5 Common Myths About Natural Preservation of Herbal Skincare

5 Common Myths About Natural Preservation of Herbal Skincare

Confession time. When I first began making my own herbal skincare products, there’s a lot I got right, but there’s a LOT I got wrong. And that makes sense, because I learned on my own through years of trial and error. I had emulsions boil over and nearly start fires, my creams and lotions separated, I accidentally grew colorful strains of mold, yeast, and goodness knows what else. But I always went back to the drawing board and found a way to make it work with the next batch. However, in my very early days of making custom skincare products for other people, I found that some of those mistakes started rearing their ugly heads again. Why did that happen? Because even though there was a lot I learned really well on my own, I found that I had unfortunately learned a great deal of misinformation about very important things like natural preservation.

When you make herbal skincare–or any skincare at all–keeping yourself and your customers safe is the top priority, hands down. Microbial contamination is the number one risk when you make any product containing water. The ONLY way to inhibit microbial growth in a water-containing herbal product that’s intended to sit on a shelf (or in a drawer, cupboard, cabinet, etc) for months on end is to use a proper natural preservation system.

To this day, I still see the same natural preservation misinformation I learned written all over the place. These myths are written into herbal skincare books, shared on wellness and herbal blogs and Instagram pages, and even taught in herbalist and aromatherapy courses.

So today, I’m going to debunk the 5 most common natural preservation myths in herbal skincare.

1.Essential oils are effective natural preservatives.

Essential oils are not enough for natural preservation

Essential oils are powerful medicine–there’s no doubt about that. I’ve seen multiple images of resistant strains of bacteria and even viruses recoiling from a single drop of a powerful antimicrobial essential oil. There are multiple PubMed studies which have shown antibacterial, antiviral, anti fungal, antimicrobial, anti-et-cetera effects. I am not here to dispute that. What I am here to say, is that to adequately preserve a water-containing skincare product, you’d need to use too high a percentage of the essential oils to be safe for topical application, especially daily topical application to delicate facial skin, and in such close proximity to the eyes and mucus membranes. Please do not rely on essential oils as natural preservation for herbal skincare.

2.Herbs with naturally occurring antimicrobial properties don’t need added preservatives.

Herbs are not enough for natural preservation

Herbalists might get mad at me for this one, but I had to list it, because I see this one just as frequently as the essential oil one. I see herbal cream recipes that say that products made with infusions and hydrosols blended with oils and beeswax last several months to a year without refrigeration. The explanation is that the antimicrobial constituents of the plants themselves are enough to prevent contamination of bacteria, mold, and yeast.

Like honey (read more about that here), once you add water to any plant matter at all, it’s going to grow microbes. This is also the case with hydrosols–hydrosols are water and plant constituents, and therefore are susceptible to microbial growth. The plants’ natural sugars act as food for the microbes, and there is no way to predict which microbes will grow–beneficial or pathogenic.

I also see herbalists relying on antioxidants like rosemary antioxidant, Vitamin E, or grapefruit seed oil to preserve their products. These are antioxidants–not preservatives. They do not do the same thing. Most unpreserved herbal emulsions (creams, lotions) should be used within 3 days unrefrigerated, or within 7 days refrigerated. If you are an herbalist and you don’t want to add a preservative to your recipes and products, please educate your clients and audience with this important usage information.

3.I don’t see, smell, or feel a change in my herbal skincare product. Therefore it’s still fine to use.

Bacteria

Nope. While it is true that many instances of microbial contamination can be detected with the senses–it might start to smell like compost (or something else that’s just not the lovely floral or fresh scent you were going for); it might separate or curdle or otherwise change in consistency; or you might see actual spots, a colored film, or fuzzy mold–that’s not the case with all contamination.

Back in the day, I had an instance where I had a product that looked, smelled, and felt fine. But I started to get a rash on my face, which I had no other explanation for. After a chemist friend offered to run a microbial test (which I had no idea was even a thing), we found that my cream tested positive for both bacteria and yeast. Lesson learned.

4.You can use raw apple cider vinegar or kombucha as a preservative.

Kombucha is not effective for natural preservation

The theory with this one is that because both of these would lower the pH of the product, and they contain probiotic strains, “bad” microbes won’t stand a chance. This is an excellent example of how theories don’t always translate to real life. First, for the pH to be low enough that pathogenic bacteria, mold, and yeast couldn’t grow, that pH would be too low to be safe for topical application. You could literally cause a chemical burn.

