DIY Winter Shea Butter Body Balm Recipe – Scented or Unscented

November 30, 2014

My parents moved to California from the southeast a couple of years ago. Coming to an arid environment from the humidity of the southeast was challenging for my mom’s skin and especially her face, since she spends so much time outside gardening. She struggled with itchy, red, dry skin her first winter here. I formulated this body balm, which she immediately began using, and her skin was completely healed! Now she has all of the ingredients and makes it on her own… I’m so happy to have discovered something that works so well!

This is a thick, silky body balm – ideal for winter. The shea butter adds a superior layer of protection to the skin that you just can’t get from anything else (besides maybe cocoa butter). The coconut oil helps with absorption, and the olive and grapeseed oils add nutrients and more emollients. The beeswax is a skin protector and emulsifier, helping to combine all of the ingredients together. We love this body balm in our family and will be using it all winter long. I even use it on my face when it’s really dry and cold out.

Recipe (with links to ingredients):


  1. Add the shea butter and beeswax to a double boiler on low heat.
  2. Stir until melted. Do NOT allow the oils to boil, so keep the heat low. I like to use a chopstick for stirring.

    Here are the shea butter and beeswax all melted in the double boiler (which is just a glass measuring cup in a pan of water)
  3. Add the coconut, olive, and grapeseed oils.
  4. Stir until melted, then remove from heat.

    All melted down to a beautiful golden yellow.
  5. Add the optional essential oils and/or the optional grapefruit seed extract. Stir until combined.
  6. Pour into a container of your choice, while still in liquid form.
  7. Leave unopened for about an hour, until it solidifies. Then cap it and use it all winter long!


  • If you’re wondering where to buy ingredients, they can all be purchased online. I’ve provided links in the ingredients list for all of the products that I use.
  • Be sure to use this body balm within 4-6 months.
  • You don’t want to boil your oils because heat causes rancidity in oils. The less heat they experience, the longer your oils will last.


Homemade All-Natural Bug Repellent Recipe | DIY Bug Repellent

July 21, 2013


Recently, we went camping in the Idyllwild area, a beautiful alpine spot in Southern California.  The pine trees were quite majestic, the air was fresh and woody, and the campground was a perfect place to relax.  A funny habit that my kids – ages 2 and 6 –  have when we’re camping (or any other time we’re in nature, for that matter) is that they like to strip down to their underwear and run around wild and free.  I know that they enjoy this immensely, and I also know that on this trip the mosquitos enjoyed their nakedness immensely as well.  My older child was bitten at least 30 times all over her body before I realized what was going on!  And to my dismay, I had forgotten my homemade all-natural bug repellent, which actually works just as well as the stuff in the stores.  So off my husband went to the nearest grocery store to buy the dreaded OFF spray, which I used for the whole trip with reserved gratitude.  I was grateful that my kids weren’t getting bit, but at the same time I was bummed to be spraying them with poison.

I’m working on creating a camping supplies list, so that this mistake never happens again.  In the meantime, here’s my all-natural bug repellent recipe for all you lovers of the DIY.  It really works at bite prevention, smells wonderful, nourishes your skin, and best of all… you’re not poisoning yourself when you use it.  I must warn you that it works well here in Southern California, where the bugs are not overly voracious.  If you’re somewhere with a serious bug population, be sure to apply liberally and often, and be sure to cover your body with long sleeves, collars, hats, and long pants tucked into your boots.


Homemade All-Natural Bug Repellent Recipe

Combine all ingredients in a dark colored bottle of your choice.  I have never used it in a sprayer, but that could work very well.  Shake well before applying.  Apply liberally and often.

All of the ingredients can be purchased via Amazon from the links above.

Homemade Sunscreen Recipe | DIY Mineral Sunscreen

May 14, 2013

My homemade SPF 15 lavender vanilla mineral sunscreen!

