The Medicine of Making Your Own Cosmetics

by Matilde Magro

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My own matcha exfoliant, the only ex I need.

Amongst other things I do for a living and for pleasure, such as studying complexity, systems, and the future in a scientific non-astrological way, I’m also a herbalist. It started more than a decade ago, I always enjoyed making my own products. Store-bought stuff was never completely pleasing and it came to a point where it actually really degraded my hair and skin. It is in fact more environmentally friendly to reuse what you can and make your own, but it just started out of curiosity over how ingredients mix to make a perfect concoction to one’s physical attributes.

Because of mental health issues, I really let myself go for a while there. At one point I was losing so much hair due to medication, my trademark curls became like this limp shower curtain. So I cut my hair above the shoulders and that helped for a while, but it was kind of limp and without the real volume of nourished aspect to it. I started investigating traditional African methods, after spending some time studying Chinese Traditional Medicine and Western Centered Herbalism, basically based on Celtic ancestry with Arabic influence, where I live. So I learned a lot about botanicals, what we call herbs and some non-sensical people refer to as weeds.

When I go walk my dogs, I stop along the way to inspect certain wildflowers or wildlings growing along the path. I usually bring some home for further investigation and it’s fun to spend some time just observing each part of the plant and thinking what I could do with it. I also do natural dye for homemade clothes but to that another article.

So I started investigating what to do with certain leftovers, like coffee that no one likes or some fruits or veggies that are beyond the eating phase, the only stuff I really needed to buy was Shea butter, Castor Oil, and Vitamine E, all the rest is easily made at home here or can be found in any supermarket. Reminder, I live in a very very small town in the interior with half an hour access to a very small city that does not have organic stores where these products are easily found. When I lived in Lisbon, it took a walking route to find these ingredients. Anyway, depending on what you’re making and if you are a Pinterest idea buff like me, you can find solutions to not having these ingredients.

My hair was really damaged by the years of product waste and neglect, so I started my own treatment done in central and south Africa for curls to stay in place, I skipped the flaxseed gel part and stayed only with the oil-creme that I use as a weekly treatment for strengthening and softening. In fact, I started really small at first, I started with simply macerated concoctions for skin, with coconut oil and hibiscus, which I really recommend for dry and aging skin. From there on out I’ve moved from skin to hair products to shampoo and conditioner. I’m not a big make-up person, but I’ll get there eventually too.

I have my own skincare, self-care routine that helps me relax after a long week and just spend some quality time taking care of myself.

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My personal homemade skin products in upcycled packaging

I upcycle old product packaging so I don’t need to go into the mason jar buying craze, and after it’s done I simply reuse the same packaging. I started doing small things for others, osteoarthritis pain capsicum creme, or insomnia treatments, and some people come to me for advice on what to use for their skin, hair, or problem. Being a herbalist is fun because I get to be that person that complains about modern medicine and people actually trust what I say because they’ve benefited from my products. The jewel of the crown has been really the osteoarthritis pain medicine because it really is miraculous where modern medicine fails.

And the title of this article is about how these simple skin and hair products become their own justly entitled medicine. I think people, particularly those who care way too much about appearing a certain way, forget that the skin and hair are parts of the body, very needed parts of the body, and if they are constantly being filled with weird chemicals to perform circus tricks, they will become depressed and lonely, and if we rely solely on the beauty aspect of a certain beauty pattern, we often forget how to take care of ourselves.

I’ve been a bit against the whole bad smelling hippie thing, because it is really not needed to smell bad to be a hippie. A bad smelling hippie to me smells of sweat and booze and marijuana, which is fine if that’s your thing, but it’s not in any way a healthy path to take in terms of immunity and body systems support.

Just like in any other system, a body functions well when the entirety of it’s parts functions as well, and if you damage your liver and brain with too much alcohol or drugs, somewhere along the way you’ll realized you payed a heavy price for being a bad smelling hippie, when you could’ve integrated self-care routines with sweet scented hippie bar soaps. Just saying.

Anyway, with that out of the way, the whole thing about these cosmetics being part of the body’s medicine, comes with the intention that when you make your own, you’re not only doing it for yourself, but also to your own body’s needs. What your hair needs and what your skin needs, what your organs need and what your soul needs. Cosmetics as medicine comes with the caveat of making a facial tonic that protects your skin from the sun as well as helping you sleep well at night (simple Rose Water with Geranium essencial oil before bed will do the trick) and how a warm cup of matcha will help you balance your emotions in the morning before a big work day, if you still have one of those, and when the matcha is applied to the skin it can help bring out the best properties your skin has to offer to replenish itself.

So this approach of medicine cosmetics is not entirely new, in the old days cosmetics were an essential part of a medicine cabinet, and like I usually say, they also helped to ward off evil spirits — salt baths or red lipstick.

It’s really interesting how in today’s society it’s almost like this esoteric, new age thing, to do your own stuff. What I’ve come to see is that a lot of people, across genders and cultures really value this type of knowledge. So I’m writing my own little book of cosmetic medicine recipes and tips and tricks. Let me know via e-mail if you’re interested in getting a copy.

To really go into this subject it has been my favorite thing to study the whole food as medicine and cosmetics thing. As you can see above in a small bottle, there’s a little avocado oil serum with a few essential oils that are good for the skin that really helps maintain hidration. The health benefits are immense, mental health wise as well. The fact that I take the time to take care of myself, and do my own products, helps me also maintain sanity in these hard times. Doing it for others is a blessing, but mostly I do it for future generations, so this knowledge is not lost.

At home, everyone uses the same big cream that I make, that helps all skin types and makes us look like we’re just out of a very happy teenage years phase. I make big quantities of it because it’s really the most miraculous cream ever, and it really helps with both oily or dry skin to level out the essential oils of the skin itself. It’s also great for marks and a natural sunscreen.

The damage done on my hair and skin by half a decade of medication that really unbalanced my hormone levels and all kinds of weird stuff, is now being in treatment and with great benefits. I look with pity at those supermarket shelves full of weird chemical products that are used once or twice and thrown out for lack of efficacy, when it’s really easy to make your own.

The whole medicine cabinet filled with prescription med for all sorts of issues, really goes down when you use the right products for the largest organ in your body. What you choose to ingest as well as through the skin really helps with maintaining your health levels. If your routine includes taking care of your appearance in a way that is healthy, it is also taking into account the benefits of how you, as part of nature, can be in tune with what nature has to offer. If everyone thought like this, it would be a very different world.

Body acceptance when the body is being taken care of in a healthy way, is easy. It’s how you love yourself, by the act of taking care of yourself.

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