Second, the piece about the probiotic strains being powerful enough to overpower any “bad” microbes that might enter the mix…how could you possibly know that? As Dr. Maya Shetreat taught in the Herbal Skincare Summit, with microbes, it’s not always about the good guys and the bad guys. Biodiversity is what’s important. Like a crowd of people at a party, sometimes there are uninvited guests that can be easily dealt with; but other times an all out brawl can happen. There is no way to predict how microbes will act once put into a bottle or jar with other ingredients to interact with. There’s no way to tell how long a probiotic strain will remain viable, or simply convert into sugar (which then becomes food for other microbes). While there are new and exciting advances in fermentation-derived antimicrobials (which many of my students love to use), relying on wild strains or untested strains is just an unnecessary risk.

5.I can just buy a natural preservative online and add it to my product, and I’ll be fine.

Natural preservatives need to be tested

The great news is that we have such a wonderful, growing array of natural antimicrobials available to students, indie formulators, and small skincare business owners today. We also have a nice variety of synthetic preservatives that have been approved by organizations such as Made Safe, EcoCert, Cosmos, and Natrue for use in non-toxic or organic products. Every time I attend a conference, or speak to suppliers, I’m constantly being told about new advances in natural preservation, and after years of resistance, the cosmetic chemistry industry has finally embraced the fact that the demand for safer, more natural products is only going to continue to increase. All that being said, there’s not a “best” natural preservative to use that’s effective against gram positive and gram negative bacteria, mold, and yeast. Sometimes you get lucky, most other times, multiple formulation attempts, tests, and adjustments are necessary to ensure that your natural preservation system is effective for each individual herbal skincare formulation.

Luckily, effective natural preservation for herbal skincare can be learned!

Create Your Skincare Professional Edition starts soon!

One of the reasons my Create Your Skincare students value me as a teacher is because my own educational experience has been so varied. Though I began formulating my own products from the perspective of an herbalist and aesthetician, once I realized that my knowledge of natural preservation was not only lacking–but was actually based on incorrect information–I added cosmetic chemistry to my educational journey. I also learned more about microbes and the microbiome in general in my education about functional nutrition and fermentation, in addition to bio-individuality and genetics.

I respect my students’ (be they herbalists, aromatherapists, aestheticians, health coaches, or other wellness practitioners) desires to create products that are as close to nature as possible. I understand not wanting to interfere with the powerful medicine nature provides us, or mess with the synergistic or energetic properties of the plants.

But I also cannot condone the spreading of unsafe recipes and practices. When you are making products for yourself that will be used quickly, certain allowances can be made (though you of course should never put yourself at risk with unsafe practices). However, when you are creating for or selling products to other people–or you are sharing recipes and tutorials online–you have a responsibility to do so in the safest way possible.

Do you want to learn how to start or grow a successful, safe, and smart herbal skincare business?

Create Your Skincare Professional Edition starts soon. You can start today free with my online Skincare Business Crash Course!

Balanced Facial Moisture for Dry Skin

Balanced Facial Moisture for Dry Skin

Dry skin is no fun, whether its due to a change in weather or climate or due to other reasons such as genetically alipidic skin or chronic dehydration. It can feel constantly itchy, unevenly textured, appear prematurely aged, and feel tight to the point that you feel like your skin might tear from smiling (and for some severe cases, it can). Even washing dry skin with plain water can be painful–especially in the winter.

I’ll be honest with you–I never thought I’d experience dry skin. As someone who, for the majority of my life had oily, clogged, acneic skin, I used to actually envy people with dry skin. People with pores so tiny, they’d never show blackheads or sebaceous filaments. People who never had to carry around blotting papers, or worry about looking like a sweaty mess in a group photo or while giving a presentation. People who never had to worry about a big ole’ nasty zit popping up right before a special occasion.

Of course later on I learned a lot more about skin both on the surface (as an aesthetician and formulator) and below (as a health coach, herbalist, and functional nutrition practitioner) and realized that oily skin actually does have perks and isn’t a cause of acne. I also learned that dry skin doesn’t mean no acne, and it comes with a whole slew of other uncomfortable skin issues. So I began to appreciate my oily skin–especially when my acne cleared and I began to see that my skin was not showing signs of age as quickly as my dry skinned friends.

For years, my skin did really well with a minimalist regimen of just an oil cleanser, simple toner, and facial oil serum for my moisturizer. I used more saturated, expansive lipids in my winter blends, and less saturated, “drier” oils in my summer blends to adjust my skincare to my skin’s seasonal needs. If I felt like experimenting with new water-soluble ingredients, maybe I’d make a cream–but I never liked layering products on top of products in complicated skincare regimens. Maybe that’s because I believed the marketing hype I was sold years ago with the acne “systems” I used to buy–and even what I was taught at trade shows and manufacturers’ product education classes taught by professional skincare companies. Once I realized that my skin–and my wallet–didn’t like all those different products, I stripped my regimen WAY down. And until this fall, that was enough.

Until it wasn’t.

