Have you ever had a chance to look at the label of your store-bought body cream or lotion?
I am not talking about the front of the label with appealing colors and catchy phrases such as “all natural”, “100% organic”, and “paraben free”; I am talking about the small, mystery print on the back –the ingredients list.
Oh, yes……..it is not easy to understand the complex ingredients listed in today’s body care products. Even, so called, “all natural” products have a long list of ingredients that can be very difficult to decipher.
That’s how my journey to get to the bottom of my cream bottle began. To get a true picture of my expensive natural and organic skin care product, I decided to take a closer look at the ingredients list. Easier said than done! As I worked my way down the ingredients list of my “all natural and organic” body cream, I realized that I had to be a chemist to be able to decode all of the ingredients. However, I was determined to do the investigation. I understood that anything I put on my skin eventually ends up in my body.
Water was the first ingredient on the label. It is true that water is hydrating for the skin; however, if water is present in the skin product, this means that there has to be a preservative to keep the product from spoiling. Additionally, the first ingredient on the label usually represents an ingredient with the highest concentration, this means that the large percentage of the product consisted of water. This made me question the premium price I paid for the product – was it really worth it?
Further down the list, the ingredients became more complicated. Sure, this specific cream had a lot of good ingredients, such as oils and various flower waters; however, as I suspected, synthetic preservatives were also hidden amongst all the good ingredients. Towards the bottom of the list, I spotted the following two ingredients: Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone – these two chemicals are mainly used as preservatives, and depending on the concentration levels, can cause skin and membrane irritation. I understood that these two chemicals are not the biggest offenders in the commercial cosmetic products; however, I felt cheated, as I honestly believed that my cream was truly natural.
Lastly, I noticed another mysterious ingredient – fragrance. What is fragrance? Unfortunately, nobody knows the actual ingredients of fragrance. Generally, fragrance is considered a trade secret and the manufacturers are not required to disclose what’s in it. Often hundreds synthetic ingredients are hidden behind this commonly used term – fragrance. So, it is better to avoid it if possible.
So pay attention to the individual ingredients of your products. Remember that even products that are labeled “natural” and “organic” often contain synthetic ingredients that can potentially be harmful to your health. Just think about it, most of the store brand products are made in large quantities, therefore, they have to contain preservatives to be stored for a long period of time.
As I started looking out for more natural skin care products, I decided make my own personal products. Eventually, I realized that making my own skin products was not only easy, but also very effective. In some cases the products worked much better than store-bought products.
Here is a recipe for simple body butter that you can try making at home. The best part – you control the ingredients. Have fun!
- 2 oz of coco butter
- 2 oz of shea butter
- ½ cup of coconut oil
- ½ cup of sweet almond oil
- a few drops of vitamin E
- and 10-20 drops of lavender oil
Place coco butter, shea butter, and coconut oil in a double boiler. If you do not have a double boiler at home, you can use any heatproof bowl over a saucepan filled with a few inches of water. I use a large Purex measuring cup, which works as well. Either method you decide to use, make sure that the top bowl does not touch the bottom of the saucepan.
Once the butters are fully melted, remove the bowl from the heat and add sweet almond oil. Stir in a few drops of vitamin E oil and lavender oil. Place the bowl in the freezer for a few minutes until the oils start to harden slightly, but still soft. Using a hand mixer, whisk the chilled ingredients until they form a consistency of whipped cream.
Scoop the cream into clean and dry jars…and enjoy!