Natural Beauty: The Complete Guide

Natural Beauty: The Complete Guide

“As within, so without.” – Hermes Trismegistus

The Giving Nature’s Natural Beauty Guide is all about looking good on the outside and feeling good on the inside. So, is beauty only skin deep? When it comes to natural beauty, beauty is as beauty does! And it goes a whole lot deeper.

Our skin absorbs what we apply to it, so natural beauty should also mean organic, kind to your skin and kind to the earth. But are we sometimes misled by “greenwashing” and manufacturers that take advantage of loopholes in regulations? We must get familiar with buzzwords that sell natural beauty products! Our guide reveals all!

Natural beauty products have gained popularity because of The Natural Beauty Movement. People who embrace natural beauty products are usually advocates of a natural living lifestyle. They opt for natural medicines and eco-friendly household products. They don’t want toxic chemicals on their skin or in their bodies. Often they also want 100% cruelty-free, 100% certified organic products. 

Using natural, biodegradable products is becoming a way of life. It creates an interconnectedness with nature and ourselves. The desire to eat healthily and stay fit is closely linked to natural beauty. When we eat organic, nutritious meals, it seems logical that the same ethos will spill over into all areas of our lives. We are what we eat, right?

Our Natural Beauty Guide not only demystifies the ingredients found in natural beauty products, but it also highlights how easy it is to whip up your own natural beauty treatments. For our DIY aficionados, we offer natural, homemade beauty tips and recipes. Make your cosmetics and personal hygiene products using organic, sustainably-sourced, environmentally sound ingredients.

We touch on the common problems people experience with their skin, face, hair, feet and nails. Problems like hair loss, acne, eczema, dandruff, cracked heels, premature ageing, and greying of hair can all be treated with natural products that contain organic, safe, gentle, cruelty-free ingredients.

What about beauty products for vegans? Are natural beauty products automatically cruelty-free? And does natural mean organic and vice versa? Are all-natural ingredients safe? What does the law say about labelling? Is it in place to protect the consumer or to exploit you? Our Natural Beauty Guide answers all these questions.

Our everyday beauty tips will amaze and delight you, in their simplicity and effectiveness. You’ll discover how easy it is to feed your skin and nourish your hair with natural ingredients.

The resources in this guide include lists of both toxic and natural ingredients to avoid. And why you should avoid them. We also have an extensive list of natural beauty ingredients that are safe, cruelty-free, and often vegan.

We look at ingredients that are dangerous to our skin and the environment. Studies [1] [2] [3] [4] show that certain chemicals in beauty products may disrupt hormones, be carcinogenic, irritate the skin, and impact the environment negatively. But how accurate is the list and why do some countries ban them and other countries not?

Artificial ingredients often produce stunning, significant results fairly fast. But the long term results are detrimental to the structure and elasticity of your skin. Often these ingredients strip the natural oils and moisture from the skin and hair, leaving you with a host of issues you never had before, like dry skin, brittle nails, and dull, lacklustre hair.

But before we continue with our Natural Beauty Guide, a pop quiz!

Q. What do these 7 things have in common? Avocado Pear, Rooibos Tea, Aloe Vera, Coconuts, Tea Tree Oil, Clay, and Oats.

A. They all come from the earth and are natural in their unprocessed states. Six of the seven are plants or from plants. And they all feature as key components in natural beauty products. They are gentle on the skin and have very few if any, side effects. When sourced sustainably, and grown organically, they get used in natural beauty products that not only benefit our skin but our earth too!

Let’s jump straight in, to explore the world of natural beauty in all its splendour!

What You Will Find In The Giving Nature’s Natural Beauty Guide:

Often natural products have a long list of ingredients, made up of even longer words! With our Natural Beauty Guide, we want to demystify the many ingredients that go into these products. And leave you with a complete go-to guide of resources and information.

We also explain why some not-so-natural ingredients are beneficial to the end product and longevity of a cosmetic. Preservatives, foaming agents, demulcents, and a host of other chemicals, both natural and synthetic, are necessary for the formulation of both emulsions and water-based products.

1. Defining The Natural Beauty Industry

Defining The Natural Beauty Industry

Today, we are more informed about consumer products than ever before. The trend towards using biodegradable, probiotic household cleaning products, environmentally friendly, toxin-free cosmetics and unprocessed, unrefined whole foods in our diets shows no sign of slowing down. But there are a lot of “grey” areas when it comes to defining what natural beauty is.

Often it’s a catch-22 with natural beauty products. Synthetic ingredients made in a lab might be better for the planet but not at all good for your skin, long term. And natural ingredients may be better for your skin. But not so good for the planet. This is especially true with vegan products. Choosing a vegan lifestyle often means choosing expensive, natural vegan products (organic cotton, hemp, etc.) or opting for cheaper, often plastic, artificial-but-cruelty-and-animal-free alternatives. 

At its essence, natural beauty is exactly what it says it is. Beauty with no additives! Natural beauty is you without a scrap of make-up. It is hair without colour or straighteners, and it is about embracing yourself and letting the beauty within shine out!

Natural beauty is when you look after your skin and hair by using fewer products and discarding products that contain ingredients that are synthetic or toxic. But is it really that simple?

Natural beauty should be about using products that are

  • Non-toxic
  • Safe
  • Environmentally-friendly
  • Sustainable
  • Renewable
  • Sustainably-sourced
  • Cruelty-free
  • Organic
  • Non-GMO

But not everything natural is safe. And not everything natural has been sourced ethically or sustainably. Consumers are intelligent enough to know that if something seems like a giveaway, price wise, then it’s probably not high-quality (or natural). Some people use natural products because they have allergies and not because they care about the environmental impact. Others choose natural products because they are particular about what they put on their skin.

Not everyone who chooses natural beauty products will have the same tastes, share the same beliefs, or be concerned with where the ingredients come from or how toxic they might be. For example, one person may shun colouring hair because it will hide their natural colour. Other people love changing their hair colour but only want to use natural ingredients because they are aware of the bigger picture.  The bigger picture is that, in the long-run, natural beauty products help your skin and hair to lock moisture in. This is what keeps skin looking young and smooth. Synthetic products rob your body of vital moisture. This leads to premature ageing and dry skin and hair.

The problem is that not all natural ingredients are gentle on the hair and skin. So in addition to finding natural products, one also has to find safe, gentle products that are also sustainable.

So is natural always better? When one starts to investigate the ingredients of cosmetics it doesn’t take long to realise the complexity involved in formulating makeup and personal hygiene products. Attention to detail is needed to produce cosmetics that do what they say they will, smell good, get applied with ease, and have a shelf-life, as well as hold.

Often derivatives of natural ingredients can be synthetically replicated. The consumer is led to believe they are getting a genuine, natural product but instead they are getting a synthetically manufactured replica.

Perhaps the biggest dilemma we naturalists have to come to terms with is that we cannot escape urban living. And it is not possible to live in this world without causing an impact somewhere. Take mining, for example, everything we need for natural living, whether it’s shelter and clothing or natural beauty products, comes from the earth. And often has to be mined. Mining is in no way good. So we compromise and justify when it comes to certain things. And we try to do the least harm.

In this guide, you’ll learn about products that are clean, organic, natural, safe, effective, gentle, and cruelty-free. With safe and natural ingredients, it’s easy and cost-effective to whip up a batch of your desired cosmetic or personal hygiene products like:

  • Toothpaste and tooth whiteners.
  • Deodorant and perfumes.
  • Face masks, cleansers, toners, moisturisers, anti-ageing serums, and sunscreens.
  • Exfoliating skin treatments, treatments for dry, oily or combination skin.
  • Body scrubs, body butters, moisturising creams, insect repellent creams and sprays.
  • Shampoos, conditioners, hair masques.
  • First aid remedies.
  • Shaving creams, beard oils, aftershave, ointments and perfumes.

1.1 Natural Beauty Guide: Glossary

Marketers and ad agencies often use a play on words to sell products. The following glossary is a guide to recognising these words. Seeing them on natural beauty product labels is not a guarantee you will be getting organic, cruelty-free, ethically sourced goods.

Also, the following definitions will help you to understand what the specific ingredients bring to beauty products, why they get added, and what they do.

Acetylated: Ingredients in the acetyl group are repairing, moisturising and anti-ageing.

Acids: Acids act as exfoliants, antioxidants and can boost collagen production.

Alcohol: Alcohols in products make them lighter, improve the penetration of other ingredients and act as a preservative but it also reduces the skin’s ability to retain moisture and causes dryness and irritation. If the skin becomes dry, the body will increase its production of oil to help moisturise the skin. This then leads to excess oiliness.

Some “bad” alcohols include ethanol, isopropyl, and methanol.

But there are good alcohols, those joined to fatty acids. These act as skin conditioners, emollients and emulsifiers. They include cetearyl, stearyl, cetyl, and behynl. When these are joined to esters you get ingredients like stearyl stearate. These are safe to use in cosmetics.

Anhydrous: Cosmetics that contain no water are anhydrous and do not have a pH.

Antiseptics: Inhibit bacterial growth, internally and externally.

Astringents: They act symptomatically but are not preventative, drying up excess oiliness and other discharges. Used in make-up removers and toners. When alcohol is used as an astringent the long term effects on the skin will be premature wrinkles and dryness.

Binders: Are stabilizers that bind different ingredients together, like oil and water. Binders are additives that help different moisturisers to lock in moisture after absorption, to keep skin from drying out.

Biomonitoring: According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Biomonitoringis the direct measurement of people’s exposure to toxic substances by measuring the substances or their metabolites in human specimens, such as blood or urine. Biomonitoring measurements provide health-relevant assessments of exposure that indicate the combined amount of the chemical that gets into people from all environmental sources (for example, air, soil, water, dust, food).”

Biotin: is a metabolic enhancer. It is part of the vitamin B complex. It’s water-soluble and essential in the synthesis of carbohydrates, fatty acids, and amino acids (proteins). Found in egg yolks, yeast, and liver, vegans must check the source. Vegan and vegetarian biotin comes from nutritional yeast flakes.

