Homemade Coconut scrub versus Store bought

Inspired and motivated by a good friend this week, I’ve recognised that since my illness I’ve become very interested in nutrition and not only what we put in our bodies but what we put on them and our skin.

Having experienced a limited life through illness for almost a full year now I have started to get a sense of desperation but also motivation to do something – as if I was standing on a ledge in a high wind and looking for a rope to grab… like my life depended on it, in other words… and maybe it does.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but my current and future life depends entirely on what I choose to do with my own nutrition and self-care.  If I don’t do anything, who will?

Following many different paths originally in an effort to find out ‘whats wrong with me’, I’ve begun recently to look more carefully at what I can do to support myself to recover, realising that current science does not have the answers yet to what afflicts me and many others.  One day they will, I know it.  And people will stop looking at fatigue sufferers with disdain. but that’s another post entirely…

So working on with my current obsession with coconut oil, I came across a gorgeous recipe for a body scrub using only 3 ingredients – coconut oil, epsom salts and essential oil.  To save time and to pay homage to the creators by directing traffic I’ll put the link to the recipe here.

I went out and bought the epsom salts (at Coles the little box is $3.29), I already had the coconut oil from the other day (cost $6.49) and you’ll use about two-thirds of the jar plus the essential oils I already had too.  I used Lavender and Ylang Ylang both of which retail for about $40 a bottle but in this case you’re only using about 10 drops so that’s about 200 drops in a 10ml bottle so $2 per shake.  A mason jar from Cheap as Chips cost me $1 so total cost was probably less than $14.

A note on essential oils – get them from a reputable source – you do NOT want synthetic essential oils, they are perfumed water and oil laced with chemicals.  Price is a good indicator but I think it’s best not to by them from the chemist and go to a herbal supplier that you know deals with the original product.

I’m not going to go too much into the process, because you can read the recipe, but I can tell you  it is bloody easy to make and the result bloody lovely!  I melted the oil in a glass bowl over steaming water, like you temper chocolate and that was about the hardest part.  Then I used it in the shower straight after making it, like all oils you have to be a little careful handling it in an already slippery environment and I assume the final solution will re-solidify in the mason jar eventually (It did, the next day).

But what I’m mainly interested in is what’s in the shop-bought scrub for $32 from a brand that claims to be beneficial to you.  I took a photo of the ingredients but it was quite hard to do clearly without identifying them and the purpose here is not to ‘name and shame’ a certain brand.  Here’s what it had in it, and their description of what it does.

Sea salt/maris sal/sel marin

Mineral

Humectant

Carthamus tinctorius (safflower) seed oil

Seeds

Conditioner, emollient, moisturizer

Crambe abyssinica seed oil

Plant

Skin-conditioning agent

Passiflora edulis seed oil

Plant

Skin-conditioning agent

Passiflora incarnata seed oil

Plant

Skin-conditioning agent

Persea gratissima (avocado) oil

Fruit

Emollient, moisturizer

Sclerocarya birrea seed oil

Plant

Skin-conditioning agent

Tocopherol

Vitamin e, plant

Antioxidant

Tocopheryl acetate

Vitamin e, plant

Antioxidant

Citrus medica limonum (lemon) peel oil

Fruit, plant

Skin-conditioning agent

Coriandrum sativum (coriander) seed oil

Plant

Conditioner

Musk

Vegetable

Conditioner

Rose flower oil

Plant

Conditioner

Citral

Plant

Aromatic agent

Limonene

Plant

Aromatic agent

Linalool

Plant

Aromatic agent

So firstly sea salt versus epsom salts.  Sea salt is majority sodium chloride  – up to 97%, depends on your sea I suppose! – while Epsom salts are a mineral compound of magnesium and sulfates.  The main reason I would have thought both were included was as an exfoliant, but the brand described the sea salt as a humectant – a substance used to keep things moist.  ‘Dead sea’ salts appear to have greater beneficial qualities but these are not what is being used here.

I started looking into the ingredients such as Citral – a terpenoid, know to cause allergic reactions and Limonene and Linalool – terpines – which can cause eczema and allergies when oxidsed (exposed to oxygen).  But realised quickly that these also occur naturally in many essential oils such as Ylang Ylang.

Below is the chemical composition of coconut oil.

Name of fatty acid 
Percentage
Remarks
Type of fat
Lauric acid
45% to 52%
Medium chain fatty acid
Saturated fat
Myristic acid
16% to 21%
Medium chain fatty acid
Saturated fat
Caprylic acid
5% to 10%
Medium chain fatty acid
Saturated fat
Capric acid
4% to 8%
Medium chain fatty acid
Saturated fat
Caproic acid
0.5% to 1%
Medium chain fatty acid
Saturated fat
Palmitic acid
7% to 10%
Saturated fat
Oleic acid
5% to 8%
Unsaturated fat
Palmitoleic acid
In traces
Saturated fat
Linoleic acid
1% to 3%
Unsaturated fat
Linolenic acid
Up to 0.2%
Unsaturated fat
Stearic acid
2% to 4%
Saturated fat

What I intended to do was find what each ingredient was, and make an informed judgment about which product was better for you.  I found some negative information on Epsom Salts – which are no longer from Epsom but made from the Dolomite rocks with a chemical process.

Eventually I realised that I was bored with tracking down the information and honestly the amount of time I took to do the research I did, is worth more than the $15 difference!  But I’ve come to the conclusion that I already knew what I wanted to find and knew that I wanted to use the cheaper, less ingredient version that occurs as close to nature as possible.  The fact that the ingredients in the shop-bought product are ‘natural’ or derived from plants, doesn’t mean that they should be all placed together in the way they have been, or that I should be placing them on my skin together.  The shop-bought scrub does not solidify, and why is that?

The only downside to all this research is the view I am starting to take on my cosmetics and moisturisers.  I see them all staring at me every time I open the bathroom cabinet and I feel them wishing me harm.  I don’t want to waste the money I spent on them but I no longer feel a desire to use them or pay for more expensive versions of stuff I can source from the supermarket that I also believe is better for me.  I will leave them there for the moment…but I think their days are numbered.

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