Your Guide to Vegan Skin Care

Today it’s easier than ever to choose a lifestyle that aligns with your health goals and ethical choices. If you’re a vegetarian, you avoid meat and fish and opt instead for plant-based foods, dairy, and eggs. A vegan diet takes things a step further, eschewing all products associated with animals, including animal-derived ingredients like milk, eggs, and honey.

For homemade natural beauty recipes, which often use dairy as a base for creams and lotions, finding a non-animal option may seem tricky But we actually have quite a few plant-derived substances from which to choose, whether it’s agave, natural plant oils like olive or grape seed, or nut milk. These types of ingredients can help you maintain beautiful skin and healthy, shiny hair – without having to compromise your values. Here are a few all-natural, all- vegan recipes to get you started.

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Shea Butter Body Lotion

From the African shea tree {Vitellaria paradoxa, formerly Butyrospermum parkii}, shea butter is an ivory-colored natural fat used much like cocoa butter, with a mild, almost musty fragrance. In cosmetics, it acts as a moisturizer and emollient and also contains anti-inflammatory properties. It can treat all types of skin conditions, from scars to chapped lips, and it’s helpful in treating acne because it’s easily absorbed by the skin and leaves no sticky residue. It also provides mild UV protection from the sun {but should never serve as a replacement for your sunscreen}. You can find it in natural food stores in the skin care section.

1/2 cup distilled water

1/8 tsp borax powder

1/4 cup shea butter

1/2 cup almond oil

Bring water to a boil. Place borax powder in a clean, heat-proof bowl, and pour in the boiling water, stirring well. Set aside. In a microwave-safe bowl or saucepan, combine oil and shea butter and gently heat the mixture until melted, stirring to mix. Transfer this mixture into a blender or food processor and blend on low, slowly adding the hot water solution in a slow, steady stream. Then blend on high until well-mixed. You should have a milky-white lotion. Pour the mixture into a clean container to cool.

To Use Massage into skin. Yields: 6 ounces.

Plant-Based Lip Balm

Several plant oils and waxes work great as substitutes for beeswax or lanolin to soothe dry, cracked lips. The shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, and castor oil in this recipe provides lips with natural shine and protection against the element.

1/2 tsp castor oil

1 tsp coconut oil

1 tsp shea butter

1/2 tsp cocoa butter

1-2 drops peppermint essential oil for flavor {optional}

In a heat-resistant bowl or small saucepan, combine all ingredients and gently heat until melted. {This may be done in the microwave, but be careful not to boil the mixture.} Stir well and pour into a small container. Let cool completely.

To Use Spread on your lips with a clean fingertip. Yield: .75 ounce.

Coconut Oil Body Polish

This scrub is perfect for skin that needs some exfoliation, but also a bit of TLC. The raw sugar exfoliates the skin while the coconut oil helps deeply condition it. After using this treatment, your skin should feel softer and smoother.

1 cup raw sugar

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 tsp vitamin E oil

2-3 drops essential oil {lavender, rosemary, peppermint} optional

In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients and stir well. Spoon into a clean container.

To Use: Standing in the tub or shower, massage the mixture into your skin. {Be careful: the oil can make the tub slippery.} Rinse with warm water and pat your skin dry. Yield: 8 ounces.

Easy Dry Shampoo

Dry shampoos have become a popular alternative to regular “wet” shampoos, proving especially helpful after a workout during the day or when traveling. But spray-on dry shampoos can contain a wealth of questionable ingredients, when, in fact, all you really need is one tablespoon of either baking soda, cornstarch, or rice powder. That’s it…

To Use: Simply massage the powder directly onto your scalp and through your hair. You may want to lean over a sink as you apply the powder. Leave it on for at least 10 minutes, and then, using a clean, dry brush, vigorously brush your hair, using long strokes, to remove all of the powder.

Reading the Labels

Our skin is our largest organ, and what you use on it does affect your overall health. One advantage of making your own cosmetic products and treatments is that it puts you in control of the ingredients you use and apply to your skin. Of course, you don’t always have time to make all of your skincare products from scratch. So, knowing how to accurately read the labels of store-bought products becomes important.

To start, the term “natural” on the label is meaningless – there’s no authority that monitors this claim. Therefore, you really need to take an eagle eye to the back of the product. Ingredients are listed in order of percentage: if the first ingredient is water, that means water is the most prominent ingredient. You may see a product that boasts a desirable ingredient on the front label, only to find that it’s the last ingredient listed.

