In my last post about giving green gifts, I suggested homemade bodycare products as a great gift. As an update to that, here are some recipes and suggestions to help get you started!
The wonderful thing about making your own products is that you know exactly what goes into them. Unlike typical commercially produced cosmetics that boast a list of ingredients a mile long (if they even list their ingredients), you can be 100% sure that your homemade products are natural, non-toxic and safe. Plus, they can work just as well as mainstream products. You can also opt for organic and local ingredients whenever possible, making them even more environmentally-friendly.
I’ve kept these recipes very open so you can experiment, use your favourite scents, and discover your preferences. Another great thing about homemade products is that you can modify them to suit your own needs—some people like a thick body butter, while others like a light lotion. Using the same ingredients in varying amounts, you can make either kind.
Likewise, you can use essential oils to create your favourite scents to create a product perfect for you! Not sure where to start? For something feminine try rose, vanilla or jasmine. Lavender and chamomile are wildly known to be relaxing, while mandarin orange, grapefruit and peppermint are very energizing. Feeling adventurous? Try patchouli, bergamot or cinnamon.
- Lip balm is much easier to make than you’d think. Start with a harder base, such as beeswax. (You can find beeswax in pre-cut pellets or a block that you can grate yourself.) You’ll also need softer oils, like a combination of sweet almond oil and coconut oil. I prefer a harder lip balm, so I use two parts beeswax with one part softer oils. You can experiment to get the consistency you like.
- Combine the beeswax and oils in a microwave-safe glass bowl. Add a couple drops of vitamin E oil. This helps moisturize lips and will act as a natural preservative.
- Heat the combination in the microwave until the beeswax is fully melted. The mixture should be liquid.
- Add a few drops of any essential oils you like, such as vanilla, peppermint or rose.
- Pour into a container and wait until dry.
- This recipe is about as easy as they come! Just combine equal parts Epsom salts and sea salt in a large bowl, and add any essential oils you like for scent. My favourite is lavender, and I like to add dried lavender flowers as well.
- Mix well and store in a glass jar away from any moisture.
- Combine equal amounts baking soda and citric acid into a large bowl.
- Add a small amount of cornstarch to the bowl and mix with a spoon. For instance, if you used ½ cup baking soda and ½ cup citric acid, you would add ¼ cup cornstarch.
- Add just enough sweet almond oil (or any other light vegetable or nut oil) so the mixture will hold together.
- Add a few drops of your favourite essential oils for scent. You can also add dried lavender flowers or rose petals. Mix everything together.
- Put the mixture into moulds (such as silicone muffin trays) and let dry for a day. When they’re dry, they should easily pop out of the moulds. Be careful with the bath bombs—they’re delicate!
- Like the bath salts, this recipe is extremely simple. Just combine equal parts baking soda and cornstarch with any essential oils you like and store in a shallow glass container. The baking soda neutralizes odor and the cornstarch absorbs moisture.
- To apply, use a makeup brush to dust a fine layer of the deodorant onto your underarms.
One-Ingredient Miracle Products
If you’re recipe-challenged or just plain lazy, these one-ingredient products are for you!
- Cornstarch Oil-Be-Gone Face Powder: For those who get shiny, oily faces during the course of the day, dusting a little cornstarch on your face with a makeup brush really helps. It can be used on its own or in combination with your regular face powder.
- Tea Tree Oil: Tea tree oil can be used to treat anything from lice to foot fungus, but my favourite use is to combat acne. Just apply a drop to a pimple at bedtime and it should clear up overnight.
- Aloe Vera All-Purpose Gel: Aloe vera is a plant known for its soothing and healing properties on the skin. It’s great on cuts and scrapes, blisters, sunburns, rashes, and even razor burn after shaving your legs. You can buy aloe vera gel from a drugstore or health food store. Even better, go to a plant store or nursery, buy a small plant and put it in your bathroom. Just break off a leaf whenever you need to use some and apply the gel inside the leaf.
- Vitamin E Oil: Vitamin E is great for reducing the appearance of scars and moisturizing your skin.
- Tea Facial Toner: Tea is a mild astringent and is packed with antioxidants so it makes a great toner. Green tea is a great choice, and if you have oily skin, chamomile is even better. Just brew up an extra-strong batch and store in the fridge in a glass bottle. To apply, use a cotton ball or a clean cloth.
- Clay Masks: Clay comes in different kinds (green, gray and white) for different skin types (oily, normal/combination and dry/sensitive). It can be purchased at any health food store. Combined with a little water, clay makes excellent facial masks.
Where to go shopping
Your local grocery store should have ingredients like cornstarch, Epsom salt, sea salt, tea, and baking soda. Check out the bulk section for less packaging. Also, be sure to read the labels and get only natural products. For instance, sea salt can come with many additives, such as anti-caking agents. You want your bodycare products to be as pure and natural as possible so avoid additives.
For more specialized ingredients like beeswax, essential oils and citric acid, check out a health food store, farmer’s market or vitamin retailer. If they don’t have something in stock, they may be able to order it for you.
One of the great things about making your own products is the amount of unnecessary packaging you can save. There are a few options for finding containers for your products:
- Re-use glass containers you have now. Any face creams or lip balms in glass containers can be cleaned out and sterilized by boiling them for three minutes in a pot on the stove. If you’re doing this, be careful—the glass gets very hot so don’t touch it with your hands. Use regular safety techniques when you’re boiling the jars. Also, never boil the plastic or tin lids, only the pure glass.
- Although some people do this, I don’t recommend reusing plastic containers because over time they can’t be cleaned properly and the plastic can break down. You want everything to be as sterile as possible. If you are going to re-use plastic, make sure it’s a number 2, 4 or 5 plastic. Number 1 plastic is only meant to be used once, and numbers 3, 6 and 7 have various health concerns.
- If you don’t have any containers to re-use, check out drugstores, specialty cooking stores and even dollar stores to find some good containers. Always wash them first!