Let's keep things simple this week. When it comes to personal-care products, we are big believers in streamlining what you use—see "Eight Products You Think You Need But Don't" for a refresher—buying less in general, and getting creative. We have both always loved experimenting in our kitchens and our bathrooms, checking ingredients in products we love, isolating the main ones, and then trying them on their own. Sometimes it works: A favorite hair leave-in contained aloe, for example, so one day we tried aloe alone and found that, lo and behold, it worked just fine on its own. And sometimes it didn't. Over the years we have tried dozens of DIY beauty recipes to find ones we like—and that work. Below are our favorite six. And the best thing about these is that none contains more than four ingredients, and chances are good you have them all in your kitchen already. So get cookin' and if you have your own, be sure to share it in the comments.
Simple body scrub
Many body scrubs, even the ones that claim to be sugar- or salt-based, actually contain beads made out of polyethylene, which is environmentally deplorable (it all goes down the drain, remember)—to say nothing of the preservatives, fragrance, penetration enhancers, and sulfates that typically bulk up these products. Instead, head to your kitchen. Grab a bowl and combine a quarter cup of any oil you like (I like olive best), an eighth of a cup of coarse brown sugar, same amount of salt, and an essential oil you love. Vanilla seems to me the can't-beat option for smell, but go with your favorite. And if you have dry skin, a sunburn, or eczema, leave out the salt and double up the sugar.
Honey face wash
We already told you about our new favorite homemade face wash last week but here's the recipe: In the palm of your hand, combine a tablespoon of raw, unfiltered honey with a half a tablespoon of baking soda, mix it together, and apply to damp skin. The honey is antibacterial while also soothing dry skin, and the baking soda is gently exfoliating without tearing or irritating your face. Cheap, too.
One-ingredient eye liner
For the ladies (or the gents with a flair for the dramatic) this is as easy as it gets: Grab a capsule of activated charcoal, which you can get at most pharmacies and any health food store. Instead of ingesting it for your tummy ache, dump out the contents on a clean surface, moisten the tip of a makeup brush with water, and sweep it on like you would any other eye liner. It goes on easily and lasts just as long as regular powdered liner—minus the preservatives, artificial dyes, fragrance, and other chemicals.
Because fragrance is protected under trade secret laws, there is literally no way to know what is in that perfume or cologne you think of as your signature scent. But if a recent study is any indication (and it is), there are some things in there we shouldn't be too happy about. Instead, make your own! Combine essential oils you like—cedar, ylang ylang, vanilla, lavender, citrus oils—with a little bit of vodka, and keep it in an airtight container. You can experiment and tweak it as the seasons change—lighter in summer, heavier for winter—without having to drop another $80 on potentially dangerous chemical cocktails.
Outside the shower, grab an oil you like—olive, argan, jojoba, and coconut work well—slather it on the area that needs a shave, and go for it. Oils are hard for some people at first: We are hard-wired to think oils on our face are a bad idea, but if you use a skin-compatible oil like the ones listed, it won't clog pores or cause breakouts. (In fact, some people find the opposite happens!)
Yogurt face mask
This one raises some eyebrows—putting yogurt on your face sounds a little gross at first—but it can be a great skin-brightening, moisturizing mask on its own for sensitive skin. Combine a cut of yogurt with half a cup of non-instant oatmeal, mix, and apply. The lactic acid in the yogurt softens skin gently, and can be great for dehydrated and congested skin. Leave it in for 15 minutes, and rinse. No need to wash after.
This is a series inspired by No More Dirty Looks: The Truth About Your Beauty Products and the Ultimate Guide to Safe and Clean Cosmetics, a book by GOOD's features editor Siobhan O'Connor and her co-author Alexandra Spunt.