Activated Charcoal: The Beauty Hack That Won’t Break The Bank

Activated Charcoal: The Beauty Hack That Won’t Break The Bank

For all of us who love a good beauty DIY trend or brand new cosmetic item, there’s a fresh game-changer in town. The name is activated charcoal, and it’s been making headlines in the beauty world. While it’s not new, per se, it’s definitely on trend. Don’t be fooled by the name: although charcoal might bring along thoughts of being on Santa’s naughty list, there are many beauty benefits to this lightweight black carbon.

An ounce of activated charcoal powder is as cheap as three dollars and can be the perfect ingredient to many DIY beauty projects. Whether you want to concoct your own beauty project or you’d prefer to head straight to the store, one thing is for sure: activated charcoal has plenty of cosmetic uses and won’t break the bank in the process. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular uses.

Activated charcoal for pearly whites

When we think of having nice white teeth, we certainly don’t imagine a fog of darkness smeared across them, do we?

Oddly enough, activated charcoal has been hitting the shelves of many retailers for its teeth whitening advantages. Activated charcoal is known for pulling toxins and removing stains, so it only makes sense to apply it to your teeth, where unwanted staining can occur from delicious hot coffee, tea, a glass of red wine, or nearly anything else.

activated charcoal toothpasteSurprisingly, after using activated charcoal on your teeth, all of the blackness washes away and will leave your teeth feeling clean, polished, and smooth. It might look unpleasant when you stare into the mirror, but after continued use, you’ll more than likely notice results.

Many popular toothpaste brands have even included charcoal in some of their products. Examples include:

For skin

If you’ve been experiencing less than desirable skin conditions, you’ll be amazed by the multitude of benefits that activated charcoal can provide. To begin with, this miracle carbon draws out some of the nasty things that negatively impact your skin, such as an overabundance of the wrong types of bacteria, dirt and built-up dead skin cells.

With activated charcoal, you can easily draw out oil, dirt, and any other substance that is causing clogged pores. It does this through its mighty powers of adsorption.

A fresh and glowing face is completely achievable thanks to this super-ingredient for your skin. Applying this product to your face in the form of a facial mask, scrub, cleanser, or on-the-spot treatment like black drawing salve will quickly draw out dirt and other skin imperfections.

Now, you might be tempted to stop reading this post and go order some charcoal powder for your face right now; but before you do that, you should know that like the previous hack, some popular brands have also taken advantage of the rave and created their own charcoal mask products.

These commercially prepared masks have different ingredients that may make them better or worse for your skin type and goals, so it’s best to read reviews to help you determine which activated charcoal mask is perfect for you before jumping in.

For gorgeous hair

Now that we’ve covered teeth and skin, it’s time to review how activated charcoal can make a difference for your hair.

Just like how it removes toxins from your teeth and skin, activated charcoal does the same to your hair. If you’ve experienced anything unpleasant such as clogged hair follicles, dandruff, or even scalp infections, activated charcoal should be one of the first beauty items you reach out for.

Did you know that using activated charcoal on your hair not only improves its overall appearance, but can encourage hair growth as well?

That’s right – charcoal works its magic by pulling out toxins and pollutants that restrict and compromise the health of your hair, making it grow faster and look healthier. Dirt and other substances weigh down your hair and regular shampoos are not only incapable of removing as much as activated charcoal, but they actually leave back more residue as well.

Final word on activated charcoal

Although activated charcoal has been around since practically the beginning of time, we’re now finally appreciating its detoxifying advantages on teeth, skin, and hair. Whether you decide to opt for a fun DIY project or premade mask, toothpaste or shampoo, you can rest assured that you’ve made the right decision for your pocket and your beauty – which is rare!

Pro tip: when going the DIY route, you might want to opt for the activated charcoal in capsules. They’re less messy and make it easier to gauge proportions.

