If you had told me two years ago that I’d be making my own deodorant, I’d have thought you were crazy.
“I’m just not that crunchy, and I certainly don’t have the time,” I would have said, probably accompanied by an eye-roll and further snarky comments. But it turns out it’s fun to mix up potions. It suits both the scientist and the witch in me.
Like most of us, I’m sure, I’m crazy busy. I have a full-time job, plus another half a job, a kid, and a really immature husband (so it’s like having two kids). What ultimately motivated me to try DIY was my skin: I’m so sensitive that even clean products don’t always fit my needs. That’s why I want to encourage others to try DIY, especially those of you who think you’d never do it. Because it doesn’t have to be either/or: I will always love to use brand-name products, but there are a few things I regularly make for myself, too.
Remember that when it comes to DIY, it’s whatever you want it to be. You could make something really luxurious or something very simple and inexpensive. DIY can meet very specific needs, and is likely to be cheaper, especially in the long term. Your DIY will also make sweet gifts.
With that said, here are some pointers that may help you get started…
1. Keep it clean. Use your NMDL radar when researching DIY, because not all the people talking about it are into clean ingredients.
2. Use the right materials for mixing. Try Pyrex to heat/mix in, and wooden or silicone utensils. I’ve often seen the advice to avoid metal for DIY, and I find it easy to believe some ingredients could react with the metal. I break the rule a little with occasional use of an immersion mixer, and I measure dry ingredients in metal.
3. Don’t microwave. If you have to heat you ingredients, do so gently, double-boiler style, and avoid microwaving. You want to preserve the healing qualities of your ingredients. Also, if you overheat, it will change the consistency of your final product.
4. Recycle. Save pretty glass containers from your other products for storage, or you can buy these fairly cheaply. I have found some BPA-free plastics that I use for certain things.
5. Work with your own budget. DIY is as expensive or inexpensive as you want it to be. You can choose fancy or common carrier oils and butters, high end or modestly priced essential oils, etc.
6. Start small. Begin with something simple to convince yourself you can do it. Get some bulk sea salt and a few essential oils you like, and mix up bath salts. Or melt your favorite butter (like shea or cocoa) with a lighter oil (try a 3:1 ratio), and add EOs (or not) to make a great body butter that will do wonders for your hands and feet.
7. Copy your favorites. When you are ready for something more advanced and experimental, use the ingredients list of your favorite products as a jumping off point.
8. Find a good shop. Look for a local brick and mortar to buy ingredients and packaging. Or try these:
Mountain Rose Herbs, for everything—EOs, butters, oils, packaging—and it’s all super clean.
Elements Bath and Body, for ingredients and packaging. They aren’t all clean, so use discretion. I mention them for their awesome BPA-free twist up tubes I use for deodorant.
Skin Actives, for active ingredients. I buy individual actives from them, but the ready-mades are not clean.
American Weigh, for a scale to weigh your actives. I have the AMW-70 Precision Pocket Scale.
I love the recipes readers have been posting (you can find them here, or by doing your own a DIY search on our site). Have you been inspired yet? If you have, what helped you get started?
This is so awesome! The amazing makeup artist Katey Denno, who we’ve yet to meet but would love to (hi, Katey!) has done a video demonstrating the perfect summer face using all our favorites: Vapour Organics, RMS Beauty, Tata Harper, Kjaer Weis and Ilia.
I, for one, am in love with the finished look.
Do you guys use brushes, or your fingers, to apply your makeup? And what do you think of the finished product?
Meet Amy: Her skin is dry and she’s on a budget, so she developed this awesome-sounding recipe that both hydrates and scents the skin with citrusy goodness. Sounds delish. She also breaks down the whole emulsifier thing, which I know I’ve wondered about. Thanks Amy!
