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How To Make Your Own Cosmetics

Cosmetics are anything that we use to make ourselves more beautiful, whether by restoring the health and natural appearance of our features or by adding makeup. Many products that fall under either of these headings can be made at home with surprisingly minimal effort.

This is great news, especially when it comes to restorative products. When using something that is meant to improve your health, it’s nice to be able to select your ingredients and know exactly what goes into the final product.

Many people have found that commercial cosmetics and their skin don’t get along very well. Commercial products often contain chemicals or other ingredients that are irritating to sensitive skin. They may also contain toxins that may have negative effects over the long term. Manufacturers constantly develop new formulas and products to entice customers, and the result is often that individual products have not been around long enough for the long-term effects to be fully understood.

I took up an interest in making cosmetics because I am one of those people with sensitive skin. Everything makes my skin break out. It got to a point where I just stopped wearing makeup and most lotions. My dermatologist’s solution was to have me use three different prescription creams. After about a week of red and irritated skin with no reduction in my acne or rosacea, I threw away the prescription bottles and all of my makeup. I found a woman who made her own cosmetics, and for a while I was paying her to make my foundation, lotion, and lip balm. Now that I live a simpler life, there’s no reason why I can’t make them myself. My theory is, if I can, so can you. (And I have two left thumbs, so you’ll be fine!)

Of course, making your own cosmetics is cheaper as well. So even those of you who have never had a bad reaction to a commercial cosmetic may still opt for a cosmetic DIY project. Realizing that it’s not that far fetched to think your favorite moisturizer, your favorite mascara, or whatever won’t be readily available in the future that holds a huge question mark might be reason enough to consider making your own. But when you see how much your skin loves the feeling of all-natural products – and not a cosmetics company’s definition of “all natural”—you may never look at another store-bought bottle of chemicals again.

Given that there is such a huge variety of cosmetics in the world, it would be impossible to cover each and every one. As a starting point, here are a few basic personal care and makeup options to help you get familiar with the world of cosmetic creation. Many of the recipes follow a similar process with a similar set of ingredients, and you may find that “Cosmetics 101” is all you need before you have the know-how to branch out into many other kinds of products.

Personal Care Products


Hand and body lotion can be made quickly and easily using beeswax or emulsifying wax and vegetable oil. Many people also like to add essential oils for fragrance or an ingredient to help preserve the lotion if it is likely to last a long time. If you go through lotion quickly, this may not be an issue for you, but if you use it sparingly, it is a good idea to add a little something to keep it from going bad. Examples of natural preservatives include grapefruit seed oil and vitamin E.

If you use emulsifying wax, you will need 1¼ cup of hot water, ¼ cup of olive oil, and ¼ cup of emulsifying wax (it comes in easy-to-measure and easy-to-melt pastilles from many craft stores). If you use beeswax, the ratios change to 1 cup olive oil, ½ cup coconut oil, and ½ cup beeswax (no water necessary). After melting the wax and oil together in the on the stove, heat the water to around 120 degrees. While the water is heating, you can add any essential oils or natural preservatives that you want your lotion to contain to the mixture of oil and wax.

When the water is heated, pour it into the oil and wax mixture, and the solution will immediately turn cloudy. Finally, pour the mixture into the jar or container in which you will be keeping it and wait for it to cool overnight.

Discover that making your own soaps has never been easier…

Lip Balm

Like lotion, lip balm uses wax and oils to create a product that moisturizes and heals. Use shaved beeswax or beeswax pastilles and sunflower or castor oil with a ratio of 9 teaspoons (3 tablespoons) to 5 teaspoons. Melt them together in a double boiler system until you have a smooth mixture.

To make a balm that smells great and doesn’t taste too waxy, add essential oils with fruity scents and a bit of honey. Add the honey after you have melted the wax, and be sure to mix it thoroughly. Allow the balm to cool and harden – it is best to pour it into the container that you want to keep it in before it cools, to avoid having to transfer it once it solidifies.

