Body-Care Basics

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

| July/August 2017

  • Creating your own personal care goods ensures you're using the safest ingredients.
    Photo by Africa Studio; Adobe Stock
  • Use homemade toners with yarrow instead of commercial ones with acetone.
    Photo by Drazen_; Adobe Stock
  • Peppermint or Myrrh essential oils are naturally antifungal and can be used in homemade toothpaste.
    Photo by Peopleimages; iStock
  • BHA and BHT are common ingredients in creams and lotions. Replace them with horsetail and yarrow.
    Photo by S847
  • Try making your own salves for first aid and skin care.
    Photo by Olly; Adobe Stock
  • Rosemary is a great natural ingredient to include in natural hair conditioners.
    Photo by valentinrussanov; iStock

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



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