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Sun Block Homemade

The following information is for guidance only. None of the following recipes or tips have not been tested on anyone other than me. I strongly advise you do your own research and proceed very carefully as sunburn is not only painful and aging but dangerous.

That said the following has worked for me. And I have no melamine at all. Which makes me well skilled in the art of tanning without burning and even more so in the art of hiding from the sun. But this knowledge was not easily won.

More

There is lots more information about sun protection here. Do read up before you decide to make your own.

A Tannning History

Growing up as I did I in the 70s in the north of England sun tan lotion was something of a mystery. If it was mentioned at all it was as an expensive and rather pointless luxury talked about in the more expensive women’s magazines. My Granddad was a window cleaner, a man out in all weathers, and he never used anything more than a flat cap for protection from the elements. Even my mother who had been to Spain and had a French pen friend scoffed at such nonsense. Vegetable oil she claimed was all any one needed for tanning. On the few occasions we did see the sun we would lie like chips frizzeling in the heat – till the oil ran out. This usually happened within the first few days as we never had much of anything in our pantry. My mothers housekeeping skills were not of the best.   But even in the short time it was available, I soon came to realise that oil offered  absolutely no protection from the sun.

Having run out of oil mother now claimed that even that was unnecessary. Her latest theory was that you had to burn blistering hard once. Then, when you finally emerged from your darkened room having painfully sloughed the destroyed outer layer skin, you would be immune to the destructive power of the sun. For ever after at the first hint of summer, you would tan a beautiful golden brown. Needless to say this didn’t work either. I burnt and shed but never actually tanned. Lucky we lived in Manchester where Summer, at least one with sunshine, was a rare beast and I only had to suffer this infrequently. But I have come to realise that even if you do build up an immunity to the sun you can still burn – Even people with tans.

I was 15 before I saw real sun. We went to France and a tube of sun tan lotion was bought to celebrate. However it was so expensive that it was severely rationed and we all ended up blistered and peeling and my faith in suntan lotion rather compromised. Most people it seems do not apply enough lotion. You need to be liberal which can be difficult if you are on a budget. And sun tan lotion used to be very expensive and though there are more budget options now, cost can be a consideration.

So I went over to the pale and interesting school. Which involved a lot of covering up. Again fairly easy in Manchester where we hardly ever disrobe.

But then I started backpacking. Maintaining a pallid complexion is hard work when you spend a lot of time outside, snorkelling or mountaineering. I minimise the risk with sensible hats and long sleeve shirts but beaches demand less clothes and swimming of course is always more dangerous with the risk of forgetting the time. Somehow because I am cool in the water I think I am safe to stay out just a little bit longer. And even a short walk up that blazing beach can leave me red and painful. But also and this seems
Really unfair, even cloudy days can lead to burning.

I realised that I needed sun tan / block lotion and lots of it. And it needs to be applied regularly. Even in cloudy weather. I came to this conclusion just as I was giving up plastic. So not only did I have to learn to use sunblock and had to learn how to make it. I have been using zinc based, home-made sun block lotion for about 5 years now. I know it stops me from burning because I burn when I don’t use it. Obviously it has not been tested in a lab and I cannot guarantee results. I still try to limit my exposure to the sun but I feel this cream definitely helps me. I offer this personal account for discussion only. If you do decide to make your own lotion please do more research.

Why Sunscreen
Sunscreens help prevent the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation from reaching the skin.
There are two types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB
UVB is the chief cause of sunburn and linked to sun cancer. UVA rays, penetrate the skin more deeply, and contribute to photoaging.
You need a cream that protects from both.

SPF
Sun protective factor provided by cream is measured in SPF
SPF factors only measure protection against UVB. You will need a cream that also protect from other kinds of rays.

SPF4 filters out 75% of UVB
SPF10 filters out 90% –
SPF15 filters out 93%
SPF25 filters out 96%
SPF30 filters out 97%
SPF50 filters out 98%
SPF100 99%
Source

Zinc Oxide
I have settled on zinc oxide as the active ingredient in my sun block.
This is a fine white powder easily available on line.
It coats the skins and so reflects the damaging and burning rays of the sun.
It protects the skin from UVA, UVB and UVC. According to www.aromantic.co.uk website (where you can buy zinc and get advice on how to use it), It is one the oldest and most effective sunblock and
It can be easily added to base lotions and oils.

No to Nano Zinc

So zinc is great BUT it is a white powder and stronger mixes can sit on the skin like a pasty mask. Make your lotion too strong and you look like Marcel Marceau. You don’t burn but you look freaky. To counter this some suggest using nano zinc.
Nano or micronized zinc oxide is zinc oxide that  has been ground to a very fine powder to reduce the size of its particles. Anything with a particle size smaller than 100nm is considered a nano particle. This means it spreads more easily and does not leave a white sheen on the skin.The worry is that particles this size may be able to enter the body.
Because of that I use normal zinc. In stronger concentrations it does leave a slight white sheen. It can also leave white marks on dark clothes. Wear white linen is the obvious answer to this. Or work on your locked in a glass box mime.

