What are the differences between homemade cosmetics and industrially made cosmetics?

From time to time, I have to answer to the question why do I bother to make cosmetics by myself. Making cosmetics is already so self-clear to me that I haven’t thought about it much anymore. Long time ago I decided to use the purest, cleanest possible cosmetics without any additives. Years ago, it was almost impossible to find such a product in stores. Last week, while visiting the local Market, I decided to take a look at their cosmetics shelf. There were some products that I am analysing deeper in this story. The purpose is to tell you about the differences between the ingredients of homemade cosmetics, natural cosmetics and conventional cosmetics.

Photo by Nataliya Melnychuk on Unsplash

There is a huge variety of cosmetic products available today

It’s been quite a long time since I last took a look at the supermarket cosmetics selection. I usually visit stores specialising in natural cosmetics. The selection of our own local market surprised me positively, even though the whole store is undergoing a massive renovation. Certified natural cosmetics were also found on the shelf. This is a very good thing. Natural cosmetics are starting to be mainstream these days. A good thing!

Do you know what your cosmetics contain?

According to EU legislation, cosmetic packaging must have a clear list of ingredients, i.e., INCI, visible on the label. Many certainly know this, but INCI is rarely seen. The INCI vocabulary is mainly in English. Many of the ingredients are chemical compounds with challenging spellings. The names of herbs and plant parts are in INCI in Latin language. Many manufacturers have made it easier for the consumer by translating Latin plant names into English as well.

Three different day face creams and their INCI lists

I will open you INCI lists of three different day face creams. I will not mention product names or manufacturers as I do not want negative publicity for anyone. I think it is great that there are companies and entrepreneurs. Otherwise, we should prepare everything by ourselves. I myself buy commercial cosmetics from time to time.

Two of the day face creams were found in the Market and I made one day face cream myself at home. All day face creams are emulsions, meaning they contain mostly water. Of course, the caring element in the emulsions is oils and solid fats. In addition, all products contain active ingredients as well as excipients such as emulsifiers, thickeners and preservatives.

Moisturizing day face cream found in the market

This day face cream is a domestic product. The packaging reminds me of a very light and reduced cream. Let’s see what the product contains.

  • Water
  • Dicaprylyl Carbonate; absorption enhancer
  • Betadine; antiseptic, iodine
  • Decyl Oleate; skin protective and moisturizing agent
  • Glycerin; safe, moisturizing ingredient.
  • Propanediol Alcohol; solvent, moisturizing ingredient
  • Arachidyl Alcohol; skin softening ingredient
  • Behenyl Alcohol; thickener, emulsifier
  • Cetearyl Alcohol; emulsifier
  • Erophorum Spissum extract, tussock cottongrass extract
  • Phenoxyethanol; preservative
  • Arachidyl Glucoside; emulsifier
  • Dimethicone; siloxane, a skin-protecting ingredient
  • Cetearyl Glucoside; emulsifier
  • Sodium Polyacrylate; acrylate that binds water
  • Ethylhexylglycerin; preservative, skin irritant
  • Allantoin; oxidation product of uric acid, humectant
  • PEG-8; moisturizing polymer
  • Tocopherol; Vitamin E, antioxidant
  • Potassium Sorbate; preservative
  • Ascorbyl Palmitate; fat-soluble form of vitamin C.
  • Sorbic Acid; sorbic acid is a preservative
  • Ascorbic Acid; Vitamin C
  • Citric Acid
  • Benzyl Salicylate; salicylic acid
  • Citronellol, Limonene, Parfum; perfumes

A natural cosmetic day face cream found in the market

This day face cream is a natural cosmetic product. The product is an emulsion, meaning it contains a lot of water and some vegetable oils. The product is ECOCERT certified. Some of the ingredients also have an organic label. The product is rich in plant-based active ingredients.

