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Monday 13 October 2008

Vegan MoFo: Foodz on your face!

I am away onsite at the moment and am finishing off writing this post in my hotel room with a pot of super noodles to go. Tomorrow night I want veggies - fookin LOADS of them!!

Anyway, the point is that while I'm away I'm finding it difficult to find stuff that doesn't look too disgusting to blog! So I was thinking about what else I could write about and found myself thinking about all the homemade beauty products I've made over the years. A lot of which made simply from food you might already have in your cupboards or fridge!

There was a time that I made ALL my own products: shower gel, eyeshadow, shampoo, moisturiser, cleanser.... the lot. I got a bit burnt out with it but I do still make lip balm, scrubs and soap and the occasional body butter when the notion takes me. I've still have a lot of the stuff and keep meaning to get back into making my own products again.

What I'm trying to say, very inarticulately, is that making your own products doesn't have to be hard or expensive and there will be loads of stuff in your cupboards right now that you can use.

Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

Bicarbonate of Soda - Makes a good facial exfoliator - you can just mix it in with some cleanser and use like a commercial cleanser.

Lemon - Great for whitening up dark patches on elbows and general cleansing. Good for whitening your nails naturally - just soak in water with some lemon slices or rub some cut lemon straight onto your nails! Faked tanned yourself and it's gone streaky? Fear not, lemon juice and sea salt mixed together with help scrub it off! Rub some through your hair before going out in the sun to encourage natural highlights!

Sugar - An awesome natural exfoliant. Just a handful in the shower or mixed with some vegetable oil will make a great body scrub (word of warning though - this makes for a slippery shower/bath so a squeeze of shower gel or shampoo added to this will cut the oilyness and making the shower less of a death trap!) Soapmakers - add a tablespoon per pound of oils to your lye/water mixture to increase bubbles! (Dissolve in a little warm water, then added to your cold water BEFORE adding the lye.)

Salt - Another great natural exfoliant. Use as above except it won't increase bubbles in your soap, it will decrease them - but will increase hardness! Salt bars are a great thing to make too if you're into cold process soapmaking and EASY!

Almonds - Another good exfoliator. I like ground almonds for the face as it's a lot gentler than salt or sugar. I mix it with some oats, finely ground to a powder then just mix to a paste with a little water and use it when my face is dry and patchy in the winter.

Oats - Oats are a wonderful thing for inflamed / irritated and sensitive skin. Put some in a muslin bag or empty tea bag if you can find them and throw it in the bath to help soothe skin. They're great if ground to a very fine powder in face packs (you can buy them as 'colloidal oatmeal' but it's such a rip off to pay extra for something you can do in a coffee grinder!!) and if you soak them in water to get oatmilk that can be used in place of water in all manner of products.

Coffee - Coffee is reputed to be helpful in combatting cellulite, if you use it in a body scrub. I can't attest to whether this works or not but I love it in a scrub with sugar, almond oil and a few drops of mint oil - it's great for waking you up in the morning!

Vegetable & Nut Oils - different oils bring all manner of different properties to skin care products and soaps. Plain old sunflower oil is great for whipping up a quick body scrub. You can take off make up with veg oils - a few drops on a damp cotton pad will remove even morning after / amy winehouse eyeliner! A few of my favourites are....

Olive Oil - great for dry skin, you can cleanse and moisturise with it, you can remove eye make up, great in body products, makes wonderful soap... I especially like to heat up a few tbsps and then massage it throug my hair, leave it for a couple of hours then wash out - it makes hair soft and shiny!

Almond / Grapeseed oil - almond oil is great in face packs and facial products as well as body products and soap and grapeseed oil is awesome too. Both oils are also great for massage, these were the oils we used at college when I was training in massage!

Cocoa butter - so many uses, so little blog space! Just break off a chunk and take it in the shower with you for smooth silky skin. Melt it and add some almond oil, sugar and some essential oill then pour into a mould and let set for a gorgeous exfoliating shower bar! Great in lipbalms, body butters, massage bars, moisturisers, hair products..... if all else fails, make it into white chocolate!! :)

Cucumber - another great thing for the face. Puree it and add it to face masks, a couple of slices over the eye to cool and soothe puffiness. I love to use it as part of the water content in soap as well.

Aspirin - OK technically not a food, but aspirin contains salicylic acid which can clense deeply to unclog pores and exfoliate dead skin cells. I'm told this is a great thing for people with acne prone skin and also it is great for those of us that suffer from ingrown hairs! I spent a fortune on this stuff called Ingrown Go and was gutted to read the ingredients were basically salycylic acid! Crushed up aspirin can form part of a mask for problem skins - there's quite a long discussion about this here...

