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Healthy Life Essex – informative website and newsletter

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  1. Hello,
    I live abit far away to attend meetings, however in the interests of encouraging use of non-petroleum-based skin products, I have some very detailed notes from a recent course I attended on HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN NATURAL COSMETIC SKINCARE PRODUCTS. In case it is of interest please contact me and I can forward notes. (Please bear in mind, I am not professionally qualified to teach on this, however I have tried to produce my notes as faithfully as possible and the course was really amazing and could be a very good first step in learning more about this area 🙂

    • A cream = Oil, Water and Emulsifier
      An ointment = Fats, Waxes and Butter
      A balm = Fats, Waxes and Butter and Herbs
      The best way to learn about making creams is to do it. Having said that, here I have written out some background information which is very useful to refer to before you start. There are many individual recipes for making creams, and though the production process can be involved and will require accurate measuring of extra ingredients to be added at the various heating and cooling stages, the general principle for making a cream (which is what I’m talking mainly about in these notes) is quite simple. As you will see above, the main ingredients for creams are Oil, Water and Emulsifier. As Oil and Water do not mix at room temperature, you need to heat these up separately in a double-boiler (the emulsifier is generally heated with the oil). When the contents of each boiler has reached around 75 degrees Celsius you mix everything together making sure to continually whisk the mixture as it is made to quickly cool. Whilst cooling the new mixture will begin to solidify into your cream.

      Through the years, actual ingredients used for skin care products have varied from culture to culture. Italians have used beeswax and olive oil, Intuits seal fats, jojoba and shea butter, and the good old UK in their time have used lard (which incidentally stores heavy metals)! One of most undesirable ingredients to use however is any petroleum-derived material (like Vaseline for example). You can see the *story of its discovery in the footnote below, but here is a quick list if its harmful effects on the skin –

      1. IT SEALS THE SKIN by 40%-60% – most waste is eliminated through the skin. One application of Vaseline lasts for three days. It takes three showers to remove from the skin surface.

      2. IT DRYS THE SKIN – If you think of polishing your leather shoes, though initially it will bring up a nice shine, long-term use leads the leather to crack. Likewise with people who use Vaseline on their lips, you may have noticed those who are continually applying Vaseline, but always seem to still have dry lips.

      3. TRANSEPIDERMAL WATER LOSS (TEWL) – Vaseline blocks or slows down the process that water comes to the surface and pumps the skin, and this again is affects skin’s health negatively.

      In conclusion, using petroleum-based materials in skincare products, though it may initially improve appearance of skin, long-term it ADDS NOTHING and DIMINISHES HEALTH. Continued sale skin products containing petroleum in their ingredients is merely because this substance is very cheap but profitable for vendor, not because there is any health benefit. Even if a petroleum-based skin product contains natural ingredients, any beneficial effect is diminished or completely lost due to the medium it is carried in.

      Conversely, if you use PLANT OILS in your cosmetic ingredients health-wise, the outcome is MUCH BETTER.
      1. ABSORPTION – If you cut garlic and put it on your feet, it will be absorbed into your system and come out in your breath. Rate of absorption depends on size of molecule, but the main point here is that unlike petroleum-based ingredients, health-giving plant oils ingredients can be absorbed into the skin, which leads to the next point…….

      2. VITAMINS and MINERALS and MOISTURE – Plant oils contain vitamins and minerals to feed the body, in addition, plant ingredients can moisturize the skin beneficially.

      3. Does not block TRANSDERMAL WATER LOSS in such a detrimental way as Vaseline which completely blocks the skin.

      Mixing the different Vegetable Oils as opposed to using one individual oil you can create a blend of oils specifically adapted to the needs of the skin. Each oil has pros and cons. The trick is to utilise the correct oil for the desired effect! If you GET TO KNOW THE DIFFERENT OILS AND THEIR CHARACTERISTICS, YOU CAN TAILOR FANTASTIC CREAMS TO SUIT EACH INDIVIDUAL’S SKIN TYPE AND PREFERENCES. Here not only are you thinking of skin healing properties of oils, but also considering each individual oils ability to create consistency, colour, aroma, texture, longer shelf-life and even mood. THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS!

