ersatz (3): moisturiser

(updated variously, further down)


  • A-Derma Skin Care Cream
    (no longer cruelty-free)
    around CAD$ 24.00/100 ml = $7.00/oz
  • CeraVe cream
    (cruelty-free, cheap: but the thing here is renewable sustainable ingredients, though not a deal-breaker and I’m not throwing this stuff out!!!)
    around CAD$23.00/453 g= $1.43/oz
  • Dr.Hauschka rose day cream
    (greener, more sustainable: but why can’t someone produce something like this but unscented and cheaper?)
    CAD$43.00/30 ml = $43.00/1 oz

All are in recyclable packaging. None contains aloe vera (UPDATE: now pretty much OK with it again!!!), other of my irritants, or palm oil (of the to-be-avoided de-rainforest-and-inhabitants-ation sort). Each has pros and cons as summarized above, plus some others on availability, transport costs (A-Derma and Dr.Hauschka), production methods, etc. Otherwise, I’m not prejudiced on price. These three all work well on my skin, end of story.

I use a separate hydrating / humectant layer underneath, and a separate sunscreen on top. Yes, one happy day, the perfect product will exist that will do all three jobs. Right now it doesn’t. Yep, that includes Olay Regenerist and co.; yes indeedy, permission granted to flame away…


Best options so far: the ones below, all generally decent and eminently usable (if they don’t work on face, try them elsewhere, and you can never have enough handcream). Even the most expensive of those below is cheaper than Dr.Hauschka. All sink in beautifully, seem to keep skin moist, and would be (in principle; the first two one, in practice) on the rebuy list. All moisturisers were tested out on clean skin, dampened with witch-hazel hydrosol, with sunscreen (BurnOut Ocean Tested) on top in the morning and nothing on top at night.

  • Ayelet Naturals Renew Organic Facial Good Night Cream with Meadowfoam Oil and Fruit Extracts
    (online c/o Etsy, $22.00 + shipping for 1.7 oz = $12.95/oz)
    Really lovely cream, beautiful skin-feel. Slightly lighter-weight than the Rose Day Cream, but the closest in texture of my four finalists. Found it through searching through Etsy for all products containing meadowfoam seed oil or otherwise tagged with the word “meadowfoam,” and shippable to Canada. Loaded with antioxidants. Just read this ingredient-list and drool, then go to Sephora and department stores and see if you can find anything a quarter as good for four times the price.
    WOULD I BUY IT AGAIN? Yes. Have done.
    Ingredients: Purified Water, Olea Europaea (Olive Oil), Butyrospermum parkii (Certified Organic Shea Butter), Limnanthes alba (Certified Organic Meadowfoam Seed) Oil, Simmondsia chinensis (Certified Organic Jojoba) Oil, Persea Americana (Certified Organic Avocado) Oil, Rosa rubiginosa (Certified Organic Rosehip Oil), Punica granatum (Pomegranate) Extract, Camellia sinensis (White Tea) Extract, Tamarindus Indica (Tamarind) Extract, Stearic Acid, Emulsifying Wax NF, Kosher Vegetable Glycerin, Tocopherol (Vitamin E Non GMO), Phenoxyethanol and Caprylyl Glycol.
  • Chagrin Valley Whipped Squalane Face & Eye Mousse
    (online from CV, $6.35 + shipping for 0.5 oz = $12.70/oz)
    Favourite of all of these on performance. By a long shot. And the simplest on ingredients; the whipped mousse is water-free, no preservative needed.
    [BUT: not buying again till there’s a return to the old formulation. More below.]
    Amazing texture. Elegant feel and finish, sinks in like a dream. Great around the eyes too, including the undereye area next to the nose: my skin’s very thin there, dries out fast, but can’t take anything very heavy without getting puffy and milia-cious.
    Works best by taking a tiny amount (lentil-size, definitely under ½ a pea), rubbing between fingers to melt, and dotting onto skin: applying it more like an oil (that is, after all, pretty much what it is) than a moisturising lotion. Indeed, when on my first use I slathered on lotion/cream-like quantities, the result was greasyface. I moved the excess elsewhere, down my neck. As so little is required per application, it’s deceptively expensive (compared to, say, the Silk Naturals moisturizers below, or to CeraVe).
    That “dream cream” stuff? LOL. No comparison. This is a dream…
    Ingredients: Shea Olein; Squalane (Olive); Olive Butter; Jojoba Oil
    Used to contain lavender extract, removed in the recent reformulation, in part due to customer request.
    UPDATE (12/2012): lavender oil back in.
    I’ve used both versions: the scent is almost undetectable, and there’s not a high enough concentration to set off irritation in my skin. I prefer to avoid lavender EO in things that stay on my skin during the day in sunlight, though. Would be fine in a night-cream, doubtless, but what I’m looking for and this post is about is a moisturiser for the daytime.
  • Silk Naturals Organic Olive Oil Moisturizer
    (online from SN, $11.99 + shipping for 4 oz = $3.00/oz)
    Slight preference for this one on price, obviously, but not as good as the two above on performance. Both the Silk Naturals moisturisers feel a bit odd and tight on skin for a couple of minutes, but don’t panic, let them settle. They did hold moisture less well, for less long, that the two above.
    Ingredients: Certified Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Certified Organic Jojoba oil, Behentrimonium Methosulfate (and) Cetearyl Alcohol (naturally derived from Colza oil), Sorbitol, Hydrolyzed Oats, Gluconolactone (and) Sodium Benzoate
  • Silk Naturals Moisture Magic Rich Hand & Body Cream
    ($8.95 for 2 oz = $4.48/oz)
    Oaty shea goodness. Not a million miles from their olive lotion, minus olive oil plus shea, richer and more moisturising. Still not as moisturising in the longer term than the first two.
    Ingredients: Distilled Water, Certified Organic Shea Butter, Behentrimonium Methosulfate (and) Cetearyl Alcohol, Emulsifying Wax NF, Hydrolyzed Oats, Certified Organic Jojoba Oil, Glycerin, Gluconolactone (and) Sodium Benzoate

