Friday, September 29, 2006

More phototoxic essential oils, essential oils for shingles, cedarwood essential oil and insect repellents (Aromatherapy/Medicine)

I've already blogged a bit about orange essential oils and phototoxicity, here's so more info on other citrus oils.

Are lemon and tangerine essential oils phototoxic?

Not all citrus oils are phototoxic. For example, while expressed lemon and lime essential oils are phototoxic, distilled lemon and lime essential oils aren't phototoxic. And also tangerine and mandarin essential oils (C. reticulata) aren't phototoxic . One essential oil that isn't a citrus oil but that is phototoxic is angelica root.

What essential oils are good for shingles?

Chamomile and lemon balm aka melissa. Be sure to buy melissa from a reputable source since it is often adulterated (it is expensive). Be sure to dilute in a carrier, of course!

Is cedarwood essential oil an insect repellent?

There are two kinds of cedarwood essential oil: Virginia cedarwood (Juniperus virginiana) and atlas cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica). Virginia cedarwood is actually a juniper; it has some of the similiar properites with true atlas cedarwood, but since it is a different tree species all the properites are not the same.

I usually use atlas to repell bugs but aromaweb mentions you can also use VA. Lavender essential oil is also good.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Facial oils/serums, scars, and discoloration (Natural Skin Care)


What is a serum, and how do you make one?

Basically a serum is a type of moisturizer for your skin that is a liquid, and often jammed packed with ingredients that contain a lot of vitamins and nutrients. There are many kinds of serums. Serums are usually oil based or water based. Some contain both oils and waters. They can be used under or over or in place of creams and lotions, depending on the serum. They differ from creams and lotions in that they are usually not made with emulsifiers, hence are liquid. However there are some made with emulsifiers, and those are usually a little thicker like gels. They are often lighter in weight than creams and lotions, and are seen as special treatment products.

I haven't made a water based serum yet, but I have made oil based serums which are basically made with carrier oils and essential oils. Oil based serums are also called facial oils.

A basic formula for an oil based serum:

1 ounce of carrier oil for your skin type
6-12 drops of essential oils for your skin type
a few drops of vitamin E

To a 1 ounce colored glass bottle, add 6-12 drops of essential oils, and then fill the bottle with a carrier oil. This will make a 1-2% concentration of essential oil. For people with sensitive skin, you may want to use less than 6 drops of essential oil. For women who are pregnant, or people who have medical conditions please consult with a doctor and aromatherapist before use.

Where do I buy facial serums?

If you would rather buy them than make them, Mountain Rose Herbs and Nature's Gift both sell many excellent oil based serums. Garden of Wisdom sells several water based serums. Aubrey Organic sells two night creams (a green tea one and a rose hip/shea butter one) that are more like gel-like serums than creams. I LOVE the AO night creams. Burt's Bees sells an awesome oil based serum called "repair serum" that contains rosehip seed oil, green tea extract, and lavender and neroli essential oils.

What carrier oils and essential oils can I use to improve the clarity of my skin, and help with discoloration/scars?

To improve the health of your skin, I suggest camellia oil (which is from the green tea plant) which is good for all skin types (it is one of the lightest oils and soaks in immediately). To help with the discoloration, try rosehip seed oil which is good for healing old and new scars, so may help with discoloration also. It is usually used for dry to normal skin (and should not be used on skin with acne) so you should probably mix it with another oil.

For essential oils, I recommend helichrysum essential oil. Other essential oils that are good to regenerate the skin are lavender, neroli, frankincense and petitgrain.

A classic aromatherapy serum is rosehip seed oil with helichrysum essential oil.

Rosehip seed oil is usually a carrier oil but you can also get the CO2 extract as well.

Also good product for scars is shea butter

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Yet More On Natural Preservatives and Antioxidants (All Natural Cosmetics)

I posted a lot of information on natural preservatives on two different forums several days ago, so here's what I posted (I added some more new information) in case you missed it :) You can also see my links (right hand side of this blog) for several more entries I've written on the topic.

I want to make all natural cosmetics; what natural preservatives can I use?

There are several natural preservatives you can use, however, it should be noted that while they are effective, products preserved with natural preservatives will have a much shorter shelf life than products preserved with synthetic preservatives.