  • Water
  • Meadowsweet extract
  • Heptyl undecylenate; a substance made from castor oil that binds moisture in the skin
  • Cetearyl alcohol; emulsifier
  • Caprylic / capric triglyceride; MCT oil that is neutral oil. Made from coconut oil
  • Cetyl alcohol; emulsifier
  • Macadamia oil
  • Cetearyl glucoside; emulsifier
  • Almond oil
  • Lily new
  • Madonna lily extract
  • Sodium PCA; moisturizing ingredient
  • Xanthan gum; thickener
  • Glycerine; moisturizer
  • Benzyl alcohol; preservative and fragrance component
  • Dehydroacetic acid; preservative
  • Vitamin E; antioxidant
  • Soybean oil
  • Potassium sorbate; preservative
  • Sodium benzoate; natural preservative (from rowan berries)
  • Citric acid
  • Linalool, limonene, citral, geraniol, citronellol; perfumes

Homemade day face cream

Homemade day face cream is ready in about 30 minutes. This cream contains calendula as an active ingredient. I chose cold-pressed sunflower oil, which is rich in natural vitamin E. Sunflower oil is rich in well absorbed linoleic acid.

  • Water, purified by activated carbon filter
  • Calendula extract, made from calendulas from my own vegetable garden
  • Cold pressed organic sunflower oil, pressed about a month ago
  • Olivem 1000; Emulsifier, made from olive oil
  • Geogard 221; Preservative, contains Dehydroacetic acid and Benzyl alcohol. You can read more about the preservative here.

Why do I want to make my own day face cream?

From the INCI lists above you can see the number of ingredients used in the products. There is a crucial difference between raw materials and the amount of ingredients. An industrial product must last up to a year in perfect condition. Therefore, a huge number of different emulsifiers, thickeners, stabilizers and preservatives are needed.

The day face cream found in the market contains a huge number of different chemicals.

This example product also includes a few synthetic polymers. Synthetic polymers are popularly plastic. In this product, the plastic is liquid (siloxanes). The actual plastic word is usually used only for cured synthetic polymers. Liquid plastics are also harmful to the environment.

In the example product, no single ingredient sounds very harmful. In fact, market cosmetics have improved a lot in recent years. The most harmful chemicals have been left out, even if they have been allowed. However, the cream is made up of a great many different ingredients. There is a good chance that the whole will eventually start to irritate the skin.

The list of endless excipients is not in the product to benefit your skin. Excipients are present in the product to keep the structure of the product together and to prevent microbial growth and rancidity. And you do apply these excipients to your skin on a daily basis.

Natural cosmetics -quality day cream has ingredients thoughtfully

Many ingredients come directly from nature. The product contains vegetable oils, plant extracts and excipients made from plants. In natural cosmetics, preservatives and emulsifiers are the safest on the market.

The product contains quite a lot of excipients. Excipients are essential in commercial products. The excipients ensure that the product remains in good condition for a long time on the store shelf and for a long time at home. Commercial cream cannot be prepared without excipients. Anhydrous creams are a different matter. Many different manufacturers make them without additives.

A homemade day face cream contains only a few ingredients.

I carefully selected the ingredients for my cream that suit best my own skin. I can choose the most suitable oils myself. Sunflower oil is rich in linoleic acid, which is gentle on the skin. Linoleic acid is highly perishable and is therefore hardly used in commercial cosmetics.

When I prepare the cream myself, I can also be sure to the quality and freshness of the oil. We cannot know the age of commercial cosmetic oils. No cold pressed oils was used in commercial products.

Creams contain mostly water. What is the quality of the water used in the product? Generally, the cosmetics industry uses distilled water. For my own product, I can choose genuine spring water or purify tap water with an activated carbon filter.

A homemade day face cream has just 2 excipients

Photo by Jocelyn Morales on Unsplash

The ingredients of the product and their quality are of course important. What is not in the product is also important. I can leave out everything unnecessary and harmful to the skin from a home-made day cream. In addition to the natural ingredients, only an emulsifier and a preservative are required. Fragrances, thickeners and synthetic, structure-enhancing chemicals do not treat the skin. The chemicals in cosmetics are often very allergenic. Many chemicals and excipients are certainly not good for the skin. So why would I add them to the cream?

Do you make cosmetics by yourself?

2 answers

  1. How do you work out how much of each ingredient you need to add in the cream?

    1. Good question. I first decide how much percentage I want to use butter and oils in the cream. Next, I choose an emulsifier. Each emulsifier has its own dosage. I usually use Olivem 1000 emulsifier at 25% of the amount of lipids. I usually use 1-5% of active ingredients in emulsions and 1-3% of moisturizing ingredients such as glycerol.
      You learn a lot by trying different options. That’s what’s so fun about formulating.
      Regards Outi

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