The further I’m going into my minimalist journey, the more I am favouring simplicity in all aspects of my life. I don’t eat processed foods and I shun chemicals in favour of non-toxic alternatives. I’m a DIY nerd too, so If I can make something myself, I will. Lately, I’ve really been inspired by the idea of making my own soap, but honestly lye is a little bit intimidating for me this early in the game, so I’ve come up with a version that doesn’t require lye.
My foray into the world of DIY home and beauty products started off by wanting to go non-toxic and cruelty free. I don’t live in London – I live in a fairly residential area with some restaurants and handful of shops (a ginormous Sainsburys, 3 charity shops, a pharmacy, 4 salons, a polish grocery store and a post office), and although I can catch a bus to the towns near me, they are all just chain stores owned by retail giants like TopShop, Boots and M&S. It turns out that cruelty free products are frustratingly difficult to find if you don’t live in an area that supports local producers. There is not really a sense of community where I live – there are no independent boutique shops, there are no pop-up shops, and there are no craft fairs (well there are, but ‘craft fair’ where I live means cheap rolls of wrapping paper and Christmas decorations sold under a marquee rather than something handmade).
If you go to places like Boots and Superdrug, most of their ‘eco’ products aren’t leaping bunny certified and even the ingredients lists on the back of ‘botanical’ products read more like an inventory of Frankenstein’s laboratory than anything you would find in a botany book. Even Holland & Barrett is not much better. If I can’t even pronounce something, I don’t want it on my face or in my belly thank you.
I’m basically left with two options: Spend over an hour of my life getting up to London to find and go to a shop that will sell me something I actually want, for a hefty price tag (we’re talking £9 for a small bottle of shampoo which is literally just going to be money washed down the drain) OR… y’know… just buy the ingredients on Amazon and make it myself for half the price and half the hassle.
Some people may find making things themselves a pain in the balls but cooking is like meditation for me so I don’t consider it a chore. I like knowing exactly what I’m eating or putting on my skin, and where it has come from. The only way to have this peace of mind about my food and skin care is to make it myself. And because I don’t like chemicals it means I have to make things myself more often than I would if I had bought it premade and packed full of chemicals to preserve it.
This soap is also a way for me to reduce my plastic waste. I already have all these products in my cupboard anyway for various other uses, so instead of going out and buying a commercial face wash and a body wash that invariably come in some form of plastic container and dries my skin out, I can upcycle a glass bottle and use what I already have and make my own dual-purpose soap that is perfectly tailored to my skin.
DIY all-natural face and body wash
This face and body wash is super simple, it's lye free and uses natural ingredients which you probably already have at home and only takes about 10 minutes to throw together.
Things you'll need
- 2 tbsp Dr Bronners
- 2 tbsp olive oil virgin or extra virgin
- 1 tbsp avocado or sweet almond oil optional
- 1/2 tsp salt estimate
- 1/3 cup oats
- 1 cup water estimate
- 10 drops Essential oil (I use orange)
Assemble your ingredients
If using glass for your dispenser pump, heat it up by sitting it in a mug of hot water so it doesn't crack when you pour boiling soap into it. It can be having its own little hot tub session while you're making your soap.
Place the oats in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to one side to steep
Put the milk pan over a low heat. Add the Dr Bronners, olive and avocado/sweet almond oil to the pan and stir until cloudy
Strain the oats through a seive. You don't need to add all the liquid. I tend to strain 1/2 the amount that's in the bowl. You want to really mash the oats into the sieve so that the thick slimy starches are released. Then scrape down the outsides of the sieve so it gets into your soap mixture. Then give it a stir
Add in 10 drops of an essential oil of your choice. I use orange, but citrus oils are known to be phototoxic and increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun. This doesn't bother me as I live in the UK and have fairly robust skin, but I would recommend looking into essential oils yourself and finding out which ones might work best for your skin. They all have different properties and support different skin types. Some popular all-rounders are lavender, frankincense and clary sage.
Gradually add in your salt, a pinch at a time until you get the consistency you want. The general rule of thumb is the more salt you add, the thicker your soap will be. Please bear in mind that whatever consistency your soap is when you pour it into your dispenser, it will be at least half as thick again when it cools. Make sure you don't make it too thick to go through your pump.
Pour into your dispenser and leave to cool before using.
Just a note - this facewash is not like a store bought facewash that leaves your skin feeling sqeaky clean. It will leave a film of oil on your face when you've rinsed it off. It doesn't feel claggy, and certainly won't look like your skin is greasy, but you will feel like you've applied a facial oil or serum.
And for those of you who are visual learners, here’s the youtube video I made showing you how I make it.