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natural soap


Hosting a DIY Beauty Party

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As readers of this blog know, I've been into making my own version of household cleaning and beauty products for a long time now. Making my own shower gels, shampoos and soaps helps me to save money and use less environmental resources. More important to me personally, making my own products means I know exactly what ingredients go into them, which helps me to avoid toxic ingredients that are unfortunately common in many store-bought brands. As a pregnant woman, this helps me to feel a lot better about things. When it comes to the foods I eat, the lotions I put on my body, and everything in between, I prefer to avoid long lists of unpronounceable ingredients. When it comes to DIY beauty products, I refuse to make anything that requires more than five ingredients. I also refuse to make anything that calls for a hard-to-find ingredient that requires a trip to a specialty store. DIY to me is all about simplification.

A small proxy of friends and I are part of a Ladies Night group, where we meet once a month for whatever activity that month's host chooses. In the past this has included dinners, Happy Hours, picnics, clothing swaps, croquet and more. A few months ago, some of my friends expressed interested in learning more about the homemade beauty products I make. I was thrilled to host a party showing them how to make their own. 


Preparing for this party could not have been simpler. I already had many ingredients on hand but also went to the store to stock up on more. I wanted to show my friends how to make a simple shampoo, shower gel, hand soap and face wash (and at the last minute I remembered a two-ingredient recipe for an eye cream, too). The only ingredients I needed to make all these different products were coconut oil, honey, castile soap, almond oil, olive oil, vitamin E oil, and coconut milk. I also had a small bottle of tea tree oil on hand as an optional ingredient. My friends brought their own essential oils, which were also optional. My friends also brought money to cover the expense of buying ingredients, so nobody went broke in the making of this party. 

As far as supplies, we only needed a few things there too: measuring cups, measuring spoons, a can opener for the coconut milk, and something to stir with. Halfway through the process I also brought out a funnel for anyone who needed it. My friends all brought their own containers to fill. (P.S. I had a lightbulb moment when one of my friends brought a plastic water bottle. Genius! There's no need to buy fancy bottles or containers if you don't want to. Instead of recycling that water bottle, repurpose it yourself by filling it with shower gel or soap.)


Often when we get together, my friends and I throw together potluck-style meals. Last night was no exception. I wanted to make a casserole-style dish that could feed a large group and didn't contain any dairy since one of my friends is lactose-intolerant. I found this Vegan Spinach & Artichoke Pasta Bake recipe online and I LOVE it. It has all the delicious creaminess of dairy without containing any actual dairy. (Cashews are a miracle ingredient.) My friends, meanwhile, brought delicious bread, crackers, dips, fruit, veggies, wine and macarons. We ate everything out on the patio and talked for hours after making our DIY goodies. It ended up being a fun and sweet night.

All of the recipes I used for the products we made can be found here: A Day in the DIY Life



For Those Who Don't DIY: A List of Resources

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I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about recipes for homemade versions of beauty and household products. I try to keep these recipes as easy and affordable as possible so they don't seem overly ambitious to the person who just wants to spend a few bucks and a few minutes whipping up her own soap.

Even at its easiest and cheapest, though, I recognize that there can be DIY obstacles. For one, a person may just not have the interest to make her own products. I get that. I'm a person who has no interest in sewing or fixing things around the house or trying to build something. Nine times out of ten, if there's something I need, I will buy it. Beauty and household products (and food) are my only exceptions. But DIY beauty and household products might not be your thing. You may have no desire to gather the ingredients together, find a container, and clean up afterward. I hear you.

Another obstacle: necessity. I recognize that for most people, that moment when they need something RIGHT NOW is not necessarily the moment they want to spend putting it together themselves. If you run out of makeup and  have a party to go to in a few hours, you're not necessarily going to want to take the time to blend arrowroot and cocoa powder, adding a teaspoon at the time until you get the perfect shade. I hear you again.

Also, there are some things that I wouldn't even know how to go about making on my own. How does one make sunscreen? Is there really a DIY way to make nail polish? With all this in mind, I wanted to make a list of resources I've used to help me make choices about the products I buy. Making my own products is great, but sometimes it's nice to know there are natural, safe store-bought options, too.

By the way, I just purchased the sunscreen in the photo above. I haven't tried it yet, so it's too early for me to give a review. All I know for now is that the ingredient list is minimal: zinc oxide, shea butter, coconut oil, sesame oil, jojoba oil, avocado oil, beeswax and vitamin E. None of this matters, of course, if it doesn't protect me from getting burned. I'll keep you updated after I try it out. 

Without further ado, here are resources I recommend using when you're looking for products with fewer unpronounceable ingredients and more skin-friendly, earth-friendly appeal.

What It Is: This super-helpful article takes commonly loved beauty products (think Cetaphil face wash or Jergens body lotion) and suggests safe, effective, cheap products to try instead. We all want clean skin, right? But wouldn't it be nice to get that clean skin without a side of chemicals? If you agree, you'll love this list. 

