Flourtown’s Rachael Pontillo shared her knowledge on June 12 in a MALT evening class with an introductory talk about “How to Make Natural Household Cleaning Products.” Details at www.HolisticallyHaute.com.

by Barbara L. Sherf

More than two years ago, Flourtown resident and Holistic Health and Image Coach Rachael Pontillo started making her own skin care products for herself and clients of her wellness company Holistically Haute™— but she didn’t stop there.

Once she got her skin care formulas down, she began experimenting with making her own all natural household-cleaning products. She found this to be simple, affordable, and enjoyable — and she found that the products are just as effective as those sold in stores. She taught her all natural household cleaning product recipes, in addition to her Make Your Own All Natural, Organic Skin Care course, this spring through Mt. Airy Learning Tree (MALT).

Pontillo realized that many of the conventional cleaning products she was using could potentially get into her family’s food or contribute to her family’s skin sensitivities, and she wasn’t happy about that. “I figured, why stop with the skin care products? Let’s tackle the cleaning products I was using and that my family was being exposed to as well,” she said. “The great news is that there are many natural ingredients that can be used to clean your home effectively, and that are safe for kids, adults and pets.”

Pontillo is passionate about going chemical-free. “I feel very strongly that most of the household cleaning products on the market are filled with chemicals — most of which may cause anything from skin sensitivity and allergic reactions to more serious respiratory distress,” said Pontillo, who suffered from severe acne before making changes to her diet and using her natural skin care products.

Pontillo then researched the best methods for making relatively inexpensive cleaning products with some easy to find, tried and true ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda, borax and lemon. She then applied her knowledge of essential oils and used them to make her formulations more potent and also pleasantly aromatic.

“It’s not really rocket science, but there is a method for combining the right ingredients in the correct amounts to get the most cleaning power without the toxic chemicals,” she noted.

During her June 12 MALT class at Project Learn, a private school in Mt. Airy, Pontillo gave an introductory talk about how to make the products, and then participants started experimenting with the ingredients on their own, making their own products to take home — either a glass and surface cleaner, grease remover or bathroom cleaner.

West Mt. Airy resident Myrna Crawford has been in one of the past skin care classes and is a walking testimonial. “I wasn’t satisfied going to CVS and looking at the ingredients in the products, many of which I couldn’t pronounce, and then paying a high price. I had a bad reaction to one of the products off the shelf. I am so excited about seeing what I can make at home without all of the chemicals,” Crawford said at the conclusion of the session.

Pontillo says the raw materials for many of her products can be purchased at specialty stores like Whole Foods and Weavers Way, while others are available from online suppliers. “I purchase some raw products locally, and others online from Mountain Rose Herbs and doTERRA®,” she said.

Some examples of the natural skin care ingredients used in the products include castile soap, distilled water, aloe vera gel, essential oils and beeswax. “About 80 percent of irritant and allergic skin reactions can be traced back to synthetic fragrance ingredients,” Pontillo noted.

The Flourtown resident’s passion for holistic skin care, health and wellness comes from her own personal experience of developing acne at a very young age, which persisted through the years even into adulthood. She also gained 80 pounds after her second pregnancy. “By eating the right foods and avoiding processed food and chemicals where possible, my skin cleared up, and I lost the baby weight.”

Pontillo is a licensed aesthetician, and also received her holistic health coaching certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She started her company in July, 2011, and is currently working on a book to be released this September.

For more information about the classes, call 215-843-6333 or visit www.mtairylearningtree.org.