By Chinwe of Hair and Health
“Preservation” is essential for prolonging the shelf life of certain homemade products. Additionally, it saves time spent on concocting new product after product for one‐time use. The following list consists of basic preservation methods that are imperative for any natural mixtress:
Use refrigeration to preserve water or aloe‐vera‐juice-based products (e.g., spritzes) for a short period of time (e.g., a few weeks). The cold temperature of the fridge will delay growth of bacteria and fungi.
Use the freezer to preserve water or aloe‐vera‐juice-based products (e.g., deep conditioner mixes) for a longer period (several weeks to a few months). The colder temperature of the freezer will prevent growth of bacteria and fungi. Place the product in the refrigerator to thaw on the night prior to using it.
3. Use clean utensils and containers
Bathe utensils and containers in a solution of soap and hot water prior to mixing. An alternative is to wipe down utensils and containers with alcohol. The soap or alcohol will essentially kill any bacteria that would otherwise contaminate your mixture.
4. Add an essential oil (but pregnant women beware)
Some mixtresses find that essential oils can act as a slight preservative due to their antimicrobial properties. Tea tree, lavender, lemon, thyme, and rosemary are just a few essential oils known to have these properties. (Understand, however, that essential oils are not as effective as conventional chemical preservatives and may require high concentrations to provide some antimicrobial activity.) Those who are pregnant or sensitive to essential oils should speak with their doctors before use.
5. Do not use your fingers to obtain a water‐based product
Our fingers contain tons of bacteria and can contaminate such products. Instead, use a clean utensil to aid in obtaining that amount of product you need for use.
6. Store non‐refrigerated products in dark, cool areas
For certain products that do not require refrigeration, exposure to direct sunlight and heat can create an environment for mold to form. Thus, it is recommended to keep such products in dark, cool areas.
THE FOLLOWING ARE NOT PRESERVATIVES, BUT STILL USEFUL …
These oils may slow down the oxidation of products containing certain oils, such as avocado, evening primrose, flax, hemp, or sweet almond. Vitamin E and rosemary extract are antioxidants, not preservatives. Thus, they will not prolong the shelf life of a product prone to bacteria and mold growth.
Mixtresses, how do you preserve your homemade products?