Body-Care Basics

Who needs commercial beauty products with volatile chemicals? Learn to make your own products for skin, hair, teeth and more.

herbs

Creating your own personal care goods ensures you're using the safest ingredients.

Photo by Africa Studio; Adobe Stock

Content Tools

The huge array of everyday body-care products found on pharmacy and grocery store shelves contains thousands of chemicals — some of them known carcinogens, others potent endocrine disruptors, and most entirely untested — and many of these chemicals can be absorbed into our bodies through our skin and mouth. The good news is that these potentially harmful chemicals leave our bodies quickly. In one recent study by California researchers, girls between 14 and 18 had lower urinary concentrations of some chemicals (including triclosan, some types of parabens and phthalates) after just three days without using cosmetics containing these substances.

While many safer options exist (to find them, consult the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database), making our own body-care products is a surefire way to eliminate these sources of unwanted toxins. And making our own cosmetics offers an added bonus: It’s a great way to add more healing herbs into our lives.

Fortunately, making our own products with natural ingredients is much easier than you might think. While most commercial body-care products contain a slew of ingredients, homemade versions can often be made with just a handful of natural items. Below, I’ve highlighted some of the worst chemicals to avoid, and the simple ways to make your own luxurious, pleasurable replacements.

Creams and Lotions

Commercial Culprits: BHA and BHT

The full names of these chemicals are butylated hydroxyanisole and butylated hydroxytoluene. The first is a suspected endocrine disruptor and carcinogen. The second is a suspected carcinogen that may also be linked with developmental problems.

Superior Herbal Ingredients: Horsetail and Yarrow

Horsetail and yarrow both support healthy skin and help to heal damaged skin and wounds. Yarrow helps with healing wounds and blemishes, and it’s been shown to significantly reduce the visibility of wrinkles and pores.

Facial Toners

Commercial Culprit: Acetone

This harsh ingredient is commonly found in facial toners even though it can irritate the skin and may be linked with neurotoxicity.

Superior Herbal Ingredient: Yarrow

According to the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, an extract of yarrow applied to the skin significantly reduced the visibility of wrinkles and pores, compared with a placebo and glycolic acid products. Glycolic acid is a substance frequently added to antiwrinkle creams to help remove dead skin cells and give skin a fresher look.

Don’t be surprised if you start seeing yarrow extracts used in the cosmetics industry in the future.

For all natural recipes follow the links below:

Yarrow Facial Toner

Horsetail Skin-Healing Lotion

Yarrow Anti-wrinkle Skin Refresher Cream

Hair Conditioner

Commercial Culprits: Parabens

Parabens are xenoestrogens (chemicals that mimic estrogen in the body) that may be linked with breast cancer.

Superior Herbal Ingredient: Rosemary

Not only does rosemary smell great, but it may help reduce testosterone levels below the skin. Excessive testosterone can cause hair thinning in men and women. In an article published in the journal Phytotherapy Research, scientists found that applying an extract made of rosemary improved hair regrowth in animals affected by excess testosterone. Scientists found that the rosemary extract appears to block dihydrotestosterone, a more potent form of testosterone, from binding to receptor sites.

Toothpaste

Commercial Culprit: Triclosan

Triclosan is a suspected endocrine disruptor and a well-known antibiotic known to contribute to the rise of antibiotic-resistant pathogens. The best-selling brand Colgate Total is among the only commercial toothpastes to contain triclosan.

Superior Herbal Ingredient: Peppermint and/or myrrh essential oils

These oils offer natural antibacterial properties. Peppermint essential oil helps freshen breath, kill bacteria and clear sinuses. Myrrh oil is antibacterial and antifungal.

Deodorant

Commercial Culprits: Triclosan and “fragrance”

As previously mentioned, triclosan is an endocrine disruptor and contributor to antibiotic resistance. Fragrance, also listed as “parfum” on labels, can contain a mix of many ingredients that may have associated health concerns, none of which must be labeled because they are considered proprietary.

Superior Herbal Ingredient: Tea tree essential oil

Tea tree is known for cleansing the skin, boosting immune function and for its antibacterial properties, when applied topically. That makes it the perfect natural ingredient for making deodorant or other skin-care products. The Australian aboriginal people have used this herb for centuries.

For all natural recipes follow the links below:

Make Your Own Deodorant

Rosemary Hair Rinse

Natural Tooth Powder