What It Is: Kris Carr is a natural living goddess who came back from cancer and now devotes herself to clean living. From green smoothie recipes to safer nail polish ideas, she's the go-to girl for knowing what's healthy and safe for the body. This list shows seven skincare and haircare lines committed to safer products. 

What It Is: The 2016 list is coming out soon, but for now the 2015 list is a good reference point. This site includes a list of the best sunscreens, the worst sunscreens, and lots of tips for staying safer in the sun. 

What It Is: I love Kris Carr so much, I'm citing her twice. This time she went to work testing less toxic nail polishes and gave them a score based on their animal testing standards and hazard rankings. 

What It Is: Actress Alicia Silverstone has made another name for herself as an outspoken vegan activist who advocates for healthier living through nutrition and external products. This list is a few years old but is still relevant today and includes her recommendations for effective makeup with minimal ingredients.

What It Is: With prices ranging from $5 to $85, this is a no-fuss list of safer makeup products with links to everything. This blog does not fail in its promise to be all about "finding exceptional non-toxic makeup and skincare products."

My biggest advice when it comes to both beauty and household products is this: Stop, drop, and look. Look at the ingredient list. If you don't recognize something, look it up. If you look up an ingredient and feel disturbed about it going onto your skin and into your bloodstream, ditch it. There are always safer alternatives. I understand there are so many causes bigger than makeup to fight for, but choosing more natural skincare products is something I know I can do. I can choose safer products for myself. People around me may be inspired to choose safer products for themselves, too. If enough people went this route, we could send a message to big makeup and beauty companies that we're tired of all the chemicals they're casually loading into their products. We're tired and we're ready for an alternative.  


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A Day in the DIY Life

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I realized that what started as making a homemade soap here and a homemade shampoo there has morphed into a complete lifestyle and I now officially use more homemade products than store-bought. I've already shared some of the recipes for some of these products, but I thought it would be nice to have one easy-to-find post that includes everything in one place.



DIY Shampoo

For a few months I went the "no-poo" baking soda and water route, but I missed having a shampoo that really suds up. Now I use this instead. It feels creamy and leaves my hair feeling clean and soft.

Ingredients: 1/4 c coconut milk
1/3 c liquid castile soap
1 t vitamin E, almond or olive oil
10-20 drops essential oil of your choice (optional)

Source: One Good Thing By Jillee


DIY Conditioner

I have a serious problem with tangles and was highly skeptical that this concoction would be able to combat them, but for some reason it just works.

Ingredients: 1 T apple cider vinegar
1 c water

Source: DIY Natural


DIY Shower Gel

I've been using this for months and it works as well as any store-bought body wash. It smells good, too.

Ingredients: 1/2 c liquid castile soap
1/2 c raw honey
1/2 c coconut oil, melted
10-20 drops of your favorite essential oil (optional)

Source: You Queen


DIY Face Wash

Making my own face wash was another thing I was really skeptical about because I have super sensitive skin. I find this face wash to be super soothing but also a very effective cleaning agent.

Ingredients: 1/3 c liquid castile soap
1/3 c raw honey
3 T distilled or boiled water
2 T nourishing oil like jojoba, almond, olive, apricot or argan

Source: Live Simply


DIY Hand Soap

To me this one is the biggest no-brainer because the soap I buy in stores seems unnecessarily expensive and this alternative is cheap, easy, and effective.

Ingredients: 1/2 c liquid castile soap
1/2 c distilled or boiled water
1 T vitamin E oil
1 T nourishing oil like sweet almond or jojoba
10-20 drops essential oil of your choice (optional)

Source: Live Simply


DIY Whipped Body Lotion

You're supposed to whip this body lotion up with a mixer, but I used a food processor instead.

Ingredients: 1 c coconut oil
1 t vitamin E oil (optional)
A few drops essential oil of your choice (optional)

Source: Living The Nourished Life


DIY Blemish Treatment

"Watch the honey!" is now a common phrase in my household, which I use to warn my husband when he leans in to kiss me after I've dabbed a little of this onto any blemishes on my face. If you can get used to the slight stickiness and wear it overnight, it works wonders. 

Ingredients: A few drops tea tree oil
2 t raw honey

Source: Home Remedies For Life


DIY Eye Cream

I love how gentle this feels when I apply it around my eyes right before I go to bed. The directions for this one are SLIGHTLY more involved than most of the recipes I'm posting here, so I definitely recommend visiting the Redefined Mom site for the full directions.

Ingredients: 1/2 c coconut oil
6-8 vitamin E capsules

Source: Redefined Mom


DIY Bronzer

I was originally going to use this as a foundation, but I got it too dark for my fair complexion.  I've found it works well as a bronzer instead. 

Ingredients: 1 T arrowroot powder or cornstarch for lighter skin, 1 t for darker
Small amount of cocoa powder, ground cinnamon and/or nutmeg until desired color is achieved
Optional jojoba, olive or almond oil if you want a more compact foundation

Source: Thank Your Body


DIY Handwashing Dish Soap

For awhile I was making a much more complicated version of this, but finally I settled on this super simple concoction.

Ingredients: 1 part liquid castile soap
10 parts water

Source: Lisa Bronner


DIY Dishwashing Soap

Look how clean those dishes are! This stuff really works.