This past fall, I switched up my oil serum as usual, and made a really lovely blend that I loved using, but for some reason, it wasn’t enough. For the first time in my life, my skin felt dry all day long, to the point where it was uncomfortable. I made sure all my ingredients were fresh and hadn’t gone rancid. Yup, all fine. I made sure I hadn’t introduced something new or toxic into our household cleaning products or other personal care products. Check, all good.

I made sure I applied my oil serum while my skin still had water on it from the shower, or from my hydrosol toner, and still, I woke up feeling like my pillowcase was sandpaper on my skin. I started adding a layer of shea nilotica butter on top of the oil serum, thinking my skin needed an even MORE saturated lipid to keep in the moisture. Nope, no dice. I also started using a wellness tracking app to me sure I was getting enough sleep and drinking enough water for my weight. My skin still felt dry–even in the notoriously oily t-zone area.

What changed to make me all of the sudden have such dry skin?

I’ve gone through 40 other Northeastern/MidAtlantic US falls and winters. But in this 41st one, my skin has changed to the point where my normal seasonal oil blend tweaks were no longer enough. As I mentioned in my last post (which you can read HERE), the skin needs both water AND oil to be thoroughly moisturized at any time of year. The skin also does not get enough water from the water we drink, and I’m going to say this again, while oils help to seal hydration into the skin, they DO NOT HYDRATE the skin on their own.

So, I needed to mitigate this new dry skin situation by adding more water into my topical skincare regimen.

Here are 4 steps I took to achieve balanced moisture on my 41 year old skin this season:

1. I switched from cleansing with a cleansing oil to cleansing with raw honey. Honey is a powerful humectant, and it also is rich with natural sugars that nourish the skin’s microbiome, enzymes, and antioxidants. It cleanses effectively, and does a great job of hydrating–and contrary to what you might think because of its stickiness, it is very easy to remove with a warm, soft cloth.

2. I changed up my hydrosols from rose and witch hazel which are both tightening/astringent to chamomile and geranium, which are less intense on drier, more sensitive skin. Instead of preserving it with alcohol, which can be drying, I switched my preservative to a low percentage of a lactofermented antimicrobial (I teach you how to do this correctly and safely, by the way, in my Create Your Skincare online courses).

3. I made a thick, rich, luxurious, humectant-rich cream. I chose my ingredients according to my Skin Sequencing® method (which I teach exclusively in Create Your Skincare Professional Edition), and instead of distilled water which is actually too alkaline for the skin, I used lower pH hydrosols, and humectant-rich aloe and one of my handmade glycerites. I also added nourishing oils and demulcent/mucilaginous herbal extracts, along with natural emulsifier and antimicrobials. The formula is simple but each ingredient was chosen for a specific purpose for my unique skin, because I didn’t want to overwhelm my already-freaking-out skin with an overly complicated formula. I apply this underneath my oil serum.

4. I sleep with a humidifier, and we also have hepafilters in the house. Humidifiers are a great way to counteract drying forced air heating systems and fireplace air’s effects on the skin. However, with humidifiers, you really have to be careful to clean them properly and change the filters often, as they can breed mold. Our hepafilters are to help clean the air of potential mold spores, and other irritant, drying particles.

These changes have restored my skin’s moisture and glow, and have made it look and feel as good as it does in the summer when there’s an abundance of humidity.

What if you don’t want to add a lotion or cream?

I know a lot of purist holistic aestheticians and skincare enthusiasts who don’t like to use creams or lotions, because they don’t want products with emulsifiers or preservatives. I strongly believe that there are safe, and even beneficial emulsifiers available these days–and new ones continue to enter the market. But I get that some people just don’t want to go there.

If that describes you, then you might be fine applying a tepid herbal compress of a demulcent/mucilaginous herb blend (marshmallow, hibiscus, elderflower, and oats are lovely), or apply a one-time use DIY mix of this blend with some fresh aloe vera gel as a hydrating serum under your oil. If you want to take the time to do that, and it’s giving you the results you want, then go for it! But if you’d like something that’s shelf stable that you don’t have to whip up every day, then it’s a great idea to learn how to make herbal creams and lotions safely.

Do you have dry skin?

What’s worked for you to help it stay hydrated, especially during the winter or if you live in a desert climate? Please share your best tips in the comments below!

Want to learn more about how to use herbs inside and out for gorgeous, glowing skin all year round?

Check out the Herbal Skincare Summit. You can now purchase anytime access to all 18 herbal skincare classes, get awesome bonuses, plus the exclusive Herbal Skincare Summit Companion e-Book!

Click HERE.

*Affiliate disclaimer.

**Althaea officinalis image by H. Zell – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9008527

If Facial Oils Are So Great, Why is My Skin So Dry?

