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Do-it-Yourself Natural Beauty Homemade Gifts

By Susy Parker Goins

I must say that I cannot stand to go to the mall during the holiday season -- the parking, the crowds, the prices ... So I like to make and have on hand a selection of quick and easy natural gifts I can give for whatever occasion comes up. And with adult supervision, I think it is fair to say that these projects can be made safely with children, too.

Bath salts
What could be easier than bath salts? The recipe I use is equal parts of Epsom salts, baking soda and sea salt. Put the ingredients in a bag and shake them up. They will clump up, but it can be so satisfying to drop the closed bag on the floor and hear a cracking thump!

You might want to add a little card with instructions for use. Add about one-quarter cup per tubful. I cannot recommend soaking for days and days in this stuff; 15 to 20 minutes would be the safest maximum. Remember from high school chemistry that when there is an imbalance of salinity, the salt will draw more moisture over, to try to balance the salinity of solution. That means after 15 minutes or so, you start to dry out -- and that would not be a nice thing.

Lotion bars
Lotion bars are emollients you can carry in a bag or tube. You rub them over the dry area and your body heat melts it to moisturize.

Using a double boiler (I use a big stock pot with water and a stainless steel mixing bowl to fit in), combine equal parts of beeswax, coconut oil (found in health food store oil aisles) and cocoa butter (in the cosmetics aisle). Melt it all together, then pour into small molds. Let it set, and then pop them out. You can certainly play with ingredients and proportions to get a different texture and feel.

Body mists
Distilled water is the base for this item. Sterilize a spray bottle. Pour in distilled water and your choice of essential oils (be sparing!). Spray away.

Milk bath
The lactic acid in milk helps to exfoliate your skin. (So maybe that’s why messy babies have such great skin.) Combine two parts of non-fat dry milk to one part cornstarch, and add a few drops of essential oil. Use one-half cup per tubful. Some recipes add a salt of some sort, but I would then add the caveat to not soak too long.

Melt-and-pour soaps

Also known as glycerin soap, melt-and-pour (M&P) is a tremendous way to exercise your creativity without worrying about the whole soapmaking process. It’s a great project for children. I used colorants to teach kindergarteners about primary and secondary colors. You can get a giggle by collecting various essential oils and fragrance oils. Have your children smell each and let them respond. I always get a fiendish giggle when the “fresh” smell that is most appreciated is cucumber fragrance oil – a name that invariably gets an “ewwww!”

To make M&P, you need a double boiler set-up. M&P comes in two- to five-pound blocks that should be scored for easy cutting. Cut up some of the M&P and heat it to melt. Get out your molds set. I frequently use rinsed-out milk cartons, plastic fruit containers, yogurt containers … See what you have. I have found that complicated molds like realistic rose buds are really hard to get the soap out of. Keep the molds simple.

As for what I call “effects,” check out your local craft store. Glitter, colorants, herbs and fragrance or essential oils all lend a special touch to your M&P. With the combination of holiday molds, you can add colors and fragrance that emphasize the event you’re celebrating: peppermint or spice for Christmas, baby powder fragrance in blue or pink in a baby mold for showers. Have fun!

Salt or sugar scrubs
Another way to use M&P is to make salt scrubs for hands or body. Combine equal parts of almond oil, M&P and salt or sugar in a double boiler. Once incorporated, pour the mixture into containers. Baby food jars work great for this. Tie some raffia around the top and include a craft/popsicle/tongue depressor stick.

Packaging makes it all special
You can have all sorts of fun with packaging -- or not. Sometimes I find nice bottles, bags or other containers for my home made gifts. Sometimes, I’m lucky to have enough baggies. It’s all up to you.

Gift-giving doesn’t have to cause panic. It comes from the heart and with sincere wishes of good will. Being a sucker for hand-crafted gifts, I appreciate the time and effort that goes into the making of gifts. Take some time and give these easy home made gift ideas a try.

© Susy Parker Goins

An informal student of natural health for years, NFO Bookshelf and Natural Beauty Editor Susy Goins received her certificate in homeopathy from the American College of Health Sciences. The self-proclaimed out-of-the-mainstream mama of three is a writer, belly dancer, actress, costumer and cook and will soon be celebrating 20 years of marriage to her husband.


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