Why make your own massage cream? Well, a few motivations spring to mind. 

Firstly, once you’ve learned a few recipes which work well for you, that’s a lot of savings over the years, let alone on the price of one treatment.

Secondly, nobody knows your allergies, intolerances or sensitivities better than you and yet ingredient lists can be hellish to navigate. Labels on cosmetic products can be harder to read than the Rosetta stone illuminated by a distant moviegoer’s smartphone.

The product descriptions which accompany the ingredients list don’t always make for gratifying reading either: “for rejuvenating dull, lifeless skin,” they offer cheerfully, or, “bring your terrible T-zone under control.”

Sometimes it’s nice to just apply the product without the reminders that our skin is not behaving exactly as we’d like it to.

Let's Get Started

Thankfully it is easy and inexpensive to make and apply a massage cream in the comfort of your own home, and you’ll know every single ingredient which goes into them. 

In this article, we’ll open by specifying the 7 signs of ageing. This helps to isolate the problems our skin encounters and focus on specific ingredients to help our skin look younger. 

We’ll follow with five face massage cream recipes which you can make using the following

kitchen implements:

  • a mixing bowl
  • a plate
  • A small blender
  • A spoon, fork and sharp knife

If you’re not in a rush, then you could look through a selection of ingredients which form different functions within the massage cream (exfoliation, binding, bulking, smoothing) to give you an idea of how you can work with what you have in your cupboards. 

Last of all, we’ve explained how to use the cream that you’ve just made.

7 Factors of Ageing

The first four of these are the easiest to address on a day-to-day basis.

  1. The rate of skin renewal decreases by between 4-7% in each decade. The build up of dead skin can give it a dull appearance. Regular exfoliation with gentle ingredients can help with this.
  2. Following from this, it becomes thinner as our rate of cell reproduction slows.
  3. Our skin produces less natural moisture, so we need to help it with the hydration process.
  4. Oxidative stress: lifestyle adjustments to improve the quality and quantity of antioxidants that we consume will help to halt this process, but on an external level, cleansing to remove surface pollutants makes a big difference to the appearance of your skin. Read this article for the most accessible chemistry lesson on oxidation that we’ve seen anywhere. In short, oxidative stress can cause chronic inflammation of cells, which, among other effects, contributes to the breakdown of collagen fibres.
  5. Hyperpigmentation can occur, particularly in areas with continuous exposure to hot sun. Melanocytes (pigmentation cells, not cancerous) multiply, giving the appearance of darker spots. These usually appear on the back of the hands, but can also be seen on the face.
  6. Skin becomes more prone to bruising
  7. A slowing rate of natural collagen and elastin production makes our skin lose suppleness and this is where an appearance of heaviness begins, and wrinkles appear.

Of the seven signs of ageing, the first four are the easiest to address with topically applied treatments.

The Five Recipes

We’ve taken liberties with the names for the following but part of the fun of doing making (and inventing) these creams is to come up with names of your own.

Homemade Face Massage Cream Recipes

Banana Drama

Good for oily patches or hormonal breakouts.

Recipe:

  • slice half a banana into a bowl and mash ruthlessly with a fork. Mix in 1tbsp orange juice and 1tbsp manuka honey.

It’s highly unlikely that you’ll get this completely lump-free, but don’t worry about that. You can blend this, but the tiny quantities will just make your resultant cream irritating to spoon out of the bottom of the blender.

Massage this into your skin and leave for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off (this allows the honey to work).

About the ingredients:

Honey has been used as a beauty ingredient since long before Cleopatra went through her Roman General phase. The Egyptians might not have understood the bacterial balancing properties of honey (derived as it is from natural plant matter and natural bacteria), but they were familiar with the effects that honey had upon painful inflammations of the skin—what we would now call acne. At the risk of being overly specific, manuka honey is the best product to use on your face. 

Orange juice provides ascorbic acid as an astringent. Astringents reduce excessive oil production and make the skin look smoother and younger by minimizing pores. More importantly, astringents are good cleansers and antibacterials thanks to their quotient of vitamin C. They’re a good alternative to alcohol-based cleansers, which are effective but which also have the accumulative effect of overdrying your skin.

Banana: the half-nana provides the spreading base of your cream. It also works as an exfoliating agent to lift excess sebum from the epidermis, which helps the ascorbic acid to reduce the pores. The high potassium volume in bananas makes it great as a rehydrating agent when applied topically. 

One word of caution: we recommend applying this with the windows shut to exclude local flying pests from the party. They love honey as much as the Egyptians did. 

Homemade Face Massage Cream Recipes

Wakeup Call

Good for dehydrated or tired skin, and for making you feel more alert in the morning.