If Facial Oils Are So Great, Why is My Skin So Dry?

Facial oils are all the rage now in the world of holistic skincare and green beauty. They got their start as a traditional herbal remedy. Herbalists have been using gorgeous plant-based oils to nourish, soothe, and protect the skin either in blends of different fixed (AKA carrier) oils, pressed from nuts or seeds–or infused with the oil soluble therapeutic properties of herbs. They then expanded as exclusive boutique skincare products, handcrafted in small batches by artisans or herbalists, and sold in small spas, Etsy shops, and local health food stores. Now you can find facial oils just about everywhere, from drug stores to department stores, to cosmetic chain stores, to spas and wellness centers–and of course from a multitude of online suppliers. While facial oils offer a ton of skin benefits, they might not be enough to give you the moisture your skin needs–especially if you tend to run dry, or if the weather is harsh.

Why are facial oils so popular?

Facial oils make a lot of sense for a lot of reasons. First, they are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids–all nutrients the skin needs for a healthy barrier function and happy microbiome.

Create Your SkincareSecond, the nutrients in facial oils are more bioavailable than in creams and lotions, or water-based serums. The skin is a semi-permeable barrier. It’s meant to keep certain things out, and allow certain things in. The skin’s barrier is comprised of a mixture of dead skin cells, and a lipid matrix (a combination of fatty acids, ceramides, and cholesterol). An article from the International Dermal Institute uses the analogy of bricks and mortar to describe the skin’s barrier system. The dead cells are the bricks and the lipids are the mortar.

This barrier is hydrophobic–which means it repels water, bit lipophilic (oil loving) which means it will attract other lipids. Therefore lipids and oil-soluble nutrients are more likely to absorb into the deeper layers of the skin, where they can nourish and protect the delicate cells below the surface. And it does this so easily, in a super-concentrated dose! Unlike water soluble nutrients or active ingredients which have to be synthesized into a lipophilic delivery system in order to penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin, facial oils are already naturally able to do that. No human involvement necessary.

The biggest reason facial oils are so popular now is that from a formulation perspective, they are easier to work with because they generally do not require a preservative. This makes people who buy based on “free from” claims (not that I’m recommending that–read THIS) happy, and requires less labor and resources from a formulation perspective. That doesn’t mean that oils don’t require special handling–some of the are very fragile and can oxidize and degrade quickly–but they don’t support microbial growth (though contamination from improper storage, usage, and handling are possible).

Do facial oils work for everyone?

The short answer is yes…but.

The but has to do with the fact that there are several variables that if, and how well an oil will work for someone. Factors include the overall level of skin hydration, compatibility of the essential fatty acids in the oil with the lipid matrix of the person using it, level of saturated fats in the oil; whether the oil has been processed, stored, and used correctly, etc.

To answer this question, let’s focus on the “but” that has to do with the overall level of skin hydration. To be fully moisturized, and to be able to take in nutrients, the skin has to be hydrated. While it is important to drink lots of water and eat hydrating foods throughout the day, the water (and nutrients) that we consume internally first nourish and hydrate the internal vital organs. By the time they reach the skin, there’s only about 10% left. This is why it is important to hydrate the skin on the outside with water-containing ingredients (but not water itself–check out my interview on The Healthy Me to learn why).

Why your facial oil might not work

Oils do not hydrate the skin on their own. While they definitely help seal in existing moisture, they cannot bring water into the skin because they do not contain water or any other aqueous substance.

Read more about that HERE.

There are different dry skin types–alipidic skin, or “oil dry” skin is a lack of oils or slow sebum production, in which case, a facial oil might be the solution, in addition to more healthy fats in the diet. However, the biggest reason for dry skin is dehydration.

If you are relying on your facial oil to hydrate your skin–especially if it’s dry, and especially if it’s cold out or you have dry interior air–I hate to tell you this, but you’ll likely find yourself disappointed. If you are relying on an anhydrous (not water-containing) skincare regimen consisting of oils, butters, balms, and salves, you also might find yourself disappointed.

I often see well intended skincare advice on blogs and social media recommending that if your facial oil absorbs too quickly, or “dries” too quickly, that all you need to do is use a heavier, thicker, more saturated oil. I still recommend that you do that–because if your skin is soaking up your oils to the point where you feel like you have to use a ton to feel moisturized, then you clearly need different oils in your blend. There are THOUSANDS of oils, and billions of people–there is no perfect oil or perfect blend that is right for everyone. But even the most carefully selected facial oil blend will not provide complete skin moisture, because the skin also needs hydration–from water or a water containing ingredient.

In my next post, I will give you suggestions on how to provide your skin with BALANCED moisture, with both water and oil–whether you’re a purist or you like a big, elaborate regimen. I’ll also share what happened when my OWN skin freaked out at the beginning of this season, and what I had to do to calm it down.

