Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Highs and Lows of Creating DIY Beauty Products

Recently back from a week in a humid location, my husband and I noticed something about our old friend humidity. We loved it!

As soon as the door opened to the jetway back at Sky Harbor we both started losing moisture from our skin. And let me tell you, for the week we were traveling our skin felt and looked better than it had since we moved to AZ.

For 5 years now we’ve forced ourselves to suffer. Well, suffer no more I say!

In recent years I’ve been on a mission to naturalize our home and beauty products.

It started with toothpaste, which we still use and love. Then I moved on to laundry detergent (also, love), eliminated even more chemicals with wool dryer balls, then went all-in and started buying a bunch of stuff in bulk.

Shea butter, cocoa butter, beeswax, arrowroot powder (because I had/have dreams of creating makeup), vinegar, baking soda, liquid castile soap, essential oils, coconut oil by the truckload…

And then it was time to start experimenting. So experiment I did, with mixed results.

I blame it on my inability to sit still during science classes 30 years ago. That and the fact we never learned about this kind of stuff in school to begin with– why do some oils need to be heated, what does it do to the properties of the molecule, why does that make it more likely to mix with another element, how come some things don’t mix, why do I need a carrier oil when using essential oils…

If they taught that shit in high school I’d be a master mixer by this point and probably would have gotten better than a C in science. But here I am, still learning today!

The good news? I’m a grownup now and get to do my research without the silly grading system or pressure to perform during the school year. So, with the time to properly learn and give things a try, I’ve managed to test out quite a few home products.

Here’s how things are going so far:

  • Lip balm – epic win!
  • Body butter – semi-win (turned out a little too solid, less cocoa butter next time).
  • Toothpaste – epic win!
  • Face lotion – win.
  • Lip gloss – meh (beet root powder didn’t blend well with coconut oil).
  • Face powder – meh (I don’t love loose powder but the color was okay).
  • Shampoo – EPIC fail (can we say greasy oil slick?)!
  • Deodorant – fail (either too loose or too solid).

The 2 things I was skittish on trying my hand at making? Body wash and shave cream/lotion. Which might sound strange but I didn’t want anything that would cause my klutzy self to take a dive in that wet location.

So I put it off until last week. Why last week? Last week a new, shiny product arrived in the house and rekindled my inspiration for creating shower products!

Allow me a minute to explain how that particular product came to be in our house.

One of the other things I’ve been doing in recent years is really looking at all the items we purchase and “consume” in addition to food. For example, my shaving razors.

I might go hippie chick to a point but I love being a modern American hippie girl. That smooth leg, pit, and bikini line feeling is something I love on my body so I don’t plan to give it up anytime soon. Of course, that means limited choices and I have to pick one.

Laser hair removal. I’m torn on this one. On the one hand I’d be altering the natural rhythm of my body by literally killing the hair root so it simply stops growing forever. On the other hand, it stops growing forever! Eventually. After a certain number of treatments I could stop spending time/effort/money on any or all of the rest of this list. It’s tempting. But cost prohibitive. Next…

Waxing. Never done it. Very skittish of pain. Plus, it isn’t one and done, I’d have to keep paying someone else to hurt me on purpose and let the hair grow out in the meantime. If I wanted pain on purpose I’d go get another tattoo, thanks. Next…

Esthetician. Do they still use those swirling at light-speed, rip your hair out, tweezer in a container things? Not sure I want to find out. And speaking of Tweezers, um, no. That’s okay for my brows but not so much for legs. Next…

Removal cream. For a while this seemed like the ultimate idea – no nicks, no razor burn, slop it on and it’s 3 minutes to done! – but then I realized  what I’m really doing is giving my entire leg a chemical burn/peel. Absorbing all that crap into my body. Eek. Next…

Electric razor. So my MIL told me that’s what she uses. Sounded so smart! I tested it out on my legs using my husband’s (thanks Matt!) but quickly discovered that process isn’t for me. The thing felt awesome at first, gliding over my leg with ease. Until I saw the blood. Worst nicking/razor burn of my life and I tried both wet and dry. Next…

Disposable razors. Ah yes, the trusty old standby. The port in the storm. And probably the single most expensive piece of equipment in my bathroom. As a girl (because you know our products are always “better designed for women” AKA: more expensive for the same shiz the guys use) I can buy a 4 pack of the moisture strip razors for about $25. With legs to shave (even ones as short as mine) and various other bits and parts, I spent that $25 about once a month. Yes, that’s hovering at $300 every year just to feel sexy!

