You've either given or received it. The body care gift pack, complete with brightly coloured soaps and perfumey bath bombs. They smell nice (if overpowering scents don't give you splitting migraines) and look pretty, but they're super-artificial. And, yes, even baskets from the Body Shop are loaded with all kinds of chemicals we can't pronounce. Our solution? Make your own. It's as simple as stirring a couple ingredients in a bowl and throwing them into a pretty jar. The result is all natural, as organic as you want it to be (we recommend buying organic ingredients whenever possible) and way cheaper than shopping at the mall or a health store.
So put on your apron and let's get cookin'.
By the way, if you need a helping hand, you can take the same DIY personal care product workshop I took at Grassroots on Danforth in the spring. In the meantime, you can chip in with your friends and hire out Amanda of simply. (by amanda) soaps (www.simplybyamanda.com) to show you all how to make this stuff.
Natural colours, bath bomb moulds, lip balm containers and other DIY body-care supplies can be purchased online at BC-based www.cranberrylane.com.
Luxe Lip Balms
Step 1 Grate 2 tablespoons of beeswax (a 1-lb brick from Grassroots costs $15, which will last you a lifetime, or get it pre-grated by the ounce at Thuna's on Danforth, for $1.85/oz). Vegans can use soy-based wax (check out www.cranberrylane.com).
Step 2 Melt (do NOT boil) the beeswax in a double boiler on the stove at low to medium heat, or if you don't have a double boiler, place the beeswax in a glass (preferably Pyrex) container in a pot of warm water on the stove. This will keep it from burning.
Step 3 Add 100 ml of oil (i.e. almond, hemp, olive or grapeseed) and half a teaspoon of shea or cocoa butter. Stir. If beeswax starts to solidify, keep it on burner until it melts again. Remove from burner. Toss in a few drops of your favourite essential oil at the end.
Step 4 Pour mixture into your lip balm containers quickly before it hardens. This recipe filled up two large containers, but you can really stretch your balm mix out if you get cute 1/2-ounce tins (75 cents each, www.cranberrylane.com). Active Surplus on Queen and the Big Carrot on Danforth have glass ones.
Wrapping it up
Tracking down some little vintage tins might take a little work, but it's worth it. All the pretty antiques (see above) we picked up at Bronze on Queen East don't need much extra packaging, but if you get a plain glass or stainless steel container you can cover the lid with some scrap wrapping paper. We also stumbled upon these cute compact mirrors made with vintage magazine images at Winkel on Queen East, and they come with a reusable velveteen bag. Perfect to toss your gift balm into.
Bodacious bath bombs
Step 1 In one bowl, mix 1/4 cup citric acid (if you want fizzy balls) or whole milk powder (if you prefer a luxurious Cleopatra-style milk bath) with 1/4 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup cornstarch.
Step 2 In another bowl, mix 6 tablespoons of the oil of your choice with up to half a teaspoon of essential oils.
Step 3 Slowly pour the wet ingredients onto the dry. You're looking for the consistency of wet sand. Test it out by trying to roll it into a ball. Too dry? Add more oil. Too wet? Add a touch more cornstarch. It's not brain surgery, trust us.
Step 4 Grab a pinchful and roll, baby, roll. We made ours into 1-inch balls, but they can be any size you like. You can also use a ping-pong ball cut in half as a mould. Just pack each side and stick em together.
Step 5 Once you've rolled the ingredients into balls, we laid out some crushed dried rose petals and dried lavender (chopped up to make it finer - it sticks better that way), then rolled our balls into the petals. Or just sprinkle a few dried petals on top. Takes two to three days to dry.
Wrapping it up
Got an empty chocolate box (or any small box) lying around? Fill it with a few bombs and serve up a yummy variety pack. You can also toss a few bath bombs into a jar once they're dry and tie a ribbon around it. Or you can always wrap 'em in fabric scraps and fasten 'em with a little raffia or hemp twine.
Soothing sea salt scrub
Step 1 Mix 1 cup of fine sea salt with 1 cup of Epsom salts. (For facial scrubs, just use 2 cups of fine-textured, unrefined organic sugar.)
Step 2 Stir in 1/2 cup olive oil and 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) castor oil. ("Ick, castor oil!" you say. Relax, your skin loves it!) Toss in 4 teaspoons vegetable glycerin (available at health stores), several capsules of vitamin E and 20 drops of essential oil. (We chose cooling peppermint for our foot scrub.)
Step 3 Pour your exfoliating mix into little jars and you're done! So easy, and way cheaper than the $20 body scrubs at the Body Shop!
Wrapping it up
We picked up some vintage cold cream containers at an antique shop in Leslieville for $3. As we recommend for the bath balls, you can fill up some jars and sass 'em up with a ribbon. We just happened to have this empty latched jam jar and a wooden spoon, but you can buy both together around town. I'm re-gifting this heart-shaped pumice stone, but you can also pick up some Urban Spa control-harvested sea sponges at the Big Carrot. Toss it all in old gift bag someone's given you, or, in the spirit of the DIY season, try stitching your own with scrap fabric!
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