DI-do’s and DI-don’ts: Personal Hygiene & Self-Care Edition

Published: August 25, 2020

by Irene Kaloyannis Science &Policy Exchange

In the last few weeks, I have had a lot of free time and have been trying to rely on stored goods rather than going out and buying groceries, and it’s allowed me to experiment more with my zero-waste endeavors and try new DIY recipes. If you, like me, are curious about DIY recipes that will save you money and reduce your carbon footprint, you’ve come to the right place!

I previously wrote a blog post on DIY cleaning products, check it out if you haven’t already! This article will have the same structure; I’ll list the recipes of some homemade products that I’ve tested in the last few weeks and rate them while explaining why they worked (or didn’t) for me. For each recipe, I tried to only use accessible, common household items — things you may already have at home! I will also post DIY recipes on snacks and staples in the upcoming weeks so stay tuned!

You can make all these recipes with just 6 ingredients: baking soda, sugar, olive oil, coconut oil, salt, and honey.

1. Lip Balm — 1:1 ratio of coconut oil to honey*

Okay, I may have cheated for a lot of these recipes — many of them are not first-time attempts but long-time go-to’s. The last time I made this one was so long ago that I actually forgot the exact recipe, but I do believe it was something along the lines of one part of coconut oil and one part honey. If the consistency is not to your liking you can always add more coconut oil for a less sticky feeling or more honey for a less oily feeling. If you ever need a lip scrub as well, just take out a bit, mix it with sugar until you get the consistency you like, apply to lips and lick off when finished exfoliating. Delicious and effective!

Score: 4.5/5 — yummy and works great, but your fingertip does get sticky after applying and you might look pretty strange licking your fingers in public. I avoid this problem by only applying it in the morning when I wake up and at night before I go to bed.

*For a vegan version, swap the honey for a bit of maple syrup (which has other nourishing vitamins and minerals!). Many more recipes can be found online with a simple search.

2. Face Wash — around half a tablespoon of any oil listed here

A ton of great DIY face wash recipes exist, but the most exciting one I’ve heard about is the Oil Cleansing Method. This method consists of rubbing your face with oil and then washing it off with a damp towel. In 2018, I adopted this method for nearly the entire summer using avocado oil (the only one I could find in a smaller “tester-sized” bottle at my local store), but I found it made my skin (which is sensitive and acne-prone) worse so I dropped it for a cleanser bar. Since then, I have tried a konjac sponge from BKIND and different Lush cleansers, which have improved my skin over time but can be quite expensive. Therefore, for the last two months, I decided to give the Oil Cleanser Method another shot, this time with olive oil (since I always have lots of it at home). Sure enough, this time around, it really cleared up my skin and got rid of the dry patches I tend to get around my chin, jaw, and nose! I’ve been told that different oils work for different people, so I would use this reference to figure out which oil is best suited for your skin type (I’ve heard jojoba is a great oil to start with if you’re not sure what your skin type is). Also, though itsblitzzz uses hot distilled water to wet her towel, I’ve been using regular cold tap water and I find it works just fine.

Score: from 2/5 (when I used avocado oil) to 5/5 (using olive oil) — finding the right oil for your skin type is key!

3. Face and/or Body Scrub — 1:1:1 ratio of coconut oil, salt, and sugar; green tea to your liking

Last summer, I tried to make a scrub using this guide (I used oats, coconut oil, turmeric, and honey). It worked pretty well, I used it for 8 months or so, but I found myself wanting a deeper scrub. About 4 months ago, I started using this body scrub and added a bit of green tea for its antioxidants (though that is not necessary), and I’ve been extremely pleased with the results. In the future, I’m hoping to replace the green tea with my used coffee grounds (which are also loaded with antioxidants). That way, I could get more use out of something I would otherwise compost.

Score: 5/5

4. Toothpaste — 1:1 ratio of coconut oil to baking soda

This one is very tricky. I’ll start by saying it works well for me, but it certainly has its flaws. To begin, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who has sensitive teeth, as baking soda is known to be very abrasive. It also does not taste very good and has a wet, grainy texture, which does not bother me, but could be a deal-breaker for others. It also does not contain fluoride, and unfortunately many places (such as my neighborhood in Montreal) do not fluoridate their water, so I supplement with daily tablets. Therefore, if you would like to try alternatives that avoid these issues, this is a great resource (note: only Naked Company and PopCare deliver to Canada).

Score: 3/5

From left to right: DIY toothpaste, olive oil face wash (in an old plastic bottle), face scrub and lip balm.

I’ve had really great luck with all of the DIY personal hygiene products I’ve tested, and they’ve saved me hundreds of dollars since I have made them part of my routine. Seventy percent of plastic packaging in the U.S., much of it from personal care products, ends up in landfills, some 32 million tons of waste (in 2017 alone — and the number keeps getting bigger). Therefore, implementing DIY alternatives into your self-care routine is a great idea. I encourage you to try any of the ones above, or look into DIY versions of your other favorite products! You may never want to go back.