In terms of facial oils, I can tell you that the first thing you need to do is choose the right ones for your unique skin type. I teach you to do that FREE in my online mini-course, Boutique Skincare Basics.

Click HERE to sign up for that!

*Dry skin photo by Ser Amantio di Nicolao – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=64831139

The Secret to Making DIY Skincare that Actually Works!

The Secret to Making DIY Skincare that Actually Works!

If you’re into DIY skincare, or skincare in general, I’m guessing that at some point you’ve heard these pieces of advice:

  • “You should use skincare that’s for your skin type.”
  • “Only use skincare with ingredients you can also eat.”
  • “You don’t need anything fancy for your skin. Crushed up aspirin, lemon juice, raw apple cider vinegar, crushed up Vitamin C, and baking soda are all you need.”

I totally get it. These pieces of advice make a LOT of sense. If you are struggling to find all natural skincare products that are safe for your skin, or have been dabbling in DIY skincare recipes online, you might have tried one or more of these approaches. And you probably didn’t get the results you wanted. And then you probably blamed yourself or your skin. Am I right?

It’s easy to think there must be something wrong with YOU. Why is it so easy for eveyone else to get clear, vibrant skin? What are YOU doing wrong? What’s wrong with YOUR skin?

Nothing. No, I mean it. You aren’t doing anything wrong. There isn’t anything WRONG with you or your skin, and there actually are some truths in (some of) that advice. The only problem is that that advice only works for SOME people but it doesn’t work for EVERYONE (and some of it–like that last one–is just downright dangerous). If it did, then everyone would have clear, youthful, glowing, perfect skin and there would be no need for a multibillion dollar skincare industry. This is the key difference.

Not all DIY skincare advice is GOOD advice.

Truth time. People in the skincare industry (myself included…I’ll admit it) have very strong opinions that their way is the best way (if not the only way). And while I would love nothing more than to tell you that there’s one magical path to skincare success, it’s just not true. There are many ways, and there are pros and cons to each.

If you are anything like my awesome Create Your Skincare students, you’ve likely already had some DIY skincare successes…and quite a few not-so-great attempts (notice I did not say “failure” because I don’t believe in failures–just learning opportunities!).

Researching DIY skincare recipesYou might find yourself on the other end having done a lot of work in researching DIY skincare recipes online, but not getting any of the results promised by the beauty or wellness blogger or Instagram influencer who posted them. You know why? Because most of those recipes were created by that person in their own efforts to help their own skin situation. Most of the time, the people who created them don’t know much about the skin, skincare formulation, or skincare ingredients. They just happened to find a remedy or recipe elsewhere, tweaked it a little bit to make it their own, and then published it online. That’s all well and good, but that really won’t help YOUR skin.

You deserve better than generic DIY skincare recipes.

My people (that’s you) tend to do better when they do things a different way. You love how rewarding it feels to create amazing things from scratch, and you love the idea of taking your skin into your own hands. You’re also ready to ditch the glitzy, glossy cosmetic campaigns that try to convince you that if you buy V,W,X,Y,Z products–personally used (meaning, endorsed) by Celebrity Turned Woo Woo Wellness Guru, THEN you’ll have the skin of your dreams. Nope, you’re smarter than that. You also probably know the importance of understanding your skin–what it loves, what it reacts to, how it changes from season to season. And finally, you love nature and know that it’s medicine–plants, stones…heck, even dirt–and want to use that power in your products. I get it, because that’s me too!

Why does this work for people like us? Because instead of following the status quo, and doing what everyone else does to get skin results, we focus on learning the hows and the whys behind it, and how it relates to our own skin. And then we take matters into our own hands.

The secret to making DIY skincare that really works is that you have to set yourself up from the start to succeed with the right prep, the right ingredients for your skin, and the right technique. And I’m gonna teach you how. For free.

That’s why I created my Boutique Skincare Basics course.

Rachael Pontillo making skincareI’m so tired of awesome people like you getting brandwashed and greenwashed by the skincare industry. I’m tired of you having to read blog post after blog post to try to find a DIY skincare recipe that doesn’t contain coconut oil and won’t burn the heck out of your skin (I know you know what I’m talking about). I’m tired of amazing people like you diligently using those products, or following those recipes, LITERALLY getting burned by them, and then feeling like a loser because of it.

Boutique Skincare Basics is a free online course for people who just want to make simple, all natural skincare products with ingredients they know will work for their skin. That’s all. I know it sounds like a tall order, but it’s really not! If you’d like to finally learn how to make gorgeous products that are customized to your skin, and not have to waste hours of your time searching for recipes and ingredients online, this would be a good place to start.