Using Zinc In Homemade Sun Block

Notes
There are claims that certain oils like coconut oil have a natural SPF. This may well be true but I strongly advise not to rely on this.
None of the below have been tested in lab and you have no accurate way of knowing  what SPF your lotion has. Proceed sensibly!
If in doubt Make your lotion stronger then dilute as you tan.
Too much zinc and you end up with white clown makeup. In this case you may have been overcautious.

You can add zinc to
home made creams and lotions (if you want to make a lotion there are some recipes here)
ready bought lotions
a base oil such as coconut oil.

20% zinc oxide  will give an approximate SPF of 30. That is by weight. So you weigh your base say 100g of cream then you add 20% or 1/5th of zinc. Which is 20g of zinc.You can see from the ratios below that SPF 15 is not half of SPF 30 so you cannot use that scale to work out your SPF factors.
For SPF 2-5: Use 5% zinc oxide
For SPF 6-11: Use 10% zinc oxide
For SPF 12-19: Use 15% zinc oxide
For SPF >20: Use 20% zinc oxide

These ratios were taken from DIY Natural. They have not been tested in a lab proceed with caution

Recipes

Masking Creams
Zinc
Thicker cream
Very strong and thick. To be used on vulnerable areas that burn easily.

First I make my own rather thick cream and then add the zinc at 20% ratio. This makes a super thick cream which is difficult to rub on large areas but great for masking specified areas. I use it to protect my great big nose and around my eyes.
For general application it is too tough and sticky.
Find out how to make cream here

Oily Cream
Zinc
Cream
OIl
You can thin the above thick cream down by adding oil. N.B. You cant use water for this. Add water and your cream starts to separate when you try to rub it on.
Oily cream goes on way more easily but obviously the more you dilute is lower the SPF factor.
The advantage of this cream is that it is thicker than oil so easier to apply – less dribbling.
It does not separate.

Sun Block Oils
Zinc
Oil – I have used both coconut and rice bran oil

More recently I have cut out the middle man or rather the cream and started adding zinc directly to oil. It would seem that my mother was half right!
Which Oil?
I guess you could do this with any oil but I prefer a lighter oil less gloopy than say olive oil.
I have usually used coconut oil as a base because it is light and easily obtained in glass jars. Some claim that coconut oils has an ability to deflect burning rays but the claims made for coconut oil are prodigious. Do not rely on coconut oil alone.
The problem with coconut oil in the UK at least, it solidifies below a certain temperature. This sun tan lotion needs to be liquid and well shaken before use because the ingredients separate. So if you use coconut oil, warm and shake it before applying.
More recently I used rice bran oil which is much cheaper and easily available. At least that is the case in Thailand. It is a light oil and does not solidify.
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE
The ingredients separate so the lotion must be well shaken before use. If you are using an oil that solidifies like coconut you need to be sure it is liquid and well mixed before use.

Advantages Of Oil
Oily creams and oils are great for the beach because I feel they don’t wash off so easily in the sea as home made lotions do. And the oil itself seems to act as an added protection against the general drying effect of salt water and heat. My skin doesn’t feel as itchy. But then I am only using two ingredients no fragrances, no preservatives.
They give your skin a rather nice sheen.
And it is As Cheap As Chips
Adding zinc to rice bran oil is super cheap which means you can liberally apply this lotion. Very good if you are on a budget. Plus I get to use the oil for other things.
The disadvantages? – well it is rather… oily…

Non OIly Sun Block
Zinc
Glycerine
This is a work in progress

But oily sun block is, well, oily. Anywhere near the hairline and it has the disastrous effect of making my locks all greasy. Not a problem on the beach where my hair is normally wet and again the coconut oil help protect it from going madly dry. But in town not such a good look.
Until now I have been adding zinc to a very thin, homemade lotion. It makes the lotion much thicker and I find it rather heavy to wear.

Since the oil zinc success I have tried adding zinc to neat vegetable glycerine. It seems to work fine but this is a work in progress.
The resulting lotion feels a bit sticky when you are applying it but that soon wears off.
It is much lighter than zinc creams.
The ingredients tend to separate so it needs shaking.
It is very very easy to make.

Store Bought Creams
Apparently you can add zinc to a store bought cream to make a suntan lotion. I have never tried this as I gave up shop bought years ago. But considering the success off adding it to oil I can see no reason why this wouldn’t work. Do remember that zinc makes your lotion thicker and much whiter. It might be a good idea to use a thin lotion as a base.
Apparently it helps if you warm them first.
Let me know how you get on!

