I used to panic when ice breaker games demanded a personal fun fact -- on the spot, I was required to find the sweet spot between the mundane and the uncomfortably personal. But, four years ago something changed. I didn’t suddenly become a classic xoJane ultra-sharer (I still haven’t, but I’ll work on tweeting more, I promise, Olivia), but rather a little sentence became true:
“I have a pig.”
Her name is Queelin, and she is four years old. She lives in the house with my family and spends most of her time sleeping on the couch or sniffing the ground in search of crumbs. She is house trained and we take her on walks a few times a day. She also has a little outdoor space to wander in.
Getting the pig was my sister’s plan and I initially had a few misgivings about sharing my living space with a porcine creature. But soon she became my baby, and now I spoil her with belly rubs and kisses, and by becoming her personal groomer.
Pigs have naturally dry, flaky skin, so whenever I have lotion on my bare legs, Queelin rubs all her 70 pounds of pigginess against me, trying to transfer the lotion to her skin. While her bristly hair is probably a decent alternative to dry brushing my legs, friends don’t let friends moisturize secondhand.
I don’t believe that all skincare products should be made with food-grade ingredients, but I also suspect that most humans aren’t tempted to eat their lotion. Pigs, however, will eat anything. I have had many lip balms destroyed by Queelin’s ceaseless appetite (Fresh’s Sugar Lip Balm is pig-proof), and we terrified our guests when she came out of the pantry with a foaming mouth full of soap.
Thus, it seemed like a piggy lotion would best be ingestible and moisturizing. I used six basic ingredients —coconut oil, mango butter, avocado oil, vitamin E oil, vegetable glycerin, and a smidge of beeswax (you can substitute camellia wax to make it entirely vegan). I omit fragrance for my pig, but I love adding a little jasmine oil in at the end for myself.
The proportions depend on your personal taste, but I recommend starting off with this approximate arrangement:
The vitamin E oil helps keep the other ingredients from going rancid, but it is NOT actually a preservative (i.e., it does not inhibit bacteria); don’t let a million Etsy shops fool you. Yet, one of the wonderful things about this lotion is that it does not use water as an ingredient; a water-based lotion without preservatives would only last a week at most. Don’t be stupid, though; keep it in a securely closed container in a cool, dry place, and throw out immediately if you think anything is off.
Like green juices, the best oils and butters are organic, raw, and cold-pressed. In a cold-pressed oil, the product is obtained through a grinding process where the fruit or nut does not exceed 120°F. This low temperature ensures the integrity of the plant’s nutrients.
Ideally, you would not heat the ingredients and tamper with this integrity while creating the lotion, but both the coconut oil and the mango butter lend a slightly rough texture to the concoction if left alone.
Thus, I recommend starting by slowly heating the coconut and mango ingredients and the wax until they turn liquid. Stove top is best, but I often resort to the microwave for efficiency. Remove them from heat as soon as possible, and put them in an automatic mixer.
Turn on the mixer and add in a bit of wax but don’t put any of the other ingredients in yet; you don’t want to expose them to heat. As the butter and oil cool, they will begin to look creamy. This is a good time to drizzle in the oil and glycerin. Continue mixing, and sample the texture. Additional butter will make it thicker, and additional oil, thinner. Glycerin will make it lighter.
Once finished, I warm it up in my hands and rub it all over Queelin. The best time for the spa treatment is when she is asleep, or else she will attempt to eat the lotion off my hands. The quickest fix for this when she's awake is to place the tiniest bit on her snout, so that she will stand still as she focuses on licking every last molecule off her nose.
The results are immediate. Her skin is typically dull and slightly gray from the flakiness; the lotion reveals beautiful glowing black skin. For the next several days her skin remains extraordinarily soft, and after the first week of application I saw a huge reduction in flakiness.
Even better? She didn't feel like a greased pig. The oils sank in quickly; she left no residue on the floors or upholstery.
Anyone else have a pet pig? Have questions about adopting one? Ask me or check out Ross Mill Farm.