Recipe: 

  • De-seed and grate a quarter of a cucumber. Don’t peel it. Blend with 1tbsp honey and 2tbsp yoghurt until you only see little green specks of dark green peel. Massage the cream onto your face using small fingertip circles and rinse off after 10 minutes.

About the ingredients:

The cucumber serves two key purposes here. Firstly, the peel provides you with an exfoliating agent. Secondly, it’s helpful for rehydration. Thirdly, cucumber contains both vitamin C and caffeic acid, which is in a class of micronutrients with strong antioxidant properties.

Yoghurt chiefly provides your spreading base and cream cohesion, but the nutritional benefits of applying it topically are two-fold. Firstly, it’s a very gentle abrasive to clear off overnight sweat and dead skin transferred from your pillowcase. Secondly, the lactic acid in yoghurt has similar properties to ascorbic acid, in that it tightens and shrinks pores. It is one of the very few natural ‘toning’ fluids.

A quick note before we canter onto our third face cream recommendation: even though cucumber can refresh the skin (and it is indeed comprised of 95% water), it’s not strong enough to rehydrate the skin by itself. As a solo ingredient, it can calm itchy spots, sunburn, and other sources of inflammation. However, if you want to use it specifically to rehydrate, it’s best to combine it with a secondary rehydrating ingredient. And always follow a facial treatment with normal moisturizer an hour or so later. 

Homemade Face Massage Cream Recipes

Murky Melee

We’re not going to lie: this mixture looks distinctly unpromising in the bowl. However, it’s fabulous for stressed, dry skin in the short term, and for reducing the conspicuousness of age spots (melasma) in the longer term.

The recipe:

  • mash quarter of an avocado into a bowl. Blend with 1 tbsp honey and 1tbsp cocoa or ground cinnamon. Apply and leave in place for 10 minutes.

About the ingredients:

Avocado is one of the best rehydrating agents, containing even more potassium than a banana. It also contains vitamins K and B5 (pantothenic acid) and the antioxidants lycopene and beta-carotene. These primarily you from photodegradation and damage from UV light. Avocado also makes your skin feel smooth and lush once you’ve cleared it away.

We’ve given you the options of cinnamon or cocoa here because you’re likely to have one of those ingredients in your cupboard. They chiefly provide the exfoliating element of your massage cream. You can blend a cinnamon stick if you need to, but blend it dry. 

Cocoa and cinnamon are powerful antioxidants. Cinnamon contains a significant proportion of polyphenol, which is a strong anti-inflammatory. Cocoa beans contain both flavonoids (which absorb UV light and protect your collagen stocks) and procyanidin, which reduces pigmentation of skin and can help to prevent or reduce appearance of melasma (or hyperpigmentation). 

Homemade Face Massage Cream Recipes

ManBango Daiquiri

“Pardon?” you may well be thinking. Well, this is the face cream to use when you need energy. It’s great for the natural glow, and feels lovely and cool. This is suitable for all skin types.

Recipe:

  • Blend together 1tbsp natural yogurt, quarter of a ripe banana, and quarter of a mango. Apply and leave until absorbed into your skin, then rinse.

Mango is the new entry to our ingredients list with this cream, and it’s got a lot going for it. Despite the sweetness, it’s a good rehydrator. Consider it as an alternative to avocado as a bulk-giving ingredient. The mango is loaded with vitamins (E, A and C) and mangiferin, which has been labelled as a miracle antioxidant. Naturally occurring collagenases are enzymes which break down collagen in the skin (same for elastases) Mangiferin can actually penetrate the dermis and epidermis and inhibit the activity of the destructive enzymes. It is not the only antioxidant which can achieve this, and I will cover a range of ingredient alternatives in the next section on cream combinations.

Homemade Face Massage Cream Recipes

Chamomile Calmer

Think about applying this one after a heavy journey in a high-pollution area or after a particularly heavy night, when a spot of detoxing might be in order. This is also suitable for all skin types.

Recipe:

  • Make a cup of chamomile tea and set aside to cool. A while later, mix a tablespoon of manuka honey and 1tbsp nutritional yeast. Dribble in the tea until the paste is loose enough to spread. If you’re lacking in volume, you can grate a little peeled, seedless cucumber into the mix.

Apply thinly and leave for 20 minutes.

About the ingredients:

Chamomile can be used in crushed leaf form as an exfoliant or in liquid form as a loosener. It’s a useful ingredient because it can clean out pores. Chamomile contains chamazulene, which is a one-element powerhouse of antiseptic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Nutritional yeast provides your exfoliating component here, but it also contains a significant volume of thiamine (vit B1, an alcohol-use palliative in large volumes), potassium for rehydration, and riboflavin (vit B2), which primarily supports collagen production and maintenance in your skin.

Combining Ingredients

So, there we have five face massage cream recipes, and the thinking behind the inclusion of each ingredient.

