Body scrub, soap, body wash and lotion, all skincare products that we regularly purchase. If you want to have a more sustainable, low impact lifestyle, you may consider creating homemade skincare products.

You can try different chemical-free ingredients to suit your skin type and reuse packaging. So how has a global industry convinced us we have to buy their products?

It feels like it is time to change our attitude to homemade skincare. No longer the realm just for scientists and at home enthusiasts, should we all start making our own skincare products?

An Introduction to Homemade Skincare

Before we had a global beauty industry, it was commonplace for people to make their own skincare products. Cultures around the world have formulas that are passed down through generations making the most of natural local ingredients.

Now we have so much choice with skincare products to purchase we are unsure whether we have the expertise needed to create homemade products.

Some homemade skincare products do require specialist ingredients and equipment, but with a bit of learning, you can easily create your own.

Once you know the ingredients you like and find a safe formulation to use, you can start to feel empowered and free from large multinational beauty retailers.

Here at Ethical Zest, we had never attempted to make any homemade skincare products, so our team member Helen was a willing volunteer/guinea pig!

Our First Attempt at Homemade Skincare

I recently ran out of body scrub. In rinsing out the plastic pot to recycle, I thought about keeping it to make my own. I considered that natural ingredients I already had at home could make up a simple body scrub.

My first thought was to try sugar and coconut oil, but I thought I better to do some research first. After reading a few articles on the internet, including this one by organic beauty I thought I would give the simple coconut oil and sugar formula a try.

Luckily, the coconut oil I already had was natural and raw. Some coconut oil may have preservatives added, so it is recommended not to use that type on your skin.

As I wanted to make a small about of body scrub to start, I halved the recipe I found on the internet. I began with  ¼ cup coconut oil and ½ cup sugar.

This looked like loads of sugar compared to coconut oil. I used some old white granulated sugar that had been lurking at the back of the baking cupboard for ages and needed using up.

Once I’d mixed in ½ cup sugar, it felt like it needed more as the coconut oil went a long way and came out too greasy. I added an additional ¼ cup sugar.

While mixing, I was really enjoying the smell of the coconut oil. I have used it for baking before but never paid much attention to how nice it smells.

With the additional sugar added, it felt like I’d used slightly too much. However, the mixture did now feel more like a scrub and less like plain coconut oil. Now I’ve finished my first attempt, I think granulated sugar may not be the best options. The large granules may not be the best sugar choice to create an ideal scrub, but I’ll give it a go.

homemade skincare - coconut oil

The Homemade Skincare Body Scrub Test

I thought the best area of the body for a test run would be my feet. So, sitting over the bath after washing my feet, I rubbed in my coconut oil and sugar scrub mixture.

As with all body scrubs I have bought it needed slow circular motions for application to spread onto the skin. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the coconut oil and sugar spread out together.

The sugar was evenly distributed over my skin for a thorough scrub sensation. The coconut oil had a wonderful soothing feeling. Although the granules are larger than any I have had in a purchased scrub, my homemade attempt still seemed to work just as well.

The coconut oil base was far more moisturising than any scrub I have used before so was perfect for my dry skin.

My first attempt at a homemade skincare product was a success. I used an old plastic body scrub pot and created the scrub from ingredients I already had in my kitchen cupboards. The scrub cost me a lot less to make than it would have to buy, and my homemade attempt felt just as good to use.

Can You Use Coconut Oil as Face Wash?

Buoyed by success, I turned to face wash!

I currently use a No 7 balm product that has a solid butter texture and is excellent for my dry, sensitive skin.

It feels very similar to coconut oil, and in fact, this is listed in the (very extensive) list of ingredients…

 ‘Ethylhexyl palmitate, Cocos nucifera (Coconut) oil, Hydrogenated microcrystalline wax, Theobroma cacao (Cocoa) seed butter, PEG-20 glyceryl triisostearate, Synthetic wax, Glyceryl stearate, Panthenol, Vitis vinifera (Grape) seed oil, Parfum (Fragrance), Tocopheryl acetate, Phenoxyethanol, Retinyl palmitate, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Isopropyl myristate, Tocopherol.’

From looking at the list, I thought ‘why not just use coconut oil’?

My first attempt is in the morning when I’m not wearing any makeup. To compare the sense of application, I use coconut oil on one side of my face and No 7 balm on the other.

Coconut Oil vs No 7 Cleansing Balm for the Face

The first thing I notice is that the No 7 balm is easier to apply. Its consistency is slightly softer than coconut oil, making it easier to pick up on my fingertips to rub on my face.

When I apply the coconut oil to my dry skin, it seems to absorb some of it quickly. The No 7 balm noticeably sits on top of my skin and does not seem to be absorbed. It feels like the coconut oil sinks into my skin and would take the dirt with it!

