Bad Advice For Kitchen Cosmetic Chemists

how to make your own beauty products from scratch

I am great supporter of people making their own cosmetics at home.  It’s a fun thing to do and for me life is all about building a better understanding of things.  A good way to do this is to look closely into something, learn about it and then put those lessons into practice.  You’ll learn about cosmetics, you’ll get some stuff to use.  But you’ll also gain a deeper feeling for how things are made.  Modern life can alienate us from the real world a lot of the time and making your own cosmetics is one way to reconnect.

This is not a view that everyone in the cosmetic industry holds.  They say that cosmetics are inherently risky and that people who make them without knowing what they are doing might do themselves or people around them serious harm.  My response to this is that people who are motivated to do this kind of thing are also likely to be the kinds of people who will do their research thoroughly and will learn what they should be doing.  In fact I regard that as one of the benefits of the exercise.

That debate will no doubt continue, but my case isn’t helped when halfwits post badly thought out advice which points people in exactly the wrong direction.  I have just come across a really terrible example.  I am reluctant to post a link to the article.  That would raise its profile with Google and help people to find it.  So I have taken some screen shots from it.  If you want to see the original here’s the text of the link –

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The authors are entitled to their opinion about polythene beads  and I sort of agree with them there, but as they are being banned shortly that’s not too much of an issue.  I’ll also excuse the fact that the random list of ingredients that they claim scrubs contain bears not much relationship to what is actually in them.  But the idea that you should just add any essential oil you like at any level to a product that is intended to break down the skin’s barrier is really irresponsible.  Essential oils are not safe enough to be used with such gay abandon.  And the idea that salt is unsuitable for people with adverse skin conditions but sugar is okay?  Just what research have they done to back up that bit of advice?

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Baking soda is very alkaline and will dry out and damage your skin.  Most of us have pretty tough and robust skin and can probably cope with it, but it isn’t going to do you any good.  If you have sensitive skin it might well do you some harm.  One of the possible consequences of drying out your skin is to make it more prone to bacterial infection.  If so incorporating honey isn’t going to help much.  It does indeed have some antimicrobial properties, but these are largely down to the high osmotic pressure it exerts by virtue of being a concentrated sugar.  Once spread on the skin it becomes a source of energy for microbes.

Do not follow this recipe.

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This one I haven’t tried and so I’ll make no comment on whether or not it is effective as an eyeliner.  It may well be and this material or something very much like it is approved as a cosmetic colourant.  It isn’t used too often, one of the drawbacks being that it is often derived from animal bones and so makes the product unsuitable for vegetarians.

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I’m quite sympathetic to this one, apart from the premise that professionally formulated would be less safe.  There are risks to using essential oils, but fragrance is used at very low levels so even if you ignore all the safety guidelines that the people who do this kind of thing for a living follow there isn’t much chance of doing yourself any harm.  I don’t  drink vodka so I don’t object to the use of it for this purpose.  But if you are going to have a cavalier attitude to product safety I suggest you keep your creation to yourself.  You might be happy to ignore the industry guidelines but you shouldn’t impose that on someone else.  Or alternatively you could refer to the IFRA guidelines.  If nothing else, that would give you an insight into the care that is taken to make sure that fragrances are safe to use.

One further point – although the chances of this actually happening are very slim indeed, essential oils do contain high levels of allergens so if you spend a lot of time handling them neat and spraying them onto your skin in high concentrations your chances of developing an allergy to them increases.  Allergies to natural ingredients are not very common, but when they happen they are just as bad as allergies to synthetic materials.

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Well it is true that just about any oil can be used to shave with. If you don’t mind taking an oil from your kitchen to your bathroom, pouring it from a container not designed for bathroom use and don’t mind the extra difficulty of cleaning the razor afterwards by all means go for it.  If you go for coconut oil and live somewhere as cold as I do you’ll also have to wait while the stuff melts.  Also judging by the comments on a post I did about coconut oil it doesn’t sound like using pure natural oils is a guarantee that you won’t get breakouts.
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Putting yoghurt on your face has continued to sound a little gross to me.  Yoghurt is basically a very light emulsion and so might give some of the benefits of a lotion, though it isn’t likely to compare very favourably with something specifically designed for the job.  Where it differs is that it contains a live microbe population which is continually breaking it down. That’s why you need to keep it in the fridge.  Again most people most of the time have skin that is capable of dealing with this kind of idiocy without too much difficulty.  But if you happen to be a bit down or if your immune system is playing up there is a small but not insignificant chance of getting a skin reaction to it.  I wouldn’t choose to put yoghurt on my own face and I certainly wouldn’t recommend anyone else doing it.


This article is a particularly silly one, but there are plenty out there that are not a great deal better.  But if you want to make your own cosmetics don’t be disheartened.  There are plenty of resources out there to draw on.  Just remember that there are risks associated with making stuff to be applied to the skin and part of the process of creating a cosmetic product is taking those risks into account.  I don’t think it’s just about making cosmetics.  It’s also about learning.

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