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Neon swirl soap

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 1250 g of soap
Mould: standard loaf mould

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I recently discovered neon pigments, available from Pure Nature, and they’re perfect for this easy-peasy swirling method to create these stunning soaps. I loved the bright colours so much, that I repeated the same recipe with three different colour combinations. Yellow and green, pink and orange, and a trio of pink, blue and purple. I’ll let you decide which you like the best!

This recipe is an ideal introduction into swirling after you’ve done a few other soaps. The swirling method is really easy to do and pretty much fail-safe. You just need to make sure you’re using a fluid soap recipe, because one of the most common problems encountered with swirling or any technique that takes time, is that the soap starts to thicken and becomes impossible to pour. This recipe I’m using here is my go-to recipe whenever I need time.  It is an adaption of a pure Castile (olive oil) soap, to which I’ve added castor oil (for extra lather) and sodium lactate, a natural additive which helps speed up the hardening of the soap. The result is a lovely mild cleansing bar of soap with all the good qualities of olive oil, but without the long curing time.


Before starting, please read the safety and precautions post, especially since this tutorial requires the handling of caustic soda!

If you have never soap before, I strongly recommend you check out the basic cold process soap tutorial first, and make several other easier soaps before continuing.

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ONE: First prepare your lye by weighing out the caustic soda and water. And then, carefully, add the caustic soda to the water (NEVER THE OTHER WAY ROUND!), and stir until the lye water is clear.

Add two teaspoons of sodium lactate, and set aside to cool down. I usually leave my lye solution to cool down in the sink. So in case I knock it over, it will spill into the drains, and the worst thing that will happen is that I have clean drains.

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TWO: In the meantime, weigh out the olive oil and castor oil in your soap pot, which can be a large stock pot, a pyrex jug, or even an empty 2L ice cream container. Set aside.

neon colours

THREE: While you are waiting, prepare the colours. Mix 1/2 -1 teaspoon of each colour that you will be using with 1-2 teaspoon of oil (for example olive oil) in a small beaker or container.

If you are using just two colours, use 1 teaspoon each, for three colours use 1/3 teaspoon each, and if you are using four colours use 1/2 teaspoon of each colour.

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FOUR: Once the lye has cooled down to room temperature, and making sure you are still wearing your goggles and gloves, carefully add lye to the oils and then, using a stick blender, pulse and stir to thin trace. Make sure you keep the soap at a very fluid, thin consistency. If you’re worried about getting it too thick, you can also use a whisk and beat the oil/lye mixture until it has emulsified (does not separate). I often can’t be bothered getting my stick blender out and will just whisk the soap. (Yes, that works perfectly fine!)

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FIVE: Add the fragrance to the emulsified soap mixture and give it a quick stir.

I used different Candlescience fragrances for each of the colour combinations:

  • green and yellow: coconut lime
  • orange and hot pink: mango and tangerine
  • white, bright pink, blue and purple: sweet pea

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SIX: Separate the soap into roughly equal portions depending on the number of colours you are using and add the colours to each pot of soap. Using your stick blender or whisk, briefly mix each pot until the colour is evenly dispersed through the soap.

Note for the white/pink/blue/purple soap, I left one portion uncoloured.

SEVEN: To create the swirls, pour a line of one colour along the length of your mould. You can either pour to the line on the side or the centre, it’s up to you. If you pour it in the centre, you’ll have a roughly symmetrical soap, like the white/pink/blue/purple soap, and if you have the line more to one side, it will be more skewed, like the yellow/green soap below.

Next pour a line of another colour INTO the same line of soap that you just poured. So instead of pouring the soap next to each other, you keep pouring into the same line over and over again, and this pushes the colours to the side and creates the swirls that you see in the soaps.

You can be a bit more daring, and instead of one line, create two lines into which you pour the soap, just like I did with the orange/pink soap (further below). Or you can change halfway and start a new line on the other side. You can’t really do anything wrong. Even if you don’t hit the previous line of soap exactly, it doesn’t matter, you’ll still get your swirls.

