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Coconut rose body scrub

Difficulty: Beginners
Time: 15 min
Yields: 2 pots of about 125 ml each

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Not to toot my own horn, but I love, love, love this scrub! The combination of the Himalayan pink salt, coconut oil and rose petals leaves my skin feeling so smooth and clean, and yet also extremely soft and moisturised. And I love that I can use this and not have to worry about having to moisturise afterwards. Like most mums, I don’t have a lot of time to spend in the bathroom! I’m really amazed (and grateful) at how effective scrubs are and how simple and quick they are to make. I never used to use scrubs until I made the coffee scrub earlier this year, and now I can’t live shower without them!

Salt scrubs work by exfoliate your skin by removing the dead skin cells from the outer layer. This leaves your skin smooth, but without added oils, your skin would also feel tight and dry. Think of after swimming in the sea. The salt draws the moisture out of your skin. The coconut oil in the scrub will moisturise your skin, while the salt exfoliates, and the combination of the two is why your skin will feel so soft after using.

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ONE: Combine the Himalayan pink salt, one tablespoon of glycerin, and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a bowl and mix well. If the coconut oil is hard, melt it for a couple of seconds in the microwave. The glycerin is added to help emulsify the scrub when you rub it on your skin and make it more effective.

TWO: Add 5 drops of your favourite rose fragrance or essential oil and give it another good stir. I used Rose Anatolia oil, which smells absolutely divine!

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THREE: Sprinkle through some rose petals for decoration and fragrance. Both the salt and the glycerin will help preserve the colour, so unlike in soap, where the rose petals turn brown, these will keep their colour!

Scoop the mixture in a nice decorative pot and place the lid on. Because it will be used in the shower, look for a plastic or glass pot without a metal lid, or something that will not rust.

Regarding preservatives or the lack of it, both the salt and the glycerin are considered preservatives and will prevent mould and fungi, despite water coming in contact with it.

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Coconut rose scrub

  • Difficulty: beginners
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Ingredients

  • one cup of fine Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 tablespoon of glycerin
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 5 drops of rose oil
  • rose petals
  • 2 pots approx. 125 ml volume each

Directions

  1. Combine the salt, glycerin, coconut oil in a bowl and mix well. If the coconut oil is hard, melt it for a few seconds in the microwave before adding.
  2. Add 5 drops of rose oil and give it another good stir.
  3. Sprinkle through some rose petals and then scoop into pots. Enjoy!

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Beauty (shower) bar

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 1200 g soap or 10 bars of soap to fit a large loaf mold

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As I often explain in my classes, don’t put in expensive oils in your soaps, because soap is a cleansing product, which is to be rinsed off and you’d be literally flushing your money down the drain! Think of it, a bar of soap will last how many showers? Fifty? Hundred? And each time you only use the tiniest sliver of your bar of soap, which after lathering your skin, you will rinse off again, because you don’t want any soap left on your skin. Soap is not a leave-on product, it’s a rinse-off product. So keep all the expensive oils and ingredients for your moisturisers and balms, and for your soaps, concentrate on cleansing properties, which not only includes lathering qualities and hardness of a bar of soap, but also mildness, exfoliation, antiseptic, circulation boosting or astringent properties, just to mention a few.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t make a good soap! The special blend of essential oils I created for this Beauty (shower) Bar are known for their skin-loving properties and yet are still affordable. The soap also contains 70% olive oil, which is known to make good quality, long lasting bars of gentle cleaning bars of soap. However, a soap made of pure olive oil has a very long curing time and doesn’t really lather well, so I’ve added coconut oil to give it hardness and a nice fluffy lather. The benefit of adding shea butter to the soap is that it contains emollient and moisturising polyphenols that can’t be converted into soap, making it a great additive to soap. Cocoa butter shares similar skin-loving properties as shea butter, adding conditioning and nourishing qualities to the soap. And for mildness, I’ve increased the superfat of this soap to 8%. The only problem with this is that it also increases the risk of DOS (dreaded orange spots), so make sure you follow the instructions carefully and store your soap correctly (dry place, away from humidity!).

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

If you have never made cold-process soap before, I strongly recommend you check out the basic cold process soap tutorial first.

