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The following ingredients form the basis of  the skin care and house cleaning recipes on this blog.  Say goodbye to unnecessary chemicals and ingredients you can’t pronounce.  These simple ingredients create products that are good for you, good for the earth and good for your wallet.
  • Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) – this alkaline powder has countless uses in skin care, house cleaning and kitchen recipes.  It cleans, softens, deodorizes, exfoliates, scours… Plus it’s cheap, non-toxic and works great.  I recommend buying a reputable brand such as Arm & Hammer because the generic brands tend to form annoying clumps.
  • Beeswax – acts as a thickener in many skin care products such as creams and balms.  It’s a hydrating ingredient that helps your skin retain its own moisture.  Beeswax is healing, smells great (similar to honey) and is an important ingredient in homemade skin care.  I opt for unrefined, unbleached beeswax for the most skin benefits.
  • Borax – is a white, crystalline mineral powder that I occasionally use in home cleaning recipes.  It’s good for really dirty jobs when you need an extra cleaning boost or for recipes that inhibit mold and mildew.  Please note that unlike most of these ingredients, borax is mildly toxic and should be handled with care.  Avoid ingesting, breathing the powder and always keep out of reach of children.  Borax can be found in the laundry aisle of most grocery stores.  The brand I use is called 20 Mule Team.
  • Castile Soap, Liquid – this is a vegetable oil based soap typically derived from coconut or olive oil.  It’s a gentle, earth friendly soap that can be used alone or in many house cleaning and skin care recipes.  My favorite brand is Dr. Bronners which is available scented or unscented in health food stores and online.  I’ve also used generic brands and they work well but have a stronger smell that I find unpleasant.
  • Chamomile Essential Oil – this is a floral scented oil known for its ability to relax the mind and soothe the body.  Its great in skin care recipes dealing with sensitive skin, inflammation, acne and anxiety.  Most places carry both German and Roman chamomile.  Although there are some differences (ex. german has stronger anti-inflammatory properties, roman is more relaxing), they are similar enough to be used interchangeably.
  • Clay, Powdered – powdered clay is a naturally absorbent, mineral rich substance that can be used in masks and body powders.  It can draw toxins out of the skin, deodorize and reduce moisture.  Many types of clay are used in skin care including bentonite, french green, fuller’s earth, rhassoul, red and white clay.
  • Club Soda – this is basically just carbonated water and it makes the best glass cleaner I’ve ever tried.  The next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up a bottle in the soda aisle – you’ll be glad you did!
  • Cocoa Butter – this delicious smelling butter is used as a thickening agent in skin care recipes.  It also contains natural vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that soothe, hydrate and balance your skin.  I buy food grade, unrefined cocoa butter and occasionally take a nibble, it’s that good.
  • Coconut Oil, Organic, Unrefined – this fantastic oil smells like the tropics and can be used alone or in many skin care recipes to nourish your skin.  I buy food grade coconut oil which tastes delicious and can also be used in cooking.  I stick to organic, unrefined coconut oil because the refining process is full of chemicals and strips the oil of its amazing smell.  Note: Coconut oil is a solid at temperatures below 76 degrees.  Keep this in mind when you open the jar in hot weather – I once poured almost an entire jar into my lap because I was expecting it to be solid!
  • Eucalyptus Essential Oil – this oil is antiseptic, antibacterial and deodorizing in nature.  It is often used in room freshening sprays and is a good addition to many home cleaning products.  It has a medicinal, menthol odor and can be used similarly to Tea Tree.
  • Geranium Essential Oil – this floral, almost fruity oil is used commonly in perfume and skin care recipes.  It’s a balancing oil that can benefit all skin types.  I would strongly recommend smelling this before buying because it tends to be a scent that people either love or hate.
  • Grapefruit Essential Oil – this uplifting oil just makes me happy.  It adds some antibacterial punch to cleaning recipes and is worth using simply because it smells so darn good.