Biotin has to be taken orally but biotin deficiency is rare. There is no evidence that external application of biotin has any effect on the rate of hair growth or keratin production.

Buffers: neutralise acids, reducing the risk of skin irritation from products that have the wrong pH balance. Natural buffers include citric acid and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).

Castile soap: This soap is vegan, biodegradable, and gentle on the skin. This is the ideal soap to use for homemade beauty products. It comes as a solid bar or as a liquid soap. Originally, it was made from olive oil and gets its name from the region in Spain, where it comes from. Castile soap can be made from any vegetable-based oil, including coconut, almond, and hemp oil.

Chelating agents: Chelating agents are ligands. Ligands are molecules that bind to other ion molecules (trace metal ion contaminants). They keep water-containing cosmetics free from microbes. Chelating agents are not preservatives. But they do add preservative-efficacy to products that are hard to preserve. Natural chelating agents include activated charcoal, amino acids, ascorbic acid, lactic acid.

Contact dermatitis: Occurs when the skin comes into direct contact with an irritant or a toxic substance. Red patches and itchiness are symptoms.

Demulcents: Theseare anti-inflammatory and soothe swollen, red skin tissue.

Dermatitis: Appears in many forms. Eczema, dandruff, and contact dermatitis are all forms of dermatitis. Dermatitis is inflammation of the skin. Itching and swollen, red skin is often accompanied by blisters, discharge, and scabs.

Dermatologically tested: A dermatologist is a doctor who deals with conditions of the hair, nails, and skin. When a product is dermatologically tested, it means a product was tested for tolerance and side-effects that may affect the skin It also means that along the way, animal testing has come into play.

Ecotoxicity: The study of toxic effects on both natural and synthetic pollutants, and their impact on the environment (ecosystems).

Emulsions and Emulsifiers (Emulsifying agents): An emulsifier is a stabiliser that keeps emulsions from separating. An emulsion is a compound made up of two or more liquids that don’t usually mix, like water and fat.

Esters: Are formed from acids and alcohols. 237 esters have been deemed safe to use in cosmetics. (By the Cosmetics Ingredients Review Expert Panel)

Fillers: Are inert ingredients used to bulk up products, create texture, and improve ease of application. Fillers are not just additives used to create extra weight or to make “a little go a long way”. Fillers make for a better end product.

But some fillers are known irritants, like bismuth oxychloride and mica. These can be replaced with lesser-known fillers like rice starch, cornstarch and tapioca (cassava starch). Other fillers include silicones, which includes dimethicone, an ingredient that has come under fire from the natural beauty police. See Chapter 4.

Fillers in natural beauty products, specifically mineral make-up, reduce irritation.

Foaming agents: Foaming agents are surfactants that reduce surface tension and reduce the effort needed to create foam or lather. Soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, and detergents need foam to increase the spreadability and penetrative abilities of a substance. Foam increases contact time for other agents to penetrate.

Hormone disruptors: Also known as endocrine disruptors. These substances mimic hormonal activity and interfere with the endocrine system. They can cause developmental disorders, birth defects, cancer and tumours.[5]

Humectant: Humectants are hygroscopic by nature. They lock in moisture, often absorbing this moisture from surrounding air (humidity). Humectants are hydrating agents. Natural humectants include glycerin, aloe vera, honey, and lactic acid.

Keratin: Is a protein found in the body. It forms a protective sheath around the hair shaft, keeping hair supple and vibrant. Keratin can become depleted with too much hairstyling and heat exposure.

Lanolin: Is a natural oil that most closely resembles lipids in human skin. It is a sustainable, renewable, natural moisturiser. It comes from sheep wool so although it is vegetarian and cruelty-free, it is not vegan. It holds 400% of its weight in moisture. It allows the skin to self-hydrate from within. It is semi-occlusive and semi-permeable.

Penetration enhancers: These are solvents that increase absorption. They’re excellent when applying healing balms and lotions, but not so great when you are using products with toxic ingredients! Benzene, glycols (alcohols) and formaldehydes are all solvents. Benzene is one of many ingredients that can be both natural and man-made. It is carcinogenic with excessive exposure. [6]

Preservatives: Get added to cosmetics to create hostile environments for bacteria while at the same time maintaining a pH level that is healthy for our skin. They increase the shelf-life of products by having antimicrobial properties. Natural preservatives include potassium sorbate, salt, lemon juice, and grapefruit seed extract.

Rheology enhancers: Provide greater storage stability because they improve the cohesion between emulsions. They act on viscosity. This makes creams and lotions easier to apply. Emulsions without rheology enhancers may separate when not in use. Sometimes it is not possible to blend the emulsion just by shaking a product. This is due to the thickness of the creams and lotions, which are often semi-solid emulsions.

Surfactant: Surfactants, when added to a liquid, reduce the surface tension. This improves the spreading and wetting capabilities. Surfactants can be detergents, wetting agents, emulsifiers, foaming agents, and dispersants.

Anionic and nonionic surfactants: Anionic surfactants hold a charge and non-ionic surfactants do not. Non-ionic surfactants are synthetic. They are also known as ethoxylates. Many are considered harmful to the skin and environment. Products containing ethoxylates should be avoided.

Solvents: A solvent is a liquid that dissolves a solute. This then becomes a solution. Solvents in beauty products include water, oils, vinegar, alcohols, silicones. Solutes would be things like sugar and salt or anything that dissolves in solvents.

Thickeners: Increase viscosity and rheology (flow) of a product.

Natural thickeners are derived from cellulose. Natural cellulose-derived end product thickeners have names like hydroxyethylcellulose. These polymers absorb moisture and increase viscosity. Naturally derived thickeners include guar, xanthan, gelatin, and locust bean gum. They can often be inconsistent and create cloudy end products. They get used in cleaning products like face and handwashes, shampoos and conditioners. The end product may be sticky.

Lipid thickeners are used in emulsions. They are often solid at room temperatures. Natural lipid thickeners include stearic acid, cetyl alcohol, carnauba wax, and stearyl acid. Used in creams and lotions.

Mineral thickeners are natural but have to be mined. So here, people must decide if they support these practices and if their beauty is worth the destruction of natural ecosystems and clean air. Mineral thickeners include bentonite clay, silica, and magnesium aluminium sulfate. They get used in oil and water-based formulations.

Synthetic thickeners are versatile and produce an end product that feels good on the skin. Carbomers, acrylic acid polymers, form gels and can suspend particles within a solution. They are also good stabilisers.

Ionic thickeners: Salt (Sodium chloride, NaCl) is excellent at thickening anionic surfactant solutions. Salt is not great for moisture so this poses problems for natural beauty products.

Sebum: Produced by our sebaceous glands, it moisturises, protects and locks in moisture. An excess leads to oily skin and hair. Sebum is the natural oil produced by our bodies. Sebum sits near hair follicles under the skin. It hydrates and protects the skin from pathogens.

Viscosity modifiers: These are thickeners that stabilise cosmetic formulas and influence how a product flows out of its container or tube. Xanthan gum is a natural viscosity modifier.

1.2 Labelling On Natural Beauty Products UK: Icons and Logos You Need To Know

Often it’s the labelling and packaging that entices us into buying natural beauty products. We assume they contain organic ingredients that are gentle on the skin and kind to the environment.

But it’s not all roses and rainbows. Sometimes these products are not so natural. How many times have you picked up a beauty product and read the label? Only to skim over the extensive list because it was all Greek to you! (or should that be Latin?)

But you bought it anyway, assuming it was natural. Do you naturally assume a product is eco-friendly, organic, or natural based on the wording and art on the packaging, or because the brand seems “green”?

Other times, we may recognize an ingredient and assume it is naturally derived, only to learn it is synthetic. What do the labelling laws in the UK say about natural beauty products?

Labelling On Natural Beauty Products UK

Let’s look at the four labels above. These symbols are universally recognised and tell consumers more about the product and the brand. If you see any of these labels, already you know the company’s ethos

  • Supports organic growing and manufacturing processes, (Soil Association)
  • Employs fair labour and wage practices, (FairTrade)
  • Is anti-cruelty (Vegan, Cruelty-Free)

These labels can be found on goods both in and outside of the EU and UK. The UK and the USA have different regulations for labelling products using the words “natural” and “organic”. So, while seeing a symbol is a good thing, it is not the only thing you can rely on. Don’t take the words “natural” and “organic” at face value. Many companies advertising “natural and organic” as part of the product’s appeal will be 100% so, but there will always be some confusion and “grey areas” on certain ingredients.

For example: Sometimes a synthetic ingredient will appear in a natural product. This is allowed because the amount added is so tiny. Often these minuscule amounts are all that’s needed to increase the efficacy and safety of a product. And does not deter from the natural product’s benefits nor does it add any adverse effects.

We recommend that you always read the label. Once you learn the different words for fats, salts, acids, sugars, and alcohols, the whole world of cosmetic labels opens up! As you will see in our guide, the easiest way to make sure your natural beauty products are, in fact, organic, cruelty-free, and natural is to:

  • Check for the universal logos,
  • Look for organic certification,
  • Choose products with a short list of ingredients,
  • And don’t be put off by long chemical and Latin names of ingredients.
  • Remember that “natural” and “organic” on a product does not mean 100% organic, cruelty-free, or natural.

1.3 Vegan Natural Beauty Products: How eco-friendly are safe synthetic ingredients?

Why vegan beauty products? Natural Beauty is as much a movement as it is an industry. Within this movement exists radical ideas from people who are striving for a puritanical type of lifestyle. These high standards are almost impossible to maintain. Part of the natural beauty movement includes zero waste living and veganism. What makes this lifestyle so contradictory is that often the natural option places more strain on the environment. So is natural always better? The ethos behind the “green” industry seems to be:

  • freedom from cruelty to animals,
  • fair labour practices,
  • sustainable and renewable farming, sourcing and manufacturing processes

So you can use natural beauty products because you want to treat your skin with “pure” ingredients as opposed to refined, synthetic, processed ones. But on top of that, they must be cruelty-free and eco-friendly. This is a very big ask. The best way to get products like this is to make your products using as few ingredients as possible.

