Zero waste living is all about simplifying your life. When it comes to skincare, haircare and personal hygiene, using multipurpose ingredients is a great way of doing just that. To help you identifying those key ingredients, in this blogpost I am sharing 10 natural ingredients that I have in my cupboard at all times.
They can easily be found find plastic free and can be used to create most (if not all) of your zero waste skincare and bathroom products. Let’s get started!
Oils are perfect to use as ingredients in recipes and on their own. When used on their own, they can be used as moisturisers for the driest areas of your body, and as make-up removers. In fact, oil has the ability of dissolving oil, so massaging your skin with oil is a great way to get rid of any impurities, dirt and make-up.
One of the things to check before choosing an oil is its comedogenic level, which is basically the likelihood that an oil will clog your pores. Check out this chart for more info!
Coconut oil is a must-have if you want to make your own products to reduce waste. Thanks to its antibacterial and cleansing action, coconut oil is perfect to make products such as deodorants, toothpaste and dish soap.
Plus, this oil is one of the few ones that stays solid at room temperature which makes it a great ingredients for solid products.
Keep in mind though that coconut oil is a comedogenic oil, so if you use it on your face it might clog your pores. But it’s great to add protection and moisture to your body or give a bit of a shimmery effect to lip products like lip balms.
Butters are a must if you are thinking of making your own natural and zero waste bath and beauty products. They are packed with vitamins and fatty acids which are great to soften dry skin, plus they are what makes our zero waste solid products actually solid!
You only really need 2 kinds of butter to make a very wide range of zero waste beauty products: shea butter and cocoa butter.
This butter is packed with vitamin E, and it’s a natural moisturizer perfect for dry, sensitive and eczema skin. Since shea butter has a very high melting point, it's particularly great for those solid recipes where we want to keep some softness, but we don't want the mixture to melt.
This butter not only makes your products solid, but also adds slip, stickiness and texture to products like deodorants.
Cocoa butter is also very moisturizing. Since it's so much harder than shea butter, it's excellent to use in recipes where you need the final product to be super hard like shampoo bars or solid lotions.
Waxes are used to give extra hardness when we want a completely solid product that can be kept fully unpackaged as they keep products like solid lotions or deodorant sticks from melting at high temperatures.
Aside from beeswax there are a wide range of plant-based waxes. The key to choosing them is to check their melting point. A higher melting point means a harder wax, so you likely need less of it in your recipe.
We use starches in our DIY recipes to thicken up products and absorb moisture. Some examples are arrowroot powder or corn starch.
Essential oils are very concentrated plants extracts that capture a plant’s essence and scent. As they are very strong compounds, you should use more than the maximum allowed quantities of each type of essential oil and product. The essential oils that I use most often in DIY recipes are lavender, tea tree and peppermint.
Clays are great to make face or hair masks, and can also be used in shampoo bars to thicken up the product and gently cleanse the scalp.
They are filled with minerals and have great cleansing and detoxifying properties. Here is a little trick: to choose which clays to work with see which ones are more suitable for sensitive and oilier skin types. This normally depends on how strong their water absorption properties are.
My favourite clays for sensitive skin is kaolin clay and for oily skin is bentonite clay.
Things like plant extracts, dried plants and roots can be used to give extra purifying properties, colour and decorate products such as soaps, shampoo bars, conditioner bars or lip balms.
These detergents’ primary action is cleaning by pulling dirt off. There are different types of surfactants, some are eco-friendlier then others, and some are milder than others. Some are solid and some come in liquid form. To make your own shampoo bars, you can use these surfactants: sodium cocoyl isethionate and cocamidropopyl betaine.
This powder is a natural deodorant and an abrasive ingredient. It's perfect to use in deodorant and recipes that require ingredients with "whitening" proprieties such as toothpaste or a paste scrub to whiten ceramics. Due to its high PH (10) it is essential that is used in very small quantities in order to avoid skin irritation or excessive abrasion.
If you have a sensitivity to baking soda, in deodorants you can swap it with magnesium hydroxide.
Preservatives & Antioxidants
Every time you are introducing water or water-based ingredients to a recipe, you need to make sure to preserve the recipe from mould and bacteria. That's because mould and bacteria thrive in water and in PH-balanced formulations.
Instead, very alkaline products like soap bars or very acidic ingredients like vinegar are self-preserving because bacteria cannot grow in those PH environments.
To preserve this kind of products, you need to include a broad spectrum eco-friendly preservative such as benzyl alcohol & dehydroacetic acid.
And remember, Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps with keeping oils fresh but it doesn't act as a preservative.