Don’t you need a lot of special ingredients to make your own beauty products?
I’m asked this question a lot in my workshops. It seems like you’d need a ton of expensive oils and hard to find ingredients to make effective natural beauty products. I thought the same thing too, before I started making them myself.
Much like cooking, you can use exotic, expensive ingredients that you special-order from suppliers around the world … or you can simply use good-quality basics. And much like with cooking, often these simple ingredients give the best results.
Especially when we’re trying to use local ingredients – the kinds that our great-grandmothers would have used out of necessity (no shea butter or argan oil would have been available to my great-grandmother in Iowa!)
I think there’s a huge opportunity here to focus on local, natural and organic ingredients in our beauty products and home remedies, just like we do with our food.
It isn’t hard to make your own beauty products and home remedies – you just need to learn the techniques, have a couple reliable recipes and keep your cupboard stocked with these 6 basic ingredients on-hand.
6 must-have natural beauty ingredients
1) One or two good carrier oils
Oils make up a large part of many of our homemade beauty products because they moisturize, allow the product to spread well, and have a long shelf-life. Carrier Oils is a generic term meaning the oils that makeup a large part of a recipe (as opposed to a specialty oil used in smaller amounts of an essential oil.) Here’s your chance to use a locally grown oil. Choose from olive, sunflower, almond, or grapeseed to name a few. You’ll want a good-quality oil, stored in a dark bottle (or dark location) which you can use abundantly within your products. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but go for good quality and something as local to you as possible.
Beeswax is key for transforming your carrier oils into balms, salves, ointments and creams. Talk to your local beekeepers association to see if you can buy some locally-sourced beeswax. Otherwise you can buy beeswax online here. A vegan alternative is carnauba wax, but I haven’t personally used this.
3) A few essential oils
Essential oils are extremely concentrated extracts of the aromatic constituents of plans. Because they’re so concentrated, it takes tons of plant material to make one little bottle of essential oil. That means essential oils tend to be expensive. The good news is that these little bottles last a long time, and you only need one or two to get started. Essential oils not only add a pleasant scent to your products, but they also have therapeutic properties both for health and beauty. I recommend everyone start with a bottle of pure Lavender essential oil. Depending on your location, you might be able to find essential oils that are local to you (or at least within the same general region or continent!) Of course you’ll also want to select your oils based on your specific skincare and health concerns. You can learn more about the properties of essential oils in this book.
4) Apple Cider Vinegar
Vinegar is highly underrated as a natural beauty ingredient! Our great-grandmothers would have used vinegar everyday as a health tonic, as a household cleaner, and on their skin. The skin likes a slightly acidic pH, and a diluted vinegar solution can help to rebalance the pH of the skin after it’s been made too alkaline by soap. My favorite ways to use apple cider vinegar are as a facial toner and as a hair rinse. Look for locally produced apple cider vinegar, ideally raw “with the mother” so it’s a true living vinegar.
I use honey as a standalone beauty product all the time. It’s a brilliant facial cleanser or face mask, and also soothes burns and helps skin healing and regeneration. I also infuse honey with garlic as a potent immune-booster during cold season. Look for local honey that is “raw” (ie, hasn’t been pasteurized or heat processed)
A relative newcomer to my list of must-have beauty ingredients, salt can be used as a body scrub, as a therapeutic or relaxing bath salt, and some people even use it as a tooth powder! I prefer coarse grained sea salt for baths, and a medium grain for salt body scrubs. Salt lasts forever as long as you keep it dry, so it’s great to stock up on in bulk. Look for a salt that is harvested locally (or at least in the same georgraphic region). Yes, it’s pretty to see Himalayan pink sea salt, but you definitely don’t need it for beauty purposes – buy local instead! Different salts do have different mineral properties, so you might want to have several types on hand to get a wider range of minerals.
What are your must-have beauty ingredients? What have I missed off the list? Leave a comment and let me know.