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The beauty of natural cosmetic making

Natural cosmetics making in progress.

There are only a few activities that I have true passion for in my life, and one of them is natural cosmetic making. Or at least, avoiding any nasties in my products to promote healthy and glowing skin, hair and general wellbeing. This is anything from making perfumes to body butters or shower gels. It is not only the process of making them which gives me immense joy, but also knowing and deciding what ingredient I’d like to include in each product. Being as natural as possible and offering numerous benefits to our bodies and mind is what makes this satisfying activity unique and wholesome. Also, using these cosmetics helps to retain youthful look and overall healthy feeling, which adds to maintaining positivity and life satisfaction in every respect. 

Here are some of my most frequent or recent creations. I’m going to give the names of the ingredients I’m using, which have been working very well for me for years. It is important to remember that each skin is different and as a result, particular ingredients works more or less effectively for various people. I have generally quite oily skin so always choose light oils for my face creams, which are noncomedogenic (not causing pore blockage and breakouts). However, for body butter, I usually choose from a wider selection of oils to moisturise and sooth dry skin on my body.

Body Butter

Here you could really use any of your favourite moisturising and skin nourishing oils. My personal favourites are a mixture of coconut oil, shea butter and apricot kernel oil. All these are cold pressed and organic so they retain all their skin beneficial ingredients. I mix these with unrefined bees wax so it makes the product creamy and seals in the moisture in your skin after each application. Bees wax is a great natural humectant so it attracts water molecules, helping to keep skin hydrated. Still, do not add too much of it as the mixture may turn into solid. I love adding essential oils as well to create different scents each time, and have some variety in the products themselves. My favourite are pink lotus flower, rose, honey suckle, passion fruit, juniper berry, vanilla and sandal wood. However, this body butter can be used unscented, according to personal preference. Occasionally, I also add some organic cold pressed aloe vera gel to add more soothing properties to this mixture. The amount of the following ingredients can be adapted to the size of your reusable container, and the preferred consistency. Personally, I reuse my old 430ml hair conditioner container. The product is very efficient and 430ml lasts about three months with every day post-shower application. 

Links for some ingredients ingredients here:

coconut oil

shea butter

apricot kernel oil

Essential oils (my fave are Pipping Rock brand or Mother Nature Goodies)

https://gb.pipingrock.com/essential-oils-mc

https://mothernaturesgoodies.co.uk/

Face wash

This one is very simple and quick to make. All that is needed is organic castile soap, small splash of organic rose water and a small amount of essential oils. I usually add some rose geranium, frankincense and lavender oils here as they all have rejuvenating and nourishing skin effects. To make ingredients more affordable, I buy 5L castile soap, as I regularly use it to make face wash, hand wash and shower gel. It is important to mix the ingredients well together. I’ve been reusing a dispenser bottle for years now as a container for this product so it also minimises waste. 

Link for castile soap:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/5-Litre-5L-Organic-Castile-Liquid-Soap-100-Pure-Natural-Surfactant-Free/283701523942?hash=item420dedb5e6:g:qoQAAOSwxJdfBGEi

Shower Gel

Shower gel ingredients.

Another quick and fun to make product. All that is needed here is reusable dispenser bottle, organic castile soap, essential oils and occasionally I add some honey for extra moisturisation and mild scrubbing effects. They need to be mixed well and literally, within a few minutes you are ready to go. I add about 40 drops of essential oils, but this depends on the intensity of the scent you want to have. The fun aspect of making shower gel is that every time you make it, you can choose different essential oils to scent it according to your preference and mood making it more fruity, spicy or flowery. Generally, I’ve noticed that most men go for black pepper, sandal wood, nut meg or patchouli with some fruity notes whereas women tend to choose flowery and fruity mixes. 

Hand Wash

This one takes no time at all to make. Castile soap needs to be poured into a dispenser bottle and then some essential oils added to it and mixed well, and voila. My preferred scents here for creating freshness on hands are geranium, lavender and citronella. 

Face Moisturiser

Face cream ingredients.

