ashley englishsmall measures

small measures with ashley: homemade bodycare

by Grace Bonney

A cold snap has swept through the mountains of North Carolina this past week. Perhaps you’ve experienced it, too. Around here, that translates to the muggy, humid days of late summer being bid a fond farewell, or, for me, an “I thought they’d never leave!” sigh of relief.

The dip in mercury has prompted me to start thinking about body care. In the summer, I’m good with a bit of lip balm, a splash of facial toner, and some sun screen. All of that changes when Jack (Jill?) Frost creeps in, though. My supple summer skin moves to the land of leather, gets parched and flaky, and would be content to flounder there indefinitely.

And so, every fall, I stage an intervention. I try, with a pretty consistent degree of success, to cut Leatherface off at the pass, toss it off the precipice, and keep my dewy look. I do this with a little bit of pantry raiding. I love a gorgeously packaged body care item just as much as the next gorgeous-glow seeker. I’m just particularly discriminating about what I’ll put on my skin, which means that, hip as a font might be, in my skin care criteria, content trumps coolness every time.

My solution? DIY bodycare. I whip up what I need, when I need it. It’s a fresh as can be, with no preservatives or artificial scents, made out of individual ingredients I know, use, and trust, most of them found in my pantry and refrigerator. And the best part? It’s SO affordable. Why spend upwards of $25 for a prepared pumpkin mask when you can whip up your own for a fraction of the cost, and do so repeatedly for pennies? What about gifts? You could schlep yourself around town, hunting for a perfectly scented, expertly packaged bath salt for that friend of yours who loves all-things geranium and rose, or you could make up a batch of salts yourself, and pack them into a reusable jar, saving time and money.

The three recipes below are tried and true, developed in my kitchen, gifted to my friends and family, and guaranteed to make you look radiant. Bring it, cold snap!

CLICK HERE for the rest of “Pantry Raid! Homemade Bodycare” and Ashley’s full recipes after the jump!

Warming Trend Bath Salts
The Goods:
-2 1/2 c. epsom salt
-2 c. baking soda
-1 c. sea salt
-20 drops lavender essential oil
-20 drops rosewood essential oil
-20 drops geranium essential oil

The Deal:
-Place all ingredients into a food processor or blender.
-Process until mixture is uniform in size and texture.
-Store in covered jar until ready for use.

The Great Pumpkin Patch Face Mask
The Goods:
-1/4 c. pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix!)
-2 Tbsp. plain whole milk yogurt (unflavored)

The Deal:
-Place ingredients into a small bowl.
-Whisk gently until completely combined.
-Slather liberally on face and neck.
-Leave for 15 minutes (I’d suggest using a head band to keep your hair off your face).
-Rinse off with warm water.

I Love Ya Honey Body Scrub
The Goods:
-1 c. honey
-1 c. sea salt (fine or coarse grain, your call)
-1/2 c. apricot, grapeseed, or sweet almond oil

The Deal:
-Place ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir well with a wooden or metal spoon.
-Transfer mixture to a container and cover with a lid.
-Use in shower, rubbing onto face and body.
-Leave on for 1-2 minutes, then rinse off thoroughly.
-Use caution, as the bottom of the bath/shower floor will become slippery from the oil (I’d advise keeping a scrub brush in the shower so that you can reach down and give the floor a quick rub each time you use the honey scrub).

*I’m now on Twitter! Come find me here !

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  • Ashley, these sound wonderful. I’m thinking they’ll make the perfect treats for a baby shower I’ll be hosting in November. Thanks!

  • openhouse-the mask can be gifted, so long as you make it, gift it, and then tell your recipient to refrigerate it and use it within a week. the scrub will keep for about 3 weeks, and the salts will last for months (although they never last that long in my house!).

  • You read my mind! The sudden chill in the air has already started to leave my skin thirsty. I’m excited to try some of these recipes. Thanks for sharing!

  • My grandmother used to make all of her own face masks etc.
    I have always loved making my own “remedies” as well. The process of making your own is just as fun as actually using them. These recipes look great. I’m excited to try all of them!

  • Thanks for the tips! I will be checking your Twitter.

