Drug stores have always been dangerous places for me. I will walk in for a toothbrush and out with a new moisturizer, hair treatment, and bath product, completely forgetting the reason why I went in the first place. Two moves ago, I acknowledged I had an addiction, as I had a literal tower of beauty products. Over the past year, I have tried to use up, get rid of, and pare down my products (with the added bonus of simplifying my bathroom!)
This realization also corresponded with my increasing interest in making intentional choices about the products that I use, trying to choose ones that are good for me and have less impact on the world. This has meant trying to choose organic products more often that aren’t packaged in ungodly amounts of plastic. Obviously one of the most economical ways to achieve these goals is to make my own beauty products.
That said, as one of the many Pinterest users, I have a million pins for potions and lotions, however would never really get around to trying them for a few reasons. First, the sheer number of options are daunting, contributing to paralysis. Second, my motivation to test out new recipes is (rightly) hampered by fear that my efforts will end up a classic Pinterest Fail. This is particularly worrisome with beauty products, because not only are you spending $$ to get good ingredients and time to make products, you also risk horrible things happening to your skin! All this said, I have done some experimentation and below am sharing my tried, tested, and true DIY beauty solutions.
This is now what my main bath and body products look like, and I am pretty thrilled with the change:
Last summer, I replaced my lotion with coconut oil, and it was good for the summer months, but it didn’t punch the super hydrating punch for winter. Also, I felt I was really “oily” and would have to stand around naked for a while to let it soak in (which is less ideal in when your flat is chilly and/or you are living with roommates!). Recently, I found this simple lotion recipe, and I am so hooked. I have also foisted it on friends/family as gifts, who also seem to enjoy it a great deal. [Very lightly adapted from Sweet Madeline, including doubling the recipe]:
6 tbsp organic beeswax pellets
1 1/2 cup olive oil
2 cup water
Essential oils of your choice
1. Gently warm the olive oil over medium heat in a small saucepan.
2. Add the beeswax and stir until just dissolved, then remove from heat.
3. Add water to a medium-sized mixing bowl, and start mixing with a hand blender (I tried with other stuff that totally didn’t work!).
4. While mixing, sloooowwwwly add the olive oil/beeswax to the water. It will look very strange at the beginning – some parts will be clumpy and yellow and others will be watery, and you will probably think you have ruined everything. You haven’t! Don’t worry! Just keep mixing and keep adding the oil reeeeally slowly. Maintaining a consistently slow pour will allow the oil and water to emulsify, and that’s the goal.
5. Add 15-20 drops of essential oil. My favourite mixes so far have been lemongrass + peppermint (very fresh and invigorating!). I have also made a lavender + bergamot + ylang yang + vanilla batch, which has a soothing, sleep-conducive scent.
6. Once you have achieved the “creamy mayonnaise-like texture,” continue mixing for a bit longer then transfer into sterile glass jars.
7. Refrigerate for an hour to set. I also leave any extra jars in the fridge to prevent separation as I work through them.
My first batch was a little bit terrifying (I was pretty hesitant during the process – you can see my video tutorial here) and so it came out with a slightly less consistent texture, but my second batch was absolutely perfect – with a creamy body butter style texture. I am completely and totally hooked. [You can kind of see the texture in this photo].
I find it so invigorating to do a good full-body exfoliation every week or two, but after learning more about the plastic bead debacle in many beauty products, I have been really hesitant to buy many from the drug store. Thankfully, making a scrub is a pretty simple process. This one is my current fav, as it supports my coffee AND coconut oil obsessions! [from The Makeup Dummy].Directions:
1 cup dry ground coffee
3/4 cup coconut oil
Gently melt your coconut oil in a sauce pan or in 10 sec intervals in the microwave. Stir together. Stir all of your ingredients together and put in glass jar.
Additional note: I have noticed, because my shower ledge is very cold, that this scrub re-solidifies due to the amount of coconut oil in it. I have started setting the closed jar under the running water while I shower to melt the scrub enough to easily remove some product. I might re-jig this recipe for my next batch to make this a little less solid.
Surprisingly, I have found that while you do get the AMAZING whiff of coffee to wake you (and your skin) up in the morning, once you rinse it off, you are left behind with smooth, coconut-oil scented skin (you don’t walk around for the day smelling like a stale diner coffee pot).
I am coming clean – I have not used shampoo since the summer. I have passed the 6 month mark of joining the unwashed hippies and now am totally converted. I was lucky to be at a music festival then a camping road trip during the wildest part of the transition and it took me a while to figure out what works best for my hair.
