Many people will come to me for health and fitness information. Questions include what I eat, what I do to workout, what skin care products I use and the list goes on. As the majority of my blog is dedicated to health and fitness and what I do, I thought I would share what I use for non-toxic household cleaners as well as skin care and make-up recipes and products. Much of the ingredients you can get at the grocery store (with the exception of the make-up). I also love using essential oils for most of my recipes. If you are new to essential oils, check out The Ultimate Guide to Essential Oils.
In this post:
- Bug repellent
- Laundry detergent
- Household cleaner
- Air freshener
- Body wash
- Shampoo & conditioner
Look into my fridge. What do you see….
You will find a lot of glass containers, not plastic (just because a plastic bottle says BPA free doesn’t mean they didn’t find an equally toxic chemical to replace it). Our kids plates and cups are stainless steel because glass just wasn’t working out for slippery little hands. You will also see in our fridge local, sustainably raised meats, eggs and veggies and maple syrup among other homemade and organic items. If we are going to go through great lengths to eat healthy foods and use safer containers as part of our long term health care plan why would I not want that for our skin care, make-up and household cleaning products?
10 years ago I embarked on a quest to find non- toxic household, skin care and cosmetic products. That not only included what we were eating or cleaning the house with but what I was putting on my skin. Knowing that harmful chemicals and toxins are absorbed very efficiently through your skin freaked me out. These toxic ingredients are used in everything from laundry detergent to make-up to sunscreen. Numerous studies have shown these harmful ingredients can cause cancer and disrupt your normal hormone function. Thus, in 2005, I quested for safer household and beauty products. Don’t forget about the toxic off gassing from your furniture and flooring, but that’s a story for another day.
Upon a lot of research over the internet and visiting two local co-op grocery stores that sold beauty care products, I sampled and questioned and came to these conclusions which stuck for a decade.
1) Bug repellent
We have used both spray and rub on and is a must have especially for kids. I find the spray to be most convenient but I usually end up rubbing it in anyway. We even used this on our dog and it has worked very very well in place of those nasty bug treatments or tick collars.
Rub on repellent ingredients:
- Grapeseed, almond oil or jojoba oil
- Rose geranium essential oil
In a small bottle, maybe 1-2 ounces, we mix almond or grapeseed oil with about 20-50 drops of rose geranium essential oil.
If you want a spray, try this recipe from DIY natural.com that works very well.
Spray on repellent ingredients:
- 2 tablespoons of one or a combination of the following: witch hazel or vodka (find witch hazel here)
- 2 tablespoons of one or a combination of the following: grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, olive oil, or neem oil (which contains natural insecticidal compounds) – (where to buy these oils)
- ½ teaspoon vodka as preservative (if not already using)
- 100-110 drops essential oils (where to buy 100% pure essential oils). Here is a good essential oils mix:
55 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil (reported by the CDC to be a good natural substitution for DEET in repelling insects, but not recommended for use on children under 3 yrs.)
15 drops cedarwood essential oil
15 drops lavender essential oil (if using, choose Lavandula angustifolia– “Lavender (40-42) essential oil” does not have the same insecticidal qualities)
15 drops rosemary essential oil
Add carrier liquids to small spray bottle (3 or 4 oz. works well so there is room for shaking). Add essential oils. Shake well before each use. Natural bug repellent will need to be reapplied every few hours for maximum effectiveness.
2) Laundry detergent
We have used this for years and years but I do, now, have to put some extra soap on the arm pit parts of my athletic clothes while they wait to be washed. Otherwise, the smell festers in there and doesn’t always come out completely (that goes for any detergent I have used). This recipe is from DIYnatural.com
All of the following can be bought from the grocery store, or target.
- 1 bar (or 4.5 ounces) shaved bar soap (a homemade laundry bar, Dr. Bronner’s, Ivory, ZOTE, or Fels-Naptha)
- 1 cup borax
- 1 cup washing soda
Thoroughly stir together for several minutes and enjoy the results! You can take this a step further and blend the mixture in a blender or food processor to create a powder that will dissolve easily even in cold water. (Just be sure to let the dust settle before removing the lid of your blender or food processor so you don’t inhale the fine particles.) Store in a sealed container with a small scoop.