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PREPARATION: Measure out the following essential oil blend:

  • 15 ml rose geranium essential oil
  • 12 ml lemongrass essential oil
  • 5 ml bergamot essential oil
  • 5 ml sweet orange essential oil
  • 3 ml spearmint essential oil

Rose geranium is an all-round skin oil, which, in my opinion, doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Applied to the skin, it helps balance the sebum production of the skin, making it beneficial to both dry and oily skins, and its antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and cell regenerative properties have proven it valuable for a range of skin problems. I’ve added lemongrass because I love the fresh, lemon-y scent of lemongrass, but also for its tonic and astringent properties, which leaves your skin radiant and glowing. Both lemongrass and bergamot act as deodorisers, and, in addition, bergamot supports the sebum balancing property of rose geranium. Sweet orange is a great essential oil against stress, and not just mental stress. It helps combat stressed skin, boosts circulation, yet also calms the skin at the same time. And lastly spearmint, similar to peppermint, is a wonderful for sensitive and irritated skins. If you don’t have spearmint, you can easily substitute for peppermint, although personally I prefer the fragrance of spearmint in this blend. If you are looking for essential oils, Pure Nature has high quality essential oils at reasonable prices.

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ONE: Prepare your lye as usual and leave to cool down to room temperature. Because this soap contains 70% olive oil, I added 2 teaspoons of sodium lactate, which is a natural additive, to my lye solution to make the soap harder and reduce curing time.

TWO: Weigh out the coconut oil, shea butter, and cocoa butter, and heat in the microwave until the oils have melted.

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THREE: Add the olive oil to the now liquid coconut oil and butters, and give it a good stir.

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FOUR: Once your lye solution has cooled down to room temperature, add the lye to the oils. If your oils are still very warm, let it cool down a little. It’s ok if it’s a little warmer than usual, but it shouldn’t be more than 30-32 degrees Celsius.

Use your stick blender to mix the lye/oil blend until it has emulsified.

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FIVE: Add the essential oil blend and keep mixing with the stick blender until the soap has thickened to a medium trace. Pour the soap into the mould.

Use a spoon to add texture to the top of your soap and sprinkle a few rose petals over the surface.

SIX: Let the soap cure for a couple of days before unmoulding, and then let it harden for another few days before cutting it into bars. The bars of soap will need a further 6-8 weeks to cure before they are ready for use.

Because of the high superfat content of the soap and the addition of essential oils, this soap is more at risk of DOS (dreaded orange spot) than usual. To avoid these pesky DOS, make sure you cure and store the soap in a dry place with good air circulation, away from humidity.

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Beauty (shower) bar

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

Ingredients

  • 700 g olive oil
  • 200 g coconut oil
  • 50 g cocoa butter
  • 50 g shea butter
  • 132 g caustic soda
  • 260 g water
  • 2 teaspoons of sodium lactate
  • 15 ml rose geranium essential oil
  • 12 ml lemongrass essential oil
  • 5 ml bergamot essential oil
  • 5 ml sweet orange essential oil
  • 3 ml spearmint essential oil

Directions

  1. Prepare the essential oil blend and set aside.
  2. Measure out the caustic soda and the water. Then add the caustic soda to the water  (not the other way round!) and stir until the caustic soda has completely dissolved.
  3. Add 2 teaspoons of sodium lactate to the lye solution and set aside to cool down.
  4. Weigh out the coconut oil and butters and melt in the microwave or on the stove top until completely melted. Add the olive oil and give the oils a quick stir.
  5. Once the lye has cooled down to room temperature, and making sure you are still wearing protective gear, carefully pour the lye to the oils and, using a stick blender, mix until emulsified.
  6. Add the essential oils and keep mixing with the stick blender until medium trace.
  7. Pour the soap into the soap mould and sprinkle some rose petals over the top.
  8. Leave the soap to cure a couple of days before unmoulding, and then let it stand for another few days before cutting into bars. The soap bars will need to cure for a further 6-8 weeks until ready for use.

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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.

Candelilla and carnauba wax
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!

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Lavender and ylang ylang soap

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 1200 g soap or 10 bars

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Aromatherapy is usually not associated with soaps, but rather with massage oils and diffusers, to maximise the olfactory effects of the essential oils on both the body and the mind. However, when we use soap in the shower, the steam also enhances the fragrance and envelopes our senses in the fragrance of the soap. The olfactory system, or sense of smell, is a complex, largely passive system, but which can have a powerful effect on the mind. Smells induce memories and feelings in us, and can even change our moods and perception, and bodily responses. For example, think of chocolate and the smell of chocolate. Most likely it will bring up thoughts of eating chocolate. You might feel warm and fuzzy. Maybe you can even smell and taste it in your mind and you might even start to salivate in your mouth. Now think of smelling something disgusting. I’ll leave it up to you what you want to think of. The most common reaction would probably be nausea and you might unconsciously even wrinkle your nose in disgust. These two examples show how powerful the sense of smell can be, and we were only thinking of the smells. Now imagine if we were actually smelling them!

