Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Shelf Life and Natural Products // Storage and Care

I have been getting a lot of questions lately about the "Shelf Life" of my products. I wanted to take a moment to explain some of the factors that dictate how long a product is "good" for . My products to not sit waiting to be shipped or purchased, instead, I have a plethora of raw ingredients at the ready. Each ingredient is stored in its ideal condition, for example, my Organic Hemp Seed Oil is kept refrigerated, and only a small portion is brought to room temperature for mixing into a recipe. This ensures that the oil is in its best possible state when it reaches you.

There are two things to consider when talking about the life of a product.

1. Bacteria - Bacteria need water to grow. This means that any of my products that contain water (Toothpaste, Mud Mask, Cold Cream, and Argan Milk) can grow bacteria. I have taken some steps to preserve my products, such as antioxidants and Vitamin C, but these do not prevent bacterial growth. I also offer "Waterless" versions of all items which contain water, so that you can choose the formula best suited for your needs. I have also reduced the amount of water in my products to the least amount possible in each recipe, while still maintaining the desired texture.

If you are using a product like my Cold Cream, and are concerned about it spoiling before you are able to use it, I suggest storing it in the fridge. Because my Skin Care is made with food-grade oils, like food, it will eventually spoil. This is NOT a bad thing. You want to be putting only real things in an on your body.

The less contact with the product you have, the less likely it will be contaminated. All this means is that instead of sticking your finger in the jar of Cold Cream or your toothpaste, you should scoop it out with a clean tool (like the small spoon I include with many items, or even a clean popsicle stick.)

Humans have billions of bacteria living on our skin at all times, so the less contact with the product in the jar, the longer it will last.

Many items come in very small 1 oz or 2 oz sizes only, to further help you to know when you need to get more product. Basically, the chances of a 1 oz Toothpaste, Mask, or Cold Cream going bad are very low, since they are just enough product for 1 month.

2. Rancidity - Once you mix ingredients together, The ingredient that spoils the fastest dictates the life of the product. Most oils have at least a 3 month shelf life just sitting at room temperature. Even Hemp, which is a finicky oil, maintains its properties for three months unrefrigerated. Rancidity in oils typically has to do with Light and Oxidation. So, many of my items come in UV protective glass and pump bottles.

I stock oils from reputable suppliers, so that it is as fresh as possible when I get it, and also when you receive your items.  I purchase straight from the grower in Canada, to assure that my Hemp is fresh.

A good way to tell if your product is reaching its end is any change in scent, texture, or color. Hemp oil is green, and when mixed with other oils can become more olive colored. If you have had an item for three months and it has become yellow, but smells the same, it is probably fine. It may not have ALL the benefits that it did when fresh, but will still work. However, if it has a funny smell and is yellow, its time to replace it.

Ok, so those are the basics of shelf life. Now, I want to talk to you about commercial products for a second. Many people think that Natural Products have a significantly shorter shelf life than commercial ones. This is totally not accurate. Have you guys ever seen this symbol on your products?

The fact of the matter is, many of us do not ever look at this little symbol. What this means is that you should throw your product away 12 months after opening it. Now, if you are anything like me, you still have body butter or lotion from like three years ago that you are using. I never paid attention, until I started making my own products. 

Something to consider, a commercial product sit on the shelf for an unknown amount of time before you purchase it, and still, has a 1 year shelf life when opened. My items are made when you order, and still have a shelf life of 3 months (products with water) or up to 8 months when they are waterless. 

A little known thing happens when you use a commercial product with chemical preservatives. The preservative DOES NOT deter bacteria, but typically kills/neutralizes it. The same goes for contaminates like skin cells or dust. All of the stuff the preservative keeps from growing, its still in your jar of cream. So, by that bottom off the jar two years in, you are using a combination of the original cream, and all the dead bacteria, germs, and contaminants that have made their way into the jar.  I think that is way nastier than throwing a cold cream out after four month because it starts to mold. 

I think the benefits of natural products far exceed the benefits of a cream that won't go bad for two years. 

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