About the author:

Thanks to today’s guest writer, Trish Sutton for this fabulous article! Trysh is a wife, mother, strategic leader and teacher. She runs a website called Pure Path, which is a naturopathic wellness site that promotes healthy living and healing through the use of essential oils and sustainable living.

You can follow her on social media to learn more about the benefits of essential oils, and healthy living practices.

Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Youtube | Google Plus

Is activated charcoal part of your skin, hair, or oral hygiene routine?

How do you like it? Please share your experience in the comments below!

*This post contains affiliate links.

My 5 Favorite Herbal Skincare Recipes from Mountain Rose Herbs

My 5 Favorite Herbal Skincare Recipes from Mountain Rose Herbs

Have you heard the big news? I’ve created an amazing new online event, called the Herbal Skincare Summit, and I’m offering it FREE from January 8-12, 2018! Click HERE to join the event.

The Herbal Skincare Summit features 17+ wise women and men, who are sharing their expertise, inspiration, and practical tips about the power of plants for healthy, radiant skin. It will be a celebration of our herbal lineage and an opportunity to share our passions and knowledge – with a bit of old-fashioned storytelling thrown in for inspiration. 

The more I go through the interviews, the more amazed I am at what an incredible event this has shaped up to be. I’ve produced online events before on a smaller scale, but this was a whole new ballgame–I had no idea what to expect, but I can tell you that how it’s turned out is better than I could have ever imagined. So I hope you join us!

One of the most exciting parts of the Herbal Skincare Summit is that it has sponsors!

I opened sponsorship opportunities to a very small pool of companies, because I’ll be honest–I’ve had companies approach me for sponsorships before that didn’t align with my philosophy and core business values, and that didn’t feel good to me.

So when Mountain Rose Herbs said yes to my VIP sponsorship offer, I was ecstatic because they are a company I’ve been doing business with for years, whose core values align with mine, and who I recommend all the time to my Create Your Skincare students as top quality one-stop shop for organic, ethically harvested, non-GMO, and fair trade herbal skincare ingredients and supplies such as dry herbs, carrier oils, essential oils, butters, waxes, antioxidants, bottles, jars, tubes–you name it.

Mountain Rose Herbs also has fantastic customer service and is happy to answer any questions about ingredient quality, purity, and sourcing if it’s not listed on their website. I remember I once had a question about the origin of their citric acid from a student, and they provided me with a detailed written analysis the very next day.

Mountain Rose Herbs also has an incredibly informative blog, which contains many recipes that have inspired me.

I thought I’d share a few of my favorites here to get you into the herbal skincare mood:

Homemade Shaving Cream

This one inspired one of the products in one of the gift sets I teach in the Bonus Module of Homemade Shaving CreamCreate Your Skincare. It gives so much more of a luxurious shaving experience than a foam. I’ve given it as gifts to the men in my life and they love it with a nice shaving brush. Works great for the body too!

DIY Moisturizing Skin Serum

Who doesn’t love a good oil serum these days? This one contains many of my favorite carrier oils, and I love the essential oil blend–it’s earthy and subtle, while still feminine.

Frankincense & Myrrh Hand Balm

just thinking about this one makes my hands feel soothed! Especially this time of year. Frankincense and myrrh are some of the most comforting ingredients for dry, chapped skin, and the addition of the other essential oils in this recipe balance out the aroma nicely (so you don’t constantly feel like you’re in church if that’s not your thing).

Vanilla Cardamom Lip Balm

As I’ve confessed in the past, I have a bit of a lip balm addiction. I literally have one at arm’s length at all times. Part of the reason is that it is SO easy and inexpensive to make, with endless variations! But you want your lip balm to taste good, so that means that any flavorings need to be edible–which is why I love this vanilla cardamom one.

DIY Leave-in Conditioner Hair Serum

Though skincare is my specialty, I get asked about my hair all the time–that kinda comes with the territory when you have waist-length, straight hair. My biggest secret is leave-in conditioner, and I love using oils on the ends as a leave-in, because it coats the hair and gives shine–and as long as I use the right oils for my hair, it doesn’t feel weighed down. This is one of my favorite blends–and it also works well as a skin serum for certain skin combinations.

