Nicky Sherwood visits Homemade London, a creative hub located just behind Oxford Street where she learns how to make natural skincare. Discover how to make a luxurious Superbalm and Face Mask using pure and natural ingredients
Tucked away down a side street in London’s up-market Portman Village you’ll find Homemade London – a bijou craft salon that’s simply brimming with style and creativity. Founder Nicola Barron set up the studio last year with the aim of celebrating London’s craft designers and introducing new products and techniques to the capital. A self-confessed evening class junkie, she had struggled to find classes where she could make things that she’d really like to wear or have in her home… and so the idea for Homemade London was born.
Superbalm and Beauty Mask Workshop
Homemade London offers a selection of unique style-led workshops, from Vintage Restyling to Bookbinding and Lampshade Making, as well as parties and drop-in sessions such as The Sewing Cafe. They are also known for their cosmetics classes such as the ‘Create a Signature Fragrance Workshop’ and the one that we attended – the indulgent ‘Superbalm & Beauty Mask Workshop’.
On arrival we were greeted by owner Nicola and our tutor for the evening, artisan perfumier Tanya. A tasty buffet had been laid out on vintage china plates, and we sipped our chilled glasses of wine before donning our aprons and getting stuck in.
How to make the Superbalm
Our first project was to be the Superbalm – a rich and indulgent multi-functional beauty product that can be used as a solid cleansing balm which is massaged into damp skin and wiped off with a warm muslin, or as an intense moisturising balm for the face, lips or dry areas such as hands, elbows and feet. You can even add a scoop to warm water for a relaxing and soothing bath.
The first step was to melt down solid chunks of Cocoa Butter using a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water, before adding Shea Butter – two natural ingredients which are wonderful for softening the skin.
While the mixture was cooling, we tried out various different essential oils which we’d be using to fragrance our balms. A carrier oil was created by mixing Apricot Kernel Oil and Jojoba Oil in a glass beaker, before carefully blending in our selected essential oils.
Deciding on the fragrance
I decided on a floral fragrance combination of Lavender & Geranium oils, which I blended together in the beaker and then stirred into the cooled Cocoa and Shea Butter mixture. With the fragrance added, the mixture was soon ready to be poured into glass cosmetic jars.
As each of us had chosen our own essential oil combination, there was much sniffing and comparing of fragrance notes. Then it was time to label the jars with our chosen name for our balms, before placing them in the fridge to solidify. Once cooled, the product took on the solid creamy-waxy consistency of a balm, and the fragrance was apparent as soon as the jar was opened.
A natural wonder
Back at home I tried out the balm and was delighted with the results. Used as a facial cleanser, it went on smoothly and rinsed off well leaving my skin feeling soft and smooth. I’ve also used it as an intensive hand cream on my dry cuticles and within a couple of days there was a clear improvement. But the best thing of all is knowing exactly what went into the product and that it’s free of all the chemical nasties that many commercial products contain. Who’d have thought that a such a luxurious beauty product could be made from just a few simple, natural ingredients?
How to make Three Clay Beauty Mask
Next it was time to move on to our second beauty product of the evening… the Three Clay Beauty Mask. Unlike most face masks, this is a dry mask made from a combination of finely-milled powdered clays. It can then be mixed with water as required, or with other ingredients such as green tea, rosewater, cream, honey, mashed banana or avocado, to make a truly versatile product that can be adapted as your skin’s needs change throughout the seasons. Genius!
Tanya introduced us to the three varieties of powdered clay that we would be using… White, Red and Rhassoul clay which is a dark brown colour. We experimented by adding water and trying out the different clays on our hands and faces to see how our skin felt afterwards. Clay is particularly good for detoxifying as it absorbs oil from the skin and draws out impurities.
Add oatmeal, cream and honey
Next we added some richer ingredients to the powdered clays to create more hydrating masks for dry skin types. The addition of double cream and honey created a wonderfully nourishing mask, while a sprinkling of oatmeal into the mix works wonders as an exfoliating mask.
For my final product I decided on a layered combination of all three clays which could be mixed together as required. I also loved the way it looked in the jar!
This is a great hands-on course for anyone interested in creating their own natural skincare products and learning about fragrance combining. There were no ‘rules’ and we were encouraged to experiment and get our hands dirty (literally!) which enabled us to get creative with the ingredients provided. Because the group was small, we benefitted from Tanya’s one-to-one attention, and the atmosphere was relaxed and fun – just what you want from an evening class.
Homemade London also offer gift vouchers which make a great present, allowing the recipient to choose from the various classes on offer. With Mother’s Day coming up, why not treat your mum to a creative workshop that you can enjoy together?
Visit Tanya’s blog theperfumemistress for “the aromatic musings of a fragrace fashionista”.
Feeling inspired? Take a look at the Creative Workshops category in our Directory, where you’ll find a variety of inspiring courses, from art and crafts to fashion and beauty, interiors, cooking and flower & gardening.
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