Recently I was in a rush to get some sunscreen, so I stopped by my local Sprouts Market and bought my preferred store-bought brand, Badger, and paid $14 for a tiny 2.9 oz tube!  Granted, I love Badger and all of their products… and I love their business philosophy.  But I can make a very similar sunscreen at home for less than a couple dollars’ worth of high-quality materials.  I know there are much cheaper, more conventional brands of sunscreen out there (Coppertone, Banana Boat, etc), but they are toxic and should really only be used in an emergency.  The toxicity of conventional sunscreens is a whole other subject that I will reserve for another blog post.

The summer is upon us… let’s make some homemade sunscreen, shall we?

IMPORTANT: When using micronized titanium dioxide, you must wear a face mask. The dust particles are very small in size and can be hazardous to your health if inhaled. When mixing the titanium dioxide into the oils, cover your mixing container with a wet towel as much as possible to prevent flyaway particles.

The following recipe is for approximately SPF 15. If you want a higher SPF, you can add more of the oxide powders.

Recipe (with links for buying ingredients):

  1. Melt the beeswax in a double boiler
  2. Add any other solid oil you have and melt (in my case, coconut oil) in the double boiler with the beeswax
  3. Take the mixture off the heat and add the rest of your liquid oils. Reheat if necessary to bring it all to a liquid texture.
    Melted beeswax/coconut oil mixture on left, liquid oils on right
  4. Mix with a stick blender for at least two minutes until all oils and wax are well incorporated with each other
  5. Add titanium dioxide and zinc oxide powders. Be sure to wear a face mask when mixing the micronized titanium dioxide, as the fine particles can be hazardous to your health if inhaled.

  6. Add the lavender essential oil and vanilla extract to suit your scent preferences (I use about 30 drops lavender and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla)
  7. Pour into a beautiful container so no one knows it’s homemade (wink wink)
  8. Allow to cool to room temperature before using
  9. Apply often when in sun


  • For higher SPF, use a larger amount of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.  You could make two batches: one that is SPF 15 for the body and one that is SPF 30 for the face (for SPF 30, you would need around 0.6 oz of each of the oxide powders).
  • Your carrier oils can be at any ratio you like.  You can also use a single carrier oil (almond is easy to find and works well) with no problem at all.  Other suitable carrier oils include soybean, sunflower, jojoba, and light sesame.
  • Use an herb-infused carrier oil for extra nourishment on the skin

Homemade Hand Sanitizer Recipe

November 14, 2012

It’s that time of year…  Everyone is breaking out the hand sanitizer to keep the viruses and bacteria away.  In my daughter’s Kindergarten class, her teachers apply hand sanitizer on the kids’ hands four times a day.  Four times a day!  I almost fell out of my chair when my daughter told me this.  Conventional hand sanitizers contain a plethora of toxins.  Things like fragrance and toluene should not be applied to anyone’s skin, much less a child’s skin.  And four times a day…. well, I just had to do something.  After speaking with my daughter’s teacher and coming to an agreement about the excessive use of hand sanitizer, I pledged to provide the whole class with my homemade hand sanitizer for the entire school year.  I am so relieved that these kids will not be doused with that stuff anymore!

Hand sanitizer for the whole class

My hand sanitizer recipe is made from all-natural ingredients that can be found at any health food store (or online at, and it takes about 3 minutes to make.  We do not use hand sanitizer that much in our household, because hand-washing has been proven to be more effective at combating germs than hand sanitizer.  But since we are not always near a sink and soap, I do carry my own hand sanitizer for those times when it’s needed.   The alcohol, witch hazel, grapefruit seed extract, and essential oils are excellent germ-killers.  The vegetable glycerine is used to help moisturize the skin.  And best of all: none of these ingredients are toxic to the body.  So yes, this stuff can be used four times a day without this mommy falling out of her chair.  This recipe is also quite cheap in the long run; buy the ingredients once, and you have enough to make hand sanitizer for years to come!

Quick and Easy DIY Hand Sanitizer Recipe (with links for where to purchase)

Add the following ingredients to a measuring cup:

Mix ingredients together with a spoon, and pour into a spritz bottle through a funnel.  Shake well before using.  Apply sparingly (1-2 sprays, and rub the hands together).

