Some people think natural products aren’t as effective as conventional ones. This couldn’t be less true; when formulated correctly, natural products are incredibly effective. Nature’s powerful bounty offers an array of skin,loving benefits. Oftentimes, we don’t even think about how powerful the foods we eat can be when used for our skin and hair. For example, olive oil can be used right from the bottle as a skin-hydrating makeup remover, and strawberries and oatmeal make a gentle, vitamin-packed cleanser.
What I love most about creating homemade natural beauty products is how easy it is. You can whip up luxurious masks, foot soaks, and body butters using ingredients in your pantry and some basic tools from your kitchen. It’s so simple that you can make natural beauty products virtually anywhere, including in a hotel room. If I’m traveling and I forget to bring a product with me or if I run out, a quick trip to the breakfast buffet has pretty much everything I need. For a DIY mask, for example, I gather some oatmeal, bananas, coffee, and a little yogurt and prepare the mask in my room. It’s great for helping ease travel-related stress, dehydration, and puffy eyes.
I adore fresh ingredients, and simple straightforward skin-care products are easy and inexpensive to make—for yourself, to give as gifts, with your kids, or during a girls’ night in. When my daughters were young, I was always looking for fun, creative birthday party ideas. Hosting DIY nights became the thing to do at our house. After a make-your-own pizza dinner activity, we’d craft our own personal skin-loving treatments with a bevy of odds and ends (avocado, buttermilk, clay, and so on). Then, we’d all do facial masks. The girls always had a blast.
This chapter offers a list of tools you’ll need to succeed and some of my favorite natural ingredients that can transform and heal your skin in incredible ways. While many ingredients can be found in the grocery store, other products like certain clays or oils are most readily available from various online retailers and specialty stores. There is no need to run out and grab everything on the list; simple swaps of one ingredient for another can be made—such as soymilk in place of goat milk.
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
This section lists all the kitchen tools I find helpful for making products at home. While the list might look lengthy, most of the recipes I share in this book can be prepared using little more than cupboard staples, like bowls, spoons, and glass containers. In most cases, if you don’t have an item, you can swap one tool for another. So don’t feel as if you need a kitchen makeover before getting started.
I’m an avid baker, and baking is known for being a precise art. As with baking, having better tools makes the process easier, but it isn’t essential for a good product. Since the recipes I share in this book are meant to be made at home, wherever possible I’ve kept the equipment you’ll need to prepare your DIY skin-care products to the basics. There are plenty recipes in the book though, so if something calls for a tool you don’t have on hand, try a different recipe with similar benefits that includes tools you do have.
To make your DIY products, you can use your regular cooking tools and vessels—except when it comes to making products that contain beeswax. Though beeswax is a wonderful ingredient in body butters and lip balms, it can be impossible to completely remove it from your kitchen implements. So, if you’re using beeswax in your recipes, set aside some kitchen tools just for your lovely beeswax beauty products.
• Cheesecloth, nut milk bag, or small strainer
• Measuring cups
When making your own products, be sure to use nonporous utensils, preferably stainless steel. Because wooden utensils are porous, they can “hold” contaminants such as mold, bacteria, and fungus, which can then contaminate your products. I also prefer glass, enamel, or stainless steel bowls to their plastic counterparts when making products, but especially for storage. Some recipes call for a hot infusion, which involves steeping herbs or tea; a cheesecloth, nut bag, or small strainer will allow you to easily strain those infusions and add nutrient-packed waters to your skin-care products. Some ingredients need to be grated, so that’s where your grater will come in handy. Measuring cups allow you to carefully measure out your ingredients so that nothing goes to waste.