Chemical Awareness in Beauty Products

Productsby Gretchen Popp, CMT, CH

For the past fifty-or-so years, with the emergence of more publicly-available nutritional information, we have become very aware of what we put inside our bodies. We are leaning toward organic foods, nutrient-dense vegetables, and grass-fed meats, among other things.  With this change, we are definitely becoming healthier and more conscious. But for many of us, we are still overwhelming our bodies with chemicals and toxic ingredients through what we put ON our bodies, without even realizing it!

I became interested in the natural-beauty world when I was first introduced to the therapeutic aspects of essential oils, and learned that I could make my own lotions, deodorants, and other topicals which could contain healing properties. This led me to recognize how few ingredients were actually needed for many common products, then recognizing the abundance of unpronounceable ingredients in the products I had bought at the store, and wondering why the heck they were in there.

When I investigated some of these ingredients, I was shocked at the amount of research which shows that they can be extremely harmful. The problem is, these ingredients are allowed in the products because (according to regulators) they aren’t harmful to humans in minute amounts. The question still lingers, however: how much of an impact does a lifetime of applying multiple products create?

I threw out hundreds of dollars’ worth of body products when I was initially introduced to this information, but even upon restocking my supplies from the “natural” section in the grocery store, I was shocked to find many of the same ingredients in even those products! So, what is the best way to stay clear of these harmful ingredients? Educate yourself (a great rule of thumb is: if you can’t pronounce it, don’t put it on or in your body!); make the products you use the most often; and continue eating healthy so your body can handle the ingredients you’re still coming into contact with. Soon, you will find a great product on the market that meets your needs and your budget, or you will create an amazing product yourself, that couldn’t possibly be replaced by what you were using before.

Since winter is well on its way, here’s an herbal oil recipe to get you on your way to moisturized skin, without the chemicals! (This oil can be used as the oil base for creating a lotion, too.)

  • Infuse your oil of choice (Coconut oil, Jojoba oil, Sesame oil, etc. I like to combine several oils for a well-rounded and special blend.)
    • Using a crock pot with a “Keep Warm” setting, warm ½ cup of oil
    • Add dry herbs:  1 Tbsp Lavender, 1 Tbsp Marshmallow, 1 Tbsp Calendula, and 1 Tbsp Chamomile
    • Allow to infuse on “Keep Warm” setting for about 6-8 hours, covered with a lid – I like to leave mine overnight
    • Turn off crock pot and allow oil to cool
    • Strain herbs through double-layered cheesecloth or muslin and squeeze to get every last drop of oil out. Herbs can be composted. Strain a second time if there is still plant matter in your oil. A fine-mesh coffee filter will remove tiny particles.
  • Add essential oils: You can formulate your own, but this is a great all-purpose skin formula. Keep it to 40 or fewer drops per ½ cup carrier oil.
    • 10 drops Lavender
    • 10 drops Geranium
    • 5 drops Melaleuca (Tea Tree)
    • 5 drops Rosemary
      • Do not exceed this amount of essential oil. This dilution will minimize risk of skin irritation.
      • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, do not add essential oils.
      • Do not use essential oils on children or the elderly as they can be much more sensitive. Do not use essential oils on pets, as some can be toxic. Check with a physician if you are taking prescription medications, as herbs and essential oils may cause interactions.

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