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Natural Beauty Care

November 7, 2014

During my adulthood, I slowly but steadily built an awareness of synthetic chemicals and additives in our food supply and learned to avoid products containing partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, dyes, etc.

But it took me a little longer to become vigilant of the chemical yuck that made up some of the cosmetics and toiletries in my shopping cart. As long as I read somewhere that the company no longer tested on animals, I thought no further of what I slathered on my face and skin. Maybe it was because our society places so much emphasis on physical beauty. Or maybe it was because I didn’t question corporate marketing techniques that lead consumers to believe anything scented lavender should be tinted purple.

Fortunately, with time comes awareness. I eventually became conscious of what was going on my body, and not only what was going inside. Living three blocks from the largest freshwater system on Earth, I also started thinking more about what gets washed down our drains and into the waterways. I started researching the scientific, multi-syllable words within the paragraphs of the ingredients lists on what were quickly becoming my former favorite brands.

But that became depressing, and too much work. I was overwhelmed by the toxic overload, so I found it easier to just make some of my own environmentally safe beauty products from common ingredients provided by Mother Nature. Castile soap, sold in liquid or bar form, is a natural soap made from plant-based oils. It does not contain animal fats. In liquid form, it can be used as a base for almost any type of cleanser. My favorite Castile soap is Dr. Bronner’s. Not only is the soap great, but they’re a socially conscious company that abides by fair trade practices for their ingredients.

Honey has natural antibacterial properties. Some brands also come in cute bear-shaped plastic containers. For a face cleanser, mix a few drops of liquid Castile soap with honey, and then lather with water. Massage gently into your skin and rinse with warm water.

You can make a shower gel by mixing a cup of liquid Castile soap with several drops of your favorite essential oils. I like to mix and match  scents with the seasons. In spring and summer, I prefer lavender with a drop or two of mint or lemongrass. In winter, I like orange or rosemary and peppermint. When Wisconsin’s harsh winters take a toll on the skin, you can add a couple drops of olive oil to your winter shower gel blend to help soften skin.

And those cute plastic honey bears make great containers to mix and dispense shower gel.

Pure coconut oil is an excellent moisturizer. Just dab a bit from the jar and massage under your eyes and around the mouth.

As for make-up, that can get a little more tricky. Some natural foods stores, such as Health Hut, carry eco-friendly and cruelty-free cosmetics. There’s now a better variety of more natural, mineral-based make-up available, such as Youngblood or bareMinerals. Many aestheticians are switching to more natural cosmetics, and they’re usually happy to recommend brands friendly to your skin, animals and the planet.

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine.

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