Fortunately, the growth of the natural beauty industry is booming and this means it is becoming easier for consumers to get full disclosure on products.

Vegan beauty products give users peace of mind that what they are putting on their skin is free from these things. But often vegan products will contain synthetic ingredients. This is necessary to keep the products free from bacteria and increase the efficacy and quality of the product. No one will buy products that are difficult to apply or that leave skin feeling sticky or too oily.

2. List of Natural Beauty Ingredients You’ll Find In Your Kitchen: And What They Do (Perfect for DIY Beauty Treatments)

List of Natural Beauty Ingredients You’ll Find In Your Kitchen

The following list includes some, but not all, commonly used ingredients. They get used in both commercial and homemade formulations. The information for each ingredient focuses on their use in natural beauty products and not on their nutrient value for diet.

DIY Recipes that include these simple, unprocessed ingredients can be found in the skin and hair care sections below.

1. Avocado pear

What’s in it? Avos are rich in antioxidants and fatty acids. They are high in potassium, amino acids, and vitamin E. This makes it an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-ageing, moisturising, nourishing, and soothing ingredient.

What does it do? Avocados moisturize, reduce inflammation, reduce the appearance of fine lines, soothe sunburn and minor skin irritations, and repair damaged hair.

How is it used? Use avos by removing the creamy, green flesh and mashing it with a fork or in a blender. Use in hair masks, face masks, and cleansers.

2. Aloe vera, fresh or in powder form

What’s in it? Aloe vera is loaded with vitamins A and C, antioxidants and enzymes. It is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-ageing, and revitalising.

What does it do? It heals many skin ailments from eczema to sunburn. It soothes, moisturises, promotes hair growth, cleanses, tightens pores (tones), removes dark spots, reduces the appearance of wrinkles, scarring and stretch marks.

How is it used? Aloe vera is used in shampoos, conditioners, shaving soaps, sunscreens, hand sanitisers, mouth wash, deodorants, body and face washes, foot creams, hand creams, face masks, hair masks, and more.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

What’s in it? Acetic acid, malic acid, vitamins B and C.

What does it do? Apple cider vinegar cleanses, tones, reduces dark spots, exfoliates, balances pH levels, and acts as an antibacterial. It gets used on oily skin and for acne outbreaks.

How is it used? It must be diluted before applying to skin. Use as an exfoliator (malic acid). Add to facial cleansers, use as a toning make-up remover, as a rinse for oily hair, or as a treatment for bad skin.

4. Ayurvedic herbal powders like Ashwagandha, Neem, Brahmi, Gotu kola, and many more.

What’s in it? These adaptogenic herbs and spices contain antioxidants that have anti-ageing, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.

What does it do? These herbs may reduce swelling and itchiness. They revitalise and nourish the skin. When added to oils they get used to treat dry, damaged hair and oily hair.

How is it used? Topically, these herbs get used in powder form, as essential oils, tinctures, and extracts. A few drops can be added to homemade formulations for topical application. Taking these herbs orally also contribute to the health of skin and hair.

5. Bananas

What’s in it? Potassium, magnesium, folic, acid, vitamins B6, C, and A. The peel is loaded with healing and nutritional value.

What does it do? It is an anti-inflammatory and also moisturises and repairs dry skin and hair.

How is it used? Mashed into a pulp, it is applied like you would avocado. Use it as a hair or face masque. Use the peel to rub onto teeth and gums.

6. Bentonite clay

What’s in it? Bentonite clay comes from volcanic ash and is rich in minerals like calcium, iron, and magnesium.

What does it do? Taken internally, it binds to toxins and detoxes, stops diarrhoea, and aids constipation. Applied topically, mixed with water or oils like shea butter and coconut oil, it also removes toxins by binding to impurities and drawing them out. It clarifies and removes excess oil from the skin.

How is it used? It is used in face packs, deodorants, toothpastes, and foot spa treatments.

7. Bicarbonate of soda

What’s in it? Bicarbonate of soda is also known as baking soda. It comes from soda ash, also known as sodium bicarbonate. It is a salt. It has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It has alkaline properties.

What does it do? It cleanses, exfoliates, and sanitizes. It kills bacteria and fungus.

How is it used? It treats rashes, swelling and sunburn. It gets used as a skin whitener and to treat yeast infections. Use it to make toothpaste, deodorants, face masques, and face cleansers. Use it to remove excess product from hair. Use it to prepare nails before a manicure.

8. Coconut oil

What’s in it? Coconut oil is high in saturated fats, both long and medium-chain fatty acids. It contains stearic acid, capric acid, and lauric acid. It has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

What does it do? When it comes to beauty, coconut oil is versatile and safe. It moisturises, treats skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and acne. It also works well on hair, for dandruff and deep conditioning.

How is it used? It is used in lip balms, lip scrubs, and lip gloss. It is used for oil pulling to whiten teeth and clean the mouth. It is used in hair care to moisturise dry hair, reduce frizz, add shine, and as a massage oil to treat dandruff. It also gets used to moisturise dry hands and feet. And is excellent in body scrubs and other DIY beauty product recipes. It is an effective night cream for mature skin.

9. Cucumber

What’s in it? Cucumber has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It contains vitamin C and folic acid.

What does it do? Cucumber soothes, hydrates and nourishes.

How is it used? It is a good base in home remedies like face masks, especially when mixed with other natural ingredients like oats, honey, and yoghurt.

10. Eggs

What’s in it? Egg whites and yolks, and the eggshell membranes, contain collagen, amino acids and protein.

What does it do? Using egg in homemade beauty recipes clarifies and tones. Eggs are anti-ageing and protect hair and skin from harsh sunlight.

How is it used? Eggs are used in face masks, shampoos and conditioners, and hair masks.

11. Essential oils like lavender, cedarwood oil, neroli, tea tree oil, and many more.

What’s in it? The aroma of plants is captured by pressing oils or extracting them via steam or water distillation. They contain anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

What does it do? Essential oils are natural preservatives but they also add fragrance to natural beauty products.

How is it used? Essential oil blends are added to natural beauty products in place of perfume.

12. Green tea

What’s in it? Green tea contains catechins like epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and epicatechin gallate (ECG), tannins, antioxidants, and a host of other polyphenols that have amazing healing properties when applied topically.

What does it do? The polyphenols in green tea are absorbed through the skin. This gives your skin protection from UV radiation (photoprotection). It also reduces oxidative damage and may even repair DNA. Studies [7] show that there is potential for chemoprotective benefits. Green tea (and other teas to a lesser degree) are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-ageing. It is used to treat acne and moisturise skin.

How is it used? Used in face masks, exfoliators, scrubs, shampoos, conditioners, toothpaste, deodorants, and body lotions and washes.

13. Honey

What’s in it? Honey has many wonderful properties. It’s antibacterial, anti-ageing, locks in moisture, and conditions and nourishes

What does it do? Honey is a humectant and an emollient. It conditions, cleanses and moisturises.

How is it used? Add it to scrubs, masks, and cleansers. Add to lip balms.

14. Lemon

What’s in it? Citric acid, ascorbic acid and malic acid are natural preservatives in lemon juice.

What does it do? It is an astringent, toner, and an exfoliant. It also reduces oiliness.

How is it used? Use lemon juice in toners, hair masks, and conditioners (as a lightener for hair).

15. Hydrogen peroxide

What’s in it? Hydrogen peroxide

What does it do? It’s a germicidal antiseptic, a cleanser, and an anti-inflammatory. It’s an antimicrobial agent so it’s also used as a natural preservative. It’s also an oxidizing agent.

How is it used? In toners, cleansers, and spritz sprays. Used in mouthwash.

16. Mayonnaise

What’s in it? Mayonnaise is made from eggs, oil, and vinegar.

What does it do? It softens and conditions skin and hair. It’s an emollient

How is it used? Mayo is used in hair masks and face masks.

17. Oats

What’s in it? Vitamin E, vitamin A, fibre.

What does it do? It’s a soother, skin softener, exfoliant, and cleanser.

How is it used? Used in cleansers, scrubs, masques.

18. Rooibos tea

What’s in it? Rooibos is rich in a unique antioxidant called aspalathin. It’s also rich in trace minerals and phytonutrients and polyphenols that can be absorbed through the skin.

What does it do? When applied topically it nourishes and protects. It softens and conditions, cleanses and tones. It is anti-ageing, cleansing, restorative, and photoprotective. [8]

How is it used? In scrubs, facial cleansers, hair and face masques, shampoos, conditioners, lip balms, sunscreens, moisturising body lotions, foot cream,  and shower gels. It is also added to anti-wrinkle creams and night creams for mature skin.

19. Yoghurt

What’s in it?  Lactic acid, proteins, probiotics.

What does it do? It hydrates, tightens pores, evens and brightens complexion, nourishes.

How is it used? Use yoghurt in face packs and cleansers.

3. List of Commonly Used Natural Beauty Ingredients (In Commercial Personal Hygiene and Beauty Products)

List of Commonly Used Natural Beauty Ingredients

This next list is controversial. It lists the ingredients that are legally allowed to be used in natural beauty products. Some of these products are allowed because they occur in such small amounts, even though they are synthetic. Other times it is because they are “naturally derived”. But they are perfectly safe and get added to natural products because they maintain the integrity of the product. And because they are added in such small amounts.

Something that is derived is usually synthetic. Take Cocamidopropyl betaine for example. It comes from coconuts but when used in commercial preparations you can be sure it is the synthetic version.

Reading the ingredients is daunting because even the natural ingredients get listed by their formal names. Shea butter is Butyrospermum parkii. Vitamin E oil is tocopherol. And how are you supposed to know that Candelila/Jojoba/Rice Bran polyglyceryl-3 esters are natural transesters that act as stabilisers and emulsifiers and combine to form a new ingredient? Right? It’s very intimidating, unless you’re a horticulturist or a chemist!

The good news is, that with time and practice, you’ll soon see the patterns and repetition that occurs with these large words. And you’ll get to know that the long word you can’t pronounce, or say without taking a breath, is just another word for preservative, thickener, stabiliser, plant extract, oil, acid, salt, etc.

