(NaturalNews) There are compelling reasons to make your own skin care products. Federal law doesn`t require companies to provide data on product safety nor does it demand full disclosure of ingredients on product labels. Evidence continues to mount that personal care products are brimming with unsafe ingredients. Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database www.cosmeticsdatabase.com, a project of Environmental Working Group (EWG), shows that everyday store brands, expensive mail order products and upscale luxury skincare items commonly contain toxic substances. Even many reputable "natural" brands found in health food stores may harbor harmful ingredients linked to cancer, reproductive toxicity, allergies, neurotoxicity and endocrine disruption.
What are some of these ingredients?
Phthalates *Phthalates are industrial chemicals used in plastics as well as skincare products. These compounds are some of the most abundant toxins in the environment. They have been implicated in reduced fertility. Studies have also found that they inhibit normal sexual development by blocking the action of key hormones. *In animal experiments, prenatal exposure to these chemicals has been linked to obesity in offspring. *Recent research by Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana of the University of Washington found phthalate breakdown products in the urine of 163 babies under two and half years of age. Eighty-one percent showed seven or more phthalates. This study, reported in the journal Pediatrics, noted that the use of infant skincare products was associated with increased concentrations of the compound.
Parabens *These are a related group of chemicals used to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi in many products. Parabens have been found to cause allergic reactions. *More seriously, parabens have a weak estrogenic effect. One study found the presence of parabens in breast tumors. Other studies note a potentially dangerous synergistic effect, multiplying the impact of parabens along with other endocrine disrupting agents in the environment.
1,4-dioxane *An inexpensive process used to make emulsifiers, humectants and foaming agents generates this toxin. These agents may be indicated on the ingredient label as polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, polyethylene, polyoxyethylene, oxynol, myreth, oleth, laureth, ceteareth, the prefix "PEG" or "eth" in ingredient listings. *A study commissioned by the Organic Consumers Association reveals the presence of 1,4-dioxane in leading "natural" skin care products www.organicconsumers.org/bodycare/DioxaneRel... *1,4-dioxane is considered carcinogenic as well as a potential neurotoxin.
Isothiazolinones *These chemicals are antimicrobal agents used in industry as well as personal care products. They are widely found in hair dye, shampoo, shaving cream, body wash and other products. *They can be toxic to the respiratory system, cause allergies and negatively affect the immune system. If listed, they can be found on ingredient labels as methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone and other ingredients containing "chloro" or "methyl."
Triclosan *This antibacterial agent is found in soap, toothpastes, shaving cream, mouthwash and other skin care products as well as "germ-resistant" toys, garbage bags and kitchen utensils. *Triclosan is associated with endocrine disruption and allergies. Research published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives noted that triclosan may impact the brain`s neural circuitry, potentially affecting mental development. *Triclosan is an environmental hazard. It can form chloroform gas in combination with chlorinated water and as it degrades in the environment it can form highly toxic compounds such as dioxin.
Talc *Talc is a mineral, and although it may be a natural product, when used in talcum powder and cosmetics it has long been connected to adverse health effects. *Forty years ago research linked cancer to talc application in the genital area. Women`s talcum powder use is associated with ovarian and cervical cancer. A 1971 study found three-quarters of ovarian tumors studied to contain talc particles. *Talc is also related to respiratory distress and pulmonary disease, particularly when particles are inhaled.
You have choices, including buying products from highly ethical companies known to avoid these toxins.
Your other choice? Consider making your own skin care products. It may be the best way to know exactly what you are using to wash your hands, powder your baby and soothe chapped lips. Once you have the necessary components and some experience, you will find that you get a better value for your money. You can also tweak the formulations for your own particular needs. In a larger sense you may discover that the process is imbued with much more meaning than purchasing plastic bottles of lotion, body wash and shampoo.
It goes without saying that you need high quality ingredients purchased from ethical sources. Use cold pressed oils. Make sure you use essential oils, not fragrance oils or perfumes. Choose herbs and essential oils for aroma as well as therapeutic properties. As with any product, closely gauge your reaction to determine if you are sensitive to any ingredient. Store your products in jars with tight-fitting lids. This can be a good way to re-purpose jars from olives, salsa, spices and other products.