Those are just a few–but they have more!

Again, I want to extend my deepest gratitude to Mountain Rose Herbs for supporting my Herbal Skincare Summit, and also for donating two amazing bonuses to our Virtual Swag Bag, which all attendees will receive. I’m so proud of this event and hope you can attend.

The Herbal Skincare Summit happens online FREE January 8-12, 2018.

Click HERE to save your spot.

*Images are courtesy of Mountain Rose Herbs, used here with permission.



The Lung-Skin Connection Part 2: Herbal Allies

The Lung-Skin Connection Part 2: Herbal Allies

In Part 1 of the Lung-Skin Connection, we talked about how lung health often influences skin health. We also discussed the importance of air quality–both indoor and outdoor–and shared a few tips on how to freshen up your indoor air and protect yourself outside–especially if you live in a city, or an area with compromised air quality as a result of environmental disasters such as smoke from wildfires, or mold from hurricanes. So what are some other ways we can help protect and rejuvenate our lungs, and therefore, our skin?

Herbs, of course. While there are too many herbs to list here that benefit the herbs and skin, I figured I’d start you off with five of my favorites. Here are…

5 herbs to support a healthy lung-skin connection

Fenugreek Seed

This herb has dozens of benefits. For the lungs, it encourages the clearing of mucus and reduces your mucus production, helping to keep you free and clear. It is helpful to take at the tail end of illness, as it soothes dry coughs and sore throats, and acts as a recuperative tonic.

Remember, the lungs are associated with air–and too much dryness in the lungs and body often lead to chronically dry skin on the outside. Because this demulcent herb helps to keep the body moisturized from the inside out, I recommend drinking it as a tea regularly. The more moisturized your body is, the better it is at warding off infections and getting rid of toxins from the body.


ThymeIt’s great to be able to recommend an herb that people are already familiar with using. It’s sometimes easier to add herbs into meals you already eat, than worry about making teas or tinctures. Truly, some of the herbs many of us use regularly in cooking have amazing benefits that we might not realize.

Thyme is definitely one of them! Its antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties make it helpful in supporting a healthy respiratory system. Plus, it has expectorant qualities, making it helpful to relieve dry, unproductive coughs.


Oregano is another example of a common culinary herb that packs serious medicinal punch! Oregano is perhaps Oreganomore known in the world of herbalism for its antibacterial qualities. They are strong! And many people enjoy using oil of oregano or oregano essential oil to reap these benefits. Take caution when using oregano essential oil, though. It is powerful, and should not be taken internally or used undiluted.

Another way to get the benefits of oregano, besides cooking with it, is to take the powdered herb in capsule form. Doing so regularly can help keep your lungs clean.


EucalyptusThis invigorating herb already has a reputation as an ally of the lungs. Especially pleasant when used in a diffuser, eucalyptus has a palpable effect on the lungs and sinuses when inhaled. If you don’t have a diffuser, you can add a couple drops of the essential oil in a pot of boiling water and let the steam wash over your home, or use it in a hot shower. If you don’t have the essential oil, you can tie a bunch of fresh eucalyptus to your showered and the hot, steamy shower will act as a diffuser.

Eucalyptus is a great example of an herb that supports a healthy lung-skin connection, quite literally in fact, since you can benefit from it both by inhaling it and by applying it topically. You can also dilute eucalyptus essential oil or in a carrier oil or infuse a carrier oil with the herb itself to use as a massage oil, or in a salve.

Osha Root

OshaThis special herb increases oxygenation of the lungs, soothes sore throats and inflammation, and is highly effective against viral respiratory infections. Quite the resume!

Osha is not to be used lightly, but can be very effective. A tea or tincture induces sweating, which can help in the elimination of toxins. This is a great herb to use under the guidance of a trained herbalist if you’re noticing clear signs of respiratory distress.