This list is by no means complete but the ingredients that appear are chosen to demonstrate how salts, sugars, acids, and fats, get broken down and formulated for use in cosmetics. It shows how you can become familiar with the terminology. For instance, when you read ingredient labels and see words with glycol or esters or sodium, you know it’s derived from either sugar, salt, or fat. But bear in mind these ingredients may be the synthetic versions that go by the same chemical name.

Let’s take a look at ingredients you will find in natural beauty products even though they appear in their synthetic form most of the time.

Acetic acid –

  • Natural acid from human sweat, vinegar, and fermented fruits.
  • Preservative
  • Synthetic ingredients will have the word acetyl or acetylated in front of them.

Acids –

  • Natural acids are used to exfoliate, nourish, boost collagen and GAGs (glycosaminoglycans) production, and revitalise skin and hair.
  • There are two main groups of acids; AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) and BHAs (Beta Hydroxy Acids). AHAs are water-soluble and BHAs are lipid-soluble.
  • AHAs include citric, malic, glycolic, azelaic, lactic, and ascorbic acid.
  • Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid. It exfoliates and is used for acne and other problems with clogged pores.
  • PHAs (Poly Hydroxy Acids) are related to AHAs but are more effective on sensitive skin. Excellent for ageing and dehydrated skins. PHAs include gluconolactone, lactobionic and maltobionic acids.

Acrylates/c10-30 / Alkyl acrylate cross polymer –

  • Safe but synthetic
  • Texture enhancer
  • Skin and hair care products

Aqua –

  • Pure unadulterated H2O
  • Cosmetic grade water has to be pure. It is often the first listed on the label. Products can contain anything between 65-95% of water. Therefore the water in cosmetics is treated to reduce hardness (removes calcium) and remove heavy metals and bacteria.

Ascorbic acid –

  • A water-soluble acid, the active form is L-ascorbic acid. It needs a pH of 3,5 to penetrate the skin.
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-ageing and used to reverse the effects of sun damage.[9]

Benzyl alcohol –

  • Listed as an allergen by the EU, it is still used in safe amounts to preserve and stabilise natural beauty products.
  • Approved by the COSMOS Organic Certification board.
  • Found naturally is essential oils, it improves natural beauty formulations that are incompatible with other ingredients that could replace benzyl alcohol.
  • May cause irritation on sensitive skin.

Butyl avocadate –

  • Skin conditioner and moisturising agent.
  • Safe and non-toxic.
  • Used in masks, SPF moisturisers, and soap bars.
  • EWG verified

Candelilla/Jojoba/Rice bran polyglyceryl-3 esters –

  • A natural mix of oils and rice bran that is anti-ageing, exfoliating, and emulsifying.
  • EWG verified
  • Used in serums, moisturisers, soaps, deodorants, scrubs, exfoliants, hand creams, eye creams, and face masks.

Coco-caprylate/caprate –

  • Naturally derived from coconuts but the synthetic version is usually added to cosmetics.
  • Skin conditioner, emollient
  • EWG verified

Cocamidopropyl betaine –

  • Only considered safe when used according to strict regulations. Industry violations and purity concerns, during manufacture.
  • Not safe when left on the skin, it must be rinsed off.
  • Restricted in cosmetics but is found in hundreds, if not thousands, of products.
  • Prevalent irritation occurs from impure processing.
  • The list of synonyms for this ingredient is extensive.

Dextrin –

  • Bulking and binding agent, viscosity enhancer.
  • Gum formed from incomplete starch hydrolysis.
  • Also known as microcrystalline cellulose
  • EWG verified

Ethyl oleate –

  • An ester of ethyl alcohol and oleic acid
  • Also called ethyl ester oleic acid
  • Fragrance, emollient, hair and skin conditioner

 Ethyl macadamiate –

  • Macadamia nut oil
  • Skin conditioner
  • No data on toxicity

Ethyl palmitoleate –

  • Derived from palmitoleic acid
  • Long-chain fatty acid from palm oil
  • Make sure this ingredient is synthetic or from a sustainable, renewable source. Palm oil consumption as led to the endangerment of orangutans

Fatty acid ethyl esters –

  • Includes the 3 ingredients mentioned above.
  • Also includes safe ingredients like sodium cocoyl isethionate and methyl cocoate

Glycerin/glycerol –

  • Animal or vegetable derivative
  • Fragrance ingredient, hair conditioner, humectant, oral health care drug, viscosity decreaser.
  • Restricted in cosmetics in Canada, based on concentration and manufacturing restrictions.
  • GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe)
  • Not an environmental toxin.
  • Found in thousands of products

Glycerol esters –

  • Over 123 ingredients are glycerol esters.
  • Fragrance ingredient and skin conditioning agent
  • May be an environmental toxin.

Glycerol oleate –

  • Naturally occurring fatty acid.
  • Skin conditioner, emollient, surfactant, fragrance ingredient
  • Possible irritant to eyes, lungs, and skin.

Glyceryl stearate –

  • Emulsifying agent and surfactant
  • Safe
  • Over 62 ingredients can be derivatives of this compound

Isoamyl cocoate –

  • A natural ester derived from beets and coconuts.
  • Emollient, with low viscosity, high absorption, light, silky feel, non-oily
  • Skin conditioner and softener

Isoamyl laurate –

  • An ester of isoamyl alcohol and lauric acid
  • Skin conditioner, fragrance ingredient, emollient
  • Used in body lotions, lip balms, detanglers, sunscreens, eye creams, and face masks.

Lanolin –

  • A wax secreted from the sebaceous glands of sheep. It gets collected from the wool, after shearing.
  • An emollient, stabilizer, skin and hair conditioner, emulsion, anti-static, protectant, surfactant.
  • Synthetic version appears in products

Keratin –

  • A protein derived from hair, wool, horns, nails, and feathers.
  • Skin and hair conditioner

Laureth-4 –

  • A synthetic polymer from lauryl alcohol and PEG (polyethylene glycol). Because of the PEG, it may contain the potentially toxic 1,4 dioxane, an impurity from the manufacturing process.
  • Surfactant, emulsifier, anti-static.
  • Should not be added to natural beauty products

Panthenol –

  • Derived from vitamin B5, pantothenic acid, and used to moisturise and lubricate
  • Plant or animal origin but most often synthetic.

Peptides –

  • Short-chain amino acids. Used to boost collagen, keratin, and elastin
  • Anti-ageing

Phenoxyethanol –

  • Fragrance ingredient, preservative
  • Considered unsafe for use in cosmetics in Japan.
  • High chance of irritating skin, eyes, and lungs
  • Harmful or toxic to the nervous system (moderate)

Propyl gallate –

  • May cause allergies and immunotoxicity
  • Fragrance ingredient and antioxidant
  • An aromatic ester of Gallic Acid and propyl alcohol

Retinol –

  • Works best at a pH of 5 tp 6
  • Improves pigmentation and texture of skin tone
  • Applied with L-ascorbic acid will nullify the efficacy of both.
  • Oil-soluble
  • Anti-ageing, used in eye serums and facial products.

Sodium anisate –

  • Derived from fennel. When used with sodium levulinate, it acts as an effective natural preservative and anti-fungal in cosmetics.
  • Antimicrobial

Sodium hyaluronate –

  • Hyaluronic acid is made in the body. It is found in the connective tissue of animals and retains moisture by binding water to collagen.
  • Sodium hyaluronate is the synthetic version. It is anti-ageing, moisturising, and has a good rate of absorption.
  • It helps to stabilise and prevents oxidation.

Sodium levulinate –

  • 100% natural
  • Derived from inulin (vegetable) and starch.
  • A preservative that does not alter the pH, colour, or integrity of the finished product.

Sodium stearoyl lactylate –

  • Surfactant, emulsifier
  • A sodium salt of the acid ester, lactyl lactate
  • Safe for humans
  • Potentially an environmental toxin, but not bioaccumulative.
  • Used across the board, cosmetically. Found in everything from moisturisers to hand washes to eye serums to deodorants, aftershave and baby shampoos.

Sucrose palmitate –

  • A synthetic (non-natural) monoester of palmitic acid and sucrose.
  • Skin conditioner, emulsifying, emollient. Also acts as a surfactant.

Sucrose stearate –

  • A monoester of stearic acid and sucrose
  • Skin-conditioner, emulsifier, emollient, surfactant

Xanthan gum –

  • Binding, emulsifying, skin-conditioning, and emulsion-stabilizer
  • A polysaccharide polymer produced from bacteria.
  • An excellent natural ingredient for natural beauty products
  • Used in hundreds of products from moisturisers to styling mousse to foot treatments.

4. 12 Toxic Components To Avoid (In Personal Hygiene and Beauty Products):

Toxic Components To Avoid In Personal Hygiene and Beauty Products

There is so much controversy surrounding the synthetic ingredients that go into beauty products and cosmetics. Often, potentially harmful ingredients are added in such minuscule amounts that they cannot harm us. What the manufacturers of these products often neglect to think about is that these ingredients get absorbed through the skin. And have accumulative effects.

They might be satisfied that what they put in won’t harm the user but what they overlook, is that users may be applying dozens of cosmetics that all contain tiny amounts. And these tiny amounts add up. Therefore the risk becomes greater. With the rise in hormonal cancers, we have to ask, “Are these ingredients to blame?”

What many people don’t realise is that chemicals that have been targeted as toxic or dangerous, or detrimental to the environment, come from a whole family of chemicals.

Some of the family members are quite safe, cheap, and compatible with many product formulations, and have minimal side-effects. Other ingredients are more toxic. But when one family of chemicals is demonised, the whole class of chemicals get the same reputation. And this is no good.

The cosmetic industry stands to lose useful ingredients that don’t impact the environment negatively. And alternatives often come with their own set of disadvantages. A good example is the case of parabens and they are first on our “Toxic Twelve” list. But the first one, parabens, does not actually qualify for this list. It has been added for clarity, once thought unsafe, this is now debunked. [10][11] But from this group, two lesser-known parabens are harmful and must be avoided. The rest of the parabens are GRAS.

