Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Homemade apricot scrub
Until...about a year ago. When I really started getting crazy about the whole minimal chemicals, minimally processed, all natural, organic-as-much-as-possible life. My dear St. Ives Apricot Scrub went on the chopping block. According to the Skin Deep Cosmetics Safety Database, the St. Ives Apricot Scrub products had scores ranging from 7 to 10 (on a scale of 10, with 0 being completely innocuous, so far as we know, and 10 being pretty-much-guaranteed-to-give-you-cancer/allergies/ADHD/asthma/autoimmune disorders....you get the point). I was slightly alarmed.
The reasons for the high scores? Fragrance and methyl-paraben. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG; they're responsible for the Skin Deep Database) there is a lot of evidence that methyl-paraben effects the endocrine system, as one of those wonderful estrogen mimickers (there's a whole slew of chemicals like this...BPA and phthalates also come to mind). Which also means it's being implicated in estrogen stimulated cancers. Parabens are also known to be irritating and cause skin allergies. Methyl-paraben has been banned as a use in fragrances in the EU (but it's because it can cause "skin depigmenting" in some individuals, not b/c of hormone-disrupting effects or cancer). You can see more information on methyl-paraben here.
Fragrance is kind of a confusing one. I mean, it's pretty obvious what it's used for in products, but why is it bad? Because the FDA has allowed companies this catch-all term for proprietary purposes. Gotta love the good ole' FDA. So basically, a company can put anything into it's "fragrance" and they don't have to disclose it to the consumers. I can see where the FDA was trying to protect property rights here, but...really? All sorts of nasty chemicals show up in "fragrance", including the aforementioned parabens and phthalates. You gotta wonder if some of these companies aren't dumping the hazardous chemicals into their "fragrance", just to bypass the labeling--or is that just me being crazy?!
So on closer inspection, my beloved St. Ives was, uh, not working for me anymore, to say the least. I didn't even mention the sodium laureth sulfate, the PEG-100 Stearate or the triethanolamine, b/c the fragrance and parabens were enough to convince me. I just don't believe that we need all of that crap in our skin care products to make our skin look good.
At first, I switched to a "natural" apricot scrub that I found through my beloved Azure. This one was by a company called Earth Science; I initially bought it b/c I could find NO facial scrubs, easily available to me, that did not contain fragrance. This one at least contained no parabens or sodium laureth sulfate and only scored a 5 on the Skin Deep Database (this is still considered a "moderate hazard" though), again mainly b/c of the fragrance. But, they seemed a more truthworthy company, and the label says "fragrance oils" and it was the last listed ingredient...so I figured it would do, until I could find better.
And then life caught up with me and I switched my all-natural bent to more of our food and the apricot scrub got lost in the shuffle, until now. And I am again purging my skin care and cosmetics, b/c the food is under control, for the time being.
So I am sick of paying money for ingredients I don't know (or trust). This was the most expensive item in my shower, at $5.90 for 4 oz. It was amazing, when I started paring down the chemicals, how the products became cheaper...
I have embarked on a quest to find the perfect homemade scrub though! It's one of my favorite products, and I think exfoliating is very important--I'd like to look 27 for awhile!
The first "recipe" up was a very simple one that I found in a Reader's Digest book I bought at Fred Meyer's about a year ago. The entire book is comprised of stuff you can make at home, rather than buy. It ranges from Oreo's and pizza crust, to facial scrub and lotion, to bathroom cleaner.
The facial scrub: 2 tsp of finely ground oatmeal + 1 tsp of baking soda. Mix with some water when ready to use. I made up a quadruple batch to store in the shower; I'm not into making fresh stuff for every shower by any means.
And the verdict, after four uses? It definitely makes my skin feel nice (I think even softer than either apricot scrub), but it's very messy to apply and doesn't stick to my face very well. And it smells like oatmeal, which I don't mind too much, but other people might! I wouldn't mind something with a little more grit either, like the ground up nutshells commonly used in the commercially available apricot scrubs. (I have found ground nutshells available through Mt. Rose Herbs, too, so I will be looking for a recipe that incorporates these.)
On a side note: I made a wonderful discovery a few days before I made my oatmeal scrub, that definitely made the job easier. Most blenders (including my cheap Oster), will work with a Mason jar instead of your huge blender top. So you just screw your blade and gasket on like you would to the blender base, and voila! a tiny little jar to grind tiny amounts! Plus, it's already in a storage jar! My blender base works with wide-mouth half-pint jars and the normal mouth pint jars. I'm almost kinda ticked I have a separate coffee grinder now :)