      To look into this in detail, see below to learn the general characteristics of oils and fats and how they can behave under the next title ‘WHAT DO VEGETABLE OILS AND FATS CONSIST OF?’ In addition, there is also a list of individual oils at the end of these notes plus a useful website address of a company called SkinBuddy. In the long-term, I am hoping to produce a very detailed graph listing individual oils and their specific qualities which I hope to put online at a later stage if I get more time.

      For a more ‘hands-on’ approach however, you can start investigating qualities of fats and oils yourself by testing them on your own skin to learn how they feel, whether they spread a long-distance (good quality for a body massage oil) or short distance (better for an oil maybe used on face), and how quickly the skin absorbs them. Once you mix different oils, you can test them in the crook of your arm first to test for any possible allergic reaction and then use on those body parts you have made them for.

      Creams, ointments and balms made from Vegetable Oils are best stored in the fridge. Make up small quantities of your blends so they don‘t have to stand for too long before being used. Always add a little (0.5%) undiluted Vitamin E to oils which contain a lot of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (Omega 3)- You can read below for more details on this, but examples of such oils are Hemp, Sweet Almond Oil, Thistle Oil.
      Vegetable Oils and Fats consist of ‘a bit of everything’ fat-wise consisting of different ratios of glycerine, fatty acids, fat soluble vitamins (where applicable) and other fat soluble ingredients.

      Fatty acids can be subdivided into four categories –
      SATURATED FATTY ACIDS – These are absorbed slowly and are good for lubrication. They can make the skin oilier, but conversely are good for dry skin. These are solid at room temperature (e.g. Stearic acid) and become a thick liquid inside our bodies. These Fatty Acids are the ones which are supposed to be responsible for vascular and heart disease when consumed in large quantities. They are absorbed slowly by the skin and are added to give Massage and Skin Oils more lubrication. In fact these oils make the skin’s own oils even oilier. With oily skin the presence of these Fatty Acids will mean that the pore become more easily blocked which will cause them to enlarge. These Fatty Acids keep well and do not go rancid so quickly. Saturated Fatty Acids are found primarily in Animal Fats such as lard and Tallow but they are also found in Coconut Butter, Cocoa Butter and Shea Butter and coconut oil (hugely beneficial!).

      MONOUNSATURATED FATTY ACIDS (OMEGA 7 and 9) – These are liquid at room temperature. The most common Monounsaturated Fatty Acids found are those containing Oleic Acids which are in most oils. Oleic Acids keep well. Examples are Avocado, jojoba, macadamia.

      Amongst these we find Linoleum (Duo-) and Alpha – Linolenic Acid (Poly); Alpha-Linolenic Acid is the one most disposed to becoming rancid. They are thin liquids, which are quickly absorbed by the skin. They are ‘drier‘ than the other Fatty Acids. Because they have a tendency to go rancid easily they often need added Vitamin E (as an antioxidant). Duo-and Polyunsaturated fatty Acids combine with the fats and oils in the skin to make them thinner and help in reducing the size of pores. They act like Vitamins for the skin. The most important Fatty Acids are the Essential ones I.e. Alpha Linolenic and Linoleic Acids, which in some countries are known as Vitamin F. They are called ‘Essential‘ because they are essential to he proper functioning of the skin and indeed the whole body.

      POLYUNSATURATED FATTY ACIDS (Omega 3) – These are fragile oils which you need to keep in the fridge on the wrack. Examples – borage, kiwi, rosehip. They contain more linolenic acid. Once these oils are in a cream they are more stable. They have a shelf-life of 6 months, but if you add vitamin E it extends their life to 2 years.

      PRESERVATIVES IN SKIN PRODUCTS – Though wheat germ is used as a preservative apparently a much better as a preservative is VITAMIN E which adds a shelf-life up to 2 years, as well MANUKA HONEY. (The latter is used for wound care in hospitals, though perhaps a little to thick for skin care products). It is important to note that oils only go off with oxidation, you need water in a product for bacteria to thrive. When oils oxidise it causes free radicals.