Applying Cream
Sunscreens are unlikely to be fully effective after 2 hours
According to the skin cancer organisation  “you need to apply 1 oz – about a shot glass full. Studies show that most people apply only half to a quarter of that amount, which means the actual SPF they have on their body is lower than advertised. During a long day at the beach, one person should use around one half to one quarter of an 8 oz. bottle. Sunscreens should be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure to allow the ingredients to fully bind to the skin. Reapplication of sunscreen is just as important as putting it on in the first place, so reapply the same amount every two hours. Sunscreens should also be reapplied immediately after swimming, toweling off, or sweating a great deal.

More

There is lots more information about sun protection here. Do read up before you decide to make your own.

Travelling Plastic Free For Months
This discovery massively reduces your plastic when travelling. I carry all my own home made plastic free toiletries with me to avoid creating plastic waste which can present something of a problem. A years supply of sunblock is a lot to carry. So now I compromise. I take my own zinc and buy coconut oil (or rice bran oil) while travelling. I mix the zinc into the coconut oil to make a sun tan lotion great for the beach.

Microfine Titanium Dioxide

This is another product you can use to make your own sun block.

“Microfine Titanium Dioxide is accepted as a safe Sun Barrier all around the world. This is because it is inorganic and has a record of having no adverse reactions to it. This makes it ideal for products used on a daily basis.
It can be used in Sun Screens, Moisturisers, Powdered Make-up, Lip and Baby products and virtually any Skin Treatment product.
Adding 5% Microfine Titanium Dioxide to a product gives it a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of approximately 10 and protects against 90% UVA/UVB and UVC radiation. Adding 10% gives it a SPF of 15-20.
Add during the heating of the Vegetable Oil in the Fat Stage of making your product.”
The following information is from the www.aromantic.co.uk website.

< span style="color: #ff0000;">Fragrance
Many recipes on line suggest adding essentials oils. In my opinion there is no real benefit to be derived from this as
they may make your skin more sensitive to light;
essential oils are resource hungry, have a large environmental footprint and should only be used on special occasions.
You can read more here

PLASTIC SPOILER

You can buy zinc on line.
It will come in a plastic bag- booo.
The best you can do is ensure the bags are polythene and so can be more easily recycled.
As I get huge amounts cream out of one small bag of ingredients, I consider it a worthwhile compromise.

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Creams & Lotions – Recipes

It is so easy to make your own creams and lotion that once you start you will never look back. The advantages are huge; you get to control what goes on your skin, be way more eco-friendly and save a whole load of cash. You can make almost anything the cosmetic companies sell but without the palm oil, dodgy chemicals and weird colours. Though you can have all those too if you want.

Lotion and cream is basically a mix of oills,waxes or butters with water combined using an emulsifier. Lotions are thinner, cream more solid.

Do you really need to make a cream? Many times you can use an oil or butter neat. But sometimes they are just too oily.

Many commercial creams including E45 use mineral oil. That’s derived from the same gloopy black oil we use to make petrol.

ingredients

To make cream or lotion you will need

Oil, butters & waxes.
There are hundreds of vegetable oils. Different skins like different oils and you will have to experiment to find what is best for you. Generally speaking the richer the oil the heavier the cream, the more water you put in the lighter the lotion. There are hundreds of vegetable oils. Different skins like different oils and you will have to experiment to find what is best for you.  See my guide to oils here.

Water
There is much talk of using distilled water but I use tap.

Cooking thermometer
VERY useful .

Emulsifiers:
Water and fat do not naturally mix, you need to use an emulsifier.You have to add other ingredients to turn what is basically salad dressing into lovely thick cream. So in addition to oils and water you will need an emulsifier.

Preservatives
Optional. Oil on its own does not go off – there is no water for bacterial to feed on. Once you have added water to oil then it can. Now your creams are vulnerable to bacteria. Preservatives will help “keep” you r cream. I don’t use it as it can cause skin irritations. And I find cream without I less itchy on my skin. I have had a few pots of cream go mouldy but we are talking maybe 5 in the years I have been making my own creams. You can read up and buy preservatives here Aromantics

Pots
to put your cream in.

Notes On Emulsifiers

The most complex ingredient in cream is the emulsifier. The water and oils are simple enough but this is what makes them bind together.

There are a few completely natural emulsifiers  but they  do not give consistent results.
Most commercially used emulsifiers are manufactured. They are most often derived from coconut oil and palm oil. More recently, rapeseed has been used.
But some are produced from pig fats. Check what you buy.
I have tried a few with varied success BUT
A combination of VE Emulsifier, MF Emulsifier and Cetearyl Alcohol works every time and can be used to make a wide range of products from thick creams to thin lotions.

VE Emulsifier or Glyceryl Stearate is a vegetable-based emulsifier
Cetearyl Alcohol is a vegetable based emulsifying wax
MF Emulsifier or Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate  can be fermented from lactose (milk sugar)but more commonly comes  from nondairy sources such as cornstarch, potatoes and molasses.


