I really never thought I’d be writing so many posts about homemade beauty products. I mean, I had a hard enough time learning how to make my own food from scratch. Who knew “from scratch” cosmetics were in my future.
Of course, my desire for safer cosmetics and products in my home has fueled this new hobby of mine. I feel good knowing that I’m avoiding things that have been linked to cancer, infertility, and other icky stuff. But it made me wonder: Are homemade beauty products really safe?
Commercial vs. Homemade Beauty Products
In terms of the ingredients, I’d choose my recipes over store bought stuff any day. According to the EWG, only 11 percent of cosmetic ingredients have been tested for safety by the cosmetic industry. Does that scare anyone else?
But it’s important to keep in mind that some of the very ingredients we are trying to avoid in our homemade beauty products are the very things that could put our innocent cosmetics in a danger zone. Without the chemical preservatives that are found in store-bought beauty items, our homemade beauty products are at risk for growing bacteria.
But that doesn’t mean you need to stop making your homemade beauty products!
You just need to be smart about it.
Here are six important tips to help you keep things safe.
1. Avoid contamination
Minimize contamination potential by choosing your packaging carefully. Dispensing bottles are better than open mouth jars. If using old containers, be sure to sterilize and dry completely before reusing. Avoid touching products like lip balm with your fingers. Try instead using a cotton swab or a hands-free container (like this).
2. Avoid light
Direct sunlight and UV rays, oxygen, heat, moisture and bacteria from your fingers can all be detrimental to your products. Keep your products in dark containers or in dark cabinets to avoid light.
3. Consider the shelf life of your product.
If you are using a recipe that has food in it (like the avocado butter mask above), just stick to a single batch. Don’t make anymore than what you can use at a single time. Some homemade beauty products with food in them can last a week if stored in the fridge. Non-food products will vary based on the ingredients, but all homemade beauty products will not last as long as their commercial counterparts. For some products the shelf life may be as little as two weeks unless you store it in your fridge or add a natural preservative.
4. If something smells funny, don’t use it!
This is the kind of advice your mom would give, but it’s true. If something seems fishy (or smells fishy), just let it go.
5. Keep water away from your homemade beauty products.
Bacteria loves a wet environment. Use clean dry hands when putting on lotion, lip balm, or other products that require hand application. For things like homemade body spray, use distilled water and mix in a clean environment. An addition of a natural preservative or refrigerator storage is recommended.
6. Use natural preservatives to extend the shelf life of your homemade beauty products:
Here are some considerations to help your beauty products last longer:
Antioxidants are natural preservatives that reduces the rate of oxidation (which is what makes oils go rancid). You can add antioxidants directly to your oils to help keep them fresh, or you can add the antioxidant to the oil phase of your recipe. Antioxidants are perfect for formulas that contain fragile oils like avocado, sweet almond, or evening primrose. Lip balms, lotion bars, creams, lotions, scrubs and any other product containing oils can benefit from the addition of an antioxidant.
When to use and what to consider:
- Vitamin E (like this) contains gamma tocopherols. This is a natural antioxidant. T-50 Vitamin E Oil contain larger amounts than regular Vitamin E oils.
- Rosemary Oil Extract (like this) is another natural antioxidant. It should be used at a ratio rate of .15 to .5 % of the overall formula.
Anti-Microbials help destroy unwanted bacteria and can extend the shelf life of your homemade beauty products. Here are some natural anti-microbials:
- Coconut Oil: Coconut oil contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. This is why it’s such a common ingredient in many homemade beauty products.
- Grapefruit Seed Extract (like this): Often used as a preservative in skin care products. Use at a ration of .5 – 1% ratio of formula.
So is it even worth it to make homemade beauty products?
Keep in mind that your homemade products are still a healthier alternative to commercial products, as long as you are smart about how you use and store them. For me, the ultimate goal is not to replace every old commercial product with a new one. It’s about simplifying my life so that all I need is a few essentials. I can make room in my fridge, work in small batches, or be sure to add some natural preservatives to keep them safe.
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Did I leave anything out? Share your thoughts, questions, or experiences on homemade beauty product safety in the comments.