Keep pouring, alternating the colours, into the same line until all the soap has been used up.

Leave the soap somewhere warm and dry, out of direct sunlight, to cure.

EIGHT: After 2-3 days, check if the soap has hardened and isn’t sticky and soft anymore. Don’t be tempted to unmould to soon, like I was with the orange/pink soap. The hardest part of creating swirl soaps is waiting for the soap to become hard enough to unmould. Once it is hard enough, carefully unmould, and cut it into bars. The bars of soap will need a further 6-8 weeks to cure before they are ready for use.

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Neon swirl soap

  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print
Before starting, make sure you wear protective goggles and gloves and work in a well-ventilated area, free from any distractions!

Ingredients

  • 950 g olive oil
  • 50 g castor oil
  • 128 g caustic soda
  • 280 g water
  • 2 teaspoons sodium lactate
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon each of the neon colours you are using
  • 30 ml fragrance

Directions

  1. Measure out 280 g of water into a heat proof Pyrex jug. Weigh out 128 g of caustic soda and carefully add it to the water, avoiding any splashes. Gently stir until all the caustic soda has dissolved and the lye solution is clear.
  2. Add two teaspoons of sodium lactate to the lye solution. Set aside to cool down.
  3. Weigh out the olive oil and castor oil in your soap pot. Set aside.
  4. Prepare your essential oil blend. Set aside.
  5. Mix 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of each colour with 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil in a separate pot. The exact amounts depend on how many colours you are using. Set aside.
  6. Once the lye has cooled down to room temperature, and making sure you are still wearing protective goggles and gloves, carefully add the lye to the oils.
  7. Using a stick blender or whisk, stir until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified.
  8. Add 30 ml of fragrance and give it another quick mix with the stick blender.
  9. Divide the soap into roughly equal portions and colour each portion with one of the colour/oil mixture. Briefly mix each pot a quick pulse with a stick blender or whisk until the colour is evenly dispersed through the soap.
  10. Pour a line of one colour along the length of the mould.
  11. Pour another colour of soap into the previous line of soap. Keep repeating the colours until all the soap has been used up.
  12. Place the soap in a warm, dry area to cure.
  13. After 2-3 days, check if the soap is firm enough to unmould. Remove from mould and cut into bars. The bars will need further curing for about 6-8 weeks until ready for use.

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School holidays are coming up!

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Next week it’s school holidays again, and although we’re all hoping for awesome sunny weather, it’s the middle of winter here in the Southern Hemisphere, and there’s nothing worse than having bored kids during rainy holidays!

Some easy crafts for kids of all ages is making their own soaps and bath bombs. It’s such a creative and fun thing to do and kids just love it! I should know, because the kids holiday programs always book out so quickly!

Check out the following tutorials, which will keep your kids busy for while:

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Using the ever popular jelly soap base (available here), you can create your own awesome Lush-like jelly soaps and use your creativity to make them even more fun, like these fish soaps. And for more tips on using jelly soap click here.

 

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You can buy some great (and cheap) silicon moulds from places like K-mart. These only cost me $2 each, and they make for great little soaps with an easy-to-use melt and pour soap base (available here).

 

You can make some cool soaps with these soap bases, using food colouring to colour them and essential oils to scent them. Here are the detailed instructions on how to use soap bases, and here are some more great soap ideas:

Bath bombs are another popular craft to keep the kids busy and you don’t need special ingredients for it either. The 2 key ingredients in bath bombs are citric acid and baking soda, both which you can buy from your local supermarket. Like the melt and pour soaps, you can use food colouring to colour them, and essential oils to scent them. Mix 2 parts baking soda with 1 part citric acid, and spray lightly with water to wet the mixture (only a little bit, otherwise it will start to fizz prematurely). Fill your moulds (muffin tins, empty yoghurt pots, or other little moulds), pack it tightly and then carefully  remove the bath bomb. Dry out overnight and it’s ready for use! The detailed instructions on how to make bath bombs you can find here.

