STEP-BY-STEP GUIDES TO MAKING LOTIONS, BUTTERS, AND MILKS

“Imagine the security of knowing you’re applying healthy substances onto your skin.

Imagine the pleasure of a soft, smooth and youthful skin.

Imagine the satisfaction of making your own cosmetics.”

– Jan Benham

THE POWER OF BOTANICALS

We have been primping, perfuming, and decorating our bodies since the beginning of time to enhance our attractiveness and magnetism. While we’ve given up practices like face masks made of crocodile manure and lead paint for whitening the skin, natural skin care has always had an enduring attraction. Since Cleopatra’s time, botanical extracts have remained the most important resource for healing and beautifying in the natural world.

Adding botanical extracts such as essential oils in the correct amount to your own handmade creams and lotions allow for customization of your products, contributing to both psychological and physiological well-being.

HowToMake_Moisturizers_ImageCapt

BENEFITS OF MAKING DIY NATURAL MOISTURIZERS

The advantage of homemade natural moisturizers is that they can be customized by the producer by using specific ingredients for their inherent properties. Homemade moisturizers that are made with all natural ingredients are full of skin-nourishing minerals and vitamins. Their natural benefits include the ability to hydrate and rejuvenate the skin, the ability to restore damaged skin cells, and the ability to prevent future damage caused by harsh environmental factors by creating protective temporary barriers on skin. Producing homemade moisturizers has the added advantage of being eco-friendly, as the use of natural products means that chemicals are neither being used on the skin nor polluting the atmosphere. Because products can be stored in reusable containers and can be custom labeled for each new product after being sterilized, there is less waste from the disposal of packaging.

There is a large variety of moisturizers, the most popular being face creams, body lotions, body butters, and face milk. They can all be easily produced at home with a few simple natural ingredients that basically need to be melted together and cooled before they are stored in their containers for later use. Creams and lotions are comprised of three things: 1) a “base” or “carrier” oil, which will be a healing and nourishing oil of personal preference, 2) water that is purified of toxins and pollutants, also known as distilled water, although pure floral waters or other water-based liquids may also be used, and 3) an emulsifier (usually a wax, although it can also be a combination of other natural ingredients that provide emulsifying properties once they are combined).

Emulsifiers are the binding agents that keep the water and the oil joined together in a moisturizer because these two components will not combine otherwise; they are a necessary component for creating the fixed and lasting emulsion of oil and water.

Most commercial body butters are actually dense creams that have more wax content in them. A lotion is simply a diluted cream, and milk is a diluted lotion. Each product is slightly more diluted than the one before: BUTTER (thick, heavy, oily) → CREAM (thinner than butter and usually whipped) → LOTION (thinnest, lightweight) → MILK (more liquid than lotion but richer).

TYPES OF EMULSIONS

There are two types of emulsions although both types contain the same ingredients – oil and water. They are Oil-in-Water Emulsions and Water-in-Oil Emulsions.

Oil-in-Water moisturizers are those with more water than oil. These are also referred to as water-based products. The oil or fat droplets simply disperse in the layer of water. These emulsions are used more in moisturizing products (e.g. body lotions and day creams.

Water-in-Oil moisturizers are usually oil-based products used for a fatty feel (e.g night creams and sunscreen and makeup). In this emulsion, water droplets are suspended in the oil layer. This type is the ideal base for dry or sensitive skin, as it is milder and leaves the skin’s lipid bilayer undamaged.

INGREDIENTS FOR DIY NATURAL MOISTURIZERS

CARRIER OILS
A carrier oil will be the main, “base,” ingredient in a moisturizer recipe. The ideal carrier oil is one that is healing, nourishing, rejuvenating, and protecting. Popular choices for oils include Olive and Jojoba. Oils are safe to use, they are effective, and they are free from the chemicals found in commercial moisturizers. They can be custom-picked for their particular skin benefits and to match certain skin types.

EMULSIFIERS
Waxes are the most commonly used emulsifier. Emulsifying waxes are derived from plant-based fatty alcohols. Waxes also thicken a cream – without a wax, creams would have the runny consistency of a salad dressing. The molecular makeup of an emulsifying wax attracts oil particles and absorbs water particles. Because the oil remains mixed in with the water, the wax helps the oil penetrate the skin and replace lost moisture. In the process of producing a homemade moisturizer, the emulsification occurs after the heated oil phase, the heated water phase, and the cooldown phase has been completed.

POPULAR EMULSIFIERS – EMULSIFYING WAXES (“E-WAXES”) AND ALCOHOLS:

  • BEESWAX is not an emulsifier on its own. Beeswax and Borax in combination make a natural emulsifying system, but their consistency will not have the same high quality that emulsifiers made with Cetearyl Alcohols can offer. A very small amount of Borax is required, but using beeswax without it can make a cream or lotion fail. An emulsion can be created with a combination of natural ingredients. These ingredients must always be combined in order to have an emulsifying effect, unlike wax, which works all on its own. A good starting combination for a natural emulsifier is Beeswax, Liquid Lecithin, and Borax. Here is a simple formula for a basic natural emulsion recipe: 80% Beeswax, 10% Borax, and 10% Liquid Lecithin.
  • EMULSIFYING WAX NF (INCI NAME: CETEARYL ALCOHOL (AND) POLYSORBATE 60) can be used to create thin or thick emulsions, depending on the concentration used. The typical usage rates are 3-6% of the total recipe weight. The advantage of using this emulsifying wax for cosmetic preparations is that it does not leave a residue on the skin. It has excellent stability and will not cause the ingredients in a product to separate.
  • (INCI NAME): CETEARYL ALCOHOL is a fatty alcohol that is a combination of Cetyl and Stearyl alcohols. It is known to be a skin softener and conditioner, lending emollience to a moisturizer. The typical usage rates are 1-25% of the total recipe weight. It can be used as a thickener and stabilizer as well. Using 1% will thicken a product to the consistency of a light lotion. For the rich consistency of hand cream, a maximum amount of 25% is suggested. It can be used as a co-emulsifier if used at concentrations of 2% or less.
  • (INCI NAME): CETEARETH-20 can be used on its own or it can be combined with other emulsifiers such as Glyceryl Stearate. It gives a silky, shiny feeling to the finished product. The typical usage rates are 1-6% of the total recipe weight. The maximum usage level recommended is 30%.
  • (INCI NAME): GLYCERYL STEARATE  is both an emulsifier and a stabilizer for emulsions, the latter being a chemical that inhibits emulsions from separating. It helps reduce the surface tension of the substances that are to be emulsified. It works as a lubricant giving skin the appearance of being soft and smooth by forming a barrier on the skin’s surface, thereby slowing the rate of water loss. Usually, it is used in combination with another emulsifier such as Polysorbate 20 or Ceteareth-20. The typical usage rates are 1 – 5% of the total recipe weight.
  • (INCI NAME): CETEARYL ALCOHOL/CETEARETH-20 is not a wax but rather a waxy pellet that is used in lotions. It is especially beneficial for lotions that are intended to be thick and waxy such as those for the tougher skin of elbows and feet. The typical usage rates are 2% or 6% of the total recipe weight. It can also be combined with emulsifying wax.

BEFORE ADDING AN EMULSIFYING WAX TO A MOISTURIZER RECIPE, A FEW FACTORS NEED TO BE TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION:

  • NATURAL VS. SYNTHETIC EMULSIFIERS: Even the most “natural” emulsifiers need to be extracted, separated, and processed out of plant oils and fats until they become the emulsifiers that are commonly used.
  • CERTIFIED VS. NOT CERTIFIED: A supplier should be able to clarify whether or not an emulsifier is organically certified for those that are strict on using only certified products. Not all “natural” emulsifiers are going to be certified, as there are high costs to become certified.
  • GLOBAL STATUS: Criteria to consider may include the status of the emulsifier being vegan, halal or kosher.
  • SUSTAINABILITY: Some DIY cosmetic producers insist on using only fair, sustainable, non-bioengineered oils for emulsifiers such as palm oil or palm oil derivatives. There are varying levels of sustainability and emulsifiers that are palm-derived do not always carry the name “palm.” Some of the examples of plant/palm-derived ingredients include Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Palm Kernel, Olive, Sunflower, high- and mid-oleic Sunflower, Peanut, and Coconut oils.
  • HLB: HLB stands for “Hydrophilic-Lipophilic Balance.” There is a belief that emulsifiers that are water-soluble (higher HLB value) are best suited for oil-in-water emulsifications and those that are oil-soluble (lower HLB value) are best suited for water in oil emulsification.
  • OPTIMUM OIL PHASE CONCENTRATIONS:  The performance of the emulsifier is affected by the amount of oil used in the products, so it is important to know in which particular oil phase the emulsifier would work best.
  • VISCOSITY RANGE: The type of emulsifier used can adjust the viscosity of the product. The emulsifier selected should suit the desired viscosity range, whether it is that of a body milk moisturizer or that of a thick night cream.
  • REQUIREMENT OF A STABILIZER/CO-EMULSIFIER: Co-emulsifiers are emulsifiers that are not meant to emulsify on their own and are instead used to enhance the activity of an existing emulsifier. Some emulsifiers might require the addition of a stabilizer or co-emulsifier for increased product viscosity and stability. The requirements of the formula should be considered before adding a co-emulsifier. To illustrate, if an emulsifier works only with a synthetic stabilizer, it should not then be used in an organic or natural formula.
  • BEST WORKING PH RANGE: Emulsifiers have ideal pH ranges at which they work best. Departing from this range may cause changes in the texture, appearance, viscosity or stability of the product. It is even more vital to consider the pH range when creating the product’s preservative. To illustrate, if using a weak acidic preservative that works most efficiently at a pH that is lower than the pH at which the emulsifier works, then either the preservative or the emulsifier needs to be changed.
  • ALCOHOL TOLERANCE: Due to their binding and emollient properties and their ability to alter the consistency of liquid products, fatty alcohols that protect and soften the skin are often incorporated in emulsions and are then referred to as “co-emulsifiers,” because they are meant to support the other “main” emulsifier. Alcohol has the power to weaken many emulsions, however. Suppliers can provide more information regarding the alcohol tolerance of a product if alcohols are going to be applied to emulsions.
  • OIL PHASE CHARACTER: It is imperative that the chosen emulsifier suits the ingredients in the moisturizer. Sometimes the oils used will be plant oils, waxes, and butters and at other times they might be fractionated oils, fatty alcohols or monoesters rather than triglycerides (fats and oils.
  • COLD VS. HOT PROCESS: The most commonly used emulsifiers come in the forms of pellets, flakes or powders that need to be melted with the oil or water phases. This can be a disadvantage if heat-sensitive ingredients are also being used, but should be used if ingredients do need to be melted. Liquid emulsifiers are available that allow for a cold blending technique.
  • SHEAR TOLERANCE: Some emulsifiers require a homogenizer, which is a mixer that produces fine particles and droplet sizes, as well as a “high shear” – the rate at which fluid moves between two parallel plates, one being stationary and the other moving at a constant speed. Some emulsifiers cannot withstand high shear and would be destabilized by a homogenizer.
  • APPLICATION DOSAGE: The emulsifier is generally added at approximately 20% of the oil phase, though some work best at lower or higher concentrations. The concentration can be reduced with the addition of co-emulsifiers or stabilizing agents.

ADDITIVES FOR DIY NATURAL MOISTURIZERS

Additives are optional ingredients that may be added to a product for their healing or preventative properties or for the ways in which they boost the qualities of the product itself. Some additives for moisturizers provide extra hydration, boost the hardness or softness of the product, improve its appearance, reduce/prevent/stop skin irritation, and/or promote the growth of healthy cells. Most additives are included in the mixture of ingredients during or after the melting stage of the production process. Regardless of which additives are selected, they should all comply with Health Canada and FDA regulations and be certified for cosmetic use to ensure that they will be safe on skin.

THICKENERS
Thickeners can be natural, synthetic, or semi-synthetic and they are derived from various sources including natural sources. The most versatile thickeners are those that are synthetic. They provide stability and better performance of cosmetic products by enhancing the consistency, volume, and viscosity. Some thickeners allow water to remain on the skin and thus offer a moisturizing property. They are composed of varying molecular structures including polysaccharides, proteins, alcohols, silicones or waxes.

