Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about making your cosmetics at home. You may see the answer to your question posted here, but due to the volume of mail received, all email inquiries cannot be answered individually.
Do the ingredients clog the drain?
Do the fresh food ingredients in some recipes clog the drain?
Where do I find the ingredients?
How should I package my handmade cosmetics?
Are the recipes good for people with specific concerns, such as color treated hair or various skin conditions?
There is no one answer to this question. Since all people are different, and their hair, skin and bodies are different, there's no way to say categorically that any particular recipe will be effective and/or acceptable for everyone. There are no guarantees with respect to any of the recipes here and you make and use them at your own risk. The people who submit the recipes may say in the recipe itself whether or not it is good or not good for any particular kind of specific concern. If you have any doubt, it's best not to use a recipe but to consult with a professional stylist, esthetician, dermatologist or other health care professional. And we recommend that you do a "patch test" of products and ingredients on small areas of skin before using them on larger areas of skin. To do this, apply a small amount of product onto skin where it can stay for about a day and not get rubbed or washed off. If there is no adverse reaction, chances are good it will perform well on skin on other areas of your body. We cannot make any guarantees of course since everyone is different. Use common sense and use each recipe at your own risk.
What about preservatives?
Today's mass-market cosmetics manufacturers usually cannot meet the great consumer demands for "natural" cosmetics without incorporating relatively large quantities synthetic preservatives designed to inhibit the growth of potentially harmful bacteria. While preservatives do indeed help boost consumer safety of those products, they usually add minimal benefits otherwise, and their inclusion in over the counter products was a chief reason I decided to being making my own skincare products.
For me, inclusion of synthetic preservatives defeats the purpose of creating all-natural products for in-home use that provide optimal skincare benefits. Rather than creating a cream with a long shelf life, my goal is to use fresh, natural, quality ingredients on my skin whenever possible.
To maximize the shelf life of your handmade cosmetics, make sure that the utensils and work space used to make them are clean and sterile. Use utensils that are set aside exclusively for making toiletries, and wash them by running them through the top shelf of the dishwasher two times before use, or sterilize them by placing them in a pot of boiling water for 10-20 minutes.
Make your products in small batches, and pour them into clean pump dispensers and bottles with flip-top lids. Refrigerate them separately from food in a crisper between uses. At night, I sometimes put the ones I will use in the morning into an insulated lunch box and place it in the bathroom so I don't have to go to the kitchen in the morning to retrieve them.
Always do your best to refrain from dipping your fingers into your products, especially creams and lotions containing water (where bacteria thrives), in order to avoid transferring harmful microorganisms into your products. Tell people to whom you give samples to do likewise and make sure they understand that the products will not last years and years like commercial cosmetics. I like to use a plastic cosmetic spatula or disposable pop sickle to dispense cream from jars. You may also wish to affix a label on the container stating the date you made the product and a "use by" date.
If you are planning to sell the products you make, we recommend that you become educated about the types of preservatives that are available, and to use them, and to comply with all applicable laws and FDA regulations. FDA regulations require that cosmetics sold in the United States be free from adulteration by substances (including bacteria) which can be harmful to consumers. Therefore, if you are selling your products, failure to use an adequate preservative system could cause your product to be adulterated and/or to harm a purchaser. It is thus wise to incorporate a preservative into your products and, if possible, to have them challenge tested for bacterial growth and shelf life. Some preservatives that are typically used in cosmetics include essential oils, benzoin, grapefruit seed extract and Vitamin C and there is a great deal of controversy in the industry around the effectiveness of those additives. Synthetic preservatives with proven track records include Germaben II, LiquaPar Oil, Liquid Germall Plus, and various types of parabens. Sometimes, raw materials themselves contain preservatives and you would not know unless you asked your supplier. If you would like to explore using preservatives in your cosmetics, contact our Selected Suppliers who can help you find the preservative that's right for you.
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To make a double boiler or hot water bath to melt ingredients, fill a large saucepan 1/4 full with water and bring it to a full boil. Lower the temperature so that the water is boiling but not fully. Measure the ingredients to be melted into a heat proof measuring cup (such as one made by Pyrex or Corning) and place the cup into the boiling water. The heat from the boiling water will gently melt the ingredients in the measuring cup. Follow the recipe as usual.
IndieBeauty.com has a "Manufacturing Your Products" forum where people post questions and answers about making cosmetics. If you are interested in starting a business selling your cosmetics, or you need affordable products liability insurance for the products you sell (including cosmetics, jewelry and confectionery items like cookies, cakes and brownies, you can join the Indie Business Network trade organization and we can help you launch, own and manage a successful business of your own selling the products you make!
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