Start 2015 plastic-free with this alchemy guide to cosmetics

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Don’t worry, this is not an advanced course for chemists or only the most daring of you, but a small inspirational step for everyone. After my previous posts, I would like to be somewhat more practical in this one. I will teach you my recipes and secrets to less plastic bottles in your beauty cabinets. Yes, we will talk DIY products that can be put in nice glass jars and that you can feel proud of. Another reason to follow my DIY recipes is to avoid the ingredients you find in regular store bought products. As one of my favorite bloggers says: “If you wouldn’t put it on your skin… why are you putting it in your body? If you wouldn’t eat it, why are you putting it on your skin?” It might sound quite strange at first, but give it a shot and I guarantee you won’t go back to your old plastic tubes again.

When I was a child, my mom used to do a very alchemical procedure once a week. She would take a pot and boil water with camomile flowers in it. Then she would put it on a table with her face above it and a towel over her head, so that the steam and fragrance would caress her skin. She let me try once, but I was a kid so I did not appreciate it back then. Now as I am approaching my thirties, I feel like it’s time to try again. Similarly, my friends in China rub the peel of a watermelon on their face and arms, to moisturize their skin. I tried it too and felt very refreshed. My skin had a feeling of light tension after that, probably due to the acidity in the pulp. These moments are the first time I used body care products that I “would eat.”

Let me guide you through my world of mostly edible personal care step by step.

Peel

Let’s start with a peel. I’ve come to learn that silt from your morning coffee is a great way of peeling away the old skin cells and if applied on the legs, the caffeine helps prevent cellulite. I tried it and it was love at first use. My facial complexion proves to be much brighter after rubbing the coffee silt on for about thirty seconds and the skin on my legs is just so much smoother as well. According to my research, the same goes for cinammon powder. I haven‘t tried this yet, but apparently you can mix it with oil to rub over areas you would like to be thinner. Cinammon, you are on my list! Some Spanish friends adviced me to use aloe vera plant leaf cut open with a pinch of beach sand to get a desired peel effect, it sounds amazing, unless you live in Central Europe like me with no sea within a radius of a few houndred kilometers. But this illustrates how easy is it to find local natural alternatives to plastic tube products.

Face masks

I’m pretty sure that edible facial masks recipes are well-known to everybody, but just in case you aren’t familiar with these, here we go. You can use banana, yogurt, oats (for scrubbing the old skin cells), lemon (for pigment stains), and the list goes on. Olive oil mixed with banana and yogurt or with egg yolk is quite universal, whereas for dry skin cucumber slices are suitable. For oily skin apply lemon slices. Other ingredients include honey and essential oils. Avocado mask is suitable for a sensitive skin, because you don’t need to add anything else, just make sure it is ripe and press it with a fork until you have a creamy consistence. Apply lightly with your fingertips to your face, leave it there for about twenty minutes and you are good to go out with your skin fully nourished.

Facial cream

After a nice all-natural mask it is nice to apply a facial cream. Have you ever read the label of products sold in regular stores? I don’t understand a good half of it. The parabens that are often part of this and other cosmetics are quite unhealthy, yet they are in most cosmetic products. Apparently an egg is a good alternative to a facial cream. First beat the whites into foam and apply them on your skin, let it firm and wash. After that repeat with the yolks and wash again. Tadaaa, enjoy.

Hair care

It is easy to substitute synthetic hair products as well. A basic shampoo recipe: baking soda and essential oils. (There are receipes on the MindBodyGreen website). After or before washing your hair, you can prepare and use a hair mask. The ingredients could be the same as for the facial mask, but add more coconut oil, avocado oil or olive oil. Just don’t eat these afterwards =)

Dental care

There is more to experiment with than peels, face and hair products. You can save some money and avoid plastic bottles by ”cooking“ your own herbal mouthwash, a “tea infusion”. Boil 3 spoons of crushed sage leaves with 1 spoon of camomille flowers in half a litre water, let it cool and pour through a cotton cloth, use after washing your teeth. Another basic mouthwash recipe: 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 3 drops peppermint essential oils. Mix all ingredients in a glass jar and shake well. Check OrganicNatural Beauty Directory for nine more mouthwash recipes. Instead of tooth paste, try coconut oil, baking soda, and essential oil mixed together.

Ready-made products

Speaking of coconut oil, there is a whole bunch of universal products that you can use in your bathroom without adding anything else. Coconut oil usually comes in a glass jar. It is sold in eco shops, groceries, pretty much everywhere, and on the internet for sure. You can use it in your kitchen – for cooking, in the bathroom – as a body lotion and even in your bedroom – as a lubricant…

Rose water is another universal “alchemical“ beauty and cuisine ingredient that is easy to buy in a glass bottle. You can usually buy it in shops that sell oriental spices and such, but also in shops specialized in selling cosmetics. A drinkable one for the lebanese and moroccan cuisine could be less expensive. There are a lot of possibilities how to use it, I tried it as a facial toner and a cleansing lotion, but also mixed in water as a luxurious lemonade.

Clean body… and a clean house!

Last but not last, let me introduce some alternatives to some common cleaning products. You can find an “ecoshop” or eco center (in Slovakia it is Ekoporadňa Živica) in your area, they can pour cleaning products for you into your own jar. Or try a universal cleaner made of 26 egg shells, half a cup baking soda and 15 drops of essential oil. You boil the shells for 10 hours in 10 liters of water, you dry them for 10 hours and you bake them in the oven for 10 minutes. Crush, then add soda, and the essential oil of your choice. Put in a glass jar and congrats, and you are done! As with the cosmetic products you can find some more methods how to make a cleaner on the internet, or use a trick of our grandmas such as lemon water or vinegar (go for the one in the glass bottle though). Another trick to clean for example calcium is kitchen salt. Salt comes usually in paper bags. I presently reside in China and I found a universal cleaner made of crushed tea seeds. If you search for it, there are a plenty of recipes that help you avoid plastic containers.

I could go on forever and so can you, so try the natural plastic-free way and please let me know your experiences in the comments below. Thank you for reading!

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About Author

Hana

Hana enjoys living and working in the old town of Bratislava in Slovakia where she is pursuing her PhD in sinology and art theory. Every other year she makes yearlong study expeditions to China, where she tries to understand the worldview of the people who's culture is so different from hers. You can find Hana in an art gallery, a museum or with friends talking about everything and nothing over a glass of nice red wine or a fragrant cup of good tea. After seeing some documentaries about plastic madness and after living our plastic future that in China has already become reality, she decided to care for the environment, thus she joined the PFT team as a blogger.

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