Howtomake_Moisturizers2_imagecap

BUTTERS
For those that prefer their moisturizer to have a thicker, richer texture than oils have to offer, butters are an ideal option, as they have more saturated fatty acids and higher melting points. Some are preferred for their antioxidants, vitamins, and fatty acids, which work to diminish signs of aging and other skin issues. Other butters are preferred for their ability to protect skin from UV damage or from coarse, cracked skin.

Butters can be heated and added to other types of moisturizers during their liquid phases. When incorporating a butter into a lotion, such as to create a “Shea Butter Lotion” for example, the amount to add will vary for each recipe. The recommended ratio is 75% solid to 25% liquid oil. Although the body butter can be used as soon as the base ingredients are blended together, the mixture will be too dense and tough to spread over the skin at this stage. When whipped, however, the air that is incorporated into the mixture creates a lighter consistency that makes the application much easier. This also means less butter is needed at the time of each application, which in turn extends the life of the product.

PRESERVATIVES
Preservatives are natural or synthetic ingredients with anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties that are added to personal care products to keep them fresh and to protect both the product and the user from the negative effects of harmful bacteria. Preservatives are only needed in products that contain water. They work by preventing spores from germinating and producing more microorganisms and by deactivating cells by disrupting their cell membranes. Many store-bought moisturizers contain preservatives that can be harmful to skin whereas producing homemade moisturizers allows for the use of natural preservatives that can help minimize negative skin reactions.

Homemade natural products can also be made without preservatives; however, they will not last as long as commercial moisturizers. There are a couple of solutions to this issue, including the option of creating products in small batches that will be used within a short time period, adding ingredients with antimicrobial properties, or creating anhydrous products, which are products that do not contain water, as introducing water to cosmetic containers is the leading cause for the development of harmful bacteria, mold, yeast, and fungi. This includes ingredients that contain water such as hydrosols/floral water, Aloe Vera, or goat’s milk to name a few popular choices. Any water used should ideally be distilled and boiled before having anything added to it, but generally the less water in the product, the longer it will last. Glass containers are highly recommended for storage, as they can be reused and they eliminate the risk of products being tainted by the harmful chemicals that are commonly found in plastic containers. Product contamination can typically be prevented or slowed down by also using dispensing bottles instead of open mouth jars because the bacteria from fingers can be introduced to the product.

To extend the longevity of a moisturizer, an anti-oxidant is needed, as it will reduce the rate of oxidation. This is a chemical process during which natural ingredients are degraded or damaged due to exposure to oxygen. An oxidized product will develop brown or black spots. An antioxidant can be added directly to oils or added to the oil phase of the moisturizer formula. Naturally preserving additives that are anti-oxidants include Geranium Essential Oil, Grapefruit Seed Extract, and Green Tea Extract, among many others.

To help preserve the moisturizer, an anti-microbial is needed, as it will work to destroy bacteria and other unwanted micro-organisms. Naturally preserving additives that fight bacteria, mold and fungus include Vitamin E oils, Tea Tree Oil, Jojoba Oil, Avocado Oil, Olive Oil, Red Raspberry Seed Oil, Green Tea, Aloe Vera or honey.

There are ingredients that boost the capabilities of preservatives but there are also those that interfere with or completely inactivate them. Some of the ingredients that might interfere with them include pigments like ultramarine blue and thickeners like cellulose derivatives and guar gum.

CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING WHEN LOOKING FOR A SUITABLE MOISTURIZER PRESERVATIVE: 

1. Which ingredients are being used? Are they oil-soluble or water-soluble?

2. What will the product’s final pH be?

3. Is it non-sensitizing? In other words, does it have any tendencies to cause allergies or sensitivities?

4. Is it long lasting? Will it continue to work under both normal conditions and less favorable conditions?

5. Does it take rapid action to quickly re-sterilize the product, if it should become contaminated?

6. Is the preservative non-toxic and non-irritating?

7. Is it compatible with all the ingredients in the formula?

8. Does it remain stable under heat? Does it undergo disintegration during storage?
FLOWER WATERS (ALSO CALLED HYDROLATS OR HYDROSOLS)
Floral waters are a byproduct of the essential oil production process. They have similar properties to essential oils but are gentler on the skin and are thus safer to use on the face than essential oils. Floral waters contain therapeutic properties that would not be found in the essential oils of the same floral matter. Popular floral waters used in cosmetics include Rose Water, Lavender Water, and Orange Blossom (neroli) Water.

AROMATIC OILS
Aromatic oils such as synthetic fragrance oils or essential oils can be added to a moisturizer formula for a pleasant scent with therapeutic properties that benefit the user both physically and mentally. The essential oil of choice should be one that would not cause an allergic reaction to the user. The percentage of essential oil to a cream or lotion should never exceed 2%.  Both types of oils can be easily added to a moisturizer emulsion once it has been melted and removed from heat. They should be mixed in thoroughly. The final moisturizer product should be kept in a closed container in a cool area. To prevent any unexpected allergic reactions, a skin patch test is highly recommended.

COLORANTS
Moisturizers can be colored with the use of any water- or oil-based colorants. The following colorants are typically used in moisturizers: LabColours, Micas, Oxides & Ultramarines, Jojoba Wax Beads, Natural Tinting Herbs, and D&C and FD&C Dyes.

  • D&C (Drugs & Cosmetics) Dyes
    These are colorants that the FDA and Health Canada have allowed for use in externally applied drugs and cosmetics. FD&C (Food, Drugs & Cosmetics) Dyes are certified color additives for use in foods in the United States. In North America, these are now referred to by their Color Index (CI) names rather than their former “FD&C” names.

    Some ingredients such as fragrance oils can discolor moisturizers. Usually, the product takes on the same hue or leaves a tint that is the same as the fragrance oil. A fragrance oil such as vanilla would possibly turn the product brown, but if the color is undesirable then it can be prevented with the use of a vanilla stabilizer. Another instance of discoloration, such as when a white moisturizer turns pink or develops green flecks, indicates a contaminated product that needs to be disposed of immediately.

  • D&C AND FD&C DYES
    These are potent synthetic dyes that are available in water-soluble or oil-dispersible varieties. When added to a formulation, they produce bold, vibrant colors but their intensity can be adjusted by incorporating them drop by drop until the desired shade is achieved. These dyes can also be mixed to create new colors.  The disadvantage of these dyes is that they bleed, so if a body butter is made in colored layers, after a few days the colors will leak into the layers and blend together. The dyes also have a tendency to fade with time, most likely over the course of a few months, but this will not be an issue with products that are meant to last for a time much shorter than that.
  • OXIDES & ULTRAMARINES
    These dry powder ingredients produce vivid, dense matte colors. They are not soluble in water but easily disperse in oil, so they must only be added to the oil phases of moisturizer recipes.  After being combined with oil, they can be introduced into an extensive assortment of formulations.
  • PEARLESCENT MICAS
    These are colorants made by crushing natural minerals into a fine powder to add shimmer to moisturizers. Micas are often combined with various synthetic dyes, Oxides, Ultramarines, and natural colorants to create more colors and shades. They are not suited to every recipe, as they come in a wide range of formulations. It is important to check a Mica safety guide and the supplier notes about each one to ensure the correct type is chosen for a recipe to prevent any possible reactions.
  • JOJOBA WAX BEADS
    Made from Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil and D&C Dyes, these colorants are meant to be melted before being added to oil- or wax-based cosmetic formulas such as recipes for body butters, balms, and body oils, to name a few.
  • NATURAL TINTING HERBS
    These powdered herb colorants can add color to lotions or body oils, but although they retain color in containers, there is a chance they will fade over time. The best way to add them to a moisturizer formula is to infuse one of the liquid phases with the chosen herb before the liquids are mixed into an emulsion. If a herb needs to be strained from a warmed oil, a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer can be used. The recommended ratio for usage is 2 tbsp (30 g or 1 oz) of powder per 1 cup (340 g or 12 oz) of oil.

IMPORTANT TIPS

When creating DIY products, it is imperative to prevent the transmission of infection. This can be done by ensuring proper hand washing. It is important to use sterile gloves and a hair net to provide the necessary protection.

Sterilize everything with which the lotion or cream will come into contact; have a spray bottle of alcohol ready with clean sterile jars and towels at hand.

To create a lotion or cream, two ‘phases’ must be produced: an oil phase and a water phase. They both need to be heated to kill any microbial visitors.

All your oils and waxes – including your emulsifying wax – and butters will go into the oil phase and may be taken off the heat as soon as the wax is melted.

All your waters (distilled, or up to 40% floral waters or aloe or witch hazel with distilled water) will be heated just until light steam wafts from the surface and tiny bubbles form on the bottom of the pot. Borax, if you are using it, will be dissolved in your water phase.

Tinctures, actives, essential oils and preservatives will be added after the cream has begun to emulsify.

WHEN THE WAXES HAVE COMPLETELY MELTED (OR THE BORAX IS DISSOLVED), YOU ARE READY TO MAKE THE PRODUCT. YOU CAN DO THIS IN ONE OF THREE WAYS:

  1. Use two pitchers to pour both phases back and forth until they are emulsified and cooled, then pour into sterile containers; this is the traditional method, used since the Middle Ages.
  2. Whip the water phase with a stick blender while pouring a thin stream of the oil phase in, and after all, is blended, continue to whip for another five minutes before pouring into sterile containers.
  3. Put ice in one bowl, and place the second bowl on top – stainless steel bowls of the same size are excellent for this. Begin pouring both phases in while whipping with a whisk; this will cool the cream as it emulsifies, and you will feel this happening as the whisk hits the bottom of the bowl. When it is all emulsified and cold, pour into sterile containers. 

Pour your cream just before it arrives at the thickness you want because as it cools, it will get a bit thicker. Caution: if it is just right in your emulsion for a lotion, and you want to put it into a lotion bottle, you will have to add more sterile water phase now, or it will be too thick to travel up the length of the pump.

MAKING A MOISTURIZER FOR ALL SKIN TYPES

REQUIRED TOOLS

  • A double boiler (or a pot filled with boiling water and a heat-resistant glass bowl that can be placed over the pot)
  • A stainless-steel saucepan
  • A measuring jug – 1 L (approx. 34 oz) size preferred
  • A stirring spoon
  • Measuring spoons i.e., teaspoon (5 ml or 0.16 oz), dessertspoon (10 ml or 0.33 oz), and tablespoon (15 ml or 0.50 oz)
  • A scale that has both imperial and metric measurements
  • Empty glass jars and bottles for a finished product
  • Label (to keep the final products organized)

REQUIRED INGREDIENTS

* Ingredients are measured by weight, in grams, for accuracy

WAXES AND OILS:

  • 28 g (approx. 1 oz)/4 dessertspoons lanette wax (emulsifier)
  • 60 g (approx. 2 oz)/6 dessertspoons Jojoba Oil

WATERS:

  • 200 g (approx. 7 oz) distilled water
  • 50 g (approx. 2 oz) Rose Water

PRESERVATIVE:

  • 1.23 g (¼ tsp) Grapefruit Seed Extract

ESSENTIAL OILS:

  • 12 drops Lavender
  • 8 drops Geranium
  • 7 drops Palmarosa

STEP BY STEP PROCESS

  1. Sterilize all utensils, product containers, and workshop surfaces. Wipe utensils and wipe down surfaces with alcohol.
  2. In a heat-resistant bowl (or in a double boiler), melt the emulsifying wax and oils.
  3. In another saucepan, heat the liquid ingredients (Rosewater and distilled water) until they have reached boiling point.
  4. When the waxes and oils have completely melted, and the water is gently boiling…
  5. Slowly, add the waters to the melted wax and oils, stirring constantly until all water has been added.
  6. Remove the double boiler from the heat source. Continue stirring until the mixture has completely cooled.
  7. Add grapefruit seed extract, plus any essential oils, nutrients, and goodies.
  8. Pour into sterilized jars and bottles.
  9. Label.