To help you put together a little ‘professional kit’ to get the kids started, here’s a list of things to get:

  • 2 kg baking soda
  • 1 kg citric acid
  • 1 kg clear melt and pour soap
  • 1 kg white melt and pour soap
  • 1 kg bubble bath base
  • 1 kg glycerin
  • optional: jelly soap
  • 2 sets of small bath bomb moulds
  • 8 clamshell soap moulds (these are re-usable)
  • 3-4 micas to use as colourants
  • 2-3 skin safe fragrances or essential oils (more expensive)
  • little plastic figure toys from 2dollar shop
  • cute silicon ice cube trays (pineapple, unicorn, cactus) from Kmart
  • anything else you will probably have in your pantry

You can get all these ingredients (except where mentioned) from Pure Nature, and the total cost is roughly around $100, which should be enough to keep 2 kids busy for a while and make lots and lots of soaps, bath bombs, bubble baths and more!

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And last, but not least, this is probably the most popular tutorial for kids on the blog! The play dough will keep for a while sealed in a ziplock bag, and will make for hours of entertainment in the bath! To make this you will need corn starch, vegetable oil, glycerin and liquid soap, fragrance and colourants. Here are the instructions on how to make play dough soap.

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Nacho Ordinary Soap

Difficulty: Beginners
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 9 little soaps

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Desert, cactus, flamingo and mojitos seem to be everywhere at the moment. It’s been the theme in fashion, home decorations, and I even have nail wraps in this desert-theme. When I came across the little cactus and flamingo candles at Kmart, and found the matching cactus ice cube mold, I knew I wanted to make a soap to this theme! The only problem I had was finding the right name for it, so I held a little naming competition on Facebook for it and you guys had no problems coming up with some very creative and great names! It was really hard to choose just one. Here are some other of my favourites: Desert Dream, Don’t Desert Me Now, Desert Mojito, Prickly Clean. But the one that stood out from all the rest and I loved the most is “Nacho Ordinary Soap“! Thanks Kathryn Gage for coming up with this clever moniker!

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To make these you’ll need little cactus ice cube molds. I bought these from Kmart the other day for $2 each. As you can see, they also have some other cute molds, like the pineapple and unicorns!

The other material you need is clear and white melt and pour base, non bleeding yellow soap dye, green fruit mica and mint mojito fragrance, as well as a cube cavity soap mold. You can get all these from Pure Nature. I used the low sweat white melt and pour soap base and the crystal clear melt and pour soap base for this project.

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ONE: Cut the clear melt and pour soap base into small cubes and add them to a heat proof Pyrex jug. Heat on high in the microwave in 10 second bursts until the soap has melted.

You’ll have to eyeball the amounts. If you end up with a little left over, pour it into a separate container and you can use it for another project. The good thing about melt and pour soap bases is that you can re-melt it again.

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TWO: Add about 1/2 a teaspoon of green fruit mica and stir well until it has completely dispersed into the soap and there are no more clumps of mica on the surface. If you struggle mixing it in, spray a little alcohol on the surface and that will help with dispersing.

The reason we’re using clear melt and pour soap base here is so that the colour of the soap becomes a rich deep green. White melt and pour soap base will only give you pastel colours due to the white base colour!

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THREE: Once. you’ve mixed in the colour, pour the soap into the cavities of the cactus mold and spray them with alcohol to get rid of any bubbles on the surface.

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FOUR: While you’re waiting for the cacti to set, cut up the white soap base and melt it the same way in the microwave. Again, you’re going to have to eyeball the amount of soap you need.

