For a nourishing hair mask, try a mix of yogurt+egg yolks, while for a gentle cleansing shampoo, a paste of equal quantities of soapnut powder, shikakai in warm water would work best. Pamper yourself with simple face exfoliants such as brown sugar+olive oil, and soothing face masks with a base of honey, olive oil, or turmeric.
Is the long list of unpronounceable names of chemicals on your makeup working you up? With horror stories about standard cosmetics and their health hazards making the rounds, it’s natural to want to look for safer substitutes. Thankfully, there’s a big “natural” and “organic” movement now which has brought a slew of options to the market. You can also pick up ingredients from your kitchen cabinet to rustle up some great homemade alternatives. There are also ancient beauty remedies from Ayurveda and naturopathy to consider. So how do you zero in on the best options for you and your skin? Here’s some help.
Buying Natural Products Vs. Standard Makeup
When your makeup regimen means more than just quick cosmetic fixes, and doing what’s good for your body and skin becomes equally important, you need to put some thought into what products you’re using. And that’s precisely what has made more natural alternatives to standard cosmetics go mainstream today. These organic and natural ingredient-based formulations that are gentler on the skin are fast gaining popularity over synthetic cosmetics that are loaded with chemicals. Instead of products laced with fragrances and chemicals designed to simulate natural oils and fragrances, the products actually have a base of olive oil, coconut oil, sandalwood, and honey, to name a few.
Just remember, all products that are sold as “organic” or “natural” aren’t risk-free. They can contain petrochemicals, synthetic substances, and fragrances for preservation, color, and odor.1 Even organically grown ingredients used in these products may sometimes be toxic or allergenic.2
Look For These Ingredients In Your Store-Bought Makeup
Look for these natural ingredients in the cosmetics you buy from the market. They substitute harmful chemicals and should be a safe bet if you want less harsh makeup options. Mind you, they can be a little more expensive, but the benefits are often worth the little extra you pay.
- Xanthan Gum: Derived from the fermentation of carbohydrates such as glucose or corn syrup, xanthan gum is used as a binding agent or an emulsifying agent. Due to its high viscosity, it keeps ingredients suspended. It helps in thickening shampoos, body wash, and liquid soap.3
- Keratin: This non-toxic structural protein strengthens hair and nails. In cosmetics, it acts as a hair and skin conditioning and strengthening agent. Keratin in cosmetic products is usually derived from animal hair, horn, wool, and similar tissues of animals.4
- Hyaluronic Acid: HA helps improve the condition of your skin. In anti-aging and wrinkle treatment lotions and creams, it is used as a filler and rejuvenator to restore the elasticity of the skin. Soy products, red wine, spices, and pepper are some sources of HA.5
- Bamboo Extract: The main content of bamboo extract is silica. It helps your body build collagen, which nourishes skin, nails, and hair. Bamboo extract or bamboo silica is used in shampoos, conditioners, hair masks, skin cleansers, face masks, eye creams, and elixirs.6
- Tea Tree Oil: Derived from the Australian Melaleuca alternifolia tree, this oil is known for its disinfecting and healing properties. It helps treat acne and reduce blemishes on the skin. It is used in shampoos, skin and nail creams, and massage oils.7
- Aloe Vera: Aloe vera is immensely popular as a natural beauty care ingredient and is a good skin softener and moisturizer. It contains amino acids like leucine, isoleucine, and saponin glycosides that work as cleansing agents, and vitamins A, C, E, B, choline, B12, and folic acid that provide antioxidant activity.8
Make Your Own!
Oils, scrubs, powders, or pastes prepared with ingredients available in your kitchen shelves can be incredible beauty products. Many of these ingredients are also popularly used in Ayurvedic and naturopathic remedies.
- Coconut Oil Body Lotion and Hair Elixir: Coconut oil contains an abundance of fatty saturated acids, along with vitamin E and moisture. Because of its composition it makes a good natural alternative to synthetic body lotions.9 You could also use it to nourish the scalp and reduce hair loss.10
- Sugar Face Scrub: When mixed with olive oil or coconut oil, brown or white sugar can be a good scrub for face and hands. Sugar scrubs can be made at home and are excellent exfoliating and moisturizing agents.
