Shea butter is a must have ingredients for any beauty DIY’er – it’s a true power house for homemade beauty products!
Shea butter is fat extracted from the nut of the shea tree. It is a rich, luxurious butter that is solid at room temperature. Shea butter is soft to the touch, so will not create a hard final product in your homemade recipes.
It is high in vitamins and fatty acids, is extremely moisturizing, has anti-inflammatory properties, is safe for all skin types and won’t leave your skin feeling greasy. Shea butter does take a while to absorb, so keep that in mind when selecting it for a recipe.
I always look for raw, unfiltered shea butter that is also fair trade. Expect a slightly nutty smell that will come through in your homemade products.
Benefits: super moisturizing, won’t clog pores, ok for sensitive skin
Good for: all skin types, especially dry or parched skin
Substitutions: choose another butter to substitute for shea in your recipe, like cocoa, mango or avocado butter. Cocoa butter and mango butter are harder than shea, so your final product will be firmer.
Beeswax helps to heal and protect the skin and is a great addition to balms, lotions and natural makeup products.
Beeswax is also known for its skin healing properties – it creates a protective barrier on the skin without clogging pores. It is also a great choice for skincare because it is a humectant, meaning it attracts water and helps to keep skin hydrated.
Beeswax is solid at room temperature, so when using it in any homemade skincare products keep this in mind. The more beeswax you use in your recipe, the harder your final product will be.
Benefits: protects, moisturizes and heals skin, great for creating firmer DIY products
Best for: all skin types
Substitutions: candalilla wax is a vegan alternative that is slightly harder than beeswax
Cocoa butter, also called cacao butter, comes from the bean of the cacao plant – the very same plant we get chocolate from.
Cocoa butter is high in fatty acids and can hydrate and protect the skin. It is also high in phytochemicals, and is often used to smooth wrinkles, scars and stretchmarks.
Raw cocoa butter is one of my favorite ingredients for homemade skincare products because it smells like chocolate. It is solid at room temperature and harder than shea butter.
Opt for raw, unfiltered cacao or cocoa butter to ensure high quality. Typically the difference in the 2 terms is in how the cacao is processed: cacao is minimally processed and ‘raw’, while cocoa is heated at a high temperature and loses some of the nutrients in the process.
Substitutions: shea will give a softer finished product, but can be substituted with success. Consider upping the wax in your recipe if you substitute shea butter for cocoa butter. Avocado butter or mango butter are also good substitutes.
Jojoba oil is a rich, thick oil derived from the seed of the jojoba plant that is one of my favorites for DIY beauty products.
Jojoba oil is actually a liquid wax and is extremely similar to the oil our skin secretes, also called sebum. This makes it an incredibly beneficial oil for skincare products because our skin just soaks it up!
Don’t be fooled by the thickness of jojoba oil and think it’s too rich for you. It is actually a light oil that is easily absorbed and can be used to balance your skins oil production.
Benefits: anti-aging, deep and long lasting moisture, non-greasy feel, gentle and great for sensitive skin
Good for: All skin types, especially great for sensitive, oily or acne prone skin.
Substitutions: Olive oil, almond oil or avocado oil will all substitute in your DIY beauty recipe. (Although I highly recommend investing a bottle of jojoba oil for your homemade skin products, it is worth it!)
Coconut oil is probably one of the most well-known oils for homemade products. It is moisturizing, has anti-bacterial properties and is high in vitamin E and skin-loving fats.
Coconut oil is solid at temperatures below 76 degrees F, and the raw, unfiltered variety has a sweet, coconut scent.
I find it does not absorb as well as other oils and it can clog pores, so I don’t love it for my oily skin. Because its melting point is only 76 degrees and I live in Texas, in the summer months it produces a different finished product in recipes than in colder months.
For these reasons you won’t find coconut oil in a ton of my recipes, but you can easily substitute it if you prefer to use it.
Benefits: moisturizing, coconut scent, anti-bacterial, high in vitamin E and healthy fats
Good for: dry skin, body products (not my preference for facial care)
You probably already know about the nutritional powerhouse that is the almond, but did you know it’s a great choice for your skin as well?
