Have you tried reading the ingredients list on the back of your moisturiser, shampoo or lip-balm recently? You’ll probably find that you need a chemistry degree and diploma in scientific pronunciation to stop yourself stumbling over these tongue twisters. What’s even scarier is what these ingredients actually do to your skin and even deeper, to your health. The Eco Garden’s latest workshop, Creating your Herbal Spa, held at the community centre last Wednesday, set out to offer a more natural approach.
Parabens and phthalates are often used in cosmetics as preservatives and softeners and words like methylparaben and dibutylphthalate in our bathroom cabinets don’t even seem to raise an eyebrow any more. It’s interesting to know then that parabens can mimic the body’s own hormones and can cause damage to your thyroid, ovaries and male reproductive systems while phthalates have been linked to premature puberty, liver damage and various cancers. While research findings are not always definitive, it is interesting to note that in 2003 the European Union directive banned phthalates in European sold cosmetics, while they are still readily available in North American products, some that you probably use every day. For more information on the products you currently use visit www.ewg.org/skindeep
Luckily there are alternatives, and you may find that you already have most of the ingredients in your kitchen pantry or garden. The incredibly knowledgeable people at the Fernie Community Eco Garden are running a series of workshops on Keeping Food Real and this latest one demonstrated how everyday, natural ingredients can take the place of these chemicals.
The workshop, led by Mary, Dawn and Jen from the Eco Garden had us using oils, butters, herbs and flowers to make our own scrubs, balms and bath bags. We started by making body butter, which consists of coconut oil, almond oil, cocoa butter and caster oil and your choice of essential oil for fragrance and effect. It was great to see how ingredients such as lemon peel, camomile, sage, milk powder and oats could be put together to create home spa treatments and thoughtful gifts. And you don’t have to be an expert, it’s all about trial and error, “I just mix it all up and hope for the best,” says Jen, who has been making her own beauty products for years.
I was amazed to see how effective the natural products were and how you really can do it all yourself. Most ingredients can be found at Cotton Wood Tree or The Good Earth but if you do a little research you will find that ingredients in your pantry such as olive oil, sunflower oil and honey can easily be substituted. You can use canning jars to hold your products or more specific ingredients and packaging can be ordered from websites such as www.oshun.ca and www.soapandmore.com
The Eco Garden are continuing this wonderful Keeping Food Real series into the new year with workshops such as Planning Your Garden on January 25 and Sprouting for Garden and Kitchen on March 28, so mark them on your calendars. For more information on any of the Eco Garden Initiatives visit www.ecogarden.ca or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.