If you’ve ever worried about the chemicals that go into products you use every day, there’s good news: You can make most goods using common ingredients you might already have on hand. With just a little time and effort, you’ll be able to control exactly what you put on your hair and skin, and you’ll also feel good knowing you’re not dumping harsh chemicals down the drain or sending nonbiodegradable plastic containers to a landfill.
The one thing you’ll need are reusable glass containers, which you can find on Amazon or SpecialtyBottle.com. You can also use bottles you have from previous products; just wash with mild detergent and hot water to sterilize.
Who couldn’t use more moisturizing in our desert climate? This body lotion is easy to make and costs a fraction of the store-bought version. It’s also lighter, absorbs quickly and works for all skin types.
• 1 cup aloe vera gel
• 4 tbsp. fractionated coconut oil
• 1 tsp. vitamin E oil
• 10-20 drops essential oil of choice (lavender for calming, citrus for invigorating, peppermint or eucalyptus for cooling)
Method: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Using an electric hand mixer, beat until it reaches a smooth, lotion-like consistency, after about a minute or two. Transfer to glass jars to store and use within three months.
Everyone is obsessed with white teeth, but having it done professionally can be costly and time-consuming—and excessive use of whitening strips can damage the tooth enamel. This recipe uses three simple ingredients, which you can easily find in a drugstore.
• 1 tsp. aluminum-free baking soda
• 2 tsp. 3% food-grade
• 1 drop peppermint essential oil
Method: Mix baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and essential oil into a smooth paste. Coat toothbrush with paste and brush gently for about 2 minutes before brushing with regular toothpaste. Use no more than once a week, as baking soda can be hard on enamel.
Have you ever read the ingredients in the back of a shampoo bottle? Half the words are unpronounceable. For homemade shampoo, a little castile soap (Dr. Bronner’s, made of pure plant oils, is liquid magic) will do the trick.
• 1/4 cup liquid castile soap
• 1/4 cup water
• 1 tsp. olive oil (for dry or frizzy hair) or 1 tsp. baking soda (for oily hair)
• 4-5 drops essential oil (lavender, eucalyptus or wild orange are good choices)
Method: Combine all ingredients in a jar or bottle with an easy-pour spout. Shake before each use. Pour on your hand and lather your hair until it feels clean. Expect some trial-and-error as you determine whether you have dry or oily hair, and experiment with the amount of olive oil or baking soda added to the solution.
Similar to DIY shampoo, homemade conditioner is easy to make. This one uses avocado, which, it turns out, is good beyond toast.
• 1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
• 2 tbsp. olive oil
• 2 tbsp. honey
• 2-3 drops essential oil
(match the type with your DIY shampoo)
Method: Blend all ingredients in a food processor or beat in a stand mixer until smooth. Work mixture into washed, damp hair, focusing on the ends. Pull hair up into a bun and put in shower cap. Activate ingredients by blow-drying hair for a few minutes or sitting in the sun. Leave cap on for half an hour, then rinse and wash.
Forget those expensive face masks you buy at the drugstore. This one leaves your face feeling clean and cool, thanks to peppermint and eucalyptus oils.
• 2 tbsp. bentonite clay
• 3 capsules activated charcoal, split open
• 3-4 tsp. aloe vera
• 1-2 tsp. shea butter
• 1.5 oz. chamomile tea
• 1 drop peppermint essential oil
• 1 drop eucalyptus essential oil
Method: Brew tea and melt shea butter in a double boiler or by placing a small bowl on top of a small saucepan. Mix brewed tea and melted shea butter. In a separate bowl, mix bentonite clay and activated charcoal. Add clay/charcoal mix to shea/tea mix, and stir. Add aloe vera and essential oils, and mix well.
Store in an airtight container. When ready to use, apply all over your face and leave on for about 15 minutes. Wash off with lukewarm water.
The aluminum contained in commercial deodorants, while great at stopping perspiration, can also be harmful if too much builds up in your body. It’s easy enough to make your own deodorant, though one word of caution: DIY deodorants can stop odor, not perspiration, which is a good thing. Your body needs to sweat it out.
• 2 tbsp. shea butter
• 3 tbsp. coconut oil
• 3 tbsp. baking soda
• 2 tbsp. arrowroot powder
(or organic cornstarch)
• Few drops essential oil of choice
Method: Melt shea butter and coconut oil over a double boiler or in a bowl over a small pot. Remove from heat and add baking soda and arrowroot. Mix well and add essential oil. Pour into a small glass container for storage. To use, scoop a little on your fingertips and go to town on those pits.
Another drawback to living in a dry climate? Pesky chapped lips. Scrub those puckers with this concoction to reveal soft, plump kissers.
• 1 tbsp. coconut oil
• 4 tbsp. sugar
• 1 tsp. honey
• 8 drops grapefruit essential oil
• 8 drops lemon
• 1 oz. glass balm jars
Method: In a small mixing bowl, combine coconut oil, sugar, honey and essential oil. Mix until smooth. Transfer scrub into balm jars. When ready to use, scoop a little out with your fingertips and rub on lips to remove dry skin. Store scrub for up to six months, or share with friends.