Now before you get all in my face about “feeling sexy starts on the inside” remember I told you I like my smooth legs for me. Because I feel sexy. So there it is. I buy into the line they feed me and I don’t really care because it makes me feel good.

But I digress…

Since the other options weren’t going to work for me for various reasons I settled on the fact that I’d be buying disposable razors for the rest of my I-still-want-to-feel-sexy life. So I started doing my research and even though it seemed like a gimmick at first, I’m the newest member of the Dollar Shave Club.

I used to use men’s razors all the time. My shin bones are prominent and women’s razors never seem to have the ability to bend. It’s probably because of the pounds worth of “moisturizer” they surround the blade with, trying to convince us that it might actually provide moisture.

It doesn’t.

Because it’s nothing more than a chemical compound that leaves a film of crap on my skin which supposedly allows the razor to glide across my skin.

Again, it doesn’t.

Most of the time I’d have worse razor burn with a first use of a women’s razor than a third use of the men’s. But men’s razors are pretty expensive too so I wanted something more pocket friendly. Enter DSC.

I’m only into my first month but I love the razors. They have some give in the blade head to get through problem areas but don’t have a ton of bells and whistles. They don’t try to convince you that a Dyson roller ball in the middle of your razor or a pound of moisturizer are essential to shaving.

When I ordered it was just the razor but of course they sent me a sample of their Dr. Carver’s Easy Shave Butter. I tried it.

Ho-lee heaven!

Thing is, the site says it uses sea algae and oats and barley and prickly pear cactus but the full ingredients list isn’t available on my little sample. Because I wasn’t sure I tried to make my own.

Based on a few bloggers I love, I tested out a few different recipes to see what might work the best. I came up with one using Shea butter, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, liquid castile soap, and lavender E.O.

Now here’s where things get tricky.

I whipped it so it could go into one of these open end tubes I bought back when I started making toothpaste (the tubes are too huge for the paste, we use a glass container and butter knife to apply to our toothbrushes). It scooped okay but my formula may have been a bit off because it started to fall and slightly separate as I spooned it into the tube.

But I persevered and tried it yesterday.


It didn’t dry out my legs.
It smells awesome.
It glides on, sort of.
It is all natural.

But like Matt always says: Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

My razor clogged with every swipe. Which I didn’t realize until I pulled it up my shin 2-3 times, knowing right away I’d have razor burn (it was mild, I’ll say that much, but it was there). And the water wasted down the drain while I spent so much time cleaning out my razor hardly seems environmentally friendly.

The razor had only been used 1 other time so it wasn’t dull blades. In fact, I tried it after shaving my legs on my pits using the last of the DSC shave butter and it was a-ok.

Meaning I needed to track down an ingredients list for the shave butter.

According to Badger & Blade this is what you’ll find in the Dr. Carver’s Easy Shave Butter:

Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Cyclopentasiloxane, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Grape Seed Oil, Oat Kernel Extract, Willow Bark Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Algae Extract, Papaya Fruit Extract, Pineapple Fruit Extract, Camelia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Panax Ginsing Root Extract, Propanediol, Cyclohexasiloxane, Dimethicone, Phospholipids, Retinyl Palmitate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Hydrolyzed Barley Protein, Opuntia Ficus-Indica Stem Extract, Orange Peel Extract, Rosemary Leaf Oil, Lavender Oil, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Dimethiconol, Potassium Sorbate, Hydroxypropyl Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexyglycerin, Phenoxyethanol.
No parabens, no animal testing. (Good, but not enough)

I got to the 4th ingredient, looked it up and sighed. It’s a silicone. And a potentially scary one at that.

Sorry DSC but when the EWG deems an ingredient to be “bioaccumulative” with the potential for endocrine disruption, cancer, and neurotoxicity, I throw it away and don’t look back.

Razors? Check! Butter? Back to the mixing bowl.

Have you ever made your own shave butter/lotion/gel? What ingredients do you use and what would be your deal breakers if they were involved? Have you found a readily available all-natural product you could recommend? Leave a comment and let us know!

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