“This is excellent—wonderful recipes for DIY natural beauty and skin care without compromising on feeling 'pampered'. You can have your natural cake and eat it!” —Janey Lee Grace, author, Imperfectly Natural Woman
The Holistic Beauty Book: Over 100 Natural Recipes for Gorgeous, Healthy Skinby Star Khechara
Do you like to use only the best, chemical-free, hand-made holistic potions? Do you have sensitive skin and need very pure beauty products? Do you want to use ethical and environmentally friendly cosmetics? Then why not make your own? DIY skin care is fun, easy, and empowering, and The Holistic Beauty Book is packed with safe, luxurious, organic, affordable/i>
Do you like to use only the best, chemical-free, hand-made holistic potions? Do you have sensitive skin and need very pure beauty products? Do you want to use ethical and environmentally friendly cosmetics? Then why not make your own? DIY skin care is fun, easy, and empowering, and The Holistic Beauty Book is packed with safe, luxurious, organic, affordable skin care potions you can make at home. It also includes hair products, baby care products, and healthy recipe ideas so you can feed your skin from the inside. Indulge in gorgeous body butters and bath scrubs, and pamper yourself with face masks, moisturizers, and massage bars. This book gives you all you need to create fabulous cosmetics that will help you care for your skin and the environment at the same time.
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The Holistic Beauty Book
Over 100 Natural Recipes For Gorgeous Healthy Skin
By Star Khechara
Green Books LtdCopyright © 2008 Star Khechara
All rights reserved.
Why DIY beautify?
Some of the benefits of making your own skincare products are:
1. You know exactly what you've put in it
2. You can tailor-make it for your own skin needs
3. You can make it smell the way you like
4. You can create a product with your exact ethical specifications (e.g. vegan, organic, fair-trade etc.)
5. Your potion is freshly made
6. You can avoid ingredients that you're allergic to
7. You can choose eco-friendly packaging and avoid plastic
8. You can make really gorgeous gifts that will impress your friends!
The main point to keep in mind, when making your own beauty products, is that the skin is part of the whole body and is actually our largest organ. You can only truly 'feed' the skin from within (by eating, drinking and breathing) and not through the use of external lotions. Treat your skin with the same respect as you'd treat your liver (also a large organ!). After all, if you wouldn't rub methyl paraben on your liver or eat it, perhaps it would be prudent not to apply it to the skin also.
JUNK (SKIN) FOOD
We know that processed, junk and readymade packaged food is unhealthy, and that its convenience comes with a hefty health price.
The same is true of your skincare products.
Ready-made, processed potions are indeed convenient, but at what price for skin health? Junk products are always inferior to those freshly made from wholesome ingredients.
Choose the home-made and the fresh over the preserved and processed.
WHAT IS A 'COSMETIC'?
In legal terms, the word 'cosmetic' is used to describe a wide variety of personal care and beauty products. These can be roughly categorised into the following areas:
Cosmetics/make-up – Lipsticks, foundation, nail varnish, hair dye etc.: basically any product designed to superficially enhance beauty.
Personal care/toiletries – Functional bathroom products designed for daily use: things like soap, shower gel, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant etc.
Skincare/beauty products – Moisturisers, cleansers, bath treats, leg wax, face-masks, sugar-scrubs etc.
All of the above are subject to cosmetic law – in Europe, the EU Cosmetic Directives, which are long-winded pieces of legislation mainly aimed at makers of commercial cosmetics. However, just to give you an idea, the law states that the product must not cause harm when used for its stated purpose and that the responsibility for determining safety lies with the manufacturer. The Directives also list lots of ingredients that cannot legally be used or that have restricted use. However, as we will be using only safe natural ingredients we don't have to worry about that aspect, although it would be wise to familiarise yourself with the banned/ restricted list if you are planning to make potions for others, as there are some natural ingredients on it.