To remove both the coconut oil and the balm, I use my regular facial cleansing sponge. They are both easily removed, and both sides of my face feel clean and soft. The side of my face on which I used the balm does feel slightly softer.

From this very quick test, I would say that the No 7 balm performed better. It didn’t sink into the skin, and it felt like it would remove more dirt than the coconut oil. I guess the added ingredients to the balm prevent the product from being absorbed.

I want to be able to continue to buy the No 7 product, but due to the plastic packaging and poor ethics of a large company, I will seek out an alternative facial cleansing product. While I do this, I think coconut oil could be a temporary substitute, but I’ll see what my skin feels after a few weeks of use.

I have read that coconut oil is a perfect substitute for makeup removal so will now be keeping my jar of coconut oil in the bathroom instead of the kitchen cupboard.

Is Coconut Oil Ethical?

To ensure my new homemade skincare products were an ethical substitute, I wanted to know if coconut oil was ethical. Most of us are now aware of the damage that Palm Oil production has on the rainforests and their inhabitants. I want to make sure that coconut oil does not have the same devastating environmental impact.

With the help of Ethical Consumer magazine, I discovered online retailer Lucy Bee.

The coconut oil sold by Lucy Bee is Fairtrade. Products with the Fairtrade certification ensure that the farmers that grow the coconut oil are paid a fair price for their crop.

Lucy Bee also sells fair trade coconut sugar, which they said would work well mixed with the oil to make a body scrub.

As advised by Ethical Consumer magazine, it’s important always to check the source of the coconut oil and look out for the Fairtrade logo on the product you buy.

Can You Make Homemade Soap?

To avoid using plastic, you can buy bars of soap instead of liquid soap. Ethical Consumer magazine has a useful guide as who are the most ethical producers.

But can you make homemade soap?

homemade soap

I hit the internet to do some research and found Lovely Greens who have a free course on how to make your own soap.

Before you start, you’ll need some essential ingredients that you probably don’t already have at home. The two ingredients for soap making are oil and lye.

When making your own soap, you have a wide choice of oils that you can try. From Beeswax to Coconut oil, you can make a bar of soap that is suitable for your own skin needs.

Making soap is a great starting point for homemade skincare. It enables you to learn about new ingredients and the process of mixing oils.

To ensure your soap is as ethical as possible, we recommend aiming to buy Fairtrade ingredients from suppliers who are open and honest about their raw materials.

Guidance for Making Homemade Lotions and Creams

Making lotions and creams yourself requires a range of ingredients and equipment. It can feel like you need a science degree to get started, but once you’ve had a few attempts, the whole process becomes a lot easier.

As with soap making, there are loads of websites that can help you learn. The School of Natural Skincare has a free video tutorial to introduce you to the ingredients and process.

When creating lotions and creams, you can select a recipe that sounds suitable for your skin type. With natural ingredients that have tried and tested properties, you can treat any skin issues you have.

From eczema to acne, you can create a chemical-free natural product to treat your specific skin problems. You can select the oils, wax, and preservative that you want to use.

You can ensure that the ingredients you buy are from an ethical source and reduce packaging waste.

Some ingredients and mixing processes can result in the creation of a product that could damage the skin. Make sure you work with ingredients and a method that is from a reputable company.

Why Make Homemade Skincare Products?

As we have discovered, the options for making skincare products is vast. From a simple coconut oil and sugar body scrub, to a lotion to treat a specific skincare problem, you can quickly become your own skincare supplier.

There are many reasons why you would want to start making your own skincare products. If you want to reduce waste, you can reuse packaging from old products to store your homemade creations.

You get to decide on all the ingredients and where they are sourced from. You can buy from ethical suppliers and use natural ingredients suited to your skin type.

Homemade skincare products are a great way to create a chemical-free skincare routine. In using natural preservatives and organic ingredients, you can be sure that your skin is not exposed to anything harmful.

Wave goodbye to those expensive miracle creams that never seen to work. Ignore the marketing hype from global beauty empires and save yourself some money. Set yourself free from what beauty brands say you need and learn about what your skin needs.

As you progress with your learning, you can get creative by using different essential oils and natural fragrances. You can add floral decorations to homemade soap or herbs to lotions.

Homemade skincare products can make thoughtful and personalised gifts. If you know a person’s skin type, you can develop a product personalised to their needs.

Getting Started or Have Advice?

At Ethical Zest, we’re keen to learn more about making our own skincare products or buying from people that do.

Are you getting started on the homemade skincare journey? We would love to hear about how you are getting on.

If you are well established in making your own skincare or can recommend companies for ingredients and learning, please comment below.

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