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FIVE: Add a few drops of yellow soap dye. Make sure it is non-bleeding, because you don’t want it to bleed into clear soap. Start with a couple of drops first and keep adding 1-2 drops at a time until you’ve reached the colour you want. Remember, you can always add more colour but you can’t take it out again!

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SIX: Next, add your fragrance. The usage rate is about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon per cup of melted soap base. If you add too much, you will end up with fragrance on the surface of the soap after setting. If that does happen, you can just wipe it away with a paper towel. I had about 2 cups of soap base, so I added about 2 teaspoons. Stir well to mix it into the soap.

I didn’t add any fragrance to the cactus embeds and won’t be adding any fragrance to the clear layer of soap either, because the amounts of soap are only small and the yellow soap will easily mask it with its fragrance, so you won’t notice that they don’t actually have any scent!

SEVEN: Once you’ve added the colour and fragrance, pour the soap into the cube mold, filling each cavity to about 1 centimetre. Immediately spray with alcohol after pouring to remove any unsightly bubbles. Let the soap set before continuing.

For the next part, the yellow soap needs to have set so that when you pour the hot clear soap on top, it doesn’t break through the surface of the yellow soap. If you have left it to cool down completely, spray the surface with a little alcohol again, to make sure that the clear layer will adhere to it. Also remove the cactus embeds to have them ready.

EIGHT: Melt a little clear melt and pour base. I used the crystal clear melt and pour soap base for this to avoid any cloudiness in this layer. Also avoid adding fragrance, because that can make your soap cloudy as well.

NINE: Pour a small amount on top of the yellow soap, no more than half a centimetre, and immediately press a cactus into the middle of the soap and spray the whole surface with alcohol. Repeat for each soap.

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TEN: Let the soaps harden and cool down completely before removing them carefully from the mold. I left mine overnight before unmolding.

Make sure you wrap the soaps in cling foil to avoid condensation forming on the surface. Melt and pour soaps contain a lot of glycerin, which attracts moisture and hence, the ‘sweating’ effect on these kinds of soap.

As you can see in the picture, I made two different styles of soap. One has the embed sticking out and in the other, the clear layer covers the whole embed. I wasn’t sure which I would like better so I did both. But after setting, I decided I like the one where the cactus pops out more!

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Nacho ordinary soap

  • Difficulty: Beginners
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Ingredients

  • white melt and pour base
  • clear melt and pour soap base
  • yellow non-bleeding soap dye
  • green fruit mica
  • mint mojito fragrance from Candlescience
  • cactus ice cubes mold
  • square cavity mold
  • 99% isopropyl alcohol

Directions

PART 1

  1. Cut the clear melt and pour soap base into small cubes and place in a heat proof Pyrex jug.
  2. Heat the soap base in the microwave on high in 10 second bursts until melted.
  3. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of green mica and stir until dispersed.
  4. Pour the soap into the cavities of the cactus mold and spray with alcohol.
  5. Leave to cool down and set completely.

PART 2

  1. Cut the white melt and pour soap base into small cubes and place in a heat proof Pyrex jug.
  2. Heat the soap base in the microwave on high in 10-20 second bursts until melted.
  3. Add a few drops of yellow soap dye and stir. Add more dye, a couple of drops at a time until you’ve reached the desired colour.
  4. Add the mint mojito fragrance at 1/2 teaspoon per cup of melted soap, and stir well.
  5. Pour into the cavities of the cube mold to a height of about 1 centimetre.
  6. Spray with alcohol and let set.

PART 3

  1. Once the cactus have set, remove them from the mold.
  2. Cut a little clear melt and pour soap base into small cubes and place in a heat proof Pyrex jug.
  3. Heat the soap base in the microwave in 10 second bursts until melted.
  4. Pour a little of the clear soap base over the top of the yellow soap in the cube mold. You only want to pour to a maximum of half a centimetre.
  5. Spray the surface with alcohol and press a little cactus into the middle of the mold.
  6. Spray again with alcohol and leave the soaps to set completely before removing from the mold.