Some ingredients such as “sodium chloride” may sound scary {at least to those who’ve long forgotten their chemistry lessons}, but are, in fact, completely natural {sodium chloride is table salt}. Manufacturers often use scientific or Latin names for basic ingredients, but a quick search online can reveal the common name and whether it’s an ingredient you want to put on your skin.

Vegans may not realize that some of their favorite products actually contain ingredients they wish to avoid. Here’s a quick list of animal-derived substances.

  • Aspic: an industry alternative to gelatin; made from clarified meat or fish
  • Casein: a protein derived from milk
  • Cod liver oil: found in lubricating creams and lotions
  • Collagen: taken from the bones and connective tissues of animals; used in cosmetics to help skin retain water and keep it supple
  • Elastin: similar use as collagen; derived from the neck ligaments and aorta of cows
  • Gelatin/Gelatine: for smooth skin and to add gloss to hair; obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones from cows and pigs
  • Keratin: used for hair and as an anti-aging skin care ingredient; obtained from sheep wool or from the skin, hooves, and horns of animals
  • Lactose: a sugar derived from milk
  • Propolis: used for its antiviral and antimicrobial properties to treat breakouts and protect skin; created by bees in the construction of their hives
  • Royal Jelly: an anti-aging ingredient; comes from secretions of the throat gland of the honeybee
  • Shellac: found in hair lacquer; obtained from the bodies of the female scale insect, Tachardia lacca
  • Vitamin D3: found in creams, lotions, and other cosmetics; made from fish-liver oil
  • Whey: a byproduct of cheese making
  • Cochineal dye or carminic acid: adds red color; comes from the cochineal insect
  • Ambergris: adds scent and/or color; derived from whales

Garden Fresh Vegan Cologne

This fragrance uses fresh vegetable and herb leaves to create a light, summer-garden scent. Try it as an after-bath or after-shave splash – or anytime you need an aromatic boost.

4 Tbls fresh tomato leaves, chopped

1 Tbls fresh lemon zest

1 tsp fresh basil leaves

1 tsp fresh mint leaves

1 cup witch hazel

Place all of the fresh leaves and lemon zest inside a clean jar or bottle. Pour the witch hazel over; shake gently. Cover the bottle top and let it sit in a cool, dark spot for two weeks. Strain the liquid and discard any solids. Pour the liquid through a fine strainer or coffee filter into a clean bottle.

To Use: Apply as you would any cologne product. It’s especially refreshing on a hot summer day if kept in the refrigerator. Yield: 8 ounces.

Avocado Facial Mask

Fresh avocados are a classic facial mask ingredient full of natural fats and protein to help stimulate your skin’s own natural production of oil, helping to smooth out rough, dry skin. All skin types can benefit from an avocado facial. Make sure to save the pit; you can grind it up and use it in body scrub recipes, and if you live somewhere warm, you can plant it to have your own little avocado tree.

1/2 fresh avocado, mashed

1 Tbls fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and stir well until you have a smooth, creamy mixture.

To Use: Spread the mask on a clean face and neck and let sit for 15 minutes. {Take this moment to relax!} Rinse with warm water and gently pat your skin dry. Yield: 3 ounces, enough for one treatment.

Vegan Substitutions

Need to find a substitute for an ingredient in one of your beauty recipes? Several plant substances serve as effective replacements for some common ingredients derived from animals.

  • Beeswax: Heavy plant waxes, such as candelilla and carnauba, and oils like coconut can stand in for beeswax, which is used to thicken creams, lotions, and lip balms and help protect your skin. Cocoa and shea butters also work well.
  • Dairy: Today, you can find a wide variety of plant and nut milks to replace animal dairy called for in beauty recipes.
  • Egg white: This part of the egg provides astringent and cleansing qualities for oily skin types, but cucumber, chamomile tea, and aloe vera gel will work similarly.
  • Egg yolks: Full of lecithin, egg yolks help with dry skin conditions, but you can replace them with soy lecithin or use a rich oil such as coconut and olive instead.
  • Honey: In place of honey to cleanse and moisturize your skin look to molasses, maple syrup, or agave syrup.
  • Lanolin: Found in sheep’s wool, lanolin can be replaced with rich plant oils such as soy, almond, and avocado.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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