Ingredients: 3 drops DIY handwashing dish soap
Fill cup 2/3 way with baking soda
Fill rest of cup with salt

Source: Huffington Post


DIY Reusable Kitchen Wipes

Get yourself a jar and cut up an old t-shirt (or in our case, an old pair of jeans). Then head over to One Good Thing By Jillee for the full explanation. 

Ingredients: Cloth strips & jar
1 c warm water
1/8 c liquid castile soap
5-10 drops essential oil of your choice (optional)

Source: One Good Thing By Jillee


DIY Toilet Bowl Cleaner

It's important to follow the instructions on this one because you'll create a volcanic explosion if you just willy-nilly throw all the ingredients together. Instead spray the vinegar mixture into the toilet, let set for a few minutes, and THEN add the baking soda. Go to DIY Natural for full instructions. 

Ingredients: 1/2 c baking soda
1 c distilled white vinegar
1/2 t tea tree oil (optional)

Source: DIY Natural


DIY Glass Cleaner

I had to experiment with different recipes until I found one I thought was truly effective. It seems so simple, but a little water and vinegar is really all you need.

Ingredients: 2 c distilled or filtered water
2 T vinegar white vinegar
10 drops essential oil of your choice (optional)

Source: Wellness Mama


DIY Face Mask

I don't actually use toilet bowl cleaner, glass cleaner and face masks EVERY day, but I use them often enough that I think they belong on this list. This face mask is something I swear by for those weeks when your skin is being problematic and you want to stop the breakouts. 

Ingredients: 5 strawberries
Juice of 1/4 lemon
1 T raw honey

Source: Heal With Food

A Few DIY Tips

As you can see, most DIY recipes require very few ingredients and a lot of them use the same ingredients over and over again. If you can get your hands on some coconut oil, liquid castile soap, and raw honey, you'll be able to make all kinds of homemade household and beauty products. Throw in some baking soda, lemon, and optional essential oils, and you're pretty much set. Try stocking up on these staples in bulk and you'll ultimately save money when you stop buying store-bought products. 

To not overwhelm myself, I have a few general DIY rules.

1.) I try to make my own version of something when I run out of the store-bought version. This way I don't feel like I'm wasting anything and I'm also not trying to make a lot of things at one time. Try it: next time your shampoo runs out, make your own. Next time your dish soap runs out, make your own. See how you like it. I love it. If it causes you stress, forget about it. The point of this is to make things easier and LESS stressful.

2.) I only use recipes that require approximately five ingredients or less. Again, the point of this is to make things simpler. I have no interest in running around town in search of unusual ingredients and I have no interest in following ten steps to get a final product. Look for recipes that are simple and that require minimal ingredients.

3.) Have fun. I mentioned this already, but seriously: if making your own products stresses you out, don't do it. I think a lot of people will be surprised to find just how easy and affordable it is to make your own versions of products you use every day. But if you don't think it's easy or you don't like the finished products, don't sweat it. I do this because I enjoy doing it. It makes me feel healthier because I feel like I have greater control over the toxins my body consumes. But if it's not your thing, it's not your thing. I'm happy it's become my thing and I'll continue sharing recipes as I experiment with them. Coming soon: DIY laundry detergent.


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DIY Day: Make Your Own Hand Soap



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An astute reader (hi, Mom!) pointed out that when it comes to my DIY projects, I don’t spend enough time talking about how well they worked. I give you the ingredients and directions, send you on your way, and then neglect to report on my observations about effectiveness. Whoops!

So let me start this hand soap tutorial with a mini review. This soap is more watery and less sudsy than the traditional soap I’m accustomed to. That said, I find it to be every bit as effective as regular soap and I love it for its simplicity. If you want a soap that’s super creamy or that smells incredibly fragrant or that suds up like bubble bath, look elsewhere. If you want a basic hand soap that calls for five natural ingredients, you’re in luck.  

I found this recipe on Live Simply. Here’s what you’ll need:

•1/2 cup castile soap
•1/2 cup water (distilled or boiled if you won’t use soap within a few weeks)
•1 T vitamin E oil
•1 T nourishing oil like sweet almond or jojoba oil
•Optional essential oils (original recipe calls for 15 drops tea tree and 5-10 drops lavender or peppermint)


Add water to the container you're using. I started with a mason jar and later transferred to a soap dispenser.

Add liquid castile soap.  


Add vitamin E oil. You may recall that in other recipes I've resisted buying things like essential oils, but I finally broke down and bought three basic things: vitamin E oil, sweet almond oil, and tea tree oil. 


Add jojoba or sweet almond oil.  


The mixture got pretty sudsy when I mixed o together, but the bubbles eventually died down.  


I only added 10 drops of tea tree oil. I know the recipe calls for 15 drops of this and 10 drops of that, but I decided to keep things as simple as possible.  

That's all you need a do to make your own soap. I've been using mine for about a week now and I still like it. It's basic, it gets the job done, and I feel like I don't have to worry about toxins when I use it. Win/win/win.