Friday, July 2, 2010

Edible Personal Care Products, Part 1

I believe that anything I routinely put on my skin should be edible. It makes sense. If I'm not willing to eat it, why should I be smearing it all over my body? It all gets absorbed and goes to the same place, right? The skin is the biggest organ, and all of that?

Are your personal care products edible?

Mine are getting there.

In order, roughly, from most delicious to least:
  • Coconut Oil. There was a parody commercial on Saturday Night Live many years ago for a product that was both a floor wax AND a dessert topping. It was very funny. Well, folks, sometimes life imitates art. Coconut oil actually IS both a floor wax (throw in a little lemon oil) and a dessert topping (especially when mixed with, say, honey), not to mention skin moisturizer, hair conditioner, aftershave lotion, massage oil, etc. And it's a wonderful cooking oil, it's great for baking, and it's perfect for seasoning your cast iron cookware, cutting boards, and wood-handled kitchen tools. It also makes a great base for home-made deodorant…
  • Coconut-based deodorant. My home-made deodorant uses a coconut oil base, is completely edible, and works better than anything I've tried recently. My female focus group even liked it. Stay tuned for more details in an upcoming blog post.
  • Jojoba Oil. Another great moisturizing oil. A little thicker than coconut oil. Being a nut oil, jojoba oil is somewhat delicate, so if you don't go use it up pretty quickly, you might want to keep it in the fridge.
  • Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap. I use it for washing vegetables and for washing dishes. Beyond that, it's a great hand and body wash, and while I wouldn't enjoy eating a large quantity of it, there is absolutely nothing alarming in the list of ingredients. Add some coconut oil to make a good, but not great, shampoo. (My hair can put up with it for a month or so before my scalp gets flaky and I resort to a store-bought shampoo. I've tried a few Internet formulas, like baking soda and apple cider vinegar, but I've not found one that works perfectly for me. If anyone has an idea, I'd love to hear it!)
  • Tooth Powder. The one I use isn't perfect. It contains a (plant-based) detergent which is probably not great to eat. But here's what it DOESN'T contain: fluoride or saccharine. One of my next projects will probably be to make my own tooth powder. Baking soda, salt, mint oil…not sure what else.
  • Tea Tree Oil.  I really wouldn't enjoy eating a whole lot of this, but if I had intestinal parasites, it might be just the thing. It works great for topical treatment of minor cuts, bites, irritations, pimples, fungal infections, and so on.
Bon appetit! Comments and suggestions are welcome as always.


Janet Hanseth said...

Alex, this is a passion of mine!

Jojoba oil is technically not an oil - chemically, it's an ester wax, giving it a much longer shelf-life than other nut oils.

There's also my favorite skin and hair moisturizer/conditioner, shea butter. Great for myofascial massage techniques, too. (As is cocoa butter thinned out with a little jojoba.)

In Ayurvedic skin care, you don't put anything on your skin that you wouldn't put in your mouth. My face care routine consists of cleansing with water or heavy cream, followed by a few drops of nourishing oil massaged in (sweet almond oil with rose and other essential oils added), followed by a moisturizer made of cocoa butter, rosewater, and other essential oils. So simple, and so effective!

Also, I find that the bar soap version of Dr. B's is a little gentler to my skin and hair than the liquid for some reason. Not sure why.

Annabelle Ho said...

Cool. I’ve been interested in making my own personal care products and I hope to get started soon!

I am interested in the coconut-based deodorant. Do you ever have concerns of it changing consistency according to the temperature? My coconut oil is usually more solid in the winter and more liquid in the summer. I guess I will learn more about it in your upcoming blog post.

Do you have any thoughts/recommendations regarding sunscreen products? I’m concerned about the unnatural and the natural products out there. For example, Cambridge Naturals sells a natural sunscreen by Badger that contains zinc oxide, but I’ve read in a few places (I don’t remember where) that said zinc oxide can be present at unsafe levels even in the natural products. So I basically haven’t been using sunscreen products for awhile, and I don’t know if I should be concerned about that.

I also want to throw a caution out there about essential oils. If anyone is considering consuming an essential oil, please proceed with caution! Ingestion of some essential oils is toxic/fatal, even if they can be used topically (I think sometimes in part because they are so concentrated...).

Emerald Green said...

great post! i did a remarkably similiar one about a year ago...

annabelle - i actually use coconut oil as a sunscreen. to be fair, i am half italian, but i garden and walk outdoors quite a bit and haven't had any burns while wearing it. also - i just named my 8 week old daughter anabella. great to see another derivation of the name =)

i'd love to try the soap bars that people use as shampoo, as i too have had no luck with no and/or low 'poo, as you will see if you click on my link!

Alex Lewin said...

Jan, thanks for your lovely comment!