MAKING A HOMEMADE LOTION – 237 G (APPROX. 8 OZ)

REQUIRED TOOLS AND INGREDIENTS

  • 120 g (1/2 cup or 4 oz) Almond Oil or Jojoba Oil (or any other liquid oil)
  • 60 g (1/4 cup or 2 oz) Coconut Oil
  • 60 g (1/4 cup or 2 oz) Beeswax/Emulsifying Wax
  • 5 g (1 tsp) Vitamin E Oil (optional)
  • 30 g (2 tbsp) Shea Butter/Cocoa Butter (optional)
  • Essential Oils, Vanilla Extract or other preferred natural extracts (optional) (see the recipe for the ratio)
  • 237 g (8 oz) mason jar or tin

STEP BY STEP PROCESS

  1. Combine Almond Oil/ Jojoba Oil (or any other liquid oil), Coconut Oil and Beeswax/ Emulsifying Wax in a double boiler or a glass bowl on top. If using Shea/Cocoa butter, add it as well.
  2. As the water heats, stir the ingredients occasionally as they melt so that they are fully incorporated.
  3. When all ingredients are completely melted, add Vitamin E Oil (if using) and any essential oils or scents like Vanilla. A 2% dilution of essential oils is the ideal amount to add to a lotion. To make a 2% dilution, add 12 drops of essential oil to every 30 ml (each fl. oz.)
  4. Pour mixture into the 237 g (8 oz) mason jar/tin. The viscosity of this product will not pump well through a lotion dispenser.
  5. Use the final product within 6 months in the same manner as a regular lotion. 

MAKING A BODY BUTTER – 454 G (16 OZ)

REQUIRED TOOLS AND INGREDIENTS

  • 75 g (1/2 cup or 4 oz) Shea Butter
  • 75 g (1/2 cup or 4 oz) Cocoa Butter or Mango Butter
  • 120 g (1/2 cup or 4 oz) Coconut Oil
  • 120 g (1/2 cup or 4 oz) light oil (such as Almond, Jojoba, or Olive Oil)
  • 10-30 drops of preferred Essential Oils (Optional)
  • 455 g (16 oz) mason/glass jar

STEP BY STEP PROCESS

  1. Combine all the ingredients (except the essential oils) in a double boiler or glass bowl.
  2. Stir them constantly over medium heat until all the ingredients are melted.
  3. Once melted, remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. If including essential oils in the formula, add them now.
  4. Allow the mixture to cool in the fridge for 1 hour or until it begins to harden but still remains somewhat soft.
  5. Using a hand mixer, whip the mixture for 10 minutes until fluffy.
  6. Refrigerate the whipped mixture for 10-15 minutes to set.
  7. Store the final product in a 455 g (16 oz) glass jar with a lid.
  8. Use the butter in the same manner as a regular lotion or body butter.
  9. The butter may soften at room temperature in which case it may be stored in the fridge, but it will remain whipped at a temperature lower than 24 áµ’C (75 áµ’F).

MAKING A BODY MILK LOTION – 1 L (1000 G OR APPROX. 34 OZ)

REQUIRED INGREDIENTS

  • 60 g (2 oz) Beeswax/emulsifying wax
  • 15 g (1/2 oz) Cocoa Butter
  • 45 g (1 ½ oz) Palm Kernel Oil
  • 235 g (8 oz) Coconut Oil
  • 120 g (8 tbsp or 4 oz) Almond Oil
  • 235 g (8 oz) Goat’s Milk
  • 355 g (12 oz) distilled water
  • 15 g (1 tbsp or 0.5 oz) Germaben II

STEP BY STEP PROCESS

  1. Mix together the Beeswax/emulsifying wax, Cocoa Butter, Palm Kernel Oil, Coconut Oil, and Almond oil in a glass bowl.
  2. Microwave or heat the mixture over the stove until melted.
  3. Whisk in the water and Goat’s Milk until the whole emulsion cools. When first mixing the oils and liquids together, the milk may have a strange appearance and it may seem to be curdling, but continuous mixing will help it turn to lotion.
  4. Add the Germaben II to the mixture once it has become lotion. If the lotion is too thick, add more water to thin it out. Re-heating the lotion and mixing again helps it stay emulsified.
  5. If the lotion starts to separate, add more emulsifying wax.
  6. Store the final product inside a 1 L (1000 g or 34 oz) glass jar in the fridge.

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

Pay close attention when heating any mixtures that include oil, as the oil can rapidly overheat. This is especially true for small amounts of oil, which can overheat in seconds. Never leave oil unattended on the stove. If called away from the stove, be sure to remove the pan from the heat.

Avoid overheating the oils. The wax and oil mixtures simply need to be melted, not boiled.

Keep young children and pets out of the way.

After each use, clean all equipment in boiling water, rinse well, and dry. It is best to use these utensils only for making cosmetics and to avoid preparing or storing food in them due to the possibility of cross-contamination.

IN ESSENCE…

    • Botanical extracts have remained the most important resource for healing and beautifying in the natural world.
    • Homemade moisturizers that are made with all natural ingredients are full of skin-nourishing minerals and vitamins.
    • There are only 3 required ingredients for making DIY natural moisturizers: a Carrier Oil, Water, and an Emulsifier.
    • Optional additives can further enrich a natural homemade moisturizer with ingredients such as Thickeners, Butters, Preservatives, Colourants, Aromatic Oils, and Floral Waters.
  • In order to prevent contamination when developing moisturizers, it is important to sterilize everything with which the moisturizer will come into contact.

Top 10 Best-Selling Fragrance Oils of 2019

WHAT IS FRAGRANCE OIL USED FOR?

Fragrance Oils are the scented oils that are created to be added to products such as scented candles, household cleaners, room sprays, air fresheners, and vaporizers in order to give them pleasant, distinctive aromas or to enable them to diffuse pleasant aromas. Fragrance Oils that are body-safe can also be added to cosmetics, soaps, shampoos, perfumes, and other products that make contact with the skin and hair.

Virtually all fragrances, natural or manmade, in an environment can be imitated in a laboratory, and there are limitless variations of oil groupings that can synthetically produce each of these countless scents. Fragrance Oils may be composed of one to two Essential Oils while others may have many more, and although combining the same combination of oils will repeatedly produce the same scent, simply adjusting the percentage of each oil could alter the final scent considerably, creating one that is completely original compared to previous iterations.

HOW ARE FRAGRANCE OILS MADE?

In a careful process, fragrance designers develop each Fragrance Oil by selecting the Essential Oils or other aromatic chemical compounds that blend well together and then by determining the ideal amount of each oil for the particular theme that is intended to be captured for the resultant blend. To illustrate, for a scent inspired by the feeling of spending a sunny summer day at the beach, the ideal aromatic compounds would likely have light, refreshing, and uplifting qualities.

Some of the ingredients – both artificial and naturally-derived – that commonly go into the production of Fragrance Oils include Absolutes, Alcohols, Aldehydes, Carrier Oils, Essential Oils, Esters, and Resins. Though some Fragrance Oils might not necessarily be entirely natural or volatile, they can still have the ability to uphold the same quality as Essential Oils and can sometimes exude stronger longer-lasting aromas. Fragrance Oils can be either 100% synthetic or they can be comprised of up to 80% Essential Oils.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A FRAGRANCE OIL AND AN ESSENTIAL OIL?

Although the term Fragrance Oil is sometimes understood to be a substitute for the term Essential Oil, there are several differences between these two distinctly different types of oils even if they can both be applied similarly:

ESSENTIAL OILS FRAGRANCE OILS
Natural and pure Sometimes manufactured with natural aromatic components and other times manufactured with chemical components (not entirely pure)
Derived from various plant parts, including roots, leaves, herbs, grass, flowers, and resins Could be composed of either several natural oils or of artificial/synthetic aromatic compounds
Retains the authentic essence/aroma and beneficial properties of the plant Replicates Essential Oil scents; numerous scents are combined to produce a new, unique scent
Examples of Essential Oils: Lavender, Lemon, Peppermint, Eucalyptus Examples of Fragrance Oils: Pumpkin Patch, Christmas Eve, Bubble Gum, Sun and Sand, Dragon’s Blood
Traditionally used in aromatherapy for therapeutic properties Not commonly used in aromatherapy, due to the absence of therapeutic properties
Reputed to have various health benefits Not known to have any health benefits
Can be used in scented candles, household cleaners, room sprays, air fresheners, vaporizers, cosmetics, detergents, perfumes, soaps, etc. Can be used in scented candles, household cleaners, room sprays, air fresheners, vaporizers, cosmetics, detergents, perfumes, soaps, etc.
Pricing depends on the source botanical as well as the extraction method Compared to Essential Oils, pricing is typically less expensive
Quality, scent, appearance, and potency of the oil depends on the quality of growing conditions of the crop from which it is derived; inconsistencies are possible from batch to batch Quality, scent, appearance, and potency of oil remain consistent

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF FRAGRANCE OILS?

Similar to their Essential Oil counterparts, Fragrance Oils contribute pleasant scents to products and often conjure positive memories or trigger positive associations with their scents. Furthermore, they capture unique as well as everyday scents that cannot be found in nature. Through a blend of various aromatic compounds, they are able to synthesize scents that are human-made, such as the aromas of foods, both the naturally aromatic foods as well as the odorless ones. Unlike Essential Oils, only Fragrance Oils can offer the scents of an ocean breeze, baby powder, tomatoes, mountain rain, or clean laundry.

TOP 10 BEST-SELLING FRAGRANCE OILS IN 2019

1. Coconut Paradise Fragrance Oil: The crisp, refreshing aroma of this oil is reminiscent of the tropics, summer, and youth. Creamy top notes of Coconut blend intricately with the scents of Peaches, Vanilla, and base notes of rich butter.

2. Amber Romance Type Fragrance Oil: This warm, sensual, haunting aroma exudes nuances of Vanilla, Sandalwood, Patchouli, and Blackberry, which blend with Musk at the base for a rounded, romantic scent.

3. French Lavender Fragrance Oil: This scent is reminiscent of a lovely, fragrant bouquet of Lavender flowers picked fresh from the French countryside. Its floral and herbaceous qualities combined with its balsamic, woody undertone are reputed to produce a peaceful, soothing, and grounding effect.

4. Tahitian Vanilla Fragrance Oil: The warm quality of this multifaceted and exotic fragrance gives it a mysterious, sultry, and seductive element. Its luxurious, creamy nuances are trailed by a hint of heavenly tropical flowers.

5. Lavender Fragrance Oil: This sweet-smelling scent is reminiscent of a walk in a Lavender field. Base notes of soft, mild French Lavender give this oil a soothing quality. This scent is often considered to be classic and timeless.

6. Ruby Grapefruit Fragrance Oil: The juicy quality of this scent is mouth-wateringly refreshing. With top notes of Pink Grapefruit, Lemon, and Lime that melds into notes of Gardenia, Lilac, powder, and Vanilla, this scent is light as well as playful.

7. Coconut Cream Fragrance Oil: Delicious, sweet, and creamy, this fragrance exudes buttery top notes with nuances of sweet burnt sugar, Cinnamon, and Peach at its heart. Base notes of Coconut, Vanilla, and powder give it an exotic quality.

8. French Vanilla Fragrance Oil: This sweet, creamy fragrance has buttery top notes with nuances of Coconut and heart notes of sweet, burnt Coconut. Base notes of Vanilla and powder help to round it out.

9. Japanese Cherry Blossom Fragrance Oil: The light, sweet, and refreshing scent of this oil is reminiscent of spring air. Fused with top notes of Asian Pears, Rose, Mimosa petals, and Fuji Apples, it is further enhanced with seductive notes of Jasmine and Peony, which accentuate the floral notes. A combination of Vanilla, Musk, and creamy Sandalwood base notes help to round out this fragrance.

10. Vanilla Fragrance Oil: The classic, rich, creamy Vanilla scent of this oil is associated with calmness, warmth, softness, and purity. Vanilla scents are often reminiscent of desserts and positive memories linked to holidays.

WHAT CAN I DO WITH FRAGRANCE OILS?

