There's good news when it comes to natural alternatives for personal care: 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
Suggested sources for supplies:
- SoapGoods offers an abundance of personal care supplies
- Mountain Rose Herbs has a wide selection of herbs, oils, rhassoul clay, and more
- Vitacost offers an excellent variety of products, with one low shipping price for any size order
- Check your area for organic buying clubs such as Frontier Natural Products Co-op
- Whole Foods and other health food stores carry organic apple cider vinegar, essential oils, and herbs
- 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.
- 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)
If using plain water, place all ingredients in a mason jar and shake to blend. Shampoo as usual.
* 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 soft, clean hair is to restore the hair to its normal pH of approximately 5.6 after washing. This can be done by exfoliating with coffee grounds, using Queen of Hungary Water (see below) or plain raw apple cider vinegar as a rinse. Lemon juice can also be used. If using rhassoul clay, nothing else may be needed.
For more information on natural alternatives for hair, including conditioners and chemical-free coloring options, visit our section on Hair Care.
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 approximately 5.6 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 bar soap
- 3/4 c. distilled water
- 1/4 tsp. honey
- 1/2 tsp. glycerin
- 5-10 drops essential oil such as rosemary or lavender
For dry skin, add 2 tsp. avocado oil.
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 our articles 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)
Combine in bowl, stir vigorously to blend. Dab on fingers and massage into face. Keeps for 6 months refrigerated.
- 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 3-5 drops tea tree oil for added protection.
- Queen of Hungary Water (see above) can be applied with a cotton ball or spray bottle.
For recipes including a probiotic deodorant and a deodorant cream using zinc oxide, see this website.
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
Combine ingredients in a small bowl and mix them thoroughly with a toothbrush, your finger, or a small spoon until a smooth, thick paste forms. The paste shouldn't be too runny; it has to stay on your toothbrush. Dip your toothbrush into the paste and use as you would regular commercial toothpaste.
Lip balm is simple to make with a double boiler or fondue maker. A standard recipe uses carrier oil and beeswax.
- One simple option is high-quality coconut oil, applied daily.
- Anhydrous lanolin is another excellent natural option.
- Rich Lotion for Chapped Hands (from the book Better Basics for the Home):
- 2.5 oz. apricot kernel oil and avocado oil (equal amounts mixed together)
- 1.5 oz. shea butter
- 1/4 oz. beeswax
- 4 oz. rose water
- 1 tbsp. glycerin (if buying rose water, it already has glycerin)
- 1/2 tsp. grapefruit seed extract
- 20 drops lavender essential oil or oil of choice
Combine oils, shea butter, and beeswax and melt in fondue maker or double boiler. Add remaining ingredients and mix until creamy. Keeps for 6 months.
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: momsAWARE founder and president, Andrea Fabry, talks about all-natural
personal care products and demonstrates a few of the recipes outlined above.