So it makes sense that the fragrance of the soap and shampoo you use in your morning shower will have an effect on your mood and on how you start off your day. Remember this the next time you shower!

With this in mind, I  wanted to create a soap, which focuses on the properties rather than just the fragrance of the essential oils. For this soap, I chose a simple blend of lavender and ylang ylang essential oils. Ylang ylang, which has a delicate floral scent, is said to lift the spirit and induce feelings of joy and happiness. In aromatherapy, it is often used to treat depression and anxiety. Lavender compliments the uplifting effect of ylang ylang by adding calmness and serenity to the blend. The result of the combination is a stunningly beautiful and comforting fragrance.

If you have never made cold-process soap before, I strongly suggest you check out the basic cold process soap tutorial first.

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

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ONE: To prepare the lye, first measure out the water in a heat proof Pyrex jug. Then, in a separate container (I use a little plastic cup for this), weigh out the caustic soda. Make sure you are wearing protective goggles and gloves. Carefully, add the caustic soda to the water (NEVER THE OTHER WAY ROUND!), and avoiding any splashes, stir until the lye water is clear. Add two teaspoons of sodium lactate, which will help harden the soap and set aside to cool.

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TWO: In a separate large Pyrex jug or pot, weigh out the coconut oil and shea butter. Either heat in the microwave (if using a Pyrex jug) or on the stove (if using a pot), until the oil and butter has completely melted.

I love using shea butter in my shower soaps because it helps to condition and balance the skin. It’s a great additive for any skin type, especially sensitive and ageing skin.

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THREE: Weigh out the olive oil, rice bran oil and castor oil to the now-liquid coconut oil and shea butter, and give it a quick stir.

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FOUR: Make sure you are still wearing your goggles and gloves. Once the lye has cooled down to room temperature, carefully add it to the oils and then using a stick blender, pulse and stir until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified (does not separate).

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FIVE: Add your essential oils and give it a quick whisk.

SIX: Keep mixing with your stick blender or whisk until the soap has thickened to a medium trace. Then pour it in your soap mold and sprinkle some lavender flowers and rose petals over the surface.

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SEVEN: Let the soap sit in the mold for several days. After 2 or 3 days, check if the soap has hardened and isn’t sticky and soft anymore. Carefully unmold, and leave to dry out for another couple of days before cutting it into bars. The bars of soap will need a further 6-8 weeks to cure before they are ready for use.

Lavender and ylang ylang soap

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

Ingredients

  • 550g olive oil
  • 250g coconut oil
  • 100g rice bran oil
  • 50g shea butter
  • 50g castor oil
  • 137g caustic soda
  • 270 ml water
  • 2 teaspoons sodium lactate
  • 20 ml lavender essential oil
  • 20 ml ylang ylang essential oil

Directions

  1. Measure out 270 ml of water into a heat proof Pyrex jug. Weigh out the caustic soda and carefully add it to the water, avoiding any splashes. Gently stir until all the caustic soda has dissolved and the lye water is clear.
  2. Add 2 teaspoon of sodium lactate to the lye water. Set the lye aside to cool down.
  3. In a large heat proof Pyrex jug or pot, weigh out the coconut oil and shea butter. Heat in microwave (if Pyrex jug) or stove (if pot) until all the oil and butter has melted.
  4. Add the olive oil, rice bran oil and castor oil to the now-liquid coconut oil and shea butter, and give it all a quick stir.
  5. 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.
  6. Using a stick blender, pulse and stir until the oil/lye mixture has emulsified.
  7. Add the essential oils and keep stick blending until the soap mixture has thickened to a medium trace.
  8. Pour the soap into the mold and sprinkle some lavender flowers and rose petals over the surface. Leave to harden for several days.
  9. After 2-3 days, check if the soap is firm enough to unmold. Remove from mold and leave to dry for another couple of days, before cutting into bars. The bars will need further curing for about 6-8 weeks until ready for use.