Why DIY cosmetics can be good for your skin, according to a doctor

While DIY cosmetics may have a somewhat uncertain reputation as a full-fledged amateur can try their hand at them, there are reasons to believe they may actually be good for your skin. Here clarifies Edith Petitet, doctor of biological sciences.

The pandemic, through the closure of shops and various lockdowns and restrictions, has led people to turn to home solutions in many fields, including that of cosmetics. The long-winded formulas were gone, replaced by natural and authentic remedies. Edith Petitet is a doctor of biological sciences with a specialization in ecotoxicology, who has written a book on the creation of her own cosmetics, entitled “1 ingrédient = 3 cosmétiques”. She shares her opinion of her on this phenomenon and discusses the basics of DIY cosmetics.

DIY cosmetics
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How and why DIY cosmetics can be good for your skin, according to Dr Edith Petitet

As a doctor of biological sciences, specializing in ecotoxicology, you suddenly stopped everything to devote yourself to herbal medicine and aromatherapy. Why did you make this choice?

It’s all a question of continuity, really. Born in Gironde [region of France], I spent my childhood building dens in the woods, while I watched with a dim look the arrival of the oil industries, which completely destroyed this exceptional environment. We no longer ate the good fish that my father caught in the Garonne, but the fish that tasted of oil … Even fruit tasted of oil. After a scientific baccalaureate, I decided to learn what it takes to clean up land and water. I spent more than 20 years in Rhône-Poulenc as a toxicologist and then as a pharmacologist, so I joined the French national innovation agency [ANVAR]. More than 10 years ago, together with my husband, then a pharmacist and researcher in pharmacology, we decided to go back to school to learn about herbal medicine, aromatherapy and natural cosmetics. Then we opened a herbalist’s shop and a small training and workshop center on these issues. I am now developing various activities that allow people to become aware of the numerous pollutants that surround us and how to limit their consumption as much as possible, be they cosmetic, therapeutic or nutritional.

With the pandemic, consumers have turned to DIY cosmetics en masse. Is this the future?
I think consumers have turned to do-it-yourself (DIY) in a very general way, not just cosmetics. But there was a greater awareness. Not only did they realize what was not good for their health, they also realized that they could do many things on their own.

How are these cosmetics more friendly to the skin and the planet?
A skincare product, that is to say, to keep yourself in good condition [skin] health, it must be nothing more than a little fat and a little water. A cosmetic is not a medicine. It is not intended to cure a skin disease and is not allowed to have side effects. It can simply be made up of compounds emanating from organisms living on this planet, and not of synthetic molecules that the mineral, plant or animal world does not know, or cannot process to eliminate.

DIY cosmetics
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People may also think that making their own cosmetics is not an easy task. Is it really accessible to everyone?
If we think it is complicated, it is because we believe that we will have to replicate what industrial cosmetics have developed, which is chemical, technological … and regulatory ability. So we have to start with the understanding that the cosmetic product we will be able to invent has nothing to do with what the market offers. If you are not aware of it, if you do not accept it, it means that you are not ready to enter self-made products. Some people propose to “copy” conventional cosmetics by having people buy hundreds of ingredients … and that makes good business sense.

What are the basics of homemade cosmetics?
As I just said, you don’t need a lot of things. The quality of the starting ingredients is fundamental, of course, but you must also be careful not to harm yourself with extracts whose biological activity can be very powerful, such as essential oils, or due to lack of cleanliness, and end up spreading the your face with a cocktail of bacteria. Beforehand, you need to learn a few basic things, just like you might learn the basics in the kitchen. First of all, avoid getting hurt! Everyone knows how to put leftovers in the fridge, and the same goes for your cosmetic product.

Suggest making three single-ingredient cosmetics. Which would you say are the essential?
As basic ingredients it is important to have a vegetable oil and a hydrosol, but also a bacteriostatic preservative as a basic technical product.

Are natural ingredients really as effective as lab developed compounds?
It all depends on what you mean by “effective”. If I want something simple, namely minimize water loss – that’s what’s behind the “moisturizer” label on a cosmetic product – then yes, a vegetable oil can be just as effective.

DIY cosmetics
Image credit: Raphael Lovaski / Unsplash

Folk remedies and natural alternatives are more popular than ever. From lemon and honey to baking soda and sugar, they’re even taking over social media. Could a more responsible future for beauty really lie in the past?
I don’t think it has anything to do with the past or the present. Let’s say that tradition has led us to do something based on the fact that ‘for years we do it like this, and it works’. And today we can give ourselves the means to understand why it works. My book is in this sense. The reader must understand why he will mix this ingredient with that other, otherwise it makes no sense. On social networks, everyone copies everyone else. We don’t know why we mix this with that. And when one ingredient is missing, it’s replaced by another ingredient that has almost the same name … but doesn’t have the same chemical function. As a result, we turn a good skin care product into something that can be toxic. When I give training sessions in natural cosmetology, I “enjoy” asking people to come up with their favorite recipes and, after two days of class, they start to get critical enough to say what works and what doesn’t.

Which ingredients should we turn to for a purified, radiant and “young” skin?
It is so different from person to person … The benefit of DIY cosmetics is that you can play an active role in caring for your skin. You try the ingredients until you find the right one for you. There is one last point that should not be forgotten, even if it is not in the book: the best thing to have healthy skin is to simply pay attention to what we choose to voluntarily ingest – such as water and food – and what we don’t, such as the toxic elements found in cosmetics and household products, but also in food and water. One day, some hydrotherapy students asked me how to dilute essential oils to apply them on the skin. I told them that any vegetable oil, or almost any vegetable oil, could be used. An intrigued student was stunned: “No, definitely not even the olive oil we eat.” Faced with this level of disbelief, I responded by telling her that everything you eat should be able to be applied to your skin, and vice versa.

This article is published via AFP Relaxnews.

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