Two fun facts about me: I hate harsh chemicals, and I love saving money.
What’s that? You feel the same way? Great! Because I’ve decided to share some of my favourite home and beauty recipes.
Many home-care and beauty products are surprisingly easy to make. And affordable. There’s no need to break the bank, or give-in to the chemicals found in many common products.
Let’s play a little game. I’m going to name a few very common ingredients, their toxicity level (as classified by Environmental Working Group on a scale of 1 – harmless to 10 – toxic), and you go check to see if the ingredient is in YOUR product at home!
- RETINYL PALMITATE (VITAMIN A PALMITATE) : Toxicity Level: 9. This ingredient is most commonly found in lipsticks, sunscreens, moisturizers, shampoos and conditioners. Warnings for this chemical include Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Biochemical or cellular level changes, Cancer, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive). Examples of products that use this ingredient are Hempz Herbal Body Moisturizer and Equate Children’s Sunscreen.
- SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE : Toxicity Level: 1. Although not toxic on its own, SLS’s have the potential to combine with other chemicals, forming nitrosamines, a known carcinogen. You will find SLS’s most commonly in shampoos and conditioners, but also sometimes in toothepaste and body washes. Examples of products that use this ingredient are Head and Shoulders 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner and Crest Fluoride Anti-Cavity Toothepaste.
- PETROLATUM: Toxicity Level: 4. Petrolatum is a petroleum product most commonly found in moisturizers, lip balms, and lotions. The European Union has classified Petrolatum as a carcinogen, however, there is no parallel restriction in Canada. Examples of products that use this ingredient are Vaseline Petroleum Jelly, and Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter.
So, how did you score? Did you find any of these fun ingredients in your products at home?
So what should we do – read the ingredient list of every cosmetic or health care product before we purchase it? Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Fortunately, the folks at Environmental Working Group have created an awesome app called Skin Deep. Skin Deep is a database that houses information on thousands of consumer products and the ingredients that are in them. They also list a toxicity level to help you decide if a product is safe. Simply download the app, and scan the barcode of the product with your phone. A bunch of information on that product will pop up, and you can then make an informed consumer decision as to whether you feel safe purchasing said product.
Maybe you would feel better just ditching the hassle of shopping altogether, and make your own home and beauty products. It’s a lot easier than it sounds, and your body will thank you! (so will your wallet!)
Sometimes our skin gets parched and needs a little drink. Especially if you live in the dry Canadian prairies like me. Try out this body butter recipe and treat your skin to some moisture.
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup cocao butter
a few drops of essential oils
Combine coconut oil and cocoa butter. If you live in a colder climate like I do, you may need to warm your cocoa butter a little first to get it soft enough to mix with the coconut oil. Add your favourite essential oils, and enjoy.
I’ve always had sensitive skin. I don’t react well to things that have fragrance added, or to things that contain lots of chemicals.
There was a time when I worked doing remote field studies for Fisheries. I was working in a tiny community in northern Alberta. This particular shift, I had forgotten to bring my hypoallergenic laundry detergent. I sucked it up and went to the only store in the area – a tiny convenience store with a gas pump, a soda cooler, and a few household items – and grabbed a small box of Tide. Big mistake.
I broke out in hives and was itchy and slightly miserable for the remainder of that shift. Ugh. Never again.
Now that I know how easy it is to make your own laundry detergent, I know the above scenario will never replay itself!
I give credit to this recipe from my friend Holly. We used to work together in the city, and she got really into making her own home and beauty products. She inadvertently got me hooked as well!
1 cup of Borax
1 cup of washing soda
1 bar of soap (grated)
Essential oils (your preference – I like lavender)
- Grate soap.
- Add all ingredients together and mix well.
- Add two heaping tablespoons to each load.
Was that easy or what?
The jury is currently in disagreement on whether Borax is safe for home use. I’ve read some reports saying it’s absolutely fine, some saying that it’s only harmful if you eat it or inhale it (who would eat Borax!?), and others saying stay away from it completely. Apparently no one can agree.
If you would rather just avoid Borax altogether, no problem. There’s a recipe for that.
When I read the labels on a bottle of shampoo, I feel like the ingredient list could stand alone as a short novel. I knew there must be a much simpler way to wash my hair.
A friend then told me about baking soda. The crunchy mom’s best friend (that, and coconut oil!).
Simply add 1 or 2 tbsp of baking soda to a cup of water and voila. The easiest shampoo ever.
To spice it up a little, I add some of my favourite essential oils (rosemary & mint, or lavender). I also put a few drops of liquid castille soap in there to help the oils mix (I use Dr. Bronner’s).
This is what I’ve used for 3 years and it works great. Depending on your hair type and your water type, you may need more or less baking soda. Figure out the amount that works best for you.
NOTE: Store-bought shampoos are detergents. They strip your hair of its natural oils. To compensate for this, your body produces more oils for your scalp. Baking soda is NOT a detergent. Therefore, your body will need time to adjust to this new shampoo, because it is used to producing lots of extra oils. Your hair will feel greasy or oily during this transition period. But in about 2 weeks (that’s how long it took me), your body will begin cutting back on oil production and your hair will feel back to normal.
Do you enjoy making your own home and beauty products? What are some of your favourite recipes?