Remember to wrap the soaps in cling foil to avoid condensation forming on the surface.

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Natural nappy balm (vegan)

Difficulty: Beginner
Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 100 ml

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As all parents know, babies often get red and irritated skin around the nappy area. This is usually caused by either a reaction to urea or by yeast, due to the moist environment. As a mother myself, and wanting to use only natural and safe ingredients on my child, I formulated this nappy balm containing calendula, chamomile and manuka, which acts as both a barrier cream to prevent, and a healing balm to help soothe and calm irritated skin and rashes. I’ve been using this balm for nearly 15 years now, first as a nappy balm, and now I still make it as a soothing skin balm for sensitised or irritated skin.

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Candelilla wax (left) and carnauba wax (right).

Because most balms use bees wax, and are thus not suitable for vegans, I have decided to make this a vegan-friendly nappy balm. There just aren’t enough such balms out there! The waxes I’m using to substitute for the bees wax are candelilla and carnauba, two plant based waxes. Candelilla wax is derived from the leaves of the Candelilla shrub native to Northern Mexico, and the carnauba wax comes from the leaves of a palm native to Brazil. The combination of the two makes for a smooth and gentle balm, with just the right firmness.

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ONE: Weigh out the candelilla wax, carnauba wax, olive oil and castor oil into a small pot. Place it on the lowest setting on the stove, and wait until the wax has completely melted. This will take about 10 minutes or so. Don’t be tempted to turn the heat up! Because, candelilla wax can be a bit grainy, I keep the stove setting on low so that the temperature is raised slowly and gradually, and due to the carnauba wax having a higher melting point, the candelilla wax will be kept above its melting point for a while to ensure a smooth end product. It is a bit like tempering chocolate, for those who cook and bake!

Olive oil is added to the balm, because it’s packed with antioxidants and has a balanced fatty acid composition, which will help restore and nourish the skin, especially since babies bottoms are usually wrapped up in a nappy and the skin doesn’t get to breathe. The combination of oils, butter and waxes is what will create the barrier between the delicate baby skin and the wetness of the nappy.

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TWO: Once the waxes have completely melted, take the pot off the stove and turn off the stove. The pot will stay warm long enough to keep the mixture liquid and prevent it from cooling down too quickly. Weigh out and stir in the shea butter until it too has completely melted. I’ve added shea butter, because it is a moisturising and conditioning butter with skin-soothing and calming properties due to the presence of several fatty acids and plant sterols.

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THREE: Lastly, add the calendula infused sunflower oil and give it another stir. Calendula, or pot marigold, is well-known for its skin healing properties. The calendula  flowers have been infused in sunflower oil, which is another beneficial skin oil with vitamin E and essential fatty acids.

FOUR: Make sure the oil/wax mixture is completely liquid and clear. If it has become cloudy and no amount of stirring is making it clear again, place it back on the stove again and stir. The cloudiness means it has cooled down to the point where the oil/wax mixture is solidifying. Keep stirring the mixture until is clear. You want the mixture to heat up just enough to become liquid, but not get too hot again.

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Add 5 drops each of chamomile and manuka essential oils. Because this is a balm for babies’ skin, I’m using a very low concentration, only 10 drops (0.5 ml) of essential oils to 100 ml of balm. Chamomile has both antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties and is considered to be a hypoallergenic, meaning it can calm and reduce skin irritants. Manuka is well known in New Zealand as a powerful skin healer for its antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral and antiseptic properties. Together, they will help prevent and reduce nappy rashes and infections.

Alternatively, if you don’t have manuka essential oil, you can also use tea tree essential oil, which has similar properties.

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FIVE: Give the mixture a good final stir before carefully pouring it into the pot. Let the balm set and cool down completely before placing the lid on, to prevent any condensation (= breeding ground for bacteria and fungi) forming on the lid. I usually leave it to set overnight.

