Making cosmetics: useful tips for beginners

1. Use good quality raw materials
Proper cosmetic ingredients are the basis of the product quality. Therefore, buy them only from reliable suppliers, specialized in cosmetic industry. The supplier should be able to provide you with detailed information about the ingredients, such as recommended usage level and compatibility with other components. For essential oils, the producer should indicate the origin of raw materials and the method of extraction. Do not forget that it is your legal right to request the material safety data sheet (MSDS) and the certificate of analysis from the supplier. The MSDS contains information about negative side effects of the substance and explains how to work with the cosmetic ingredient safely. Certificate of analysis describes its physical characteristics and conformity of the particular batch to the product specification.

2. Prevent contamination of cosmetics during preparation
Microbial contamination (entry and growth of microorganisms in a cosmetic product) is a serious problem in cosmetic industry. Thus, if you are making cosmetics yourself, prevent contamination as much as possible:

- Wear latex or nitrile gloves. If you have long hair - put it up.
- Disinfect all equipment and tools with 70% ethanol. Do not use alcoholic beverages (vodka, rum, tequila, etc.) for that purpose because apart from ethanol they contain other ingredients. If 70% ethanol is not available, you can boil the tools and containers for 20 minutes (but only if the material can sustain the heating!).
- ALWAYS add a preservative to homemade cosmetics! Only water-free cosmetic products (e.g. lip balm) do not require preservatives.

3. Use proper packaging
It is important to prevent contamination of cosmetics not only during preparation, but also during its use. Remember that traditional wide neck jar is the worst packaging form in terms of preservation. The safest option is to use disposable airless pumps that have been designed to prevent entry of microorganisms into the cosmetic product. An airless pump has a special spring mechanism that does not allow air to get in the tube. In addition, the tiny nozzle minimizes the contact of the cream with your hands.

wide-neck jar, airless pump

4. Be especially careful if you are subjected to contact dermatitis or you have sensitive skin
If you suffer from cosmetics-related allergies, it is necessary to identify the ingredient(s) your skin is sensitive to. Thus, if you do not know which substances cause the allergy, go to a qualified dermatologist to find out. Once you know your «enemy», always carefully check the composition of any product that you are going to use. You also need to take into account that most raw materials for cosmetics have complex composition. It means that apart from active compound they can include preservatives, antioxidants, etc. If you are allergic to any of this components, avoid using this raw material in your cosmetics. Moreover, never skip the tip 5.

5. Always test a new cosmetic product on a small area of your skin
This rule is very important, especially for leave-on cosmetics (face cream, eye cream, hand cream...) Apply some of the product on the skin at the bend of elbow and leave it overnight. If there is no irritation, apply a small amount on the skin behind the ear and leave it for 24-48 hours. Avoid getting the test-area wet while taking shower.

6. Do not make cosmetics in ”industrial” quantities
The fresher the product – the better it is. The safe advice is to prepare maximum 50 ml of body cream, hand cream or body scrub, 30 ml of face cream and 10-15 ml of eye cream. Moreover, if something goes wrong – at least you do not waste much ingredients.

7. Never exceed ingredients' usage level recommended by the producer
Always carefully read all information about the cosmetic ingredient. The usage concentration for active ingredients normally varies from 1% to 5%, and it is not a good idea to double this amount in order to double the effect. Manufacturers of cosmetic ingredients always make tests to find the most optimal concentration for each cosmetic ingredient. Thus, in most cases increase of recommended concentration does not make the final product more efficient, instead, it might have the opposite effect: an overdose can cause allergic reactions and other problems for your skin.

8. Be careful with recipes found on the internet
Internet is a rich source of information, both useful one and total nonsense. You can find posts about using concentrated vitamin A as a great anti-age ”mask” or undiluted tea tree essential oil to get rid of acne. Indeed, vitamin A has anti-aging effect and tea tree essential oil has antimicrobial properties, but they can never be used undiluted! Thus, always check the reliability of the source! The same applies to recipes of homemade cosmetics. The main advice is to check recommendations of the supplier about concentration limits of a certain ingredient, as mentioned in tip 7. The person who posted the recipe might unintentionally make a typing error and instead of 1% of a preservative write 10%. Be attentive.

Wish you a nice cosmetics-making experience!



Marie's picture

Good day Natalia! How long it takes to make cosmetics at home? For example, a moisturizer?..

Natalia's picture

Hello Marie! Preparation time greatly depends on the product. For example, it takes only 10-15 minutes to make a lip balm, but preparation of emulsions (including moisturizer) is longer. For an experienced cosmetics-maker, it takes approximately 30-45 minutes.

Hello Natalia!Thank you for that very informative article. Will you be posting self-made cosmetics recipes yourself?

Natalia's picture

Thanks Annie! Yes, it is coming soon Smile