Palm Oil
Please note that all the above also may be derived from or include palm oil. Be sure to buy from a good practice supplier. For example there should be something this note on Aromantics VE emulsifier “The Palm oil that is used in both in MF/VE emulsifiers comes from suppliers that are either members of the Round Table of Sustainable Palm Oil or a subsidiary company or who are members of FEDIOL which supports sustainability. FEDIOL is a European industry federation based in Brussels”.
You can read more about palm oil here.

Process

Heat the Fat Stage ingredients in a double boiler (or a metal pot on hot water) until above 75°C. Use a thermometer to check.

Boil the water add the MF emulsifier and other Water Stage ingredients to 75°C.

Take off heat. Now pour the Fat Stage into the Water Stage in a slow steady stream before they drop below 75°C.

Mix well – I use a hand blender.

Allow to cool. Whisk occasionally to achieve a nice creamy consistency. As the mixture cools it becomes thicker and more creamy. It will reach its thickest consistency when it has cooled down to room temperature.

When the temperature is below 40°C you can add active ingredients
perfumes or essential oils and other magical things to make you look years younger.

You can also add specialist ingredients to make for example sun tan lotion or self tan.

Put the Cream into jars and label.

Take Care

That everything you use is clean, very clean.
Make sure you have enough pots to store your cream in.
That you label it – and date it. Believe me you will forget!

Recipes & Kits

Here are some sample recipes.

Supermarket Cream (My recipe)

You can buy all these ingredient from the supermarket.  I cut the olive oil with the lighter almond oil because I find it rather heavy.
Makes One liter of cream – have a big pot ready!

Fat Stage

 

  • 20g Cetyl Alcohol
  • 70ml Almond Oil Tesco’s or Asian Shop
  • 30ml Olive Oil
  • 20g coconut oil Tescos or Asian Shop
  • Water Stage
  • 800ml water
  • 40g MF emulsifier
  • Fancy Aromatics RecipeTo be honest I think this recipe has way to many ingredients but I like this company, I have used their products many times and think that this will probably make a nice cream. It is also useful to have a recipe that lists by percentages.

    You can experiment and use different oils, or even less oils. Just make sure the percentages stay the same. For example you can cut the thistle oil and use 10% Apricot Kernal Oil.

    By percentage
    Fat Stage (above 75°C)
    2% Cocoa Butter
    3% Macadamia Nut Oil
    7% Apricot Kernel Oil
    3% Thistle Oil
    2.5% VE Emulsifier
    2% Cetearyl Alcohol

    Water Stage (above 75°C)
    4.5% MF Emulsifier
    69% Boiling Spring Water
    2% Glycerine

    Third Stage (below 40°C)
    1% Preservative 12 or Eco
    1% Vitamin E Simulated Natural
    2% NFF Complex
    1% Essential Oils of your choice

    From Aromantics

    Rich Tropical Delights Cream (My recipe)

    Much easier far fewer ingredients. I cut the olive oil with Almond because I find it rather heavy.
    Makes One liter of cream – have a big pot ready!

    Fat Stage

  • 25 g VE Emulsifier
  • 20g Cetyl Alcohol
  • 70ml Almond Oil
  • 30ml Coconut Oil
  • 20g Shea butter
  • 10g Cocoa butter
  • Water Stage
  • 800ml water
  • 40g MF emulsifier
  • Design Your Own
    You can adapt the mix of oils for the above recipes based on your personal preference.
    If you want to design you own cream from scratch, follow these guidelines…
    style=”font-size: medium;”>Emulsifiers 5-8%
  • Oils 12-20%
  • Water, Additives, and Botanicals to 100 %.

 

Trouble Shoot
Cream too thick? You cannot add more water once the mixture has cooled. This ruins the cream – it will not rub in. You will need to make a thinner lotion and mix your creams to achieve the desired consistency. You can add more oil and mix well. This of course makes your cream more oily.

Lotions

If you want a thinner cream add more water at the water stage.

Kits

If this is your first time making lotions I can also recommend the Aromantics cream making starter pack from www.aromantic.co.uk  It comes with everything you need including, sadly, 30 little plastic pots to put it in. All the ingredients were wrapped in plastic bags as well. Hmmm. On the plus side, the cream is really easy to make and they send you several different recipes.

Anti Aging, Sun Tan Lotion & Fake Bake
You can add  specialist ingredients to your base to make for example sun tan lotion or self tan.

Buy

Aromantics is a good and ethical supplier of ingredients but expensive. I buy a lot of stuff in bulk from other suppliers. Ebay is a good source. Prices vary so do shop around.

I store my creams in old jars but for display  I have bought some glass jars with metal lids.

Plastic Spoiler

Most plastic base ingredients come in plastic bags but I get huge amounts cream out of one small bag of ingredients so I consider it a worthwhile compromise.

Making Personal Care Products 

Its quicker then  trying to choose between a hundred different shampoos and it’s really simple, fun to do, so much cheaper  and  I get to control what goes on my  body, where it comes from and what environmental impact it has.

Lots more info here on  toothpaste and other products  
and making other stuff – here.