  • Create a scented candle
  • Create a unique perfume/cologne
  • Create a natural room spray/air freshener by diluting the Fragrance Oil in a spray bottle of water
  • Give a new scent to or refresh the scent of old potpourri, car air fresheners, artificial plants, real live odorless flowers, and fabrics with stale odors
  • Soak a cotton ball and leave it to lightly diffuse in areas that can benefit from freshening, such as behind garbage bins, under car seats, and inside gym bags, purses, or shoes
  • Dab a small amount on letters, gift wrapping, or wooden jewelry to add a romantic touch
  • Dab a small amount on wooden or fabric furniture
  • Diffuse during spiritual practices, such as meditation or prayer
  • Pour some down a foul-smelling drain and allow it to sit overnight
  • Create scented soaps (use only skin-safe FOs)
  • Create scented massage oils (use only skin-safe FOs)
  • Add to a regular, unscented lotion (use only skin-safe FOs)
  • Create a unique personal roll-on scent (use only skin-safe FOs)
  • Create a comforting scented bath (use only skin-safe FOs)
  • Add it to the wash during the rinse cycle (use only skin-safe FOs)

For more information about using Fragrance Oils to make scented candles, check out the How to Make Candles article.

CAN I PUT FRAGRANCE OIL IN A DIFFUSER?

Because Fragrance Oils are highly flammable and thus pose a safety hazard when heated without dilution, it is highly recommended that the intended use be matched to an IFRA product type/category. For this, page 23 of the IFRA Information Booklet can be a helpful resource. Once the category for the intended use has been determined, it is advisable to check the particular Fragrance Oil’s maximum dilution rate as well as the product’s flash point.

CAN FRAGRANCE OILS BE USED ON SKIN?

It is imperative to ensure that Fragrance Oils are skin-safe before they are incorporated into recipes for cosmetic products. For more information about adding Fragrance Oils to moisturizers, check out the post titled How to Make a Natural Moisturizer.

FRAGRANCE OILS SIDE EFFECTS

Fragrance Oils are for external use only. It is imperative to consult a medical practitioner before using these oils for therapeutic purposes. Pregnant and nursing women are especially advised not to use Fragrance Oils without the medical advice of a physician, as they may have effects on certain hormone secretions and it is unclear whether these effects are transferable to babies at these stages of development. These oils should always be stored in an area that is inaccessible to children, especially those under the age of 7.

Those with the following health conditions are especially recommended to be advised by a physician: cancer, heart-related ailments, skin disorders or allergies, hormone-related ailments, or epilepsy. Individuals that are taking prescription drugs, undergoing major surgery, or who are at a greater risk of experiencing strokes, heart attacks, or atherosclerosis are also advised to seek medical consultation prior to use.

Prior to using any Fragrance Oil, a skin test is recommended. This can be done by diluting 1 drop of the Fragrance Oil in 4 drops of a Carrier Oil and applying a dime-size amount of this blend to a small area of skin that is not sensitive. Fragrance Oils must never be used near the eyes, inner nose, and ears, or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin. Potential side effects of Fragrance Oils, especially with long-term exposure and improper handling, include difficulty breathing, coughing, nausea, cramps, vomiting, headache, rashes, itching, chafing, a burning sensation on the skin or in the stomach, cancer, lung and/or heart disease, and brain damage. In the event of an allergic reaction, discontinue use of the products and see a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use.

The Apothecary for Skincare

THE APOTHECARY

  • AVOCADO OIL (Persea gratissima) – A nutrient-packed fruit is loaded with good fatty acids, proteins, minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins A, D, and E. Especially helpful for mature skin. Organic.
  • BEESWAX (Cera Alba) – Protectant, helps keep moisture in the skin, high Vitamin A content. Raw, Organic.
  • ALOE (Aloe barbadensis) – Plumps and soothes skin, Vitamin & mineral rich. Organic.
  • AHA’S (Alpha hydroxy acids) – Exfoliator, increases blood flow to skin, balances and evens skin tone.
  • BLACKBERRY (Rubus fruticosus) – Blackberry is a rich source of Vitamin C which can help in collagen production and in reducing the appearance of fine lines & wrinkles. It has an impressive amount of naturally occurring Vitamin E as well as essential fatty acids to deeply support the skin. It’s beautiful darker color is attributed to naturally occurring polyphenols.
  • BLUEBERRY (Vaccinium corymbosum) – Antioxidant. Helps promote the health of capillaries located just beneath the epidermis. Can help minimize redness.
  • CALENDULA (Calendula officinalis) – High Vitamin C content, collagen building. Organic.
  • CHAMOMILE (Matricaria chamomilla) – Anti-inflammatory, soothes skin, Organic.
  • COMFREY (Symphytum officinale) – anti-inflammatory, soothes skin, Organic.
  • CRANBERRY (Vaccinum macrocarpon) – Contain resveratrol, high Vitamin C for collagen-building, antiseptic properties. Organic.
  • COCONUT (Cocos nucifera) – Soothes, reduces water loss in the skin, packed with nutrients.
  • COCOA BUTTER (Theobroma seed butter) – High in fatty acids, hydrates the skin deeply. Raw, Organic.
  • DMAE (Dimethylaminoethanol) – membrane stabilizer, improves skin tone. Vegan.
  • GERANIUM (Pelargonium asperum) – Helps improve skintone. Organic.
  • HONEY (Mel) – Moisturizing, antibacterial, raw and unprocessed from the Bodyceuticals Apiary. Non-treated hives. Certified pollinator is friendly.
  • HYALURONIC ACID (Sodium hyaluronate) – Helps to keep tissues hydrated and plump.
  • JOJOBA (Simmondsia Chinensis) – Soothing, gentle and deeply moisturizing for most all skin types. Organic.
  • KUKUI (Aleurites moluccana) – High in essential fatty acids,  readily absorbed, very moisturizing.
  • LAVENDER (Lavandula angustifolia) – Helps tissues to heal, lessens scarring. Organic
  • OLIVE (Olea europaea) – Highly effective transdermal carrier.   Organic, Kosher.
  • FRUIT STEM CELLS (Apple) – Help to rejuvenate aging skin and lessen the appearance of wrinkles. Clinical trials show that with use, the skin has a more youthful and radiant appearance. Organic.
  • MSM (MethylSulfonylMethane) – Helps to build collagen, assists with cell hydration.
  • NEEM (Azadirachta indica) – Often used for itchy, irritated skin, has antifungal properties and can provide improvement with scars and hyperpigmentation.
  • OAT STRAW (Avena sativa) – Rich in minerals. Organic.
  • PINK GRAPEFRUIT (Citrus paradisi) – High in Vitamin C, builds collagen. Fresh cold-pressed.
  • POMEGRANATE (Punica granatum) – contain sun protective compounds, helps reduce breakouts, show to improve hyperpigmentation.
  • ROSE (Rosa damascena) – Middle note, “flower of love”, farm-grown. Organic.
  • ROOIBOS (Aspalathus linearis) – Antioxidant, Anti-fungal.
  • RASPBERRY (Rubus Idaeus – Contain a high amount of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids and rich in antioxidants. Can help tone skin. Organic.
  • ROSEMARY (Rosmarinus officinalis) – Contains vitamin & minerals such as calcium, has cell regenerative properties, helps tighten sagging skin.
  • SEA BUCKTHORN (Hippophae rhamnoides) – High Vitamin C content and carotenoids, amino acids, minerals, vitamin E, polyphenols and omegas. Can help with redness and swelling. Organic.
  • SEAWEED (Laminaria digitata) – Rich in minerals and trace elements, high vitamin content, helps build elastin in the skin.  High quality from France.
  • SPEARMINT (Mentha spicata) – Pure, refreshing, restorative properties. Organic.
  • TEA TREE (Melaleuca alternifolia) – Antibacterial, Antifungal. Organic.
  • VANILLA BEAN (Vanilla planifolia) – A source of B Vitamins, antibacterial, helpful in hair care, smells amazing.
  • STRAWBERRY (Fragaria Vesca) – Contains the antioxidant ellagic acid, which prevents collagen destruction—one of the major causes of wrinkle formation. Has a photoprotective effect. Organic
  • VITAMIN C – Naturally found in Calendula, protects and builds collagen.
  • VITAMIN E – Natural preservative, soothes sensitive skin. Non-GMO.

WHY CHOOSE CALENDULA?

Flower of the Sun

Calendula officinalis has been used for centuries on multiple continents and is one of the most versatile herbs in the plant kingdom. This healing phenom is known as the “flower of the sun.”  Calendula has an amazing history of documented healing. Its most outstanding distinction is its ability to heal the skin. It has no known drug interactions, no toxic effects and no adverse effects for long term use.

Five major steps occur in our skin’s healing process. According to the International Herb Association’s book, “Calendula – 2008 Herb of the Year”, calendula with its potent and complex array of phytonutrients helps facilitate the skin’s restorative cycle:

  • The first thing that must be done with injured tissue is to prevent infection. Calendula inhibits bacterial, viral and fungal microorganisms.
  • Calendula reduces inflammation of the tissue by inhibiting lipoxygenase, an enzyme that damages cell wall structure. It contains high amounts of flavonoids, plant-based antioxidants that protect the body against free radical cell damage. It’s amazingly effective on sunburn.
  • A wound needs to be cleared of its dead cells. Calendula stimulates the appetite of lymphocytes which helps rid the wound from this debris.
  • Calendula goes to work to increase the collagen level in a wound, prevents the formation of scar tissue and assists the healing tissue in remaining supple.
  • Calendula stimulates angiogenic activity –the growth of new blood vessels and nerve cells in the tissue. The sooner high potency calendula is used following skin trauma, the less scarring will occur or even be prevented.

The chemical compounds in calendula’s resin include: many fatty acid esters, carotenoids including Vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, lutein (it’s golden color) and lycopene, flavonoids (antioxidants that protect cells against damage), quercetin (anti-inflammatory), rutin (antioxidant), ubiquinone (CoQ10), iodine and manganese.

Calendula oil is a popular choice for many of today’s skin conditions.

Argan Oil: Health Benefits for Your Skin, Heart, & Beyond

Nicknamed “liquid gold,” argan oil is renowned for its exemplary therapeutic and cosmetic properties. The oil comes from Morocco, but people around the world have traded it for its health benefits as early as the 6th century.

Argan oil can bring a lovely glow to your skin and hair, but it also may offer benefits inside your body — like your heart, liver, and blood, to name a few.

From balancing blood sugar and cholesterol to covering up the appearance of scars and acne, the range of benefits attributed to argan oil is as impressive as it is broad.

What Is Argan Oil?

Argan oil comes from the tender kernels inside the fruit of the slow-growing argan tree (Argania Spinosa). When argan oil began its boom in popularity, all-female collectives in southwest Morocco began making the oil.

The women gather together, harvest the fruits, smash the hard shells on stones, pick out the tender kernels inside, and press the fruit kernels to retrieve the oil. Finally, the argan oil is sold as is or turned into creams and other products.

Planting and tending argan trees also have environmental benefits: it helps reduce both climate change and desertification — a process where land becomes an unusable desert. The main argan forest in southwest Morocco is now an official biosphere reserve.

Unfortunately, the boom in argan oil’s popularity has led to aggressive harvesting techniques that injure the sensitive trees. Many larger companies have also eliminated the cooperatives, which play an important role in empowering women in a patriarchal society.

If you want to support a sustainably harvested, female-empowering product, look for Fair Trade Argan oil, especially one that is stamped with the UCFA (Union des Coopératives des Femmes de l’Arganeraie) seal to ensure women are receiving a fair price for their knowledge and work.

Top 6 Benefits of Using Argan Oil

Argan oil is not just for beauty. Modern scientific research has uncovered many of argan oil’s other promising benefits. Argan’s natural oils may soothe inflammation, nourish skin and body, speed up wound healing, and provide a barrier against harmful organisms.

In Northern Africa, it’s popular to drizzle roasted argan oil over bread and use it in cooking. Rich in vitamins A and E, fatty acids, and antioxidants, this amazing oil has benefits when taken internally or used topically. Dietary argan oil may be at least partially responsible for the fact that people who follow a traditional Mediterranean diet tend to have less heart disease; Morocco lies along the Mediterranean Sea.

Below are the top health benefits that argan oil offers.

1. Improves the Appearance of Acne & Scars

Did you know that it’s argan oil’s omega-6 and omega-9 content that reduces redness, swelling, and helps acne-prone skin?

People with acne may feel like putting oil on their skin could make it worse. The truth is, oils vary substantially from one another — and some, including argan oil, help reduce the appearance of acne.

You know that olive oil differs from motor oil, of course, but even plant-derived oils have many differences. For example, olive and coconut oil are moisturizing, while grapeseed and castor oils can decrease oiliness on the face. Argan oil falls right in between, providing moisture and protecting the skin with a barrier that deters the harmful organisms that contribute to acne breakouts.