There is a lot to take in regarding lung health, air quality, and the skin. Recognizing the lung-skin connection is important, and it’s a good idea to keep air quality on your radar and pay attention to any signs of lung distress. But don’t let the stress transfer over to you. Do your best to get out into nature when you can, reduce your environmental impact, and nourish your body with lung-nurturing herbs! Your skin will thank you.

Have you tried any of these herbal remedies for healthy lungs?

And if so, have you noticed a change in your skin? Please share in the comments below!



Image credits:

Fenugreek seed by Bhaskaranaidu ,Thymus vulgaris by Kurt Stuber, Oregano by Thomas Then, Eucalyptus by Toby Hudson, Osha by Jerry Friedman via Wikimedia Commons

Flower Elixirs: Your Introductory Guide with Katie Hess

Flower Elixirs: Your Introductory Guide with Katie Hess

One of my favorite things about plants is how many different positive ways they can affect people. Some plants are used as medicine or to support normal functions of our physical organs and systems. Others are used to boost the mood and aid in mental clarity. And others are used to lift our spirits, help us balance our emotions, work through challenges, or teach us lessons. This is particularly the case with flowers–especially in the form flower essences or flower elixirs.

While many flowers are certainly used in preparations intended for acute and general physical health and wellbeing, in the forms of tinctures, oils, hydrosols, or teas; flowers are special because their beauty and essence really draws us in and helps to balance out our energetic fields, emotions, and spirits. I, for one, was absolutely drawn to flowers for their beauty. I’m partial to roses, lavender, irises, and orchids–just being around them instantly lifts my mood. But I also regularly take flower essences, also known as flower elixirs.

What are flower elixirs?

Flower elixirs, or essences, are traditional herbal preparations that capture the subtle energies of flowers, typically through lunar infusion. Any plant or gemstone can be made into elixirs, but for today’s purposes, we’re referring to those made from flowers. Flower elixirs do not contain the chemical constituents of the plant in a way that affects the physical body like other preparations (teas, tinctures, etc) do. Instead, they carry the plant’s frequencies which work on our own energetic frequencies to help restore balance.

I was first introduced to flower essences through the Bach Flower Remedies, which I used to help me through some of the self-confidence issues that stuck with me after my skin healed from acne. But I then moved past the Bach pantheon when I first arrived at Katie Hess’ website,, when I found out about her Flowerevolution program.

Katie’s flower elixirs intrigued me, because they were NOT the typical flowers used in the Bach remedies–in fact, many of them were flowers I had never heard of. I’ve since done multiple cycles of Flowerevolution, attended Katie’s FlowerLounge event in Philadelphia this past spring, and regularly use her book, Flowerevolution (get a free preview here) whenever I need to brighten my day with beauty or spark creative inspiration. I think it’s safe to say that I am a fan of Katie Hess, and Lotuswei.

Katie and I also connected through my online course Create Your Skincare, when she generously shared some of her favorite topical uses for flower and gemstone elixirs in an exclusive bonus interview for my students.

Click HERE to sample a free Create Your Skincare class!

Like Katie, I believe in the healing power of flowers for individual people, as well as for us humans collectively, and it’s my pleasure to share her work with you. I was so excited to have Katie as a guest on the Rachael Pontillo Show, to talk about flower elixirs, Flowerevolution, and some of the other amazing ways Lotuswei is using flower power to help heal the planet.

It sounds lofty, doesn’t it? Using flower elixirs to heal the world?

It’s a very romantic idea, but after spending time with the flowers themselves, regularly using flower elixirs (Katie talks about using them as a type of love vitamin), and connecting with other flower-loving women at the FlowerLounge event, I believe it’s an excellent starting point.

Watch my video with Katie Hess below, and see if you agree:

Click HERE to download the audio version of this episode free on my iTunes channel (and subscribe while you’re at it!)

