We stopped with processed food. Now is the time to ditch processed cosmetics.
As a child of the 80’s I used to eat a lot of morning cereals, throughout the day. There were imported and seemed like luxury. I could stare long time at the colorful packages, while chewing on sweet crispy mix that seemed to have a lot of vitamins and minerals in it.
At a later age I started to read the nutrition values table and never again bought a pack of cereals. It seems that in the last years we have become so aware as to what we eat — avoid processed food, prefer raw and organic materials. Food ethics became part of the mainstream.
In the meantime, in the beauty world the trends are mixed. While there are more organic and ethical products than before, there is hardly any discussion about the mere consumption of cosmetics as a processed product.
DIY cosmetics remain today the niche of stay-at-home mom bloggers and other hippies. The majority enjoys the beauty-box subscription model, which leaves their bathrooms filled with massive amounts of processed cosmetics, filled with preservatives that is not at all customizable.
Cosmetic companies have a very loose agreement with the FDA — they must clarify the ingredients they us, unless that ingredient is patented.
Usually the better ingredients on the list, the ones that will find their way to the advertisement, are natural and easy to get — seaweed powder, watermelon extract or natural clay. Then there are additions of other materials, which give the final product its texture, fragrance, and shelf life.
Here it doesn’t matter if you bought an organic product or an “evil” one — they both need to stay fresh until shipped and consumed. Your skin pays for this need, which is purely of the manufacturer.
When consuming raw materials and mixing your cosmetics yourself, you gain control on what your body is exposed to, and you get a fresh product. I compare buying ready cosmetics product to buying canned food before war is coming — It must be seen as the last resort. It is not a luxury.
What’s in a tube?
Checking the cosmetic products ingredients is not much different than with food, although things might seem a little less familiar here. Some of the more aware companies would try to supply the customer with the “real” ingredient, such as in the case of Weleda Baby Oil.
The customer is left with many ingredients that are unknown. What is fragrance? And how much is in the finished product? The actual ratio between the ingredients is not clear. Think of how blind we were as to what we eat before the nutrition values table appeared on each non-raw food’s package.
We don’t have to wait for regulations in this field. If you ever tried to create your own cosmetics at home, you already know the best-kept secret of the industry:
Making cosmetics at home is not harder than fixing a quick lunch. It’s mostly much easier.
Natural vs. Healthy, case: Mica
So I’ve been talking about natural vs. processed cosmetics. But what is natural really? And just how natural can we keep our homemade cosmetics without feeling a compromise?
Mica is a natural silicate mineral, that has a light bluish-green shade. When combined with Titaninum Dioxide and/or Iron Oxides, Mica gets wonderful colors. You can get Mica powder in almost any shade and use it when creating eye or lip cosmetics. It is safe for use, and only hazardous for the miners or others working with it for long hours.
So while Mica itself is natural, it is not entirely un-processed, even in its un-dyed version. All Micas are going through a “refine & purify” process, that turns them from crushed rock to a powder we can safely use for our skin.
What about the colors? Iron Oxides for cosmetic use is unnatural since it is a lab-created material. It is a natural substance though, but when it is naturally created, unsupervised, it might be polluted with heavy metals. So natural is not always better. You just have to understand what are the materials you use, and have a trusted source. Drawing the line is on you.
How to stop consuming processed cosmetics?
The first step is to identify your current usage. Cleansing, makeup, hair care. If you are a person who uses products heavily, it might take some time to come up with homemade substitutes for everything. Start where it hurts most.
Second thing to evaluate is the time you have. If you are looking to replace your lipstick collection, but you don’t have the time to experiment, you will have to use existing recipes. This means you will probably not get every shade you have right away.
You need to decide also if you’re going to buy a ready kit for a recipe, or get all the ingredients yourself and take it from there. I always like to keep in mind what is important for me in making my own cosmetics: keep it raw, keep it fresh, keep it small. No more hundreds of small tubes from whatever-brand. No more preservatives. I make my own lotions, my own cleansers, my own makeup. Small and healthy amounts.
And finally, just do it. And never look back.
If you can make an omelette, you can create your own cleanser.