Argan oil’s high omega-6 and omega-9 content also help reduce redness and swelling. Those with acne-prone skin are usually deficient in linoleic acid, an omega-6 essential fatty acid, which argan oil contains.

Fatty acids may speed up the healing of acne-related scarring and minimize signs of premature aging, such as crow’s feet and age spots. Argan oil’s comedogenic index of zero means it will never clog the skin’s pores or cause breakouts.

2. Promotes Elasticity & Skin Hydration

Argan oil’s high levels of vitamins A and E and its fatty acids deeply nourish skin. Applying argan oil improves your skin’s ability to retain water — also known as hydration — which helps with elasticity. Both hydration and elasticity make your skin look more youthful and healthy.

Argan oil can provide a barrier between your skin and dirt, germs, and toxins.

Argan oil may also boost your skin cells’ ability to regenerate. Applied topically, it can even reduce the greasy appearance of oily skin.

Researchers also discovered that skin exposed to argan oil experienced changes at a cellular level, allowing it to act as a barrier to dirt, germs, and free radicals.

3. Boosts Heart Health

Some people use argan oil for its additional health benefits — notably for the heart. Studies show that consuming food-grade argan oil works just as well as extra virgin olive oil at promoting good cholesterol (HDL) levels, normalizing bad cholesterol (LDL), and balancing triglyceride levels in the blood.

Argan oil consumption also boosted antioxidant levels circulating in people’s bloodstream — which makes sense since the oil contains high levels. Antioxidants fight against free radical damage in your cells, minimizing oxidative stress. This liquid gold also promotes normal blood pressure.

Cholesterol is a major predictor of heart disease, as are high blood pressure and triglycerides. Promoting normal levels of these indicators helps keep your heart healthy.

4. Supports Liver Health

Consuming argan oil supports liver health and may even protect against invasion by harmful organisms and toxins.

Research shows that argan oil helps liver genes stay active, which allows damaged livers to recover.

One study looked into how argan oil helped laboratory mice with damaged livers recover more quickly. The oil worked at the cellular and genetic level, influencing which genes “express” or turn on. Specifically, it helped liver genes stay active, thus promoting better liver health.

Argan oil also helps normalize insulin resistance, which plays a role in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

5. Promotes Normal Insulin & Blood Sugar Levels

Insulin resistance is a condition where your cells do not absorb the hormone insulin well. Insulin helps regulate your blood sugar levels, so if your cells become insulin-resistance, blood sugar rises, causing all sorts of metabolism problems.

Studies suggest that taking argan oil internally not only helped both healthy and diabetic laboratory animals maintain normal blood sugar levels, but it also helped balance insulin resistance.

These properties are likely why the local people in Morocco prize the oil, according to the researchers.

6. Protects Against Cell Proliferation

Thanks to its high antioxidant levels, argan oil helps protect skin from free radicals and UV radiation.

Argan oil contains high levels of tocopherols, a form of vitamin E, as well as oleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid. Taken internally, it helps the body at a cellular level, even decreasing the risk of excess cell proliferation that can lead to serious diseases.

In various studies, argan oil has helped with skin, colon, bladder, and prostate conditions.

Popular Argan Oil Uses

When applied topically, argan oil has important cosmetic benefits for the skin and hair. It is a sought-after natural remedy with healing, anti-aging, and antibacterial properties.

Natural Skin Care

Below are some of the benefits your skin will reap from this powerhouse oil, as well as some simple ways to use it.

Improve the Appearance of Stretch Marks

Thanks to its high vitamin A and E content, argan oil keeps your skin well-hydrated and improves its strength and elasticity, which in turn helps reduce the appearance of stretch marks.

How to Use: After showering and exfoliating your skin, gently rub a few drops onto areas like the hips, thighs, and stomach — the areas most prone to developing stretch marks. Massage the oil into your skin twice a day, including once before bedtime.

Moisturize & Improve Skin Elasticity

Whether you have oily, combination, or dry skin, you can use pure argan oil as an all-over face and body moisturizer. You can even apply 100 percent pure argan oil directly on your face, lips, and around your eyes. For best results, massage it onto your body right after showering or bathing, paying special attention to any dry patches.

How to Use: Add a few drops of argan oil to a carrier oil, like organic olive, coconut, or other seed oil — this helps a little goes a long way. You can also soothe razor bumps and ingrown hairs after shaving by applying the oil directly over the affected area.

Reduce the Appearance of Acne

Argan oil is non-greasy and won’t clog pores, so it’s a great natural way to add moisture and provide balance to inflamed, acne-affected skin.

How to Use: Cleanse your skin and pat it dry. Put a few drops of pure oil into your palm and, using your fingers, lightly dab it directly onto problem areas. Repeat twice daily.

Protect & Soften Hair

This nourishing, non-greasy oil increases the shine and overall healthy appearance of hair while repairing split ends and smoothing flyaways.

By coating the hair shaft, argan oil reduces drying and damage and makes hair less prone to breakage. Argan oil can also help to seal in hair dyes, increasing the length of time needed between colorings. It may even promote faster hair growth.

How to Use: Add five drops into your normal shampoo or conditioner, massage it into your hair, and rinse it out with warm water. For a deep conditioning boost, coat your hair with 10 drops from root to tip and leave it on overnight with a shower cap over it. This will allow deep penetration into your hair and alleviate frizziness or dryness. In the morning, rinse it out with warm water and style as usual.

Moisturize Nail Cuticles

Ward off painful hangnails and other issues associated with poor nail health by applying a few drops of argan oil on your fingernails and toenails. Its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities make it an excellent moisturizer and conditioner for both the nail bed and cuticles.

How to Use: To do a cuticle treatment, first, remove all nail polish and rinse your hands and feet thoroughly. Rub a drop of the oil onto each one of your nails and massage it into the cuticles in a circular motion. Leave it on to absorb.

Relieves Tired Feet

Argan oil can soothe dry, cracked skin on your feet and heels. This hydrating moisturizer is full of antioxidants that can prevent further dryness, soften calluses, and make rough feet soft and smooth again.

How to Use: Slather your feet with as many drops as needed to fully cover the area, and put on a pair of socks for at least 30 minutes (but preferably overnight). After removing the socks, use a warm washcloth to remove any excess oil from your soles.

Precautions & Side Effects

Ensure the argan oil you use is not only fresh but also certified organic. This will ensure you avoid chemicals in your beauty products, such as pesticides. Its odor should smell light, fresh, and nutty. Store it in a dark bottle because exposure to light will cause it to oxidize, or decay.

Fairtrade-certified argan oil ensures that the product you purchase goes to help support women artisans in Morocco in an environmentally sustainable and female-empowering manner. Be aware that poor quality argan oil may contain harmful solvents from chemical extraction techniques. Most beauty products that are not 100 percent pure argan oil use this solvent-extraction method, so buyer beware.

For topical application, look for cold-pressed, responsibly-sourced, additive-free argan oil. If you take argan oil internally, only use food-grade oils. People have used argan as food and applied it to the skin for centuries in Morocco, and according to experts, there are few side effects.

Rarely, people experience sensitivity from skin application; if you break out in a rash, discontinue use. Some people also experience an upset stomach, nausea, or diarrhea. When taking an argan oil oral supplement, some people experience confusion, excitement, agitation, or difficulty sleeping. If you experience any of these reactions, see your healthcare provider right away.

Points to Remember

Dubbed “liquid gold,” argan oil is one of the most prized beauty and health potions in the world. Moroccans have used it for centuries as a topical therapy to beautify and improve the appearance of skin, acne, hair loss, psoriasis, and eczema.

Argan oil is the secret to healthy, moisturized hair, and you’ll find it in many popular skin and hair products. Make sure to be aware that most beauty products use solvent extraction. If you want the benefits of this product without chemicals, buy 100 percent pure argan oil and add it to your shampoo or directly to your skin.

When taken internally, argan oil may help balance cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar. It has valuable antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. For best results, make sure to purchase only argan oil that is cold-pressed, additive-free, and organic.

To make sure you purchase responsibly harvested argan that supports female collectives, rather than aggressive harvesting techniques, look for fair-trade-certified products.

Full Moon in Virgo ~ Mystical, Earthy, Energy

Tonight I am writing this blog as I sit in the high desert in beautiful Utah. I am sending this blog early to share with you that tonight (~60 hrs prior to the Full Moon) is a great time to notice any triggers that happen under a Full Moon. Under this Virgo Full Moon, may find yourself feeling a bit judgmental of others, or getting caught up in details or perfectionism that keeps you from acting or getting things done. Being aware of this time is helpful.

On Tuesday, February 19th at 7:53 am PST or (10:53 am EST) we have a Super Full Moon in Virgo. This moon carries mystical earthy energy that might move you through deep, unconscious feelings. Now is a time to look at what needs to come to an end and what you are ready to bring to life.

Native Americans called this Moon the Worm Moon as this is the time of the year when the earth begins to soften and the earthworms begin to make their way to the surface.

Virgo is a feminine, mutable, earth sign. She rules the intestines, digestive and nervous system. Her ruling planet is Mercury. She is all about intellect, communication, wisdom, and intuition!

Virgo Moons can open up our energy around our life paths and encourage us to bring our radiance out into the world to support healing for ourselves and others. This is a wonderful time to work with your Throat Chakra. Clearing the Throat Chakra helps you to have good, clear communication enabling you to express yourself authentically.

Full Moon Ceremony

Full Moons are a time for releasing, letting go and recalibrating. Under a Full Moon in Virgo, you may find that your organizational skills are available and so grab that urge and run with it!

Taking time for the ceremony can deeply nourish your spirit and soul and afterward, you may find that you are more clear and connected to your center. If you can gather with others under this Moon, please do!

A sweet ceremony for you:

  1. Go for a walk in nature. A park is good, or by a river or lake is lovely. Watch for signs of spring birds  (robin, sandhill cranes and Canadian geese moving north again) or just catch the singing birds. I am in love with the songs of the red-wing blackbirds, they are crazy beautiful right now. Watch for tree buds or flowers breaking through the earth.
  1. Then when you get home to take a look at the symbolism of the birds or animals or trees you take in and how you can work with their energy under this Full Moon. Here are a few examples of what I saw and what they are teaching me to work with as I move into the Full Moon Energy:
    • Daffodil: Her message is about trusting in one’s power. It calls for the awakening of inspiration, of a new season upon us. She calls us to trust in our creativity and power ~ we have more power to change things than we realize! I will be holding onto the message of trusting in my power to change.
    • Juniper Tree Buds: a message of protection, love, health, and cleansing ~ I will work on the cleansing!
    • Redwing Blackbird: Teaches us about the energies of Mother Nature. The red wing blackbird is connected to the creative forces of nature. Her black color is associated with the Cabalistic Tree of Life (symbolizing fresh starts or positive energy), the red in her wing is a symbol of energy, and the yellow is the color of the path that connects the two, the path of cancer, the mother of the zodiac! I will be working on connecting my energy to positive, fresh starts. 
  1. This is also a wonderful time to find a prayer stick. There are many fallen sticks on the soft, wet, earth right now. So if you find one that is calling you ~ bring it home and let it dry out and we will work with again next month.
  2. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
  • What is stirring in you?
  • Is there something you are called to begin?
  • What is needing to end? Let go?
  • Create your altar. Add colors of the earth: green, brown, reds and yellows. Gemstones you might want to work with are agates, blue sapphires, carnelian or Jasper. A few great scents to work with are cypress and frankincense or burn a little sweet grass. Place your new prayer stick on the altar (more on how to use and dress your prayer stick later <3)
  • Make a cup of Tea for your ceremony ~
    • Fennel tea is great for digestive issues;
    • Valerian is very calming for the nervous system;
    • Skullcap is perfect for quieting a busy mind!

Mother Earth is shifting into spring and we are shifting with her ~ feel the movement? We live in a world where endings are beginnings and beginnings are endings ~ everything comes full circle. We take for granted that each day we wake up to the new US, to someone we have never been before and will never be again.

Catch the Moonlight over these coming evenings ~ open your curtains and soak up her light while sleeping or in the morning during your meditation/ritual. It is something magical to experience. And who knows it may shine light into areas you never knew existed ~ but be prepared that it may not be something you wanted to know and so it is sometimes jarring ~ but always healing.

