Chemical Free Cosmetics

Today I was inspired by my friend to write about my passion for natural cosmetics. My ‘beauty regime’ is constantly evolving and I am ever trying to strike a balance between having pure and natural products and being accepted as a member of our modern day society. If I lived on my own in the woods, I’m sure I would forgo all manner of products, not shave a hair on my body and have long glorious dreads. However, I live in a society where it is deemed unacceptable to have greasy hair or smell of any natural body odour, but it is totally acceptable to go around honking of a whole tin of Lynx! I know which I personally find more offensive 😛

I have for many years been trying to make my routine as natural as possible. I used to be a total beauty and product junkie. I wore layer upon layer of makeup as daily practice, I had a different cream for every part of my body (feet, body, face, eyebags, hands, nails, toenails, heels…!) I had a plethora of different perfumes and a whole rainbow of nail polish, eye makeup and lip colours. Oh, how things have changed! I gradually phased out pretty much all makeup, I don’t own a single perfume. I do own some nail polish, but most are relics of the past that I keep moving house with but rarely wear. I do question the logic behind this.

I swore off shower gel years ago. I believe it is absolutely the worst thing you can use to clean your skin. It is a nasty combination of chemical that strips all the essential oils from your skin, leaving your beautiful skin feeling dry and tight. I swapped to bar soap as it is based on natural fats and oils and much kinder to skin making it feel moisturised instead of stripped. I have come to realise however that not all soaps are created equally. Cold processed soaps are much nicer to skin, and opaque soaps are generally better than clear ones. Still unsatisfied however, I have done my research, gathered my ingredients and equipment together and for the last couple of months I have been making my own soaps. I am really happy with the outcome and with the correct protective gear (gloves, goggles, long sleeves) and a little forward planning they are actually very safe, easy and really enjoyable to make. I’ve left the link to a really easy recipe at the end of the page.

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My homemade lavender and tea tree soaps.

I have also been experimenting with natural deodorants for a long time. I have tried everything. From going au natural, salt rock deodorant, Toms deodorant, Lush deodorant in every form available and many others to boot. I found that none of them met my demands of lasting all day, or working effectively during a long hike or run. Sometimes I would think I had found one that worked. I was once raving to a colleague about a new found deodorant that I was using when another colleague butted into our conversation by shouting, ‘it doesn’t work, I can smell you from over here,’ I would have thought he was joking but that person was definitely not one for banter! I was using the Lush solid deodorant for quite a while and I knew it wasn’t great but it was the best I had found. It failed me totally however when I had a nightmare 30 hour journey from Norway to Colorado which included a sleep in Oslo bus station. I was hyper-aware that I smelt like I’d slept in a bus station and I felt bad for the person sat next to me on the final leg of my journey. Upon arrival, my bestie informed me that I smelt, as if I didn’t already know! I reformed to using conventional deodorant for a while but I never felt good about buying or using it. I felt it was for the benefit of other people and not for myself I didn’t like putting all those chemicals on my skin, nor the excessive, difficult to recycle packaging that it came in.

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The amazing deodorant that actually works!

I have recently been rejoicing however as I have found the answer to all of my problems. I found a recipe online for a home made solid deodorant and can you guess what?! It works!!!! Hallelujah! I have been using this for almost a month now and it is amazing. I have tested it on runs, a 6 hour hike and at work. I have been working early shifts at work recently which requires me to start at 7am. So I have been showering in the evening, applying my deodorant, sleeping, getting up and heading straight to work without the need to reapply. My girlfriend Beth can attest to this too as she saw me rushing into my work clothes and asked me, ‘Are you not going to put deodorant on before work?!’ I told her there was no need to reapply and I got her to smell my day old shirt, which has no trace at all of body odour. She was pretty surprised that my homemade potion works so well. I shall leave the link to the recipe that I am using near the end of the post.

For the longest time I have been using oils to both cleanse and moisturise my face. I generally just use water and a washcloth to clean my face as I don’t often wear makeup. However if I have been wearing makeup or I feel the need for a deep clean, I use the oil cleansing method. This literally just means that I massage oil into my face (at the moment I am using an organic, unrefined argan oil), and clean it off with a hot washcloth. You can use any oil that works best for you, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil… Experiment with a few different ones to see which works the best for your skin. It sounds really weird to put oil on your face I know, but it really works. I have naturally very oily skin but it is so much better now I use this method. I’d say my skin is pretty great now actually! Let me know if you try this for the first time, I’m really curious to know how it works for you.