This has taken a lot of practice, researching and experimenting for years, but now I am able to create a super-hydrating and rejuvenating facial cream. It makes my skin feel super soft, moisturised and subtle, an no more spots or pimples. Here the choice of ingredients depends on skin type and testing which oils work best for us. Every single ingredient I use has many beneficial effects on human skin, which has been widely researched. I will paste some links below for some nerds who may enjoy some academic articles on some of these amazing ingredients. 

I generally mix all oils first with a small amount of bees wax while slowly warming the mixture to dissolve bees wax evenly. As I have naturally oily skin, I choose the oils which are light and do not clog the pores. My personal favourites are: rose hip oil, pomegranate oil, squalene oil, raspberry seed oil, carrot seed oil (this one has a natural SPF), black currant oil, camellia oil, marula oil, jojoba oil and castor oil. All of these are cold pressed and organic to make sure they are nourishing for my skin. When they all nicely mixed with melted bees wax, I add some frankincense, neroli, helichrysum, rose geranium and lavender natural essential oils. Finally, I add a splash of CeraVe moisturising cream with ceramides. Separately, I mix all water soluble ingredients. These are rose water, cold pressed aloe vera, msm powder (strong antioxidant), vitamin C powder, high, medium, low molecule weight hyaluronic acid (HA) and sodium hyaluronate. Higher molecular weight HA sits on the skin binding the water from the outside, while sodium hyaluronate has a lower molecular weight than HA, so it’s more easily absorbed into pores. Sodium hyaluronate has the ability to penetrate into deeper layers of the skin, and also attracts and binds water there. In water soluble ingredients I also add ursolic acid, red Korean ginseng and vitamin B3. Having all these well mixed, I pour the mixture into oils and blend it well till it all sets and has creamy consistency. I make my cream once a month and keep it in my fridge for freshness.

Links on the research on some of the ingredients:

Hyaluronic acid:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583886/

MSM:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5372953/

Aloe vera gel:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2763764/

Squalene oil:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6253993/

Serum 

This is a very easy to make formula. All we need is organic rose water, organic cold pressed aloe vera gel, sodium hyaluronate powder and vitamin C powder. I mix all the ingredients in a small old serum bottle so it ends up as a thick liquid. It takes about 5 minutes to dissolve and mix sodium hyaluronate with other ingredients. I keep it in the fridge so it stays fresh and cool. 

Toner

Here, options are numerous but my most frequent choice is mixing organic rose water with Cistus Incanus tea and a few drops of helichrysum oil. Rose water is recommended by dermatologists worldwide to balance the skin’s pH, which is essential for healthy and happy faces. Its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties help reduce the redness of irritated skin, and rose water is kind on sensitive, acne and eczema prone faces. Cistus Incanus tea contains polyphenols which have been shown to be strong antioxidants with health benefits. They have antiviral and antibacterial potential and help protect skin from anti-oxidative stress. Finally, helichrysum oil helps smooth both skin tone and texture, reduces the appearance of fine lines, and its emollient properties help keep skin hydrated. A truly multifaceted essential oil, Helichrysum is also beneficial and for treating sunburns, helping to block UV rays to protect against skin cancer as well as for those with acne, eczema, psoriasis and other skin irritations.

Primer

This is very easy and cheap to make. All that is needed, is aloe vera gel as a base, a dash of moisturiser and a small amount of corn flour. Mix it well in a small container, and it is all ready to go. It works as well as expensive primers I have used before and is all natural. It does minimise pores, smooth and soothe the skin. 

Perfumes

Perfume ingredients.

I found that making perfumes, we enjoy wearing, takes some research, tutorial and documentary watching as well as a lot of practice. I’m not able to cover all here in this short blog but as a general principle, it is worth knowing that scents are divided into three categories: top notes, heart notes and base notes. They need to flow together like a harmony to create pleasantly smelling fragrance. A good start is getting a spray bottle, I have a few of different sizes so I can always squeeze a small one when travelling. I don’t need to wear make up, but having a pleasant smell on is a must for me.

The main ingredient here is 96% vol alcohol as a carrier, I buy mine on ebay. Then, we need to choose natural essential oils we enjoy and find pleasant. Generally, I divide mine into fruity, flowery, spicy and herbal notes. The general proportion is 1/3 of essential oils and the rest is alcohol, they need to be mixed well and kept for a few days to ripen the scent. Only today, I made a lovely fragrance consisting of violet musk, lilly of the valley, jasmine, gardenia, strawberry, grapefruit, nutmeg, vanilla and white woods. 