Body Powder total of 1 cup of any of the following: arrowroot powder, betonite clay, cornstarch, baking soda. Find a mix that is deodorizing and absorbent for you. optional: up to 1/4 cup dried herbs. Consider lavender, sage, calendula, oregano, rosemary, thyme, clove or nutmeg (grind large particles using blender or food processor or powder with mortar and pestle). optional: up to 30 drops essential oil.
If you make body powder using only dry ingredients, mix carefully in a clean bowl or shake in a lidded jar to avoid breathing particles. If using essential oil, add drops to dry ingredients in a food processor or grind with mortar and pestle to incorporate oils.
Store in cleaned salt or spice containers with shaker tops, or use with powder puff in glass jar.
Healing Lip Balm total of 2 ounces nourishing solid oils such as shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil total of 2 ounces nourishing liquid oils such as wheat germ oil, olive oil, almond oil optional: 2 tablespoons healing herbs (calendula, echinacea, St. Johns wort, slippery elm, comfrey, etc.) 2 ounces organic beeswax optional: up to 30 drops essential oils (orange, mint, lavender, rose, etc.) optional: natural vitamin E
If herbs are used, make an oil infusion. Place the oils and chosen herbs in a lidded glass jar. Heat them gently. Either allow them to stay warm in a sunny window for up to one week or place the jar in a larger container partially filled with water for at least one hour that is simmering on the stove or in the oven. Strain the oil and proceed.
Heat oil and beeswax over low heat until wax is melted. Remove from heat. Stir in essential oils and immediately pour into small containers. This makes an excellent lip balm or skin salve. Store in cool dark place. The ratio of oil to wax can be adjusted for cooler or warmer climates, firmer or softer balm, or other conditions such as added essential oils.
Shaving Cream 4 ounces hot water optional: up to 4 tablespoons dried herbs (slippery elm, green tea, etc) 4 ounces grated bar soap (good quality, such as goat`s milk soap) 3 tablespoons solid oil such as coconut oil, shea butter or cocoa butter 10 drops essential oil (bay, tea tree, sage, orange, etc)
If herbs are chosen, make infusion by pouring boiling water over herbs. Let steep in covered container from 1 to 8 hours. Strain in fine sieve or through cloth. Reheat infusion water, dissolve grated soap in hot water. Melt oil of choice into hot liquid. You may choose to use a mixer or blender to incorporate the soap and oil into the water. Cool. Blend in essential oils. Use additional water if necessary. Store in lidded container, shake well before using.
Shaving Gel 4 ounces organic liquid Castile soap up to 3 ounces hot water 3 tablespoons vegetable glycerine up to 10 drops essential oils (tea tree, orange, grapefruit, rosemary, etc) optional: 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, 2 tablespoons aloe vera gel
Blend ingredients well. Shake before using.
Shampoo 6 ounces water 4 tablespoons dry herbs (chamomile, sage, lavender, green tea, nettle, etc.) 4 ounces organic liquid Castile soap 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon high quality oil (olive, coconut, grapeseed, jojoba, etc) optional: up to 50 drops essential oil (choose from orange, rosemary, tea tree, mint, etc.) optional ingredients: 1 tablespoon aloe vera gel, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Make an herbal infusion by boiling the water and pouring over the chosen herbs. Allow to steep in covered container for 1 to 8 hours. Strain through fine sieve or fabric (old t-shirt works well). Pour the infusion and remaining shampoo ingredients into lidded container and shake to mix. Ingredients will separate between uses. Always shake well before use.
For more information on herbs, essential oils and body care product recipes consult:
Earthly Bodies and Heavenly Hair by Dina Falconi Organic Body Care Recipes by Stephanie Tourles Herbs for Natural Beauty by Rosemary Gladstar
About the author
Laura Weldon lives on an organic farm and believes in bliss. Learn more about her book "Free Range Learning" by visiting at www.lauragraceweldon.com