1. Parabens

Para-hydroxybenzoic acid (PHBA) is a by-product formed naturally in the human body when amino acids breakdown. PHBA occurs naturally in nature from plants like blueberries, cucumbers, and carrots. Parabens are derived from PHBA. Synthetic parabens are nature identical. This means the body breaks them and treats them as if they were the real thing.

What is their job? Parabens are preservatives with antimicrobial properties. They are effective at destroying Gram+ and Gram- bacteria, as well as yeast and mould. They extend the shelf-life of many products.

Why are they used? They are inexpensive and compatible with many products. They are colourless, odourless, and once added, do not alter the integrity, colour, and pH of the product. They are effective over a wide pH range so this makes parabens effective against many bacteria, yeast, moulds, and fungi.

What products are they added to? Cosmetics, personal hygiene products, foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals.

Why are they toxic or harmful? Hormone (oestrogen) disruptorsParabens have been unfairly demonised and large companies have had to concede to consumer-pressure to eradicate them from cosmetics. Easier said than done. There are different parabens and not all parabens are created equal.

Parabens are absorbed into the bloodstream, as opposed to the gastrointestinal tract. They have a very low incidence of adverse health effects like skin irritation and allergies. Parabens replaced formaldehyde-releasing preservatives.

The US Food and Drug Administration, the USA National Cancer Institute, and Cancer Research UK all agree there is no link between parabens and cancer. An article published on 18 January 2021, states that methyl, ethyl, and propyl parabens are deemed safe for use in food and cosmetics at a rate of 1000mg/kg bw/daily.

Safe Parabens:

  • E218 – Methylparaben
  • E214 – Ethylparaben
  • E216 – Propylparaben

The ones to avoid are:

  • Butyl parabens
  • Isobutyl parabens
  • Isopropylparaben

The EU has restricted the use of butyl, isobutyl, propyl, and isopropyl parabens to 0.19% in cosmetics.

Alternatives: Parabens get used with other preservatives, and other parabens, to increase the efficacy. They were used to replace formaldehydes as far back as the 1930s.

Phenoxyethanol is a substitute but it has a higher incidence of skin irritation than parabens do. Methylisothiazolinone is another alternative that also causes irritation and other skin problems, like dermatitis.

Natural alternatives: Organic acids are the best natural alternatives to parabens.

Are they a suitable substitute? Organic acids that have a pH higher than 6 or appear in formulations with a pH higher than 6, don’t work properly. This restricts their use in cosmetics and lowers their suitability as a paraben replacement.

The consensus nowadays is that parabens are not the threat they were first thought to be.

2. Triclosan:

What is its job? Triclosan is a pesticide that gets added as an antibacterial agent.

Why is it used? It’s a preservative and an antibacterial agent.

Which products is it added to? Toothpaste and face washes. The FDA has banned its use in soaps but not in toothpaste. It helps prevent gingivitis when added to toothpaste but studies indicate that it has no benefits in other products. Antibacterial soaps and sanitisers.

Why is it toxic or harmful? It can create strains that are resistant to antibiotics. It is an irritant and is bioaccumulative in the environment. It is contaminated with dioxins and chloroform. This makes it a pollutant as well.

Alternatives: Possible alternatives include chloroxylenol, chlorhexidine gluconate, benzethonium chloride

Are they a suitable substitute? No, these ingredients need more research.

Natural alternatives: Carvacrol. This chemical can be synthesised or extracted from herbs like thyme, mint, oregano. An overview by Science Direct shows that this isolated essential oil can be used to inhibit fungal and bacterial growth. [12 ]

3. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives

What is their job?.Preservatives and antimicrobial agents.

Why are they used? Often used in conjunction with parabens to form broad-spectrum preservatives.

What products are they added to? Moisturisers, shampoos, conditioners, make-up, like blusher, eye shadow, nail polish, nail and make-up remover, sunscreens, lotions

Why are they toxic or harmful? Formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are human allergens. They can cause dermatitis and cancer. Some preservatives release formaldehyde when the product is left in the sun or stands unused. They are human allergens. Some are carcinogenic. They include:

  • Quaternium-15 – The most sensitising
  • DMDM hydantoin – The safest of them all
  • Imidazolidinyl urea – The most common
  • Diazolidinyl urea – Releases the highest concentration of formaldehyde
  • Polyoxymethylene urea
  • Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate – causes dermatitis
  • Bronopol – Toxic to aquatic life. Eye, skin, and respiratory damage. Safe when mixed in doses of 0.1% but must not be mixed with amines, like nitrosamine. The combination is carcinogenic
  • Glyoxal – Skin allergen

Alternatives: No suitable alternatives besides parabens. Methylisothiazolinone was an option when parabens came under attack but proved to be a skin allergen and irritant.

Are they a suitable substitute? Parabens are a safe alternative.

Natural alternatives: Organic acids, grapefruit seed extract, tea tree oil

4. Polyethylene glycol aka PEGs

What is their job? PEGs are a group of polymers. They are emollients and emulsifiers that increase a product’s ability to help the skin retain moisture and get hydrated. They soften and moisturise. PEGs are also categorised as silicones. See no.9 below

Why are they used? This group of polymers has over 216 ingredients. They act as humectants and surfactants.

What products are they added to? PEGS are added to lotions, washes, moisturisers, lip balms, foundation, sunscreen, serums, toothpaste, and more

Why are they toxic or harmful? Potentially toxic from manufacturing impurities. The main concern being 1,4 dioxanes. Contamination during manufacture is a high risk. Toxicity to non-reproductive organs remains low. But evidence shows there is a high possibility that it’s carcinogenic.[13]

1,4 dioxane is a by-product of ethoxylation. It is found in products that contain SLSs and PEGs. Over 20% of products are contaminated by 1,4 dioxane but there is no warning on labels even though the ethyl oxide used in the ethoxylation process is a known carcinogen. It is produced during the process harsh ingredients undergo to become less harsh.

According to EWG’s Skin Deep database, 1,4 dioxane is found in 97% of hair straighteners, 57% of baby shampoos, and over 20% of other products (mainly those that foam).

Alternatives: Polyglycerol ingredients

Are they a suitable substitute? Yes, certain of them pass the eco-certification standards. And they have emulsifying properties.

Natural alternatives: It is almost impossible to avoid 1,4 dioxane in cosmetics so the best bet is to choose products that are made with ingredients that are naturally gentle on the skin. Certified organic products will be free from this pollutant and contaminant.

Aloe vera gel and honey are just two suitable alternatives. And both work well in DIY beauty recipes.

5. Sulfates: SLS and SLES – Sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate

What is their job? SLSs and SLESs are surfactants, detergents, denaturants, and penetration enhancers. It is the sodium salt of lauryl sulphate.

Why are they used? They get added to diminish the severity of other ingredients and increase the products ability to be absorbed through the skin. Like the PEGs above, SLSs may contain 1,4 dioxane. This contaminant is found in over 40 ingredients. They are foaming agents.

What products are they added to? Toothpaste, body washes, facial cleansers, lipsticks, bath salts and bubble bath, lip balm, styling gel, eyeliner, conditioner, tooth whiteners, mouth wash, and many more.

Why are they toxic or harmful? Strong irritant, environmental toxin. Other names include:

  • Sodium dodecyl sulphate
  • Sulfuric acid
  • A13-00356
  • Monododecyl ester

Alternatives: Choose decyl, lauryl, and coco glucoside over ethanolamines (that produce 1,4 dioxane.) Also, sodium coco sulphate (SCS).

Are they a suitable substitute? SCS contains 50% SLS so it’s not the perfect alternative, it is just less of an irritant than SLS. Both chemicals go through the same process to get to the end product.

Natural alternatives: Plant-derived nonionic surfactants like those mentioned above, as well as Caprylyl/Capryl glucoside and sucrose glycolate.

6. Phthalates

What is their job? Solvents fragrance ingredient (carriers), and plasticizers

Why are they used? To lend softness in the form of a thin film in products like hair sprays and nail polish.

What products are they added to? Hairsprays, aftershaves, soaps, nail polish, shampoos.

Why are they toxic or harmful? According to EWG’s Skin Deep database, phthalates are endocrine disruptors, have high toxicity towards non-reproductive organs, and are bioaccumulative.  Phthalates are banned in the EU. Tests on rats showed sperm and fertility issues.

The most harmful phthalates are:

  • DBP (dibutyl phthalate)
  • DMP (dimethyl phthalate)
  • DEP (diethyl phthalate)

Alternatives: Terephthalate because it shows no sign of endocrine disruption in animals.

Natural Alternatives: The best option is to choose fragrance-free products or use natural beauty products that are scented with essential oils. Bear in mind many plant extracts are irritants in their own right.

7. Ethanolamines – DEA, TEA, MEA

What is their job? Ethanolamines are comprised of amino acids and alcohols. They act as foaming agents, emulsifiers, and surfactants. There is an ethylene oxide/ammonia reaction. This means this chemical group will also release 1,4 dioxane and pose similar risks to phthalates and sodium sulphates (SLSs and SLESs). They are also used in fragrances.

Why are they used? They are used as pH adjusters. In cosmetics, formulations have to result in a product with a specific pH to maintain its efficacy and potency. If the pH of one chemical reacts with the pH of another it can either cancel the reactions out or create adverse reactions. Ethanolamines get added to enhance the blending by adjusting pH levels. They also act as foaming agents. The foam allows the product to spread further, penetrate deeper and cleanse thoroughly.

The main ethanolamines are DEA (diethanolamine), TEA (triethanolamine), and MEA (monoethanolamine). DEA is very restricted, classified as toxic to non-reproductive organs and the nervous system. When contaminated with nitrosamines it’s carcinogenic. It scores a 10 on the EWG Skin Deep database. (1 is safe, 10 is toxic).

  • DEA is an emulsifier
  • TEA is a fragrance, an emulsifying agent, and a pH adjuster

What products are they added to? Hair colours and bleaches, shampoos, body washes, hair treatments and serums, liquid hand soaps,

Why are they toxic or harmful? DEA, TEA, and MEA are restricted by the EU. Use is restricted and occupational hazard risk is high. Non-reproductive organ toxicity is average. Skin irritation is a low risk. But allergens and autoimmune toxicity are moderately dangerous.  But only when they react with certain preservatives that break down into nitrogen. These nitrosamines are carcinogenic.

