Safe practices in DIY Body Products
We here at the LHB test kitchen are thrilled to see the DIY takeover in body care these days. While nothing keeps you on your toes like some good ol’ fashioned competition, we sometimes shudder at some of the untested pinterest recipes that are out there. Now don’t get us wrong, pinterest is an amazing place to find inspiration. We use it ALL THE TIME, but view it as a jumping off point when considering something for the product line. Our product ideas are followed up with intense research, recipe development, testing, and finally, the harassment of our friends to try out the products. FYI, we never test on animals, just our closest human friends and ourselves. Once we intentionally left a used lavender balm under the seat of the car for two entire years to see what would happen after 2 hot summers!
We encourage people to get out there and try new things that they can make themselves. Our mission is, and has always been to provide healthier alternatives to life’s little luxuries in an eco-friendly manner. Sometimes the most eco-friendly manner is for the end user to just go on and make it themselves!
Whether you are having fun trying out some pins, buying from a small scale body care maker, or considering bringing an item to market yourself; here are a few things to consider.
Preservatives/Shelf life – My, oh my, what a can of worms that opens up! Simply put, there are a few all natural solutions to extending the shelf life of products, but there is STILL going to be an expiration date on that product. To extend the shelf life of our 100% natural product line, we use antioxidants like vitamin e and grapefruit seed extract in conjunction with oils known to have antimicrobial properties. Now if the formula is water based like a lotion, it needs to have a “traditional” preservative or it may grow mold or yeast. This can reek havoc on skin. There are some safer preservatives that are formaldehyde and paraben-free, which is what we use in our body lotions.
When shopping small, ask the maker about how their items are preserved. If they aren’t using “traditional” preservatives or natural extenders, ask how long they safely last. Are they freshly made?
If you're making something special for yourself or a gift, research the shelf life of your ingredients. Make your fabulous concoction in small batches and use it up quickly. If you're gifting it, be sure to include a tag with instructions to use it soon.
Cleanliness – One thing I see left out of most how-to posts is sterilization. This is a critical step in the process. All of the mixing equipment and containers need to be thoroughly sanitized and fully dried before the product ever touches it. Simple dust or bacteria on the container could completely ruin the product in a matter of days especially since most DIYers are not using “traditional” preservatives. Some common cleaning methods include sanitizing in boiling water as used in canning recipes, washing with a diluted bleach solution, or using isopropyl alcohol.
Labeling - Are all of the ingredients disclosed? There are industry standards for label practices and all too often small makers either simply don’t know them yet, while others just don’t bother. Why is this important? Well, what if you have an allergy? What if you're looking for a truly all natural and the maker is using fragrance oil and not essential oil? What about preservatives? What about proper warnings? Can it be used on sensitive areas? As a consumer you don’t want to put a strong formulation near your eyes or lips and as a maker you do never want someone to incorrectly use your item and potentially hurt themselves!
So are you still comfortable with using that trendy handmade under eye serum without knowing if the jar was sanitized, when it was made, if it is properly preserved or has been sitting in the hot summer sun at this outdoor market? Do not be afraid to ask questions when purchasing these items!
DIY safely, shop safely, sell safely <3
Let’s safely pull the DIY movement forward!
Owner, Queen Bee, Namesake of The Lucky Honey Bee