Skincare Products

I make most of my own skincare products, out of food-quality ingredients – well, out of food, really! Which makes this post somewhat food related! I needed to mix up fresh batches of a few items today so I figured I’d share my “recipes” with you.


I put it in quotes because it’s not technically a lotion, but I use it all over my body as a lotion alternative after stepping out of the shower. I make this one differently in the winter than in the summer because it’s mostly just coconut oil, which solidifies at around 70 degrees or cooler. So during the winter months, I add some almond oil to keep it soft. During the summer, it stays soft on its own.

Coconut and almond oils are both very inexpensive in Indian and Asian grocery stores.

coconut oil
almond oil (during cooler months)
vitamin E (optional)
essential oils or other fragrance

If your coconut oil is at all solid, use a spoon to scoop out some into a glass jar.

Then microwave it for about 20-25 seconds to liquefy (or use a hot water bath).

If using, add some almond oil (I use about 2 Tbsp for the size jar shown) and vitamin E. Also add some fragrance if you’d like. Sometimes I use sandalwood, but today I wanted to smell like the baby Jesus, so I used frankincense and myrrh.

Stir. I like to use a tiny whisk, which I bought at an Asian grocery store and which Fortinbras is always trying to steal.

Depending on the ambient temperature, it will take a day or two for the oil to solidify again. It will turn whiter and look more like coconut oil again when that happens.

To use, simply emulsify in your palms (if necessary; generally it’s not) and apply to your entire body.

Sugar Scrub

sugar (white or brown is okay)
sweet almond oil
fragrance (optional)

Fill a glass jar nearly to the top with sugar.

Add just enough sweet almond oil to saturate it. Add fragrance if desired. I use bergamot for a citrus-but-a-little-different scent.

Use a chopstick to encourage the oils to completely saturate the sugar.

To use, simply scoop a little bit into your hand and apply to your face, scrub, and rinse off. I use it maybe once a week or so.


Instead of expensive moisturizers, I just use oil. I use jojoba because it is the closest to human skin oil. I mix in a tiny bit of tea tree oil because it is antiseptic, it’s good for your skin, and because I like the smell (not everyone does, however). It is drying, so I don’t use much.

jojoba oil
tea tree oil

Mix a few drops of tea tree oil into the jojoba. Place in a pump-type container.

To use, pump out just a FEW drops and apply to your face. A little goes a long way.


Instead of soap, I use the oil cleansing method. I won’t give you a recipe because everyone finds different combinations of oils that work for them. (I use half caster oil and half sweet almond.) I store it in a pump like this:

I’m not going to say that using oils instead of soap and moisturizers will solve any skincare woes, however, I will tell you that I developed rosacea about five years ago. My face was a total mess and I went to a dermatologist who prescribed about four different medicines, none of which worked and one of which reacted weirdly with alcohol and gave me bright (and burning) pink rings about my eyes whenever I had a glass of wine. Needless to say, that didn’t last long with me. I stopped using all medicines and switched from cleansing with soap to oil, and I haven’t experienced a trace of the rosacea since. I must stress that part of me believes this is just a coincidence! Although I do believe oils are better for your skin, I do not believe they work miracles!

Also, I have naturally oily skin. You may be adverse to slathering yourself with oils if you share this characteristic with me, but actually it’s good for this skin type. When you wash with something drying, your oil glands react by generating a lot of oil to counter the dryness. If you instead apply oils, your glands don’t end up overreacting. Just use them sparingly. A little really does go a long way.

Hair Gel

aloe vera
rosemary essential oil (optional)
peppermint essential oil (optional)

In a measuring cup, stir together equal parts water and aloe vera, as well as a few drops of the essential oil(s) if using.

Decant into a spray bottle.

I use this both to encourage my natural waves to come out with scrunching, or to smooth fly-away and otherwise misbehaving hairs.

Hair Oil

I use this occasionally to combat dryness.

coconut oil
neem oil (available at Indian groceries) (optional)
rosemary oil (optional)

Place the coconut oil and neem oil in a small glass jar.

Warm in a microwave (or hot water bath) until stir-able, then add rosemary oil if using, and stir.

Allow to solidify again. To use, emulsify between your palms and apply to your hair, concentrating on the ends. Comb through if you can. Leave on for a few hours, then shampoo out thoroughly.

And that’s about it for skincare products for me! They’re cheap, they’re edible, and they work great! And if you use them you can be as beautiful as me!

Since I was playing with oils, I filled these pretty little perfume bottles I scored at the thrift store for $2 yesterday, with various scents I like to wear, including amber and sandalwood. Aren’t they cute?

Finally, Mark said I should show you this item I made for him. I told him it wasn’t food and he said I’ve posted crafts before, which is true. Not only that, but this entire post has not been about food, so it’s the perfect opportunity to show off my (lack of) sewing skills. The story behind this item is: one day a few years ago, Mark, who in the winter perpetually has cold feet, complained to me, “They need to invent a blanket for feet”. I immediately responded, “They did: they are called socks. Try them.” Although I like to kid Mark about this, I later decided I was going to get into quilting and decided that my first project would be a “blanket for feet” for Mark.