    Another great one: ALOE. My plants thrive under my lack of supervision, so I never worry about snapping off leaves. Just squeeze out the sap and rub it on your face, feet, anywhere. It absorbs right in–feels like nothing. And I know there are a billion (!) more beneficial uses.

  • perhaps it’s the recent canning party, but i could see throwing a natural body care party where a gaggle of holiday gifts are mixed up to share with friends and family. i’m shamelessly putting in a request for a birthday gifted jar of those bath salts!

  • great idea! thank you!!

    question: do you have to use the face mask and body scrub right away? or can they be stored? and if so, how long do you think they would be good for??

  • This really sounds great and also with th present state of my finances very affordable. Thanks for the advice. Love MOM

  • domestikatie-here’s a few links to get you started:
    andrea-check the 5th comment for my shelf life suggestions.
    honey living-the mask should work with all skin types. that said, i’m no dermatologist. if you have particularly sensitive skin, try applying the mask on a very small, inconspicuous area, leave it to dry, rinse off, and see how your skin reacts.
    have fun!

  • clare-sure, kosher salt works equally well!
    amanda-i suppose you could sub soy-yogurt, although i’ve never tried it…be sure to use organic soy yogurt if you do, as most soybeans are sprayed with a toxic pesticide/herbicide/fungicide/fertilizer cocktail that i’m sure you don’t want anywhere near your face! good luck!

  • I love pumpkin and I love face masks, so this post is a perfect combination. Thanks for the great ideas!

  • I started making my own body care products this past spring, and my skin has never looked or felt better!! Natural is definitely the way to go, especially if you have problem skin where over-the-counter or prescription medicines don’t seem to be benefiting.

  • Also, there is a GREAT book, full of amazing recipes like these. It’s called Natural Beauty at Home. I found it at Barnes and Noble, or I’m sure you could shop Amazon, as well.

  • hey ashley, any recommendations for just a good lotion/moisturizer? i’ve considered just doing a scented oil or something, but don’t know what’s best. i love the idea of low-cost, fresh, natural, no packaging body care products and am convinced that lotion is just a money-making gimmick!

  • these are SUCH a great ideas! I just made some of my own homemade body scrubs the other night! I’m thinking about hosting a “beauty night” for some girl friends using some of these and other recipes :) thanks! :)


  • $25 for a facemask?!

    Personally, I’d skip the work and pick up a fresh facemask at Lush. They’re around $15 (the USA website isn’t working for me right now, on the UK) and you get easily three masks out of the pot.

    They’re the freshest in the world, the same as making them yourself minus the work, plus ingredients we can’t get here! (Like Rhadsool mud, yummy stuff).

    Btw, Lavender oil is good for combination skin. I suggest people look into what essential oils work for what skin types, like rose absolute is anti-aging!

  • Oh, btw, Rose Absolute is good if you have sceriosis, because the way it works, is that it actually makes the skin mature quicker, so the new layer comes through faster, making you look younger and skin look healthier.

  • This is perfect! I also live in the mountains of NC and completely understand our odd weather. I look forward to trying all of these!

  • Not that it smells good or anything, but if you have eczema one part apple vinegar and 2 parts water – then soak for a few minutes several times a day – will do the trick.

    I think I’ll try the scrub this week…

  • The pumpkin face mask sounds amazing, especially during the fall months.

    The past couple of weeks I’ve been using full-fat powdered goat’s milk as a twice daily cleansing mask and it has been the shiz. The small amount of lactic acid is an exfoliant and humectant so it will slough off gross skin and draw moisture from the air to plump up your ‘dermis. I love this DIY skin care thing. Where have I been?

  • best body scrub ever…and i mean ever… is raw brown sugar mixed with a few drops of olive oil. so you get smooth skin and moisture at once! I was thinking of substituting the olive oil one day for rose water just to see if it works the same. try it out!

  • jan-vetiver and vervain are great scents for men, as are resinous scents, like pine, spruce, juniper, rosemary, and fir. you could also combine citrus scents, like lemon, grapefruit, tangerine, bergamot, lime, etc. have fun!

  • So this brings us back to the shoe lace I am tripping on for the second time. ” I heard rapid footsteps as I looked over her shoulder just in time to see Master Con scurrying towards the door putting his sunglasses on. Consequently, they are often applied in the narrow area.

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