Ditch the chemicals for easy homemade recipes and a cleaner life
By Meryl Gwinn
Making your own stuff is really groovy. As a “do-it-yourselfer,” one-third of it is about getting creative, one-third is about rebelling against the infinite stream of marketing agendas and one-third is for ensuring something is precisely to my liking. To me, anything artsy, roguish and self-tailored is oh, so satisfying. When it comes to many everyday household and self-care items, simple and greener products—with less plastic, packaging and chemical additives—are cleaner and more responsible choices. After all, a couple of potent ingredients and dozens of unpronounceable compounds all fractioned into an $18, 1/4-ounce eye cream jar must only go so far. Our grandmothers used herbs and alcohol and called it a day. Many of the new formulas being marketed today tout their active ingredients as “natural” or “organic,” so why the need for so much chemistry?
These days, there are whole isles at the pharmacy devoted solely to face wash, body lotion or shampoo, all with brightly colored packaging and glittering promises and creating an overstimulation of possibilities and prices. Better to do it myself, I think. It makes more sense, and cents. Why spend extra money on marketing, packaging and shelf placement? Concocting these products yourself, the natural way, also takes less time than the average commute to the store.
This craftsmanship movement is very enjoyable too. It summons the artist within and invites more old-school fun to share with your family. Crafting something for yourself may also result in valuing your homemade items more and perhaps using them more wisely. Value evolves into an attitude of respect for what one has and gratitude for having it. Fun, plus respect, plus gratitude, equals the good life. Big changes really can happen on craft night.
More advantages to creating these items at home are you can be sure you’re working only with wholesome ingredients and avoid questionable or known-to-be-harmful chemical fillers or compounds.
Following are three products that can be easily made in-house, with a short list of readily available ingredients (the exception being zinc-oxide powder, which can be ordered online). A common ingredient in all of these is essential oils, the kind-smelling aromas derived from plants which are also used in aromatherapy to enhance mood and health. These oils have been used for their healing properties for centuries and many are also anti-microbial—tea tree oil most notably. In all cases, you can choose your favorite scent. Recommendations include peppermint, spearmint, lavender, citronella, lemon, geranium, tea tree, eucalyptus, lavender and rosemary.
Why: Most sunscreens (even natural ones) contain toxic ingredients or endocrine disrupting chemicals that in many cases may actually promote skin cancer growth and free radical production. Watch out for oxybenzone which studies have shown, penetrates the skin, gets into the bloodstream and mimics estrogen in the body.
Ingredients: 1/4 cup coconut oil, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup bee’s wax, 2 tablespoons pure zinc oxide (the non-nano-particle variety) and essential oil. (Optional: vitamin E oil and/or shea butter.)
Method: Heat oils and beeswax in a glass jar inside a pot containing a few inches of water over medium heat. Once the ingredients have melted together, mix in zinc oxide powder and allow the ingredients to cool completely before transferring to a separate glass jar or tin. Add five to 10 drops of your favorite essential oil and mix.
Why: N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide, or DEET, often found in bug spray, is a known eye irritant and can cause rashes, soreness or blistering when applied to the skin. Additionally, DEET has been linked to neurological problems by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Ingredients: Distilled water, witch hazel, essential oil. (Citronella is a good choice, well-known for its insect repellant properties.)
Method: Fill a spray bottle (almost to the brim) with 1/2 distilled water and 1/2 witch hazel. Add 30 to 60 drops of essential oils to desired scent and shake.
Why: Titanium dioxide, FD&C Blue Dye No. 1 and No. 2, sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium fluoride, are all compounds found in many toothpastes and considered “unpreferred” for human consumption. When in doubt, make your own or at least choose a natural variety.
Ingredients: Two tablespoons coconut oil, two tablespoons baking soda, 10 drops of essential oil. (Optional: A few drops of stevia for sugar-free sweetness.)
Method: Mix baking soda and coconut oil in a small container until it forms a paste-like consistency. Add several drops of essential oil and mix.
Meryl Gwinn has a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology, has studied yoga, health, food and humans around the globe. She is a constant pursuer of natural medicine and whole-healing solutions. She believes in the power of choice, simplicity and plants as preventative medicine. She is committed to inspiring this change in self and in system. Gwinn welcomes reader feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In an effort to provide our readers with a wide variety of opinions from our community, The Capistrano Dispatch provides Guest Opinion opportunities in which selected columnists’ opinions are shared. The opinions expressed in these columns are entirely those of the columnist alone and do not reflect those of The Capistrano Dispatch or Picket Fence Media. Information included in this column should not take the place of medical advice. Readers are encouraged to speak with a health care provider or pharmacist for questions regarding the use of ingredients listed. If you would like to respond to this column, please email us at email@example.com.