There is a very helpful website where you can find a lot of information of on perfume creation and even steal some ideas from there. It contains details on the perfume ingredients that are currently or used to be on the market. This will help you with finding out what oils are used for your favourite scents so you can recreate them at home. See the link below:

http://www.basenotes.net/fragrancedirectory/?i=a

On the whole, making cosmetics at home is a very satisfactory process that gives us the power to use the ingredients that not only work for us, but also avoid nasty chemicals which prolong the shelf life of most commercial products. We can always make small batches that stay fresh and work their best. Another important factor here is being able to refill and reuse the containers for our products, and then even make some cosmetics for friends and family as small gifts. 

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Keeping physically fit in lock-down as a climber

Being socially isolated, not being able to train in a climbing centre or doing outdoor climbing in this glorious weather is proving challenging both mentally and physically during the lockdown. There are ways though to stay strong and keep immune system working effectively. The choice of activities depends on personal preferences but these are the ones working for me in the time when climbing is not an option. 

Fingerboarding

This acitivity is designed mainly to train fingerstrength and should not be done by climbers who have been climbing for less than a couple of years or below 7a grade to avoid injuries. There are a variety of fingerboards on the market for different grades and made from different materials. My personal choice is Beastmaker. 

How to train on it?

Always warm up first for at least 15 minutes! This could be star jumps, running up and down stairs, core exercices. 

Start with the largest holds, a few series to get going with hangs.

  • Repeat each set 6 times for 7 seconds, rest for 3 
  • rest for 3 minutes
  • choose another type of hold and repeat in the same way
  • on average 10 sets in total is the aim but this can be adapted to personal fitness as long as it is not overdone
  • rest at least for a dayThere are some apps that can help with the training, one of them is Fingerboard Trainer. Personally, I prefer fingerboarding with music and using timer on my phone. 

Core 

This can be relatively easily achieved in the lockdown. The number of repetitions depends on the strength of our core. They can be gradually increased as the core gets stronger. My personal choice are:

  • regular planks
  • side planks
  • leg rises 
  • crunches
  • core scissors
  • abdominal trainer wheel

Dumbbells

Again, this is personal choice in terms of weight, mine is 3kg but some others may prefer 2kg. Stand with both feet firmly on the floor in a chair position. Hold both dumbbells with arms fully stretched in front of you, using your core to hold the position. Then, move your arms apart so they ened up in 180 degree angle. Slowly move your arms back horizontally to the original position. Repeat sets starting with whichever number is suitable for you. The number of repeats can increase with gaining more strenghts. There are some You Tube vidoes on dumbbell exrecices that can be helpful.

Yoga and stretching

Stretching is very important to prevent injury but also to keep your body agile and relaxed. Generally, I follow my post climbing stretching routine in which I focus on back, arms and leg stretches for about 20 minutes. But now and then, I follow a yoga class on you tube as there are many choices there. From yoga for climbers to Yin yoga to relax. 

Pull ups

The pull up bar I’m using comes from an on-line shop. It can be safely installed on door frames and just sit there, so when you feel like doing some pull ups, you don’t need to put it up again. They can be done with different width grip and locking positions. The only one I’m attempting is thumbs facing out on a wide grip, purely as I’m not very big on pull ups. 

Steep hill running/scrambling

It is a relatively recent activity for me that helps with cardio work out, leg strength and maitaing balance not to fall on steep hills is great fun. It is not quite like climbing but as near as it can get to it being outdoors. If you know any steep hills nearby, you can give it a go. 

Road biking

This is another great activity that can help with cardio and leg strength. Practically, anyone can do it as it’s great for beginners. Then, you can pump up the intensity as your fitness level improves, making it a more challenging workout. Trying different routes and landscapes each time is great and roads are emptier than ever before in the lockdown so pushing the speed feels safer as well. Nevertheless, always wear a helmet when you bike outdoors. Head injuries are one of the most common biking accidents when people skip protection.

Stay safe! 🙂