Make do and mend challenge: Homemade toiletries

Last week’s make do and mend wardrobe task wasn’t entirely the fashion fix I’d hoped for. I was pleased with my beaded jeans, but DJ told me my duvet dress looked like something a patient would wear in an operating theatre and, let’s face it, he had a point. I’d probably only wear it if I was anaesthetised. So I’m hoping this week’s task will be more of a success. My challenge is to experiment with producing my own toiletries using household ingredients, as well as learn how to make existing toiletries and makeup last longer.

My parents bought me James Wong’s book Grow Your Own Drugs for my birthday but I hadn’t got around to trying out any of the recipes yet. As well as remedies and potions for everyday ills, Wong includes some delicious-sounding recipes for homemade toiletries. I enjoyed his TV series so I thought the concoctions might be worth trying out for myself.

First I decided to have a go at making a homemade exfoliant. Wong’s recipe includes oat flakes, cider vinegar, essential basil oil, ground almonds and a pinch of salt. I didn’t have all the exact ingredients, so I did my best to work around this. I used porridge oats and white wine vinegar as DJ had used up all the cider vinegar over the weekend making (yes, you’ve guessed it) courgette and beetroot pickles. Then I ground up some blanched almonds and, as a substitute for the basil oil, I cut up some fresh basil leaves and mixed them with some olive oil. Probably not the exact same strength, but near enough, hopefully. Then I mixed all the ingredients together and went upstairs to the bathroom with trepidation.

I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and smeared the stuff all over my face to see what on earth it would look like on. I realised pretty quickly I’d have to stand carefully over the sink as lots of bits of porridge oats started dropping off onto the lino. It felt very soft and not quite as abrasive as some exfoliants I’ve bought from the supermarket. My face didn’t go red as it usually does when I use facial products – I have delicate skin – but I did feel like I was covered in breakfast cereal. Some of it got into my mouth and it tasted pretty good,actually. Then DJ wandered into the bathroom and looked at me in horror. “You look like a cereal killer,” he said, deadpan. As more bits of cereal fell off my cheeks, I couldn’t help but roar with laughter for about ten minutes, which made even more flakes drop off.

Next I decided to try Wong’s recipe for homemade tooth powder – just sage leaves and sea salt. Mmm…DJ had told me about brushing his teeth with salt as a child growing up in Africa. His mother was interested in herbal medicine and they used salt when they’d run out of toothpaste. I picked 11g of sage leaves from the garden and then DJ cut them and ground them up with 42g of sea salt (if you have James Wong’s book, I produced an 8th of his recipe). We then put the mixture in the fan oven at 60 degrees for about 20 minutes and ground the mixture up further after that. DJ had warned me that it would taste “er…a bit salty” but it was, of course, incredibly salty with a faint hint of sage. The salt acts as an abrasive to get rid of plaque while the sage has antiseptic qualities. To be honest, the tooth powder tasted foul and I was worried I might end up with bits of green sage between my teeth. But I was really astounded by how effective it is. It was a bit messy cleaning up the sink afterwards but I was stunned to find that my teeth felt as clean as if I’d had them buffed at the dentist. I’m really impressed and will definitely use it again.

Have you tried out any homemade toiletry recipes? What were your experiences? Leave a message and let me know.

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4 Responses to Make do and mend challenge: Homemade toiletries

  1. Christine says:

    What about soap and shampoo? Very basic items that all of us use along with toothpaste – or aren\’t there any recipes in book for those. Apparently making both is great fun though. So they say on other sites where people are trying to get away from products with so many chemicals in them.

  2. Gabrielle says:

    Wow you are dedicated! My mother-in-law gave me the same book but I totally forgot about it, must have a look. Here is a blog post of mine with how to make lip balm, v simple http://www.thegreengal.co.uk/2008/08/make-your-own-lip-balm.htmlI also wrote about making your own eye make-up remover here http://www.makeitandmendit.com/2009/08/01/diy-lip-balm-and-eye-makeup-remover/and there are more ideas from the lovely Make it and Mend it people here http://www.makeitandmendit.com/2009/07/19/diy-beauty-good-enough-to-eat/For body scrub just mix a handful of sea salt with a generous pouring of olive oil and a couple of drops of an essential oil you like the smell of! Just be careful you don\’t slip over in the shower.In case you want to make your own household cleaners in the future, read this http://www.thegreengal.co.uk/2008/08/10-ways-to-take-chemicals-out-of-your-home.html

  3. Kerri says:

    Hats off to you. I must admit that I don\’t think I would venture into making my own toiletries (well apart from a couple of slices of cucumber on the eyes but not sure if that counts!) My store cupboards aren\’t really up to scratch and I\’d prob spend more on ingredients I\’d never use again rather than just buyin a tube/bottle of what I need. I do however try and use every bit of the toiletries I have, this includes cutting the ends off tubes of handcream, toothpaste and the like (you\’d never believe how much is actually still in there stuck to the sides when you think it\’s run out), and I turn other bottles that I can\’t cut upside down to enusre I get every last drop I can out. As for makeup, my one real extravagance is that I buy mineral foundation by Bare Escentuals (have done for years before it got super popular), it\’s not cheap (about £18 for a 9g pot on the internet) but it actually lasts for ages and is suitable for evensensitive skin due to the ingredients. Looking forward to hearing how the rest of the week goes Piper.

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