Alternatives: Nothing suitable found yet [14]

8. Heavy Metals

Heavy metals are often found in cosmetics, in levels that are cause for concern. The EU Cosmetics regulations prohibit the use of heavy metals in cosmetics but the problem is that they creep in as impurities, due to poor manufacturing and during the sourcing and harvesting of raw materials.

Their presence can cause skin allergies, irritations and other serious problems. Many countries have made it a legal requirement to test for heavy metals. The ASEAN countries, including Korea and Saudi Arabia, enforce this requirement. For cosmetic manufacturers wanting to break into these markets, getting products tested for heavy metals is a good place to start.

Results of tested products differ, country to country. For example, WHO and EU testing found lead, cadmium, and chromium levels in excess in certain lightening creams but in Canada, only lead was found in excess. [15]

Look out for ingredients labelled:

  • Lead acetate
  • Chromium
  • Thimerosal
  • Hydrogenated cottonseed oil
  • Sodium hexametaphosphate

The problem is similar to 1,4-dioxane, in that the heavy metal contaminants will not appear on the labels.

9. Silicones

What is their job? Silicones in cosmetics are liquid polymers. They are inert (inactive) chemicals so they do not nourish or replenish the skin and hair. They are humectants, surfactants, emollients, and emulsifiers. They enhance and regulate viscosity. All these attributes make for a better end product as a whole. There are about 25 ingredients that are classed as silicones and the majority of these are deemed safe due to lack of data more than anything else.

Why are they used? They help spread the product over the skin or hair and soften the skin to increase penetration and absorption. In the short term, they help hair to appear glossy and soft. But over time silicones accumulate in the hair, leaving it the opposite dull and lacklustre. They control frizz and add moisture to the hair.

What products are they added to? Conditioner, shampoos, hair treatments, serums, facial moisturisers, body lotions,  foundation, blusher, scrubs.

Why are they toxic or harmful? They have low toxicity rates but the environmental impact on aquatic life is worrisome. Also, they can become contaminated in the manufacturing process and this leads to unknown side-effects over the long-term.

Natural Alternatives: Coco/caprylate/caprate and dicaprylyl ether are natural alternatives of vegetable origin. They are biodegradable.

Are they a suitable substitute? Yes.

10. Synthetic colourants

What is their job? Add colour to products to make them aesthetically pleasing to consumers.

Why are they used? As mentioned above.

What products are they added to? Almost every product has a colourant added to it. And not just one. From 25 to 50 chemicals are used just to produce one dye.

Why are they toxic or harmful? Synthetic colourants can block pores, cause irritation, and allergic reactions.

Alternatives: Natural colourants come from the fruit and roots of plants. For example; beetroot, carrots, turmeric, acai berries, and other berries. Calendula, indigo, hibiscus flower, and even paprika are natural colourants.

Are they a suitable substitute? Yes.

11. Parfum/Perfume

What is their job? Cosmetic labels will have the word parfum, fragrance, or aroma but won’t list the individual ingredients

Why are they used?. Ingredients need to be added to stabilise and enhance the parfum. These components are often harmful.

What products are they added to? Almost all personal care products have colourants and fragrances added. Natural beauty products will have labels saying fragrance-free or no artificial colourants.

Why are they toxic or harmful? They are often derived from petroleum-based materials and contain other things like solvents, preservatives and UV-blockers. Fragrances may include harmful substances like acetaldehydes. Because of the proprietary nature of perfumes, the law has loopholes that mean certain chemicals don’t have to be named on the label. Many of these are possible carcinogens and may be toxic to non-reproductive organs, like the kidneys and the bladder.

Alternatives: Finding alternatives can be tricky because even natural fragrances like essential oils can be sensitising and irritating to certain skin types.

Are they a suitable substitute? If approved by the International Fragrance Association, then yes.

Natural alternatives: Include essential oils, oleoresins, distillates, concretes, absolutes, and fractions. Natural fragrances are complex blends of all these things.

12. Glycols/Alcohols

What is their job? Alcohols in cosmetics deodorise and preserve. Different alcohols have different functions. They are antimicrobial, enhance absorption, and act as an emollient in some forms.

Why are they used? They act as solvents, emulsifiers, and moisturises. This is a contradiction because using too much alcohol or the wrong type of alcohol can dry the skin out and also irritate it. Use the right alcohol for your skin type. Fatty alcohols are beneficial.

Look for cetyl, stearyl, or cetearyl alcohol.

People with sensitive skin should avoid alcohol, especially denatured and isopropyl alcohol. Also, avoid when alcohol appears in the first 5 or 6 ingredients on the label.

What products are they added to? Face washes, soaps, skin care products.

Why are they toxic or harmful? When used in moderation, alcohol is not a problem. But used in excess or incorrectly they can irritate the skin, cause breakouts and dry skin out

Alternatives: Use natural astringents or fatty alcohols. Bear in mind that even natural astringents can dry the skin if used in excess.

At the end of our Natural Beauty Guide, we provide a list of free resources. Sites that are dedicated to analysing ingredients in products and informing the public on safety and toxicity, as well as environmental impact are called watchdog sites. They unearth information and make technical and academic information accessible to the layman.

The Environmental Working Group ( has an excellent database that lists ingredients in cosmetics and beauty products. They list toxic, synthetic, organic, and natural ingredients. Anyone can submit a product for analysis and get it approved and added to the database.

5. Everyday Beauty Tips

5. Everyday Beauty Tips

Caring for your health and appearance is not vanity. When we keep our skin glowing, our hair shining, and our faces cleansed, toned, and moisturised, we are telling the world that we value and care for ourselves. When we take it a step further, by using natural beauty products, we are saying that we also care about the plants, animals, and humans that grace the face of our planet!

Everyday Beauty Tips are the small things we can do regularly to keep our minds and bodies looking and feeling like a million pounds. Part of a natural beauty regime is to stay fit and healthy.

When our circulation, immune systems, and digestion function well it is evident by the condition of our skin and hair. Likewise, when we neglect our diets and become sedentary, the effects are seen again in the skin and hair. Lacklustre hair and dull skin can be camouflaged by make-up and hair extensions, wigs and scarves but if you want to know how to look beautiful naturally, a good place to start is with your diet and your daily self-care regime

5.1 Drink Water

Stay hydrated. Drink between 6-8 glasses of water daily. Our bodies are ⅔ water. When we dehydrate, our skin loses its elasticity, appearing dry and wrinkly. Water is essential to keep the body’s multiple systems functioning properly. Water helps the liver to remove toxins, through the skin and the excretory system.

5.2 Eat Enough Fibre

The recommended daily allowance for fibre is 30g. Most people in the UK are getting 15-20g daily. When we lack fibre we suffer from constipation, in the short term. But long term, this leads to conditions like diverticulitis and even colon cancer. Fibre aids digestion. When our bodies absorb vitamins and antioxidants efficiently, our immune systems are better at repairing cell damage, neutralising free radicals, and nourishing our skin, hair, and nails.

5.3 Eat Food That Boosts Collagen Production and Hyaluronic Acid

Collagen is produced naturally in our bodies. Using products that claim to contain collagen is not going to be as effective as your own collagen. Eat food high in antioxidants. Vitamins A, C, D, and E all act as powerful antioxidants and collagen boosters.

Collagen is a protein and a major component of connective tissues. It keeps hair, muscles, bones, and skin strong and healthy.

Strawberries, kiwis, mangoes, oranges, greens and cruciferous veggies, like kale, mustard, and broccoli, all support collagen production and hyaluronic synthesis. Add legumes, nuts and seeds to your diet too.

Hyaluronic acid needs vitamin C to be synthesised in the body. It keeps bones strong, skin supple, and joints flexible.

5.4 Get Active and Breathe Deep

Exercise gets the heart pumping and the blood flowing. Good circulation is vital in getting the right amounts of collagen to the right places. Poor circulation can lead to hair loss, sallow skin, black bags under your eyes, and cracked lips.

As we increase our cardiovascular fitness our breathing also improves. Correct breathing ensures that enough oxygen is supplied to all the cells, via the bloodstream.

5.5 Maintain a Daily Personal Hygiene Routine

Most of us get up each day and either shower or wash our faces, brush our teeth and comb our hair. This can be as simple or complex as you like. Some people will opt for cold water, to get the blood flowing. Others prefer the steamy hot water that gets the pores open and allows us to cleanse deeply.

We get to choose which toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, cleansers, toners, moisturisers, hair gels, mousses, colognes, and aftershave we use. By choosing natural products we feed our skin and hair instead of stripping away the natural protection our bodies provide. And we do our small bit by using biodegradable, gentle, eco-friendly products.

Did you know commercial toothpaste contains up to 12 ingredients that are not so great? Shocker, right? Further on, we list these ingredients and also give you the ingredients contained in natural toothpaste. And in the recipe section, you’ll find a DIY natural toothpaste recipe.

6. Natural Beauty: Skin and Face Care

Ironically, the very products formulated to make you look younger can leave you looking old before your time. Many beauty products that get applied to the skin cause skin irritations, rashes, inflammation and redness. Some of them strip the natural oils from the skin and the protective barrier afforded by these oils is removed. This leaves skin dry and

The most important thing to remember, and put into practice, is to read the labels. And learn what the names for different ingredients are. Find the products that work for you. And remember “Less is More”. The new way of thinking is minimalistic. In a bid to live zero waste lifestyles we need to cut back on everything, in all areas of our lives. For glowing skin, less definitely is more.