At this point, I rinse with water whenever I shower, and then (approx once a week) I will wash with baking soda and rinse with apple cider vinegar (you can see the little jars of baking soda and vinegar in the first picture). I was really hesitant to use the vinegar, and resisted for a long time, because I didn’t want my hair smelling like vinegar, but it really is incredible! It makes my hair so soft and cuts through the natural oils that build up over time. As long as you give it a good rinse, you are good to go! I even forced a friend to smell my hair to see if she smelled vinegar and she gave me the all-clear. It must be true love…
I feel like this is the only area were I boldly “do what I feel like” with ingredients and scents. I figure as long as I am using good ingredients, I can’t really go wrong. Bath bomb recipes are generally straightforward and you can easily double or triple the recipes, to take advantage of the moment of motivation that strikes now and again. Note, since I really like moisturizing aspects of oils/butters (coconut, shea, cocoa), you will notice a bit of oil on the surface of the water, which is lovely for your skin, but might make your hair a little greasy, so I like to wash my hair before adding (or sometimes do a quick rinse after I have soaked).
Option 1: Several months ago, I had made a batch of these bath bombs with two friends and plenty of wine [from A Beautiful Mess]. I didn’t have the plastic mould, so ended up rolling some balls by hand and used cookie cutters (just don’t pick a very intricate design! Also, I had used some saran wrap, inside the cookie cutter, when helped remove it when you had packed in the ingredients). I also find that particularly with apartment-sized tubs, the large bath bomb can be a overwhelming, so I like to make smaller shapes. I also skipped the citric acid (which I didn’t have on hand). They were fizzy, smelled wonderful, and made my skin wonderfully soft.
Option 2: The ultimate lazy-gal approach to bath products, was to mix a bunch of Epson salts, some coconut oil, a bit of baking soda, and some essential oils (I used eucalyptus last time and it was divine) into a glass jar. You might need to warm it a bit when adding to the bath (I just set it in the water as I am filling up the tub) to melt the coconut oil enough to make it easy to remove a generous dollop. (Same tip as with the coffee scrub, if you set the jar in warm water to melt the coconut oil a bit, it will be way easier to extract a dollop). I particularly like this concoction when I have achy sore muscles or if I feel a little bit under the weather and want to breathe in the fresh eucalyptus smell.
Option 3: My favourite bath product of all times was the butterball bath bomb from Lush. I was obsessed – it smells sublime and makes my skin soooo soft. Since it is so marvelous, I found a lush-hack online to make my own. I made a batch using shea butter (as I had some on hand). Once I run out, I will look for some cocoa butter, which has (allegedly) similar moisturizing properties, but that warm, chocolate smell that is so irresistible.Directions:
1 cup baking soda
1/2 cup citric acid
1/2 cup cornstarch (I used arrowroot powder, because that is what I had in my cupboard)
2 teaspoon coconut oil
5 drops ylang ylang essential oil
11-15 drops vanilla absolute (in my case, a gentle plug)
2 teaspoon of grated (preferably unrefined) cocoa butter (I also used shea, which has less of the lovely chocolatey smell, but is still lovely for the skin. Both Shea and cocoa butter are super expensive but you only need a small quantity, so it will last me many batches).
To form these [rather unimpressive] shapes, I simply pressed the mixture firmly into a 1/4 cup measuring cup and tapped it gently to remove them. Using this method, you will get approximately 5 “bombs”. You can buy “bath bomb moulds” online, but I do find that some of them are far too large for my modest apartment-sized tub. They fizz delightfully when you throw them in the bath, it smells divine, and there is a lovely “film” of oils on the top of the bath that feel incredibly soothing on the skin. I felt like a wizard when I successfully brewed up a batch of these gems.
BONUS: Not a beauty product, but another super useful DIY potion…
Yoga Mat Spray
Similar to beauty products, I have waded through so many recipes online, I finally made up a batch of this mat cleaner, and am very satisfied [from Oh She Glows], although I cut the batch in half in order to fit into a small spray bottle: Directions:
1/2 cup white vinegar
1.5 cups water
1/2 tsp tee tree oil + 10 drops of peppermint (or other) essential oil
I simply give both sides of my mat a light spray and let it air dry, while draped over a chair.
Stay tuned for some lip balm and lip scrub recipes in the future (once I work through my existing supplies!)
Would love to hear from you! Do you have a DIY beauty hack that you swear by? Did you try any of these recipes?