And …. don’t forget to put out your Moon Water gems ~

Make Fragrant Essential Oils: Warrior’s Spirit for Courage

This Warrior’s Spirit blend promotes courage and protection as well as physical and emotional support.

• 12 drops lavender oil
• 6 drops carrot seed oil
• 3 drops black pepper oil
• 3 drops angelica oil
• 3 drops myrrh oil
• 2 drops sage oil

Natural Perfumery

Craft evocative personal scents using natural ingredients, which lend delicate nuances to fragrances and evolve over time.

Thanks to the art and science of aromatherapy, we now appreciate the profound links between aroma and health; scents are processed in the amygdala, the same area of the brain that processes emotions. Because of the integration of scent and emotional processing, making natural perfume can contribute to our well-being. Perfume creation, which involves active olfaction and a total focus on the sense of smell, has been compared to concentrative meditation — it can help eliminate stress and bring about a sense of calm and peace. Not to mention, making perfume gives you the opportunity to develop your sense of smell!

Creating your own fragrances isn’t difficult. Maybe you already know that you prefer a certain type of perfume — an aroma that you identify with and that makes you feel good. Maybe you’d like to make a perfume to comfort, to uplift your spirits, to promote self-confidence, or for meditation. Or maybe you’d like to wear perfumes that reflect the season or evoke a specific mood. The possibilities are endless, and trying new combinations is part of the fun.

Natural Perfume Components

Natural perfumes made with essential oils and absolutes won’t be the same as commercial, alcohol-based perfumes. Essential oils are extracted from aromatic plants by steam distillation, or by physical expression, as in the case of citrus oils. Absolutes are made by solvent extraction; they’re aromatically similar to the plant but are very concentrated and best appreciated when highly diluted. Rose, jasmine, and orange blossom are the most popular absolutes. They’re expensive so you could use an infusion in jojoba oil as a budget-friendly alternative.

In mainstream perfumery, synthetic aroma chemicals dominate. This means that when a modern synthetic fragrance is applied, the effect is often linear — the perfume doesn’t substantially change its character from application until it has faded from our perception. The scent of perfumes made with extracts from aromatic plants, however, will evolve on our skin after application; we’ll first sense the top notes, then the middle notes at the heart of the scent, and finally the lingering base notes. Commercial perfumes are constructed for their initial impact and presence, their persistence, and for sillage — the trail of fragrance left in the air when the wearer walks by. Oil or wax-based natural perfumes are more subtle, and will usually fade more quickly. However, what’s lost in bombastic impact is more than made up for by the gentleness and beauty of naturally derived ingredients, and by the mood benefits of the aroma.

Fragrant Harmonies

Natural perfume isn’t composed randomly. To create a successful perfume, you’ll need to understand the olfactory relationships between essential oils, their volatility (which determines which scents are top, middle, and base notes), their diffusiveness, and their odor intensity.

The scent of every essential oil is made up of many chemical components, each of which has its own olfactory characteristics, and the components’ relative proportions have a major impact on the overall aroma of the oil. For this reason, some essential oils, such as rose or jasmine, are complex enough to make good single-ingredient fragrances, which are instantly recognizable. If you combine three essential oils, you create a new odor sensation, although you’ll still be able to discern the presence of the individual oils. But by combining five or more oils, you’ll create a completely new scent, which we’ll struggle to discern the individual ingredients of because hundreds of chemicals will be constituents contributing to the aroma.

In perfume, the initial impact is given by the “top note,” or the aromatics that evaporate most quickly; the heart of the scent is composed of “middle note” aromatics, defining the theme of the perfume; and less volatile “base note” aromatics anchor or fix the scent, giving it persistence. The oil or wax base of a natural perfume will also decelerate evaporation to an extent, which is why a natural perfume takes a little longer to make its presence known. By contrast, alcohol-based conventional perfumes are highly volatile.

In addition to the broad top, middle, or base category a particular aromatic might belong to, aromatic connections will be running throughout the perfume, because many essential oils share aromatic constituents. These form what we might think of as aromatic bridges, which will bring cohesiveness and harmony to your blend; aromatic contrasts will add drama and excitement.

Choose a Theme

When crafting a personal scent, you might want to create a soliflore, where one floral fragrance dominates; or a more sophisticated bouquet, which might be floral, herbal, or based on fragrant woods, soothing balsams, citrus, or vanilla. Each of these ideas can be fused so you might choose a floral-balsamic composition or an herbal-woody-spicy scent.

You can also create a more abstract scent that reflects seasons, places, or feelings. Evoke a walk in the forest with conifer oils or a tropical garden with sumptuous ylang-ylang. You could even use vanilla and citrus to make a fragrance inspired by the aroma of cakes baking!

Follow Your Nose

Top notes: Citrus is commonly used as a top note, because of its high volatility. Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) has a fresh citrus top note and sweet citrus body, with lemony, floral, peppery, and lavender-like nuances — elements that can bridge with many other scents. Use the furanocoumarin-free (FCF) version to eliminate the risk of phototoxicity, which is a burning reaction from topically applied essential oils that are triggered by exposure to sunlight. Other citrus top notes include yellow grapefruit (C. paradisi) for sharpness, lime (C. aurantifolia) for lightness, mandarin (C. reticulata) for freshness, and yuzu peel (C. junos) if you like a stronger aromatic citrus presence. Many citrus essential oils and aromatics are phototoxic, though the risk is minimized by using steam-distilled essential oils; research the aromatic you plan to use before adding it to a scent.

Herbal top notes give freshness to a blend; try using bergamot mint (Mentha citrata), lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), and petitgrain (C. aurantium).

Floral top notes include the green scent of neroli (steam-distilled C. aurantium var. amara) and damask rose (Rosa x damascena), which gives a gentle freshness, lift, and harmony.

Spicy top notes include black pepper (Piper nigrum) for light warmth and lift, and caraway seed (Carum carvi) for sweet warmth and intrigue. Versatile coriander seed (Coriandrum sativum), with sweet, spicy, woody, floral, and citrus notes, can act as a bridge.

Middle notes: Floral heart notes can be as defining or as subtle as you wish. Heady Jasminum grandiflorum absolute should be used sparingly for its intense, diffusive, warm floral fragrance. Like rose and orange blossom absolutes, it makes for a classic floral heart. Arabian jasmine (Jasminum sambac) is intensely sensual, and it makes a good soliflore. Rose absolute (Rosa x centifolia) will make a smooth, rich, sweet soliflore, or can be the dominant floral in a composition. In small amounts, its delicacy can transform fragrances. Orange blossom absolute (solvent-distilled from Citrus aurantium var. amara) is a rich and heavy floral that should be used sparingly. It can make an interesting soliflore with neroli as a top note. A little ylang-ylang extra (Cananga odorata var. genuina) goes a long way; it’s diffusive, sweet, rich, and tropical. In small amounts, it lifts and harmonizes blends.

For an herbal heart, try sweet, fresh lavender absolute; rose geranium (Pelargonium spp.); or sweet, diffusive Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) for its apple notes.

Citrus oils evaporate quickly, making them difficult to use in the heart of a scent. However, litsea (Litsea cubeba) is fresh, sweet, sharp, and lemony, and has reasonable tenacity.

Spicy oils make good partners for flowers and woods and can sit within the heart of a perfume. Clove Bud (Eugenia caryophyllata) is perfect for spicing up rose fragrances. Use it minimally; the scent is powerful, and the oil can irritate the skin. Cinnamon leaf (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) should also be used sparingly.

Woods and resins for heart notes include Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), which imparts woody and smoky notes; Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), which gives a mild “pencil shavings” aroma; and frankincense (Boswellia carterii), which offers a fresh, resinous effect. Both frankincense and Eastern red cedar reach the top notes while staying in the heart. Frankincense suffers from overharvesting for the essential oil trade, so be sure to seek out sustainably sourced oil if you wish to use it. Conifers usually make their presence felt in top notes, but are tenacious enough to stay in the heart.

Base notes: These oils all act as fixatives as well as fragrance elements. If you’re looking for a balsamic, ambery, rich effect, try the resin of rock rose (Cistus ladanifer) or myrrh (Commiphora myrrha).

Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) is distinctive and complex and will add character to blends with its persistent, earthy, herbaceous notes. Vetiver (Vetivera zizanoides) is a rich, sweet, woody, earthy aroma, with remarkably persistent musky notes.

Sandalwood (Santalum album) is the base of many traditional attars; blend it with rose or jasmine to create a simple, beautiful scent. The scent is sweetly woody and persistent, with balsamic and musky notes. Sandalwood is often overharvested in the wild; seek sustainable sources for this oil.

Vanilla (Vanilla planifolia) is sweet, rich, and warm, with woody and even tobacco notes. The solvent-extracted absolute is quite expensive, so the budget-friendly way to use it is to buy vanilla-infused jojoba oil, to which you can add your other ingredients.

The given recipes are only a few examples of perfumes you can create. Adapt them to suit what you have available — or what you prefer — and don’t be afraid to substitute fragrances or vary the proportions of aromatics. Enjoy; it’s your perfume!

Natural Oil-Based Roll-On Perfume Recipe

This oil-based roll-on perfume recipe is easy to adjust to your personal fragrance preferences, and fragrance-infused carrier oils expand the possibilities.

Yield: 0.35 ounces (10 milliliters) liquid perfume.

 

Pack your preferred personal scent into a roller ball bottle to have on hand throughout the day. Note that the provided measurements will give a concentration of around 5 percent essential oils. You shouldn’t use more than 2 drops of absolute per 0.35 ounces (10 milliliters) of carrier oil.

Ingredients:

  • 10 drops essential oils and absolutes (see “Oil-Based Perfume Variations,” below)
  • 0.35 ounces (10 milliliters) jojoba oil
  • A colored-glass roller-ball bottle

Instructions:

  1. Add your heart notes directly into the bottle, and smell as you go, in case you need to adjust.
  2. Next, add the base notes, and, again, remember to smell after every drop. You can always add more, but you can’t subtract.
  3. Finally, add your top notes.
  4. When you’re happy with the aroma, fill the bottle to the shoulder with jojoba oil, fit on the roller ball and lid, and invert the bottle gently several times to thoroughly distribute the oils in the jojoba.
  5. Give your composition a name, label the bottle, and note the formula.

Oil-Based Perfume Variations

Essential oils are extremely concentrated and must be sufficiently diluted in a carrier oil to be used safely on your skin. Don’t adjust the proportion of aromatics to carrier oil in these recipes. All the following quantities are calculated for 0.35 ounces (10 milliliters) of liquid perfume.


Tropical Flowers

Top: 2 drops lime

Heart: 3 drops ylang-ylang

Base: 5 drops sandalwood

Variation: Use vanilla-infused jojoba as the carrier for a creamy effect.


Herbal Bouquet

Top: 3 drops bergamot mint, 2 drops rose, and 2 drops lavender

Heart: 1 drop rose geranium, 1 drop Roman chamomile, and (optional) 1 drop lavender absolute

Base: 1 drop patchouli or vetiver


Meditation

Top: 2 drops Bergamot and 2 drops neroli

Heart: 2 drops frankincense

Base: 2 drops Myrrh and 2 drops sandalwood

Secrets to Healthy Hair, Skin, and Nails

Frustrated with lackluster hair, dry skin, and brittle nails? You are not alone. There is a multi-billion dollar cosmetics industry built on your hopes and dreams of shiny hair, strong nails, and supple, hydrated skin. But do the potions and tonics you apply to your tresses leave them dull and lifeless? Are your nails prone to splitting and cracking? Are your knees ashy an hour after applying lotion? There’s a reason why.
The products you use every day might be doing more harm than good. Cosmetic products are often loaded with harmful chemicals and toxins that detract from your health and appearance. Fortunately, the secret to beautiful hair, skin, and nails is simpler than you might think. Like so many other aspects of your health, your diet and lifestyle are major determinants of your appearance. Keep reading to find out how to improve and maintain strength and shine for a lifetime.