Making creams while travelling

You cannot carry a years supply of home made cream in your rucksack so here are some ideas about making your own home made creams in hotel bedrooms.

Kits
If this is your first time making lotions I can also recommend the Aromantics cream making starter pack from www.aromantic.co.uk  It comes with everything you need including, sadly, 30 little plastic pots to put it in. All the ingredients were wrapped in plastic bags as well. Hmmm. On the plus side, the cream is really easy to make and they send you several different recipes.

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Inhalers Homemade

Seems you can buy refillable inhalers. You soak the cotton wick in essential oils of your choice, put in the inhaler and sniff away.

If you live in the States you can buy these rather nice ones in glass and aluminium from Amazon.com  3.5 inches x .75 inches, outer shell is aluminum.

If you live in the U.K. you have to make do with these ugly plastic ones from Ebay. Yes, I know, plastic – but reusable rather than disposable.

More

To clear stuffed noses try Eucalyptus oil

http://plasticisrubbish.com/2015/12/07/nose-clearing-eucaplyptus-oil/

Find more #plasticfree personal care products here

 

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Shea Butter Leeds

This is a quick introduction to Shea Butter

Semi soft buttery oil. Read more about butter oils and waxes here.
Imported usually from Africa.
Has a soft velvety texture.
Can be used neat as a very rich moisturiser.
Mix with coconut oil to make a lighter body butter. Recipe here.
I love it added to home made creams and lotions.

Which Shea Butter?

Unrefined shea butter is going beige or ivory or ‘off white’
Bright white refined shea butter
Pale yellow may be shea from Nilotica (Viterallia Nilotica) and it’s natural
Deep yellow Shea Butter has been dyed originally with a natural dye from the Borututu tree or more likely now a synthetic dye.

Raw Shea Butter
In it’s natural form.
Unrefined Shea Butter
Some filtering allowed so remove larger particles.
Refined Shea Butter
Some form of processing which also removes its smell.

Read more about shea butter in Wikipedia

Buy

It can of course be bought online but here in Yorkshire we have a local supplier. Maya’s stall in Leeds Market. They specialise in black hair and beauty so if you don’t live near Leeds check to see if there is a similar store or even hairdressers near you.It does come in a plastic tub though.

PLASTIC SPOILER
Wether bought on line or locally there will be some plastic packaging either a bag or a tub. As I get huge amounts of product from one tub or bag I consider it a worthwhile compromise as it still represents a huge decrease in plastic consumption.

More

See a full range of homemade #plasticfree personal care products here 

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Body Butter

One of the joys of living plastic free is that you have all kinds of useful base ingredients in the cupboards so should you OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAever forget anything, like a birthday say, you can easily remedy the situation with this fantastic bodybutter / intensive repair cream, any old guff to suit cream…. in minutes!

Here’s my recipe for super-fast, super-creamy body butter

60 grams coconut oil – hard
60 grams shea butter

5 grams oil – any oil

Mash it up with a spoon then whisk with a hand whisk to make lovely,fluffy body butter.

I Never Forgot Essential Terry’s Chocolate Orange Love Mousse.

Add some Cocoa and some Sweet Orange essential oil to the body butter

Because this is meant to be used fast, I put it in a hand decorated, compostable, paper/PLA pot from Vegware. Being paper, these are easy peasy to draw on so you can quickly personalise your pot. Few hearts and kisses later, pop the lid on, top with a card and tie up with hairy string. For sure the drawings could have been better but I only had a Sharpy, a fluero highlighter and time was against me.

NB go steady on the cocoa, too much and there is a chance you will end up looking like a politically incorrect, 70’s song and dance troupe. This can work against you in the romance department.

I Never Forgot Rose Essential Hand Repair.

Something for Mum? Here I added some colour and rose essential oil to make. I put this is one of my posh pots – glass with a metal lid….classy!

Base ingredients

I love aromantics and buy most of my stuff from them but there are loads of good guys out there

You can get Coconut oil locally

Containers

Pots, bottles and closures

 

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Coconut Oil

Is a hard oil which has a very low melting point.
When the weather gets warm it will get liquid.

I use it….

to remove eye make up and clean crusty eyes.

as a conditioner. I have very oily hair so I rub it on my hair before showering, leave for 5 minutes then shampoo off. Afterwards my hair is lovely and silky. Village boy has very dry hair so he applies a little after showering. His hair is nice and smooth.

as a general moisturiser. Just slap it on, it is nice and light.

in my homemade creams

as an after sun treatment use it neat or with a few drops of lavender essential oil to help heal sun damage

as a lubricant with these biodegradable condoms

More

Other people use it to do rude things, for cooking and lots of other stuff.

Buy

I buy mine great big glass jar at Kadims, the Asian Supermarket on Blacker Road Huddersfield. You can also get it in a glass bottle from Tescos and of course on line. You can get organic coconut oil from the Half Moon Health shop in Huddersfield.

NB Not quite plastic free as the lid is plastic lined, but as close as you will get.