Aloe vera - Again not technically a food, although you can buy the aloe juice (which by the way is another great ingredient for soapmaking). Aloe is great for healing minor cuts and burns - you just keep the plant on your window-sill, cut a bit off and rub it on the affected area.

I thought i'd finish off with a couple of really easy recipes. Put these together and pamper yourself!

Easiest body scrub ever: In a bowl, combine a couple of hanfuls of coarse sugar (such as demerera - don't use squidgy ones like muscovado) or sea salt. Add a good couple of glugs of any veg oil you like (I like sunflower or almond - I wouldn't use olive unless you plan to leave it unscented, as the smell is a bit overpowering). Then add 5-10 drops of essential oils of your choice (optional). If you use a strong one like peppermint, go easy and just add a couple of drops. Mix it together well and go scrub yourself!! Add bit of shower gel or liquid soap to the mix too if you're concerned about shower slippage!

To follow, one of my favourite things ever is just a really simple body oil. I like to put this on when my skin is still a bit damp, after a good body scrub and it leaves your skin super smooth and smelling awesome. (Something I learned from a treatment in a spa).

It is insanely easy and takes about a minute to put together. Fill a bottle (glass or plastic that can hold diluted essential oils) with the oil of your choice (I like to use a mixture of almond and jojoba oil - about 80:20, but plain old almond oil would do. I would avoid olive as the smell is too overpowering and may clash with the essential oils). Then just add a few drops of essential oil and shake well, then you're good to go.

About 10-15 drops should do it for a cup / 250ml of oil, but it doesn't have to be exact. Just don't go too crazy or it'll be too strong.

You can store it for a while in a cool place. Adding a bit of vitamin e or wheatgerm oil (or just bursting a vitamin e capsule and squeezing that in) to the oil will help prolong the life of it too.

For a really special oil, trying infusing your base oil/s with a vanilla pod for a couple of weeks before adding your essential oils, or just leave it as is.

For this, I start with 250ml (1 cup) of the oil of your choice and pour it into a clear bottle with a lid. As I said, I like to use about 80%:20% - almond:jojoba oil, but up to you.

Then, take 2 or 3 vanilla pods and split them down the middle. Scrape out the seeds and put them into the oil. Chop up the pods and throw these in too. Shake the oil and leave it in a warm (preferably sunny) place, shaking every day or so, for a couple of weeks.

You can speed this up by heating the oil and vanilla gently for 15 mins or so, but I have to stress - do this over a VERY low flame. Burnt vanilla STINKS! And vanilla's expensive so may end up cussing as much as I did when I burnt my vanilla!After a couple of weeks, strain out the seeds and pods through muslin and you have your body oil.

I do like to add some essential oils but you don't have to. I just add a few drops of ho-wood (I love rosewood and sandalwood, but they are not very economical so I go with ho-wood, which is very similar to rosewood) and some orange or lemon or maybe a bit of litsea cubeba (may chang) which smells amazing.

I started drafting this post about a week ago and as I've been revisiting it all, I've really inspired myself to start making my own stuff again because I've been remembering how much fun it is (and how much money I use to save). In fact I'm even thinking about starting a homemade product recipe blog to spur me on to get back into it! When I get back from all my onsite crap this month, I'm taking a long weekend so this might be the perfect time to get back in the saddle: watch this space!

I went digging back through my photobucket to see if I could find pics of anything that I made before and didn't have much luck. So when I get around to making some stuff, I'll post some pics.


  1. This is an awesome list, thank you so much for posting it!

  2. this is such a rock'n post, Sal! thank you! i had no idea you used to make so much awesomeness of your own! sounds like a lot of fun, indeed!

    you better believe i'll be check'n back - and a new fun blog for foodz on your face would be rock'n, too!

    hang in there with the onsite, Sal! you'll be back home (and enjoying some roasted veg) in no time! yay!

  3. Excellent post!!!

    Baking soda is also an awesome toothpaste (add a drop or two of peppermint or cinnamon oil if you can't stand the taste of it straight up) -and- a terrific shampoo (put a Tbsp in your palm and add enough water to make a paste -- apply to your roots, wait a few minutes, then rinse)

  4. Toothpaste!! that's it. I was racking my brains trying to remember what else I've used baking soda for!

    Didn't know about shampoo though - must give that a try, thanks.

  5. baking soda is an awesome replacement for shampoo! I haven't bought shampoo in a few months, I feel so liberated and my hair is great.

  6. I always think natures remedies work so much better than the man made alternatives. Thanks for this great post.

  7. you are so awesome! thanks for the great tips!!!

  8. I love this post! So much money can be saved by using natural stuff like this, not to mention the scary, cancer-causing chemicals that are in the regular crap!


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