Sneaky Sewing Savings: Moisturizer

A few months ago my mother in law talked to me about skin care.  She’s well aware of my desperate attempts to fix my summer-nasty skin.  I think everyone I have any personal contact with knows about it.  My mother in law has gorgeous skin.  She’s a farmer’s wife and a plant biologist- so she has a tan, but her skin is fine-pored and smooth.

When someone with beautiful skin gives me advice for skin care, I have to listen.  She told me she uses Sorbolene cream on her face after cleansing and has every day of her life.

I decided to try the sorbolene.  I live in a tropical climate.  For 7 or 8 months of the year, I sweat any time I step foot outside my house.  If I wear foundation (or any makeup), it slides off my face and leaves nasty bumps.  Instead, I prefer to focus on cultivating clear, smooth skin.   In most of my photos for the blog I am not wearing makeup beyond mascara, brow pencil and lipstick.  I can’t!  I am only wearing lipstick in this photo.

This bottle of sorbolene is “high end,” and it cost less than 7 dollars.  This will last me at least a year.  $7 for a great moisturizer for a year or more.  When I think of how often I used to replace my pretty girly products, and what that cost per year… Well.. You do the math.

I subjected sorbolene to every test I could think of.  Most importantly, I can report that after 6 weeks of use, my skin is very smooth and soft.  They do not test on animals, and it is palm oil free. Win-win.

To create more of the pretty girly experience I crave, I found a glass jar to decant the sorbolene.  I would like a prettier jar, so I’ll keep my eyes open while I op-shop.  For now, I’ll use this one.

I spray-painted the lid to make it look less like an old anchovy jar.

I filled it halfway with sorbolene, then I added a tablespoon of rose water.  I buy it by the bottle for cosmetic and baking purposes from the Afghani grocer in Stone’s Corner.  It’s simple to make at home.

I added a drop of jasmine oil.  I like the scent, and it also has great properties to help your troubled skin.  If you’re adding essential oils, remember to take it easy and do your research.  One drop of jasmine is quite enough for my little jar of face cream.

I stirred it thoroughly, and now I have a very useful and very cheap jar of cream that will help my skin stay beautiful.

It’s a nice addition to my above-the-sink jars and sundries.  The tortoiseshell box holds my hairpins.


  1. congratulations to the end of you summer-skin-stress! i can understand this so much, my skin is very dry so i have the problems in winter with the central-heated rooms. the last years my skin freaked out in january. this winter, in the woods and a house with fire-heating (with wood&this black stuff don´t now in english) – nothing!
    the only thing i have to watch is to use water-free cream when i go out because we have now -12° to -17° C……… the face get frozen without protection with some fat greasy stuff.

    • The black stuff is coal perhaps? I noticed on the news lately about the winter in Europe… I understand it’s super extra cold this winter? Almost like Europe has its own winter and also America’s winter this year. I have never lived in cold like that, but I’ll remember that tip if I find myself with winter-dry skin. :)

      • yes – coal! some times my brain….. ;-) and no – i think it isn´t extra cold this winter. it´s just a media-hype and the strange thinking it should be only 20°c and sunshine. but -10°c and below in february is normal for this edge of the world. all they media say “oh – no springtime is sight” – thats just stupid, spring in february. spring is in march/april!

    • I wonder if it’s available to purchase online… I looked around but didn’t see much. Perhaps there’s something comparable in Germany?

  2. My mum swears by sorbolene – it’s like Switzerland, it’s so neutral. But wouldn’t you know it, when she was on a visit here we couldn’t find it anywhere!! In my attempts to find an equally neutral, paraben free face cream, I’ve also used rose-hip oils & creams with great success. The pore thing though – isn’t that mostly genetic?

  3. Very interesting. I haven’t heard of this, so it might not be stateside. I definitely have spent a small fortune on face cream, and I’ve been looking for more affordable optoins as of late.

    • Some of the other commentators have mentioned glycerin… I haven’t tried it or even heard of it, but it might be a similar kind of thing…

  4. I kind of want to check that out. It might work really well for my legs in the summer! For some reason, shaving always leaves me with horridly dry skin.

    As for my face, I don’t actually use a moisturizer at all. I use a tinted sunscreen for daytime, and an antioxidant serum at night. Some acne treatment if necessary (almost always necessary!), and I’m done.

