Natural Soapmaking (once Soap Naturally) Natural Skin Care Handbooks
Choosing Ingredients for your Formulas

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Natural skin care basics

Natural beauty from natural ingredients

Many of the ingredients used in natural soapmaking are also the "building blocks" for wholesome, skin friendly and environmentally friendly skin care applications. Why limit yourself to soap, then, when so many goodies are already on hand? As you acquire experience with the properties of your soapmaking oils, and learn how to combine different oils and fats to obtain optimal results, you'll find that developing a whole line of skin care products that address the needs of all your family is not difficult. Balms, pomades and salves, massage and facial oil blends, creams, lotions and hair conditioners can be easily prepared in the kitchen. These pages are meant as an introduction to the basics of handmade skin care applications, and to wet your appetite for more and more natural cosmetics.

Choosing the right applications for your needs

If you want your handmade skin treats to be completely natural, you might want to avoid adding any ingredients that are not available "as is" in nature. These comprise all synthetic and chemically manufactured additives, which include, among others:

  • fragrance oils,
  • colouring agents,
  • so-called commercial grade essential oils,
  • emulsifiers (including petrochemical-based e-waxes and vegetable-based emulsifying compounds),
  • anti-bacterial, preservative and anti-oxidant agents.

As long as they are prepared, stored and used correctly, natural skin care products for personal and family use do not require any of these additives.

However, if you are planning to sell handmade cosmetics to the public, choosing safe, effective and globally approved ingredients and additives is crucial. Please refer to the Choosing Antioxidants and Preservatives and Emulsifying Agents sections in this Handbook for further details.
You will also need to be familiar with the specific manufacturing, labelling and marketing regulations that apply to cosmetics in your Country. Before deciding to sell handmade cosmetics, make sure you are familiar with the Commercial guidelines and regulations section on the Natural Soapmaking (once Soap Naturally)'s reference website.

Handling procedures and tools

Skin care applications, no matter whether they are for personal use or for sale, always require more careful handling, mixing and storage precautions than soap.

All tools and containers must be perfectly clean and either sterile, or sanitised. Wearing a face mask and surgical gloves is good practice, and might be compulsory in some cases (for instance, when required by local regulations for cosmetics that are to be sold to the public).

Even more so than with soap, always organise your work area first, and avoid working on skin care applications while you are cooking or making soap. To avoid possible cross-contamination, avoid using tools that are not, or cannot be sterilised or sanitised (e.g., wooden spoons, common kitchen tea towels and cutting boards, etc.).

Storage and handling precautions for natural, unpreserved skin care applications

When no specific anti-oxidants and/or preservatives are added, natural cosmetics must be used up within a short period. The maximum shelf life of anhydrous (waterless) applications, such as balms, salves, pomades, ointments and oil blends, is 6 months, and can be even shorter when oils that are particularly prone to oxidisation are used. Creams and lotions, as well as any other applications containing water, must be stored in the fridge and used up within 3 weeks at the longest.

To avoid accidental introduction of bacteria, fungi, or any other impurity that might contaminate your lovingly created skin treats, it is also fundamental that products stored in wide-mouthed jars are taken out using a sterile teaspoon, or some other implement that can be sterilised before use. A common practice to avoid contamination, or at least reduce the chances of spoiling the whole batch, is to keep a "bulk" container in the fridge, and transfer small amounts from this into a "daily use", smaller container. Cream and lotions are best stored in containers with some sort of dispenser, which always keeps the contents isolated from (possibly) dirty hands.

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The Natural Soapmaking Cookbook: 77 star recipes for superior skin-friendly, eco-friendly handmade soaps. Super-Naturally series, Making soap... naturally. The ultimate soapmaking books for soap makers of all levels.

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The Natural Soapmaking Cookbook: 77 star recipes for superior skin-friendly, eco-friendly handmade soaps
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Editors & maintainers:
Ersilia Vitale [ ccdream --at-- ],

Marina Tadiello, Patrizia Garzena
[ Soap book authors: Soap Naturally - Ingredients, methods and recipes for natural handmade soap]
[ Soap book authors: The Natural Soapmaking Handbook; The Natural Soapmaking Cookbook ]

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This page was last updated on 5th March 2006

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