Watch What You Eat

Don’t underestimate the role a healthy diet plays in how you look. Vitamin C is crucial to maintaining your skin’s collagen and elasticity. Nutrition is vital to maintaining healthy-looking hair, skin, and nails. In fact, some of the first symptoms of nutritional deficiencies like B-12 are thinning, dry hair and thin, brittle nails. Too little zinc, biotin, or iodine might affect the appearance and integrity of your hair and nails. Make sure you eat a diverse range of healthy, colorful foods every day to get these essential nutrients.
If you consume alcohol often, keep in mind that alcohol also prematurely ages the skin and leads to wrinkles, hives, spider veins, cherry angiomas, psoriasis, and skin discoloration.

Sweat It Out

Diet is far from the only influence on your appearance. Exercise is another way to help you maintain a radiant complexion. In addition to helping keep your telomeres long, researchers have found that regular exercise encourages younger looking skin. You can also benefit from detoxing your skin by hitting the dry sauna or taking in a hot yoga class. Just make sure to rinse off afterward.

Reassess Your Beauty Routine

Your styling habits are a major influence on your appearance, and that includes the cosmetics you use. You might already know this if you’ve mistakenly over-processed your nails, leaving them brittle and prone to cracking and breaking. Your styling habits are a major influence on your appearance, and that includes the cosmetics you use. Harsh chemicals and procedures dry, damage, and otherwise compromise the appearance and integrity of hair, skin, and nails. To keep your outermost layers hydrated, supple, and vibrant, you need to treat your body right. If you’re looking to improve a certain area, natural products can help you address gaps in your routine. Make sure you choose natural, organic, non-toxic products.
Harmful compounds and additives in beauty products can compromise your long-term health. The preservatives and plasticizers in your nail polish may affect your DNA and hormones. Avoid anything labeled “fragrance,” this term is unregulated and could mean almost any chemical. Look out for carcinogenic preservatives like formaldehyde, BHA, BHT, and coal tar in your beauty products as well as synthetic endocrine disruptors like parabens, perfluorinated chemicals, and triclosan.
Consider how your cosmetics contribute to your appearance, not just immediately but over time. Are your cleansers nourishing or are they stripping the natural oils from your skin and hair? The heat and chemical processing you put your hair and nails through takes a toll on their strength. Over time they become brittle, dry and prone to breakage. Even worse, some hair dyes are known carcinogens.

Don’t Skimp on the Beauty Sleep

Prioritize sleep. Your overloaded schedule probably eats into the only “spare” time you have: your beauty sleep. And those dark under-eye circles are the least of your worries. You can see the proof looking back at you in the mirror after a rough night’s sleep. Missing out on a few hours of sleep sets off a cascade of hormonal changes that negatively affect how your cells function and how you feel throughout the day.
Give yourself a realistic bedtime. Put your tablet down, charge your phone, close your laptop, and turn off the television a couple of hours before your bedtime to get your mind ready for sleep.

Protect Your Skin From Environmental Damage

Overexposure to the sun, smoke, airborne toxins, and the chlorine in water can lead to a loss of luster and elasticity that ages your appearance. Freezing cold weather tends to be dry, leading to cracked, even bleeding, hands, lips, and cuticles.
Smoking is one of the surest ways to age your skin. Exposure to tobacco smoke decreases your production of collagen and damages your skin’s elasticity.

Natural Self Care

If you want to take better care of yourself, start exploring natural ways to keep your routine. I know beauty products are expensive. You don’t have to throw out your entire makeup bag today-start small. Swap in new, natural products whenever you run low on your normal cosmetics. Work your way through your hair, skin, and nail care products and rituals.
Consider dry brushing before your next shower. Dry brushing will help loosen dead skin and push your lymph fluid back into circulation. When you bathe, limit your exposure to excessively hot water in the shower. The next time you bathe, ask yourself if you’re washing your hair and skin out of habit, or if you genuinely need to wash, rinse, and repeat. You might just need a thorough rinse rather than a good scrubbing. For healthy nails, try to limit your showers to 15 minutes to keep your nails strong. Excessively long showers temporarily oversaturate nails and make them more prone to bending and tearing. Immediately after bathing, make sure you moisturize with organic products to seal in moisture. Don’t forget your hands, feet, and elbows.

Organic Beauty

Proper nutrition should be your first thought when you want to grow healthy hair, skin, and nails. B-complex vitamins are not only essential for overall health, but they’re also vital for nail and hair strength.
For truly remarkable hair, skin, and nails you should take an inside-out approach to beauty. Eat foods rich in beauty-boosting vitamins and take supplements to fill in the gaps. My favorite plant-based approach is taking our biotin supplement.

biotin for hair

Want Healthier Hair, Skin, And Nails?

Want more ways to get healthier hair, better skin, and stronger nails? Try these healthy, plant-based foods that are rich in biotin.

Biotin is a water-soluble, B-complex vitamin. It’s found in all living cells and is essential for cellular metabolism. Biotin is also known as vitamin H, coenzyme R, and vitamin B7. Confusingly, it is also sometimes called vitamin B8, but this is unofficial and relatively uncommon (B8 more often refers to inositol). Biotin is used by all living creatures—plants, animals, and even single-celled organisms.

In animals, biotin is essential for metabolizing proteins and converting sugar into usable energy. It’s necessary for hormone production and helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Biotin promotes healthy hair, skin, and nails. Mammals, including humans, cannot synthesize biotin and must obtain it from dietary sources.

Biotin deficiency is rare but dangerous. The vitamin is crucial for normal fetal development and a deficiency during pregnancy can result in birth defects. Symptoms of biotin deficiency include brittle nails, hair loss, muscle pain, nausea, fatigue, anemia, and dry skin.

Not All Sources of Biotin Are Equal

There are two forms of biotin found in living cells: free and protein-bound. The latter is just what it sounds like—biotin bound to protein. It’s mostly found in bacteria and animal cells. Free biotin, which is not bound to a protein, is more common in plants.

The human body can use both forms of biotin, but free biotin is more immediately bioavailable. With protein-bound biotin, your body must break the bond to convert biotin into a form it can use. Free-biotin doesn’t require this step—it’s easily absorbed and utilized in the body. Due to their high free biotin content, plant-based foods are generally better dietary sources of the vitamin than animal-based foods.

Protein-Bound Biotin Sources

Many foods contain some biotin, but the concentration in most is negligible from a nutritional standpoint. Other foods have very high biotin content. Organ meats, like kidneys and liver, are the most concentrated dietary source. Milk, dairy products, and seafood are other rich, animal-derived sources. Although egg yolks have a high concentration of biotin, they also contain a chemical that interferes with biotin absorption. A diet high in egg whites can actually lead to biotin deficiency.

If you must consume animal products, at least opt for organic whenever possible. This can mitigate, though not eliminate, some of the many health risks associated with the consumption of meat and dairy.

Plant-Based Biotin Foods

Although many types of animal-sourced food contain biotin, it’s protein-bound biotin. Plants contain free biotin, which is more bioavailable. This means that getting enough biotin from a vegan diet is achievable. Considering the multitude of other health benefits associated with a plant-based diet, it’s also the healthiest choice.

As we’ve only recently begun to understand the importance of biotin, nutritional experts are still refining accurate methods for measuring biotin concentration in food. As such, estimates of biotin content vary greatly for some foods and are completely lacking for many others. After exhaustive research, we’ve compiled this list of the best biotin foods.

1. Nuts

Although biotin concentration varies by the type of nut, nuts, in general, are one of the best dietary sources of free biotin. One hundred grams of pecans contains about 28 micrograms (mcg) of biotin; the same amount of peanuts or walnuts contains almost 37 mcg. Nuts are also a great source of energy, omega fatty acids, and other heart-healthy nutrients.

2. Sunflower Seeds

Heart-healthy, high in magnesium, and rich in antioxidants, a handful of sunflower seeds makes a great snack. They’re also an excellent source of biotin. One hundred grams of sunflower seeds contains 66 mcg of the vitamin.

3. Legumes

Legumes are another excellent source of biotin, especially green peas. Peas have 40 mcg of biotin per 100 grams when fresh and 70 mcg when dried; lentils offer 40 mcg of biotin. Even better, legumes are high in folic acid and enhance digestion.

4. Cauliflower

As a cruciferous vegetable, cauliflower is great for detoxing the liver and it’s loaded with healthy nutrients, one of which is biotin. A single serving of cauliflower offers 5% of your daily biotin requirement. Cauliflower is also high in vitamin C and many other health-promoting compounds. Not only is it great as a raw snack, but there are also many cauliflower recipes you can enjoy.

5. Bananas

Generally speaking, most types of fruit are not a very good source of biotin. Bananas are an exception. One, average-sized, peeled banana (about 100 grams) contains 1.18 mcg of biotin. Bananas are also a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, manganese, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamins A, C, and B6.

6. Cereals

Many cereal grains are a good source of biotin. Rice bran has a particularly high concentration, 66 mcg per 100 grams. Barley and oatmeal offer 31 and 24 mcg, respectively.

7. Avocados

Avocados are more popular now than ever before and for good cause. In addition to their many positive qualities, avocados are also a decent source of biotin. One whole avocado contains 2-6 micrograms of the vitamin, so don’t be afraid to have a little more organic guacamole.

8. Other Good Sources of Biotin

There are many other good sources of biotin. Carrots, leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, raspberries, and mushrooms can all contribute significantly to your daily biotin intake. Yeast also has an incredibly high biotin content, as do yeast-derived products like whole-grain bread.

Top Biotin Foods

Vegan Food Sources of Biotin
Food Biotin Content (mcg/100 grams)
Sunflower seeds 66
Rice Bran 66
Green peas, fresh 40
Green peas, dried 70
Lentils, fresh 40
Peanuts 37
Walnuts 37
Barley 31
Oatmeal 24
Pecans 28
Carrots 25
Cauliflower 17
Mushrooms 16
Avocados 4-12

How Much Biotin Do You Need?

Compared to other vitamins, much is still unknown about biotin. There is currently no official daily recommended intake of biotin and hypotheses of what it should vary drastically. The U.S. National Library of Medicine recommends a daily allowance of as little as 30 micrograms. At the other end of the spectrum, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends a daily allowance ten times higher—300 micrograms for adults.

Based on my experience, I tend to believe that our biotin requirements are at the high end of that scale. As a water-soluble vitamin, biotin doesn’t accumulate in your body like a fat-soluble vitamin. That means you need to replenish your supply regularly. If you take in more than you need, your body will simply excrete the excess biotin through urine. Individual requirements vary, but I recommend using the following chart as a general frame of reference for your daily biotin intake:

Life Stage Adequate Intake (AI) for Biotin, Daily
Infants 50 mcg
Children under 4 150 mcg
Adults and Children Over 4 300 mcg

Generally speaking, adults need more biotin than children, and pregnant or breastfeeding women may need more than other adults. Many health conditions or deficiencies influence the amount of biotin you need. It’s best to consult your trusted healthcare professional for guidance with your personal biotin needs.

Incorporating Biotin into Your Diet

Biotin is present in a wide variety of food. With a little planning and reliance on the whole, real food, obtaining enough biotin through diet is achievable for most people. Biotin is also produced by the microflora in the gut, but it’s not known how much that contributes to meeting biotin requirements. Ultimately, the biotin produced by the beneficial microorganisms in the gut is added to the biotin obtained from food.

Because of its role in strengthening hair and nails, many types of shampoo and lotion boast about containing biotin. Be aware that this is just a marketing ploy. Biotin isn’t easily absorbed by hair or skin, so if there’s any biotin in these products you won’t receive its full effects. Ingestion is the most effective way to get biotin into your system.

Your Guide to Vegan Skin Care

Today it’s easier than ever to choose a lifestyle that aligns with your health goals and ethical choices. If you’re a vegetarian, you avoid meat and fish and opt instead for plant-based foods, dairy, and eggs. A vegan diet takes things a step further, eschewing all products associated with animals, including animal-derived ingredients like milk, eggs, and honey.

For homemade natural beauty recipes, which often use dairy as a base for creams and lotions, finding a non-animal option may seem tricky But we actually have quite a few plant-derived substances from which to choose, whether it’s agave, natural plant oils like olive or grape seed, or nut milk. These types of ingredients can help you maintain beautiful skin and healthy, shiny hair – without having to compromise your values. Here are a few all-natural, all- vegan recipes to get you started.

