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Eat Your Skincare Products

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Eat Your Skincare Products

We have written about the hidden dangers of using store-bought personal care and hygiene products that contain harmful chemicals linked with cancer, endocrine disruption (affect hormones), and harm to the reproductive system, among other health risks. Read our Blog “Don’t Poison Your Face.” 

You may be asking yourself; how do I know what to buy? What products are safe and not?

There are some useful recommendations regarding store-bought products, but we are especially good at making our own DIY products! Yes, we make our body care products in our kitchen classes and use mainly ingredients from our kitchen pantry.

Let’s start this week with a short guide to store-bought products.

Store-bought

Check the safety of the ingredients on products you already have or products you are thinking of buying.

The EWG has a great online resource called Skin Deep. They call it “your guide to safer personal care products1.” According to their website, “Skin Deep makes it easier for shoppers to understand potential hazards and health concerns related to ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products2.”

The EWG explains that they “compare the ingredients on personal care product labels and websites to the information in nearly 60 toxicity and regulatory databases. Then we give every product and ingredient in the database a two-part score – one for hazard and one for data availability2.”

Basically, by using this database you can check the safety and/ or availability of relevant information about your personal care products and cosmetics and make better decisions regarding the ones you have in your house and future purchases.

You can download the Skin Deep app to your phone to be a safe and savvy shopper.

Do it Yourself – DIY Skin Care Products

Prepare most of your body care products using many of your kitchen pantry ingredients.

Most people may think this is complicated and time-consuming, but it can be as easy as making your food, and literally, you can use ingredients from your pantry! Furthermore, if you make a big batch these homemade products can last for weeks or months, or you can give them as perfect DIY gifts to your family and friends.

At An Oasis of Healing, we teach our students how to make their body care products with recipes and hands-on experience. We will share information on ingredients today, but stay tuned for recipes, tips and tricks in the weeks to come!

Key DIY ingredients – in our classes we use some basic ingredients to prepare our body care products. Here are some of the main ingredients we use and their key properties.

Natural Butters

  • Shea butter – This butter is extracted from the shea seeds from the shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa) which grows in Africa. Shea butter has an off-white, cream or yellow color and a slightly smoky but mild smell3. The butter can be used in food, medicinal and cosmetic preparations4. In the West, shea butter is mostly used as a moisturizer in cosmetics and rarely in However, throughout Africa, shea butter is used significantly as food, representing a major source of dietary fat, and is also used for medicinal purposes. Considering the biochemical properties, shea butter is considered to have some antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities4.

Shea butter is known for its rich moisturizing and natural sun protection properties. Rich in vitamin E, and high in fatty acids, this butter melts at body temperature, melting easily into the top layers of the skin3. You do not need to melt shea butter, as it can be whipped with a whisk until creamy, and then blended with oils or other melted fats. You want to buy raw and unrefined. Many companies sell refined shea butter which may have been processed with solvents such as hexane3.

Healing properties: skin healing, from scars to psoriasis to stretch mark prevention3. Shea helps to increase collagen production, promote cell regeneration and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. It can be used as lip balm just as it is3.

  • Cocoa butter – This butter is extracted from the cacao beans, from the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao, which means “food of the Goods.” Cacao butter is edible and can be used to make chocolate (the healthy kind of chocolate!) and to make your skincare products! This fat is pale yellow, and it has a cocoa flavor and aroma (mild chocolate aroma). Cocoa butter is thick and harder than shea butter. Also rich in vitamin E and minerals3. By using cacao butter in your preparations, whether culinary or cosmetic, you can produce naturally wonderfully smelling and tasting products. It melts around 93 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a great butter for skin care products, because it will melt when in contact with warm skin, and it readily absorbs into the top layer of the skin3.

 

Natural Oils

  • Coconut oil – This creamy oil is extracted from the meat of the coconut, from the coconut palm tree. The melting point of coconut oil is low and it readily melts onto the skin3. Coconut oil is liquid at 75 degrees Fahrenheit and solid (consistency similar to soft butter) below that temperature. Coconut oil is a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) and a saturated fat, which means it resists rancidity, is stable when heated, and has a long shelf life of up to 2 years3. Buy virgin, unrefined virgin coconut oil, since you want to avoid processed or fractionated coconut oil. Coconut oil can be used on its own, with essential oils, or blended with other fats and oils to make skincare products.
  • Avocado oil – This oil is extracted from the flesh of the avocado fruit. It has a dark green color, and a characteristic smell, not very strong, but unique. It is a very rich and nourishing oil and is known to be the most moisturizing of any fruit oils3. Avocado oil is rich in amino acids, vitamins A, D, and E, and potassium3. Due to its nourishing properties, avocado oil is recommended for very dry or mature skin.
  • Sweet almond oil – This oil is extracted from almonds, and is very versatile, being commonly used as a massage oil and in skin care formulations. Sweet almond oil (do not confuse it with bitter almond oil, which can be toxic) has a pale-yellow color and is considered a “light oil3.” As with any oil, try to buy pure cold-pressed almond oil, to avoid oils that have been extracted with solvents or adulterated. Sweet almond oil is moisturizing and soothing and may help with itchy or irritated skin3.
  • Olive oil – Mostly known for its culinary uses, olive oil is extracted from olives, the fruit of the olive tree, and is also great for skincare. Since the ancient Pharaoh’s history, the Egyptians used olive oil with beeswax as a cleanser, moisturizer, and antibacterial agent3. Cleopatra was said to use olive oil as one of her main skin care products. Extra virgin olive oil is rich in antioxidants and potentially helps with reducing the effects of aging3. Buy extra virgin, cold-pressed olive oil, to guarantee maximum quality and preservation of the amazing characteristics of this oil. By buying extra virgin olive oil you can avoid low-quality olive oil, that might have been blended with other oils, heated, processed, or adulterated.

