There are many skin, cosmetic, and hygiene companies that make body care products, and we actually want to believe that they care for our skin at heart, but it’s always safer if you create your own DIY products at home. Typical body care products can be a dangerous source of toxins.
Do Body Care Companies Actually Care?
If you take a quick look at the ingredients list, it will reveal the truth because convenience often shadows quality. The Environmental Working Group is one of my favorite resources to track chemical-slinging companies, and this is what they have to say about the priorities body care companies have:
“As EWG has long known — and as leading medical specialists recently underscored — many cosmetics and personal care products contain potentially toxic ingredients. Major cosmetics companies have not publicly committed themselves to removing harmful ingredients.”1
Business will continue as long production is simple and consumers like it. Some companies take pride in being organic or all-natural, but they are not always safe.2 It’s up to us to learn to identify safe natural, non-toxic body care products.
Body Care Ingredients To Avoid
If you’ve ever made natural topical remedies or are familiar with essential oils, you may already know that skin is a living and complex organ, and it’s also our ally in absorbing and transporting substances. This is good for anti-inflammatory oil dilution, but not for hormone disrupting chemicals.
There are still many things to learn about chemicals in body care products. Toxic ingredients that are both dangerous and common can spark fear and anxiety.
Instead of trying to be a good chemist to weed through labels, we can learn the basics to watch out for when in doubt. Here are some ingredients to learn about and avoid:
- Parabens – can have hormone disrupting effects linked with cancer and they can shift natural puberty patterns, among other issues.3
- Phthalates – are used in body care products and are a concern for allergies, asthma, reproductive health, and more.4
- Formaldehyde – is a preservative but is a known carcinogen and neurotoxin.5
- Triclosan – an antibacterial staple that can affect the liver and thyroid.6
- Fragrance – catchy term that hides dangerous toxins.7
The Environmental Working Group has their Skin Deep Database that is an easy, searchable index for products and ingredients. Use this tool if you ever doubt a product or just want to educate yourself on toxic additives. Remember what goes on your skin can often make it into your body, especially if it’s a leave-on product. So, if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t apply it!
Why We Need To DIY
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a ruling that officially bans the use of triclocarban, triclosan, and 17 other dangerous chemicals in hand and body washes. Products such as these have been marketed as being more effective than old-fashioned soap and water, which misled consumers into purchasing them.
“Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) said, “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.”
These manufacturers have until 2017 to comply with the new law by removing products that violate this ruling. This still isn’t enough to keep us safe, triclosan is still in other products like deodorants, antiperspirants, body sprays, and toothpastes. Antibacterial products kill all the bacteria on your hands, including good bacteria which we need for healthy skin.
Demystifying Body Care DIY With Essential Oils
DIY body care products can easily be made by yourself and you don’t have to be an experienced aromatherapist to do so. Essential oils make the process easier and preserve familiar scents with just a few drops. They are loaded with health and beauty benefits that can change the way we look at hygiene and cosmetics.
Here are some useful tips when working with essential oils for your body care products:
- Dilute appropriately, usually, use 3% of the total volume in drops.
- Keep blends to a few oils that usually share similar or complementary benefits.
- Disperse essential oils into alcohol or a lipid before adding water.
- Store all products in sterilized glass containers.
- Make small batches to tweak your formulas and use them before they go bad.
5 Body Care Products You Can Make At Home
Making your own body care products can be fun and addictive, try a few of these formulas first before you experiment on your own.
Hand washing was a great improvement in the medical field, unfortunately, with antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers, we went too far. Sterilizing our hands can be counterproductive, our hands usually get in contact with microbes that help our immune system to stay fit.
Triclosan is found in most antibacterial soaps, and has been found that it’s a risk. Triclosan-laden and other antibacterial soaps are no more effective than washing with soap and water.8
DIY Essential Oil Soap Recipe
From my good friend Dr. Axe, a simple soap can be made by mixing these ingredients into a glass dispenser:
- 1/4 part castile soap
- 3/4 parts water
- 5 drops peppermint essential oil
Play with the oil blends, using citrus, tea tree, and other gentle antimicrobial oils for a total of 5–10 drops.
Whitening products are best-sellers in the market, but gingivitis is still a dangerous health risk. Triclosan and other chemicals in mouthwashes have their own health risks. A study published in 2012 connected certain kinds of mouthwash with heart disease and high blood pressure.9
Always check your toothpaste and mouthwash for ingredients like triclosan and controversial fluoride. Pay more attention to the toothpaste for children as they are more likely to swallow the paste.
DIY Essential Oil Toothpaste Recipe
- Equal parts baking soda and coconut oil (1/4 c each is good)
- 1–2 tsp sea salt
- 5–7 drops essential oils
- Optional: 1–2 tsp each stevia or bentonite clay
Mix and place in a small jar or a squeeze bottle. Use a spoon or disposable wooden scoop to get the paste out and avoid contamination.