But the remaining favourite is:

  • DIY oil mixmeadowfoam seed oil alone
    UPDATE (08-10/2012): or mixed with various proportions of extra-virgin olive oil and/or sweet almond oil; best results = at least 75% meadowfoam
  • UPDATE (08/2014): mixed in a 1:2:1 ratio with
    a high-linoleic-acid (omega-6 fatty acid) oil, sunflower currently; or safflower; any seed or nut oil will be fairly high)
    + a high-oleic-acid (omega-9 fatty acid) oil, olive currently
  • WINTER UPDATE (12/2012): oil mixed with or on top of an emollient cream
  • + DIY balm = extra-virgin olive oil + beeswax blend (Badger unscented balm in the tin) in the eye area and on any dry patches.
    Either the Badger balm alone, or made up into a DIY balm mixed with shea butter (NOW, refined)
  • UPDATE (08/2014): or other oil-and-beeswax balm: regulars over the last few seasons have been the abovementioned Badger and Dr Bronner’s magic balm
    = avocado oil + hemp seed oil + jojoba oil + beeswax

See also:

At the end of my morning shower, I’ve been slapping on meadowfoam seed oil anyway. Now doing that on face too. Layering hydration and moisture. I’m currently mainly using the meadowfoam oil as a face moisturiser, after towelling off and doing an antioxidant layer; and in the evening. Great stuff.

My skin seems to be getting drier. Probably age. I can now use oils, butter, and waxes on my face that would have been zitstravagantic a few years ago; shea is fine, so is olive elsewhere, including in soap form. If I’m feeling very brave I’ll be trying out olive on the face (eek) at some point, the way I use meadowfoam currently.

UPDATE: spent a while testing out olive oil: good quality extra-virgin Green food/cooking variety, not the bargain basement slave labour sort, one of the medium-price ones ($10.00 – 15.00 / litre) from local Greek deli. cheapest option of all. Definitely usable and works on my skin, which is useful to know in case I end up smewhere without moisturiser or am at someone’s house and need to moisturise and what they have isn’t, well, a good idea on my skin (Bath & Body Works sneezapalooza rasharama spectaculars). I’d done this before for hands, when a guest; it’s more discreet and polite just to ask to use some cooking oil, rather than making a big scene, or playing the martyr, using something you know will result in irritation, and embarrassing your host/ess with your scary skin reactions.

After testing out olive oil alone and mixed in with meadowfoam in various ratios, I still prefer more meadowfoam mixed in for feel and finish: the meadowfoam has a finer texture and sinks in fast.The current compromise is effectively watering-down the pricier meadowfoam oil with the cheaper olive.

The other thing I’ll be doing, now I’ve bitten the bullet and created my not-very-exciting Frankenbalm, will be to make up a variation on duchessofgrapes’s face-cream recipe. It’s a dupe for Fresh Crème ancienne, and heavy on the meadowfoam (which I like, as you may have surmised). I’d do it minus the essential oils, but should work the same I’d have thought.*

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: yay, aloe sensitivity has diminished: solution to moisturiser dilemma: some previous loves are now usable on skin again. Though I’m afraid that on face, my best results are still with the meadowfoam-olive oil mix… UPDATE (2014-08): went back to meadowfoam alone, then with olive and sunflower mixed in, due to running low on meadowfoam while away in Europe. This works very well.