Sweet almond oil is high in vitamins A, E and omega fatty-acids, making it a nourishing choice for skin, hair and nails. It is mostly considered non-comedogenic, meaning it is not likely to clog pores, and is hypoallergenic.
Sweet almond oil is odorless and light in color, making it an easy addition to any skincare recipe.
Benefits: moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, evens and lightens skin tone
Good for: sensitive skin (including babies and kids), dry skin, aging skin, combination skin
Substitutions: avocado oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil for oily skin
Olive oil is another great multi-tasking beauty ingredient, since you probably already have a jar in your pantry.
Olive oil is naturally high in squalene, an oil that mimics your skins sebum, so it leaves skin feeling soft. It is also high in antioxidants and can help fight free radicals.
I like olive oil for whipping up quick concoctions, like a fast body scrub or hair mask, and use it as the main oil in my favorite cuticle oil recipe. I don’t love it for anything I put on my face, since it is a heavy oil and can clog pores, especially in oily or acne prone skin types.
Make sure to use 100% pure, unrefined olive oil for best results.
Benefits: antioxidant rich, leaves skin soft, high in squalene
Best for: dry skin, use on body, hair and nails
Substitutions: avocado oil or sweet almond oil, grapeseed for oily skin
Some of my favorite essential oils for DIY beauty and skincare products are lavender, chamomile, bergamot, sweet orange, grapefruit and frankincense. Since scent is so subjective, I recommend choosing scents based on your own preferences.
Benefits: Provide natural scent to your DIy creations, plus tons of additional benefits that vary based on each essential oil.
Best for: all skin types, but check the properties of each oil to make sure it will work with your skin type. Some oils are not suitable for children, but PlantTherapy’s Kid Safe line makes it easy to choose essential oils that are safe for kids.
Substitutions: Essential oils can easily be left out of any recipe if you do not have them available. Or feel free to substitute your favorite oil in a recipe, they can easily be swapped for one another.
Aloe vera gel is becoming one of my favorite ingredients to add to my homemade skincare concoctions. It is calming, soothing to skin, and I love the gel texture that it adds to products without having to add synthetic thickeners.
Skip the green aloe gel you used on sunburns when you were a kid and opt for an all natural version instead. There are plenty available, and they will contain only aloe and a small amount of safe preservative.
You can use fresh aloe vera in any recipe that calls for aloe vera gel.
Please note, however, that you will need to refrigerate your homemade concoction if using fresh aloe vera and I don’t recommend keeping it longer than 2 weeks.
Benefits: calming and soothing, adds thickness and gel texture
Best for: all skin types, especially sensitive skin.
Maybe you’ve never considered baking soda a skincare ingredient, but it has some great uses in natural beauty products! Baking soda is clarifying and toning for the skin, plus its super cheap and you probably already have it in your kitchen.
Baking soda can be drying when applied to skin, so make sure any DIY recipe you do with baking soda has an ingredient to counter the dryness.
Benefits: clarifying, tightening, great for congested skin
Combine 1 TBS baking soda and 1 tsp water and mix thoroughly. Add ½ tsp coconut oil and mix until completely combined. Add 2-4 drops of lavender essential oil and mix again. Add more water or baking soda as needed until you have a paste consistency.
Witch hazel is a natural astringent made from the witch hazel plant. It is a great addition to lots of skincare products for its toning, tightening and clarifying properties. Make sure you are using pure witch hazel, not a blend. You can usually find it at drug stores and health food stores.
Benefits: tightening, clarifying
Best for: all skin types, can be drying so combine with a moisturizing ingredients for dry skin
Apple cider vinegar has tons of skin loving (and healing) properties and is a must for DIY beauty products.
Apple cider vinegar is great at balancing pH levels and soothing skin, which make it a perfect ingredient for beauty and skincare products. And it’s another inexpensive ingredient that you probably already have in your kitchen.
Benefits: balances pH, soothing
Best for: facial care (like a toner) or hair care
Substitutions: you can substitute white vinegar sometimes, but not all the time. I do not recommend subbing anther type of vinegar for any facial recipes, but it will work for hair and some skincare recipes.