Enjoy the scent of lavender and grapefruit, without the toxic onslaught of chemicals!

DIY Deodorant

June 17, 2012

I am one of those people who can get pretty smelly within a couple of hours if I forget to use deodorant.  This means that I need something strong and effective.  For most of my post-pubescent life, this meant using chemical-laden antiperspirants such as Degree or Secret.  The problem with these products is that they literally glue your pores shut to keep you from sweating.  Scary.  Plus, they are loaded with aluminum, artificial fragrances, and all sorts of other odd chemicals that we shouldn’t be applying under our pits.  Let’s all turn away from the conventional antiperspirant isle, shall we?

Here is a very effective recipe made from 4 ingredients that are readily available at your natural foods store.  I promise it works much better than any of the natural deodorants out there.  My husband and I have been using it for about 5 years now, with no problems.

Whisk the corn starch, baking soda, and tea tree oil together until well-blended.

Fold in enough coconut oil so that you have a good solid consistency.  After working it around a bit, mixing and smushing, it should look something like this:

Stuff it into an old deodorant container (I like the push-up style).  Refrigerate.  Use it straight from the fridge.  Yeah, it’s weird to put your deodorant on while standing at the fridge.  But I promise you’ll get used to it.

The corn starch and baking soda help to absorb moisture, while the coconut oil and tea tree oil both have antibacterial qualities that combat stench.  Granted, you will still sweat… but it’s good for you!  Your pits are supposed to sweat!  It is the bacteria under your arm pits that cause the smell, not the sweat.  I have grown to like the feeling of sweating under my arm pits.  It feels cleansing, in an odd way.  I love this recipe for another reason: the tea tree scent is appropriate for men and women alike.  So you can buy just those four ingredients and have enough deodorant for literally YEARS of homemade deodorant, especially if you buy them in vats like I do (I love you, Vitacost).  An added bonus with this deodorant, at least for me, is that I don’t get an underarm rash anymore.  The ingredients are all pretty mild (compared to the chemical arsenal that is Secret) and the coconut oil is ultra-moisturizing. Win!

Variations, if tea tree oil ain’t your thing:

  • Clean and fruity:  15 drops lavender essential oil + 20 drops grapefruit essential oil.
  • Herby: 15 drops lavender essential oil + 10 drops rosemary essential oil.
  • Flowery: 15 drops lavender essential oil + 5 drops geranium essential oil + 2 drops ylang ylang essential oil.
  • Woodsy, masculine: 15 drops cedar essential oil + 5 drops rosemary essential oil + 5 drops lemongrass essential oil.

Do you have any scent combinations that you like?  Leave me a comment below!

Lavender-Infused Herbal Oil

April 6, 2012

Aaaahhh, lavender….

Lavender is in full-bloom right now in San Diego, so it is a great time to pick the flowers and make an oil infusion.  This post will give you step-by-step instructions on how to make your own homemade lavender-infused almond oil (you can also use olive oil, grapeseed oil, or soybean oil.  Just be sure they are cold-pressed).

  1. Harvest your lavender in the morning before the sun has had a chance to hit it.  The plant will be more lush and vibrant in the morning.
  2. Give it a light rinse, if you feel it is necessary.
  3. Spread the plant material out for two days on a towel to allow it to dry some.  You don’t want it to be crusty-dry.  Ideally, it will be free of any water droplets or excess moisture that could cause mold growth later in the oil.
  4. Fill a glass jar nearly to the top with your lavender.
  5. Pour the almond oil in to completely cover the lavender.
  6. Cap it and let it sit near a window that does not get too much sunlight.
  7. Shake the jar vigorously every day or two.
  8. After 2-3 weeks, pour the contents of the jar through a fine-mesh strainer.  Squeeze out any oils left in the lavender.
  9. Enjoy your new lavender-infused almond oil!  You can use it as a body and facial oil or as a base in lip balm, body balm, and body lotion recipes!

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