Be sure to ask for vegetable glycerine. It is impossible to tell chemically whether the glycerine you are using is from a vegetable or animal source so you need to trust your supplier. Simply picking some up in the chemists shop is not a guarantee of an all-vegetable product.
Another option is to add a little vinegar or lemon juice to water... but you have to be very careful, too much and the whole thing becomes like an astringent toner and will be too harsh for most sensitive skintypes.
Water-Based Cleansers with GlycerineIngredients100ml Rose Flower Water - If you use rose water from the cake baking section of the supermarket it will contain a preservative… this ensures that your preparation will last for a long time, there is also no reason to think that it will be detrimental to your skin, but you may prefer to buy a rose hydrosol from a specialist supplier, which will be more pure.
10ml Vegetable Glycerine
1 or 2 drops of Rose Otto essential oil (Rose otto is a very expensive oil but to substitute with a cheaper oil is defeating the object – my advice is to choose an organic Rose Otto and buy the smallest amount possible (usually 3ml) and use it very sparingly, sometimes only one drop is enough.
If you really feel that rose is out of the question, purchase a lavender hydrosol and use a good quality organic lavender essential oil. Or you could choose a suitable blend of essential oils (eventually I will put some suggested blends onto the blog... in the meantime scour the internet or the charity shop for books on essential oil blending - there are a lot out there.
Combine the flower water and vegetable glycerin. Shake well. Add the essential oil if using and shake well again. Decant into a small bottle and place in a dark cupboard for a week. Shake once or twice every day. Filter the mixture through a coffee filter paper and then decant into a clean bottle. The mixture is then ready for use. If you have made your own Rose water, then halve the amounts above and keep in the fridge for two days – shaking every day. Finally strain through the coffee filter paper and decant into a clean bottle and return the mixture to the fridge.
Use the mixture by pouring a small amount onto cotton wool and cleanse the face with an upward sweeping motion.
Vinegar & Water-Based CleansersIngredients100ml White wine or Apple Vinegar
1 handful of fresh Rose Petals
100ml Rose Hydrosol or plain distilled water.
2 drops Rosewood Essential Oil
Steep the fresh rose petals in the vinegar for two or three days. Make sure that they are well covered in the vinegar. Strain and then add the rose hydrosol or plain distilled water. Mix well. Add the Rosewood essential oil and then shake the bottle well. Allow to rest for 24 hours before using for the first time. Use by applying the solution to cotton wool and cleanse the face in an upward motion.
Herbal Teas as water-based cleansersHerbal teas can be wonderful for sensitive skin. Faces inclined to become puffy or red at the drop of a hat often respond well to washing in a herbal tea. When making herbal water-based cleansers it is important to choose your herb or flower very carefully and to understand which herbs or flowers are going to be most useful for your condition. The usual method is to boil some spring water and infuse the fresh herbs taking it off the boil and letting it steep until cool. Strain the mixture and use it straight away as a natural face wash. Or add some essential oils and bottle it, keeping it in the fridge for only a few days.
This will not keep much beyond three or four days in the fridge. If you are using a particularly woody herb (stems and barks) then you may need to boil the herb for a while rather than letting it steep. Follow the same advice given for extracting the medicinal qualitites of the herb for taking internaly.
If you would like further information about herbs and their uses other than skincare take a look at The Herbal How-To Guide. This site is run by a friend of mine whose friendly approach to the subject makes us all feel like experts!