Diving headlong into the world of DIY beauty products is kind of like testing a river’s temperature by sticking your leg knee-deep into the rapids: the next thing you know, you’re completely carried away with the thrift and customizability of it all. I can make any lipstick I want, you think, and not have to give a single penny to a huge company!
Take that, The Man!
The fervor of having a world of inexpensive homemade products that you know the exact ingredient list of may continue to sweep you away, but there are some serious considerations that need to be taken into account before you find yourself up you-know-what creek without a paddle. Namely: safety.
When writing about making crayon lipstick, I researched and called people in a number of various government organizations, as well as Crayola themselves, to make sure that the information I was finding was correct and to assess the risks involved. This step of researching your proposed DIY endeavor is crucial, because the last thing you want to do is discover later in life that there’s a smoldering crater where your liver used to be due to making lipsticks out of oil pastels. (TIP: Do not ever, under any circumstances, make lipsticks out of oil pastels.)
Because every project is going to be different, here are the basics of where to start looking and asking questions. Please keep in mind that these contacts, and their corresponding regulations, are specific to the US. If you’re not American, find the relevant product regulation authorities in your country and look through the information they have available (or call!).
THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION (FDA)
This is the first place that you’ll want to look if you’re planning on making beauty products. They regulate food, drugs, and any consumer product that is designed with the intention or side-effect of being absorbed into the skin or body. This includes cosmetics.
All of the information that you need may be found on their website, depending on what you’re making. For example, if you’d like to start making your own lip balm out of beeswax, jojoba oil and essential oils, the FDA would have all of that data, as all of the ingredients are either consumables or cosmetics.
Lotions and hair products are fairly straightforward if you use consumables like oils, eggs and butters, so I wouldn’t necessarily worry about tracking down an FDA representative to ensure the safety of the things that they already heavily regulate
Say you’re a total weirdo who wants to make lipstick out of crayons, though. Crayons aren’t a food, drug, or reasonably assumed to be absorbed or consumed through regular use, so the FDA wouldn’t be in charge of regulating it. Where, then, would you go?
THE CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION (CPSC)
This is where you would go to find out the regulations for any consumer product outside the regulatory scope of the FDA, like crayons and other art supplies.
Their website and studies can be kind of a doozy without a helping hand to navigate you through them, so I would suggest calling them up or emailing them with your specific questions and letting them point you in the right direction. The representatives that I spoke to from both the FDA and the CPSC were incredibly friendly and extremely helpful, so don’t be intimidated!
By the way, if you want to delve into cosmetics applied on or around the mouth or eyes, it’s imperative that you run your proposed ingredients against FDA regulations to ensure their safety. You’ll want to research the lead and phthalates content of your proposed lip cosmetics, and the whether or not your proposed materials are caustic or inflammatory for eye cosmetics. You’ll also want determine whether the sources of your proposed materials are safe and adhere to federal guidelines.
Another thing: While it may be tempting due to their beautiful hues, do not use professional art materials for cosmetics. EVER.
The reason why it’s OK to use Crayola is because they’re children’s products, and thus are regulated with accidental consumption in mind. Professional art materials--like oil pastels, oil and acrylic paints, chalks and the like--are not.
They’re filled with a lot of heavy metals and other various toxic things, because the CPSC assumed that grownup artists knew better than to slather themselves in oil paint and use pastels as lipsticks. Keep those art supplies to the paper and canvas for which they were intended, and use things that are more strictly regulated.
Is this a lot of work to do for a single lipstick? Absolutely. It’s also completely necessary to make sure that the beautiful creations that you have in mind are safe both for you, and whomever you may be kissing with your neon-green lips down the line.
Have you considered making DIY beauty products? Do you already? What kind of projects do you have in mind?