But what if you don’t have what we’ve recommended? Below is a list of ingredients which serve different purposes in the foundation of a cream to give you ideas of how to mix them up depending upon what you have available.

Binders: Honey, egg yolk, or aloe vera gel. Binders create a paste from other ingredients which would otherwise not adhere to your face (like grated cucumber).

Antioxidant bulkers: banana, avocado, mango, kiwi, strawberries, or papaya. These give your mask body and apply antioxidants directly to the skin.

Spreading bases: yoghurt, buttermilk or blended coconut milk (so that the water and cream are emulsified together)

Astringents: lemon, rose water, mint, orange (and other fruits with citric acid). Our recommendation is to mix any citric acids with water. 

Exfoliants: ground almonds; grated cucumber skin; granulated spices (like cinnamon); ground fennel; nutritional yeast

Supplements you can add: azelaic acid (good for acne); almond oil (moisturization); witch hazel (a toning astringent); rose tincture, or vitamin E drops. Follow the vial’s directions for volume to use, and scale it down to how much cream you have available. 

Ingredients which protect your collagen and elastin: white tea, burdock root, green tea, anise, rose tincture, lavender, and angelica. A fascinating study was published in 2009 by Thring, Hili, and Naughton on the inhibiting effects that 21 plant varieties had upon collagenase and elastase enzymes. The plants mentioned here are just a few of those shown to have a significant effect on the ability of those enzymes to wreak havoc on the youthful appearance of your skin. If you want to apply them directly, then you can do so in the form of a toning facial wash, having made a tea from them. Or you can use small amounts as a loosener for an antioxidant bulker, in combination with a little honey for adhesion.

The list of natural, healthy antioxidants is longer than a kraken’s leg, but many of them are either too heavily staining (turmeric and berries) or just plain awkward to work with outside a healthy diet. Key examples are:

  • red bell peppers
  • licorice
  • spinach
  • nuts
  • broccoli

It’s best to keep these in your food and away from your face.

One noticeable absence from this list of ingredient types is that of substances which have skin toning properties. Lactic acid is one of these, so you may choose to use yogurt as a spreading base more often than not, but salicylic or hyaluronic acid are commercially produced. Witch hazel is a good toner, but it is perhaps too astringent for dry skins.

Applying the cream

It’s nice to make this part of the process feel as luxurious as possible if you’re doing this at the end of a long day. There’s certainly an art to getting a spa experience out of using your own homemade massage cream.

First, put on an old t-shirt or strappy top and arrange a mirror above a sink if you have to.

Now, if you’re wearing makeup, take that off to prepare a naked base for the skin treatment. If your face has taken an environmental battering during the day, then you might want to exfoliate as an extra step in the process, as this will also act as a cleanser. Do as your time limits and needs for self-pampering dictate.

If you’ve exfoliated, just go and make yourself a hot drink while your skin recovers from the abrasion process. It’s useful to have warm hands for the next stage, which is applying the cream.

Put a blob in the middle of your palm and rub it until it’s warmed a little. It might begin to feel a little more fluid. Now, using long, stroking motions in an upward direction, smooth the cream across your face from your jaw to your hairline. Repeat the warming and smoothing until your face is covered.

Now, take your tea and flop somewhere comfortable. Bed or couch, it doesn’t matter. Again, working from the jawline, massage upwards and then out to the side. You’re basically repeating an inverted L-shape motion. Go from the bottom of your chin to under your lower lip, and out to the corner. Stroke from jaw to cheekbone, and out towards your temples. Aim for about five repetitions of each stroke on chin, cheeks, and forehead. 

Now massage your face using small, circular motions with the tips of your fingers until the cream has absorbed as much as possible. The massage will probably take you about five minutes altogether.

Now, leave the absorbing cream for the time recommended in the recipes while you drink your tea. However, If you’ve rammed your preparation with collagen-boosting ingredients, you might want to dab an extra supply into the lines surrounding your eyes and mouth and let that sit until your timer goes off. Set the ‘settling’ timer for the length of time recommended in the recipes. In other words, those times follow the massage and do not include it.

If you’ve used a particularly sweet antioxidant bulker, or if the honey remains tacky at the end of this time, then just give your face a rinse. Let your refreshed skin breathe for half an hour or so, and then moisturize using something untinted and non-fragranced.

The exception to this process is with the Wakeup Call cream, or any other cream you choose to apply in the morning. If you can’t be sitting around with cups of tea and indulging yourself, then: 

  • use the steam from a shower to clean your face and open your pores
  • dress, with the exception of the shirt you will be wearing later
  • put a hairband on
  • carry out the circular motions part of the massage (about two minutes)
  • and then get ready while the cream absorbs
  • rinse

Finally, have fun thinking about the ingredient combination you want to try out next time.