For example, in water based products or products where oils and waters are emulsified together (like creams and lotions), the shelf life is only one to several months (be sure to buy from a company that makes their creams fresh!). Though some companies creams and lotions (for example: Aubrey Organics and Dr. Bronnner's) are usually good up to a year. Another thing that helps prolong shelf life is a squeeze or pump bottle since that prevents bacteria from your hands from getting into the product (which is a problem if the product is in a jar). Also what will help is NOT storing your cosmetics in a humid place like your bathroom.

But in products with no water like balms, butters, oil based serums, perfumes, salt and sugar scrubs (oil based, no water), bath/body oils, etc, and also liquid soap (the exception) the shelf life is several months to a year depending on the natural preservatives used, the kind of product, storage, type of bottle, combination of preservatives, and use.

Products preserved with commerical, synthetic preservatives have a very long shelf life of 2 or 3 years.

Some natural ingredients
have a very, very long shelf life on their own with no preservatives like powder mineral makeup (pretty much is fresh forever), and some carrier oils like plain, pure jojoba oil (nothing else mixed with it) which is good for 2-3 years. Many other carrier oils and butters (plain carrier oils and butters that have not been mixed with any other ingredients, with the exception of vitamin E, A, and C) also have a long shelf life. Also honey (nothing else added) has a long shelf life. (If you mix these ingredients with other ingredients, that of course will shorten their shelf life).

I've found that the most effective preservation method (for personal use; I do not run a business, at least not yet! Wicked laugh! ;) ) is a combination of antioxidants and natural preservatives. I use at least three or more in my creams. Most natural companies that I've tried also use a combo.

Vitamin E, A, and C are antioxidants. I like using vitamin E as some forms of vitamin C can be unstable.

Herbal extracts are both antioxidants and preservatives. Many herbs are antiseptic, and most extracts are extracted with alcohol, which is an effective preservative. (One popular brand, Dr. Bronner's uses a combo of alcohol and essential oils and a pump bottle (so no dirty fingers in product) to preserve their products). But its effectiveness will depend on the herb used of course. Some herbs are more antibacterial or antiseptic than others.

Most essential oils are antibacterial and antiseptic, as well as antioxidant. Some are antiviral and antifungal as well (many scientific studies have been done on the antibacterial properties of essential oils). Lavender and tea tree are all of these. They also have many skin benefits (depending on the essential oil), but be careful as some can be irritating especially if used in the incorrect concentration.

Biopein and Neopein and also Suprapein
are supposed to be very effective. They are basically a blend of certain herbal extracts.
Articles on the manufacturer's website contain results/information from tests done on these preservatives. If you are making products for a business, these are probably your best bet.

Grapefruit Seed Extract

There is conflicting info on how natural and also how effective it is. Some brands are contaminated with synethtic preservatives like parabens. But gfs extract (the ones not contaminated with synthetic preservatives) has been found to be non-toxic. There is a debate on whether it is an antioxidant or a preservative. It seems like half the natural industry claims it is natural and effective, and the other half doesn't! A lot of people also confuse gfs extract with grapefruit essential oil and grapeseed oil, which are totally different ingredients (one is an essential oil and the other is a carrier oil).

I personally have never had a problem with my creams going bad, but I craft in very small amounts and also use up my creams within a month. I used to generally use vitamin E with 3-6 essential oils, and grapefruit seed extract. But with all the conflict with gfs extract, I am looking into using the herbal extracts along with vitamin E and essential oils.

I worry about giving people my creams. I have no problem with giving friends balms, perfumes, bath oils, scrubs, etc, but I worry about the creams. Because many people stick products in their cabinet in the bathroom (gasp! The WORST place you can store your natural cosmetics) and forget about it.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

More MIY Mineral Makeup Information! (Mineral Makeup/All Natural Makeup)

Link to EPA's ruling of Ferric Ferrocyanide and the Clean Water Act.

