OUTTAKES FROM NAVIGATING NATURAL PRODUCTS: when good ideas dye your face orange

That’s my amazing daughter in the picture above. Standing on a kitchen chair so she can reach the scale, multiple bottles of oils, and a few children’s medicine syringes. In other words, she’s at our kitchen workshop, and her expression totally captures our “corporate” R&D culture :)

Once I had a handle on the ingredients criteria, I got back to tinkering.  My daughter is often my sidekick (or I’m hers…), but two mornings a week, I get 2.5 hours to myself while both kids are in school. I LOVE experimenting with different infusions, combinations and preparation methods.  After 11 years in banking, working with my hands to create different products in my kitchen is a fun and relaxing 180. 

I researched the best facial oils, made sure my top choices were pregnancy safe and highly beneficial, and then bought a ridiculous selection from Amazon.  There were some oils that were cut as soon as I opened them – it turns out broccoli oil smells as bad as you might guess.  If they didn’t smell like extremely overcooked vegetables or something I should be cooking with and NOT applying to my face, I deemed them ready for testing.  I applied 2 drops of each oil to my arms and waited.  Some of the oils that just sat on top of my skin were extremely common, and extremely lovely oils: jojoba, pomegranate, raspberry seed...the trouble is that they don’t absorb well without the assistance of other chemicals or water dilution (which then requires synthetic preservatives).  In my mind, that offsets their benefits.  They could work for a wash away oil…but for a facial moisturizing oil, they’re benched.

After oils passed my initial quality, safety, smell, and arm absorption tests, I was ready to start mixing oils for use on my face.  For people with perfect skin, this might be an easy endeavor, but I failed miserably many, many times.  After breaking out worse than I ever did as a teenager, my super supportive husband asked, “Maybe you should try out these oils on your hands first?” But these are FACE oils! 

I was too stubborn to stop testing on myself, but too burnt out to continue to go it alone.  I found a freelance cosmetic chemist who I hired to look at my formulations and suggest improvements.  He suggested adding turmeric for “supple skin.”  Well, who doesn’t want that??  So, I added turmeric, and promptly dyed by skin (and my towels) umpa lumpa orange….not the look I was going for…I’d share a photo, but I didn’t take one…I can laugh about it now, but it really was NOT funny at the time.  We parted ways, and I powered on.

I later tried rose clay and dyed my face pink, which was too bad…Rose clay has great benefits, and I know there’s some Rose All Day angle I could take with naming it…but alas, I’d prefer not to look like I forgot to put sunscreen on for an all day beach trip…I’m not giving up on it yet, but it will need a companion or two…or four…in the blend…And I’ll need a to re-test when I don’t mind looking like a tomato for a couple days….

I tend to get myopically focused during my limited tinkering time, so I set alarms 😊.  One morning the alarm went off for me to get cleaned up and go pick up my kids from school – when I came out of my “zone” I had to laugh and send a picture of my mess to a former co-worker.  Picnic lunches stacked behind my “lab” of ramekins filled with infusions and blends, a different children’s medicine dropper for each oil, and tons of Amazon-purchased organic ingredients.  His response: “Should I be concerned that your kitchen looks like a scene from Breaking Bad?”

"No," I told him.  "This is my process, mess and all, and I'm loving it."  

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