About Katie Hess:

Katie Hess is a flower alchemist, the founder of LOTUSWEI, one of the world’s leading floral apothecaries, and author of Flowerevolution: Blooming into Your Full Potential with the Magic of Flowers . After 15 years of independent research of flower and plant-based healing, her flower-powered community is thriving in over 15 countries. She instigates a revolution with the premise that you transform the world by transforming yourself (with a little help from flowers!). Katie travels worldwide to seek out flowers that reduce stress, improve sleep, and accelerate personal growth. Her work has been featured in O, The Oprah Magazine, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Sunset and Organic Spa Magazine. Discover what your favorite flower means about you at

Get a sneak peek at beauty of the FlowerLounge experience below:

You can also join the beauty and deliciousness of Flowerevolution program yourself (so you can experience what I’ve been raving about for yourself!) here. Katie’s new Flowerevolution card deck is also now available for purchase here.

*Images courtesy of Katie Hess/ This post contains affiliate links.

Gemstones in Skincare: Your Introductory Guide

Gemstones in Skincare: Your Introductory Guide

Have you noticed that gemstones are everywhere these days? While just a few years ago, it seemed they were abundant in the more metaphysical/spiritual circles, but lately they’ve been gaining mainstream exposure. Int he skincare world, again–they’ve been long embraced by the more holistic aesthetic modalities; but this past year at the spa shows I’ve attended, I’ve seen more gemstone infused products, gemstone-infusing water pitchers and bottles, and actual gemstone jewelry exhibited throughout the sea of otherwise still fairly conventional aesthetic products and treatments. I’ve touched on the subject of gemstones in skincare a few times, but I’m talking about it again today due to this influx of attention (or maybe I’m still feeling the vibes from the gemstone jewelry I bought at the Long Beach show–who knows!).

It’s a somewhat common sequence of events–an ancient practice goes relatively untalked about for years and years and then–Booom!–the secret gets out and everyone wants in.

Inevitably there are questions. Does it work? Is it expensive? Is it right for me?

I’ll try to make this one crystal clear for you.

Gemstones in skincare

When it comes to natural skincare, we mainly think of plants — cold-pressed oils, healing herbs, potent extracts… But precious (and ones considered “semi-precious”–I consider them all precious) gems are just as natural, and it turns out that they can also play a pretty magical (and scientifically-backed) role in organic skincare.

Use of minerals in skincare dates back to ancient Egypt, when the mineral malachite was used as eye paint (can you imagine how vibrant that color must have been?!) Even Saint Hildegarde of Bingen, an abbess and writer in Germany (1098-1179), recommended using amethyst to help remediate acne.

I’ve written about gua sha as well, a traditional massage technique that involves scraping or pulling on the skin with a smooth stone to move lymphatic fluids and release tension in the face. It is most commonly done using rose quartz or jade, and there’s evidence that shows that it increases circulation in the face, which can help relieve pain in addition to revitalizing the skin.

So it’s clear that we’re not the first era to discover that minerals and gems can play a role in your skincare routine.

It Seems woo woo, But…

Even some mainstream skincare brands use minerals in their products. For example, Aveda has a product that uses tourmaline to naturally energize the skin. I’ve seen these stones-of-many-colors pop up into organic products here and there over the years too, though they’re definitely getting more attention lately.

One of the explanations for why crystals have such a healing effect on the skin is that our bone structure is similarly crystalline. And if you want to get even more woo woo (clearly I do), many spiritual lineages of old and new believe that there are crystalline aspects to our DNA. Because gems and minerals have a naturally higher frequency, they can literally travel towards weaker skin cells, to balance them.

Here is another way to say it that involves a cool new vocab word (or it was for me, anyway): piezoelectricity.

Piezoelectricity is the charge that builds up in certain materials when they are exposed to mechanical stress. These materials include DNA, certain ceramics, and (you guessed it), both bones and crystals. This charge is reversible.

Crystals tend to hold their energy and have the natural ability to support energy fields. When you put them in your skincare, they transmit this energy to your skin.

So, where are the jewels?



