Why DIY Cosmetics?

Why do I make my own soap and beauty products. Why is (almost) my entire skin care routine homemade? Why should you consider making your own cosmetics (*cough* or buy them from a small business who values transparency *cough*)?

Good question! I’m here to help! 

This is where a lot of your ‘all natural’ and crunchy blogs will start going on about how scary the cosmetics industry is, and all the dangerous chemicals we put on our bodies every day.

This isn’t one of those blogs.

The cosmetic industry is largely safe, and there is very little evidence that any of the ingredients people are scared of are dangerous at all. In fact, many times ‘natural’ recipes can have worse side effects, such as misuse of essential oils, or making water based products without preservatives. (This is often called the natural fallacy, and I’m definitely going to write about it in the future, but not in this post).

There is so much misinformation floating around on the internet these days, and I am going to try and be as real and honest as I can on this blog. I use ingredients in my products that aren’t considered ‘natural’ because you know what? They’re effective. They’re safe. Sure, I love my grapeseed oil and shea butter, but I also love my isopropyl myristate and preservatives (yay safety!).

So this brings us back to the initial question: Why diy?

There’s a few reasons, so let’s take a look, shall we?

1. Understanding what’s in your products, and customizing to your own needs

Now, just because I said that ingredients in cosmetics are usually safe, that doesn’t mean you should blindly accept them. Do the ingredients actually do what the product says? Is this ingredient something your skin is sensitive to? Is this what you need for your skin type?

Just as all humans are unique, our skin is unique as well. Your skin might be dry, or oily, or sensitive. it might respond to certain products well, and terribly to others. If you understand what is in your product, you can customize it to what your skin needs, and what you like best. Frequently commercial products are needlessly complex (maybe because they’re trying to tailor to all of those skin types), when really what your skin needs might be very simple. You don’t need 50 special (and pricey!) botanical extracts. Maybe shea butter does wonders on your skin, or a simple homemade lotion solves all your problems.

You can take control. Experiment. Find out what your skin needs and roll with it.  That is one of the greatest joys of diy.


2. Avoiding ‘claims ingredients’ and other trickery

But Caitlin, you said the cosmetics industry was safe, what do you mean?  Well, it is safe (an industry where all the costumers end up sick or dead doesn’t seem like a good business model), but it’s still an industry. A company’s first concern is selling you a product at the highest price for the lowest production cost. They want their products to be effective enough that you’ll buy it again, but low enough cost to profit off of it.

This is where marketing and claims ingredients come in.

Claims Ingredients, to put it simply, are ingredients that sell the product while doing virtually nothing. That fancy botanical extract? Research it – is there any actual science behind the claim they are making? Check the ingredients list – is it so low down that there is barely any of the extract in there? Congratulations, you’ve found a claims ingredient: it isn’t doing anything other than adding $10 do the cost of your product (and costing the company $0.02).

Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing ingredients that are effective at 1%-2% usage! But don’t always fall for marketing ploys.

When you’re designing your own product, you get to decide what to put in it. You don’t have to deal with marketing or worrying about optimizing your sales. You can choose what is most cost-effective and useful to you! And that takes us straight into the next topic!


3. It’s cheaper! (Sort of)

I won’t lie, the up front cost of making your own body products isn’t cheap at all. It’s an investment, especially if you want to buy all sorts of interesting high performance ingredients (or love constantly buying new things to experiment with). This is actually where all the ‘all-natural’ blogs are helpful. They usually use a pretty small selection of ingredients, and you can get good results from them! (just make sure you are doing your own research, and not blindly believing what people say). Pick up a small selection of ingredients and try it out. See if making your own products is for you!

If it is, congrats! Buy all the ingredients you wan’t (as long as you can afford them… trust me I’ve made some mistakes in this department!). It is expensive up front, but the cost of each thing you make is much lower than that exotic brand name hand lotion you just bought for $42. (If you are into high-end cosmetics, diy will definitely save money). As long as you keep making things (and don’t buy ingredients with really short life-spans) you’ll save money in the long run. (You’ll also save money when you start giving away homemade products for all of your gifts….)

So my best advice? Start small and try it out. Buy ingredients in moderation. Buy small portions of new ingredients to see if you like them (instead of buying a huge bag of something you’ll never use which I’ve definitely never done) Who knows, maybe you’ll love it! Then you’ll fall down a rabbit hole of making your shampoo, conditioner, face wash… and then one day you’ll find yourself making toilet cleaner from a bath bomb recipe and wondering what your life has become. It’s good fun!


4. It’s really fun!

Really, that’s the most important thing. It’s fun to make your own products. You get to design them. you get to science them (yes science is a verb and you can’t tell me otherwise). You get to become a crazy alchemist and make cool things appear out of simple ingredients. You get to weirdly start reading the ingredients lists on your friend’s cosmetics and intensely asking them about their skincare routine. You can go shopping with your pals and when they start looking at a product you can analyze it and tell them not to bother because you can make the same thing. You get to start dreaming about your cosmetics coming to life and…. no? Just me? Alrighty then.

I’ll be serious for a second though. It really is fun. You should try it. If you like it, let me know and we can geek out about ingredients together.

Do you make your own products? Are you interested in trying? Comment below and tell me what you think!

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