Opinion

Natural skin care

MANY people are interested in making their own cosmetics to avoid harmful chemicals, and also to save money. It is surprising, even with the use of organic quality raw materials, how little of the price of a product is made up of the actual ingredients.

When you buy cosmetics, particularly the well-known brands, you are paying for advertising, packaging, research and development, and sometimes the expensive spas set up by the companies. The ingredients cost the company perhaps 5% of the retail price. Some companies that give the impression they have beautiful gardens of medicinal flowering plants actually purchase a lot of their raw materials from factories in China. In the past we saw ingredients on labels such as 'essential oil of geranium', 'rose', 'chamomile' etc, whereas today you often see 'linalool' and 'geraniol' that are described as derived from essential oils. These are ingredients extracted in factories and concentrated for export market to the cosmetics industry. They are incredibly cheap compared with using pure essential oils.

There are some excellent books available where people can learn about making their own cosmetics. I have run popular workshops on the subject. These are very hands-on and participants go home with some beautiful products they have made themselves. Making a cream base, for use in a moisturiser, is complex but there are some simple recipes for home-made cosmetics which can be a good starting point before moving onto the cream-making.

How to make a massage oil

This is the basic formula which can be used with any combination of essential oils.

100ml of carrier oil, 50 drops of essential oils, and 2ml of 100% vitamin E oil.

Simply place in a glass bottle, shake and invert until blended. A dark coloured bottle, such as a cobalt blue or dark green, will preserve the quality of the oil for longer, as the oils will deteriorate from exposure to light. The simple formula for the ratio is 'half the number of drops of essential oil as there are mls of carrier oil (eg 50 drops to 100 ml)'. For babies, elderly people, and people with sensitive skin, the ratio should be halved (eg 25 drops of essential oil to 100ml carrier oil). It is advisable to do a small patch test on the skin first, in case of an irritation reaction.

Vitamin E is included because the oils will deteriorate with time and produce a stale odour and the vitamin E as an anti-oxidant prevents this from happening. If you are making a small amount to be used immediately, the vitamin E is not necessary.

One of the best carrier oils is the locally grown 'cosmetic grade' of macadamia oil. It is a beautiful consistency, and similar in quality to natural skin oils so it is very well suited. Here are some examples of essential oil blends for making your own massage oil:

A relaxing blend - lavender 15 drops, rose geranium 10 drops, bergamot 10 drops, rosewood 10 drops, and West Indian sandalwood 5 drops.

A refreshing uplifting blend - peppermint 10 drops, lemon myrtle 10 drops, rosemary 10 drops, basil 5 drops, bergamot 5 drops, rosewood 5 drops, lemongrass 5 drops. This blend is particularly good for studying and concentration.

Making your own blends of oils is fun and there are basic aromatherapy books with information about the properties of the oils. I suggest using a small number of drops initially, sampling and then adjusting the formula.


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