  • Hydrosol – also called floral waters.  They are produced during the essential oil distillation process and contain diluted essential oil and skin friendly plant acids.  They are much more gentle than essential oils and can be applied directly to the skin.  They make great face and body sprays and can be used in body wash and lotion recipes.  Hydrosols have a soothing effect on mind and body.
  • Jojoba Oil – this is a mid-weight base oil that is chemically similar to our skin’s natural oil.  This makes it a great oil to use alone or in skin care recipes.  It’s a hydrating oil that penetrates the skin easily.  Compared to most oils it has a long shelf life and can be kept for a long time without going rancid.
  • Lavender Essential Oil – this floral oil has been loved and used extensively for generations.  It has antiviral, antibacterial and relaxing properties.  It has countless uses in skin care, first aid, cleaning and relaxation.  I use this and Tea Tree more than any other essential oils.
  • Lemon Essential Oil – this bright, uplifting oil just smells clean.  It has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties that are great for cleaning.  The scent of lemon has also been reported to have a positive effect on mood, how often does a cleaning product make you happy?
  • Liquid Detergent – most of the products we think of as soap are actually detergents.  Dish soap (the liquid you use to hand wash dishes) is a common example.  Detergents are petroleum based and serve many cleaning functions.  I use dish soap in tons of cleaning recipes on this blog.  I call it dish soap, even though it’s technically detergent because that’s how people recognize it.  I apologize for any confusion.
  • Olive Oil, Extra Virgin – this mid to heavy weight base oil is full of nutrients and is a an excellent moisturizer for dry skin.  This is my personal favorite oil but it’s too heavy for some people.  It’s not recommended for oily skin.
  • Peppermint Essential Oil – this refreshing, minty oil is a must have for mint lovers.  It has antibacterial and bug repellent properties.  I use it often in cleaning recipes that contain vinegar – it cuts the smell well and leaves your house smelling great.  It’s also my first choice in lip balm recipes for that classic minty tingle.
  • Pine Essential Oil – many people who grew up using Pine Sol like this oil because “it smells like clean”.  It has a nice, woodsy smell as well as antibacterial and antiviral properties.  This is a good alternative if you don’t care for the smell of Tea Tree.
  • Rosemary Essential Oil – this is a traditional oil for hair care and is often used for dandruff, hair darkening and to stimulate hair growth.  It has a healing effect on hair and body and is good for people with normal to oily skin.  Note: Rosemary essential oil is not recommended during pregnancy or if you are epileptic.
  • Sea Salt, Fine Ground – salt is a good exfoliant that is used primarily in hand and body scrubs.  Salt has natural healing and drying properties.  It is not recommended for dry, irritated skin or for use on the face.
  • Soybean Oil – this light weight base oil has a silky texture that people love.  It penetrates the skin well making it one of the best oils to use on your face (although it is good for your body too).  I recommend organic soybean oil because the normal extraction process is laden with chemicals.
  • Sugar, Fine Granulated – sugar is used like salt in hand and body scrub recipes.  However, sugar is gentler and is not drying which some people prefer.
  • Sweet Almond Oil – this light to mid weight base oil can be used on all skin types.  It is nearly odorless and penetrates the skin well.  I opted for this mild oil instead of baby oil when my son was an infant.
  • Sweet Orange Essential Oil – almost everyone loves this great smelling oil.  It can be used in skin care and house cleaning recipes.  It is antibacterial, antifungal and is known as an uplifting scent that can help with anxiety.
  • Tea Tree Essential Oil – research has shown this medicinal smelling oil to effectively combat bacteria, viruses, mold and fungus.  It’s a must have for homemade cleaning products and first aid.  I’m personally not crazy about its strong scent but it’s such a useful oil that I’ve learned to love it and use it often.
  • Water – water is used in many skin care and home cleaning recipes.  For best results use distilled water because it’s free of contaminants and mineral deposits.
  • White Distilled Vinegar – vinegar is a versatile natural cleaner.  It cuts through grime, effectively cleans residue, freshens the air and can prevent mold and mildew.  I use it constantly in home cleaning products.  My only knock on it is its strong smell.