6.1 Common Skin ProblemsThat Will Benefit From Natural Beauty Products

  • Dry skin – Apply products that will moisturise, hydrate and nourish.
  • Oily skin – Apply products that will tighten pores and hydrate. Use products with astringent properties.
  • Combination Skin – pay attention to the T-panel
  • Normal skin
  • Acne – Use products with natural acids that will reduce scarring, unclog pores, deep cleanse, and tighten pores.
  • Psoriasis – use unscented products with antioxidants that soothe and heal like aloe vera gel and other healing plant extracts.
  • Eczema
  • Rosaceae
  • Premature wrinkles from sun damage – Use products with antioxidants to boost collagen production
  • Uneven skin tone and dark patches (hormonal) – use products that will bleach skin, like lemon juice.
  • Damage from using skin lighteners – use facial serums with natural oils that will nourish and reduce scarring.

Cosmetics that contain ingredients, like alcohol, dry the skin out. Cosmetics with harsh ingredients can sensitise the skin. Even natural ingredients, like plant extracts and essential oils, can make skin sensitive, despite having healing and beneficial properties. When the skin is undernourished or exposed to harsh elements it loses moisture and dehydrates. Applying products that hydrate and moisture the skin will give it a plumped-out look and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

People with dry skin will benefit from using commercial natural beauty products and homemade remedies with the following ingredients:

  • Oils: Coconut, Argan, Jojoba, Wheatgerm, Almond, Grapeseed
  • Avocado, cucumber,
  • Yoghurt, milk
  • Honey
  • Oatmeal
  • Aloe vera
  • Shea butter
  • Drink more liquids
  • Eat enough healthy fats
  • Vitamin E oil

6.2 Natural Beauty Tips For Glowing Skin

Healthy skin glows. And healthy skin is usually accompanied by bright, clear eyes. Sunshine, fresh air, and a good diet is the natural way to get glowing skin.

People who don’t wear make-up have the advantage of not needing as many products. The more products, the more chemicals.

Did you know: The average woman uses 18 or more cosmetic and personal hygiene products every day, exposing herself to over 422 chemicals. Even if you only use 5 products regularly you are exposing yourself to over 150 chemicals.

Healthy skin is clean with tight pores and good colour. To maintain a healthy, glowing skin naturally, you need to cleanse, tone, and moisturise daily. Exfoliate once a week or every second week. Alternate with face masks that hydrate and those that deeply cleanse.

Avoid products with alcohol, especially if you are predisposed to dry skin. Even natural products can be detrimental to your skin if used in cheap formulations that use inferior quality ingredients.

6.3 DIY Natural Beauty Skin Care Recipes

6.3.1 DIY Face Masks

The All-Rounder Avo Face Pack
  • Hydrating, moisturising, nourishing, soothing
  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Good for dry skin

You will need:

  • 1 avocado pear
  • ½ cup natural yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2-3 tbsp rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp honey


  • Place all the ingredients in a blender.
  • Blend for 1-2 minutes until all the ingredients have mixed well.
  • Empty contents into a glass bowl or jar and close with a lid.
  • Place in the fridge for ½ hour before applying.
The Giving Nature’s DIY Cucumber and Aloe Face Pack (All skin types)
  • Refreshing, hydrating, soothing, antioxidant
  • All skin types

You will need:

  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1 cup of strong rooibos tea
  • ½ cup aloe vera gel
  • ½ cup oatmeal


  • Soak the oatmeal in the cup of rooibos tea overnight.
  • Run a peeler down the edges of the aloe vera leaf. Cut the leaf lengthways to get two pieces and remove the gel from the outer skin by scraping it with the back of the knife.
  • Add ingredients to a blender and blend for 2 minutes.
  • Remove from blender bowl and place into a glass jar or bowl, cover and refrigerate for ½ hour before applying

Apply over the face, avoiding eyes. Leave on for 20 minutes. Remove with a damp cloth or tissue. Rinse with warm water and pat dry.

The DIY Lemon and Oatmeal Face Pack
  • Oily/combination/normal skin types
  • Evens out complexion, soothes, nourishes

You will need:

  • Peeled rinds of 3 lemons
  • Juice of those lemons
  • ½ apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • ½ cup natural yoghurt


  • Peel the rind without touching the white pith.
  • Bring vinegar to the boil, add rinds and boil for 5 minutes.
  • Cool and strain to remove rinds
  • Add the remaining ingredients
  • Mix well adding more almond flour if too runny.

Place in the fridge for 30 minutes and then apply. Leave on for 15-20 minutes. Rinse off with warm water and pat dry.

6.3.2 DIY Facial Cleanser

Oatmeal and Buttermilk Cleanser

The oats cleanses, the buttermilk moisturises, and the chamomile soothes blemishes.

You will need:

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup oats, finely ground
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 3 chamomile tea bags or 5 teaspoons dried chamomile leaves and flowers


  • Add tea bags to the boiling water, allow to cool, and strain.
  • Add the oats and buttermilk to the tea.
  • Stir well and let it stand until it thickens.
  • Place into a plastic or glass dish with a lid that seals and store in the fridge until ready to use.
  • Use within 3 days.

To apply:

  • Scoop up a small amount and massage gently into your skin, avoiding eyes and nostrils. Rinse off with warm water. To use as a face mask, leave the mixture on for 20 minutes and then rinse and pat dry.

6.3.3 DIY Facial Toner

Vinegar Toner
  • For oily skin

You will need:

  • 1 cup raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup fresh or dried peppermint leaves or 6 peppermint teabags


  • Bring vinegar to the boil, add peppermint.
  • Bring back to the boil, remove from heat and allow to cool.
  • Strain and place in a glass bottle with a lid.
  • Can be stored in the fridge for a month.

7. Natural Beauty: Hair Care and Beard Care

Natural Beauty: Hair Care and Beard Care

What is healthy hair? It’s hair that is manageable, soft, shiny, and strong. It is not too dry or too oily, frizzy or damaged. It is thick and grows well. It is not thinning or showing premature greying.

The Key To Healthy Hair

Hair that has the right balance of natural oils will be healthy. It will have a shine to it and be tangle and frizz-free, with regular brushing. Healthy strands of hair lock in moisture. Not only do the oils keep hair conditioned, but they also protect the hair from harsh elements like sunshine, wind, and dust.

To keep hair healthy means doing things today that will benefit you tomorrow. Adopt healthy hair habits. The more natural your regular hair care regime is, the healthier, stronger, and shinier your hair will be.

7.1 Common Hair Problems That Will Benefit from Natural Hair Care Products

  • Hair loss
  • Grey Hair
  • Dry Hair
  • Oily Hair
  • Damaged Hair

Hair can get damaged four ways:

1. A poor diet.

2. Exposing your hair to harsh environmental elements.

3. Using products that strip your hair of natural oils. Hair with no moisture becomes brittle and the result is dull, damaged hair with split ends and frizz.

4 Using hair styling tools and techniques that cause the hair to dry out and break. Braiding, extensions, colours and tints, over or under brushing, Towelling drying vigorously

7.2 Natural Beauty Tips for Hair

  • Take good care of your scalp – give yourself regular head massages. When you wash your hair, be sure to massage your scalp firmly but gently. Stimulating circulation in the scalp area will stimulate hair growth. This is also why oil treatment works so well. Not only are you increasing blood flow to the follicles but you are getting the oils to penetrate the skin. This feeds and nourishes the scalp, stimulating follicles and increasing the thickness of the new hair shafts.
  • Keep your hair conditioned to prevent the ends from splitting, drying out, and breaking off.
  • Give yourself regular hair treatments. These can be in the form of hair masks that you leave on for about 20 minutes and then rinse off. Or it could be oil treatments. Sometimes even leaving the concoction on overnight and shampooing and conditioning the hair the following day.
  • Brush or comb your hair regularly. This prevents knotting which damages the hair when you try to get the knots out. It also stimulates the scalp and improves circulation.

7.3 Natural Beard Maintenance

Growing and maintaining a beard is quite a commitment. It’s important to care for your beard so that it stays conditioned, shiny, clean, and neat. Here are the 4 easy steps to keeping your beard looking good, naturally:

  • Brush or comb your beard daily.
  • Keep your beard neatly trimmed. Use scissors and/or clippers. Trim your moustache above the lip and below the nose. Trim nose hairs with scissors, if need be. Trim above the neckline and the cheek area.
  • Wash your beard once or twice a week. Use natural shampoo.
  • Apply a natural, organic beard oil once a week. If the climate is dry, you may need to increase oiling to every other day.

7.4 Natural Beauty Homemade Hair and Beard Products

It is a tradition in India to treat hair with regular hot oil treatments. The oil is heated slightly and then massaged into the scalp. The massage on its own, increases blood flow to the scalp. The addition of various essential oils, mixed with carrier oils, adds more benefits. Essential oils (see Aromatherapy section below) get added to carrier oils and massaged into the scalp and hair. Specific essential oils have specific benefits, as do the carrier oils.

Use light oil for oily scalps, like almond, grapeseed,  or wheatgerm oil. For dry scalps use a thicker oil like coconut.

Argan oil is widely used in hair products. It is nutrient-dense, rich in fatty acids, vitamin E, phenols that promote hair growth, and antioxidants. Argan oil locks in moisture, nourishes, and protects hair.

Amla oil is an Ayurvedic remedy made from the berries of the Phyllanthus emblica plant. It is rich in antioxidants, vitamin A and E, potassium, and fatty acids. Amla oil is used to treat dandruff, dry scalp, hair loss, and more. It promotes hair growth. It is nourishing, regenerative, and acts as an anti-inflammatory.

7.4.1 DIY Hair Oils For Hair and Beards

Amla oil treatment

Amla oil gets used on its own as an oil treatment for hair.

  • Heat 3 Tbsp of Amla oil.
  • Place a small amount in the palm of your hand. 
  • Rub your hands together and massage the scalp. Add more oil as needed. And continue to rub into the scalp and the hair.
  • Cover the whole head from the roots to the tip. Wrap hair up in a plastic bag or put a shower cap on.
  • Leave it overnight. Comb through in the morning and then shampoo and condition as usual. Alternatively, apply amla in the morning, keep covered during the day and wash out in the evening.
Essential oil treatment

You will need:

  • 3-6 Tbsp of carrier oil
  • 6-12 drops of an essential oil suited to your needs


  • Make as needed. Heat the oil slightly and remove from heat.
  • Add essential oil drops. Stir. Apply as for the Amla oil recipe above.
Herbal oil treatment

You will need:

  • 1/2 cup of dried herbs or 1 cup of fresh. Use herbs like rosemary, chamomile, peppermint, lavender flowers, or stinging nettle.
  • 1kg tub of coconut oil
  • Heat the coconut oil until it melts, add the herbs. Don’t let it get too hot.
  • Take it off the heat. Give it a few stirs and allow it to cool.
  • Reheat it at low heat until the coconut oil is completely melted. Stir.
  • Strain the herbs from the oil. Pour into a glass jar with a lid and store in the fridge if the summer is too hot.

