The Epiphany Library is offering two workshops in April on making beauty products at home. While in the class we are specifically only making two items, lip balm and body scrub (both of which are surprisingly easy), there is also a section in which we discuss why someone would want to do this. Below is the presentation, some handy recipes and also books and websites for the budding beauty alchemist.
So what exactly are some natural items used for making beauty products at home? There are many, way more than what can be named here. What I can do is discuss the items used in the two basic recipes below. Most of them are used for a variety of homemade recipes. (Check out either of the titles below for more information).
Essential oils are the highly concentrated liquid extracted from leaves, stems, flowers, bark, roots, or other plant elements. This liquid is typically distilled to make a pure oil. Technically they are not oils but are called such because they share similar properties with oils.Essential oils are not the same as perfume or fragrance oils. Perfume oils and fragrances are artificially created and do not offer the same therapeutic or medicinal properties of plant-based oils.Depending on the desired result, essential oils may be used in a variety of ways including inhalation (aromatherapy) and application of diluted oils to the skin. Some common uses include: Massage therapy, Aromatherapy, Natural remedies, Soaps & lotions, Bath salts and Candles.
Carrier oils, also known as base or vegetable oils, are used to dilute essential oils before they are applied to the skin. They are so named because they carry the essential oil onto the skin. Some popular oils include coconut oil, sweet almond oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil and jojoba oil.
Very versatile, coconut oil can be used both on the body and as cooking oil. It provides deep moisture for the skin. It helps strengthen underlying tissues and helps remove excessive dead cell on the skin's surface that makes your skin rough and flaky in texture. It also great for shine and as a natural moisturizer for your hair. It can be used alone or in combination with butters such as shea or coco butter for moisturizing skin. When purchasing look for extra virgin and unrefined.
Vitamin E oil promotes healing and is an active ingredient in many products available for skin and nails. It can easily be found in food sources like vegetable oils, nuts and seeds. It is helpful for scar healing and prevention and is also a strong antioxidant that prevents premature aging.
When applied to the skin, beeswax forms a protective barrier that helps protect it from environmental assaults, while also holding in moisture and reducing dryness. Like honey, beeswax has antibacterial properties, helping keep skin clean and reducing the risks of contamination in the formula itself.It attracts water and helps skin keep moisturized over time and because of its anti-inflammatory properties, beeswax has been found to help encourage the healing of wounds. It also offers relief for sufferers of dry skin and conditions such as eczema and other skin related issues that cause itching.
Sea salt is a natural purifier and is great for detoxifying the skin. Very good for rough areas on the body such as elbows, knees and feet, good option for people with medium to tough skin, not meant to be used on the face. Sugar is good for moisturizing and exfoliating skin. Brown sugar in particular is best for sensitive skin.
Now that we know about the good stuff, what about the other stuff? Below are some of the most commonly used items found in store bought beauty products. The two books pictured below offer some great information on what exactly goes into commonly used products.
Parabens are a chemical preservative found in almost all body care products and may be listed as the following: Ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, and other ingredients ending in paraben. It can be absorbed through the skin, blood and the digestive system. Parabens are most common in personal care products that contain significant amounts of water, such as shampoos, conditioners, lotions and facial and shower cleansers and scrubs, in order to discourage the growth of microbes. They have been known to cause allergic reactions and rashes. One of the more dangerous aspects of parabens is their ability to mimic estrogen and increase the expression of genes normally regulated by natural estrogen therefore causing human breast cancer cells to grow and multiply in cellular studies. So there is growing belief that there is a link between this preservative and cancer.
DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea and quaternium 15 are commonly used in skin and hair care products as well as nail polish and antiperspirants. They can release trace amounts of formaldehyde into the skin causing joint discomfort and skin inflammation. They can also weaken the immune system and possibly cause cancer.
Phthalates are another preservative used in cosmetics. They can accumulate in the skin and lead to the risk of reproductive abnormalities and cancer.
Synthetic coloring such as FD&C or D&C followed by a number can be carcinogenic (cancer causing) and also cause skin irritation.
Artificial fragrances are synthetic and either cancer causing or toxic. They can also irritate the skin and strip it of its natural protection.
Mineral Oil is a petroleum derivative (imitation). It coats the skin and can clog pores, prevent the skin from breathing naturally, and prevents toxins from leaving the body through sweat
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate are among some of the most toxic ingredients used in beauty products. When used in combination with other chemicals, they can form nitrosamines, a deadly class of carcinogen (a substance that is cancer causing). They are used to clean engines, garage floors and at car washes but are still the most popular ingredients for makeup, shampoo and conditioner and toothpaste. They can also cause eye damage, depression, diarrhea and other ailments.
Click on any of the links below for more information on possible harmful ingredients in cosmetics.
Being informed means being able to make the best decisions for you and your family. If you're interested in trying your hand at making beauty products at home, where do you start? Well there are a lot of products we use that can be made from some very basic ingredients. The recipes below are two basic ones which can be found in either of the books below.
Basic Lip Balm Recipe
Ingredients: Vitamin E oil, Coconut Oil, Beeswax, Essential oil of choice
Place ½ teaspoon of Vitamin E oil on the bottom of the container being used to mix ingredients (needs to be microwaveable)
Add two teaspoons of coconut oil, leveled onto the spoon
Add 1 teaspoon of wax, making sure to pack it in
Add essential oil for scent, about 2 drops
Stir everything together, microwave at 30 second intervals. Each time you need to take it out and stir, repeat this until the mixture has melted. When done, immediately pour into lip balm container before it sets.
Let mixture sit for a couple of hours. Afterwards it should have hardened. For faster setting, place in the freezer for 15 minutes or so
Basic Body Scrub Recipe
Ingredients: Sea Salt or Brown Sugar, Coconut Oil, Vitamin E Oil, Essential Oil of choice
Place 1 cup of salt or sugar into container
Heat ½ cup of oil until melted then place into container (always 1 part oil to 2 parts salt or sugar, essentially half of whatever amount you use of the abrasive ingredient)
Mix ingredients together making sure they blend fully but don’t be surprised if the salt goes down to the bottom, they don’t usually stay as one
Mix in 5 drops of an essential oil
Before using any recipes on the body, make sure to test how you react to it on a small section of skin. It is possible to be allergic even to natural ingredients, so to ensure safety always test first.
Want to learn more? Click on the links below for a list of great books on natural beauty, making beauty products at home, herbs and natural medicine. It includes the books pictured above as well as some other great titles. These items are all available to be checked out from NYPL.