DIY Products for Your Family
I am on a perpetual mission to reduce my family’s exposure to harmful chemicals while saving money. I’d LOVE to be able to make all of our personal and cleaning products from scratch. Call me crazy, but I get such a thrill from these projects!
Sadly, time is a rare commodity. I have come to accept that I just can’t do it all! We currently buy already-made shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste, laundry detergent, dish soap, and deodorant. For everything else, I try to keep us endlessly supplied with:
– Dr. Bronner’s liquid Castile soap (can dilute with water in a foaming soap dispenser for hand soap, bath soap, and more)
– almond oil (can use as a moisturizer by itself or as a carrier oil for essential oils in a roller bottle)
– shea butter (can use as a moisturizer by itself or in countless recipes for personal products)
– coconut oil (can use as an antibacterial moisturizer, great for sore nipples from breastfeeding, has countless other uses listed here: https://wellnessmama.com/5734/coconut-oil/)
– Thayer’s alcohol-free witch hazel toner (can use as toner, as aftershave, as a base for linen sprays and diaper sprays with essential oils)
– white vinegar (can use as an all-purpose cleaner mixed with water in a spray bottle, the best window/mirror cleaner with crumpled newspaper as a wipe)
– raw apple cider vinegar “with the mother” (can dilute with water to address skin issues, digestive issues, and more listed here: https://wellnessmama.com/121495/apple-cider-vinegar-mother/)
However, there are two products that I use all day long and that I just cannot stomach buying over and over, especially when they are applied to such sensitive areas: diaper cream and lip balm. I am going to share my recipes for both with you today!
I buy all my ingredients in bulk (usually a pound at a time) on Amazon for the most cost-effectiveness, but you could also find them at a local natural foods store if you wanted to try out smaller quantities first. The initial cost for bulk items might seem high, but you actually end up saving quite a bit in the long run. An 8 oz. batch of diaper cream using this recipe breaks down to about $5.62. The same amount of butt paste would cost $9-14!
Both of my daughters have been the lucky recipients of my sensitive skin. We jumped through countless diaper cream hoops with my first daughter to conquer her diaper rash, eventually determining that she had diaper eczema. (You can read more on my blog here: https://talesofexpansion.com/2014/11/14/diaper-rash.) Zinc-based creams did not work for her at all, so I came up with a zinc-free recipe that worked wonders for her when she was an infant. Baby Freja, on the other hand, seems to suffer more from heat and moisture rashes, so I started adding zinc powder to the recipe for her because it creates a thicker barrier to protect the skin.
I make sure to use non-nanoparticle zinc oxide powder, as nanoparticles are linked to a whole host of health and environmental issues. On the few occasions that I have needed to buy diaper cream, I stick to Honest or Badger brands, both of which use non-nano zinc.
¼ cup organic, unrefined shea butter
¼ cup organic, unrefined extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup organic, unrefined coconut oil
2-3 Tbsp organic yellow beeswax pellets (more will make a firmer cream)
2 tsp evening primrose oil (extra healing boost)
7 drops lavender essential oil
7 drops chamomile essential oil
3 Tbsp non-nano zinc oxide powder
Melt the first 4 ingredients in a double boiler (I use a stainless steel bowl over a saucepan of boiling water), stirring until the beeswax is completely liquified. Remove bowl from heat and add the optional ingredients if desired, stirring until zinc powder is fully incorporated. Take care not to inhale any of the powder. Pour into an 8-oz glass jar for storage. I usually place mine in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm it up faster, and then it is ready to use.
I am a habitual lip balm applier, and my preschooler daughter has now caught the lip balm bug, too. Whenever she sees me reach for my lip balm, she demands a turn and then proceeds to slather half the tube all over her face. For something that I use so often (and that my daughter is now basically eating), I want to make sure it is as safe and as cheap as possible. Luckily, lip balm uses pretty much the same ingredients as diaper cream!
2 Tbsp organic, unrefined shea butter or cocoa butter (I like cocoa butter because it gives a mild chocolate scent)
2 Tbsp organic, unrefined coconut oil
2 Tbsp organic yellow beeswax pellets
10-20 drops essential oil of your choice (For children, lavender and sweet orange essential oils are good options. I love peppermint in this recipe, but peppermint essential oil is not safe for use with children under 6 years old.)
Melt all ingredients together except for essential oils, stirring constantly until the beeswax is melted. I have a small pan with a pouring spout on the side that I use for lip balm, but you could also melt the ingredients in a glass jar placed in a pot of boiling water.
When all ingredients are melted, remove from heat and stir in essential oil. I use the spout on my pan to pour the mixture directly into empty lip balm tubes (again, ordered on Amazon). I typically fill two tubes – one for my bureau and one for my purse – and pour the rest into a small jar to be re-melted and poured when my tubes are empty. These make great gifts, too! You could also pour the lip balm into mini jars or tins for finger application. As with the diaper cream, I place the lip balm in the fridge for about 30 minutes to speed along the firming process before it is ready to use.
Sarah McLanahan, M.S.Ed., LICSW, lives in Gloucester, MA with her husband and two daughters. She has worked for several years supporting families of very young children through the daily highs and lows that accompany the transition to parenthood. With her own family, she tries to make sustainable and healthy choices when time and budget permit, a journey you can read more about on her blog, Tales of Expansion.