Though e-wax seems pretty harmless and a lot of people use it, it’s made of Cetearyl Alcohol (a blend of cetyl and steareth alcohol), Polysorbate 60, PEG-150 Stearate, and Steareth-20, so I choose to stay away from it.
I had great success using beeswax and sunflower lecithin as co-emulsifiers (what keeps oil and water in a cream from separating), so no need to cheat and use some of the emulsifiers mentioned above.
When I first started making creams, I used our own monarda infused oils as a preservative but with only a relatively small monarda patch and not wanting to harvest more than 30%, I ran out. I searched every all natural commercially prepared alternatives that wouldn't irritate skin. I made test batches with them all and tested on myself first. The low irritation radish ferment burnt the skin just around my eyes and there were problems with other ones as well. I’m fortunate that I have sensitive skin because it helps me test my creams.
The only product that didn’t create any reaction was called Leucidal which is a lactobacillus ferment. I was thrilled that it was all-natural with a low/ no irritation rating. I made test batches and sent out to friends and family to test. No one reacted to it, so I was excited.
I have some of the creams I made last year and the year before last with the monarda and they still feel awesome and are without mold. I didn't expect Leucidal to perform that well, but I did expect at least 3 - 6 months.
You can imagine my disappointment when I heard reports that a few of the creams molded after 2 months or less. A hot steamy room and using dirty hands will certainly make a cream mold faster, so I'm not sure if that was a factor or not with those creams. But they certainly aren't performing as I expected based on the product reviews. I am so sorry if you got one of those tubs!
So I've gone back to monarda and have added infused cottonwood resinous buds. These two herbs create powerhouse antimicrobial infused oils. I was able to locate another beautiful patch of monarda on the neighboring organic farm. Hopefully we've created enough infused oils to get us through the year and will get us back to creams with a longer shelf life that people have come to expect. It’s also much more sustainable than buying Leucidal anyway!
I've also been playing with test batches making a Kokum and Shea butter blend for a sturdy, but soft cream for the summer that soaks in super fast.