But here are some more to add to the list:

  • ShiKai borage therapy dry skin lotion (original unscented formula)
    $11.00 – 18.00 / 8 oz = $1.38-2.25 / oz
    INGREDIENTS: water, aloe vera gel*, safflower seed oil, glyceryl stearate, glycerine, jojoba seed oil, borage seed oil, cetyl alcohol (vegetable wax), vitamin E acetate, dimethicone, shea butter, sodium ascorbyl phosphate (vitamin C), phenoxyethanol, L-ergothioneine, ethylhexyl glycerin.
    I still get some clogging on face with this; even though the dimethicone is quite far down.
  • ShiKai borage therapy dry skin hand cream (unscented)
    $6.50 – 11.00 / 2.5 oz = $ 2.60 – 4.40 / oz
    INGREDIENTS: aloe vera gel*, safflower seed oil, glyceryl stearate, glycerine, jojoba seed oil, borage seed oil, cetyl alcohol (vegetable wax), vitamin E acetate, dimethicone, shea butter, sodium ascorbyl phosphate (vitamin C), phenoxyethanol, L-ergothioneine, ethylhexyl glycerin.
  • Allergenics Emollient Cream would be another option (means ordering from the UK, so higher shipping)
    $9.69 / 1.7 oz = $5.70 / 0z
    The lotion is also good; but I last used it when my skin was less dry, as a substitute for Clinique Dramatically Different Lotion. Both of which would not be moisturising enough for me now.
    INGREDIENTS: Aloe barbadensis, cetearyl alcohol (from palm and coconut oil), Borago officinalis (borage oil), Cera alba (beeswax), glycerin (vegetable source), Prunus dulcis (sweet almond oil), Butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), cetearyl glucoside (from glucose), soy sterol (soyabean source), zinc oxide (mineral source), capryloyl glycine (from palm and sunflower seed), Rosa moschata (rose oil), tocopheryl acetate (from cereals), glycyrrhetinic acid (from licorice root), hyaluronic acid (natural mucopolysaccharides), xanthan gum (natural), citric acid.
  • Weleda: a quibble: animal-testing status currently uncertain, re. recent China activity, though may be fine; just saying, check… Weleda themselves conduct no animal testing at all on their own products or the constituent ingredients, and have been cruelty-free from the start, some 70 years ago.
    The first item below is not scented, and is my favourite of the four I’m covering here. The texture is like a cream. It works well as a substitute for lanolin+petrolatum balms; the combination of lanolin and beeswax is outstanding for moisture retention, and the ointment mixes well with my multi-purpose oil mix. The result is a very moist rich cream, for face and neck. Alternatively, can be used alone as you’d use a balm, or Aquaphor, or Vaseline: really good around the eyes:
    Calendula Ointment:
    $10.00 / 25 g
    INGREDIENTS: Calendula Officinalis MT (M) 5g + Beeswax, Lanolin, Lanolin Alcohols, Sesame Oil, Water.
  • Weleda Baby Calendula Face Cream:
    $12.00 / 45g
    INGREDIENTS: Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Water (Aqua), Lanolin, Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Beeswax (Cera Flava), Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance (Parfum)*, Limonene*, Linalool*, Benzyl Benzoate*, Benzyl Salicylate*, Geraniol*.
  • Weleda Baby Calendula Weather Everything Balm:
    $12.00 / 28.3 g
    INGREDIENTS: Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Lanolin, Beeswax (Cera Flava), Calendula Officinalis (Calendula) Flower Extract, Fragrance (Parfum)*, Limonene*, Linalool*, Benzyl Benzoate*, Benzyl Salicylate*, Geraniol*.
  • Cold Cream (used to be called Everon Face Balm):
    $ 18.00 / 30 ml (29 g)
    INGREDIENTS: Water (Aqua), Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond), Arachis Hypogaea (Peanut), Beeswax (Cera Flava), Glyceryl Linoleate, Fragrance (Parfum)*, Hectorite, Limonene*, Linalool*, Citronellol*, Geraniol*, Citral*.


  • Main moisturiser: oil
  • Additional moisturiser (underneath the oil): ShiKai borage dry skin remedy original unscented lotion (see above). My skin is drier, nearly two years after first writing this post, and fortunately also less prone to zitty outbreaks. It seems to be fine with all the things in the lotion that could have been zit-triggers at the time of first writing: dimethicone, sure; but also aloe and shea.

* Aromatherapeutic “benefits” (*polite cough*) aside. Yes, smells lovely, and may work on brain c/o memory and emotional association; and yes, there’s the Ayurvedic side (but in that medical system—treating it as science rather than belief—I’d not be using things like lemon oil on my skin anyway). But no, I don’t believe in aromatherapy (or other late-Victorian cultish quackery). And it’s all a different matter from the practical observable experimentally-repeatable physical material reality of what lemon oil does on my poor hapless tender skin.


  1. Aaron Reber

    I work for the farming cooperative that grows meadowfoam for use in these types of products. If you have any questions, feel free to email me or check out our website. 🙂

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