Gems can be incorporated into skincare products in a few different ways:

  1. Water infusion – Gem is soaked in water before being used in a formulation. This is sometimes done under moonlight for additional benefits. The results of this infusion are also referred to as gemstone essences or elixirs.
  2. Oil infusion – The same process as above is done in oil instead of water.
  3. Tincture – An elixir is preserved with alcohol to extend its shelf life.
  4. Powder – A gem is ground into a powder and added into a skincare formulation.

A study done by the Journal of Cosmetic Science looked at the use of tourmaline in skincare–specifically its ability to raise skin temperature and thus increase circulation.

They determined that a product containing 1% of the gem powder was sufficient to provide this effect.

And while crystals have in common that they affect the skin through their vibrational energies, you may have guessed (or already knew) they each crystal has a unique effect on the skin. Some are specific to certain skin conditions and some might not work for everyone. How they work, similar to plants, also depends on that individual person’s physical and energetic constitution.

How to choose the right gems for your skin

There are people who make entire careers out of helping people choose the right crystal and use it for healing; and like with plants–I feel it takes more than one lifetime to learn all the stones and ways they can help.

Some of my rose quartz, jade, and marble gua sha, acupressure, and facial massage tools.

So here’s a very introductory guide to some different properties crystals have, as it relates to skin:

  • Jade protects the skin and increases circulation. It is the most common tool used to gua sha, the facial massage technique mentioned above.
  • Rose quartz is one of the most common crystals used to improve the skin. It is popular for reducing fine lines and wrinkles and smoothing out rough skin.  Also used in gua sha, this stone improves circulation while calming nearly every complexion.
  • Moonstone gives skin a youthful glow and helps balance your yin-yang energies.
  • White gold is known for its graceful aging properties and its abilities to treat sun-damaged skin.
  • Rubies are thought to be great blood cleansers, removing toxins and clearing up acne. They also recharge your energy, helping you feel powerful and in control.
  • Amethyst eases nerves
  • Tourmaline crystals warm as they are rubbed onto skin, becoming positively charged on one end and negatively charged on the other. This unique feature increases skin absorption, meaning that when tourmaline is in your skincare, you absorb all those delicious ingredients better. This energizing stone is also said to make the skin more radiant and youthful.
  • Citrine’s optimistic and creative energy makes it useful for dealing with seasonal depression and bringing about opportunity.
  • Malachite is a deep energy cleaner and is often used for healing and bringing positive change
  • Sapphire helps us face difficult situations and see them clearly. On the skincare front, it can be a great ingredient to keep complexions smooth.

Choosing the right stone for you can be as simple as moving towards whichever you resonate with. Or, choose based on the skincare or emotional concern you’d like to address.

My experience with gemstones in skincare

I wrote about gemstones in skincare a while ago. Those who know me or read my blog often know that I am a big fan of using them not only in skincare, but in my jewelry, throughout my living space… pretty much anywhere I can squeeze them into my life.

In the blog post mentioned above, I talk about my process of choosing the right stones for me, plus I interview a friend of mine who practices stone medicine and simply blows my mind with the work she does. Gemstones have played an important part in my life since I was a child, and once I started working with them more purposefully, I absolutely believe they’ve helped me have skin today that no one ever believes, ever had stage 4 or cystic acne. While other changes had to happen for me to achieve my skin and health goals, during that time, my stones were always with me.

Create Your SkincareI hope you’ll consider incorporating crystals into your skincare, whether it’s through gua sha, an infused product, or simply keeping them nearby.

Do you want to learn to make professional quality gemstone-infused skincare products?

You’re in luck! In the Bonus Module of my online course, Create Your Skincare, there are multiple lessons about gemstones in skincare, and how to use them. Throughout the rest of the course, you’ll also learn how to work with the energetic and physical properties of plants to create balanced, customized, and effective skincare regimens for any skin type or skin tone.

Click HERE to learn more and save your spot in our next class now!


