Gin-and-tonic wonder balm

Say goodbye to your cracked heels and dry elbows with this soothing yet refreshing gin-and-tonic skin balm!

The key ingredients in this balm are two very gentle but soothing oils: rice bran oil and calendula infused sunflower oil.

  • Rice bran oil: extracted from the bran of the brown rice grain removed during the milling process. An excellent source of vitamin E, fatty acids and antioxidant nutrients.
  • Calendula infused oil: commonly known as marigold, calendula is a popular ingredient for making herbal infusions. The flower is rich in vitamins, minerals and beta carotene. It is used by herbalists for soothing itching, flaking or inflamed skin. For this creation, I’m using calendula infused sunflower oil.

In addition to the oils, I’m adding two solid ingredients:

  • mango butter: to soften the skin and helps provide non-greasy protection from moisture loss; good for neglected or sun-damaged skins
  • beeswax: this is what keeps the balm solid in warmer temperatures, and acts as a barrier on the skin to help prevent moisture loss.

To create the invigorating scent of gin and tonic (aka my favourite tipple!), I am using a blend of juniperberry, rosemary, grapefruit, star anise and rose geranium essential oils.

Juniper berries – from which gin gets its flavours / Image credit:, by jensteele, reproduced under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The awakening scent of gin and tonic, encapsulated in a balm!

One reason I’m using this particular combination of carrier oils and butter is that none of these ingredients has a heavy aroma; as such, they won’t mask or alter the scent of my essential oil blend too much. Since I’m using essential oils rather than synthetic fragrance oils, the scent in the finished product is delicate rather than overwhelming. Of course, it is possible to buy a synthetic G&T fragrance oil – but personally I find it more challenging and rewarding to blend my own essential oils! (FYI: My essential oil blend comes to <1.3% of the combined weight of all my ingredients; essential oil amounts should never exceed 2% of the combined weight of all the ingredients for a body product, or 1% for a facial/lip product.)


  • 21.5g calendula infused sunflower oil
  • 21.5g rice bran oil
  • 13g beeswax
  • 10g mango butter
  • 10 drops (approx. 0.4g) juniperberry essential oil
  • 4 drops (approx. 0.16g) rosemary essential oil
  • 4 drops (approx. 0.16g) grapefruit essential oil
  • 2 drops (approx. 0.09g) star anise essential oil
  • 1 drop (approx. 0.04g) rose geranium essential oil
  • 8 drops (approx. 0.32g) natural vitamin E

The above makes around 67g of balm (the pot on the photo is 20g).


  1. Clean all your utensils and containers before you begin.
  2. Measure out the carrier oils, butter and wax beforehand.
  3. Prepare a double boiler by filling one-third of a saucepan with boiling water.
  4. Place the saucepan over a stove and reduce the heat to a simmer.
  5. Add the beeswax to a heatproof measuring jug, then place it inside the saucepan carefully. Stir the wax slowly until it melts.
  6. Once the wax has melted, add in the mango butter and stir the mixture. Keep the heat on low – or turn it off if you feel the water in the double boiler is still hot enough to melt the butter. The important thing is not to overheat and boil the mixture.
  7. When the butter has melted, take the jug out of the saucepan. Keep stirring the content while you wait for the jug to cool down a little. After a minute or two, add in the rice bran and calendula-infused oils and stir until everything is mixed. The mixture should be golden in colour. If the mixture looks like it is setting, place the jug back inside the saucepan of warm water – the residual heat from the water should keep the mixture in a liquid state.
  8. Take the jug out of the saucepan (wipe the base dry with a kitchen towel!), keep stirring the mixture but let it cool for a minute or so before adding in the vitamin E and essential oils.
  9. Give the mixture one final stir. Then, carefully (but quickly!) pour the mixture into your empty containers.
  10. Place a lid loosely on top of each container. Transfer your pots to the fridge. After a few hours, your balms will be ready!

Featured image credit: (cropped), by fronx, reproduced under CC BY 2.0

Shopping for ingredients

Thanks to the internet, shopping for DIY skincare ingredients has never been easier: at the click of a button you can buy everything from Ghanaian shea butter and Californian avocado oil, to green tea extracts from China and neroli essential oil from the Mediterranean – all from the comfort of your own home. Certainly, the advent of online shopping has made things much easier for us DIYers to embark on our adventures.

Continue reading “Shopping for ingredients”