Unfortunately the large cosmetic trade associations (which advise boards who form these laws) are themselves funded by memberships from large chemical and cosmetic companies, so despite there being a law about cosmetic safety, there are lots of very unsafe and downright harmful chemicals still legally allowed in skincare products. Even so-called 'natural' cosmetics often have their fair-share of nasties thrown into the mix.
The beauty industry itself is also very fond of using pseudo-scientific jargon to lead the consumer to believe that skin transformation of an almost miraculous nature will happen if you use their product. They also like to insinuate that their products are wonderful nature-potions mixed in the very Garden of Eden; this is because the word 'natural' sells, and it is very good marketing to get your customers to believe that a jar of petroleum, water and preservatives is actually a sublime blend of aromatic and healing plant extracts. Obviously, they can't actually lie in their adverts or on the label; however it is very easy to mislead; for example terms like:
'Younger-looking skin' – This is actually quite a vague term which can't be backed up scientifically as it is too subjective.
'Anti-ageing' – I have to laugh when I see this one. What are they actually saying here? Does a pot of mainly water and petrochemicals really have the power to halt time?
'Hypo-allergenic' – Most people believe that this means you can't be allergic to it, or that it is better or more natural and 'pure'. Not so! It literally means 'less allergycausing'; basically the manufacturers have left out the most toxic allergens (allergycausing substances) but have still made a chemical-based, unnatural product which could still cause an allergy or worse.
'Dermatologically tested' – How? And on whom? Under what circumstances? Does this make it a better or more natural product?
'Pure' – Another completely unproven, vague and meaningless term! Pure what, anyway? Would that be pure marketing? Or perhaps pure nonsense?
'Aromatherapy' – When the real therapy of Aromatherapy became popular, a lot of cosmetic companies jumped on the bandwagon and started making aroma-therapeutic claims for their products. It is a very recognisable word, which conjures up images of fragrant plant extracts that beautify and soothe the troubled soul. Unfortunately it is just another misused word, and often these products do not even contain any aromatic plant extracts, botanicals or essential oils whatsoever.
'Natural' – My favourite misused word! The cosmetic industry loves this one (along with Pure, Simple, Botanical, Organic, etc.). The word 'natural' actually has no legal definition within cosmetic law, so anyone can use it, and they do. My advice? Never, ever believe any product (commercial or hand-made) that claims it is natural without first checking the label. The label will tell the truth behind the marketing nonsense.
'Extracts of ... (insert fancy and exotic sounding plant name)' Manufacturers love to add a tiny atom of a plant extract to an otherwise hideous synthetic concoction just so they can state it on the label as an attractive selling point.
'Derived from ... (insert plant name)' The worst offenders of this term are those makers of commercial natural products (the type you might see in health food shops) because it detracts the consumer from really knowing what they are using. For example: 'Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) derived from coconut'. So now the customer thinks that they are washing their hair with a nice extract of lovely natural coconut. Unfortunately the truth is that SLS is one of the most common and potentially nasty detergents out there; it is used in shampoo and toothpaste and is known for its toxic effects (more about these later). As for the coconut connection, all SLS is derived from vegetable oil (usually coconut) anyway, but it undergoes lots of processing involving sulphuric acid before becoming a detergent and is therefore classed as a synthetic ingredient. Not sounding too fruity now, is it?
After that little insight into the world of the beauty industry and its dubious marketing claims, let's take a closer look at some of the more common harmful ingredients found in skincare products, and find out what kinds of toxic effect have been recorded. When researching cosmetic chemicals/ingredients and the toxicological data for them, we can refer to what is known as a Material Safety. Data Sheet (MSDS); this is the industry standard for providing information about a specific chemical or substance. These are easy to find online: either simply type in the ingredient name followed by MSDS (e.g. sodium lauryl sulphate MSDS) into a popular search engine such as Google, or look up the MSDS on a specialist website such as that listed in the Resources section of this book. The most important point to keep in mind is that an MSDS only gives information based on the industry use of that substance, so if toxicological data specifies that an ingredient is a known carcinogen or irritant, then this will be based on studies using the undiluted form of that product. It is imperative therefore not to take this data as relating exactly to a shampoo or other cosmetic containing a small percentage of the substance in question. An MSDS, however, can be useful for giving a picture of how toxic some of these common ingredients can be.