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Natural nappy balm (vegan)

  • Difficulty: beginners
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Ingredients

  • 30 g olive oil
  • 10 g shea butter
  • 5 g castor oil
  • 15 g calendula infused oil
  • 2 ml wheatgerm oil
  • 5 g candelilla wax
  • 7 g carnauba wax
  • 5 drops chamomile essential oil
  • 5 drops manuka essential oil (alternatively tea tree essential oil)
  • 100 ml pot

Directions

  1. Weigh out the candelilla wax, carnauba wax, olive oil, castor oil in a small pot, and heat it on the lowest setting on the stove.
  2. Once the waxes have completely melted, and the oil/wax mixture is clear, take the pot off the stove and stir in the shea butter until it too has melted.
  3. Add the castor oil and calendula infused sunflower oil, and stir everything until the liquid is clear again.
  4. Add the essential oils and give it another good stir.
  5. Carefully pour the liquid balm into the pot and let it set and cool down completely before putting the lid on.

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Natural feijoa lip scrub

Difficulty: Beginner
Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 4 pots (15 ml each)

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Lip scrubs are totally underrated in the skincare routine. We pamper, cleanse and protect our skin, but our lips often just get a lick of balm and that’s it. Regular exfoliation also benefit our lips, not only making them smooth for lipstick, but by removing dead skin cells, which helps keep lips soft and supple, retaining moisture and preventing cracked lips. Just like our skin needs looking after, so do our lips.

This feijoa lip scrub is made from only natural ingredients, including brown sugar, sweet almond oil, and ground dried feijoa fruit. The benefit of this recipe is it helps exfoliate by gently scrubbing, but the mild acidity (think AHA) from the feijoa also helps loosen the dead skin cells by dissolving the glue-like lipids holding them to the fresh, new skin cells underneath.

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To get the ground dried feijoa (the brown powder in the picture above), you can either use a food dehydrator, if you are lucky enough to have one, otherwise you can use the oven. For this tutorial, you only need one feijoa. Slice the fruit into 3-5 mm slices and place them on a baking tray lined with a sheet of baking paper, or ideally on a wire rack. Heat the oven to the minimum setting it has, usually around 60 degrees Celsius. Turn the slices over a couple of times during the dehydrating process. Depending on your oven, it can take about 4 hours for the fruit to completely dry out. If you don’t want the feijoa to go brown like mine (that’s just natural oxidation), you can dip them in a solution of 1 teaspoon of citric acid to one cup of water before dehydrating. Once dehydrated, grind the slices in a blender.

ONE: Add the dry ingredients, brown sugar and ground feijoa, to a small bowl.

TWO: Next, add the glycerin and sweet almond oil, and give everything a good stir.

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THREE: I’m adding one drop of spearmint essential oil and two drops of lemon essential oil to this scrub for a clean, refreshing fragrance, and because of its cooling, calming and antimicrobial properties, helping to keep your lips healthy.

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FOUR: Lastly, scoop the exfoliating scrub into the pots. Enjoy!

To use this yummy feijoa scrub, apply a generous amount to your lips and gently rub in circular motion without any pressure. Because the scrub also contains moisturising sweet almond oil, leave it on your lips for a minute or so to absorb the oil, and then using a damp cloth, gently wipe off. For the perfect kissable pout, exfoliate your lips once a week!

Natural feijoa lip scrub

  • Difficulty: beginners
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Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground dried feijoa
  • 1 tablespoon glycerin
  • 1 tablespoon sweet almond oil
  • 2 drops lemon essential oil
  • 1 drop spearmint essential oil
  • 4 lip balm pots (15 ml)

Directions

  1. Measure out the sugar and ground feijoa into a small bowl.
  2. Add the glycerin and sweet almond oil and stir until everything has been mixed thoroughly.
  3. Add the essential oils and give it another good stir.
  4. Scoop the exfoliating scrub into the pots. Enjoy!