Updated: Mar 11, 2019
You only have to turn over a supermarket beauty product to feel overwhelmed. What is SLS/Triclosan/'fragrance'? Nothing good is the answer!
I'm not one to spend an hour each day putting on make-up but I do like to wear something most days. Interestingly I searched for DIY recipes actually looking for make-up that would be package free before I thought of the ingredients in regular beauty products. We buy tubes, compacts, brushes, pots and when we're done we throw them away. Could I make my own and avoid the packaging? The answer is yes!
So on my path to single-use free I discovered that all the extras in the cosmetics and beauty products we buy often do.... nothing. They might last longer, make your skin look plump, create a layer that makes you look awesome in selfies but in terms of your health and that of the largest organ of your body, the skin, they can actually be harmful and make you to look aged faster.
Part of simplifying life means accepting nature as is, including you. There are a load of tried and tested natural make-up and skin care routines floating about online, you just have to try the ones that work for you. Luckily most things homemade are not expensive and doing it yourself means you can make a small batch to try without wasting ingredients and money.
Top ingredients in commercial skincare and cosmetics you should avoid
SLS (aka Sodium laurel sulphate) Commonly found in shampoo, bodywash, mouth and facewashes SLS causes sever skin irritation, is damaging to the eye and exacerbates acne.
Oxybenzone Found in Sunscreen, it is oestrogen-mimicking and has been linked to endometriosis in women and low sperm counts in men.
Phthalates are used as solvents and are commonly found in fragrances, hair products, skin lotions and nail polish. They are known endocrine disruptors and are linked to thyroid issues and early-onset puberty.
Parabens used as a preservative, often causes hormonal imbalances.
Formaldehyde not just for taxidermy, it is used as a preservative in hair smoother/straighteners, eyelash glue and hail hardener. It is linked to cellular damage.
Triclosan a preservative and antibacterial agent that is known to cause antibiotic resistance and endocrine disruption
BHA (Butylated compounds) found in lip and hair products, deodorant and fragrances as a preservative they causes irritation, thyroid issues and hormonal imbalances.
Polyethylene (Microbeads) found in scrubs and body washes, microbeads have been removed from most brands as being made from plastic, they enter our waterways and have found their way into our food supply though marine ingestion. They are also considered a human carcinogen.
Petroleum distillate found in mascara and derived from oil it can cause dermatitis and irritation as well as being produced in oil refineries where they can be harmfully contaminated.
So what do you use? Well, my train of thought is to only put on my skin what I wouldn't mind eating. If I wouldn't ingest it, then I'm certainly not going to put it on my body to be absorbed. I also want a product that is package free or at least comes in packaging that is recyclable or returnable.
Simplifying our beauty routines
Washing your face
Simple bamboo or cotton flannels or wipes and water does the job. If you are wanting to remove makeup use a little Castile soap or olive oil.
Clay masks are the bomb. Mix loose Bentonite, White or Green clay with a little water to form a paste and spread on your face with your fingertips or brush. Leave until it dries and then rinse with warm water. Bentonite clay can be quite drying, you can either follow with a light layer of coconut oil or switch to a milder clay (green, white or rose).
Say No Deal to those microbeads! A simple coffee, oat or sugar scrub with ingredients from your pantry works wonders.
Simple coconut oil is often recommended however I did find that it made my skin feel oily. I use this recipe to make a lotion in a jar that lasts a couple of weeks as I use sparingly.
Step one - be sun safe! Monitor your exposure in the middle of the day. Wear your hat, sunnies and sleeves.
I have experimented with this recipe and it works for myself and my son well however my husband and daughter a quite fair so I recommend and use Little Urchin sunscreen which although comes in single-use packaging, is reef safe and donates 1% of their annual revenue to environmental organisations.
Realistically you can just use plain water or bicarb soda to brush your teeth. Bicarb soda is not very pleasant to taste and takes some getting used to however is the cheapest and easiest swap. If you want something a bit more like toothpaste I've tried and tested this recipe and it passed the husband test. Alternatively we stock Moon Dust tooth powder (glass jar packaging which can be re-purposed) and Made.Simply's toothpaste (also glass jar for re-purposing or return) for if DIY is a bit daunting.
I will say that I don't make my own, I happily use and endorse No Pong which we stock in store. However if you would like to give it a crack I've had friends use this recipe by The Inspired Little Pot with success.
I make all of my make-up except for eye liner and mascara which I buy from Dirty Hippie, a fantastic organic and low waste brand with refillable or recyclable packaging and transparent environmental commitments. All of my basic recipes for makeup are here.
So with a few ingredients, all brought package free, you can reap the benefit of beautiful and fresh skin without all of the junk. Although your skin may take some adjusting and there will be a detox period, persevere as your skin will return to it's normal healthy balance.
I'm not a dermatologist so if you have specific dermal requirements please consult a professional. Please research your own preferred products and their side effects as well as considering their impact on the environment, both in packaging and contamination via disposal.
My research included but wasn't limited to the below links: