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Ever since I got rid of “fragrance” in my skin care routine, I have emotional and physical reactions anytime I’m around it. Emotionally, I miss it. Physically, I sneeze. The emotional reaction is clear to me—I miss the musky scent achievable with synthetic perfumery. The physical side is my body now reacting to something I haven’t been exposed to in a long time. I used the same perfume and the same moisturizer for the last, well, as long as I can remember. It makes me sad that I can’t wear my perfume anymore. But, what makes me more sad (or mad really) is that the FDA considers “fragrance” to be a trade secret, one that manufacturers aren’t required to disclose on their labeling or anywhere else. I put the word “fragrance” in quotes because when you see it listed as an ingredient in your products it is not necessarily just one ingredient and it could be a wide range of different chemicals. The skin care industry doesn’t mandate that products are certified with the FDA, “fragrance” is a host of undisclosed ingredients— I feel like there are a lot of secrets going on in the cosmetics industry and I don’t like it one bit.
I started creating skin care products because of my desire to create safe products for myself and for my family and I believe that adding “fragrance” to a product is just one way we are putting ourselves at risk. Once I started reading labels and using the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep database to look up ingredients in products this became even more apparent to me. The database explains each ingredient in a particular product and calls out any harmful side effects each ingredient has.
What I read really scared me, I stopped using artificial facial products altogether and started using coconut oil mixed with frankincense essential oil. That’s it. It seemed safe enough to me. Frankincense had been used for centuries to treat all forms of skin ailments and coconut oil had recently been touted as the “cure-all, everything” oil. I felt great, my skin looked great. I was prepared to climb up a tree and start boycotting more things—toothpaste in favor of coconut oil, shampoo (ok, I haven’t tried the no-poo thing yet but I’m sure I will someday!). I realize I was being a little extreme here, but at the time it’s how I felt. Don’t worry, I have since researched products and found what I consider to be safe products for my family. I did enjoy the feeling of the oils on my skin though so I decided to continue making my own facial products.
I took some time to start researching oils and I became even more excited about the flexibility I’d have with ingredients I could put on my skin for different ailments. There are oils that can treat everything from aging skin to varicose veins and inflammation. There are oils that can moisturize, provide astringent properties, and balance uneven skin tone. I started buying oils, mixing them together and trying them on my face and neck.
Creating Facial Oils
Sometime after I started wearing my own oil mixture someone asked me about my complexion and when I told them what I had been doing they mentioned I should start a company. At first when I broached the subject with my friends they got excited about it for me. And for themselves— because what inevitably happened was they started telling me about their ailments. I immediately started dreaming about how I could fix them! Things got a little crazy at this point and I started mixing formulas for every ailment that came across my path.
Focus and Aromatherapy
When you decide to start a company and consult and pay for a lawyer, things start to get real. First, you just spent a lot of money for someone to tell you where to sign (oh, and all the things you should be worried about). My coffee-charged, super excited, all-or-nothing self needed to focus. So I started to hone in on what people really needed for a few products, readying the formulas and using many of my friends and family as testers.
I started taking basic aromatherapy classes, clinical aromatherapy classes and learning everything I could about formulating and mixing oils. One of the interesting things I learned was that your sense of smell bypasses the cerebral cortex, the intellectual part of the brain, and goes directly to the limbic system – the part of the brain that perceives smells and processes memories and instincts. This is one of the reasons why I now know that my old perfume will always give me an emotional response. I have so many personal memories stored up for this scent, but I also know wearing it is not worth putting on “fragrance”.
Eyes Wide Open
I want to know what’s in the products I put on my own skin. I really want to know what’s in the products I put on my two little girls’ skin. What all this means is now that I’ve been making oil based products for awhile it just seems like common sense to me that if the skincare industry doesn’t want you to know what’s in their products, then you definitely don’t want to put it on your body. Let’s all join together and be sure we understand about what we put on our entire bodies — Conscious Cosmetics for all!