A Guide to Natural Skincare:
Do You Really Know What is in Your Skincare Products?
by Ashley Myers
for Advanced Composition, East TN State U, December 2011
About the author: I am a mother of a beautiful two year old girl named Acelyn. After finding out she was prone to eczema, I began making my own natural skin care products.
Have you ever stopped to wonder what ingredients are in our everyday personal care items? Before I became an avid consumer of completely natural skincare products, I never paid much attention to what was actually in the products I purchased; instead of concentrating on the ingredients, my focus was directed toward the price or fragrance. The truth is most skincare products we purchase today contain ingredients which can be extremely harmful to the skin. It is very importantant to read the labels on your shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, moisturizer, facial cleanser, shaving cream, bubble-bath and many other personal care products on your next shopping trip. You will most likely find some of the following harmful carcinogenic ingredients in the products that you are now using.
Harmful Product Ingredients
v Parabens- a group of chemicals widely used as preservatives in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. They have been linked to possible carcinogenicity, as well as an estrogenic effect from being exposed to the continued use of parabens.
v Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)- mostly common in shampoo and body wash, but can also be found in face wash; can be responsible for acne around the hair line and irritation to the scalp. Industrial uses of SLS include: garage floor cleaners, engine degreasers, and car wash soaps.
v Synthetic Fragrances- phthalates which contain chemicals used to stabilize fragrances in products which mimic hormones and disrupt the endocrine system.
v Petrochemicals (Mineral Oil, Paraffin)- derived from petroleum to create a barrier on the skin which does not allow the skin to breathe and clogs pores.
v Diethanolamine, Triethanolamine, Meaethylolamine (MEA/TEA/DEA)- foaming agents containing amonia used to to adjust the PH of products. These ingredients can cause alergic reactions, eye irritation, and dryness of hair and skin.
To avoid using products with harmful ingredients, a wide variety of natural skincare and personal care products are sold at your local retail, pharmacy, and healthfood store. Walmart, Walgreens, Kmart, CVS, and Target are some of the select retailers who carry several natural product lines. Retailers who carry a more vast selection of natural products are healthfood and vitamin shops such as: Earthfare, The Vitamin Shoppe, Health Barn, and the Natural Foods Market. Natural products are more expensive than your regular products, however, they are going to last much longer; the more natural the product the purer it is so you do not have to use as much. Here are some natural organic product lines you can pruchase at your local retailer:
Natural Product Lines
Though natural products are more expensive if purchased at a store, you can (as an alternative) make your own skincare products at home for the same price as your regular products. Making your own products allows you to create a product to fit your skincare needs and is extremely quick and easy. There are a few things to know before you start the process to ensure you create good quality products that will last.
Natural Product Ingredients
v Natural Thickeners/Bases: (Used to thicken lotions and butters)
· Bees wax- comes in solid block form or granules and can be yellow (natural color) or white, which is bleached. (Only purchase white bees wax if naturally bleached by the sun).
· Candelilla wax- a vegetable wax with a natural yellow color. It comes in solid block form and is harder than bees wax. The wax is derived from the leaves of the Candelilla shrub.
· Carnauba wax- also a vegetable wax, with a light yellow color harvested from the leaves of the Brazillian palm tree. It is sold in small flakes and is a light brittle wax with a slight aroma.
v Natural Emulsifier: (Used to combine water/oil)
· Borax- used as a water softener, combines bases and oils to make them more spreadable. Borax is a completely natural product which can be found at any retailer (Walmart) and is usually called 20 Mule Team Borax ($2.98). You can can use different ratios of borax and wax base to produce different thickness and textures of creams and lotions.
v Natural Preservatives: (Used to prolong shelf-life and stability of products)
· Anti-Oxidants- substance used to reduce the rate of oxidation in oils that oxidize quickly. They are used to extend the shelf-life of your skincare products. Two common preservatives are: Viamin E oil and Rosemary Extract oil.
· Anti-Microbials- ingredients used to destroy unwanted micro-organisms such as bacteria. Anti-microbials can be found in almost all skincare products, especially hand sanitisers, anti-septics, and astringents. A natural preservative is Grapefruit Seed Extract.
v Natural Skincare Ingredients: (Carrier Oils)
· Jojoba Oil- a natural anti-oxidant that is amazing for your skin because of its absorption properties. This carrier oil is very moisturizing and has a light cocoa fragrance. It is used to heal and prevent dry skin when blended with lotions and butters.
· Almond Oil- great for all skin types and is used to soften and recondition skin. This carrier oil is very emollient and has great lathering properties when used to create soaps.
· Coconut Oil- is great for dry skin and is also known to help heal eczema. This carrier oil also has great lathering agents for soap making.
· Macadamia Nut Oil- a highly absorptive and protective carrier oil. It is used for healing sunburns, skin irritations, and scars.
· Hazelnut Oil- a carrier oil used in facial oils and cosmetics created for oily skin because of its astringent properties.
· Rosehip Seed Oil- used to heal dry, damaged skin. This carrier oil is high in fatty acids which is good in treating scars, wrinkles, and premature aging.
-Making your own skincare products is a quick and simple process which requires just a few minutes of your time and basic baking equiptment. There are two different kinds of natural skincare products you can make: products with natural preservatives that maintain a long shelf life, and natural products kept refridgerated for short term.
Natural Product Recipes
Hand and Body Lotion Recipe for Dry Skin:
1. In small saucepan combine Beeswax, Jojoba Oil, Coconut Oil, and grapefruit seed oil. Heat on medium high until mixture melts.
2. Combine water and borax in a medium saucepan and heat until mixture comes to a boil.
3. Once water and borax come to a boil, remove from heat and slowly add oil mixture.
4. Take your wire whisk and stir the mixture as you are combining both water and oil mixtures to ensure everything is thoroughly mixed together.
5. Once all ingredients are combined, set aside and let cool to room temperature.
6. Once at room temperature, stir mixture again to make sure there are no clumps. Transfer mixture to desired container and enjoy.
Lemon Facial Toner
(Refrigerated-Good for 1 Month)
-This product is used as a facial toner to even out skin tone. Apply with cotton ball or cotton round.
1. Combine all ingredients in desired container, such as a jar with lid or bottle with lid.
2. Make sure you shake ingredients before each use.
3. This mixture will stay good for one month.
Coconut Sugar Scrub
(Store in fridge or cabinet)
1. Mix sugar and oil together in a bowl
or desired container.
2. Massage all over body, avoiding
DIY Microdermabrasion The Aspirin Mask
-Mix baking soda and water together in a bowl. –Dissolve aspirin in water until
-Apply to face and rinse with water. it forms a paste. (add honey)
-Makes skin more radiant and soft. – Apply to face, let sit for 10 min.
–Reduces pore size & exfoliates.