The 5 Most Common Allergens in Skincare and What to Use Instead

The 5 Most Common Allergens in Skincare and What to Use Instead

One of the biggest reasons people switch to natural skincare and personal care products is because they experienced some sort of allergic or irritant reaction from synthetic chemically-based products. What’s important to understand, though, is that even natural products can cause allergies, and because many plant-derived ingredients are called something other than the plant they were actually derived from, it’s not always possible to identify common allergens in skincare just by reading the label.

As I mentioned in my article about gluten-free skincare, it’s not always necessary for people with food intolerances and sensitivities to avoid the ingredients topically–however, it only takes exposure to a single molecule of an allergen to trigger an allergic reaction.

To be clear, the most common allergens in skincare are synthetic chemical ingredients–NOT natural ingredients.

I’ve seen many articles lately claiming that natural products cause allergies, and while it’s possible for anyone to be allergic to anything, synthetics are more likely to cause problems. According to WebMD, the most common skin allergens are preservatives such as parabens, imidazolidinyl urea, Quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, phenoxyethanol, methylchloroisothiazolinone, and formaldehyde. Synthetic fragrances and perfumes are also known as one of the most common causes of skin and respiratory allergic and irritant reactions. Unfortunately, the labeling terms “hypoallergenic” and “non-allergenic” are not strongly regulated, and are often meaningless.

MADE SAFE supporter logoIt is absolutely true that a natural product does not mean an allergy-free product, because the term “natural” is also not strongly regulated; and while “organic” does have some oversight, they often contain synthetics which, while they might be approved for use in a natural or organic product by organizations like ECOCERT, NaTrue, or have Made Safe’s non-toxic certification; they might still contain potential allergens.

It’s not possible to list out every single potential skin allergen, because, again–anyone can be allergic to anything, even if they do not have a history of allergies, and even if they have been using the ingredient for years. Instead, I’m going to give you a list of common allergens in skincare that I’ve come across in my own experience as a custom formulator and educator, and share with you what alternatives I use instead.

My caveat, again, is that unless you are making your products yourself, you might not be able to find out the source of certain synthetics in your products-even your natural ones. And if you are making products for other people, it is your responsibility to make sure you are disclosing your ingredients ethically, and clearly stating if your products contain common allergens either as whole plant ingredients, or as a source of your naturally derived ingredients.

Also, the alternatives I suggest are not the full range of potential alternatives–they are just some of the most easily accessible ones. And it goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway, if you have an allergy, are allergy prone, suspect you have an allergy, or want to know if you should use a specific product or ingredient, always consult with your licensed medical practitioner–preferably a holistic or naturopathic one!

Here are 5+ most common allergens in skincare, and what you can use instead:

1. Tree nuts

Macadamia nutsMany, many whole plant skincare ingredients are pressed or expelled from nuts. Coconut oil, hazelnut oil, macadamia oil, palm oil, peanut oil, and sweet almond oil are common examples. Instead, look for butters and oils pressed from seeds or pits, such as olive oil, argan oil, jojoba oil, apricot kernel oil, or rosehip seed oil. If you want a firmer consistency than a liquid oil, you can try adding beeswax or candelilla wax to mimic a butter-like texture. A note about shea butter: though it technically is a tree nut, “recent research indicates that shea nut butter does not contain any detectable protein residues and does not contain detectable residues of proteins from peanut or various known allergenic tree nuts (walnut, almond, pecan, hazelnut). Since allergens are proteins, this research indicates the absence of detectable allergens in shea nut butter.”

