Challenging the unsustainable beauty industry, artist Anna Staniorowska leads us through a workshop to make your own ecocosmetics. Begin by learning why we should make our own cosmetics and finish with making your very own face wash!
Why make our own cosmetics?
In times of climate and ecological crisis, the idea of making cosmetics on your own fits into a wider context: the concept of cosmetic and food self-sufficiency. We should treat the production of cosmetics and food as one, because both are based on plant resources. In neoliberal capitalism, however, neither one nor the other seeks to satisfy hunger or the needs of the population despite loud declarations, but instead to accumulate profit. For this profit, valuable areas belonging to indigenous peoples are uprooted, turned into arable land, and after a short period of intensive cultivation, the land, treated as a dead object, is barren.
We should treat the production of cosmetics and food as one, because both are based on plant resources.
Self-sufficiency means breaking down the monopoly of large corporations on the resources of the Earth, which should belong not to a handful of the richest people in the world, but to all people and to all beings in the world. As long as we are dealing with intensive farming, we will not satisfy the hunger and needs of all people. We need extensive farming that respects the fact that nature is governed by its own rhythm and that sometimes we have to leave the land fallow to be reborn. We need the reunification and emancipation of small farmers who still feed the earthly community.
We need the reunification and emancipation of small farmers who still feed the earthly community.
Making cosmetics on your own is also a weapon to combat gender segregation and false gender roles. The patriarchal culture coupled with neoliberal capitalism places a mass of aggressive expectations upon women who are supposed to deny reality . They always have to look good, be slim, ever-young, beautiful and buy expensive, branded cosmetics for this purpose. And yet reality is fluid; you can't simply stop it.
Making cosmetics on your own is also a weapon to combat gender segregation and false gender roles.
Consequently, men who use cosmetics, let alone make them, are considered to be effeminate and do not fit into the rigid and artificial frames of macho masculinity. And yet science is clear: nature is diverse and this is reflected in gender. In the female body there is testosterone in varying amounts, in the male body there are female sex hormones, and in addition, we have a whole community of LGBTQ people who escape the ossified framework and bivalent logic dividing the whole complex world into two parts (male; nature, culture; the body, the spirit; rationalism, intuition, etc).
Additionally, if you make your own cosmetic product, you will be fighting a burst of consumption, which is constantly growing at a geometric rate. Consumption is destroying our planet, which - despite the logic of unlimited economic growth - has limited resources. According to the "more, more, more" principle, the cosmetics industry tells consumers that they need a different specificity for each body part, as if we were a patchwork, a machine, composed of autonomous parts. In fact, the opposite is true, because our bodies, just like the world around us, are a system of connected vessels, operating in unity.
If you make your own cosmetic product, you will be fighting a burst of consumption, which is constantly growing at a geometric rate.
Increasing consumption goes hand in hand with a huge scale of production, which becomes necessary to meet the expectations of consumers. Every action we take, even if we push its effects as far away as possible, has hidden costs. In the case of the large-scale cosmetics industry, these are tons of non-biodegradable materials and carbon dioxide emissions, which are destroying the environment and exacerbating the climate crisis, released into the ecosystem as wastewater. Only that the ecosystem is liquid, and we are part of nature, and in the end this effluent (like karma) comes back to us, destroying our bodies and our atmosphere.
What are the hidden costs of large-scale cosmetics production? This is, of course, the cruel use of animals in research on new cosmetics. Animals are treated by the cosmetics and meat industry, contrary to science, as less intelligent or worthy beings with no feelings. The mere fact that this procedure is still going on shows that it is humans who have a problem with empathy and generally with ourselves, not animals. We have a particular problem with being animals ourselves. Animals are made to function in the world of human whims, and to satisfy our pleasure we are able to deny their suffering in spite of frivolous evidence of its existence.
Workers from the “Global South” bear hidden costs too of the cosmetics industry. Factories of large corporations or their contractors make employers work for many hours, outrageously low wages, in poor conditions. The standards of their work are contrary to human rights, but they allow for the accumulation of huge profits and that's why the corporations have long since cynically moved production from the North to the Global South. These cosmetic workers, often deprived of the possibility of alternative and decent income, paradoxically create cosmetics which they will never be able to afford and which are an affront to the rich people of the Global North. Yes, Western corporations have moved colonization standards to the modern world and the people of the Global South are the "inferior sort". This is modern neo-colonial racism.
Cosmetic self-sufficiency is a real alternative for all those excluded people, giving them the opportunity to earn a decent income. But only if it is coupled with food self-sufficiency, the pursuit of true equality between men and women, acceptance of the LGBTQ community, animal rights, and the move away from fossil fuels worldwide.
Cosmetic self-sufficiency is a real alternative for all those excluded people, giving them the opportunity to earn a decent income.
Finally, making our own cosmetics gives us a sense of independence and independence from others.
I invite you to read through my simple workshop, where I prepare delicate foam for face washing.
WORKSHOP: Make your own gentle face wash
We need only 4 base ingredients to make a gentle face wash. Some of them can be found at home, others can be bought in wholesalers or in stores with organic base ingredients. It is worth making sure that the ingredient was produced in a sustainable way, respecting the rights of the local community and nature.
We need to prepare the area where we're going to make the cosmetic. Disinfect the foam dispenser container, the surface where we will do everything and the tools (e. g. spoons) with which we will mix the ingredients. Sterility is necessary both to limit the spread of microorganisms in the cosmetic and to ensure product durability. In natural cosmetics, the preservatives are much more delicate and it is easy to reduce their durability.
Ingredients and instruments needed:
1) Electronic scales, may be small
2) Container with a 150 g foam dispenser. Durable, one that will last at least several years. You can buy one in online shops or re-use an old one.
3) 91 g of filtered water
4) Your favorite hydrolat (I usually use rose or Italian blanket)
5) 3 g of natural preservative (it can be tea tree or leucidal oil max)
6) 6 g of organic detergent base
Note: if you use a few grams more of each ingredient, nothing serious will happen. All you have to do is add more of the others accordingly. They are extremely gentle and a small excess will probably not irritate. Avoid excesses only if you have extremely sensitive skin and be careful with essential oils - these are the condensed power of plants and should be dosed very carefully.
I have made a suitable film for each stage. The recipe is childishly simple, so you just have to be focused and attentive. Follow the film below …
Stage 1: Pour carefully filtered water into the disinfected container
Stage 2: Then pour your favourite hydrolat.
Stage 3: We add the preservative
Stage 4: We add the detergent base
Stage 5: We mix everything with a disinfected long spoon.
Stage 6: We're screwing up the container. Our foam is ready!
About Anna Staniorowska:
I am an art historian by education, specializing in the art of ancient Egypt, but my greatest passion is painting. I work in the kindergarten every day teaching children drawing and trying to make them more sensitive to nature and to the harm that man does to it. I believe that an appropriate response to the climate crisis combines all the demands of progressive movements.