Buy Online

Biona Org Odourless Coconut Oil 610 ML x 1
Biona Org Odourless Coconut Oil 610 ML x 1
£10.00
Amazon Products

Being committed to local shopping, I prefer to buy that way whenever possible. I would encourage you to do the same. One of the joys of living plastic free is mooching round the local shops seeing what you can source. But sometimes you can’t buy local so I have put together an Amazon catalogue.

Yes we do get an affiliation fee for this, and no we are not entirely happy with Amazons recent history. However, we have always found their service to be good and their packaging usually compostable.

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Palm Oil

While I was in Malaysia I got to see some orangutangs. Most of them were in the rehabilitation center which is basically a safari park, a bit of preserved jungle.  I was also  lucky enough to see one in what was left of the  wild outside – along  with some big nose monkeys. When I say wild, I mean a tiny strip of jungle left straggling along the river bank. The rest of the area, that had once been wild and wonderful rain forest, was now covered with palm oil plantations. Acre upon bloody rolling acre of palm trees. The only reason we got to see so much wild life was that it had been pushed right up to the river by  farmers encroaching on their habitat. Those monkeys had no where to go and no where to hide.

Palm oil comes from Malaysia and Indonesia. Both countries have cut down hundreds of acres of rainforest to make way for huge mono crop farms. While Malaysia appears to be finally taking a more considered approach Indonesia is still tearing down trees and destroying ancient peat land at a frightening rate.

“The average annual rate of forest loss in Indonesia was 498,000 hectare (ha)  (FAO, 2010) from 2000 to 2010 or the equivalent of over 55 rugby fields per hour.

The expanding palm oil industry has been a key driver of this deforestation.  In the decade to 2010, Indonesian plantation area nearly doubled to close to 8.0 million ha and is expected to near 13 million ha by 2020 (PWC, 2012).”

Indiginous people have  been expelled from their land and the loss of habitat has obviously resulted in a  reduction in wildlife some of which, like the orangutang,  is now endangered. This has caused international concern and calls by many for palm oil to be boycotted,  So much so that in  2004, an industry group called the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formed to work with the palm oil industry to help mitigate some of the worst impacts and rehabilitate the palm oil brand.

The World Wildlife Foundation has approved the  RSPO efforts  in “providing assurance that valuable tropical forests have not been cleared, and social safeguards have been met during the oil’s production” of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil.

What’s Palm Oil Used For?

Almost everything from food to cosmetics. You can see a big list here.

How Do I Know?

That’s not so easy. Many products that use palm oil don’t clearly label the fact. Palm oil and its derivatives can appear under many names.

The WWF lists includes the following:

INGREDIENTS: Vegetable Oil, Vegetable Fat,  Palm Fruit Oil,  Glyceryl, Stearate, Stearic Acid, Elaeis Guineensis, Palmitic Acid, Palm Stearine, Palmitoyl Oxostearamide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Sodium Kernelate, Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Lauryl Lactylate/Sulphate, Hyrated Palm Glycerides, Etyl Palmitate, Octyl Palmitate, Palmityl Alcohol

And here are some more

  • PKO – Palm Kernel Oil
  • PKO fractionations: Palm Kernel Stearin (PKs); Palm Kernel Olein (PKOo)
  • PHPKO – Partially hydrogenated Palm Oil
  • FP(K)O – Fractionated Palm Oil
  • OPKO – Organic Palm Kernel Oil
  • Palmate
  • Palmolein
  • Palmitate – Vitamin A or Asorbyl Palmitate (NOTE: Vitamin A Palmitate is a very common ingredient in breakfast cereals and we have confirmed 100% of the samples we’ve investigated to be derived from palm oil)
  • Sodium Laureth Sulphate (Can also be from coconut)
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulphates (can also be from ricinus oil)
  • Sodium dodecyl Sulphate (SDS or NaDS)
  • Elaeis Guineensis
  • Glyceryl Stearate
  • Stearic Acid
  • Chemicals which contain palm oil
  • Steareth -2
  • Steareth -20
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulphate
  • Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate (coconut and/or palm)
  • Hydrated palm glycerides
  • Sodium isostearoyl lactylaye (derived from vegetable stearic acid)
  • Cetyl palmitate and octyl palmitate (names with palmitate at the end are usually derived from palm oil, but as in the case of Vitamin A Palmitate, very rarely a company will use a different vegetable oil)

*Disclaimer: Through research we’ve found that Vitamin A Palmitate can be derived from any combination of vegetable oil such as olive, coconut, canola and/or palm oil. Though in all the cases we’ve documented, companies use palm oil to make derivatives like Vitamin A Palmitate, it can be tricky to know for sure.

