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It’s not uncommon to spend a lot of time considering what drinks and food to ingest. We look for natural and organic plant-based produce to ensure we aren’t consuming carcinogenic chemicals and toxins, GMOs, or anything else which might be harmful to our bodies. It is surprising then that so little time is spent choosing what to put on our bodies. Expensive marketing campaigns inundate us with new products on a daily basis, which tell us we must have something in particular to look cleaner, fresher, and younger. These products tend to be chemical-laden and contain numerous unpronounceable names. In fact, the products are so complex that our natural pH level is upset and we find ourselves in a vicious cycle using one product after another to restore our natural balance.
The truth is we shouldn’t be spending a small (or large!) fortune on any of these hair- and skin-care products, when we can create natural and non-toxic DIY alternatives using simple kitchen ingredients. No chemicals. No fumes. No harm. The items have not been tested on animals, don’t contain known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors or neurotoxins, and can be personalised to our hair- or skin-type. In order to get started, there are a few economical and multi-use ingredients that you’ll want to have at hand:
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Baking Soda
- Castile Soap (Liquid) – Dr. Bronner’s is excellent
- Essential Oils – such as chamomile, eucalyptus, lavender, lemon/lemongrass, peppermint, rose, rosemary, sage and/or tea tree
- Glycerin (Vegetable-Based)
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Lemon Juice
- Natural Exfoliators – including: brown sugar; coffee grounds; oatmeal; pineapple
- Oatmeal (NOT instant)
- Oils – vitamin E and a base oil such as almond, apricot kernel, argan, avocado, coconut, grapeseed, hemp, jojoba, olive, or sesame
- Vegan Yoghurt
- Witch Hazel
The head is the most absorbent part of the body, so to ensure chemicals aren’t making their way into the body use a simple shampoo that helps to restore the natural moisture (oil) balance. Mix one (1) cup Castile liquid soap with 5 – 7 drops of essential oil(s). To treat dandruff or an itchy scalp add sage or lavender oils, to lighten hair use lemon oil, to promote growth use nettle or peppermint, and for dark hair that needs additional shine use rosemary.
If using a shampoo such as the one above a conditioner will almost certainly be unnecessary. For a little boost, however, mix two (2) tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with one (1) cup of water. Store in a spray bottle and use as needed.
The basis of homemade toothpaste is baking soda (which has anti-bacterial properties and is a mild abrasive) and hydrogen peroxide (which helps to break down bacterial films). Mix two (2) cups of baking soda with third (⅓) cup hydrogen peroxide and add essential oils to taste. Peppermint oil leaves the mouth fresh, while tea tree oil offers additional anti-bacterial properties. For something sweeter add third (⅓) cup vegetable-based glycerin. Store in an air-tight container.
4. Facial Exfoliator
To remove the dead skin cells from your face use something which is a mild abrasive, but won’t leave skin irritated. Use either coffee grounds mixed with a small amount of oil to soften or, for more sensitive skin, pineapple blended to a pulp. One (1) tablespoon applied to damp skin once a week should brighten even the dullest of complexions. Store in an air-tight container in the freezer. A slightly more stimulating scrub can be made with one (1) tablespoon of ground oatmeal, one (1) teaspoon of lemon juice; and two (2) tablespoons of yoghurt. This can double up as a face mask if left on the face for 5 – 10 minutes before scrubbing.
The simplest way to clean the face is with oil and works on the theory that applying clean oil to skin is the perfect way to cleanse the pores, removing dirt, and remove the excess oil which would otherwise clog pores. Begin with one (1) teaspoon of coconut or olive oil and apply to the skin in circular motions, using more if needed and rinsing with warm water (using fingertips or a soft cloth).
6. Make-Up Remover
If wearing make-up remove this before cleansing. Mix two (2) tablespoons of extra virgin coconut oil with two (2) tablespoons of vitamin E oil; two (2) tablespoons of alcohol-free witch hazel; and half (½) cup water. Apply with a soft cloth and wipe gently across face until all make-up has been removed before continuing with the rest of the cleansing regime. Store in an air-tight container or spray bottle.
The best way to moisturise is with an oil-based salve, mixing two (2) cups of a base oil with 5 -7 drops of chosen essential oil(s), this can be used all over the body and face. Store in an airtight container, and in the summer keep in the fridge to refresh the skin and reduce puffiness.
8. Body Wash
The shampoo mixture doubles up as a body wash.
9. Body Scrub
A sugar scrub is one of the easiest exfoliators to make, mixing two (2) cups of brown sugar with one (1) cup of either coconut or olive oil and 20 drops of essential oil(s). Scrub towards the heart to promote circulation. For something a little softer, substitute all or part of the sugar for oats. Use as little or as much as needed. Store in an air-tight container.
Anti-perspirants should be avoided at all costs. If something is needed to remove the smell of sweat however, mix two (2) tablespoons of baking soda (a natural deodoriser) with two (2) tablespoons of corn starch (which helps to absorb the moisture) and either lemon or tea tree essential oils. Both oils have natural anti-bacterial properties but for something even more effective consider adding sage and/or witch hazel. Store in an air-tight container. Store in an old spice jar (with perforated top) or talcum powder bottle.
Save containers and spray bottles from old skincare products to re-use for the new DIY alternatives. Ensure all containers have been cleaned to remove any residue and use a permanent marker to write clearly what it contains.
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