Green 101: (Mis)Adventures in DIY Cosmetics

Since embarking on my DIY cosmetics adventure a few months ago by concocting homemade deodorant (which was mostly a success…more on that below), I have slowly been attempting to replace more of my toiletries with DIY varieties. As with everything in life, some adventures have turned out better than others:

DIY Lip Balm

For this adventure, I used recipes from a couple different sites – Michelle Phan’s DIY Lip Balm and Martha Stewart’s Homemade Lip Balm. What I mean by that is that I used the ingredient measurements from Martha (minus the honey and plus coconut oil added from Michelle’s), but followed the microwave instructions from Michelle…because seriously, who owns a double-boiler, Martha?



  • 3 tsp beeswax (purchased in grated form from local organic market The Mustard Seed)
  • 5 tsp cooking-grade sunflower oil (also purchased from Mustard Seed)
  • 6 tsp coconut oil (purchased from Mustard Seed, leftover from deodorant adventure)
  • 6/7 drops essential oil – peppermint (given to me by local herbalist Lori of Lori’s Herbs and Oils…for which yours truly designed the logo)
  • Microwave safe bowl and old spoon (I don’t recommend using the wedding china and silver for this type of project)
  • 6 empty Burt’s Bees tins that I had been using to hold jewelry findings for the past x amount of years
  • I also had some cheap droppers from the drug store, but because I used tins, not tubes, I could easily scoop the mixture into the tins using the old spoon

As Michelle instructs, I put everything together in the microwave-safe bowl (minus the essential oil) and popped it in the microwave for 30 second stretches until a nice liquid had formed. I then added the essential oil, gave it a stir, then quickly scooped it into the waiting tins. The amount I made could have filled 7-8 tins, but since 6 was all I had, I poured the extra into another random tin I had, so it wouldn’t go to waste. Then I let it sit and harden for a night before using it.


This particular adventure was a success! I think in the future I will use a little less sunflower oil, only because the result came out a little more glossy than I would have liked, but it still works. And just a side note that you definitely don’t want to put these tins in your pocked or leave them out in the hot car – just a little time under my bedside lamp turned one into soupy liquid…Nothing an overnight stay in the fridge couldn’t fix, but worth mentioning.

DIY Mascara

While I consciously, and quite happily, made the green(ish) switch to Cover Girl’s NatureLuxe mascara some time ago, I was interested if I could DIY an even greener version. For this adventure, I was inspired by the recipe over at Thank Your Body.


  • 2 tsp coconut oil (again, same jar from Mustard Seed)
  • 4 tsp aloe vera gel (while it was available at Mustard Seed, I couldn’t bring myself to pay $15+ for a tiny bottle, especially when I knew I could get it at the local drug store for cheapo)
  • 1/2 tsp grated beeswax (same bag from Mustard Seed)
  • 2 capsules activated charcoal (from Mustard Seed)
  • 2 empty mascara tubes (bought super cheap from DIY Cosmetics Tip: make sure to look at their “discount codes” section for further savings)
  • Dropper (left over from not being used to make the lip balm)
  • Microwave-safe bowl and old spoon
  • Paper towels/rags and DIY cleaning spray (which for me equals water, white vinegar and tea tree oil)

In the name of not messing up any of Butch’s nice pans, I decided to microwave this recipe also, instead of cooking it over low heat. First, I mixed all the ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. Tip: lay down a paper towel and cut away from you when opening the charcoal capsules. Case in point:


Not a good look, but a little soap and water took it right off my hands while some spray took it off my Formica table. Then I microwaved. Tip: cover the bowl with a paper towel and only heat in 15 second intervals until watery. Even after a few 15 second rounds, the aloe did not seem to want to fully melt down, resulting in a sort of lumpy mixture:


Undetered, I used the dropper to transfer the mixture from the bowl to the empty mascara bottles. I periodically put the bowl back in the microwave to try to melt the mixture down more, but it only seemed to help a tiny bit. Nevertheless, I filled both bottles to the top!


I then quickly cleaned up all surfaces and instruments used in the process. The dropper was a little difficult to clean, but I soaked it and used a thin piece of jewelry wire to scrub out any leftover wax. The next day, I took the mascara for a test drive. Like Thank Your Body mentions, I had to do a LOT of swipes in order to get the coverage to slightly match what only a couple of swipes of NatureLuxe does, not to mention, it was a watery battle to do even that. The results:


I also noticed that throughout the day, the mascara never seemed to fully dry, so by 5pm, it barely looked like I was wearing anything because it had all rubbed off. I checked back with the Thank Your Body site to see what I did wrong/could have done differently. Now, I had briefly scrolled through the extensive comments section before attempting, and noticed that a couple of people had trouble with the resulting consistency, but decided to try it for myself to reach my own conclusions. But as with comparing reviews on Amazon, you should always listen to the dissenters, especially if there seems to be a pattern.

Not a success, but I plan on trying it again, this time, with NO aloe and more beeswax.

DIY Conditioner

For this adventure, I referenced the recipe at Organic Authority. No photos here, because the ingredients and process were so simple. In short:

  • 2.5 cups hot water
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

Mix, pour over head, rinse/comb out, rinse some more.

Can’t say this was a huge success either, if only because I didn’t feel like it did any wonders for my notoriously difficult hair, and because the smell of vinegar did seem to stay with me throughout the day – not a good look, either. I know the recipe at Organic Authority suggests adding rosemary to counteract the smell, but I don’t think that would make it any more effective. However, it did work as a simple detangler, but I need a deeper moisture treatment than that. Onward!

DIY Deodorant (reflections)

While the making and using of the homemade deodorant was a huge success, I did find that I had to take a week off because of a rash that developed that became irritated by the baking soda in the deodorant. I don’t believe that it was the deodorant itself that gave me the rash, more likely some overzealous shaving with application of the deodorant too soon afterward. I’ve since adjusted my routine for better results.

So hits and misses. But not a huge loss – most of the ingredients I purchased can be used again for more successful DIY attempts, or for cooking, or for treating burns in the summer, etc. Next on my list is to dive into the adventure of DIY laundry detergent (especially with sensitive baby skin on the way). This tutorial at Mother Nature Network suggests the simple recipe of soap (bar or castille), borax (the original DIYers ingredient) and washing soda. And that reminds me that there are other baby-friendly DIY recipes I want to investigate – and it looks like this post over at Wellness Mama is a great place to start!

4 responses to “Green 101: (Mis)Adventures in DIY Cosmetics

  1. Your successes and efforts are all laudable. Mother Nature has certainly given us a lot of useful ingredients. Have you found any possible recipes in that book I gave you from my youth?

    • Yeah there are a lot of good recipes in that – I noticed Borax used a LOT! I do plan on double-checking to make sure the recipes are still safe, since it is a vintage book…who knows, some may have been recalled!

  2. Castile soap and baking soda are my go to bases for many DIY products. For the baby, you can make your own laundry detergent with washing soda and castile soap. I’ll have to dig up the recipe

    • Yes! I need to stock up on both. I used to always have castile soap in the house, but the hubs doesn’t like it so I stopped buying it (we just share shampoo/conditioner because it’s easier)…But now I’m realizing all the OTHER ways I can use it besides shampoo for myself! Will definitely pick some up next time I’m at Mustard Seed.

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