Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Forget the drugmart and do-it-yourself

She digs two tablespoons of baking soda and glycerin; one tablespoon of cornstarch, pours it into a small bowl, adds a few drops of natural oils and grapefruit, and stirs the ingredients to a thick white paste. This is how Lisa Druchok makes deodorant.

“Over the past three years I have gained a real interest in learning how to make things myself,” Druchok said. “During the course of 2010 I have taken more do-it yourself workshops.”

Druchok is a client of Tracey TieF, a Natural Health Practitioner, who hosts hands-on workshops from her Toronto home for people seeking alternative methods to make health and cosmetic products.

Small jars and vials of natural herbs and oils sit in her small living room, where she instructs clients on making their own natural cosmetic products, such as fragrances, skin lotions and shampoos. She said she always had an interest in the natural means of treating the body.

“When I was four for instance my sister was suffering from asthma so I made her a ginger drink and as it turns out ginger is a helpful decongestant,” TieF said.

Prior to launching her wholistic health practice, Annares Natural Health in 2007 TieF worked with the homeless for 19 years and said she saw a link between the two.

“I’ve always been an activist so there is a deep connection for me between social justice and traditional ways of interacting with the environment and healing people,” she explains.

TieF uses essential oils on cosmetic products she makes and abstains from using preservatives. Clients sign up for her workshops for various reasons. Some are looking for different options, and others are interested in the actual process of making body care products.

Fleur McGregor visited a workshop to make a skin lotion for her baby.

“I had a desire to have (the skin lotion) be completely natural and under my control,” McGregor said. “It also sounded like fun to be able to find out how to make it.”

Vicky Yoo is a marketing assistant at Pure and Simple, a wholistic spa and a natural skin care products retailer. Yoo said more people are turning to natural alternatives, and this turn prompted companies to manufacture natural and organic cosmetic products.

“A lot of people get allergic reactions to skin care products and are looking for something more pure,” Yoo said. “So (cosmetic manufacturers) have to think of producing skin care lines that are more natural.”

TieF said the ingredients in her products are known as GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and don’t require any testing. Cosmetic products that contain preservatives must meet the requirements of the Food and Drugs Act.

TieF said there is a list of substances banned from the market, but there have been no tests conducted to determine the safety of two or more combined substances.

Goin’ Solo Magazine tried to reach Health Canada’s Consumer Safety office but were unable to get a response.

As Druchok flips through her notes, pondering which elements she wants to put together for her next recipe, TieF walks into her kitchen and returns with a bottle of vodka.

Druchok mixes the vodka with coriander oil, cleaning vinegar, and then pours it into a small glass bottle to create an odour remover. Druchok said she feels that DIY workshops such as this are important and skepticism has driven her to take part in these workshops.

“I am always striving to be more self sufficient,” she explained. “It seems odd to me that people don’t know how to make the products or grow the food we have come to rely on.”

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