It's so hard to make purple shades since I don't use carmine or Ferric Ferrocyanide but I have made a couple nice purple shades by combining different micas and pigments!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

More Tips for Crafting MMU/Definitions of MMU Ingredients (Mineral Makeup/All Natural Makeup)

I posted about crafting mineral makeup not too long ago (click here to see the post), but I wrote about more tips and also info about the ingredients used in MMU on one of the forums I visit a few days ago and am posting the info here with a little bit of added info:

Can I use silca in my eyeshadow, blush, foundation etc?

You can try silca as a base too! I haven't used it myself but it may work! There is debate about the safety of silca though (It is a natural mineral/rock). Still researching about it and deciding if I want to use it or not.

How well do different minerals adhere to the skin? Are all micas shimmery?

For adherence and micas, it depends on the particle size. Micas like serecite with smaller particle size will adhere better than micas with big sparkles. You can add a bit of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide to help with adherence but many of the colored micas are coated with titanium dioxide so have good adherence anyways.

Not all micas are shimmery, depends on particle size and what they are coated with; titanium dioxide makes micas shiny. Serecite (uncolored mica) is kind of flat.

Also if you mix colored micas to certain bases like serecite it will make the shimmer colors more flat. Check out the tkb trading blog; I think there are pictures where they show how different bases can make the same color look different.

Can you tell me about certain ingredients used in mineral makeup?

Okay definitions; still trying to compile them myself but here's some explanations.

Iron oxides are pigments and are basically iron oxidation (like rust on a bike!). they occur naturally in the earth, but for cosmetic purposes naturally mined iron salts are taken in a lab and then oxided since natural iron oxides from the earth have a lot of toxins in them. You can buy just the pure iron oxide pigments (which need to be mixed with a base) or many micas are coated with them.

Mica is a type of natural mineral/rock.

Serecite is simply uncolored mica. It is usually a white/off white color.

Carmine is a red/purple colorant made from the crushed shells of beetles used in cosmetics and also food. I do not use it because I am veggie. it is generally non-toxic but can cause heart problems in some people who are allergic to it. Many pink/red/purple micas are coated with carmine.

D&C Alum lake and F D&C colors are synthetic colorants. Many people are allergic to certain colors and there is debate on how toxic/irritating some colors are. I don't use them because I try to use cosmetics that are as natural as I can get and I am concerned with the toxicity of some of them.

Ferric Ferrocyanide
is a blue synthetic pigment. There is debate on whether it is safe to use in cosmetics--some people say no and some yes (hasn't been much testing done on it for use in cosmetics), but it is listed by the EPA as a water pollutant, and is also neurotoxin/respiratory toxin (it is a cyanide). I personally don't want to use it; even if it may be safe to use in cosmetics I am an environmentalist so don't use it.

Chromium oxide: some people are allergic. It is a pigment.

Ultramarines, used to be made from crushed gem stones but now made in the lab synthetically, from natural clays I think. I use them because although some things are bluish (I'm thinking about the coated micas like blackstar blue and splendid blue), there really is no true blue natural pigment in cosmetics (it is really rare and very, very expensive to find natural ultramarine blue).

Talc is a natural mineral/rock but i don't use it because it is often contaminated with asbestos (which can cause cancer) and there has been studies that has shown that non-asbestos contaminated talc may also cause higher rates of cancer.

Maganese violet is a pigment.

Mother of Pearl makes eye shadows shiny. I don't use this because I'm veggie and many colored micas with large particle size are very shimmery!

Bismuth oxychloride is a white pigment. It gives a sheen to MMU. However, some women are allergic to it. I haven't used it yet so I don't know if I am allergic or not, but I don't like shiny foundation so haven't tried any brands that use it yet.

Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are both natural minerals. Both are great sunscreens and also may help reduce inflammation in the skin (especially the zinc oxide, and also because of the fact there aren't any/many fillers in mineral makeup).

From my understanding, most pigments are lab created/synthetically derived but made from natural ingredients. They are borderline natural, borderline synthetic; depends where you draw the line on what's natural. Most people in the natural industry consider them natural, but critics point out why use iron oxides/ultramarine blue and not D & C colors? My viewpoint is that iron oxides and ultramarines does occur in natural but for safety reasons are made from natural ingredients in the lab, so I consider them natural.

More tips

I've also read that you shouldn't mix colored micas for very long (only a few minutes) because that can damage the shimmer of them.