So you have decided to try your hand at making your own hair products! Many natural haired women have begun exploring ways to make their own healthy hair products. A lot of this has to do with those who go natural starting to pay attention to what is actually in the products they purchase for their hair and skin. We are turning away from chemicals so naturally we don’t want any dangerous ones, or too many of them, in our personal care products.
However, there are some important guidelines you need to follow to ensure your products are safely made, mixed and stored because what good is a homemade product if it spoils or contains germs and bacteria?
YOUR PRODUCTS HAVE ARRIVED, NOW WHAT?
When your raw ingredients arrive, the first thing you must do is check their containers. Any container that seems to have a seal broken or cracked should be returned.
Get to know your ingredients! Your sense of smell is very important to rating the freshness of raw ingredients. Once you smell a fresh product or herb, you will remember it and note if the smell changes, and will be able to discern between something fresh and something ‘not quite right’.
Check plastic bags containing dry herbs or flowers for condensation inside. Condensation inside a bag of dry herbs means there could be mould. Open any plastic/ziplock bags containing herbs or flowers that are not vacuum sealed and sniff them. It should smell earthy or sweet. Notice any lingering odor of rotting plant material or mold? If so, return it. No herb or flower should smell bad. Some barks are supposed to smell a bit musty but leaves and flowers should not.
Open every jar of butter, every bottle of oil and sniff – check inside. Make sure the coloring is correct for what you ordered. Refrigerate or store in a cool,dry place until they are readty to use.
If you are buying your ingredients locally, use the same rules. Look, sniff, feel and only consider the freshest.
HANDLING YOUR INGREDIENTS
Wash your hands and use food preparation grade dispolsable gloves (latex-free is best) whenever you are handing your ingredients. Never put your bare fingers into butters or oils. You will transfer any germs into the product which will inevitably multiply.
Pull your hair back or wear a scarf when mixing to prevent hairs from ending up in your products.
Only mix products in thoroughly cleaned mixing bowls, with thoroughly cleaned utensils. Do not use wooden spoons or wooden cutting boards. Use marble or stone, which can be cleaned more thoroughly than wood.
Try to use glass bowls whenever possible, instead of metals when mixing.
Never infuse oils or floral waters in metal containers. Always use glass.
STORING YOUR INGREDIENTS
Store all your ingredients in a cool, dark place and use within the recommended timeframe for that product. A slime or crust on top of your shea whip or aloe butter means it’s time to throw it out. Some liquid products separate naturally if they are not enhanced with an emulsifier but do not be tempted to use something that has changed color or scent.
The storage container you must use depends on what product you are making and what ingredients are in it. No matter what you are creating, always sterilize your jars before using them. A stint in boiling water will do for glass, and for plastic, give them a good wash in the dishwasher or by hand, then allow to air dry completely before adding your product.
Some oils, essential and carrier, are sensitive to light and spoil easily therefore you must store products containing that oil in a dark glass container such as cobalt or brown. I prefer to use dark containers for all my products regardless of the ingredients.
Your containers should be sturdy and suitable for the product. A pump bottle is no good for a butter and a tub is no good for a liquid.
The big message here is check, check, check and clean, clean clean! Check your products for freshness. Keep your work area clean, your utensils clean and your bowls and pans clean.
You are now on your way to making some safe, quality products.