To use:

  • Scoop out 2-3 tbsp of the herb oil.
  • Heat gently at low heat.
  • Pour small amounts into the palm of your hand.
  • Rub your hands together and massage into the scalp. Work your way down to your ends.
  • Comb through to remove tangles and also to spread the oil throughout.

7.3.2 DIY Shampoo for Oily Hair

As with most of our DIY Natural Beauty Recipes, this shampoo is best used fresh. So make a small batch that’s just enough for two to four washes. You can use dried herbs if you don’t have fresh herbs. But for this particular DIY shampoo recipe, fresh herbs are best.

You  will need:

  • 1 cup of herb tea made with 1 cup chopped stinging nettle and rosemary.
  • 2-3 cups water for the herb tea
  • 100ml Liquid Castile soap
  • 30 ml apple cider vinegar
  • 60 ml wheatgerm oil
  • 6-12 drops tea tree oil or another essential oil of your choice


  • Use equal amounts of fresh stinging nettle and rosemary. Chop finely. Place in a small pot.
  • Bring 2 -3 cups of water to the boil. Pour into the pot with herbs. Place a lid on the pot and allow it to steep, until cool. Reheat the tea and strain. You will use 1 cup of lukewarm tea for the recipe.
  • Add the soap, oil, vinegar and mix. Add the essential oil and give a final mix. Putting it into a bottle and shaking till mixed will also work.
  • Strain and use as needed.
  • Will keep in the fridge for a few days.

7.4.3 DIY Hair Masks

The Giving Nature’s Hair Mask for Long Dry Hair

You will need:

  • 1 medium avocado pear
  • 2 cups aloe gel (see our Complete Aloe Guide here)
  • 100ml oil for dry hair (coconut, argan, jojoba, sesame, etc)
  • 6-12 drops essential oil
  • 3 drops tea tree oil


  • Place the avo, oil, and gel in a bowl.
  • using a handheld blender, mix well.
  • Add the essential oils
  • Stir through with spatula.
  • Lean forward and let your hair hang down in front of your face.
  • Apple the mask by starting at the top of your neck and covering the hair generously.
  • Grab your hair as if to tie it up, but instead form a coil and secure it to the top of your head.
  • Apply the mask until the entire head is saturated with the mixture.
  • Put a shower cap on and sit in the sun for half an hour to heat up your head.
  • Leave on for a further 10 minutes. Rinse the mixture off with the garden hose and then go and shampoo your hair as you normally would.

8. Natural Beauty: Feet, Hands, and Nail Care

Natural Beauty: Feet, Hands, and Nail Care

The following recipe can be used on the hands and feet. The balm is moisturising and healing. If you replace beeswax with Candelilla vegetable wax, it’s vegan too. 

The scrub is exfoliating and toning. The ingredients are nourishing, natural, gentle, vegan, and safe. Use these scrubs to remove dead skin from heels and feet, or use them on your hands, to replenish and moisturise after tasks like gardening. Not suited as a facial scrub.

The most common complaints people have when it comes to their hands, nails, and feet are things like:

  • Cracked heels
  • Athlete’s Foot
  • Brittle nails
  • Calloused palms from manual labour
  • Stiff joints

8.1 The Giving Nature’s DIY Healing Balm Recipe

This balm is mainly for cracked heels and Athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot, a fungal disease, can be treated with this homemade foot balm that contains tea tree oil, comfrey, and stinging nettle. It also works wonders for a range of common skin conditions. Apply it to minor cuts, stings, cracked heels, and skin conditions.

You will need:

  • 1 cup chopped comfrey and stinging nettle.
  • 1 cups of coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup shea butter
  • ¼ cup candelilla wax (vegan) or beeswax (non-vegan)
  • 6-12 drops tea tree oil


  • Over low heat, melt the coconut oil and Candelilla wax.
  • Add the herbs, remove the pot from heat.
  • Place lid on the pot and allow to cool
  • Reheat until hot but not boiling, and strain.
  • While the oil is still hot, but removed from heat, add the shea butter.
  • When all the oils are nicely blended, add tea tree oil.  
  • Apply to affected areas twice to three times a day.

8.2 The Giving Nature’s DIY Hand, Foot, and Nail Exfoliating Scrub

The homemade scrub is another easy to make a remedy for exfoliating the hands and feet, and conditioning around the cuticles of your finger and toenails.

You will need:

  • 2 cups of Himalayan pink salt, get the coarse salt and use a mortar and pestle to grind it fine.
  • ¼ cup of hemp oil
  • 1 tbsp grapefruit seed extract
  • 5 drops of neroli essential oil
  • 5 drops of gardenia essential oil


  • Add the hemp oil and grapefruit seed extract to the salt.
  • Drip the essential oil drops onto the oil in the salt.
  • Mix well, store in a glass jar with a lid.
  • To use, scoop a small handful out and massage it into the feet or hands. Pay special attention to areas like heels, elbows, and knees.

9. Natural Personal Hygiene Products

Natural Personal Hygiene Products

Commercial toothpaste and deodorants are shunned by the natural living community. Mass market toothpaste may contain unethical ingredients (palm oil), or ingredients that may pose health risks (fluoride). Also, some ingredients contaminate water sources and pose a threat to aquatic life (plastic!).

Commercial toothpaste as we know it contains fluoride, abrasives, humectants, flavourants, and detergents. In a natural toothpaste, bicarbonate of soda would be classed as the abrasive, essential oils bring beneficial properties and act as flavourants. The essential oils should not be taken internally but when they get used they add flavour.

Fortunately, thousands of natural toothpastes source ethical palm oil and are fluoride and SLS free. But if you love making your own products, the next two recipes will delight you! The toothpaste can be whipped up in no time and the deodorant is an effective remedy that works at keeping your armpits dry and odour-free, simply by adding tea tree oil to kill the bacteria that causes bad body odour.

9.1  DIY Toothpaste Recipe

You will need:

  • 1 tbsp of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
  • ¼ cup of calcium carbonate (available in pure powder)
  • 2 tbsp of coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp of purified or distilled water
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 5 drops anise oil (essential oil)


  • Mix the powders with water, you may need to add a bit more water to get a consistency that makes it easy to apply and will spread out when brushing.
  • Heat the coconut until it is liquid.
  • Mix into the powdered mix.
  • Add anise oil and mix lightly.
  • Your toothpaste is now ready to use.
  • Place in a glass jar with a lid and store it in the fridge.

9.2 DIY Deodorant Recipe

You will need:

  • 3 tbsp of coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp bentonite clay
  • 1 tbsp bicarb of soda
  • 5-10 drops of tea tree oil.


  • Mix all the ingredients and place in a brown glass jar with a lid.
  • When mixing, you may find that you want to add either more coconut oil or more bentonite. Either way, as long as you get a fairly pliable consistency.
  • To use: Scoop out 1 teaspoon and use ½ a tsp for each armpit. Rub in until the entire area has been covered and you feel dry. And smell fresh.

10. Natural Beauty Box

Natural Beauty Box - The Giving Nature

Are you new to natural beauty products and feeling slightly overwhelmed by too much information? Take a look at the two collections we have put together for easy access. We have chosen the bare basics that a person would need when switching out your traditional cosmetics for natural beauty products.

The first Natural Beauty Box is for the family and includes the basics like toothpaste, deodorant, and soap. The second one is more of a Natural Beauty Gift Box, it’s ideal to gift to a special friend or loved one as a way of encouraging them to try out natural beauty products they may not yet have tried before.

10.1 Natural Beauty Box: Option 1: A great introduction to the basics in natural beauty personal care products

For the Kitchen:

For the Bathroom:

10.2 Natural Beauty Box: Option 2: Pamper Package

11. Aromatherapy: Essential Oils in Natural Beauty Products

Essential oils are the backbone of natural beauty products. Not only do they have beneficial healing properties, but they also enhance the experience of natural beauty products by adding fragrance that is vegan and non-toxic.

Essential oils are concentrated and some people may experience adverse effects if the oils are applied straight onto the skin without being diluted first. Essential oils get added to carrier oils. For a detailed review on Aromatherapy see our practical guide here.

12. What The Research Says: Free Resources and References

The following websites and organisations provide information in the form of research and/or databases.

  • Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (
  • Environmental Working Group (
  • Breast Cancer Action (
  • Centres for Disease Control and Prevention ( – go to chemical factsheets)
  • Paper on greener alternatives: The 10 classes of components that need greener alternatives: This is an excellent paper on the chemicals that have been nicknamed the “Toxic Twelve”. Find it here.
  • IFRA Transparency List for fragrances: Find the list here.
  • National Toxicology Program (
  • Cosmetics Info (
  • Ethical Consumer(
  • Banned in Europe, safe in the US? (

13. Final Thoughts On Natural Beauty And You

We finally come to the end of The Giving Nature’s Complete Natural Beauty Guide. We sincerely hope the information contained herein has been insightful and thought-provoking, and that it will help guide you on your journey to natural living.

It is the conscious choices we make in our daily lives that will impact the future of our children and the generations of children to come. It is with a positive note we close this guide off. It is evident by the success and popularity of the Green Beauty industry that we, the people, are creating the changes needed for safer, gentler cosmetics.

By keeping ourselves informed and by demanding change through the consumer choices we make daily, we are standing side by side with the Green Beauty Industry. We are part of the solution. And as consumers, we do have the power to demand that the products we buy to use on our skin are safe, cruelty-free, natural and organic.

At The Giving Nature, our motto is “A Passion For Better Life”. Take the journey with us.

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