Listen, you can keep doing things the way you’ve been taught but I doubt much will change because you’ll never be the type of person those ways will work for. And trust me, you are in good company, because I can’t do it either.

You’ll continue to spend lots of time and money, try a bunch of products and recipes that don’t work, that give you results that are just meh, or worse–that actually injure your skin. But, seriously, who wants that? Not when you can learn exactly what ingredients to choose for your unique skin and whip up two simple, versatile, and EFFECTIVE products in your own kitchen, that will FINALLY give you the results you want.

Click HERE to take my free DIY skincare class, Boutique Skincare Basics.

Trust me! Your skin will thank you. And by the way, from 11/19/18-11/21/18, I’m doing a Boutique Skincare Basics 3-Day challenge in my free Handmade Skincare Enthusiasts group on Facebook. Click here to join that group!

Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Packaging for Your Herbal Skincare Business

Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Packaging for Your Herbal Skincare Business

“Sustainable.” It’s a word that you hear all the time. On social media. On the news. It’s become a buzzword that has transformed how we go about our everyday lives in a multitude of ways. But what does it actually mean? And, how does it relate to you and your skincare business?

Studies have shown consumers care now more than ever about the effects their decisions and behaviors have on our planet. Waste, pollution, climate change, water scarcity, deforestation, global warming… just a few to name off an ever-growing list of environmental concerns that plague our world today. And the public, including consumers, is taking notice.

Consumers aren’t only focused on their own choices – they’re also becoming more aware of everything around them. This includes everything from the brands they purchase to the companies they choose to do business with. And, also, how products in their households are made, and their consumption of those products. Packaging, specifically, has had a significant impact on our environment. Packaging alone accounts for 40% of all plastic usage, with only 14% being properly recycled. As pollution of our oceans, lands, and air continues to escalate, consumers are looking for products, companies, and business owners they can trust to make positive efforts towards saving our planet. This includes sustainable packaging in our niche of the skincare and beauty industry.

So, what exactly is it to be environmentally sustainable?

Environmental sustainability: A state in which the demands placed on the environment can be met without reducing its capacity to allow all people to live well, now and in the future.

Essentially, sustainability is an effort to live life or do business in a way that is friendly to the natural environmental and is sustainable for the planet as a whole. The overall goal being to protect the earth’s ecological balance.

2017 alone presented a huge trend of eco-friendly and sustainable packaging becoming a priority in the beauty marketing segment. Big brands such as Garnier, Dior, Lush, Tata Harper and more have all made conscious, deliberate efforts to incorporate eco-responsible packaging. International studies by Unilever have found that over one-third of consumers prefer to purchase from sustainable brands, or brands they perceive as making an effort to do environmental good.

With the world of “green living” being so expansive and encompassing, it can be intimidating as a small business owner to know where to start. Will it cost more? Will I be able to find sustainable packaging suppliers that fit my needs? Will I be able to make effective changes? Where do I start?

One of the first areas we can evaluate is the one part of our business that has been proven to be one of the highest contributors to global pollution: packaging. With so much information available today, it can be cumbersome to dig through. Below, we’ll go over some popular “eco-friendly” and sustainable options that you can consider utilizing in your own skincare businesses. I’ve also provided a quick reference rating guide that rates each option in terms of their overall “greenness,” price, and availability.

Here are my top 4 sustainable packaging options for herbal skincare:

1. Bamboo

These frosted glass jars with bamboo lids are available on Amazon.

Little known to many, bamboo is actually classified as a grass. Due to this distinction, the plant has fast-growing qualities (it’s one of the fastest growing plants on the planet, in fact!) that earn it a reputation as a favorable option for renewable or sustainable packaging materials. Bamboo also has a naturally high strength-to-weight ratio, providing the material with a higher compressive strength than wood, brick, or concrete. In short, bamboo is a reliable, strong, and green option for packaging. Bamboo is also biodegradable and compostable – making it not only strong, but also a fantastic option for being environmentally conscious.

Bamboo has become a material of choice in the cosmetic industry, with a wealth of packaging options increasing each year. Online retailers provide attractive options such as canisters, jars, tubes, bottles, and more for filling and selling product. Just be aware that many of them still have plastic inside, so look for recycled or otherwise sustainable plastic, or glass insides to your bamboo bottles and jars.

  • Green Rating – ★★★
  • Price Rating –
  • Availability Rating –

1 = lowest score; 3 = highest score

2. Recycled Cardboard

Cardboard lip balm tubes of many colors are available on Amazon.

