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The Home Bake – Ten Tips For Cosmetic Success.

October 4, 2009

Creating your own cosmetics is a great way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon  but to ensure that you don’t suffer for your art there are a few things to consider. Respect the art and  your safety!

1) Cleanliness rules. Just like when you are cooking for your family, make sure you start off with a fresh and clean workspace, with clean utensils AND clean packaging. Insure that no food surrounds your preparation area!

2) Sterilize. Make sure that you wash your hands with an antibacterial solution or alcoholic wipe. You can sterilize pots and packaging in boiling water or by using a bit of baby bottle sterilizing solution.   If you start off with bugs in the system, your beautiful and natural cosmetics will soon become a bacteria playground.

3) Ingredients. Your raw materials will all have different shelf lives. These will be stated on the packs when you buy the products.  Most carrier oils (Jojoba, Macadamia etc) will last for maybe 2-3 years with careful storage, clays will last for years longer if they are kept dry but herbal extracts may only last 6 months.  Check the ingredients before you use them.

4) Cooking Tips. Are your products going to be hot?   Where will you put them to cool? How far do you have to walk with your hot oil? It may sound ridiculous but I have been caught out with boiling hot oil and a litre of slipy soap solution before and no bench space to put it! Be especially careful if you are creating products with your kids!

5) Suitability for Purpose.   Another one that sounds obvious until it catches you out.  Before starting think about what you are making and how you will use it. Then go through your ingredient list and make sure that each ingredient is safe to use in the way and quantity that you are going to use it. You can find that information by talking to the supplier, checking out the MSDS (these are available online) and data sheets (usually available online too). This also applies to packaging,  that glass bottle may look amazing but it will be difficult and dangerous  to handle in the shower.

Some quick pointers:

Some essential oils break down in sunlight so should not be used in sunscreens or daily moisturisers. Examples would be Bergamot, Lemon Oil, Lime, Orange Oil.

If using glitter be careful of applying this near to the eye area – cosmetic grade glitter is very different from that from the craft store as it has been specially milled to have smooth edges. Jagged edges in the eye can cause permanent damage.

Some ingredients are not suitable for ingesting (for toothpaste flavour) or for use near to the lip area.  This includes many colours and most essential oils.

6) Shelf Life. Our recipes have been designed to provide you with a small amount that will last no longer than a week. The reason for this is to minimize the need for preservation. While things like a waterless lip balm will last weeks longer with correct storage, some toothpaste (containing glycerine) will become a bug breeding ground much quicker.  You can improve shelf life by being careful in your use of the product – don’t dab dirty hands or brushes into the pot; store in the fridge; choose packaging with a smaller opening to avoid air borne bug problems. If a product looks iffy, don’t use it!

7) Label. It is important to label your product  so that you remember what you put in and when you made it! This also saves other family members from eating that cream that looks so tasty!  The golden rule is to write your ingredients down in order of descending quantity and include everything. This will also help you if you develop an adverse reaction to what you have made.

8) Test. Always make a small batch first to avoid wastage and test your creation on yourself before going crazy and giving it to everyone (especially children). Your lip area is the most sensitive so it is wise to test most things on this skin first. If you get a reaction do not use the product.  Also, be aware that other people may be more sensitive than you so go carefully!

9) Expectations. Remember that your home made and un-preserved products may be a great for home use, these recipes won’t stand up to retail expectations!  Just like when you cook food, commercial cosmetic making – whether for selling on markets, to your friends or in a department store is a world away from what we are doing and is bound by many rules and regulations. If you want to go into mass production you will need to invest in some proper training – which we can help with via the Institute of Personal Care Science!

10) Enjoy and share. Remember to make a note of anything that you change in your formulation so that you can share your success with friends and repeat it again  next time.  Our Cosmetic Kitchen recipes have been designed to be effective, reproducible and fun but they won’t suit everyone. Sharing your ideas among friends will open up a whole world of opportunity!

We hope that you enjoy this lazy Sunday in your Cosmetic Kitchen and remain at hand to help with any questions and concerns that you have.

Have fun and Feel Great Being You!

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