Concerned about the use of chemicals, animal testing and damage to the environment, an increasing number of consumers are seeking out clean cosmetics and natural beauty products, and they are looking for reassurance that the products that they are buying meet their requirements.
However, it’s not always easy to find the information they need to make informed decisions. The FDA is under no obligation to approve beauty and skin products before they go on sale in the stores1
Variations from state to state on the definition of what constitutes an organic product can be confusing for buyers, and even products that are labeled natural still contain synthetic and potentially harmful chemicals2. Consumers are also worried about animal welfare but find it hard to know for sure which products have been tested on animals.
As an antidote to overwhelming product ingredient lists, you can combine just two or three pure, products to create natural, green beauty treatments that are not only pleasant to use but also highly effective.
After prolonged use of shop bought shampoos, conditioners and other intensive hair treatments, your hair can start to look dull. This is partly because residue from oils and chemicals present in these products can start to build up on your hair and scalp. In addition, many shampoos are alkaline which disrupts the lower pH balance of the hair. As a result, the scales on the hair shaft open giving your hair a dull or frizzy appearance.
By occasionally cleaning your hair with a homemade rinse, you can remove this residue and help to bring back the natural pH of your hair. Doing so will restore your hair’s shine and nourish your scalp without stripping your hair of its own natural oils.
The key ingredient in this rinse is cider vinegar. As well as improving the look of the hair by flattening the scales on each hair shaft, the cider vinegar’s acidity and anti-bacterial properties will exfoliate a dry and flaky scalp helping to remove excess dandruff.
To make the rinse, blend together apple pieces, cider vinegar and water and then, after shampooing, pour the mixture over your hair as a rinse. After massaging the mix on the scalp and through the hair, rinse with cool water. Leave your hair to dry naturally and, after brushing it through, you should see a noticeable improvement in the condition and feel of your hair and scalp.
If blackheads on your face are a particular problem, you can treat them separately using a mixture of egg white with a little lemon juice.
Apply a layer of the mixture onto your nose, or your whole face if you prefer, and leave it to dry a little. Then add another layer of the egg mix and a layer of tissue before a final layer of mixture. Building the mask up like this makes it more effective, and the tissue will help you to peel off the mask once it is completely dry.
As you pull the mask away, you should see that the blackheads have been removed or are at least less apparent. Rinse your face and apply a little lemon juice to the pores on your nose to help close them up and keep them clearer for longer.
For thousands of years, turmeric has been used for its therapeutic qualities. Now studies confirm that turmeric, and the chemical compound curcumin found within it, are beneficial for skin health3.
The anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant qualities of curcumin mean that, when applied topically, turmeric can be used to brighten skin tone, clear spots, and minimize damage from UV rays.
Turmeric’s brightening qualities make a perfect ingredient for dark circles under the eyes. Mix together turmeric and buttermilk in equal quantities, then apply the paste under the eyes and leave for about fifteen minutes. Wipe away with a damp cloth to reveal revitalized skin that is lighter and brighter.
A simple base for a moisturizing lip balm consists of beeswax and coconut oil that has been melted and mixed together. As well as being a very effective moisturizer, beeswax has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial qualities that will help heal cracked lips in the winter. It will lock in moisture and form a layer to protect your lips from further damage from the cold.
You can add other ingredients to your basic lip balm mix such as peppermint oil for flavor or beet root powder for pink coloring. By adding a little cinnamon, the balm will naturally plump your lips a little. The cinnamon irritates the lips slightly, and the increased blood flow in response to this irritation will cause the lips to plump up.
With age, the skin around the neck loses its elasticity and can begin to wrinkle. To combat this sagging, a paste containing pineapple will help firm the skin. Pineapple contains a large amount of vitamin C which has been shown to increase production of collagen, decreasing wrinkling and smoothing rough skin5.
To make the paste, mash some fresh pineapple with olive oil and honey. Smooth the mixture over your neck and leave to dry for half an hour. Once the paste is washed off with warm water, your skin should feel firmer and smoother.
Your hands are hardworking and can get very dry especially in cold weather. Shea butter mixed with a little sunflower oil makes a simple hand moisturizer. Warm the ingredients to blend them together, pour into a jar and then use as a regular hand lotion.
As well as moisturizing the skin on your hands, sunflower oil will soothe irritated skin and the vitamin A and E in the butter will help to nourish and heal your hands.
Take a break from nail varnish and the drying effects of nail varnish remover and treat your nails to a soak in warm olive oil and lemon juice.
The olive oil helps in the absorption of calcium and as it softens and penetrates the cuticles, it will strengthen and moisturize your nails. Whereas the acidic quality of lemon juice will help in strengthening damaged and peeling skin around the nails.
Mix three spoonfuls of olive oil with one of fresh lemon juice and warm the mixture slightly before massaging the nails and then soaking your fingers tips for a further 10 minutes. Then, rinse your fingers in warm water to reveal cleaner, shinier nails.
By massaging your skin with a body scrub, you will revitalize dull looking skin by improving your circulation and removing dead skin through exfoliation.
A refreshing mix of fine sea salt, lemon juice, olive oil and rosemary will give your senses a hit at shower time. If you have sensitive skin, replace the sea salt with sugar as sugar crystals are smaller than salt particles and so the effect of rubbing it onto the skin is a little less abrasive.
Combine the ingredients into a paste and massage the paste into your skin. The salt and lemon juice will clean and exfoliate while the olive oil will provide deep moisture to your body.
The rosemary helps alleviate aching muscles and joint pain as well as adding a stimulating fragrance.
Cracked heels and hard dry skin on the feet are common complaints and, as well as looking unsightly, can leave your feet feeling rough and sore. You can apply pieces of cucumber directly onto cracked heals for a quick, soothing fix.
However, by taking the time to treat your feet to a deep soak, you can soften, nourish and moisturize the very dry skin.
For the soak, blend a cucumber with three tablespoons of olive oil and the juice of a lemon. Divide the mixture between two plastic bags and place your feet inside. Tie the bags around your ankles and then sit and relax for 10 minutes while the mixture does its magic.
The nourishing properties of the cucumber will refresh the skin and the olive oil will provide soothing moisture to rough skin. At the same time, the astringent properties of the lemon juice will help remove dead skin cells, promote cell renewal, and, as a bonus, brighten the skin and toenails.
Creating your own green beauty products at home is simple and easy. Natural ingredients found in your fridge and store cupboards can be quickly turned into effective treatments that will add shine to your hair, nourish your nails and soothe, moisturize and rejuvenate your skin.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with treatments to see which works best for you and your particular beauty concerns. As all the ingredients are natural and organic, you can rest assured that the products you make are free from harmful chemicals, and so won’t damage your skin or the environment.