Just for interest, here are some extracts from the toxicological data from the MSDS of certain common cosmetic ingredients:
Sodium lauryl sulphate – a detergent found in most shampoos and toothpastes
Skin contact could cause irritation
Moderately toxic by ingestion
May cause mutagenic effects
Parabens (methyl, propyl, butyl, and ethyl) – preservatives found in most skincare products
Warning! Harmful if swallowed or inhaled.
Causes irritation to skin, eyes and respiratory tract
May cause allergic skin reaction
Symptoms include: redness, itching, and pain
Propylene/butylene glycol – a petroleum-derived solvent which can penetrate the outer layers of skin
May cause respiratory and throat irritation, central nervous system depression, blood and kidney disorders
May cause nystagmus, lymphocytosis
Skin irritation and dermatitis, conjunctivitis
If ingested may cause: pulmonary oedema, brain damage, hypoglycaemia, intravascular haemolysis
Death may occur
DEA (diethanolamine) – Acidity regulator used with other ingredients (e.g. DEA cocoamide)
Product is severely irritating to body tissues and possibly corrosive to the eyes
Amines react with nitrosating agents to form nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic
DEA is currently under investigation as a carcinogen
Sounds scary, but please bear in mind, that it is not so much the individual chemical that will cause harm but rather that the daily systematic onslaught of several hundred of these ingredients over a long time will undermine the health of the body. Most synthetic cosmetic chemicals have only been tested individually and for short-term effects; no one really knows how these different ingredients and chemicals all react together on the skin and in the bloodstream day after day, for years and years.
It is also wise to consider that even some totally natural ingredients can cause harm too: stinging nettles hurt – and apparently hemlock killed Socrates! When learning to formulate your own 100% natural cosmetics, get to know your ingredients very well and when thinking of using a new substance or something from your garden always research it thoroughly - there are plenty of helpful websites, which are listed in the Resources section.CHAPTER 2
What is 'natural'?
'Natural' is a difficult term to quantify, and everyone has their own idea of what constitutes a natural ingredient or product. According to the dictionary, natural means "existing in or produced by nature" and "not synthetic". Unfortunately there is no legal definition of this word as it pertains to cosmetics/toiletries, which is why we find that the most heinously chemical-filled cosmetics can carry the term, and why even the most self-proclaimed wholesome-seeming potion can also contain a whole host of unnatural irritants.
Using the dictionary definition, a natural ingredient would have to exist directly in the natural world, which would rule out all of the semi-synthetic ingredients that are 'derived from....' as these would not occur in nature. This definition would make all detergents non-natural for example. By the same definition, all natural products would have to be blended entirely from naturally occurring ingredients to be able to be labelled a 'natural' skincare potion.
Truly natural ingredients can fall into three categories of vegetable, animal and mineral.
1. Vegetable ingredients: plant-based items such as cocoa butter, almond oil, herbs, flowers, essential oils, nuts and seeds etc.
2. Animal ingredients: things like lanolin, beeswax, milk, honey and animal fats
3. Mineral ingredients: things like various clays and muds and possibly certain pigments.
A case in point: soap
Is soap natural, then? Well, admittedly there is a huge difference between commercially manufactured perfumed soap and that which is handcrafted using natural fats and essential oils. However, it would not be quite correct to label soap as 'natural', as it does not actually occur in nature by itself. Soap is the chemical compound resulting from a reaction between fatty acids and a powerful alkali (usually sodium hydroxide). Chemically speaking, soap is a salt. (A salt being the compound formed by an acid reacting with an alkali). This particular chemical reaction is called saponification.
sodium hydroxide + olive oil = sodium olivate
sodium hydroxide + palm kernel oil = sodium palm kernelate
As you can see, the resulting compound (the soap) is a totally synthetic man-made chemical; nowhere in nature does sodium hydroxide suddenly pounce onto some fat and turn it into soap! This isn't to say that we shouldn't use soap, just that the term 'natural soap' is very misleading as no soap is natural. Perhaps soap-crafters should really label their soap as being manufactured from only natural ingredients as opposed to the soap itself being a natural product.