Now, I have explained here that I am REALLY bad at sewing. I have NO idea why I thought I was going to “get into” quilting. It was a huge mistake. It caused me a lot of headaches. I later decided it was among my dumber ideas. Not before I DID manage to make a quilt top of sorts for Mark, though. It was simple: merely squares of different plaid flannels, but I did sew it together. When it came time to actually quilt it, though, I realized that either my sewing machine or I personally – or likely both of us – are not made for quilting. I shoved the flannel, the batting, and the fleece I’d gotten for the quilt bottom into a closet and promptly forgot about them.

Last weekend I got around to cleaning out that closet (I’m in an organizing frenzy around here lately!) and found the quilt parts. It’s freezing here. Mark’s feet are cold. Heck, MY feet are cold. I decided to assemble the blanket without actually quilting it. So I just sewed the batting to the flannel, then sewed the flannel to the fleece.

Then I added a pocket on the underside at one end.

Mark can slip his feet into the pocket and voila! – a blanket for feet!

Although it wasn’t quilted and the three layers therefore aren’t sewn together (other than at the seams), it is actually extremely soft and comfortable. And warm! I might have to steal it from Mark!


  1. kibbles Said,

    January 19, 2009 @ 3:59 pm

    I love that blanked for feet! So brilliant. But it’s true, you could also wear socks. It’s like the “snuggie” on TV infomercial’s- a blanket with arms. Just wear a sweater, people! I wonder if you should patent that blanket design. I would love sleeping with that thing.

  2. Lovliebutterfly Said,

    January 19, 2009 @ 6:43 pm

    Feet blanket looks great! And I like your skincare products! I also do sugar scrubs, but I add a bit of rolled oats to it. Love the little perfume bottles! Cute!

  3. renae Said,

    January 19, 2009 @ 7:30 pm

    Kibbles, my friend recently told me about and showed me the snuggie website! I loved that the infomercial on the site pretty much claims that reading books and snacking were both impossible prior to the invention of hte snuggie!

    Loveliebutteryfly, I love the addition of oats to the sugar scrub; I use a soap that has oats in it so I could have a whole oat theme going on!

  4. bex Said,

    January 19, 2009 @ 11:52 pm

    wow thanks for all the cool product ideas. I’m pretty anti commercial product these days. After spending so many years with crappy hair trying everything under the sun to get it under control I started using the Baking Soda/Apple Cider Vinegar washing and conditioning method on the ol’ noggin and my hair has never looked better. I started using the oil method on my face and then stopped before I really got into it. I’m going to try it again. Thanks!

  5. Cindy Said,

    January 20, 2009 @ 10:14 am

    I dont believe Fortinbras really exists.

  6. renae Said,

    January 20, 2009 @ 5:35 pm

    Bex, I go through phases of using the baking soda/ACV treatment, too, but no matter how dilute I make the vinegar rinse, or how thoroughly I rinse it out, or how heavily I try to mask the smell with more pleasant odors, Mark smells the vinegar and complains!

    Cindy, there are lots of things about Fortinbras I don’t believe either, however, he does exist! I understand your reluctance to believe it though. I’ve been nagging him about making his guest holiday post. Maybe he’ll get to it before summer.

  7. Annie Said,

    May 15, 2013 @ 4:14 pm

    Hi Renae!
    This is probably a late comment for this post, but I just started following your blog for the past couple of years. I like slathering olive oil on my body as my ‘lotion’; I already have it in my kitchen anyway, and it doesn’t come with a plethora of nasty ingredients. The aloe vera as hair gel was actually new to me – but when I slathered some on my scalp (and thus hair) to encourage hair growth, I noticed that after it dried, my hair was all stiff! So thanks for that.
    I want to know – do you color your hair? If you do, what do you use? Do you have some ideas about natural hair dyes out there? I have read articles on the internet about this, and most of the time, henna comes up on top. Never tried it, though. Still researching. I am just wondering about what are your thoughts on coloring your hair in general. Thanks!

  8. renae Said,

    May 16, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

    Hi Annie,

    I’ve dyed my hair a lot, actually, thought mostly not naturally. I was even blonde for several years! I have both used commercial dyes and henna in the past. In the salon, I’ve gone to Aveda; their dyes aren’t 100% natural, but they are probably as close as you’ll get in a salon. I really liked henna, and if you are looking for red, it’s hard to argue against it. Probably the only downside to henna is that it lasts a long time – which I guess could be considered good or bad. I’ve only done it a few times, but basically I loved the bright, bright red color it was at first. After a while, the brightness fades, but the color remains, if that makes sense. So then I’d get bored and henna it again to get the brightness back, but if you do that too frequently, you’re just heaping more and more henna on your hair and it will turn darker and darker, so you’ll stop getting the real bright color. Even if you don’t want the real bright red color anyway, you’re kind of stuck with henna for a while once you do it. You can color over it with commercial dye, but it’s not as easy. But don’t take advice from me about henna (or even hair dye in general, because even though I’ve done it a lot, I’m beauty-product-clueless) because I’m far from being an expert. I would definitely henna again, in fact, I just dyed it red and can’t figure out why I didn’t use henna…

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