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Natural Cosmetics – An Inconvenient Truth!

April 3, 2009

Some would say that I’m  a bit of a tree hugger and they would be right only for me the hugging is much more “actual” rather than metaphorical.

Anyway my approach to the formulations that I make for myself and my family is a tree hugging approach. I prefer to use natural ingredients and make things fresh where possible (no, I didn’t say “Chemical Free”)  I also like to make the formulations as effective as possible with as few ingredients as possible.   That is a big ask and that is part one of my inconvenient truth. Let me tell you more…..

Less is more: If you want your face wash to cure your acne, moisturize, refresh and brighten while being mild, cost effective and good to go for at least a year you are asking a lot.  I try to think about the main function of a product and then go from there. This is inconvenient truth no 1. It means that I may actually have to fiddle around and tailor make lots of different products to do lots of different jobs.

Natural can be messy: Inconvenient Truth number two is that yes, some naturally derived formulations are a bit messier and gloopier than their synthetic sisters. Why? Well, that is because the asthetics of a product take a lot of ingredients to get right (OK, not always but sometimes). Getting that lotion to be just the right thickness, shiny white and able to hold those micro-beads takes skill and some formulating power. Natural is a bit more earthy!  Take for example the face mask that I made today. I used Australian Pink Clay, Australian Blue Clay and Chamomile Flower powder all blended together with a bit of macadamia nut oil.  Result – a wonderful and all natural face pack that didn’t dry the skin and left it feeling soft and beautiful. The inconvenient bit – The clay stains clothes, it rubs off all over the place and is a bit messy to apply!

Natural can be expensive: Another Inconvenient Truth!  Essential Oils (the real ones suitable for aromatherapy) can be very expensive and some are hard to get as harvests come but once a year.  Add to that the price of Aloe Vera Gel these days and the cost of natural surfactants and you start to see the pennies add up!  Yes, there are ways to save money and joining a co-op of hobby makers is a good way of buying in bulk to save.  However, all of this takes some organizing and how much time does a tree hugger have?

OK, so it is probably time for Inconvenient Truth number four and one that is close to my heart.

Natural Cosmetics may irritate: WHAT?  It is true! One of the most irritating ingredients in mainstream cosmetics is Linalool and while this is mostly synthetically made it is a major constituent in Lavender Oil – a totally natural ingredient! Other than that you have essential oils which are 100% active, misuse these and you can be in serious trouble and then there are the surfactants which while naturally derived can still pack a punch if formulated incorrectly.

So, to summarize Natural Cosmetics may be fiddly, messy, expensive and irritating, time to give up and go synthetic? I don’t think so!  Ask any home cook how difficult and time consuming it is to make an apple pie  or a  vegetable Vindaloo from scratch? It takes time, patience, experience and a dash of respect for the ingredients. Sometimes outsourcing is a good thing but nothing beats the feeling of pride and the enjoyment that comes from the home bake experience.

Please, enjoy your Natural Cosmetics, treat them with care and remember that with every small step towards a greener future comes an Inconvenient Truth.  Don’t be afraid to share the journey!

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 15, 2009 12:47 pm

    Great blog as always!!! Re messy, gloopy etc, these problems may be significantly reduced when natural formulations are carefully developed…

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