- Yogurt and Egg Hair Mask: A mixture of yogurt and egg make a good homemade hair mask. This mixture, a combination of proteins, vitamins, and other nutrients, is effective in strengthening and improving the quality of your hair.11
- Honey Face Pack: The amino acids, peptides, and vitamins in honey make it an excellent skin care product. It has enzymes, antioxidants, and nutrients that nourish and cleanse the skin. It can be used as a natural face pack for a glowing and healthy skin.12
- Olive Oil Skin Care: Olive oil’s triacylglycerols, minerals, and vitamins give it the ability to nourish the skin and remove wrinkles. It can also block out as much as 20 percent of UV radiation.13
- Soapnut and Shikakai Shampoo: A mixture of soap nut powder and shikakai applied as a hair wash can give the same results you would normally get from much harsher chemical shampoos. The mixture cleanses the hair by removing oil and sweat, conditions it, and nourishes it, adding body and shine.14
- Turmeric Skin Care: Although predominantly known as an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory agent, turmeric holds a prominent place in the natural beauty products section too. It is used to treat wrinkles, stretch marks, and skin pigmentation, and also works as a sunscreen.15
While natural beauty products have many benefits, they have their own shortcomings too. If they are not handled properly, they can be dangerous. Some of these natural products have a short shelf life. While you can improve their shelf life by adding natural antioxidants, such as vitamin E and rosemary oil, which have the properties of reducing their oxidation, this may not always be possible. Better yet, buy these natural products in small pack sizes from respected local producers, so your cosmetics are always fresh and of the best quality.
These natural or homemade products can last you well if you keep them contamination-free. Store them in a cool dry place or even in the refrigerator if needed. And remember to keep them out of reach of children who may be drawn to the familiar fruity or floral smells of the ingredients. Ingestion of essential oils in particular can be harmful, especially for children.16
Some natural ingredients may have an allergic effect depending on the skin type. If you are buying a personal care product that has natural ingredients, do read the labels for any allergy claims. Stop using it immediately if a rash or pigmentation develops.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Myths on cosmetics safety, EWG.|
|2.||↑||“Organic” Cosmetics, FDA.|
|3.||↑||Garcıa-Ochoa, F., V. E. Santos, J. A. Casas, and E. Gomez. “Xanthan gum: production, recovery, and properties.” Biotechnology advances 18, no. 7 (2000): 549-579.|
|5.||↑||Pavicic, Tatjana, Gerd G. Gauglitz, Peter Lersch, Khadija Schwach-Abdellaoui, Birgitte Malle, Hans Christian Korting, and Mike Farwick. “Efficacy of cream-based novel formulations of hyaluronic acid of different molecular weights in anti-wrinkle treatment.” Journal of drugs in dermatology: JDD 10, no. 9 (2011): 990-1000.|
|6.||↑||Bambusa Vulgaris (Bamboo) Extract, EWG.|
|7.||↑||Enshaieh, Shahla, Abolfazl Jooya, Amir Hossein Siadat, and Fariba Iraji. “The efficacy of 5% topical tea tree oil gel in mild to moderate acne vulgaris: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study.” Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology 73, no. 1 (2007): 22.|
|8.||↑||Basmatker, Gauri, Neha Jais, and Farhat Daud. “Aloe vera: a valuable multifunctional cosmetic ingredient.” Int J Med Aromat Plants 1 (2011): 338-341.|
|9.||↑||Agero, A. L., and Vermén M. Verallo-Rowell. “A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis.” Dermatitis 15, no. 3 (2004): 109-116.|
|10.||↑||Ruetsch, S. B., Y. K. Kamath, and Aarti S. Rele. “Secondary ion mass spectrometric investigation of penetration of coconut and mineral oils into human hair.” J. Cosmet. Sci 52 (2001): 169-184.|
|11.||↑||Barve, Kalyani, and Apurva Dighe. “Hair Conditioner.” In The Chemistry and Applications of Sustainable Natural Hair Products, pp. 37-44. Springer International Publishing, 2016.|
|12.||↑||Burlando, Bruno, and Laura Cornara. “Honey in dermatology and skin care: a review.” Journal of cosmetic dermatology 12, no. 4 (2013): 306-313.|
|13.||↑||Korać, Radava R., and Kapil M. Khambholja. “Potential of herbs in skin protection from ultraviolet radiation.” Pharmacognosy reviews 5, no. 10 (2011): 164.|
|14.||↑||Sharma, Laxmikant, Gaurav Agarwal, and Ashwani Kumar. “Medicinal plants for skin and hair care.” Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge 2, no. 1 (2003): 62-68.|
|15.||↑||Handral, Harish K., Shrishail Duggi, Ravichandra Handral, G. Tulsianand, and S. D. Shruthi. “TURMERIC: NATURE’S PRECIOUS MEDICINE.” Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research 6, no. 3 (2013): 10-16.|
|16.||↑||Essential Oils: Poisonous when Misused, National Capital Poison Center.|