Body Scrub

The key element of a body scrub is an abrasive element that will exfoliate your skin, leaving it clean and soft. Salt, sugar, or even coffee grounds are great for this purpose. Body scrub involves no heated or “cooking” of the product, just mixing your ingredients together in a bowl until you have the consistency you want for your scrub.

In addition to the abrasive, you will need oil such as olive oil or coconut oil and any essential oils that you want to scent the final product with. Massage oil can also work well to make body scrub. This is safe enough to use on your face as well as your body. However if you are prone to acne, as am I, you may want to experiment with the ratio of oil and the type.

Makeup Products

Lip Gloss

Making lip gloss is, not surprisingly, much like making lip balm. In fact, you can use the same ingredients (in slightly different quantities: ¼ cup beeswax to ¼ cup oil) with the addition of food coloring or beet juice for color. For a more gel-like consistency, you can use Vaseline or petroleum jelly in place of beeswax. This will give more of a sheen to the lip gloss, and you could even add glitter or other sparkly elements to give your gloss extra pizzazz.


You can make a basic foundation makeup by combining a moisturizing lotion and mica (silicate mineral) flakes. Experimentation with the micas should allow you to eventually hit on a shade that works for your particular skin tone. You can use a manufactured lotion to make your foundation, or you can use the lotion recipe provided in this article. My personal preference is to do the latter.

For a more advanced foundation recipe, visit a site called Cranberry Lane to see their list of ingredients and step-by-step instructions. Their recipe does require the use of several of their pre-made formulas, which you can purchase from their website. To me, it seems a bit silly to buy two pre-made items to avoid using a simple foundation that you can make at home. But I do know women who feel their basic homemade foundation is not as rich they were accustomed to with their store bought one. Personally, I think they bought into the hype because I could never pronounce half of the ingredients in the ones developed in a lab, which was reason enough for me to look for an alternative. However, if you can work out a homemade formula for those elements as well, then you’re really in business.

Beauty tip: To avoid using disposable cotton balls or sponges designed for applying your foundation, just use your clean hand. I used to watch my mom apply her foundation by hand, and I was amazed how evenly she was able to smooth it out. I had assumed it wasn’t sanitary or that using a sponge meant it would go on more evenly. My mom explained that no matter how pliable something is, you can’t manipulate an object better than you can your own hand. When I started wearing make up, I discovered just how right she was.

Remember to use your ring finger around your eyes. That skin is much thinner and more fragile than it is around your nose, jaw line, cheeks, and forehead.

Eye Shadow

Making eye shadow is a simple process of mixing together different colored mica powders into the exact shade that you want. Mica flakes can be found at many craft stores in every color of the rainbow in addition to metallic and glittery shades. In an electric mixer or a vigorously shaken jar, simply blend the eye-shadow color or colors of your dreams. dreams. Then pour the powder into a bowl and spray it with a pre-purchased powder binder from DIY Cosmetics to create an eye shadow that can be spread and will stay in place.  As you might expect, this method won’t stay on as long as the commercial brands, but if you look at their ingredient list, you might get an idea why.


Mascara can be made using a simple combination of gel and dark coloring. The gel can be in the form of Vaseline, petroleum jelly, aloe vera gel, or even plain (uncolored and unscented) lip balm if that happens to be what you have on hand. The dark color of the mascara can come from eye shadow or from activated charcoal.

Most of us use mascara in very small amounts – even the longest eyelashes require only a tiny amount before they are thoroughly coated. Therefore, it is best to mix only a very small amount of homemade mascara at any one time. It can dry out very quickly, so unless you find a means of storing it for a long period in an airtight container, small amounts that will last only few nights at a time are best.

While making mascara is easy, I haven’t discovered a great substitute for the little brushes that come with manufactured mascara. So unless you do light upon a good alternative, I would recommend keeping a brush from mascara that you have previously purchased, washing it completely and keeping it for use with your homemade product.

Beauty tip: Wash the mascara wand after each use. The smallest spec of dirt on the brush can cause an irritation or even infection.

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