… Making Your Own Body Wash
In my last post I described how I started making my own personal care products and experimented with different ingredients to tailor then to my tastes and needs. And although that is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea to make their own, here’s a little guide on how to go about making your own body wash.
Think About Ingredients
What you choose to put in your body wash is important. Not just from an organic vs non-organic ingredient point-of-view, but also depending on your skin type, your preferences for smell and so on, similarly to when you select one in a store. Start off with something moisturizing for your skin type: sweet almond oil or apricot kernel oil are good choices for dry skin, grape seed oil for normal skin and coconut oil is good for all skin types as well as a cooling agent during the summer. The choice of soap is also important, and the easiest I have found to use is unscented castile soap that is made from olive oil (for example Dr. Bronner’s). Another good ingredient are floral waters such as rose or orange blossom, or herbal infusions such as Calendula or Chamomile. They have astringent and purifying properties and smell nice. Finally choose a scent. Essential oils are ideal for that. Lavender or Geranium for calm, Grapefruit to invigorate, or Sandalwood for something more earthy. If you struggle with blemishes, tea tree oil is also a good addition.
Source Your Ingredients
As important it is to decide on what you put into your body wash, it is equally important to know where your ingredients come from. Many of the ingredients such as Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap and essential oils are commonly found in your local organic shop. If you don’t life near any such shop try the internet. A good resource is Mountain Rose Herbs. This company sells herbs, teas, spices, natural health products as well as ingredients for homemade body care in bulk. You can order as little as 4oz and as much as 1lb of your favourite herb. They also sell floral waters and essential oils and ship world-wide. The company has also a strong commitment to organic and sustainable agriculture, which is invaluable if you want your body wash pesticide-free.
Get Your Equipment Together
I found a lot of people are put off from making their own personal care products by thinking they have to work in a sterile environment. No, you don’t. To mix your ingredients, use clean stain-less steel mixing bowls, measuring spoons and a whisk. To heat them, just use an old stain-less steel pot. It’s as simple as that. Before you get started though, make sure you have the final container ready. You can choose a plastic squeeze bottle (make sure it’s ‘good’ grade plastic!) or an amber-colored glass bottle. What ever tickles your fancy. Herbal stores are hidden treasure troves when it comes to finding containers for homemade cosmetics. I have found many a thing there, from squeeze bottles, to lip balm containers and roll-on bottles. Again, if you don’t have one close by, Mountain Rose Herb is a great resource as well as many other places on the web. One final piece that has come in quite handy over the years is a set of small stain-less steel funnels to transfer your mixture to the bottle. These are available from any kitchen shop.
This is the fun part! Always start off with your infusion or your floral water and heat it gently. Then add your oils and mix well. Take from the heat source and follow by adding the soap. Liquid is best here but if you’re using flakes, let them dissolve slowly. At this point your body wash will look nothing like the gel-like substances we are all used to. You can either keep it that way, or you can add a thickener. The most common and harmless one to use is Xanthan Gum, a polysaccharide secreted by the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris. It’s often available in powder form. Add it by sprinkling it onto your mixture and whisk it in until there are no clumps left. The mixture will thicken very quickly so be careful how much you add. Finally, add your essential oils for fragrance. If you are worried about the shelf-life of your body wash, you could also add a few drops Vitamin E T50 oil as an antioxidant, and a few drops tea tree oil as antibacterial agent. One important thing to remember is that you don’t have to be accurate with amounts. Just be approximate, and after a few tries you will adjust your ingredients the way you like them best.
Now get showering! Believe me, the first time you will use your homemade body wash is actually quite a proud moment. To think that you just made something with a few yet good quality ingredients that for years you had to buy in a shop? It’s a great feeling! You will quickly decide what to change in your mix – more or less thickener, different essential oil, or you may even want to play around with adding colour. When it comes to homemade cosmetics, the world is your oyster, as long as you do your research on ingredients. And the best of it all? In the end you control what goes in it.
My Favorite Body Wash
Below is the recipe for my favorite body wash. It’s simple to make and the amounts are approximate. I personally tend towards dry skin but, as I said, you can change-up the ingredients any way you like. Enjoy!
1 cup (250ml) organic Floral Rose Water
1tbsp (15ml) Sweet Almond Oil
1tbsp (15ml) Shea Butter
1 cup (250ml) Dr. Bronner’s Unscented Castile Soap
1tsp (5ml) Xanthan Gum
2 drops Vitamin E
10 drops Essential Grapefruit Oil
10 drops Essential Sandalwood Oil
In a small stain-less pot heat the Rose Water gently. Add the Shea Butter to melt and the Sweet Almond Oil. Mix in with a whisk. Take from the heat and mix in your Castile Soap. Sprinkle some Xanthan Gum powder on top of the mixture and whisk in quickly. Add more depending on desired consistency. Add the Vitamin E and Essential oils and mix. Transfer into an opaque plastic squeeze bottle and keep in your shower. Keeps ~6 months.