It seems like people would like more homemade beauty product posts around Tree Hugging Family, which is fine by me. I love homemade beauty products. However, it does concern me a little to post more homemade products without first discussing some basic safety.
I’ve written this basic safety sheet that you can follow regarding the safety of homemade beauty products; products either with or without therapeutic benefits. If you’re going to make your own homemade beauty products, please make sure to read this all the way through. From now on, this important post, will be posted in the sidebar pages to the right, if you need to refer to it again.
The following tips apply for products like homemade skin care, cosmetics, soaps, health treatments (like massage oil or steams), and even items such as homemade art supplies, which are remarkably similar to homemade beauty products.
Always talk with an expert – otherwise known as the, “You are responsible for your own health” speech.
I know a lot about oils, homemade products, flowers, and herbs. I’ve worked as a doula, went through nursing school, and just generally picked up stuff from experts I’ve worked with over the years. I’ve also done a lot of self experimenting over the last ten plus years.
However, the best advice is that I’m not a licensed holistic doctor or a professional in the field of aromatherapies, herbs for health, or anything like that. While my goal is to help, not harm anyone, a small blog post cannot explain all that could go wrong with a product or every situation on a personalized basis.
Essential oils, herbs, and all other related items that go into homemade products are complex topics. Methods of use are also complex. If you’re not an expert in oils and herbs, or someone with plenty of self experience, you should always talk with a professional health care provider before experimenting. Be it a traditional or holistic care provider this step is important because you may be on a medication or vitamin that can interact with a herb or oil, you may be allergic, or you may have a health concern that dictates you not use a specific item.
You can and should also invest in a good guidebook. One of my favorites about essential oils is The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood. She also has a pocket guide out now. As for books about herbs, I like The Complete Book of Herbs and A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs.
Basic homemade beauty product safety tips:
- Homemade beauty and health products are made to be tweaked and recipes often personalized. Not every product works for every individual.
- Just because it’s natural does not make it 100% safe. You could be allergic, or a certain herb may make you ill. So be aware of side effects just as you would be with a store bought facial peel, hair color, or medication.
- Tweaking of homemade beauty products is perfectly safe, so long as all other basic safety recommendations are followed.
- Everyone really should do test dabs of new homemade products. If you have especially sensitive skin (scalp included) then you really need to do tests dabs. To do a test dab, take a little bit of a homemade product and dab it on your inner arm. You can actually do test dabs with individual ingredients instead, like cedar oil, before using it in a product. Cover the dab with a bandage. If you develop red, burning, itching, pain, or any other issue it’s likely you should toss that product you just made. You can also tweak the recipe to make it work for you.
- Unless you’re a chemist, and really into experimenting, your homemade products should be preservative free. That’s good news for your health, bad news for the life of said product. If there’s anything questionable in your product, that may go bad, keep it in the fridge. Make smaller batches so you can use it up before you end up having to toss a product. Lotions and some hair colors are important to keep in the fridge, while things like soaps and sugar scrubs are not.
Basic essential oil buying tips:
If you want oils for therapeutic, not just fragrance reasons, than follow these tips…
- Buy pure and organic essential oils. You can easily tell if you’re getting a pure oil by price. You should never see a shelf of oils priced identically. Orange, lavender, and geranium oils for example differ widely in cost to produce and thus buy. If all the oils are $10 it’s a fact you’re getting fake oils.
- Reputable sellers will bottle in dark colored bottles to protect the oil from sunlight.
- Take blotter paper with you when you shop for oils. Oils, ironically, are not that oily. Most pure oils when dropped onto a bit of blotting paper will quickly evaporate. A fragrance (fake oil) will leave an oily mark usually.
Basic essential oil safety tips:
- Never use straight essential oil drops. You have to dilute in a carrier oil (sometimes called a base oil). I like sweet almond oil as a carrier but if you’re allergic to nuts try another, like apricot. Both of the above a light, and won’t clog your pores up. There are lots more to try and in a pinch I’ve used olive oil as a carrier.
- The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) recommends that you not ingest essential oils when another application such as massage may be just as appropriate. Some recipes with oils, say for a sore throat or mouth rinse for oral health do involve swishing, and some health remedies involve oils in teas or other drinks. The potential risks of ever putting an oil in your mouth should be carefully weighed before doing so.
- Keep oils out of the reach of little ones. If your child ingests any essential oil, treat it like any other medication or household product, and call poison control.
Basic flower and herbal safety tips:
- Use organic herbs and flowers.
- Know your herb and flower. If you grow it yourself, clearly label the plant (unless you’re a plant genius). Using the wrong herb in a soap could be bad news if you’re allergic.
- Herbs and flowers in beauty products can harm your skin, just like any old store bought product. Natural and safe are not always simultaneous as some might have you think.
- Herbs and flowers work slower than oils and medications. If you create homemade products with a slant toward healing properties it may take longer to work than other products.
MAJOR SAFETY CONCERNS:
If you are pregnant: NEVER use essential oils, herbs, or other natural items in care products for health or beauty until your midwife or doctor gives you the go-ahead. Some of the above can cause birth complications, harm your baby, or induce a far too early labor. Even by just putting an oil on your skin, you could cause a problem. There are plenty of safe natural items for pregnancy, but, if off the top of your head, you can’t name them all, then check with your prenatal care provider first.
Babies and elderly individuals: Actually there’s research that notes that natural homemade products can be just as good for little ones and the elderly as anyone. However, it’s commonly recommended that you cut recipes down to a smaller size. For example, if a recipe for a bath soak calls for 12 drops of lavender oil, you’d want to cut that by 1/3 or more for a baby or elder adult. Of course, also follow all the normal precautions listed above as well.
[all photos via stock.xchng]