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Ingredient of the Month: Cool Beauty

By Larry Plesent

Has the Time Finally Come for Refrigerated Cosmetics?

My kids grew up with a jar of “green stuff” in the door of the fridge. Whenever they got a scrape, bite or “owie” they would tearfully reach in the fridge for a soothing jar of homemade salve. Our garden mixture of natural oils, garden herbs and beeswax brought nearly miraculous and instant relief to whatever ailed them.

Circa: 1928, Ladies Home Journal. Vintage Ad Leonard Refrigerator Children with doll and Tea Table.

Circa: 1928, Ladies Home Journal. Vintage Ad Leonard Refrigerator Children with doll and Tea Table.

We kept our green stuff (variously known as a balm, salve, ointment or unguent) refrigerated to extend its shelf life just as refrigeration does for fruits and veggies. A well-made, otherwise unpreserved batch of salve could last up to four years with refrigeration.

There was a big PR blitz about refrigerated cosmetics twenty years ago. The predicted boom never materialized and some nice people went belly-up. Everyone went back to making and using heavily preserved products. Fast forward to present day…

Awareness (and paranoia) about preservatives has never been higher. Neither has the cancer rate. It might make sense to pay attention. Preservatives inhibit and kill life trying to eat your food or your cosmetic product.  But you and I are life too! It is foolish to imagine that a lifetime of low level exposure to preservatives has no impact on human health. It is also hard to quantify the damage, if any, that their use may cause to humans.

Our ancestors knew a lot about keeping food (and food for your skin) lasting into the lean season. Natural materials are preserved by (among other methods) desiccation, pickling in vinegar, or by using a 20% sugar or salt medium surrounding the item you want to keep. Keeping natural stuff fresh by storing it at reduced temperatures is a sensible way to preserve both water and oil-based natural cosmetics. As most people reading this will likely be refrigerator owners already, the rest is just habit!

Vermont Soap makes two products that really should live in the fridge. The first is our own green salve which we call Green Gold. Green Gold is an anti-aging herbal moisturizer containing strongly anti-inflammatory botanicals. It is certified food-grade organic and terribly under preserved as a result. Few cosmetic preservatives qualify for organic certification, and this is slowing down to the conversion from yucky products to yummy ones. Let your refrigerator become your preservative system, and whole worlds of potential formulations open up.

VT Soap’s other fridge-friendly product is our new line of organic herbal deodorants. These organic stick deodorants keep longer, last longer and stain less when cold. So keep cool and calm with a cold underarm stick!

Expand your horizons! The next time you need an herbal moisturizer or underarm deodorant…just reach into the fridge!

Larry Plesent is a writer, philosopher, part-time farmer and soap maker living and working in the Green Mountains of Vermont. Learn more at www.vermontsoap.com.

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