Use 1 Tbsp per small load (or 2-3 Tbsp for large or heavily soiled loads).
3) All purpose household cleaner
- 1 c. white vinegar
- 2 T. Dr. Bronner’s unscented castile soap
- 4-6 drops essential oil (I skip this part half the time but its nice to add)
Add vinegar, bronners soap and essential oils to a spray bottle, Then fill the rest of the spray bottle with warm water.
I will also keep a separate bottle of hydrogen peroxide in the kitchen and spray both the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide to disinfect surfaces. Mixing the peroxide and vinegar together in the same bottle causes a loss of effectiveness I have read. Keep them separate but spray together. 🙂
The only downside to this is when I use the vinegar solution in the bathroom tub, I have to scrub my heart out, often. You will want something with a little more strength for that bathtub residue build up over time. Check this link out for a host of homemade cleaners: Keeper of the Home Homemade recipes. I also may use tilex every 2-3 months to really get any grime I couldn’t (or was too lazy to) scrub. Its just so toxic I open the window and stuff towels under the closed door so my children won’t breath it in.
I also use Dr. Bronners to clean the toilet. It really works for a zillion things around the house as does vinegar.
4) Air freshener
I absolutely love, love, love making this. It smells so good and I know it’s not a nasty fragrance affecting my neurons. Which BTW, if you have one of those automatic air freshener sprayers that spews out gross chemicals when you walk into the room.. ditch it! That stuff makes me itch and double over gagging. ]Especially when it’s in a small space like the bathroom. ugh. It makes me cringe thinking about my experiences at other peoples houses and artificial air fresheners.
I digress: Here is my fav. recipe from Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth:
- 1 tsp. vodka, optional (cheap kind is fine) ~ It helps to disperse the oils, acts as a preservative and is also a disinfectant and antibacterial. Some people use rubbing alcohol but it is not as natural a choice as vodka.
- 1 drop of eucalyptus essential oil ~ antiseptic, antibacterial and deodorizing
- 2 drops of lavender essential oil ~ antiseptic, detoxifier and deodorizing
- 4 drops of lemon essential oil ~ antiseptic, antibacterial, air purifier
- 1 drop of melaleuca essential oil (aka tea tree oil) ~ antiseptic, antiviral and antibacterial
- 1 cup of water (distilled is best but I use tap water) ~ Add to spray bottle after the ingredients mentioned above.
In a small spray bottle, add the above ingredients in the order they appear. Shake and spray around the house.
5) Body wash
Well, this isn’t what you think. I do use soap (either glycerin soap or Dr. Bronners lavender soap) on the “pits, tits and naughty bits” as Boo from Orange is the New Black would say but, other than that, I have always oil cleansed. My fav is to make a sugar scrub of 2 parts sugar and 1 part grapeseed, almond oil or jojoba oil. The first two are easily found at the grocery store and the jojoba oil I will by on line or at Trader Joes. Other oils that work well are castor and hazelnut oil. I like to make the sugar scrub for gifts all the time! I add a little essential oil like lavender or ylang- ylang and you’ve got yourself a luxurious, exfoliating oil scrub. See more on oil cleansing at Thankyourskin.com or WellnessMama.com
I am usually pretty well moisturized from the above oil cleansing but, if I need a little extra later or the next day I use jojoba oil, grapeseed or almond oil (again.. I know, I know! Again! It’s affordable and easy to find and works great!)
But, the only downside is it can leave you greasy for a little while. I will use this on my face and have to blot off the excess oil with toilet paper before putting on my make-up. Or if I wear a dress or shorts or even lean on a table, it can leave some oil marks!!! But what’s the trade off? Healthy skin and I am not absorbing hormone disrupting carcinogenic chemicals. Score.
7) Shampoo and conditioner
I have long hair. My problem with shampoos and conditioner’s was finding a non-toxic product that would actually work. Homemade formulas usually left my hair too tangled to comb through as did many other non toxic shampoos and conditioners. I have used it all and half the time ended up getting some national brand so I could actually put a comb through my hair. Recently I have been using Trader Joes shampoo and conditioner because it’s cheap and works okay… but I recently started using Beautycounters’ everyday shampoo and conditioner and holy cow! My hair is silky, I can comb through it and it smells amazing!!! Not to mention the company is pretty passionate about change and overhauling cosmetic regulations that control the beauty care industry. Again, score.
