Friday, March 1, 2013

The Homemade Fair-Trade Parade! Part II: Beauty products

Welcome to the Homemade Fair-Trade Parade! Missed the first post? Find it here:
The Homemade Fair-Trade Parade, Part I

Before I mention beauty products, I thought I'd give a quick mention to dishwasher detergent. I didn't post a recipe for that. I used to make my own but I wasn't happy with the results. There are recipes out there that call for using citric acid and I'm planning to try that sometime. If you're interested, just don't bother with any of the ones that don't use citric acid - they don't work! Or at least they didn't for me!

We're on to beauty products.

I won't put products that contain harmful chemicals on my kids' skin. Our skin is our body's largest organ and anything we put on it soaks right in! Parabens are preservatives, BHT, BHA and sodium laureth sulfate may be linked to cancer, and "fragrances" can trigger asthma AND help make breast cancer cells grow! There's a whole lot of toxic stuff that's regularly found in beauty products. Now, I don't just believe everything I read on the internet. I've been trying to do my research, from peer-reviewed articles in legitimate journals. For example, here is one study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, in case you feel like being all science-y and reading some big words. (PS. the trick I learned in grad school is to read the very beginning and the very end).

In fact, the US doesn't really have great regulations when it comes to cosmetics and beauty products. The FDA has a very hands-off attitude towards the cosmetics industry and allows it to be mostly self-regulatory. What does that mean? It means we cannot assume that something is safe just because a company is allowed to sell it because they pretty much make up their own rules. Isn't that crazy? Well, not all that crazy. I think a lot of how our system is set up is to make sure folks make money first, then worry about safety later. That's the cynic in me talking, though.

The only reason that junk is in beauty products is so that the companies can make more money when their product can stay on the shelf longer, foam up better, look creamier or smell nicer. There are ZERO health benefits to you in that equation. In fact, that extra stuff is what is harmful. Many of those extra ingredients may cause cancer or have been found to be disruptive to your system. Parabens were found in breast tumors. Yuck. We avoid that stuff.

Toxic-free products are pretty easy to find, but are also pretty expensive! But if you want to buy instead of make your own, the Environmental Working Group has a cool little printout to help you find safer products:
Play around on the site - they have some good resources on there! You can enter the name of any product and it will list the ingredients for you and tell you the risk.

 BUT... here's my wonderful, rich, lovely lotion recipe. I use it on the whole fam, especially Amani, who needs lotion pretty much daily. I wrote it out for y'all, but I got it from here. I checked the ingredients and there is nothing harmful. Yay!

Homemade Lotion
(from here)
1 cup coconut oil (which with I am obsessed. I cook with it, we use it to pop the world's best popcorn, AND you can buy a big ole giant organic tub of it at Costco. Life is so good, isn't it?)
1 tsp vitamin E oil (found with the vitamins in the vitamin section)
*you can add a few drops of essential oil if you want. I just love the yummy coconut smell and feel no need to make it any different!

If you have a stand mixer, put it all in and use the whisk attachment, not the beater. Or use the whisk attachment for your hand mixer.  Whisk it up until it's light and creamy and wonderful and store it in an airtight container. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. And this will last you FOREVER. Seriously. I use the tiniest amounts. It feels a little oily for about 30 seconds, then soaks in quickly after that. I've even been using the tiniest bit on my face (not every day) and it hasn't made me break out. And I've used it to help remove eye-makeup.  Although I will admit that every time I put it on me or the kids I have a sudden craving for popcorn. :)

Homemade Shampoo
This is my newest addition to my recipe bank. I've only just made it and been using it this week. I was really really surprised at what a good lather I got! I used peppermint Castille soap because that's what I have right now. It gave the shampoo an awesome wake-me-up quality. I did get a little in my eye, which stung. But I don't know if it was the peppermint that made it sting or the soap. I'm not sure I'll use it on the kids for that reason. In the recipe online, she mentions using a cider-vinegar rinse. I may start using that too, because I do still need to use my old conditioner with my new homemade shampoo.
Here's where I got my recipe:

Her recipe calls for coconut milk. It is silly to buy this when you can make your own easily and for SO MUCH less!
Here you go:
I doubled the recipe and kept a mason jar of coconut milk in the fridge. The kids & I made the vanilla honey drink as a special treat. A-mazing. I put it in smoothies for them too. They even liked it plain, which was doubly-awesome because I told them it was a super-special treat. I love when they think something healthy is a super special treat!

There are no research studies that prove any of these chemicals CAUSE cancer or other disorders. The EWG website leans heavily on the "danger of toxins" side of things and has been accused of overstating the risk.  But for me, there's enough out there that I'm not willing to risk it. I've heard folks say "people have done fill-in-the-blank for years and we're all still fine." But the thing is, we're not all still fine. Cancer rates increased a lot from 1975-1992. And rates have more or less stabilized since (which means they're not going down). And the CDC lists these reasons for general increases in new cancer cases: exposure to harmful substances in the environment or changes in clinical practice that result in more detection. It lists this reason for decreases: decreased exposure to harmful substances.
Hmmmm... I'll stick with the chemical-free stuff, thanks. If I'm wrong, there are no long-term hazards to avoiding chemicals. If I'm right, we could be avoiding cancer, tumors, and endocrine disruptions. Win-win.

Have a beauty-product recipe to share? Let us in on your secret!!
Up next? Fair-trade items!

1 comment:

  1. I once knew a couple who went through buckets of coconut oil based lotion when they worked for USAID in Afghanistan. Apparently its so dry in the Afgan mountains you really have to cover yourself with moisturizer if you don't want your skin to turn into leather :)


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