If you’re anything like me, you read Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth as a teenager and completely overhauled your make-up collection. You probably thought things like, “Why am I financially funding and contributing to an industry that relies on my lack of self-worth to keep afloat?” and “Why do I feel such a need to spend my hard earned 79 cents to the dollar on things that I don’t actually need?” and, you probably thought, most importantly, “How do I reconcile my new, shiny anticapitalist sentiments with the desire to have clear skin?” Well, lucky for you, this is where I step in!
Sometimes the answer is to buy from local, handmade companies. I got a Mojito flavoured lip balm at a craft fair a while ago, and it’s bloody amazing. But often those are far more expensive than anything you’ll find in the cheapo section of your local pharmaceutical store. In my opinion, it’s worth saving up and investing, but this obviously isn’t sustainable for so many people. Lush and The Body Shop (now that they’re not owned by L’Oreal) are a good shout, too. But again, they can be on the pricier side.
Yet sometimes, the answer is to go homemade. I know, I know, it feels simultaneously bourgeois and hippie, but every now and again, it’s got to be done. So to homemade beauty products we go! There’s a therapeutic and joyful nature to making your own lip balms and face masks that is reminiscent of seeing your first born take their first steps (probably, I don’t actually know). You feel self-sufficient, like you can handle anything (maybe). And best of all, you know you’re not filling the pockets of men in pinstriped suits who think making women feel horrible about themselves is an appropriate marketing technique.
So without further ado, I present to you a few recipes for homemade lotions and potions that will make your skin baby soft, as if it had never been touched by the hands of corporate greed.
The plant of all plants. I got one for about 50p in a sale at the local garden centre. If you’re a grandma, you probably just have one on your kitchen windowsill, because that’s just what grandmas do. If you’re not a grandma, you can steal one from your grandma. Anyway, all you have to do to get your aloe vera to work some magic on your skin is slice lengthways on a plump stem and squeeze out the gel onto wherever you want it to go. You can mix it with bentonite clay or activated charcoal and (cooled down) fruit tea to make a nice face mask, or you can just chuck it on al fresco onto your spots, blemishes, grazes, whatever, and it’ll heal them nicely.
Oats and honey
Oats and honey make a delicious breakfast, but they also make an amazing face mask. You don’t have to blend or crush the oats if you really don’t want to, but I recommend it just for smoothness. All you have to do is put 1 or 2 tablespoons of oats in a bowl, and then put the honey in until it reaches the desired consistency. It should be gooey, but not too gooey. You can also throw in some freshly squeezed lemon or any other citrus fruit of your choice, or maybe some essential oils, if you really want to. And try to get decent honey, as well — don’t use the stuff you find in a squeezy bottle, because that stuff’s full of additives that’ll mess your skin up. If you don’t want to use honey, you can use either 100 percent maple syrup or extra virgin olive oil.
Pomegranate lip balm
You will need: beeswax, coconut oil and pomegranate juice (you can either just buy a bottle of Pom juice or you can make it from the seeds of an actual pomegranate, whichever’s easiest for you). Put a tablespoon each of the beeswax and coconut oil in a pot, and melt them together (a low heat is recommended), then get about a teaspoon of the pomegranate juice into the melted stuff, then mix it all up, and chuck it in a little container! Then, as soon as it’s cool, you can apply it wherever you want. For the fully cruelty-free, vegan version, you can substitute the beeswax for candelilla wax, but just use half a tablespoon rather than a full one. The coconut oil and juice measurements stay the same, though.
Please patch test the ingredients first just in case you might be allergic and not know. Use your brain, basically. And though it might sound pricey buying all the ingredients for these things, you’re basically buying them in bulk, because although a full jar of coconut oil is a whole 5 British pounds, it lasts for AGES AND AGES. So now you can refuse to participate in capitalism, whilst having clear, glowing skin and super duper smooth lips! You’re welcome, guys, honestly. Though the plants do most of the heavy lifting.
(Bonus extra sweet tip from me to you: if you regularly — once every other day — massage coconut oil onto your fingernails, they grow faster and stronger.)