Sunday, 18 July 2010

Beauty products and preservatives (snappy title!)

I think there are some things that, once you have made them yourself or bought them handmade, you never go back. Bread is one of them. I am also a bit like that with handmade beauty products (soap!) so I have been experimenting this weekend with different ways of making body butter (in fact this is going to be a bit disjointed as I am going to have to keep going off and whisking my shea). OK, I am back now (it isn't working, I think I needed more oil.) Anyway, in my travels around the internet and other places, I have learned something interesting about handmade bath and body products, and I am going to pass it on to you here. Because this is my blog, and I can be boring if I want to be. And also otherwise soon people are going to not answer the phone if it is my number calling and will say to each other 'Oh God it's Susie, don't answer, she's going to tell us about parabens.' But first. A picture.
This is my Honey Healing Balm. I will not recommend it. Not only did I spend a Saturday night stirring it when really I ought to have done something more sociable and dynamic, it will not set, and honey is really sticky, so when you rub it on yourself you feel a bit like one of those cartoons where people get covered in honey and are chased by bees. I shall experiment further.

OK, so this is what I have learned. You can make two different types of moisturising-type things. One is anhydrous and one is not. This means one has water in it and one doesn't. Now, this is the exciting thing: you cannot make anything with water in without a preservative, unless you are going to keep it in the fridge and use it really quickly. Sorry got to go and whisk again. OK, here I am back and with a new appreciation of why people have Kitchen Aid mixers. If you don't use preservative, it will get mouldy quickly. An anhydrous moisturiser (like, to pluck an example out of entirely thin air, hmm, whipped shea body butter), will last for months without preservatives, but if you want that familiar shop-bought texture, or a lotion, or a cream, you need to use water, emulsifier, and preservative.

So this has made me start thinking about greenwash. I read an article in a newspaper today (I can't find a link), about a woman who was selling mineral makeup, who made a big fuss about her products being 'all natural' and not having 'fillers'. This woman sold liquid foundation. People: liquid foundation *must* contain the following: 'fillers' in the form of lotion (otherwise it would just be powdered pigment), emulsifier, preservative. Now, I am not saying that this is necessarily wrong – I think you just accept that if you're going to use something like this it needs preservative in it – but implying things that are just not true about something you're charging £40 a tube for is pretty rich. Eco friendliness: not just a marketing gimmick. So, this is my counter recommendation. The best foundation to use, bar none, is powdered mineral foundation, which you can buy from lots of sellers on etsy. You apply it with a brush, it lasts forever, and it even makes my skin tone look attractive, and this is quite an achievement. Also I suspect you could buy quite a lot of mineral foundation from etsy for £40. I think you might have enough left over to buy the brush! (and a hot pie!).

You see how a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I'm going to spare you my rant (this time. I will certainly do it later, be very afraid) about how commercially produced soap is not proper soap, because I have got to go and obsess over my Shea Butter. The whole house smells of patchouli. I am hoping Partner does not rebel.


resa said...

Best of luck with the body butter. I decided that I wouldn't be making any more of my own cosmetics (excepting lip balm) until I had an immersion blender. So much whisking.

And I totally want to hear the rant. Saponification is serious business.

Susie said...

Oh, God, yes, SO MUCH WHISKING! And I still haven't got the texture right. I will be whisking body butters FOREVER.

OK, moment of despair over, I feel better now. Whipped body butter: harder than it looks. :-(

Susie Jefferson said...

Here's a great link for you: She makes a lot of beauty products, has some recipes on her blog. Anything you need to know, I'm sure Joey will have the answer.

Vivianne said...

And about those people who make medical claims for their products, and those who say they make soap without using lye ....<< pushes soapbox towards Susie >>

Alison Bayne said...

Hi I'm a freelance writer and would be happy to review your products and spread the word. You know me as Blackthorn Goodchild - hope to hear from you. x