—Current hometown: Boulder, CO
—Product name that I made up: Happy Hydration
—Ingredients list: shea butter, jojoba oil, coconut oil, emulsifying wax*, distilled water, bergamot essential oil, sweet orange essential oil, vitamin E oil
—How I made It:
- Combine 5g shea butter, 10g jojoa oil, 5g coconut oil, and 5g emulsifying wax in one heat proof container
- Add 70g of distilled water to a separate heat proof container
- Create a double boiler by placing both containers in a low amount of just boiling water on medium heat (I put all of my ingredients in two glass pyrex measuring cups, then placed in pot of boiling water)
- Once the ingredients heat up to around 150 degrees, continue to let them sit in the double boiler for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, take them out, pour the distilled water into the mixture of oils, and immediately blend with an immersion blender for about 30 seconds (I’ve also used a regular blender and food processor and all work pretty well)
- Let the liquid lotion cool until it reaches about 120 degrees (5-10 minutes), then add in any essential oils. Blend for another 30 seconds or so.
- Pour into a clean and dry container. Once the lotion reaches room temperature (30ish minutes) it’s okay to put the lid on. Adding a lid any sooner can cause condensation to form in the container, equaling breeding grounds for some nasty mold.
How it smelled, felt, worked…
Nice light, creamy texture and happy citrus scent! Absorbs well into the skin.
Why I will or won’t do this again…
I’ve been experimenting with making my own lotions for about 6 months now and this is my favorite recipe so far. I have incredibly sensitive skin and a tight budget, and I feel like this lotion is perfect for both. I’m also a fan of using only oil as a moisturizer, but sometimes I just crave a creamy body butter or lotion to rub into my skin instead. I live at a high altitude, super dry climate and this recipe is versatile enough that I can make it extra heavy (using more shea or cocoa butters) for the dry winter months, or lighter (liquid-at-room-temperature-oils instead of butters) during the summer. It’s also multi-functioning – my boyfriend likes to use my lighter versions as a facial moisturizer and it gives him awesome glowy skin.
*I’m still slightly indecisive about this ingredient. To make lotion, it seems there needs to be some kind emulsifier to bind the oil and water together. At first I was resistant to using the wax, but when I discussed it with someone at the local apothecary where I buy all of my other ingredients, they explained that 1. although it’s processed, it is vegetable based, safe, and junk-free, it’s just no longer in it’s purest form; 2. I’m using a very small amount of it in my recipe and compared to any lotion I would buy, 5g of emulsifying wax is harmless; and 3. everything else in this store is as clean as it comes, organic, fair trade, etc. and I totally trust these people.
So for the time being, to get my lotion fix when just oils aren’t satisfying, I’m going to continue to throw in some emulsifying wax. Any thoughts? Have you guys looked into emulsifying wax?
Also, off the subject of my DIY submission but still awesomely DIY related…I had a nasty cut on my finger last night and in a pinch mixed some raw honey and vitamin E oil together, gooped it on my finger and put a band aid over it for the night. This morning the cut was more or less healed! No more nasty neosporin for me.
Meet Krystal, everybody. Full disclosure: I know this gal! But finding her routine in our inbox was a total surprise. See, a long time ago we worked for the same company, and I actually tried stealing her from another department to come help me with copy. They wouldn’t let her go—so I’m happy to finally be putting her writing skills to use. Plus, it’s a great routine—we’re clearly singing from the same songbook on favorite brands—with some stellar tips. Enjoy!
Current Weather: Coming out of California “June gloom.” Cool mornings, hot, dry days, and somewhat sticky nights.
Hair: Extremely fine and silky (with a few skin weft extensions – my one and only dirty secret!)
Skin: Prone to breakouts, larger pores around my nose.
Favourite star or icon from the past: Candice Bergen in the 60s
In the shower…
When I’m not half-asleep, I dry brush first. I use Bronner’s liquid almond soap on the areas that require de-funking, and Skin and Bones oil (smells SO good) on the rest of me. I wash and condition my hair with Acure Organics duo in Pure Mint and Echinacea (the volumizing one). I was on a baking soda, ACV and dry shampoo kick for a while, but even after a few months, my hair always looked wet or greasy, and smelled unpleasant. If I need to shave something, I use coconut oil, which is lovely, but you need to use really hot water when rinsing the razor to melt away any oil and hair caught in between the blades.
