I’ve decided to add a DIY and natural beauty section to the blog because it’s something that has benefited me so greatly and I’d love to share and hear from you guys on the subject.
Over the past 2 years I’ve managed to whittle my beauty and self-care products down to a selection of oils, natural clay and kitchen items. I do use a few favourite store-bought products because there are a lot of wonderful brands out there these days and I’m still using store-bought shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste. I’ve yet to have much luck with DIY variations on those.
I use things like lavender oil, takuma oil, jojoba oil, rosehip oil, witch hazel, rose water, tea tree oil, coconut oil and apple cider vinegar. I’ll be sharing more about how I use these different products ands oils in coming posts.
For today, I wanted to get right to the fun stuff: spa day exfoliation! I use a homemade exfoliating scrub once a week to remove dead skin cells and impurities, clear blocked pores, brighten the skin and leave it feeling nice and soft. There are about a gajillion products you can buy that will exfoliate the skin, some are great and some not so much. You might see ingredients like parabens, phthalates, plastic and other irritating ingredients that just aren’t necessary for a simple exfoliant. Plus, some companies are still testing on animals and going DIY is the simplest way to avoid that.
Making your own scrubs at home is easy, inexpensive and can be nourishing, hydrating and calming for the skin.
Best Ingredients for DIY Exfoliators
1. Baking Soda
Due to its ultra-fine grain, baking soda makes a wonderful natural exfoliator for delicate facial skin. It also costs next to nothing. Baking soda is in fact a chemical and can be irritating to some, so you might want to test it on your arm before applying to your face.
2. Ground Oats
Oats are a great exfoliator for sensitive skin. My skin is sensitive and at times baking soda feels too harsh, so I often use oats in my weekly exfoliation routine. They’re inexpensive, soothing, moisturizing and a natural anti-inflammatory. You can simply mix them with a little warm water to form a paste, or they can be combined with baking soda, honey, coconut oil, olive oil, banana, avocado or other nourishing ingredients. Your skin should feel soft and hydrated after using a simple oatmeal scrub.
I’ve found whole oats don’t really do the job properly and tend to glob up and get all over the place, I’m messy to begin with so I prefer using ground oats to make a face scrub. Before using oats in skin care recipes, try blending them for a few seconds so they’re broken down a bit.
3. Raw Honey
I keep all of my DIY beauty plant-based, except for the addition of raw honey. As defined by the original vegan movement, honey is not considered to be vegan product so you’ll have to do your own research and make a decision whether you want to include it in your household or not. I include honey in my beauty routine for it’s anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and superb hydrating properties.
That being said, cheaper mass-produced, processed or pasteurized liquid honey loses many of it’s nutrients and vitamins when it undergoes heating so it doesn’t offer the same benefits of raw honey. If possible, source your honey from a smaller-scale, ethical beekeeper you can feel good about supporting. You can usually find raw honey at your local health food store or Farmer’s market.
I don’t use sugar too often in my DIY facial recipes because my skin is sensitive and sugar isn’t quite gentle as baking soda or oats. However, it does have benefits properties that make it a good addition to DIY skincare. I’ll use it if my skin is feeling fry but for me it’s usually better suited to a body scrub. Sugar is a natural source of glycolic acid which encourages cell turnover and regeneration. I like using a brown sugar scrub since it’s so delicious smelling when mixed with vanilla, honey and essential oils.
To use on the face, simply mix brown sugar or pure cane sugar with olive or jojoba oil to make a paste, then gently scrubs on the face in a circular motion for a few minutes before rinsing with warm water. You can also add in your favourite essential oils, honey or fresh lemon juice to customize it.
Coffee ground make another wonderful natural exfoliant that has anti-inflammatory benefits. Plus it smells amazing, so there’s that! To use coffee grounds in a natural scrub, simple mix 1 tbsp with a little olive, jojoba, coconut or avocado oil or honey, adding in any of your favourite essential oils, then gently rubbing on your face for a few minutes before rinsing off.
Below is my go-to concoction for a quick facial exfoliation. Once a week is plenty for me, you can experiment and see how your skin reacts but you definitely don’t want to over do it.
Try it with baking soda, ground oats or sugar based on your preference. Aside from the exfoliator, the lemon is a natural astringent and has antibacterial properties, the tea tree oil also has antibacterial properties, the lavender oil has natural soothing properties, can reduce inflammation and is antiseptic and anti-fungal, which can help to reduce scarring and speed healing. I’ve also added 1 tsp of coconut it it before, which makes it super creamy and soft on the skin. Coconut oil doesn’t really work for my skin but you might want to give it a try if you’ve had success with coconut oil before.
If you have any favourite essential oils you can go ahead and customize as needed. Different oils offer specific benefits to certain skin types, there are many books and articles online of the subject.
Before you use your scrub, try placing a warm washcloth over the face for about 30 seconds to open the pores. Then you’re ready exfoliate away!
DIY Facial Exfoliator
1. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl, slightly adjusting the amounts until it forms a paste.
2. With a clean face, very gently massage into skin (I do my lips too) with your finger tips, avoiding the sensitive area around the eyes.
3. Spend at least 3 or 4 minutes gently exfoliating in circular motions.
4. Rinse off with warm water and pat dry.
5. If you like, finish off with a toner such as rose water or diluted apple cider vinegar to close the pores.
6. Use once per week.
I would recommend testing something like this on your arm before applying to your face. You never know how your skin might react to new ingredients!
Please note that these are just ingredients and methods that have worked for me. There is a lot of trial and error when using DIY beauty. Like the time I slathered olive oil on my face and 5 minutes later looked like I’d had a chemical peel. Yikes. Or the time I made a banana and oat hair mask and was picking banana chunks out of my hair for hours. Hahaha. Seriously, though. You do have to experiment a little to see what works and what doesn’t.
I’m still figuring it out but it’s a lot of fun and I’ve seen some results. I like to keep it simple so I enjoy using items I already have around the house and just having fun with it. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of wonderful, organic, clean and cruelty-free brands out there that make some really excellent, high-quality products. I buy certain products sometimes just because some of them are so lovely, but I don’t like spending a lot of money on them either. I’m trying to do lots of research when it comes to what I’m putting on my skin but it can be extremely confusing, there is just so much conflicting information out there!! I still don’t really know what the deal with baking soda…if you have any further insight on baking soda, please fill me it!?
I have plenty more to share and will continue to post as I discover new techniques, recipes and methods for DIY homemade beauty products. Next up….dare I finally attempt the no-poo method? Have any of you tried it with success? What are your experiences with homemade beauty products and natural remedies?