One in five personal care products contain chemicals linked to cancer, 80 percent contain ingredients that commonly contain hazardous impurities, and 56 percent contain penetration enhancers that help deliver ingredients deeper into the skin.
To find out what's in the products you use, take a tour of EWG's Skin Deep Database.
Even the products sold in health food stores aren't necessarily pure and natural. Examples of brands with strict integrity include Aubrey Organics, Waleda, Autumn Harp, and Organic Essence.
But the good news is that with a few supplies and a little creativity, you can make your own personal care products. The possibilities are endless!
- Glass or plastic spray bottles (available online or previously used, emptied, and cleaned well)
- Mason jars in all sizes (if using plastic tops, have a grease pencil on hand to label)
- Liquid Castile soap
- Raw apple cider vinegar
- Herbs such as nettles, birch, comfrey, lavender
- Essential oils such as lavender, plumeria, tea tree, lemongrass
- Rhassoul clay
- Rhassoul clay is known historically to cleanse the hair and body. The clay binds with toxins, oils, and dirt and washes them away. Rhassoul clay is best used as a paste. Apply paste to wet hair, comb through, and rinse. Comb through again. Follow with a vinegar rinse. Rhassoul clay can be purchased at Mountain Rose Herbs. For other specific ideas on incorporating rhassoul clay into your hair and skin routine, see this website.
- Soap nuts may be purchased and decocted to form a liquid soap suitable for shampoo. NaturOli is one source for purchasing soap nuts. To decoct, place a heaping handful of soap nuts in 4 c. water. Bring to boil and simmer for one hour. Place in mason jar or plastic bottle. Shake well before using. Store in refrigerator. Replace once a week.
- Basic shampoo:
- 10 oz. water or herbal water *
- 1-2 oz. liquid Castile soap
- 1 tsp. glycerin
- 20-35 drops essential oil (tea tree oil can be effective for itchy scalp)
* To make herbal water:
Choose an herb such as birch, nettles, comfrey, or lavender. Place a handful of herbs in a mason jar. Cover with 2-4 cups boiling water. Cover and let steep for a minimum of 4 hours. Strain.
Add 3-6 drops grapefruit seed extract to preserve for several weeks, or store in refrigerator.
The key to healthy, vibrant skin is a healthy diet full of nutritious whole foods and essential fatty acids. (EFAs are of particular importance when eczema and hair loss are involved.)
To treat the skin externally, three steps are required: cleansing, toning, and moisturizing. As with our hair, it is important to restore our skin to its natural pH of 5.5 after cleansing.
- Decocted soap nuts (see above). Best stored in refrigerator. Replace weekly.
- Cleansing water. Mix 1/2 tsp. liquid Castile soap with 1 c. water in a mason jar. Shake before using. Stores indefinitely.
- Gentled soap:
- 1 oz. grated Castile soap
- 3/4 c. distilled water
- 1/4 tsp. honey
- 1/2 tsp. glycerin
- 5-10 drops essential oil such as rosemary or lavender
Place Castile soap in water overnight to dissolve. Add remaining ingredients and stir. Dab with washcloth and wash as usual. Rinse with warm water.
- Witch hazel extract. This can be made by infusing witch hazel leaves (see above directions for herbal water).
- Raw apple cider vinegar is an excellent toner.
- Herbal astringent formula. Combine 1 c. herbal water (see above) with 2 tbsp. glycerin (or less) and 1/3 tsp. grapefruit seed extract. Shake and apply. Can be stored safely for several weeks or refrigerated longer.
- Queen of Hungary water. This is a more elaborate toner, easy to make and full of medicinal qualities. This recipe is adapted from the book Better Basics for the Home:
- 6 small handfuls lemon balm
- 5 small handfuls calendula flowers
- 4 small handfuls rose petals
- 3 small handfuls comfrey
- 1 small handful rosemary, lemon peel, and sage
Place herbs in a gallon glass jar. (You can halve this recipe for a 1/2 gallon jar.) Cover the herbs completely in raw organic apple cider vinegar. Screw on lid tightly. Let sit for 4-6 weeks. Shake the jar several times a week.
Strain the mixture. Combine remaining liquid with equal parts witch hazel extract. Rose water may also be used.
Dab on face and massage into skin. Queen of Hungary water also makes an excellent rinse for hair. Can be stored indefinitely.
- Homemade cream kefir mixed with lavender makes an excellent moisturizer. Kefir, as with any soured milk product, is loaded with lactic acid, which is one of the alpha hydroxy acids. AHAs stimulate collagen production, which makes the skin more elastic and appear more youthful.
Cream kefir can be made by blending 1/4 c. homemade kefir and 2 c. raw or store-bought cream (avoid ultra-pasteurized). Allow to ferment for 24-48 hours, stirring several times. To learn more about kefir, see these previous posts on the Health Benefits of Kefir and How to Make Dairy Kefir.
- Basic moisturizer. Combine 1/2 c. aloe vera gel with 1/8 c. glycerin. Stir to blend. Dampen face and massage onto skin. Stores for several months.
- Flora De Mayo Cream (from the book Better Basics for the Home):
- 1/2 c. aloe vera gel
- 1/8 c. glycerin
- 1/2-1 tsp. royal jelly
- 1 tsp. plumeria flower essence (can use lavender essential oil)
- Baking soda is an excellent odor neutralizer. Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda onto a damp washcloth and pat on the body. Make a baking soda spray by blending 3 tsp. baking soda with 1 c. water in a spray bottle. Add tea tree oil for added protection.
- Queen of Hungary water (see above) can be applied with a cotton ball or spray bottle.
There are a myriad of ways to clean our teeth. Baking soda, coconut oil, bentonite clay, and peelu are a few of the ingredients used in natural toothpaste.
Author Stephanie Tourles offers this simple recipe in her book Organic Body Care Recipes:
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt, finely ground
- 1 drop peppermint, spearmint, sweet orange, clove, or cinnamon bark essential oil
- A few drops tap water
Lip balm is simple to make with a double boiler or fondue maker. A standard recipe uses carrier oil and beeswax. A few examples can be found at this website.
momsAWARE offers a specially formulated lip balm with natural, healing ingredients. Visit our Online Store to find out more.
Transitioning to all-natural personal care products is a process. Allow yourself to make changes slowly. As you try one recipe, or choose a healthier product, you’ll enjoy a new sense of empowerment. You may just find a new glow on your skin and shine in your hair!
Below: A look at some of the ingredients and recipes outlined above, including a demonstration on making Queen of Hungary water.