      As stated before, when combining different oils to make a cream it helps to acquaint yourself with the properties of the different oils you use. Here are a few examples to get you thinking about possibilities. A medicinal cream like say a cream for psoriasis can be made more attractive by adding an attractive fragrance like champacca, or if you were worried about a cream with an unappealing colour, you could add Black Cocoa butter to add a tint, or you could substitute sweet almond oil with a very similar oil called Rice Bran for someone with a nut allergy, lastly if you wanted to make a face-cream more rich, you could add a little Cocoa butter (though not too much as this may block pores!). It’s all a question of knowing how to balance the ingredients to complement each other. You can have a look at the oils below and start to think about the possibilities of various combinations.
      Aloe Vera – The plant meat is actually liquid. It is wonderful in healing and soothing the skin and the gut, though it can be slightly drying.
      Argan – This is a long oil (i.e. – pretty easy to spread), but is good on faces (Berber women in Morocco use this oil).
      Avocado Oil – This has a long shelf-life.
      Black Cocoa Butter – This is anti-inflammatory and as it adds a ‘glow’ to your skin, it can be used to create a natural tinted moisturizer.
      Champacca – Good to use in facial routines and has a very exotic and seductive aroma. It is also apparently useful as an anti-depressant and is said to heal body and mind.
      Cocoa Butter – This is a harder cream, so it is good to use to make a cream thicker/richer.
      Coconut Butter – This holds an aroma well.
      Fragonia – This oil is apparently good for those who have difficulty forgetting a troubled past. It helps them move on. If you add it to Frangipani it is good as a shaving cream.
      Kiwi Oil – It absorbs very quickly into the skin so is a good beauty-oil, though it needs Vitamin E as a preservative as it goes rancid without this very quickly.
      Mushroom – This contains silicon and is therefore good in hair products for ‘shiny hair’.
      Pumpkin seed – This is a beauty-oil extraordinaire! It is loaded with calcium fluoride which tones smooth muscle. Once you use this on your body everywhere starts to firm up! This oil contains a good amount of omega 6, plus zinc for healing skin, and testosterone for natural HRT. It is quite a stable oil.
      Rice bran – Contains Omega 6 and is very similar to sweet almond oil so is a good alternative if someone has a nut allergy. Also it has quite exotic connotations as it is relatively unheard of in products till now.
      Rosehip – wonderful ingredient for rosacea. Goes well with organin and borage (though smells musty).
      Sesame – It is very good used as a natural sun-protection product, but always say ‘contains natural sun filters’ if selling this in a cream!
      Shea butter – In Africa this butter is called ‘women’s gold’. It turns into a grubby mush which is toxic. However once it is washed it is at it’s purest and best. It does go rancid quickly after 3 weeks so you always need to make sure to buy cosmetic grade refined shea butter (though you can use rancid shea butter in your hair). It is a good ‘base note’ in the sense that it sinks in slower than other fats/oils. It is apparently very good with psoriasis. The phytoesterol in this butter makes the skin cells replicate faster. By getting the skin cells to come more quickly to the surface this makes the skin healthier. If you don’t have a wrinkle at the basal cell layer of the skin you can reverse wrinkles due to the increased repair rate of the skin. It is very good neat on pregnant ladies stomachs, the drawback is that it can cause large pores. For this reason, it is advisable not to use over 3% in any creams on faces. It is good to blend with 50% coco butter or Coconut oil. You can use 2-5% ratio in creams for dry skin, however you may want to lower the amount so you can include enough emulsifier in your cream. You can use a 3-5% for psoriasis and sun protection (though if selling the cream for the latter, you must be very careful with your wording and never make this claim, stating rather that it ‘contains sun filters’).
      Siberian Ginseng extract – It firms and lifts and is thus good as a cosmetic cream.

      For more information on various oils, fats check out the below site –

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