Resources for making my own skincare products.
June 12, 2014 10:16 PM   Subscribe

I'm interested in making things along the lines of Lush and Herbivore Botanicals, but all I seem to be able to find online is "how to mash a banana and smear it on your face."

I really like the idea of making my own facial products (facemask, cleansers, moisturizers etc), and body care (bath soaks, lotions etc), and I can't seem to come up with the right keywords to get the google results that I want. The problem seems to be that I don't want to go the easy route, I want to invest the time and effort in order to get a product as good or better than I could pick up at the hippy store down the road.

I'm happy to order supplies online, and found some good sources for them, but actual recipes and places to start with making this style of beauty product is really hard to find. When I google "natural face mask recipe" for example, I'll be told to mash a banana and smush it on my face. Which, yeah. I'm sure is wonderful, but not what I'm looking for.

I'm looking for suggestions of books or websites to get me started! Alternatively, if you have a recipe you'd like to share, please do! I have really fair, dry skin if that matters for resources at all.

posted by Sweetchrysanthemum to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
I've used several of Rosemary Gladstar's recipes. Knowing a bit more about skin care now (I last used them several years ago), I think the miracle grains and facial steams can be a bit harsh for facial skin, but the beauty cream is incredible, amazing stuff.

You can get the ingredients from Mountain Rose Herbs.
posted by janerica at 10:46 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've appreciated the DIY Skincare Recipe and Discussion thread on Essential Day Spa - not sure if it fits your bill exactly, they probably lean a little more towards chemistry nerd than smashed banana, but I've used some of the recipes and found them really good. There's an index of the recipes here.
posted by Cheese Monster at 10:47 PM on June 12, 2014 ?
posted by sebastienbailard at 12:06 AM on June 13, 2014

Have you tried the library? I have a couple of herbal-type books that include detailed beauty prep instructions, and Amazon in "herbal beauty" has a bunch more, though not ones I own (mine are super old or British/Asian) and can recommend. A decent herbal remedy book will have a big beauty remedies section and lots of detail on the whys and techniques. You can swap out the herbs for fruits/flowers etc later on. Online will be piecemeal only.
posted by viggorlijah at 12:17 AM on June 13, 2014

It's been a while since I used it but I liked the things I made from Natural Beauty at Home.
posted by Beti at 12:27 AM on June 13, 2014

I have fair, dry skin too! I like to moisturize at night with straight oil (just a drop or 2, i rotate between sesame, avacado, jojoba, almond, coconut, grapeseed, apricot, and argan) Rice flour makes a nice exfoliating scrub. honey thinned out with warm water and oil is a decent mask.

I like to go on Sephora and Ulta and look at the skincare things that grab my attention and read the ingredients. A lot of the formulations are basically some kind of oil, silicones (barrier protection, you could use a small bit of mineral oil or petroleum jelly), emusifiers (you could use aloe), some kind of chemical to get rid of dead skin (you could sub witch hazel). The ratios are differnt depending on whether the product is a "serum" "moisturizer" "treatment" or whatever. You can experiment and fuss out your own recipes modeled after ingredients of store bought stuff.
posted by WeekendJen at 6:55 AM on June 13, 2014

Pinterest is a good resource for stuff like this. Do a search on "homemade body wash" or whatever product it is you want to make.
posted by lemniskate at 10:18 AM on June 13, 2014

Best answer: From Nature With Love has a recipe database, and also sells supplies.

Wholesale Supplies Plus is another I've used (also has recipes and a learning library).

Soapmakers' Choice has oils in bulk. A lot of them would be in quantities more than you need, but for instance, 7 lbs. of almond oil, which comes in a container roughly the size of an antifreeze jug, is only $18.35. Now go to the hippy store and price 8 or 16 oz. of almond oil and you'll see what a deal it is. You could probably share it out with friends (maybe grab a small pail of coconut oil, be aware it comes solid in a similar jug so has to be soaked in a sink of hot water in order to be pourable). The jojoba is a bit more and looks like they are having trouble keeping it in stock. Still, if you hunt through their list of base oils, there are some great deals. They will also be happy to answer your questions. Keep in mind that nut oils need to be stored in a cool dry place, as they can go rancid (so the first two links are more costly but smaller quantities).

Lotion is oil + water + emulsifier. Jojoba and almond are both good, olive is a bit more heavy. Water is self-explanatory (distilled is usually better). Emulsifier can be beeswax, or they also sell emulsifying wax on all of those sites. Some people use aloe, yes, and add a pinch of borax.

Here is one such recipe, that uses 2 parts aloe vera gel, 1 part beeswax and 1 part almond oil, a bit of vitamin E and some essential oil.

