It’s really hard to even know what is safe to use and what is greenwashed these days. Makeup is one thing I’ve found to be especially difficult to find within my budget. As a solution, I started making my own makeup about four years ago and one of the first products that I tried was a foundation.
Try out my mascara recipe here.
I’ll admit that not every attempt worked out to my liking. Most recipes that I found offered little to no coverage, melted right off my face or creased under my eyes. I grabbed my favorite foundation product that was made with fairly clean ingredients and researched each one of them. To my surprise, it was easy to acquire most of what I needed.
Now it’s easy to debate if ordering these ingredients (that come in packaging) online is truly a more environmentally sustainable option, after all some may come from across the globe. But in researching the ingredients in my store bought foundation, I found that many of those ingredients were not locally sourced anyway. It seemed like a much smarter solution to have the basic supplies (that I use in almost all of my beauty recipes) at home. Most of these supplies last me at least a year or more before I have to restock. I always try my best to find them ethically and sustainably sourced as much as possible.
Mineral Makeup–Friend or Foe?
Many of us rave about mineral makeup because it’s natural. However, mineral-based cosmetics can contain chemicals too. The minerals used to make these cosmetics, such as mica and nanoparticle versions of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, are natural minerals but come with some concerns.
The most common ingredient in mineral makeup, mica isn’t particularly harmful to us using it on our face daily (though it can cause irritation if you have sensitive skin), but it can be hard to find it ethically sourced. Prolonged exposure to mica may cause lung scarring for those mining the material and it is often sourced from overseas. Today the main source of this material is India, which accounts for 60% of global production. Concerns about the safety of the country’s mica supply chains are increasing as child labor grows in India’s mica mining business. A whopping 86% of the country’s mica exports in 2010-2011 were unregulated, reports Australian newspaper The Age. Some cosmetic companies have standards to only use ethically sourced mica, while others’ have decided to use synthetic mica which is not biodegradable.
I typically try to avoid using mica as much as possible, however, I do have a 1 oz. jar in this colorthat I use sparingly when making eyeshadows. I ordered it from the Canadian based company, Slice of The Moon who says that their products contain no nanoparticles, are ethically sourced, cruelty-free, and fair trade. They also assured me that no child labor or unethical means were used to source the product. Be careful to check the ingredients of the mica you choose because some ingredients offered by the company are synthetic. Buy it here.
These are tiny particles that can penetrate the skin layers and lungs if inhaled. It’s best to make sure to find non-nanoparticle versions of minerals if you choose to use them while making your own cosmetics.
Now, let’s make our own foundation.
I like to make both the cream and powder foundation because I find that I get the best coverage and staying power when they’re combined. To make the powder, start with a base of arrowroot powder and add cocoa powder until the desired color is achieved. You can find many recipes for this already online so I won’t spend too much time on it here. I also added a pinch of turmeric to my powder to get the color just right. Cinnamon and bentonite clay are other options to consider to achieve the correct color.
For cream foundation you will need:
- 3 Tablespoons cocoa butter (buy it here)
- 1/2 teaspoon wax (buy beeswax here, soy wax here, or calendula wax here)
- 1 teaspoon aloe gel (homemade is fine oryou can buy it here)
- About 2 Tablespoons apricot kernel oil (this is a very light oil that you can buy here, but if you are prone to acne you may want to try rosehip oil. Find it here)
- Cocoa powder
- Non-nanoparticle zinc oxide powder (find it here) or arrowroot powder
- A few drops of witch hazel
- Optional: turmeric, bentonite clay, and cinnamon powder
I recommend making the foundation in the same glass container that you plan to store it in. This way it will be easy to make adjustments to the consistency as the measurements for the powder ingredients will vary depending on the desired color.
- Start by adding about 1/2 inch of water to a saucepan and put your glass jar in the middle.
- On a medium heat, melt the cocoa butter and wax in the glass jar.
- Once the cocoa butter and wax is melted, add a few drops of witch hazel with the aloe and apricot kernel oil. You may substitute the apricot kernel oil with the rosehip oil if you choose. Mix until well combined.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat but keep the jar inside the water and add your zinc oxide or arrowroot powder. I use about 1 Tablespoon of zinc oxide and 2 Tablespoons of arrowroot powder. This step is going to give you the coverage that you are looking for in a foundation. I find that zinc oxide works best for fuller coverage and arrowroot powder is great for medium coverage. But you could always use more arrowroot powder and make adjustments to the consistency if the foundation is too thick or hard after it has cooled.
- Next, add a small sprinkle of cocoa powder to the mix. Do this a little at a time because it is hard to lighten the product once it’s too dark. You are looking to tint the mixture–a little will go a long way. The cocoa powder will darken when added to liquid so it is normal to use a much smaller amount in your cream foundation than in your powder. You can add other powders to the mix to achieve the correct color but remember to use only a tiny amount at a time… Like a fraction of a pinch.
- Dip the tip of a metal spoon into the mixture and let it cool for 2 minutes. Use this to test out the color and consistency along your jawline. If the mixture is too hard, you can add a little more oil or aloe. Also, you may add more zinc oxide or arrowroot powder if your mixture is too oily or not enough coverage.
- Once you’ve achieved your desired color, let the mixture cool overnight before testing its consistency.
- If in the morning your foundation is too hard or cakey, reheat it in a saucepan with water (or cheat and microwave it in 10-second intervals) then add a few more drops of oil or aloe. I usually end up reheating my foundation and adding about 1/2 teaspoon of aloe, see step 6.
- If your mixture is too oily, you can simply mix more zinc or arrowroot powder without reheating it.
Keep in mind that homemade makeup products are not shelf-stable, so the temperature of your home will determine the consistency of your product. It’s normal for your foundation to be more solid when your house is cold and more liquid when it is warm. This foundation will become easier to work into the skin as your natural body heat melts it slightly. I like to scoop out a little and use the back of my hand as a pallet. That way the product will heat up slightly and become easier to apply and work with. You can expect that the cream foundation will be slightly darker in the container and lighten once applied.
So, do you have a favorite makeup brand that is cruelty-free and ethically sourced? Or, do you DIY your makeup too?