Hair products are easily manufactured in massive amounts and the easiest combination to make hair “clean” is used, and debatable fragrances are also added to attract more consumers. Most shampoos strip oils from your hair and scalp, which then optimizes you to use conditioners. Your scalp then creates more oil which then causes you to buy more shampoo.
DIY Essential Oil Shampoo Recipe
Another from Dr. Axe, this recipe uses the gentle base of castile soap and adds nourishing natural ingredients:
- 1.5 cups (1 can) coconut milk
- 1.5 cups liquid castile soap
- 40 drops lavender essential oil
- Mix well and add to a BPA-free squeeze bottle. Shake before use.
Moisturizing lotions help take care of our skin and they shouldn’t just be applied to the skin; we should rub it in and make sure it is absorbed. A lotion has a very long list of ingredients and chemicals that can also be dangerous. Look for basic warnings like parabens, fragrance, etc… when replacing your lotion. Try making your own so you’ll know that the ingredients are safe and you can add essential oils for their health benefits also.
DIY Essential Oil Hand Cream Lotion Recipe
Here’s a great DIY recipe from my good friend Jill:
- 1/4 cup shea butter
- 1/8 cup sweet almond oil
- 1 tablespoon beeswax
Carefully melt, then add 20–30 drops essential oils. Stir, then pour into sterilized jars. Adjust the amount of beeswax for a firmer or softer lotion. Try adding nourishing oils like lavender, chamomile, citrus, and myrrh.
Women around the world apply toxic ingredients to their face, even around their eyes and mouths. The chemicals can be blinked into the eyes, seeped into pores, and accidentally licked which accumulates during a woman’s life. The EWG database helps identify products that can be made without toxic chemicals, fragrances, and preservatives.
DIY Essential Oil Lipstick Recipe
DIY lipstick is nothing more complicated than a jazzed up lip balm. Here are the main ingredients:
- 2 tsp sweet almond oil or coconut oil
- 1 tsp beeswax/beeswax beads
- 1 tsp cocoa or shea butter
Melt these ingredients; then stir in optional coloring, such as beet powder, cinnamon, and turmeric.
Finally, remove from heat and stir in a drop or two of essential oil for fragrance and nourishment, like cinnamon, peppermint, lavender, or lemongrass.
Reports say that citrus oils are phototoxic to varying degrees. If you choose to use citrus in your lipstick, only use 1 drop and stick with the list that’s considered safe, according to the classic text, Essential Oil Safety:
- Bergamot Oil (FCF) – Bergaptene/Furanocoumarins is removed
- Blood Orange Oil
- Lemon Oil (Steam Distilled)
- Lime Oil (Steam Distilled)
- Mandarin Oil
- Sweet Orange Oil
- Orange Leaf Oil
- Satsuma Oil (Cold/Expeller Pressed)
- Tangelo Oil
- Tangerine Oil
- Yuzu Oil
Deodorant is usually made with heavy metal aluminum, along with other questionable ingredients including fragrance. It’s also a product that we use daily and we’re not easily convinced that we need to get rid of it. Instead of spending a lot of money on safe products, simply make your own.
DIY Essential Oil Deodorant Recipe
This recipe is formulated by my buddy Jill:
- 1/3 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
- 4 tablespoons cornstarch
- Essential oils: Try tea tree, sweet orange, lavender, frankincense, etc…
Combine the dry ingredients first, then add coconut oil and up to 10–15 drops essential oils. Add more dry or wet ingredients as necessary for consistency; store in a jar or roll-up tube.
Take this opportunity to learn which toxins should be avoided and discover how easily you can replace them by making your own body care products.
|↑1||Exposing the Cosmetics Cover-up. Environmental Working Group.|
|↑2||Organic Consumers Association. “Carcinogenic 1, 4-dioxane found in leading organic brand personal care products.” Press Release.(http://www. organicconsumers. org/bodycare/DioxaneRelease08. cfm).|
|↑3||Paraben. Environmental Working Group.|
|↑4||Down the Drain: Phthalates. Environmental Working Group.|
|↑5||Zhang, Luoping, Craig Steinmaus, David A. Eastmond, Xianjun K. Xin, and Martyn T. Smith. “Formaldehyde exposure and leukemia: a new meta-analysis and potential mechanisms.” Mutation Research/Reviews in Mutation Research 681, no. 2 (2009): 150-168..|
|↑6||EWG’s Guide to Triclosan. Environmental Working Group.|
|↑7||Liner, Brow, Eye Liner, Eye Shadow, Lip Balm, Lip Gloss, Lip Liner, and Lip Plumper. “Home» EWG Research» Fragrance: allergic reactions and sensitization Fragrance: allergic reactions and sensitization.”.|
|↑8||Antibacterial Soap? You Can Skip It — Use Plain Soap and Water. U.S. Food And Drug Association.|
|↑9||Kapil, Vikas, Syed MA Haydar, Vanessa Pearl, Jon O. Lundberg, Eddie Weitzberg, and Amrita Ahluwalia. “Physiological role for nitrate-reducing oral bacteria in blood pressure control.” Free Radical Biology and Medicine 55 (2013): 93-100..|