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Handmade Soap   Makeup   Body Balms, Creams, & Lotions   Bath Salts, Scrubs, Powders   Natural Homekeeping   Facial & Lip Care   Hand, Foot, & Hair Care   Mommy To Be
Handmade Soap   Makeup   Body Balms, Creams, & Lotions   Bath Salts, Scrubs, Powders   Natural Homekeeping   Facial & Lip Care   Hand, Foot, & Hair Care   Mommy To Be
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  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about making your cosmetics at home. You may see the answer to your question posted here, but due to the volume of mail received, all email inquiries cannot be answered individually.

    Do the ingredients clog the drain?
    Where do I find the ingredients?
    How should I package my handmade cosmetics?
    Are the recipes good for people with specific concerns, such as color treated hair or various skin conditions?

    What about preservatives?
    Why are different recipes made with different measurements?
    I tried a recipe and it did not come out right. What happened?
    How do I make an herbal infusion?
    May I make a recipe at this site and sell it on my own?
    How do I melt ingredients in a double boiler (sometimes called a hot water bath)?
    Where can I connect online with others who like to make their own cosmetics?

    Do the fresh food ingredients in some recipes clog the drain?
    Sometimes, this can be a problem, especially if the water pressure in your home is not very high. To avoid it, instead of rinsing products from your skin and directly down the drain, use a towel to gently slough off the product and then rinse once most of it is removed, or rinse over a bowl that can catch most of the product so it can be disposed of in the trash can. Another alternative is to use a fine sink strainer when you rinse products from your skin. The strainer can be easily cleaned after the product is rinsed off.

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    Where do I find the ingredients?
    The fresh food ingredients, herbs, seeds, nuts and juices can be found at your favorite produce supplier, natural food market, grocery store or farmer's market. Other ingredients, such as essential oils, vegetable oils, cocoa butter, etc., are also sometimes available at natural and health food stores. But by far the most convenient way to purchase those ingredients is online through our Selected Suppliers. Our Selected Suppliers are conveniently located in different parts of the country so you can choose the one(s) that save you the most on shipping. Our Selected Suppliers are individual companies and all of them do not carry the same ingredients. Our Partner page contains easy ways to contact them (including links to their Web sites, phone numbers and email addresses) so you can contact them easily. Also, if you click on any ingredients in a particular recipe, an ingredient definition will pop up which also contains information on which of our Selected Suppliers carries that ingredient. 

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    How should I package my handmade cosmetics?
    There are a variety of ways to package your cosmetics. If you'll be using the product immediately, as is the case with the Face Food Freshies, you may only need a package for overnight storage. A clean yogurt (or other plastic) container works well for this. You can also package your scrubs and masks made with fresh food items in small zip lock plastic baggies for easy "single serving" dispensing. For creams and lotions, you'll want to use bottles and jars designed to dispense those products and many of our Selected Suppliers carry all types of each!

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    Are the recipes good for people with specific concerns, such as color treated hair or various skin conditions?

    There is no one answer to this question. Since all people are different, and their hair, skin and bodies are different, there's no way to say categorically that any particular recipe will be effective and/or acceptable for everyone. There are no guarantees with respect to any of the recipes here and you make and use them at your own risk. The people who submit the recipes may say in the recipe itself whether or not it is good or not good for any particular kind of specific concern. If you have any doubt, it's best not to use a recipe but to consult with a professional stylist, esthetician, dermatologist or other health care professional. And we recommend that you do a "patch test" of products and ingredients on small areas of skin before using them on larger areas of skin. To do this, apply a small amount of product onto skin where it can stay for about a day and not get rubbed or washed off. If there is no adverse reaction, chances are good it will perform well on skin on other areas of your body. We cannot make any guarantees of course since everyone is different. Use common sense and use each recipe at your own risk.

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    What about preservatives?
    If you are looking to sell the cosmetics that you make, make sure to read this section!

    Today's mass-market cosmetics manufacturers usually cannot meet the great consumer demands for "natural" cosmetics without incorporating relatively large quantities synthetic preservatives designed to inhibit the growth of potentially harmful bacteria. While preservatives do indeed help boost consumer safety of those products, they usually add minimal benefits otherwise, and their inclusion in over the counter products was a chief reason I decided to being making my own skincare products.

    For me, inclusion of synthetic preservatives defeats the purpose of creating all-natural products for in-home use that provide optimal skincare benefits. Rather than creating a cream with a long shelf life, my goal is to use fresh, natural, quality ingredients on my skin whenever possible.

    To maximize the shelf life of your handmade cosmetics, make sure that the utensils and work space used to make them are clean and sterile. Use utensils that are set aside exclusively for making toiletries, and wash them by running them through the top shelf of the dishwasher two times before use, or sterilize them by placing them in a pot of boiling water for 10-20 minutes.

