While most of us are diligent in avoiding the many chemicals, additives, and preservatives that may be hiding in our food and used in food production, we are unaware or turn a blind eye to the harsh chemicals, detergents, and additives that are unnecessarily used in our soaps, hair products, moisturizers, makeups, and other bath and beauty products.
The truth is, our skin is a highly absorbent organ, taking in up to 60-70% of what we lather on, dab, soak, etc. What’s more, chemicals known to be carcinogenic such as BHT, BHA, polysorbates, colorings, synthetic fragrances, harsh alcohols, propylene glycol, parabens, petroleum derived chemicals, phenols, and preservatives, we would never think to eat, make their way into our systems via our skin, and are absorbed directly through our bloodstream. Many of these chemicals stay in our systems, disrupting our hormones and endocrine system, causing allergic reactions, and in the very least disrupting our skin’s delicate ecology.
Perhaps in some backwards way of thinking, it’s these chemical-containing skincare products, the words we can’t pronounce, that we associate with potent, laboratory-created, effective skincare. It must be good if we don’t know what it is or does, right? This simply is not the case.
These products may supply the promise of instant gratification, but are a literal bandaid to the root of the issue, and do not allow the skin to function naturally. Harsh acne products for example, may dry up a mark quickly, but also irritate the skin in the process, creating a cycle where the pore is not allowed to breath or cleanse itself, not only disrupting the pH of the skin, and stripping the moisture, but also, essentially, creating further marks in the process.
If there is a serious issue with your skin, usually that is a sign there is something that needs to be addressed internally.
Of course, that’s not to say that the skin does not benefit from what you put on it. and we should do so with pure and natural ingredients that cultivate radiant, healthy, clear, smooth, and resilient, elastic skin. And, yes – we can do this through diet and completely natural beauty products alone. There is absolutely no need for harsh chemicals.
Natural botanical oils can be used to help bring back a balanced, beautiful complexion. These will help to regenerate the top layers of the skin, re-fortifying the collagen and elastin which keeps it youthful and vital.
When it comes to labeling, unfortunately the FDA has not standardized the definition for the term natural or its derivatives. In foods this term can be used if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances, yet does not discriminate if those “natural” processed flavors or additives began from a natural source and ended up as a chemical one. No limitations have been put on the term “natural” for the use of skin or beauty care products, and it is widely used simply for advertising.
In addition, just because the ingredients of a product may be organic, does not mean that they are necessarily beneficial or gentle to the skin, or healthy for your body. When or if deciding to purchase bodycare products, please read the labels with a careful and critical eye.
The moral here – You are what you eat. And, if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin. Pure and natural skincare is easy to find these days, and easier and cheaper to make.
This body butter is as luscious and beneficial as anything you could buy, loaded with skin-soothing, nourishing, tightening, and lymph stimulating ingredients and essential oils. Feel free to mix it up in fragrance or oils with the tips below.
For more information on the ingredients in your body care products, refer to resources such as the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.
makes 16 ounces whipped body butter
3/4 cup cacao butter
1/4 cup castor oil
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup rose water
2 tablespoons aloe vera gel
1 tsp vitamin E
essential oils of choice. For their stimulating and skin supporting properties, I used a couple drops of each to create an uplifting and bright fragrance: clove, orange, jasmine, patchouli, peppermint, frankincense, and cedarwood.
Grate or cut up your cacao butter into small, evenly sized pieces. In a double boiler over low heat, melt your cacao butter and coconut oil.
Once melted, add to a bowl with castor oil. With an electric mixer, blend together and allow to sit either at room temperature* until the oils become thicker, creamy, and begin to solidify. The process may take up to 45 minutes to 1 hour.
(oils in picture have not started to turn opaque or solidify yet)
You can add your mixture the fridge or freezer, but keep an eye on the mixture so that it doesn’t become too hard – the oils should still be soft, but opaque and close to room temperature.
Once they begin to turn opaque, add in the rose water, aloe vera, vitamin e, and essential oils. (Combining the oils and liquid ingredients while they are similar in temperature will encourage emulsification.)
With an electric mixer, whip all ingredients on medium-high speed. When the cream looks thick and white, like buttercream frosting, your body butter is ready.
Pour into clean glass cream or lotion jars. Store in a cool place, this cream does not need to be refrigerated. Lasts for 1-3 months.
Waters and oils must be at a similar temperature when combining (room temperature). If waters and oils separate, you can separate them entirely and begin the process again.
This cream should not go moldy or bad, if it does it is generally because of one of the following:
Recycled Lids – If you reuse a container, make sure the inner cardboard ring has been removed, it’s a perfect host for bacteria.
Food Ingredients – Many foods support bacteria growth. For instance, if you blend fresh strawberries in to make a strawberries and cream moisturizer, you’d develop mold within days.
Tap Water – is more prone to mold than distilled water
Improper Storage – Don’t store the cream in a warm location.
Cacao Butter – Extracted from the cacao bean. This thick, solid oil, will help thicken body care products. Good for dry and mature skin.
Shea Butter – Extracted from the nut of the shea tree. It contains high levels of essential fatty acids and antioxidants. Can help to restore, soothe, and heal skin conditions.
Coconut Oil – Common oil used for skincare. Not as solid as cacao butter, suitable for most skin types. Contains antibacterial properties.
Beeswax – Locks in moisture and protects the skin. Contains anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. (not vegan)
Lanolin (animal product) – The protective oil found on the wool of sheep. Keeps sheep warm and makes their coats somewhat weather resistant. This oil is most like
our natural skin oil, making it one of the best moisturizers for humans. Only small amounts (1⁄4 – 1⁄2 teaspoon) are needed per recipe.
Jojoba Oil – Extracted from the jojoba shrub. Similar to our natural skin and hair oils, easily absorbed into skin, is a neutral oil with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Castor Oil – Thick, viscous oil extracted from the toxic beans of the castor plant. Not used in cooking, but often used as a topical and medicinal oil. Has been used to help cysts and tumors. Good for dry and mature skin.
Sesame Oil – Contains vitamin E, fatty acids, and antioxidants that protect and moisturize the skin. For normal to dry skin types.
Almond Oil – Made from the kernels of almonds, a light oil that works well for most skin types.
Apricot Oil – Made from cold pressed apricot kernels. A light emollient, suitable for most skin types.
Argan Oil – Lightweight, rich in vitamin E, fatty acids, and antioxidants. Great for moisturizing, reducing fine lines and wrinkles.
Grapeseed Oil – Light, odorless, non-greasy oil. Quickly absorbed by the skin and leaves no oil residue. Perfect for oily, blemished, or teenage skin.
Tea Tree – Good for oily/acne prone skin, containing drying, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Do not use around the eyes.
Peppermint – Good for oily/acne prone skin. Do not use around eyes.
Rosemary – Good for hair preparations, oily/acne prone skin, and stimulating body creams.
Rose – Good for all skin types, creating perfumes, and for use in homemade moisturizers. Very soothing for delicate skin.
Lavender – Good for all skin types, for relaxation, and soothing for delicate skin.