As you all know, I like to make my own beauty products every now and then and have shared lots of recipes with you. And when I do that, I often get asked things such as how long can I keep these concoctions for and how to store them to prevent them going rancid too soon. So I thought it was high time to share with you a few tips on how to prepare and store homemade beauty products safely and avoid them getting contaminated by bacteria, which could cause irritations or worse:
1. Wash your hands and sterilize your tools
Before your start preparing your homemade concoctions, you need to sterilize your hands and tools to make sure that no bacteria will end up in them and contaminate them. So wash your hands, clean your work surface, your spatula, your bowl and anything else you’re gonna use. To do this, you can use either hot water or Denat or Isopropyl Alcohol. Then, make sure they are completely dry (either let them air dry or use a clean paper towel) before you proceed to use them. Bacteria, fungi and yeast need a moist environment to thrive, so if there’s still some water in your containers for example, they may grow in your concoctions and spoil them. Finally, use a spatula or a spoon instead than your fingers to pick the small quantities of ingredients you need.
2. Make small batches
Unlike traditional cosmetics, your homemade concoctions don’t contain preservatives and so they have a much shorter shelf life. Because of this, you should only make small batches and use them while they are still fresh. This is especially true for those who contain liquids, which spoil sooner than dry products such as bar soaps or bath bombs, which can last for weeks (although you may want to add an antioxidant to keep them fresh for longer). But creams, lotions, masks and anything else with liquids should be used up as soon as possible. You can store them in the fridge for three or four days maximum so don’t make a big batch or it’ll just go bad before you have a chance to use it all and you’ll have to throw most of it away.
3. For bigger batches, use preservatives
If you want to make a bigger batch, then you’ll just have to use a preservative. Keep in mind that, although there are some natural ingredients that can prolong the shelf life of your concoctions, they won’t last as long as traditional cosmetics, so don’t go overboard and make a very big batch. One of the most common ways to preserve homemade beauty products is to use Vitamin E. Vitamin E is not a preservative, but an antioxidant, which means that it will make your concoctions last longer by reducing the rate at which they oxidize. In other words, your products lose effectiveness and start to go bad when exposed to light and air. Vitamin E will slow that process down.
Another alternative is to use those essential oils which have antimicrobial activities such as grapefruit seed, tea tree, rosemary, thyme, lavender, lemon and sage. The problem with essential oils is that, to adequately protect products from spoilage, they need to be used in large quantities that aren’t always deemed safe for use in cosmetics. That doesn’t mean that they are necessarily dangerous, but only that you shouldn’t improvise if you don’t know what you’re doing. Experts such as cosmetics chemists for instance, know the right amount of essential oils to use to protect products adequately and safely so either follow a given recipe where the amounts of essential oils to use are clearly specified or make a smaller, preservative-free batch to use for a couple of days only.
4. Store them properly
As I’ve mentioned in #3, products can oxidize and lose their effectiveness when exposed to light and air, so make sure you use an opaque and air tight container to store your products. In addition, homemade concoctions are more likely to get contaminated by bacteria because they contain less effective or no preservatives at all, so it’s best to put them in dispensing bottles and tubes instead than jars. If you use jars, you should pick up the product with a clean spatula whenever you wanna use it. Then, store the products in a dark and cool place (heat can make products go bad too) such as a cupboard or the refrigerator.
Do you make your own beauty products? If so, do you have any additional tips on how to prepare and store them?