Join The Plastic Boycott & Go Palm Oil Free

Being plastic free means our palm oil consumption is cut to  a minimum because we

  • eat little processed food as processed food is usually plastic packed food.
  • cook from scratch and the only oil we use is olive oil or sunflower seed.
  • make most of our own cosmetic and cleaning products. We know what goes into them and that is the tiny amount of palm oil in a cosmetic emulsifier. Really we are talk maybe 25g And is certified sustainable.
  • clean using bicarb and palm oil free soap
  • using butter not margarine
  • don’t shampoo

When we do buy we try to buy palm oil free using this great data base of palm oil free products for guidance.

You can read why Lush stopped using palm oil in their cosmetics here.

Considerations

The palm oil industry provides a lot of work. While a boycott might help some it will of course impact on others. A meaningful dialogue and alternative work opportunities need to be developed.

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How to Exfoliate Plastic Free

Microbeads…. the newest way to exfoliate. These tiny particles, or microbeads, scrub away at the skin supposedly leaving it wonderfully cleansed.  These beads may well deep clean your skin but guess what? Unless otherwise stated, they are almost certainly made from plastic.

After using, they are washed off your face and down the drain and into the ocean where they become pollutants that don’t biodegrade. Truly, plastic is rubbish!

Here’s a really easy way to avoid this problem.

Reusable Products

Cotton Flannels – the old school way to clean up. Rub away the dirt and dead skin…it works, honest.

Want tougher love? try a luffa. These dried fibrous vegetables will buff up your blackheads and polish your butt.  I got mine, unwrapped, from TKMax. I cut off smaller pieces to do my face with. Gently scour.

Then there are natural bristle brushes for body brushing. This is exactly as it sounds. Brushing your body and I love this. I have had my brush for ages and I can’t remember where I got it, but these look quite nice – sustainable beech body with pig bristles – vegans and vegetarians you could try these with tampico fibres. 

Exfoliating Scrubs From the Kitchen….

All these have been recommended on the internet. I usually use the above so cannot really comment.

BE CAREFUL

it is probably good practice to do an allergy test and do some further research.

Disclaimers

If you are happy to bumble along with me and are aware of the risks of listening to someone who

a) doesn’t have any training in this field,

b) most of what they know comes from Google,

Welcome aboard but please, proceed with caution….

Bicarbonate of soda. Before I knew as much as I did about bicarb I did use this occasionally on my face when it got really greasy and blotchy looking. Since I have found out how alkaline it is I think it is best left for the the laundry.  I do not  advise that you use it on your skin.

However if you choose to,  its particles are rough enough to scour off dead skin but not so brutal as to leave you weeping.  You can get plastic free bicarb here.

Pumice is a textural term for a volcanic rock ...

Pumice is a textural term for a volcanic rock that is a solidified frothy lava typically created when super-heated (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Salt is good and scratchy and makes a good  scrub. It  is not as harsh as pumice, and you can use it in a plastic bath. I like it for my oily chest but would not use it on my face. You can find  plastic free salt here.

Sugar Scrubs – use sugar mixed with coconut oil.  This one seems to work well .

Oatmeal –  described as soothing, exfoliating, soft (no scratchy edges) and known for its gentle, skin-healthy effects. It also contains vitamins B and E. Grind  up plastic free oats in a food processor. I don’t use this on my face because I have get a reaction to it. I find it too brutal.

Coffee Grounds – grab them out of the pot rub them on.  Let them cool down first! I will use these occasionally and sparingly as it is a bugger to clean the shower afterwards

Other stuff….

For truly brutal exfoliation try pumice powder…arghhhhh. Best suited to hands, feet and really grisly elbows.  Use up to 10% in a moisturising cream base (find out how to make your own right here). Do not use the pumice scrub on sensitive skin. Do not use in a plastic bath – it may take off the surface. Can be bought from Aromantics.   (NB Comes in a plastic bag)

Other plastic free health and beauty products can be found right here

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Antisceptic, tooth whitener and mouthwash …

Bought a bottle of hydrogen peroxide from Big C Supermarket in Thailand. The bottle is glass the cap is metal. Plastic free you might think?  well, apart from the plastic lid liner and plasticised paper label. However it is  massively plastic reduced. You can also buy it Boots in a plastic bottle.

It is my choice of  antiseptic for my travel medical kit. I use it to clean cuts and grazes.

But, as I hardly ever cut myself I also use it as

A mouth wash and  to help whiten the teeth. But only occasionally because there are lots of conflicting reports on the healthiness of such activities. This is a useful read 

Mouthwash Mix: 1 part hydrogen peroxide mixed with 1 part water. Rinse mouth, then spit out. Discard and left over solution or use it as extra solution.

For another great mouthwash recipe try this blog

or this one for lots more

And don’t stop at the mouthwash, there are lots of wonderful sounding things in there.

Bleach Hair

Use a 3% solution to bleach your hair

Ear Wax

Soften and loosen the earwax with warm mineral oil or a mixture of hydrogen peroxide mixed with an equal amount of room-temperature water. Place 2 drops of the fluid, warmed to body temperature, in the ear twice a day for up to 5 days. Be sure to warm the fluid because cold fluid can cause pain and dizziness. Web MD

And there are lots more things you can with hydrogen peroxide here.

