The world of beauty products is so incomprehensibly vast, so full of reaching claims and supposedly miraculous fixes, that it's tempting to just back away slowly rather than do all the necessary research before making a purchase. And then there's the whole problem of scary ingredients; I recently came across "Hydroxymethylpentylcyclohexenecarboxaldehyde," which is a common synthetic fragrance. (Like I said: Back away slowly.)
So when I heard from Kelly LeVeque, an L.A.-based wellness expert, that homemade beauty products are easier than you think to mix up, I was intrigued (if skeptical of how easy it would actually be). Then she sent over some recipes: All were under 5 ingredients, composed mostly of items I already owned (like coffee grounds and baking soda) in a base of coconut oil—which, she tells me, is antibacterial and anti-fungal.
If you already love coconut oil (that's not a pre-req but it certainly helps), or you're looking for a more natural skin-care regimen to take the place of expensive or chemically-dubious bottles in your makeup bag, consider these 8 DIY beauty and body solutions from Kelly's arsenal.
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It should be said: Homespun deodorant isn't going to work for everybody. But with recipes that are so minimal and quick to make, there's little downside to giving them a whirl, working them into your routine, and seeing which you suddenly can't live without (in my case: See you never again, drug store eye makeup remover).
1 cup solid coconut oil (pop it in the fridge to harden if yours is melted)
1 teaspoon vitamin E oil, optional
2 to 5 drops essential oils
Mix ingredients with a wire whisk for 6 to 7 minutes (easiest in a mixer on high speed, but you could also do it vigorously by hand) until whipped into a light, airy consistency. Spoon into a glass jar and cover tightly. Store at room temperature, or in the refrigerator if your house is so warm it the oil will melt.
Creamy Lip Balm
2 tablespoons cocoa butter
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 drops calendula oil
1 drop vanilla extract
Mix all ingredients with a spoon, and store in airtight jar.
Left: The makings of homespun lip balm. Right: DIY deodorant before packing it all into a container. Photo by Bobbi Lin
The arrowroot (tapioca flour) absorbs moisture and gives the DIY deodorant a smooth texture, says Kelly.
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup arrowroot
6 tablespoons coconut oil
2 to 4 drops essential oils (optional)
Mix baking soda and arrowroot in a medium-sized bowl, then mash in coconut oil with a fork until well-mixed. Add essential oils if desired. It will seem too fluffy, but just pack it into a small jar (or old deodorant container!) until solid.
Coffee Grounds Body Scrub
If you use caffeinated coffee grounds (and yes, they can be right out of a used filter), Kelly says that these scrubbies will also increase blood flow to the area as they exfoliate.
1/2 cup liquified coconut oil
1/2 cup coffee grounds
Mix equal parts coconut oil (microwave briefly to melt if needed) and fresh coffee grounds, then divide the mixture into muffin tins or ice cube trays. Freeze to solidify for 30 minutes and then pop them out and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge.
Peppermint Insect Repellent
Mix coconut oil with a few drops of peppermint oil, then slather on exposed skin to keep bugs away.
And for the true purist, here are three ways that Kelly recommends using coconut oil in your beauty regimen without even adding anything to it.
Dab under and around eyes to moisturize and help prevent wrinkles.
Apply a small amount to wet hair, to seal in moisture.
Add a smear to a cotton ball to swipe away makeup, dirt, and grime.
Do you ever make your own beauty products? Share your favorite recipes in the comments.