Thursday, May 16, 2013

Where Do I Start?

So in this blog post I am going to offer my two cents on where to start if you want to begin making your own skin care products, or even if you just want to make something handmade for gifts for Christmas.

The absolute easiest possible is bath salts.  Simply combine one or more of these ingredients: Epsom Salts, Sea Salt, and or Baking Soda.  And then add some essential oils and fragrance oils, and bam you are done!  Get a cut jar, some neat tags, and you have a great relaxing soak for yourself, or a cute gift for the holidays.  If you want to start getting a little more fancy, you can add some vitamin E oil, or mix the essential oils you add for certain effects.  Here are a few ideas of essential oil combinations:

Relaxing Blend: Lavender, Rose, Ylang Ylang

Sore Muscles:  Peppermint, Lavender, Ginger, Juniper

Energizing:  Orange, Tangerine, Lemon, and Coriander

Finding mixtures of oils is easy enough to find on the internet too.  Just google what effect you want (i.e.. relaxing, soothing, etc.) and type in essential oil recipe and tons of sites will come up.

If you are not a huge bath salt fan, (which I am not, primarily because I don't have a bathtub in my house!) one of the second easiest things to start with is lip balm.  Making your own lip balm is easy, and best of all does not require precise ingredients.  What I mean by this is you can use a basic ratio, and tweak it to your personal likings.
There are four basic components to pretty much any lip balm recipe you will find:
Fragrance (essential oils)
Deciding what oils, what butters, what essential oils and what waxes to use is entirely up to you.  Different oils, butters and waxes will give your lip balm different textures, but a good rule of thumb is: put more oil if you like it to go on more like a gloss, more wax if you like a heavier coat on your lips or more butter if you want a creamier texture.
There are lots of recipes online that you can try, just remember what each ingredient does, and adjust the recipe to suit your exact taste.
As you get more experienced with your skin care ingredients, you can then adjust the type of oil, butter and wax you used based on the individual properties, thickness, and moisturizing qualities each type of ingredient possesses.  For example, for a light lip balm you might start with grape seed or apricot seed oil, both of which are very light.  For a thick heavier lip balm for very dry or cracked lips, you might use olive, wheat germ, and castor oil.

It's no secret that making your own bath salts and lip balms as well as other skin care products can save a lot of money, but with both lip balm and bath salts you can also not waste a lot of time.  Both of these projects go very fast, and it's so fun to be able to customize what you like, instead of just settling for what is on the shelf of your local health food store.

So... where to you find ingredients?  Well I can tell you where NOT to go, and that is your local health food store... at least usually.  I would be lying if I told you I NEVER bought ingredients from health food stores.  There have been several occasions where right in the middle of a batch of something I realized I was out of ONE ingredient, and went flying down to the health food store to get it, but usually I try to avoid this.  The ingredients like oils, butters, and waxes are usually in very small containers, and are meant to be used themselves, not intended for you to mix up into something else.  What I mean is the sweet almond oil that you will find at the health food store is usually meant to be used as massage oil, or just a moisturizing oil used alone.  And when used as massage oil, at $8 for 4 oz, that's not a bad price!  But when you are making a big batch of lip balm or salve and looking for 48 oz, that gets really expensive, really fast!  The oils are the same, there is no difference (other than brand) on many of the oils you can buy at a local health food store, or those you order wholesale, or purchase from a distributor that is catering to those making their own skin care products.  But the prices are usually much more reasonable.
As far as other places to find ingredients, there are so many good places online that I won't even try listing them here, and I am selling a wide selection of containers and ingredients down at Harebrained And Happy too!  Since I order in large quantities anyway and can offer better deals that many places offering small quantities it's been a section I've been wanting to have since I opened the store, but now It's a reality!  If you haven't stopped by and checked out this new section that is in progress I hope you will soon!
One thing I will say is this:  when first starting out, don't buy a gallon of oil, or pounds of butter.  Start small.  While buying in bulk will save you some money, you also don't know if you are going to like doing your own skin care, or if you are going to like the products that you create!  Buy what you need, make a batch, see how it goes.  Trust me, this is the voice of experience speaking here!  There will be plenty of time later for ordering cases of containers, or gallons of coconut oil.  Test the waters.  You may find it exhilarating, and in that case it was money well spent to order smaller quantities and find out you loved it!  Or you may find it exhausting and frustrating, and leaving you more on the harebrained side of things than the happy one, and if that is the case you will be happy that you don't have 5 gallons of coconut oil staring at you from the pantry laughing at your failure and reminding you of your over zealous illusions of changing the world with your skin care products!  So stick your toe in, don't try too many things at once.  Master one thing before you move on to the next.

So that's all for now.  Go forth and be bathed and balmed!

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