Most all modern garbage companies, for both households and businesses, have evolved to include a curbside cardboard pick-up due to the high-commodity usage of the material. Cardboard, along with paper, can be recycled to be redeveloped into a number of different products, so even if you can’t find recycled cardboard for all of your sustainable packaging needs, regular cardboard packaging is still an eco-friendly option. Over half of cardboard recycled will be used to make new cardboard boxes, with the rest being downcycled into thinner paperboard material. Utilizing recycled cardboard in your product packaging is not only helping the environment by incorporating a recycled material into your business practices – but also serves as a positive contribution post-sale, as recycled cardboard is biodegradable, compostable, and/or recyclable on the consumer-end.

Creative uses of recycled cardboard have expanded with the increase of needs in the “green living” space. Adding to the list of regularly found recycled products, such as shipping boxes, businesses can now find jars, tubes, and a multitude of shaped containers that are now available in recycled cardboard material for cosmetic products.

  • Green Rating – ★★
  • Price Rating – ★★★
  • Availability Rating – ★★★

1 = lowest score; 3 = highest score

3. Glass

Cobalt blue glass bottles are an easily accessible and attractive sustainable packaging option for your herbal skincare products.

Glass is universally one of the most eco-friendly product options available. It holds the unique quality of being “infinitely recyclable” – meaning it can be recycled over and over and over again, without any negative secondhand effects; such as a decrease in material quality or strength. Glass is also non-porous and impermeable, meaning there is no risk of an interaction between the packaging and the material the glass holds. Glass also has a zero rate of chemical reactions, ensuring that whatever is kept within glass packaging have no negative interactions with the material that would affect taste, aroma, or flavor. This is why glass is the number one option for food and beverage packaging. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ranked glass with a status of “GRAS” – or, generally recognized as safe – which is the highest of FDA standards.

Generally, due to the weight and fragile nature of the material, glass can be considered one of the more difficult and expensive options (especially Infinity or Miron glass), in terms of both product cost and shipping costs. However, one way to combat against this (and a common strategy in the beauty industry as a whole) is to incorporate “refill” programs when utilizing glass packaging. More details about this can be found below in our “Think Outside the Box” section.

  • Green Rating – ★★★
  • Price Rating –
  • Availability Rating – ★★

1 = lowest score; 3 = highest score

4. Recycled plastics

The majority of recyclable plastic bottles still end up in landfills because they are not recycled properly or at all.

Recent Earth Day Network studies have discovered that since plastic was developed in the 1950’s, over 8.3 billion tons of the material has been produced. Unfortunately, 91% of this material is not recycled – even though recycling plastic saves twice as much energy than disposing of it does.

Understandably, there will be times when you may find plastic is unavoidable. Even when we have the best of intentions, sometimes budget, availability, or other outstanding factors can get in the way. However, know that the market is now growing rapidly with recycled plastic options to help control the rapid spread of plastic pollution. While you may not be able to avoid utilizing the material – purchasing plastic containers that are certified as eco-friendly or 100% recycled can still assist in making a difference! These are not as easily accessible in small quantities, but I predict that will change as awareness and demand continues to increase.

  • Green Rating –
  • Price Rating – ★★★
  • Availability Rating –

1 = lowest score; 3 = highest score

Thinking outside the box

Sustainability doesn’t only encompass the materials we utilize for packaging – there are also a ton of other creative ways to accomplish a more sustainable brand. Even the smallest considerations can make a huge impact and contribute towards positive change in the greater world around us.

Here are a few other ways to consider making your products more “green”:

  • Product design – Even details that may seem minor can have a large impact on the overall sustainability and “green footprint.” There may be creative ways for you to change the size of your packaging, for example. Or, changing the shape of your product to achieve more efficient shipping.
  • Selecting “green” partners – Do your best to work with companies or manufacturers who utilize materials from renewable or sustainably-managed forest sources, or are known to make an effort to incorporate eco-friendly practices.
  • Recycled paper – Packaging is only one part of the many pieces that are involved in your business. You can also utilize recycled materials in other areas – such as the paper you use to print invoices, packing slips, and more!
  • Minimize additional elements – As small as they may seem, any additional paper included with your product (leaflets, corrugated information cards, cellophane wrapping) all product excess waste on the consumer-end. Re-evaluate your current product materials to determine if there is anyway to condense or combine to decrease your carbon footprint.
  • Refill programs – Refill programs, most commonly coupled with glass packaging, have become very popular in the beauty industry. Brands such as Blackstones in NYC, M.A.C., fragrance brand Thierry Mugler, LUSH, Kiehl’s, and more. Consumers are encouraged to bring in their empty bottles to either recycle or refill. This not only reduces waste – but can also save your costs on additional packaging for repeat customers!

Is sustainable packaging something you think about for your products?

What solutions have you found either for your herbal skincare business, or for your at-home needs? Please share in the comments below!

Need more suggestions for where to purchase sustainable packaging for your herbal skincare products?