 

Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide 3% - 500ml Care 200ml Hydrogen Peroxide 6 Percent Solution
Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide 3% – 500ml
£13.45
Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide 3% – 500ml
£13.45

You can buy Hydrogen Peroxide on line from Amazon and other places. You can find more online products and read our Amazon policy here,

NB may come in a plastic bottle – you will have to decide if this represents a plastic free saving. I think so  because I get to do so much with it.

Other plastic free beauty products can be found right here.

Want to find more travel related plastic free tips? Check out the travel category

 

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Oils, lotions & creams Index

Fats and oils are used to keep the skin supple and prevent moisture evaporation. Many oils and waxes can be used neat such as coconut oil.
Or they can be mixed with water as a cream or lotion.
They can be harvested from plants and animals.

The oils used in creams/balms are usually vegetable derived though I suppose you could use lard if you wished (!)

There are hundreds of vegetable oils. Different skins like different oils and you will have to experiment to find what is best for you.
You don’t need that many. I can make everything I need with….
coconut oil,cocoa butter,bees wax shea butter castor oil and a liquid oil such as rapseed, olive or almond.
You can read about the above in more detail here.

Using Them Neat
Do you really need to make a cream. Many oils and waxes can be used neat.For example I use
Coconut oil for moisturising, removing eye makeup, cleansing and massage:
Cocoa Butter or bees wax – instant lip balm, deep mousturising treatment for nails:
Shea Butter deep moisturising, barrier cream.

Combining Oils & Waxes
Sometimes a wax is just too hard and an oil too liquid. Oils and waxes can be combined to create a more usable product. Examples would be combining a hard wax like cocoa butter with a softer oil like coconut. these are my favourites:
Body Butter
Lip Balm

Cream & Lotions

But still there are times when oils are are just too… oily. In this case you need to dilute them using water. As Water and oil don’t mix you will also need to add an emulsifier. The end result is cream or lotion.
To make cream you will need the following
Fatty acids of your choice- oil, butters & waxes.
Water
Emulsifiers: Water and fat do not naturally mix, you need to use an emulsifier.
Preservatives
Pots to put your cream in.

Active Ingredients
The cream or oil can be used as a carrier medium for active ingredients such as…
Suntan Lotion– add Microfine Titanium Dioxide OR Zinc Oxide to make a suntan lotion
Self Tan– Add DHA to make a fake bake that really works .
Magic, age defying, cellulite busting potions- scour the internet for all the gubbins, the AHAs, enzymes and crushed pearls that are supposed to grant instant beauty and add them too. I can’t promise results, but it’s fun experimenting.

RECIPES

Here are some cream and lotion recipes

Containers
Once you have made your creams and balms you will need to store them. You can find a range of pots, bottles and closures here.

More

For the last 5 years now I have been I have been using home-made cream on face and body with no side effects. The plastic pots from the original kit have been reused a number of times. In fact they are still in use. They are great for traveling.

Buy 

Check here or visit individual posts for purchase details.

PLASTIC SPOILER
Some of the above will come plastic packaged. As I get huge amounts  out of one small bag of ingredients so I consider it a worthwhile compromise. It still represents a huge decrease in plastic consumption.

Making Other Personal Care Products Hairspray featured

Its quicker then  trying to choose between a hundred different shampoos and it’s really simple, fun to do, so much cheaper  and  I get to control what goes on my  body, where it comes from and what environmental impact it has.

Lots more info here on making your own personal care products

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Toner – skin

I have long had the complexion of a teenager – all spots and grease. While in India this situation got a whole lot worse. In desperation I made myself a face wash out of apple cider vinegar. I normally use this to make a conditioning rinse for my hair so I figured that’s what’s good for the clogged up hair might work for the blogged pores. It works – it really does.

Here’s my recipe

2 parts Apple Vinegar

3 parts water

1 drop of lavender oil for every 2 ml water

Shake well before use.

 

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Hair Gel and hairspray

I got these from green ladies blog

I haven’t tried them because I have no use for such things but I am ever thinking of you more glamorous types and your plastic free needs.

Homemade Hair Gel

By: Michigan State University

The Ingredients

* 1/2 to 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

* 1 cup warm water

The Instructions

Dissolve gelatin in 1 cup warm water. Keep refrigerated and use as you would a purchased gel.

NB  I have bought gelatin in paper sachets in the past but it is not a product I use often.  Would appreciate any up to date info on this…

Planet Safer Hairspray Recipe

Chop up a lemon or an orange and boil it on the stove in a couple of cups of water. Boil it down about halfway and then strain out any pulp and mix it in a spray bottle with about an eighth of a cup (1/8: that’s half of a 1/4 cup measure, if it makes it easier) of rubbing alcohol.

If you keep it in the fridge it will stay “good” longer – between 2-3 weeks.

Find more  plastic free products with the >>>A-Z<<< plastic free index