    Make your products in small batches, and pour them into clean pump dispensers and bottles with flip-top lids. Refrigerate them separately from food in a crisper between uses. At night, I sometimes put the ones I will use in the morning into an insulated lunch box and place it in the bathroom so I don't have to go to the kitchen in the morning to retrieve them.

    Always do your best to refrain from dipping your fingers into your products, especially creams and lotions containing water (where bacteria thrives), in order to avoid transferring harmful microorganisms into your products. Tell people to whom you give samples to do likewise and make sure they understand that the products will not last years and years like commercial cosmetics. I like to use a plastic cosmetic spatula or disposable pop sickle to dispense cream from jars. You may also wish to affix a label on the container stating the date you made the product and a "use by" date.

    If you are planning to sell the products you make, we recommend that you become educated about the types of preservatives that are available, and to use them, and to comply with all applicable laws and FDA regulations. FDA regulations require that cosmetics sold in the United States be free from adulteration by substances (including bacteria) which can be harmful to consumers. Therefore, if you are selling your products, failure to use an adequate preservative system could cause your product to be adulterated and/or to harm a purchaser. It is thus wise to incorporate a preservative into your products and, if possible, to have them challenge tested for bacterial growth and shelf life. Some preservatives that are typically used in cosmetics include essential oils, benzoin, grapefruit seed extract and Vitamin C and there is a great deal of controversy in the industry around the effectiveness of those additives. Synthetic preservatives with proven track records include Germaben II, LiquaPar Oil, Liquid Germall Plus, and various types of parabens. Sometimes, raw materials themselves contain preservatives and you would not know unless you asked your supplier. If you would like to explore using preservatives in your cosmetics, contact our Selected Suppliers who can help you find the preservative that's right for you.

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    Why are different recipes made with different measurements?
    Since recipes are submitted by readers who use different measurements to make different products, all recipes do not use the same measurements. Some people make products using grams or ounces, while others prefer using teaspoons and tablespoons. Where provided by the recipe submitter, we include approximate conversions in the recipes themselves. You can also use the conversion calculator to convert measurements from those provided to those with which you are more comfortable.

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    I tried a recipe and it did not come out right. What happened?
    Your cream separated or your soap ended up being a slushy mess. No matter how proficient you become at making your own cosmetics, there are bound to be some disasters along the way. It's always hard to say exactly why a recipe does not come out as expected when you do it yourself. If it's an easy recipe, chances are you had a measurement off somewhere. Like baking the perfect cake from scratch, however, some recipes take practice to perfect! But take heart and be patient with yourself! Take notes as you measure and add ingredients - especially when you are making something for the first time. In this way, when adjustments are necessary or desirable, you can keep track of them. Keeping notes help you avoid making the same mistake twice. It also ensures that if you make the perfect product, you can make it exactly that way again and again!

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    How do I make an herbal infusion?
    If you don't have herbs on hand, you can substitute plain oil or water in the same amount called for in the recipe. You can also purchase herbal infusions already made. To make an herbal water infusion, place the herbs called for in the recipe into a stainless steel saucepan. Pour water over the herbs, just covering them completely. Do not pack the herbs. Place the saucepan over a low flame and allow the water to come to a very slight boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat source and cover the water and herbs with a lid that prevents the steam from escaping. Allow to steep for a minimum of 20 minutes, longer for a stronger infusion. Use a cheese cloth or other strainer to strain the herbs from the water. Discard the spent herbs and use the infused water for your cosmetics. To make an oil-based infusion, follow the directions above, substituting oil for the water, and DO NOT BOIL THE OIL. Instead, heat it and the herbs over the lowest flame possible for about an hour. Strain as indicated above and use the herb infused oil to make your cosmetics. Before making an oil infusion using fresh herbs, wash the herbs first to remove dirt, and then allow them to wilt dry overnight. Use the wilted herbs to make the oil-based infusion as outlined above. Unused infusions should be stored in the refrigerator between uses.

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    May I make a recipe at this site and sell it on my own?

    Yes. You do not need our permission to use a recipe that you find here for your own personal use or to sell in your own business.

    How do I melt ingredients in a double boiler (sometimes called a hot water bath)?

    To make a double boiler or hot water bath to melt ingredients, fill a large saucepan 1/4 full with water and bring it to a full boil. Lower the temperature so that the water is boiling but not fully. Measure the ingredients to be melted into a heat proof measuring cup (such as one made by Pyrex or Corning) and place the cup into the boiling water. The heat from the boiling water will gently melt the ingredients in the measuring cup. Follow the recipe as usual.

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    Where can I connect online with others who like to make their own cosmetics?

    This site is maintained by the Indie Business Network, a trade organization representing companies that make and sell soap, cosmetics, fragrances, perfumes, candles, aromatherapy products, and more. You can learn more about the Indie Business Network, and how we can help you start your own cosmetics business, by clicking here.

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