Keep in mind that when making lotions from scratch, you will run into the greasy effect and you have to whip them. Sometimes whipping and then chilling and whipping again helps. I found it easier to make my own balms, lip balm especially and buy unscented lotion bases and use them as is or add my own things.

A nice lip and foot balm recipe is:

1 part beeswax (you can buy yellow pastilles to have the scent or white, which are unscented. I sometimes buy blocks of beeswax from local beekeepers but then it has to be melted and poured into small containers, like say, an old Jello cup, because grating beeswax is a job for a masochist and it's hard to clean off the grater, so pastilles are really easy to measure and pour)
1 part liquid oil, almond or olive or jojoba (I use olive oil and sometimes add almond in a smaller quantity)
1 part oil that is solid at room temp, such as coconut (and sometimes a small quantity of cocoa butter, which is very hard so too much will make your balm too hard)

I melt it all in a tin can that I have crimped at one edge using a pair of pliers. I set the can in a small pan of water. Then if I want, I add some essential oil at the very end. I use clean chopsticks to stir. Once it's all melted, I put a glob onto a piece of wax paper and let it cool. Then I test it on my lips and the back of my hand. Too soft, I add a bit more beeswax. Too hard, a bit more liquid.

I have also infused my liquid oil with herbs like comfrey, which can be easily found in bulk online (keep in mind that 1 oz. of a dried herb is a lot, so don't order 1/2 a pound or anything). I put a handful of comfrey into a glass jar, like an old instant coffee jar, and cover it with oil. Stir with a chopstick. Put in a bath of simmering water and get the oil to 120 degrees. Shut off the heat. Do the same thing for 3 hours, trying to keep between 100-120 degrees (not too hot). Let cool, then strain. It will be greenish. If you have patience, strain it through coffee filters. I do not, so I usually use a regular mesh strainer, knowing that some fine bits of herb will be in my final product, but that usually sinks to the bottom. This oil will make your salve a bit mushier than regular oil. But comfrey has allantoin in it and you can find that in many cosmetics, it's very soothing, especially for cracked heels. You can also buy allantoin powder.

Another thing to keep in mind is that some essential oils can cause sunburn -- in particular, citrus oils. So if you want an orange lip balm or lotion, that's pretty much out. Less is usually best to start with when adding essential oils to products (you can always add more).

For cheap packaging, I like Midwest Bottles. I use the 1/3 oz. jar for my lip balms and a 2 oz. for foot and hand balms.

A good book for studying herbs, that also has recipes in the back, is The New Age Herbalist. Don't let the name fool you, it has color photos of herbs, the latin names, chemical composition, etc.

E. D. Luce is a good source of glass jars (and plastic).

A really good body scrub recipe is simply sea salt, almond oil to moisten, and essential oil. I love litsea cubeba, which smells like lemon (similar to lemongrass) and it's really heavenly. Per that link, you can also mix it with jojoba and use on your face. I would avoid the salt scrub on the face and go with something more like an oatmeal scrub.

A great facial toner is lavender essential oil mixed with witch hazel and water. Shake and spritz on your face (close your eyes first!).

WIsh I had more recipes but what I did was check a ton of books out of the library, including a cosmetic dictionary, and slog through internet recipes. Keep in mind that you will have failures but think of it as science! and realize that tons of people have experimented with this stuff and you have to find out what you like, and for me, making soap and balms and salt scrubs was fun, and trying to make a non-greasy lotion at home was a real drag and not worth my time. I buy a generic oatmeal based unscented lotion. But I can't be without my homemade lip balm. YMMV. Good luck!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 10:23 AM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]!
posted by ghostbikes at 2:38 PM on June 13, 2014

A paste made from whole milk + freshly grated nutmeg is a little miracle for getting rid of those blackheads around your nos and works better than those Biore strips ever did for me. It also makes a great all-over mask. I discovered it on Crunchy Betty, which has all kinds of DIY beauty stuf.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:57 PM on June 13, 2014

Best answer: MakeupAlley (registration required to use full site) is a community for people interested in skin care and cosmetics, and a fair number of members are into mixing up their own skin products. Recipes get shared in the Product Reviews section (typically under "Unlisted Brand"), on the Skin Care discussion board, and on individual notepads. Also, two online retailers, Garden of Wisdom and All Cosmetics Wholesale, get cited there repeatedly as good sources for ingredients and supplies.
posted by FrauMaschine at 8:01 AM on June 14, 2014

P.S. Garden of Wisdom's site includes a section on book recommendations for DIY cosmetics.
posted by FrauMaschine at 8:09 AM on June 14, 2014

When googling, I would use something like "homemade face mask" rather than "natural face mask". It's subtle, but there are definitely different results. If there is a particular Lush product you want to DIY, you can google for the product name specifically (e.g. homemade shower jelly).
posted by freezer cake at 9:02 PM on June 18, 2014

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