  5. I’ve not heard of this brand before, but it does look good. My skin has been so much better behaved since I went ‘back to basics’ last year. Cold cream to cleanse, then glycerine and rose water toner to freshen, then a basic moisturiser (always with an spf for daytime). Occassionally a mask if its looking unhappy/dry. But that’s it……saving me a fortune on all those lotions & potions I was buying! X

    • It’s funny, products ARE so expensive. It was something of a “leap” for me to use a plain cream, and I’m pretty amazed at how simple, cheap and effective it is to go “back to basics” as you say…

  6. Ah mineral oil free – that’s good! I might give this a go for my body…Not sure about my face though as I tend to get congested and oily…Eastern European skin here ;-)

    I know it’s not cheap but I really love Aesop. Their products make my skin glow. I do have a bit of a concern about the cleanser I use having SLS’s in it so I am going to ask them about it…but they really work nicely on my skin.

      • Oh! SLS is Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate – used for foaming things up. Almost everything has it and it can cause irritation etc. I’m not usually one to jump on the “Everything is Toxic” bandwagon (cos everything IS at different levels) but I tend to stay away from SLS’s because they can be a bit drying and nasty.

        • Thanks for that!

          My husband is kind of cranky about the “Everything is Toxic” bandwagon for the same reason! ;) Everything IS toxic if you ingest enough of it..

  7. Hmmm…I don’t think I’ve ever seen Sorbolene here in NZ, but maybe I haven’t looked properly. I am always looking for cremes and anything else that doesn’t make my face freak out.

    Maybe I could trade you for a really pretty jar – I have a whole collection of amazing 1970s Elizabeth Arden jars stored under my parents house in Hawaii. I used to decant shampoo ginger water into them for my hair.

    • A vintage jar collection? How lovely. I’m happy to trade, we can work out the terms when you please. :)

      They might have it here… It’s a quiet and unassuming cream, easy to overlook.

  8. Steph, I am very careful with my skin too. While I expose it to sun more than you do, I watch for sun damage and irritation daily. I use Cetaphil cleanser, and any moisturizer. I live in the high desert, and wear foundation with SPF 15 and slather on heavier stuff if I will be out for awhile. One thing I do, which may not be good for your very sensitive skin, is to use AHA (alpha hydroxy acids) lotion at night if my skin gets dull looking. This lotion helps shed the old skin cells, and keeps the new more visible. I also lightly steam my skin in the morning while waiting to make coffee! Thanks for the info on Sorbolene-this is something I could use in the summer while riding.

    • Cool- and thanks for the tip on AHA… I don’t know that I’ve run across them but it sounds interesting.

      I use a yogurt mask when I need to “freshen” my skin. Alternatively, I rub half a juiced lemon on my face… I think for darker skin it has a slight bleaching effect, but it just seems to clarify my skin and help prevent blackheads and whatnot… It’s one of those random internet “natural beauty” tips I kept running into, then when I read it in a 1940’s lady’s magazine I thought I’d give it a shot…

      • The AHA lotions come in varying degrees of strength and are derived from fruit, like lemon I would guess. I think mine is 8%. I mention this because the manufacturer cautions against using a high %, as you might find in a straight citrus mask. Check out Paula’s Choice on the web (NAYY)

  9. We use sorbolene for everything in this house – it works realy well instead of baby wipes for nappy changes too. The only issue we have is that both myself and my son can only use it if our skin is in relatively good condition to begin with. So it works as upkeep, but not bring-it-back-from-doom. If he has an eczema outbreak or is excessively dry he has an adverse reaction and breaks out in hives. If i’m too dry, or sunburned (ie now) it BURNS. Which is annoying because I usually use it instead of soap. :(

    Hopw thick is yours though, if you add water to it? Mine it liquidy enough that even that little bit of water would make it about cream consistency, which is difficult to work with.

    • Thank you, it’s good to know those things!

      Well- when I trialled it the past 6 weeks, I didn’t add anything. I wanted to add the rose water for both its toning and calming qualities as well as the scent…. It did thin the cream slightly, but not as much as you might think…

  10. I don’t live in tropic climate, so I face different problems, but I can relate. I have a sort of eczema on my hands – have had for years. I’ve tried various things. Things that the doctor prescribed never worked well. After years of trying out, I’ve found out that the most common of creams, the universal blue Indulona (which is a line of hand creams made in Slovakia), together with salt baths every now and then, works best for keeping it in a passable shape. I get a feeling that your story is similar, only you had outside help.

    • I had eczema on my hands and my doctor prescribed washing my hands with sorbolene cream instead of soap. Worked like a charm! I also use it as a moisturizer on my hands and face especially if my skin is dry or I have particularly bad eczema.

  11. Pingback: From “Pinning” to “Doing” : The Egg White Face Mask « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

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