There are also other issues to consider, as well as the naturalness of an ingredient or product, such as whether it has been organically grown or sustainably harvested, and other environmental considerations.
When an ingredient is labelled 'organic' it is meant that it is grown to organic standards of agriculture, and not (as in chemistry) that it is a carbon-based compound. But what is organic agriculture? Put very simply, it is a way of growing that avoids using chemicals, pesticides and artificial fertilisers on the soil or plants. In reality the definition is a lot more complex. When using organic ingredients it is important to make sure they are certified by one of the proper organisations that do this. Here in the UK the main organic certification body is the Soil Association; they have a very informative website which is well worth a look. They also certify products, including toiletries, and have quite strict standards; however, they do allow a certain amount of synthetics to be used in the formulation, and so Soil Association certification is not a foolproof standard for ensuring a product is totally natural.
It is well worth using organic ingredients, as not only do you avoid pesticides and chemicals, but also because more and more people are generally interested in buying organic products and it is an ever-growing market. It also makes for a more pure and holistic product if all the ingredients are not only 100% natural but also organically grown. Organic growing methods are generally a lot better for the environment too.
Unfortunately a lot of ingredients used in natural skincare are grown in faraway destinations, and with this in mind it would be ethical to try to source these substances as fairly as possible. Remember that fair-trade doesn't mean organic or even natural. However, in the Suppliers listing at the back of this book (p.169) you will find companies that supply ethically traded natural ingredients.
I always try to ensure, as far as possible, that none of the ingredients I use have been linked to any ecological concerns; and that, once made into a product, it won't cause any environmental damage when it has been washed off the body down the sink and into the waterways.
Natural ingredients are often assumed to be eco-friendly by default; however, this can be far from the truth. Sandalwood oil is no longer considered ethical or environmentally sound as the tree is now on the threatened species list because of over-felling for cosmetic, aromatherapy and perfumery use. Once the oil is distilled, the wood chips are usually sent to factories where children make incense sticks. In the Resources section (p.169) there is plenty of information to help you make ethical choices about potential ingredients.
GROWING YOUR OWN
The most holistic way to source ingredients is of course to grow your own, which is perfectly possible with herbs and flowers, and even honey and beeswax! The next best thing is to source from local suppliers. Most regions have herb farms or small businesses growing organic products that could be used as cosmetic ingredients. Preparing your own home-grown herbs for cosmetic use is covered in Chapter 6, Potion-making basics (p.40).
Gathering your own herbs and flowers from the wild is a satisfying task, but caution needs to be exercised. Over-harvesting has been known to cause certain plant species to become rare and need protection. It's a case of studying wild flowers and knowing which ones are protected by law, and it is also important to use intelligence and discrimination; nettles are obviously abundant everywhere and considered a nuisance plant, so gather to your heart's content. However, you may find yourself in trouble if you gather a clump of old-fashioned and hard to find sweet violets. It is also wise to gather plants only if you really know what you are doing; if you are unsure, please purchase your herbs from a supplier instead. Never risk your health or the ecosystem out of simple ignorance.
Excerpted from The Holistic Beauty Book by Star Khechara. Copyright © 2008 Star Khechara. Excerpted by permission of Green Books Ltd.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Star Khechara is a natural skin formulator, using fragrant and therapeutic plants, exotic butters, and nutritional oils to create spa-quality holistic beauty products for all skin types. She has a professional background in aromatherapy and nutrition, and develops courses and programs the School of Holistic Cosmetology, teaching organic skin care formulation at an advanced and professional level.
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