Have you ever tried a face cream, which your skin seems to just soak in within minutes without leaving a trace of greasiness and leaves you with this deep hydrating feeling that stays with you all day?
If you are like me, and are not using conventional skin care products, you probably haven’t had that experience since the last time you bought that little jar of Lancome. Sure, coconut oil has amazing benefits all around, but when I slather it on my face, it seems to sit there forever, and actually dries out my skin. I love shea butter, but if I put it on my face in the evening, it’s still there in the morning. It feels more like a mask to me than a gentle moisturizer. Cocoa butter is probably one of the better alternatives as far as absorption but getting it to the consistency of a cream is close to impossible, and feels like scraping a bar of soap with your nails. Even diluting the heavier oils and butters with lighter ones, like jojoba or apricot kernel, never gave me a sensation of truly nourished skin.
Clarified butter is a historic staple in Russia – food and skin care
Growing up in Russia, a lot of people used clarified butter (toplenoe maslo), or what’s known here as ghee, as a moisturizer. It was especially popular when caring for infant and child skin, and also for problem skin, like severe dryness and eczema. It was used in massages and as carrier base for scalp treatments. I have to tell you – it works, and it works great! But despite my deep love for butter, I don’t love the smell of it on my face.
After various experiments like trying to whip ghee with light oils and adding essentials oils, I remembered seeing a childhood friend’s mom mix her clarified butter and water with a hand held mixer. I didn’t remember why she did it but I remember that after she was done it didn’t smell like butter any more.
Shata-dhauta-ghrita – 100 times washed ghee
I started researching and what came up is a traditional Ayurvedic remedy called ‘Shata-dhauta-ghrita’ or ‘100 times washed ghee’. It is done by placing ghee into a copper vessel and mixing it with purified water literally one hundred times while chanting mantras. The water is added to ghee, everything mixed for 3-5 minutes, then water is discarded, washing the ‘impurities’ away from the butter. The result is an odorless cream of whipped butter consistency that the Ayurvedas believe to reach through all seven layers of the skin without blocking pores. It is believed to be an excellent anti-aging treatment that smooths wrinkles, fades sun spots, heals burns, soothes inflammation of rozacea, eczema, acne, etc.
My first experience washing ghee
Of course, I tried it immediately, and even though I didn’t use a copper mixing bowl, skipped the chanting and only had patience to wash clarified butter 25 times instead of 100 – the result completely amazed me. What I got was a beautiful silky odorless creamy wonderfulness that went into my skin without any oily residue and left me with deeply moisturized feeling that stayed with me until I washed my face again. I really wondered how this magic is possible, and found a couple of studies that looked at Shata-dhauta-ghrita. I was quite impressed.
The chemistry of 100-times washed ghee
It starts as a lipid (fatty) emulsion and with each introduction of rinsing water, as the pressure from mixing gets applied to fat particles, it splits them and makes the emulsion more aqueous (water infused). This ‘fat splitting is the process in which, fat is hydrolyzed in the presence of water to yield free fatty acids and glycerols‘ (source). Copper acts like a catalyst to promote fat splitting, and also increases the copper content in the emulsion. Plus copper has anti-inflammatory effect on skin (source). Now I am definitely in the market for a copper bowl!
This study suggests that 100 times washed ghee should become a base for pharmaceutical topical preparations. As opposed to inert constituents like beeswax, stearic acid, or parafin that don’t have any therapeutic value, washed ghee possesses a number of healing factors. Due to its small particle size, it may be able to deliver pharmaceutical ingredients deep into skin tissue.
Ghee is full of skin loving nutrients
Ghee is rich in a short chain fatty acid called butyrate, which is linked to an immune response that’s linked to decrease in inflammation. It’s the same stuff that’s added in hydrocortisone creams, you know – those that knock out acute inflammation in like three minutes (but have a lot of adverse effects!). Well, this is butyrate made by nature, the good stuff. And this explains why Ayurvedic medicine recommends it for inflammatory skin diseases.
Ghee is also rich in fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, all good for you and your skin. It is also one of the best sources of CLA, or congulated linoleic acid, when made with milk from grass fed free range cows (that’s the only milk you get, right?), which makes your skin more resilient to the external factors, especially as you age (source).
Anyway, enough science.. This cream is absolutely amazing, and after a good exfoliation with this wonderful raspberry lime scrub, my skins feels like I just had a facial.
HOW TO MAKE WASHED CLARIFIED BUTTER MOISTURIZING CREAM
Take any amount of grass fed ghee, warm it up to make it liquid, then put it in a mixing bowl. I used my KitchenAid but any mixer or food processor would work. It is best to use a copper bowl with a hand held mixer, but I bet the odds of you having one around are pretty slim, unless of course you are a pastry chef and beat a lot of eggs.
Add double the amount of filtered water. For example, if you used 1 cup ghee, you would use 2 cups of water. Start mixing on slow to medium speed. I use speed 3 on KitchenAid. My reasoning for that is I should stick closer to the traditional recipe and since this process was done by hand, slower speed might be better to get the traditional result. Plus it’s good to keep the splashing down.
As you mix your first round, the color of ghee will change from bright yellow to pale yellow, and will get lighter with each new water addition. The end result will be very pale yellow, almost white color. After a few minutes of mixing (3 to 5 seems to be the standard), pour out as much water as you can. I disconnect the whisk, swish it around the bowl to catch any separated pieces of butter, then toss the water. I swish the whisk around again to squeeze more water. You will notice that the first time, you will pour out quite a bit less of water than what you put it. It’s normal. Put the same amount of water as the first time, and repeat the process – mix, pour the water out, add more water. You can do as many times as you have patience. As I mentioned, I do 25 times, and by then my cream becomes very light and almost odorless.
When you are done, squeeze our as much water as possible, you can even use a very fine strainer: You will have a cream of the consistency of whipped butter that I guarantee will absolutely amaze you. Put it your favorite jars and enjoy. The clean up is very easy!
I also do the same process with shea butter but only repeat it twice because it gets too crumbly if you do it more than that. I like that it becomes a lot more manageable and creamy. A bit hard to clean though.
- 1 cup ghee
- 3 + gallons of filtered water
- Warm ghee to liquid consistency, but don't make it hot.
- Put ghee into a mixing bowl, add 2 cups of water.
- Mix for 5 minutes at slow to medium speed.
- Remove the water.
- Add 2 more cups of water, and repeat the process at least 25 times.
- When finished, squeeze as much water from the cream as you can.
- Place in pretty jars, and enjoy your beautiful and nourished skin.