I never ever use any shop bought moisturiser on my skin, anywhere on my body. Mostly because I believe most actually exasperate dry skin problems as they are filled with so many horrible ingredients. Your skin is the largest organ in your body and it is very good at absorbing anything you might put on it. Among the chemical shit storm that shop bought moisturisers contain are something called parabens. They are listed in different ways on products such as ‘Methylparaben’ and ‘Propylparaben’. They can also be listed as “ethyl,” “butyl,” “methyl,” and “propyl” which are all different forms of parabens. Now, until recently I never really knew what parabens were, I just knew they were in most cosmetic products (shampoo, conditioner, moisturisers, etc) and I knew they were one of the things we should avoid as I had heard they were bad for your health. I recently discovered that parabens are preservatives used to stop products breeding bacteria. They can penetrate the skin and they act like a very weak oestrogen in the body. I was shocked to find out that parabens have been found in breast cancer tissue and if you would like to know more you can read this article here. I’m not an expert by any means, but I really think this is something that you do not want in your body. It makes me so damn angry that manufacturers are allowed to put known harmful ingredients into cosmetic products and sell them to human beings to put on / in their bodies.

I am still figuring our the natural hair care thing. I currently use a Faith in Nature shampoo, as I tried no poo and it really didn’t work for me using baking soda and vinegar. My hair felt really heavy and lank and the vinegar made it quite frizzy. I’ve made my own shampoo bars which are currently saponifying. They are ready next month so I shall try them and let you know how they work. I found out today that rye flour can be used as a natural shampoo alternative so I may experiment with that too. I would love it if that worked as it is super portable for travel and easily accessible, plus it is obviously edible. I really believe that if you can’t ingest it, it shouldn’t go on your skin! I am still working towards that as I definitely wouldn’t consider eating a soap or a shampoo bar! I will keep you posted with updates if I find an amazing alternative to shampoo.

I have also been making my own lip balms, in a lovely sweet spearmint flavour (link at the end of the post). This was through necessity as we have moved to the Welsh countryside and it is pretty hard to find our favourite products here (mine is hands down the Hurraw lip balms) and I didn’t want to use any cheap ones. Plus, we both go through lip balms at a rate of knots as we need one each for work, in each coat pocket and each bag! This recipe made 10 lip balms and cost mere pennies to make. The most expensive thing was buying the tubes to put it in. We will keep the empty tubes and refill them when they are all empty.

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Homemade sweet spearmint lip balms.

I really enjoy making my own products, it is so much fun to decide which essential oils to use and friends and family really appreciate the gift of home made products. Waiting for soap to saponify takes time (one month) but it is really exciting getting to use your own home made soap at the end of the long process and know that it is full of lovely nourishing oils. It is so much cheaper to make your own products than it is to buy them in the shop. The packaging is totally minimised (you could leave all your soaps naked if you want!) and unless you give away all your wares as gifts, one batch of soap / deodorant / lip balm should last you a very long time.

I guess you might want all of these lovely recipes to try for yourself? Some of these recipes (lip balm and deodorant) have beeswax in them which I know is not vegan. I have some beeswax bricks at home that I acquired for free a few years ago from an old job as they were having a warehouse clear out so I was really happy to finally find a use for them. I shall try to find some lovely 100% vegan recipes for in the future, please do let me know if you have a vegan equivalent of beeswax as I really don’t know how the lip balms would stay solid without it.

Here are the recipes that I have tried and love! Let me know if you try any of them for yourself;

  • Imitation Burt Bee’s Lipbalm I used spearmint essential oil instead of peppermint.
  • Homemade Deodorant That Actually Works! I added 1/2 tsp of bicarb of soda, and I used patchouli essential oil as my fragrance. I found the plastic deodorant tubes were really expensive so I poured it into mini cupcake cases which turned out to be super handy as it made 5 small ones. When you want to use one simply unwrap and rub it on your pits!
  • An Easy Soap Recipe… this is the first recipe I used to make soap. Please do your own research and use gloves and goggles and be very careful when handling lye. It is caustic and it will burn your skin if it comes into contact with it. It is also a good idea to only use your utensils / equipment for soap making. Do not use bowls and spoons etc that you will then use to make your dinner!

 

Questions for you;

  1. What are your favourite eco-friendly / clean beauty / zero waste brands and products?
  2. Do you make any of your own products? If you have a recipe that you love please share it!
  3. Have you successfully gone no-poo? Do you have any tips and tricks to share?

 

Thanks for reading,

Olivia

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