Green Beauty on a Budget (with Recipes!)

10 Jun

Last week I wrote about ways you can make your own cleaning products, that are not only natural and much healthier for your home and family – but cost just a fraction of store-bought products also.

Well, if there was ever one area with high prices and profit margins, a 20-billion dollar industry where you can save incredible money doing it yourself, it is the beauty and skincare market. Not only are a large percentage of these products made with chemicals, sometimes tested on animals, and often unsafe for the workers in the industry (many in or from third-world countries) – it’s an industry that also charges you heftily for its products.

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I’m not going to pretend, I’m as much a sucker for some of it as the next girl. I’m often willing to splurge on feel-good, take-care items, and these sorts of products are the kinds of things I tend to pamper myself with. I’m a big fan of Origins and Burt’s Bees, so I am the last person to suggest (or be willing to) completely forego them.

That being said, in the past year or so I have gotten into making my own beauty products with ingredients from my own kitchen and bath (recipes below). I started doing it to save money, to put only TRULY natural ingredients on my skin, and also because it’s really a lot of fun. The Shift Your Habit book has an entire chapter devoted to Health, Beauty and Fashion. As author Elizabeth Rogers writes:

“I’m a huge believer in simplicity. Eating right and being physically active shouldn’t seem like a chore. And dressing well and maintaining a youthful look should never send us deep into debt.

Yet many of us behave as though looking and feeling good requires running marathons, subsisting on a lifelong crash diet, taking an hour each night to douse our faces in a dozen age-defying chemicals, and spending far more than we can afford on clothes and accessories that will be out of style within a year.

Deep down, don’t we all know that none of this is sustainable and, even more important, that it’s unlikely to make us happy?”

My homemade beauty products...

The chapter goes on to share a lot of tips and advice on how to do this sustainably and cheaply, with excellent resources such as a list of labels to look for, and ingredients to avoid, in beauty products; a chart of foods to eat to increase different vitamin levels in your body; and some great at-home beauty product recipes. I share a few of them at the bottom of this post, along with a couple of my own that I’ve previously made.

In the realm of Health, Beauty and Fashion, there are plenty of other habits you can put into practice that are more sustainable and big money-savers – and I have covered some of them through previous 30-Day projects. Try paring down your wardrobe, taking a good look at your shopping tendencies, buying vintage or used clothing, and donating excess clothing to charity. When it comes to health and fitness, over the past two months I have been going to a multitude of free classes, and I bet such classes can be found in most every city. Lots of places around Austin offer free or donation-based community classes in yoga and other forms of exercise, and I have been taking advantage of these. There are also affordable gym memberships such as the YMCA available.

This past Sunday was my day of home beauty, and I made (and tried) several new home-spa recipes. Below are the products I made, and what I thought about them.

Salt Body Scrub
Pour about a cup of Kosher salt into the bowl. Add just enough cold-pressed sweet almond or grapeseed oil to allow the salt to form moist clumps. It should stick together and be easy to pick up with your fingers. Add up to 20 drops of rosemary essential oil to scent the mix and invigorate the skin. (You can switch the rosemary essential for whatever you like best – I used yling ylang oil).

This replaces my Origins Ginger Body Scrub, which I admit I am a HUGE fan of. I still love the smell of that, and when I first put on this homemade scrub it felt like it was too grainy, and not oily, enough for me. But after I started using it, I felt that it was much more exfoliating than the Origins product. I think it would be amazing with lavender or citrus oils, too.

Avocado Face Mask
Puree one avocado, 2 teaspoons of plain yogurt, and 2 teaspoons of honey in the blender, or mash in a bowl. Apply to just-washed skin. Avocado has healing qualities: It rejuvenates skin, soothes sunburn, and delivers a dose of antioxidants. Yogurt relieves sunburn and redness, and the lactic acid it contains helps hydrate and smooth. Honey soothes, heals and nourishes, and some say it has anti-microbial, skin-clearing properties.

I really liked this mask. I left it on for about 20 minutes, until it was almost dried. It felt good going on, very moisturizing; and after it was on a while I could feel my skin tingling, in a good way. Avocados have enzymes that are good for us pretty much any way we use them.

Facial Sugar Scrub
1/2 cup sugar
Enough cold-pressed oil (olive, wheat germ, peanut, corn, or sunflower) to dampen the mixture
Optional – I add a favorite oil to this; a few drops of yling ylang, lavender, jasmine or rose oil makes it smell fantastic!

Gently massage this exfoliating scrub all over your face before cleansing with a light soaping and rinse. Repeat once or twice a month (I use this weekly for exfoliation).

Rosewater & Witch Hazel Facial Toner
1 1/4 cups rosewater
3/4 cup witch hazel
6-8 drops glycerine (more for normal skin and less for oilier skin)

Combine ingredients gently in a very clean air tight jar. Apply using a clean facial wipe after cleansing. I have been using this toner for more than a year now, and I love it! Sometimes I will add a couple of drops of lavender oil as well.


One Response to “Green Beauty on a Budget (with Recipes!)”

  1. Shelley Seale June 20, 2011 at 11:40 am #

    My friend Elisha shared this resource with me on Facebook. It lists many companies & products that have been identified as mislabeling organic beauty products, including Jason’s and Kiss My Face.

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