Outside the shower…
Before I blow dry or braid my hair, I mix a tiny amount of argan and jojoba oil in my palm to moisturize the ends. I spritz my face with the lovely aloe and rosewater concoction I whipped up after reading this DIY and dab a bit of jojoba oil around my eyes. While that’s soaking in, I spread a little Soapwalla on my pits. I was using Lavanila for many months, and ended up quitting it, not for the controversy, but because it stopped working. Soapwalla is working out quite nicely, though I do miss that super sweet Lavanila scent.
What some call finishing touches, I call the main show! I’ve always been one of those gals who likes to wear a lot of makeup, but look like she’s not wearing any at all. I start with some RMS un-cover up (the price tag kept me from trying it for some time, but a sample from Spirit Beauty Lounge persuaded me that the price is well worth it) around my eyes, and in the redder areas around my nose and chin. I then sweep on a light dusting of W3LL People’s altruist foundation, and set it with Lotus Wei’s Infinite Love Energy Mist. I sweep on 100% Pure’s Pot Rouge on my cheeks, their satin eye shadow on my lids (I try to use as few brushes as possible) and, if I’m feeling dramatic, their eye brow powdered gel on my dirty blonde brows. I finish off the eyes with Jane Iredale’s pencil eyeliner and Longest Lash mascara (which does require several passes to get the same volume and lengths as commercial mascaras). For my lips, I use Josie Maran’s Magic Marker Lip Stain with Argan Color Stick (it’s so easy to get nice, sharp lines with the marker end!) Of course, no natural makeup look would be complete without that subtle glow, best achieved with RMS’ Living Luminizer.
When I went clean, the absolute hardest thing to give up was my Burberry London perfume, which I had worn dutifully for years and it had become so identifying that when I stopped wearing it people immediately began telling me I smelled different (“Oh, no, no, no, not bad just…different”). I went through SO many different natural perfumes that just smelled like old ladies or cooking ingredients, I thought I’d never find a new signature scent, forever smelling “different.” Then, I tried out Tsi-la’s Fleur Sauvage. Floral and sweet, but with a woodsy quality that gives it substance and weight, I can’t smell my wrists without closing my eyes and smiling. It’s that good. Trapped-on-a-desert-island-and-can-only-bring-one-thing good.
That’s it! Thanks for letting me share! It’s been a long and crazy journey from dirty to clean, but after finding what product works best for me, I’m happier with the quality and performance of the products I use far more than I ever used to be with conventional junk.
A clean story after our own hearts. Just for fun, are there any readers out there who like their clean products less than the conventionals? Which ones, and why?
We are dying to try this genius, simple recipe from Audie. We’ve talked a lot about honey in these parts: It’s naturally antibacterial, and manuka honey in particular has been studied for its usefulness in treating and healing acne. Lemon, we’ve also learned, can work well to fade scars—which anyone with acne knows is 50% of the problem with problem-prone skin: Your skin finally clears up, and you’re stuck using concealer on your scar, which is annoying and may cause even more problems, depending on what you’re using. Here’s her recipe! Will you be trying it?
Current hometown: Boise
Product name that I made up: Manuka Honey & Lemon Elixir
Ingredients list: Manuka honey and pure lemon juice
How I made It: I measured 1/4 tsp. of honey and a little less than 1/4 tsp of lemon juice. A little goes a long way since I just apply it to my face.
How it smelled, felt, worked: After using this mixture a few times a week for the last 2 weeks…
I have noticed my acne spots are lighter and any existing acne heals a lot quicker. My congested skin is also clearing up!
Why I will or won’t do this again: I have already seen improvement in my skin and I know with continued use I am going to see greater results.