I vacillate between accumulating commercial beauty supplies and purging chemical-laden products from my collection. Usually the purges occur after discovering I’m pregnant or after reading about the harmful chemicals lurking in so many of our beauty products. The bathroom trash will be filled with dated lotions, spray tanners, and nail polish removers.
A few months later, I’ll buy a product here or there until I discover myself with an arsenal of ointments and powders. Fortunately, I each time I repeat this cycle I become more cautious of what I purchase. Perhaps my cycle is more of an upward spiral.
When emptying my makeup drawer, I use the Environmental Working Group’s database, Skin Deep, to determine which products to keep. The site’s search engine provides clear information on the safety of products I own, but I find it less helpful in deciding what to purchase. The database lists a vast, dizzying array of products, and the safest are expensive and only available online.
Thus far I have only purchased a few beauty items online. I want to smell my creams, and compare the makeup to my skin before I purchase it. Furthermore, I have a limited budget for pampering products, and I’d rather not waste some of that money on shipping.
What’s a lady to do? Going without a face lotion, a little powder, and a swipe of mascara seems akin to walking outside in pajamas. Using shampoos and soaps is respectful to my family, friends and myself.
Thus far, I’ve exchanged extra bubbly body wash for Trader Joe’s Oat and Honey Soap (which is quite cheap!), and I use mineral makeup rather than liquid.
Increasingly, I have attempted to concoct my own products, aided mostly by the book Natural Beauty at Home by Janice Cox. Some of my homemade products have been successes and others grand flops — like my coconut oil deodorant.
I used the coconut deodorant regularly for a month. It worked fabulously until in the weariness of nursing my first babe I forgot to shower for a day … or possibly two … (I’m a little embarrassed to tell you this part of the story.) I’m normally a very clean person, but those first few weeks of my son’s life were a haze. The days were a blur, and the nights seemed endless. Anytime the baby slept, I slept. Showering morphed from being a necessity to a luxury.
One night, my dirty, exhausted body fell into a deep sleep only to be woken up at midnight to the smell of chicken soup. I vigorously sniffed the air, arousing my husband. Do you smell that? Did we leave something on the stove? Should I check? We sat up in bed, noses quivering like hounds’ snouts. Finally we located the odor’s source – my armpit!
The next day, I showered, threw out the homemade deodorant, and bought some Tom’s of Maine deodorant, with which I’ve been fairly pleased.
My enthusiasm for homemade products waned after the chicken-soup-in-my-armpit experience, but recently I have attempted to make a few more. I made a castile-soap shampoo, but found that it didn’t clean my oily hair as well as I’d like. Right now, I use Organix Coconut Milk Shampoo and Conditioner, purchased at a reasonable price from BJs. It’s a little too rich for my fine hair, so I’m still searching for that perfect sulfate-free shampoo. (Do you know of any?)
I’ve had better success with lotions and body mists. Last week, I concocted a cold cream, which is a very thick lotion. It lubricates well and has a pleasant aroma, but the skin does not absorb it as well as commercial lotions.
I chose almond oil as base, because the website Natural Beauty recommends it for all skin types. Almond oil can be found in most supermarkets and unlike olive oil does not leave you smelling like a pasta dish. I added rose essential oil for its pleasant fragrance, and because it has some anti-aging properties. Vitamin E is an antioxidant and preservative.
1. Dissolve 1/8 teaspoon borax powder into 1/4 cup filtered water.
2. In a glass bowl, mix together 1/4 cup almond oil (or other light oil) and 2 tablespoons of grated beeswax. Place in a pot of water and heat, making a water bath. Stir until the wax is melted then turn off the stove.
3. Heat the borax mixture in the microwave for 1 minute on high. Remove the beeswax and oil from the water bath and slowly pour into the hot borax mixture. Stir vigorously.
Totally optional: 4. While stirring add 4 drops of essential oil (I used rose) and 1 teaspoon of vitamin E oil. The mixture will thicken into a cream as it cools.
The cold cream can be used either as an ordinary moisturizer or you can wipe it off after a few minutes, cleansing the skin.
What about you? Do you have any products that you love or have you attempted to make your own?