Bee Kind: An Inside Look into Mr. Whitehead’s Homemade Hand Cream


Dina Shlufman, Staff Writer

Let’s be honest. During quarantine, we all kind of let ourselves go. I mean, how often did you find yourself getting out of bed, let alone doing your skincare routine? For some, this has been the hardest transition back into “normal” life; we are now expected to look presentable, and not just through a screen. But Mr. Gary Whitehead has taken post-quarantine self-care to the next level with his newest creation: Bee Kind Hand Salve.

The idea for Whitehead’s hand cream came last June when he and his wife took a trip to Amherst, Massachusetts, to revisit the inn where they were married 14 years ago. “Across the street in the town common there was a farmers’ market and a man was selling hand cream,” he said. “I checked it out, thought it looked really good, bought some, didn’t use it until winter came this year… I was amazed at the quality of it.” Whitehead then tried to buy more that year but the seller did not reply. However, his hands were pleading for more of this liquid gold. He Googled the ingredients that were printed on the jar that he had purchased and found a plethora of recipes which he used to concoct his own hand cream.

The recipe goes back to the 19th century; it was originally made in homesteads and is still widely used today. Just as Whitehead was about to start production, the original seller replied and sent him six more jars! But Whitehead’s dreams to start his own hand cream line persisted. Unfortunately, as he embarked on his journey, he quickly came to realize that the life of a hand cream maker isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. “I’ve now done three batches, and I try to perfect it each time,” Whitehead said. “I made a key error on my second batch, which is that I used a faulty thermometer. You gotta get the temperature to be exact, so I bought a new digital thermometer and that has solved that problem.” 

Although Whitehead has already made three batches of hand cream, he claims that he has “made no money.” However, this is mostly on account of the fact that he has not sold any, but rather, has given them all away to friends, family, colleagues, and students. He does not plan to extend his business any time soon as he “can’t be bothered.” 

The tops of the Bee Kind jars

Whitehead’s feedback has been “mostly good. Some people didn’t like the smell of the early batches, but they like it better now that I’m using lemon oil. I’m gonna use more lemon oil in the next batch, so I think it’ll smell even better.”

Despite the fact that Whitehead purchased his own ingredients and tweaked the recipe to his liking, there are many people (including his own students) who have accused him of plagiarism. When asked about these allegations, he said, “I definitely copied the guy’s ingredients. But, like I said, I looked online and I found this [old] Google Book [with all of these recipes] and so I adapted the recipe that was in that book. Also, I watched a YouTube video of these people hanging out in this country home making a batch of hand cream…they tell you how to do it and they give you their own recipe. I combined what was in the Google Book and what was in that video. So I don’t think it’s really plagiaristic because it’s a pretty common recipe. In fact, I’ll share it with anybody who wants it.” Since his statement, the press has been quiet.

Keeping true to his promise, he spoke about the process of creating a batch. “First I get some borax, distilled water…beeswax, and mineral oil. You need those four ingredients. You also need the little tubs. I also bought the upgraded digital thermometer because you gotta use a thermometer.” His wife even created a logo for their brand, Bee Kind, that is present on every jar.

If you still have doubts about this product as you are used to using brands such as Cetaphil or Burt’s Bees, Whitehead assures you that his hand cream is “way better. [Because it is] waterproof, [and] stays on despite washings. I think that the mineral oil, the borax, the distilled water, and the beeswax combined just [have] really good healing properties. I’ve noticed that I don’t have dry skin on my hands the way that I usually do in the winter. I don’t have hangnails the way that I sometimes do. My cuticles seem better. In general, I think that it’s high quality.”

​​But don’t just take his word for it. Here are some testimonies from his students.

“Coming from someone who suffers from excessively dry hands, I’m very particular about hand creams,” Gia Shin (’23) said. “I was pleasantly surprised to find that Mr. Whitehead’s cream [was of a] thick, moisturizing consistency that worked wonders on my stubbornly dry hands, though it did smell a little funky.” Kira Fleischer (’23) said, “The only thing worse than dry hands are greasy hands that smell like cheap perfume. Thankfully, Mr. Whitehead’s homemade hand cream brings instant relief with its creamy, yet not greasy texture, and soothing lemon scent.” Evidently, critics are loving the product!

A tray of freshly made Bee Kind Hand Salves

If you’d like your own tub of hand cream, there are two options. Option One is to be lucky enough to have Mr. Whitehead bestow upon you a jar (level of difficulty: extreme). Option Two is to use his recipe to create your own batch (level of difficulty: moderate). If you’re an Option Two kind of guy, here is the recipe:


Bee Kind Hand Salve (Makes Eight Jars)


3oz beeswax

8oz mineral oil

5.3oz distilled water

1 heaping tsp. of borax (the soap)

Heat mineral oil in a pot and add beeswax. Bring to 159 degrees.

Heat water and borax in a pot and bring to 159 degrees.

Combine both mixtures and blend with an immersion blender. Pour the mixture into jars and cool.


Happy Self-Care!