8) Make-up remover
I bet you can’t guess what I faithfully use as eye make-up remover…. guess… okay, grapeseed, almond oil or jojoba oil. I use it on a cotton ball to take off my eye make-up before I wash my face and then I might have to do it once more to get the rest of the mascara. But, I have tried so many other make-up removers and many worked well except for the fact that they were super toxic. I always come running back to grapeseed or jojoba oil because it’s affordable, easy to find, non-toxic and edible.
Make-up, make-up, make-up…. has always been a big challenge for me to find things that are non-toxic but will last the day and perform beautifully. Finding non-toxic make-up was really important to me because you are putting products on sensitive and thin skinned parts of your face like your eye lids.
Foundation, blush and bronzer : For the last ten years, I have used Pure skin minerals and they have worked very well. I tested so many out before deciding on this brand. The problem I started having in the last year with these products was that I felt like they visually enhanced the fine lines that were creepin in on my face!!! The mineral make-up would appear kind of dry. To combat that wrinkle enhancing dry appearance I will spray on a facial mist like Beautycounter’s line of facial mists after putting on my mineral make-up. I also like to keep a liquid type of foundation on hand as well like Pure Skin Minerals Matte Mousse which I love along with Beautycounter’s Dew Skin Tinted Moisurizer spf 20 and Tint Skin Foundation, with the Mattifying Skin Finishing Powder. No I don’t use them all at the same time. 🙂 Pick one. They are all my favs!
For blush and bronzers, again… same brands: Pure Skin Minerals and Beautycounter.
Eye Make-up: This one is never easy. I have used Mary Kay or Estee Lauder eye liner and mascara for years among lots of random eye shadow products. With any eye make-up, I always use a primer for stay power. Beautycounter Eye Pencil, Brow Pencil and Color Shade Shadows are a must have. I won’t use anything else. They perform beautifully and stay put without being toxic and hormone disrupting.
As far as mascara goes… well, all of the non toxic type mascaras I have found never work. They bleed, run, flake and make me look like a train wreck. This is the realm I still use my all time favorite mascara called They’re Real at Sephora. Thick, gorgeous and stays put.
Recipe #1: Coconut oil base
I use this recipe because its quick and easy. It does get a bit melty in the summer months but it works very well. I do avoid this one after I shave as it will make my pits breakout not to mention it burns.
3 Tbsp coconut oil
3 Tbsp arrowroot powder or cornstarch
10-15 drops of Essential oils
optional: 2 Tbsp shea butter (I never have this around so I don’t use it).
Put the coconut oil (and shea butter if using) in a small mason jar. Place this jar in a pan of water of a double boiler. Melt the coconut oil and shea butter. Or melt these in a microwave (that of which I do not have).
Once melted, remove from heat and add the arrowroot/ cornstarch. Mix well and then add essential oils.
I do not store mine in the fridge, even in the summer when its melty. I just dip in my fingers and apply.
The recipe from Pronounceskincare.com looks amazing!
Recipe #2: Mineral Spray base
This is by far the easiest deodorant to custom your essential oil combo’s. This can also burn just a tad after shaving. Basically, I buy a mineral spray deodorant and add essential oils.
I like Thai Deodorant Stone Crystal Mist Natural Deodorant Spray. pour it into a small 2 oz glass spray bottle.
This 2 oz lasts a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOng time.
Then I will add:
12-15 drops lemon
12-15 drops thieves
12-15 or ylang ylang or sandalwood
(or whatever essential oil you like!)
others that are great include lavender or tea tree as they have antibacterial properties.
Recipe #3 Jojoba oil base
This is also a very simple recipe and I can use it after shaving or whenever! Many times I will use a combo of this with the above mineral spray as the jojoba oil (or any good oil) makes it easier for the essential oils to be absorbed into the skin. I make this is very small batches. It lasts a long time.
1 oz jojoba oil (or coconut/ grape seed/ almond etc)
30 drops of essential oils like lavender, sandalwood, lemon, tea tree etc.
Skindeep.com to see how your beauty care products rate.
Beautycounters’ never list of toxic ingredient.
Another great site I have used for years is Safemama.com and her cheat sheets.