I offer a comprehensive list of preferred suppliers for both raw ingredients and packaging supplies to my Create Your Skincare students. Our next semester of Create Your Skincare Professional Edition starts soon!

Click HERE to learn more and schedule your complimentary Skincare Business Consultation today.

*Plastics photo credit J. MacPherson via Flickr

**This post contains affiliate links. Purchases made after clicking on a link in this post may result in me earning a small commission (at no extra cost to you). These commissions help me continue to bring you top quality free holistic skincare resources and educational events like this. I appreciate your support!

3 Quick, Natural, and Safe Overnight Pimple Remedies

3 Quick, Natural, and Safe Overnight Pimple Remedies

Don’t you just hate it when you have an event coming up and a big old zit pops on the most obvious part of your face? Today’s guest post from Emma Hanson shares with you three quick ways to kick that unwelcome visitor out. I particularly like these three remedies, because I’ll be honest with you–many of the “get rid of the zit quick” remedies (and DIY skincare remedies in general) I see online may do more harm than good because even though they are using natural ingredients, they aren’t ingredients that are necessarily appropriate for topical application (lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and aspirin, are some of the most common offenders). The overnight pimple remedies listed below are safe for topical application, but keep in mind that they are intended for short-term spot treatment, and should not be considered as part of a daily regimen. Enjoy!

Sudden breakouts are such a common issue for women (and men too) of all ages. A pimple can pop due to a number of factors which we often aren’t aware of. 

Fret not! Here are 3 simple overnight pimple remedies that really work.

Even if the pimple doesn’t disappear, completely it surely will reduce in size and look less inflamed. 

1. Aloe vera icing

aloe vera gelYou might have heard about icing the pimple, which definitely helps to calm down the redness and may help reduce the size on its own. If you want to double the effectiveness, try frozen aloe vera. Aloe has the anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that are add serious therapeutic action to the coldness of the ice. It also packs serious skin nutrition, and pimple fighting properties such as Vitamins A, C, and E, minerals such as copper and zinc, enzymes, and bioavailable salicylic acid (which is a famous solution to acne).

To make your aloe vera ice, simply add aloe vera gel (learn how to safely extract the gel from the plant HERE) to your ice cube tray and then ice your pimple down for up 2 or 3 minutes with it twice a day everyday, leading up to the big event.

2. Tea tree oil and clay spot treatment

This tried and tested treatment is one you won’t commonly see on the DIY blogs (which is why I happen to love it!). Take a teaspoon of bentonite clay and add diluted tea tree oil to it (Rachael’s note: I recommend castor oil or aloe vera gel with about a 3% concentration of tea tree oil) for this particular blend). Add enough to make a paste out of it and apply the solution to the affected area only. Let it dry and then remove it with warm water. You’ll be shocked at how fast this remedy will dry out the blemish and reduce it in size.

Tea tree oil and bentonite clay both have the ability to draw out impurities, and kill the bacteria. For these reasons, this spot treatment is a powerful overnight pimple remedy.

3. Toothpaste magic

The toothpaste spot treatment is nothing new, but it is important to understand that conventional toothpastes on the market contain ingredients that you typically wouldn’t want to put on your skin, even for a spot treatment (like sodium laureth sulfate and artificial flavors). However, you can use a natural, earth-based toothpaste. These are particularly effective because most brands contain ingredients like baking soda, Himalayan or sea salt, bentonite clay, charcoal, and other earthy goodies that are known for their drawing, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Avoid other gel-based and colored toothpastes, because they can cause irritation to the skin.

Apply the toothpaste on affected areas only before going to bed and leave it on for a night. Wash your face in the morning and see the pimple almost vanished. 

Again, these are all meant to be used as short-term or overnight pimple remedies.

They are simple, yet very strong, and using them in too large of an area on the face, too often, or for too long, can cause more harm than good. If you’re looking to create safe, natural, simple skincare products that you can use every day, check out my free skincare class, Boutique Skincare Basics. Thanks to Emma for this contribution!

Emma HansonAbout the author:

Emma Hanson is a mother of two, a skincare freak and an avid reader. She loves trying out new products and treatments for healthy and glowing skin. She shares her knowledge and experience by writing regularly on her blog. She is one of the co-founders of http://www.clearawayacne.com/.

Have you tried any of these overnight pimple remedies?

Or do you have one of your own that always works for you? Please share in the comments below!

*Aloe vera gel image by ER and Jenny via Flickr. Toothpaste image from Amazon.

**This post contains affiliate links. Purchases made after clicking on a link in this post may result in me earning a small commission (at no extra cost to you). These commissions help me continue to bring you top quality free holistic skincare resources and educational events like this. I appreciate your support!

Pin It on Pinterest