 

Humectants (ingredients that attract and hold moisture)

  • Glycerin – A natural constituent of fatty acid triglycerides. The glycerol molecule is split during saponification (soap-making) and is sold separately3. Glycerin can be used in many products and with diverse functions. As an ingredient in body care products, glycerin is self-preserving and humectant3. Glycerin can be used to make oil-free lotions and in skincare products, as a solvent, preservative and humectant3.
  • Honey – Honey is a sweet and viscous substance made by several species of bees. The bees make honey and store it to nourish bee colonies. Strictly vegans may avoid honey even in their skin care products. Honey is used for similar purposes to glycerin, to attract and hold moisture on the skin3. Honey is a good source of carbohydrates and several vitamins and minerals including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc3. Honey provides powerful antioxidants including vitamin C, catalase, chrysin, pinobanksin, and pinocembrin3. It is also antibacterial and considered very healing and soothing to the skin, helping seal wounds and prevent further infections3. The use of honey to dress wounds may help minimize scarring. It can be used on its own as a face mask or mixed with other ingredients.

 

Exfoliating Agents

  • Sugars – Rapadura sugar – Made from evaporated cane sugar juice. Rapadura is higher in antioxidants and minerals than other types of sugar3. It is a soft sugar rich in minerals and alpha-hydroxy acids. Alpha-hydroxy acids help dissolve the bonds between dead skin cells, which contributes to the rejuvenation of the top layers of the skin3. A silky and gentle ingredient, sugar is an ideal ingredient for facial exfoliation.
  • Mineral salts – Natural unrefined and high-quality salts, such as Himalayan pink salt, Celtic salt, and Dead Sea salt contain rich minerals that soothe the skin and are ideal for body exfoliation but are too harsh for the face.
  • Oatmeal – Great exfoliator, rich in silica, skin-soothing, and to heal inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema3. Medium oatmeal flakes can be used as body exfoliators and fine oatmeal on the face3. We like using raw oat groats and grinding them in a blender into a powder with the desired consistency.
  • Ground almonds or almond pulp (from making your almond milk!) – If ground finely, almond meal can be one of the softest exfoliators. Suitable for any skin type and versatile3. You can buy raw almonds and grind them in a blender or coffee grinder.
  • Powdered adzuki beans – When ground into a fine powder, adzuki beans can be safely and gently applied to the face3. You can buy the dried adzuki beans and grind them into a fine powder in a coffee grinder.

 

Edible Functional Ingredients

  • Raw cacao powder – Raw cacao is especially high in antioxidants and bioactive compounds that prevent aging3. Adds a nice “chocolaty” smell to your products and possesses a dark brown color.
  • Spices & herbs – Most spices or herbs that you use for culinary purposes can also be used in your skincare products.
  • Spirulina – A microalgae, spirulina is considered a superfood, rich in minerals and powerful antioxidants.
  • Kelp powder – A seaweed powder, rich in minerals and great for body wraps and mineral facials3.
  • Irish moss – This seaweed is naturally rich in minerals, like iodine. It forms a thick gel, making it a great alternative to shampoo and hair conditioner3. The gel-like consistency is also good in body wraps, masks, and packs3.

 

Natural Additives

  • Vitamin E – This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant, helping protect the skin from free radical damage. Vitamin E can be used to prolong the shelf life of butters, oils and body care blends3. A great vitamin for the skin, it has healing, regenerative and nourishing properties3. Vitamin E is one of the most sought-after anti-aging ingredients in skincare products.

 

Essential Oils

Essential oils play an essential role in natural skincare, as they can be used as ingredients for their bioactive components and beneficial properties but also as a primary source of fragrance. Be mindful of the essential oils you use – you want to buy pure and organic. Among the thousands of essential oils that exist, eight are key essential oils in skincare products.

Eight key essential oils3:

  • Lavender
  • Frankincense
  • Lemon
  • Geranium
  • Rose otto
  • German Chamomile
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Helichrysum

A classic scent that most people love is Vanilla Absolute. Neroli is excellent for all skin types. Lavender calms irritated skin, and it also helps to calm you!

Caution: Citrus oils may cause photosensitivity in some people.

Note: Essential oils are temperature sensitive and should only be added to cooled mixtures no hotter than 75 degrees.

Stay tuned for recipes, tips and more on this topic!

References

  1. Environmental Working Group. Skin Deep. https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/, accessed Apr 8, 2024.
  2. Environmental Working Group. Skin Deep. Learn how Skin Deep works. https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/learn_more/about/, accessed Apr 8, 2024.
  3. Formula Botanica. Ingredients Directory. 2015.
  4. Honfo FG, Akissoe N, Linnemann AR, Soumanou M, Van Boekel MA. Nutritional composition of shea products and chemical properties of shea butter: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2014;54(5):673-86. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2011.604142. PMID: 24261539.

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