Sheabutter_captionimage_

Shea Butter Body Lotion

From the African shea tree {Vitellaria paradoxa, formerly Butyrospermum parkii}, shea butter is an ivory-colored natural fat used much like cocoa butter, with a mild, almost musty fragrance. In cosmetics, it acts as a moisturizer and emollient and also contains anti-inflammatory properties. It can treat all types of skin conditions, from scars to chapped lips, and it’s helpful in treating acne because it’s easily absorbed by the skin and leaves no sticky residue. It also provides mild UV protection from the sun {but should never serve as a replacement for your sunscreen}. You can find it in natural food stores in the skincare section.

1/2 cup distilled water

1/8 tsp borax powder

1/4 cup shea butter

1/2 cup almond oil

Bring water to a boil. Place borax powder in a clean, heat-proof bowl, and pour in the boiling water, stirring well. Set aside. In a microwave-safe bowl or saucepan, combine oil and shea butter and gently heat the mixture until melted, stirring to mix. Transfer this mixture into a blender or food processor and blend on low, slowly adding the hot water solution in a slow, steady stream. Then blend on high until well-mixed. You should have a milky-white lotion. Pour the mixture into a clean container to cool.

To Use Massage into skin. Yields: 6 ounces.

Plant-Based Lip Balm

Several plant oils and waxes work great as substitutes for beeswax or lanolin to soothe dry, cracked lips. The shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, and castor oil in this recipe provides lips with natural shine and protection against the element.

1/2 tsp castor oil

1 tsp coconut oil

1 tsp shea butter

1/2 tsp cocoa butter

1-2 drops peppermint essential oil for flavor {optional}

In a heat-resistant bowl or small saucepan, combine all ingredients and gently heat until melted. {This may be done in the microwave, but be careful not to boil the mixture.} Stir well and pour into a small container. Let cool completely.

To Use Spread on your lips with a clean fingertip. Yield: .75 ounce.

Coconut Oil Body Polish

This scrub is perfect for skin that needs some exfoliation, but also a bit of TLC. The raw sugar exfoliates the skin while the coconut oil helps deeply condition it. After using this treatment, your skin should feel softer and smoother.

1 cup of raw sugar

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 tsp vitamin E oil

2-3 drops essential oil {lavender, rosemary, peppermint} optional

In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients and stir well. Spoon into a clean container.

To Use: Standing in the tub or shower, massage the mixture into your skin. {Be careful: the oil can make the tub slippery.} Rinse with warm water and pat your skin dry. Yield: 8 ounces.

Easy Dry Shampoo

Dry shampoos have become a popular alternative to regular “wet” shampoos, proving especially helpful after a workout during the day or when traveling. But spray-on dry shampoos can contain a wealth of questionable ingredients, when, in fact, all you really need is one tablespoon of either baking soda, cornstarch, or rice powder. That’s it…

To Use: Simply massage the powder directly onto your scalp and through your hair. You may want to lean over a sink as you apply the powder. Leave it on for at least 10 minutes, and then, using a clean, dry brush, vigorously brush your hair, using long strokes, to remove all of the powder.

Reading the Labels

Our skin is our largest organ, and what you use on it does affect your overall health. One advantage of making your own cosmetic products and treatments is that it puts you in control of the ingredients you use and apply to your skin. Of course, you don’t always have time to make all of your skincare products from scratch. So, knowing how to accurately read the labels of store-bought products becomes important.

To start, the term “natural” on the label is meaningless – there’s no authority that monitors this claim. Therefore, you really need to take an eagle eye to the back of the product. Ingredients are listed in order of percentage: if the first ingredient is water, that means water is the most prominent ingredient. You may see a product that boasts a desirable ingredient on the front label, only to find that it’s the last ingredient listed.

Some ingredients such as “sodium chloride” may sound scary {at least to those who’ve long forgotten their chemistry lessons}, but are, in fact, completely natural {sodium chloride is table salt}. Manufacturers often use scientific or Latin names for basic ingredients, but a quick search online can reveal the common name and whether it’s an ingredient you want to put on your skin.

Vegans may not realize that some of their favorite products actually contain ingredients they wish to avoid. Here’s a quick list of animal-derived substances.

  • Aspic: an industry alternative to gelatin; made from clarified meat or fish
  • Casein: a protein derived from milk
  • Cod liver oil: found in lubricating creams and lotions
  • Collagen: taken from the bones and connective tissues of animals; used in cosmetics to help skin retain water and keep it supple
  • Elastin: similar use as collagen; derived from the neck ligaments and aorta of cows
  • Gelatin/Gelatine: for smooth skin and to add gloss to hair; obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones from cows and pigs
  • Keratin: used for hair and as an anti-aging skin care ingredient; obtained from sheep wool or from the skin, hooves, and horns of animals
  • Lactose: a sugar derived from milk
  • Propolis: used for its antiviral and antimicrobial properties to treat breakouts and protect skin; created by bees in the construction of their hives
  • Royal Jelly: an anti-aging ingredient; comes from secretions of the throat gland of the honeybee
  • Shellac: found in hair lacquer; obtained from the bodies of the female scale insect, Tachardia lacca
  • Vitamin D3: found in creams, lotions, and other cosmetics; made from fish-liver oil
  • Whey: a byproduct of cheese making
  • Cochineal dye or carminic acid: adds red color; comes from the cochineal insect
  • Ambergris: adds scent and/or color; derived from whales

Garden Fresh Vegan Cologne

This fragrance uses fresh vegetable and herb leaves to create a light, summer-garden scent. Try it as an after-bath or after-shave splash – or anytime you need an aromatic boost.

4 Tbls fresh tomato leaves, chopped

1 Tbls fresh lemon zest

1 tsp fresh basil leaves

1 tsp fresh mint leaves

1 cup witch hazel

Place all of the fresh leaves and lemon zest inside a clean jar or bottle. Pour the witch hazel over; shake gently. Cover the bottle top and let it sit in a cool, dark spot for two weeks. Strain the liquid and discard any solids. Pour the liquid through a fine strainer or coffee filter into a clean bottle.

To Use: Apply as you would any cologne product. It’s especially refreshing on a hot summer day if kept in the refrigerator. Yield: 8 ounces.

Avocado Facial Mask

Fresh avocados are a classic facial mask ingredient full of natural fats and protein to help stimulate your skin’s own natural production of oil, helping to smooth out rough, dry skin. All skin types can benefit from an avocado facial. Make sure to save the pit; you can grind it up and use it in body scrub recipes, and if you live somewhere warm, you can plant it to have your own little avocado tree.

1/2 fresh avocado, mashed

1 Tbls fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and stir well until you have a smooth, creamy mixture.

To Use: Spread the mask on a clean face and neck and let sit for 15 minutes. {Take this moment to relax!} Rinse with warm water and gently pat your skin dry. Yield: 3 ounces, enough for one treatment.

Vegan Substitutions

Need to find a substitute for an ingredient in one of your beauty recipes? Several plant substances serve as effective replacements for some common ingredients derived from animals.

  • Beeswax: Heavy plant waxes, such as candelilla and carnauba, and oils like coconut can stand in for beeswax, which is used to thicken creams, lotions, and lip balms and help protect your skin. Cocoa and shea butters also work well.
  • Dairy: Today, you can find a wide variety of plant and nut milks to replace animal dairy called for in beauty recipes.
  • Egg white: This part of the egg provides astringent and cleansing qualities for oily skin types, but cucumber, chamomile tea, and aloe vera gel will work similarly.
  • Egg yolks: Full of lecithin, egg yolks help with dry skin conditions, but you can replace them with soy lecithin or use a rich oil such as coconut and olive instead.
  • Honey: In place of honey to cleanse and moisturize your skin look to molasses, maple syrup, or agave syrup.
  • Lanolin: Found in sheep’s wool, lanolin can be replaced with rich plant oils such as soy, almond, and avocado.

 

The Basics: Herbal Oils

Herbal oils are simply oils infused with herbs, much as you would steep rosemary in olive oil for culinary purposes. Healing herbal oils can be taken internally for a variety of ailments, can be used externally for therapeutic or daily beauty routines, and can be incorporated into herbal salve recipes. Dried herbs are preferred since fresh herbs will sometimes ferment.

Basic Herbal Oil:

1 cup finely ground dried herbs {flowers, leaves, roots, barks, and/or seeds}

1 1/4 cups almond, jojoba, or olive oil

In a blender or food processor, combine the herbs and oil. Blend or process until puree for greater extractability. Pour the mixture into a clean glass jar with a lid, making sure the plant material is completely submerged in the oil. If it’s not, add more oil until the herbs are covered by about 1 inch of liquid. Cover the jar and store it in a dark place, shaking it daily, for 2 to 3 weeks. Filter it carefully through cheesecloth, a muslin bag, or a square of linen, gathering up the edges and squeezing out the oil. Compost the herbs. Pour the oil into amber bottles, and label the bottles with the contents and date. Store it in a dark place.

Quick Infused Oil:

Use this recipe when you need an herbal oil fast.

2 cups dried herbs {flowers, leaves, roots, barks, and/or seeds

2 to 2 1/2 cups almond, jojoba, or olive oil

In a blender or food processor, combine the herbs and oil. Blend or process until pureed. Place the mixture in a slow cooker turned to the low setting {about 100 degrees F} and keep it covered. To prevent spoilage, keep the herb submerged in oil at all times; add more oil if necessary. Stir daily for about 3 days. Let the oil cool. Using a fine-mesh strainer or cloth, filter the herb out of the oil, pressing as much oil out as possible. Pour the oil into amber bottles, and label the bottles with the contents and date. Store it in a dark place.

Calendula Infused Oil:

Apply this beautiful golden-colored oil directly to your skin to soothe rashes, sunburns, and skin irritations, or use it as part of a healing herbal salve or cream recipe. Store for up to 2 years if kept out of light and in a cool place.

1 cup wilted fresh or 1/2 cup dried calendula flowers

1 1/4 cups almond, jojoba, or olive oil

In a blender or food processor, combine the flowers and oil. Blend or process until pureed. Pour the mixture into a clean, clear glass jar, cover, and place in a warm spot out of direct sunlight. Make sure the herb is submerged in the oil at all times; if necessary, add more oil. Shake the jar vigorously every day for 2 to 3 weeks. Using a fine-mesh strainer or cloth, filter the herb out of the oil, pressing as much oil out as possible, and compost the herb. Bottle and label the oil and store it away from heat and light.

St. John’s Wort-Infused Oil:

St. John’s wort infused oil helps heal damaged nerves as well as other tissues. Conscientious, regular massage of an injured area with this oil can bring astonishing healing, even to old injuries. Taken internally, it helps heal stomach ulcers.

1 cup fresh St. John’s Wort flowering tops

1 1/4 cups almond, jojoba, or olive oil

In a blender or food processor, combine the herb and oil. Blend or process until smooth. Pour the mixture into a clean, clear glass jar and cover. Make sure the herb is submerged in the oil at all times; if necessary, add more oil. This oil should become bright red as it develops; if it does not, place the jar on a sunny windowsill where sunlight can warm it. Shake the jar vigorously every day for 2 to 3 weeks. Using a fine-mesh strainer or cloth, filter the herb out of the oil, pressing as much oil out as possible. Compost the herb, bottle and label the oil, and store it away from heat and light.

Earache Oil:

This classic formula is a must for every family medicine chest and a first-aid kit. It combines the properties of mullein flowers and garlic to reduce bacterial growth and prevent and ease earaches, wax buildup, and irritation. Remember, though, that ear infections, whether in children or adults, should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare practitioner before you treat them at home.

2 or 3 fresh garlic cloves

2 tablespoons fresh or dried mullein flower

1/2 cup almond, jojoba, or olive oil

Crush the garlic well and break up the mullein flower. In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic, flower, and oil. Blend or process until pureed. Pour the mixture into a clean, clear, glass pint jar and store it away from heat and light. Make sure the herb is submerged in the oil at all times; if necessary, add more oil. Shake the jar daily for about 2 weeks. Strain and compost the herb. Bottle and label the oil and store it away from heat and light.

To use, pour some oil into an amber bottle with a dropper, let it warm to room temperature, and put 2 or 3 drops of the oil into the ear that needs treatment. Tilt your head so that the oil flows easily down your ear canal. Massage the back of your ear several times to help disperse the oil throughout the ear canal. Repeat two or three times daily.