In addition to whole plant ingredients, people with tree nut allergies may potentially react to ingredients derived from them. Many naturally derived surfactants, antimicrobials, emollients, and emulsifiers are sourced from coconuts, palm nuts, or peanuts. These include, but are not limited to coco glucoside, decyl glucoside, cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine, sodium laurylglucosides, sodium methyl cocoyl taurate, caprylic/capric triglycerides, stearic acid, cetearyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate, arachidyl behenate, Cocamidopropyl betaine, and sodium lauryl sulfate (though, if you’re reading this, you probably know to avoid this ingredient anyway!). I’m going to be dead honest and tell you that it is VERY difficult and potentially expensive to make natural emulsions (creams and lotions) that are completely coconut or palm-free. It is much easier to do so with anhydrous products such as oil serums, butters, and balms (learn to make these free HERE). Which emulsifiers, preservatives, and surfactants are required vary depending on each individual formulation. If you are interested in exploring these alternatives for your range, I would be happy to advise you personally in the Create Your Skincare Mastermind, or Create Your Skincare Live online courses.

2. Soy

Soy is another ingredient that is used both as a whole food skin ingredient–soya or soybean oil or wax, primarily; but may show up on your skincare labels or ingredient descriptions in products marketed as vegetarian or vegan, such as soy amino acids, peptides, and keratin blends containing hydrolyzed soy proteins. Soy is also a common source for many other ingredients such as lecithin, Vitamin E, and vegetable emulsifying wax. Instead, look for lecithin and Vitamin E sourced from sunflower oil, and use a different plant-derived emulsifier such as Phytomulse, or Olivem-1000.

3. Wheat and other gluten-containing grains

See my blog post about gluten-free skincare for specific ingredients to look for on labels that are sourced from these grains.

4. Vitamin E

Though it’s noted for its multiple skin benefits, Vitamin E is a common skin allergen. There are several different sources of the tocopherols used to create Vitamin E, such as soy and sunflower oil. However not all are created equal, and not all are used at the same percentage in products because Vitamin E can be used solely for its antioxidant function, but also as a performance ingredient. Many of my students prefer bioidentical Vitamin E, because it is known to be less allergenic (though there are other considerations that make it not a good choice for all formulators); but others choose alternative antioxidants such as rosemary oleoresin or alpha lipoic acid to keep oils and other anhydrous products from going rancid.

5. Milk

Micellar Cleansing FluidWhile it’s rare to see actual milk used in natural products, because, let’s face it–it is a perishable food, and foods must be STRONGLY preserved (with preservatives that are stronger than the natural antimicrobials we currently have available), in order to be safe for use in a cream or lotion. You will, however, see it made into soaps and milk powder used in bath soaks, face scrubs, and face masks. Why would milk be in a product? It’s a whole food, bioavailable form of lactic acid (an alpha hydroxy acid) known for its gentle exfoliating, softening, and naturally hydrating properties. However, many, many people are allergic to milk. Some alternatives that also deliver softening, gentle exfoliating, and hydrating properties are fruit enzyme extracts, colloidal oatmeal, raw honey, certain algae extracts and bioferments, and rice water. You can also make milk-like consistencies with your emulsions–one of my students’ favorites is our Micellar Cleansing Fluid that I teach in Level 3 of Create Your Skincare.

Other common skin allergens to be aware of:

Others you might consider avoiding are extracts or seed oils from tomatoes, and strawberries. Also, herbs from the Asteracea family, as helpful and full of benefits as they can be, are common allergens. If you do use them in your products, make sure you let your customers know that if they have seasonal allergies, or known allergies to asters, they should not use your products that contain them. Here are a few:

  • Arnica (Arnica montana
  • Burdock (Arctium lappa
  • Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
  • Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis or Matricaria chamomilla
  • Chicory (Cichorium intybus
  • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis
  • Echinacea (Echinacea augustifolia
  • Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium

Overwhelmed by this information?

Don’t be! There are so many alternatives, and in my course Create Your Skincare On Demand, I am dedicated to helping you make products that are ideal for your unique skin and your own needs. If you’re making products for your clients or as part of your skincare brand, I can help you choose the best ingredients to suit your ideal customer’s needs–AND I will teach you what you need to know about how to label them properly and compliantly in Create Your Skincare Live and Mastermind. Learn more and register today!


*Macadamia nut image by Malcolm Manners. Asteraceae image by Alvesgaspar, Tony Wills (10) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Pin It on Pinterest