Interesting that Ayurdevic skin care makes the same recommendation about not putting anything on your skin you wouldn't eat. I guess it was naïve of me to think that I had made that one up myself...

Interesting about jojoba oil not really being an oil, but a wax. Near as I can tell, one of the differences between a wax and an oil is that waxes contain no free fatty acids. That would help explain the long shelf life.

And I have to ask: When you are putting cream on your face, do you use RAW cream? :-)

Alex Lewin said...

Annabelle, thanks for the warning about essential oils.

I don't worry too much about the phase of my coconut oil. If you really don't want it to melt, you can keep it in the fridge. But it melts when it hits my armpit, anyway. (Post coming in a few days!)

As far as sunblock goes, I avoid it. Hats and long-sleeved shirts are the best sunblocks, with no unwanted side-effects. Some (many?) sunblocks inhibit vitamin D formation without actually preventing skin cancer. Mercola is a fan of zinc oxide and titanium might check his site. Coincidentally, he also happens to sell sunblock containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide!

Alex Lewin said...

Emerald, thanks for your comment, and for the link to your post! I had a friend who used to call me a dirty hippie, but she was actually much more of a dirty hippie than I was.

I'd love to hear about any shampoo breakthroughs.

Alex Lewin said...

A comment on my post from a Facebook user:

"A honey face mask is great for restoring moisture! Also, avocado. Finely ground almonds for exfoliation. Oatmeal for just about everything. Ditto papaya."

Sounds like the makings of a great dessert, too, or perhaps a high-fiber smoothie.

Virginia said...

Yet again, great post!

The EWG puts out a great sunscreen list. We love the Badger sunscreen and TruKid (love also that Badger is made in NH!)

Can't wait to see your deodorant post as Tom's isn't cutting it anymore!

Virginia said...

Oh and raw honey miked with a pinch of baking soda makes a nice face scrub.

Rachel said...

I wash my hair with Dr. Bronner's liquid soap and it doesn't dry me out as long as I use conditioner. For that, Aubrey's Organics has the least offensive ingredient list of any I've read.

I totally use coconut oil for my skin. It works great!

As far as deodorant goes...I haven't found any that I think have truly good ingredients. Combine that with their efficacy, which almost doesn't even qualify as such, and perhaps you can imagine why I've gone completely bare.

I'd love some toothpaste suggestions (aside from baking soda or neem oil)... your thoughts, anyone??


Virginia said...

I use Kiss My Face toothpaste which is SLS and fluoride free.

My friend swears by this recipe on Angry Chicken: Need to whip myself up a batch!

missmessy said...

Alex, I mix 1/2 Dr. Bronners baby mild and 1/2 water. Put in spray bottle. Spray on head in shower, lather. Rinse.

Then in bottle #2 I mix 1 quart water with 1/2 cup vinegar. Dump on head. rinse.

The reason fancy store bought conditioners work so well, is they are acidic and this lays down the shaft of hair, so your hair feels smooth. Anything acidic will do exactly the same thing. I have run out of vinegar before and used lemon juice and even orange juice once. Same results. You can be fancy and add oils or what not, but i feel that is a waste of money. I am the ultra-cheap mom (4 teenagers, i have to be)

hair smells like vinegar ONLY while wet. As soon as your hair dries it just smells like, well, HAIR!

missmessy said...

Hey, also I'm 100% irish and burn in 20 minutes. I have successfully used Coconut oil as a sunscreen with amazing results. I reapply about every 1 1/2 hours in the garden, and haven't burned yet.
I also take my fermented Cod Liver Oil religiously, which helps protect the skin.

Alex Lewin said...

Fascinating, all. I've decided that I don't believe in sunblock for myself (and I'm not so sure about sunglasses). I've been spending more time in the sun and gaining quite a lot of color but not actually burning. Hats and shirts have served me well--and I do generally put coconut or jojoba oil on my face. And of course I take my cod liver oil!

I'm going to try all these ideas for my hair and face. And I'm going to play around with toothpaste next; I haven't actually explored much yet.

Anonymous said...

Hi Alex,
I'm completely on the same page as you. I've been methodically throwing out old personal care products (the ones I wasn't willing to use up) and mostly not replacing them (wish they'd compost or something!), but the basics I do use are much like your list: coconut oil, and other oil mixtures for oil-based face washing ("the oil cleansing method") and body application, Dr. Bronner's soaps for all and sundry, coconut oil/baking soda/essential oil deodorant. It works quite well if you shower and reapply daily, but no natural deodorant will work for days on end like the chemically commercial formulas do. I still have a couple of old sticks around for when I really, really don't want to smell, but I doubt I'll ever buy deodorant again. I have tried various natural toothpastes, none have claimed my loyalty as yet. I sometimes just use a wet toothbrush dipped in salt and/or rinse with salt water, very good at changing the pH of your mouth and disinfecting your toothbrush by the way.