Handmade Skin Care — It Can Be Done!

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01_janelle-jones-refinery29-diy-beauty-130731-091-2Photographed by Janelle Jones.
We know, we know: Making your own skin care products is one of those "good in theory, pain-in-the-ass in practice" things. There's just no way you can make your own moisturizer — or, at least one you're going to actually want to put on your face — at home, right? Not so, according to the lovely Adina Grigore, founder and chief formulator for S.W. Basics. Grigore, a certified holistic counselor, started her line in her kitchen as a solution to her super-sensitive skin. She developed all of the products and formulations herself and absolutely swears by the DIY beauty product method.

"There are so many benefits to making your own skin care products," she says. "You spend less money, get more product, and above all else, you are the one in control. ... I spent my entire life covered in rashes, breakouts, and insane reactions to products. I thought I just had bad skin, and that I would have it forever. You have the power to take the health and beauty of your skin into your own hands. It's incredibly empowering. "

Again, that all sounds great, but how does a complete novice go about whipping up products in their less-than-gourmet kitchen? Never fear, because we got Grigore to spill her secrets. From where to source your ingredients to the best way to bottle them, read on for her step-by-step recipes for making your own cleanser, toner, mask, and moisturizer.

Styled by Christy Kurtz.
02_janelle-jones-refinery29-diy-beauty-130731-003-2Photographed by Janelle Jones.
Green Clay Mask

Still a little freaked out about doing this at home? "There is no need to become the Martha Stewart of skin care," promises Grigore. "You've probably seen some crunchy-hippie-mom website telling you how to make lavender laundry detergent from fifteen ingredients. I mean, let's be honest, those moms are really damn cool, but we're not all going to dive right into making products like them. You can just take a few simple ingredients and mix them together. They will blow your mind at how effective they are." If you're really not confident in your mixing skills, a mask might be the best place to start — they're usually a little less labor-intensive than something more complicated, like a moisturizer.

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For this mask you'll need olive oil, sea salt, and French green clay. In a glass bowl (preferably one that has its own cover), combine 1/4 cup of sea salt with 1/2 cup French green clay. When those two are thoroughly combined, scoop out a tablespoon of the mixture and combine it with one tablespoon of olive oil. Mix together and then smear on your face.

Grigore says you can also add in mashed-up strawberries, yogurt, or honey, depending on what type of benefits you are going for (brightening, soothing, decongesting, etc.). Cover up the remaining dry powder — it will stay good for up to a year. You can use this mask once a week, using the same method each time.




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One thing to note with homemade products versus store-bought, is that homemade versions do not have preservatives —the things that keep ingredients from spoiling and going bad. Because of this, homemade products will have a much shorter shelf life than what you may be used to.

"Here is a good chemistry point to remember," says Grigore. "If you are mixing oils and/or butters, the product will last as long as the oils/butters do — sometimes almost two years — and they can be stored anywhere dry. If you are mixing anything wet into your product — water, fruit, yogurt — you should try to make only one application of the product. Think of it like food: Any leftovers should go in the fridge and be used within a week." While separation is natural in homemade products (just stir or shake to recombine the ingredients), if your concoction begins to smell stinky or rancid, that means it's gone bad. In that case, throw it away.

Styled by Christy Kurtz.
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Jojoba Cleanser

Grigore sources most of her ingredients from local organic or small family farms. Obviously, not everyone has that kind of access, so try to hit up your local health food store to find the ingredients you need. Grigore says when she was starting out, she really loved Mountain Rose Herbs, an online supplier of organic oils, herbs, and extracts. "You can seriously spend hours on there just looking around and learning things — not because you have to, but because you'll want to," she says.

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For your cleanser, you'll need a liquid castille soap (such as Dr. Bronner's), jojoba oil, and tea tree essential oil. Take a glass bottle — Grigore suggests using one that has a pump — and gently pour in 1/2 cup of the soap, 10 drops of the tea tree oil, and two tablespoons of the jojoba oil. To make it a little less messy, try using a funnel, although Grigore cautions that messy is just the name of the game when you are mixing products at home.

You can apply your cleanser with your hands for a milder wash, or pump some on to cotton rounds to help (gently) scrub off more stubborn dirt, oil, and makeup.

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While Grigore likes using glass bottles to house her products, she says you can use whatever your little heart desires to store your stuff. "I say do whatever is easiest for you. Of course, I'm a big fan of reusing whatever you have, so just save and wash small condiment jars or your old cosmetic bottles. The most important thing is that your product is easy to get out of its container and that you store it somewhere dry and not super-hot in temperature."

Styled by Christy Kurtz.
07_janelle-jones-refinery29-diy-beauty-130731-048Photographed by Janelle Jones.
Buttery Coconut Moisturizer

Ah, moisturizer. This little beauty has broken more budding kitchen beauticians than we can count. But, Grigore says it's not as intimidating as it looks — you don't even really need to be precise with your measurement. Wait, what? " The measurements virtually don't matter," she swears. "You'll just end up with a product that is softer/harder, more oily/less oily, etc. But, it will seriously work no matter what." For instance, a hard cream may take longer to melt in your hands, but once it melts, it will still be deliciously luxurious. She also notes that you can always fix a product as you go. "If you're making a mask and it seems really dry, keep going with the liquid ingredient. If you go too far, add more of the dry back in. You can fix anything, and there is no such thing as completely ruining a homemade product."

08_janelle-jones-refinery29-diy-beauty-130731-058Photographed by Janelle Jones.
Combine 1/2 cup of shea butter, 1/4 cup of cocoa butter, and one tablespoon of coconut oil in a small, sturdy, heatproof glass bowl. Place the bowl over a burner on very low heat to melt the ingredients — Grigore says this should only take a few minutes to completely liquefy. Remove from the stove (using a oven mitt so you don't burn your hands, obviously) and allow the mixture to cool for about an hour.

Once cool, cover the bowl with a lid or some plastic wrap, then pop it in the fridge. According to Grigore, after an hour in the fridge, it becomes a soft, buttery, luscious cream that will hydrate even the driest of skin.

09_janelle-jones-refinery29-diy-beauty-130731-087Photographed by Janelle Jones.
Grigore pleads with DIY newbies to be patient. "You need to allow time for the products to work and you have to trust that the ingredients are powerful and potent. They are, and they will do their job — you just have to let them. Don't make a product, use it once, notice your skin is softer but not totally healed, and decide it didn't work. Real solutions take time." That said, Grigore notes that you shouldn't buy into that whole "it has to get worse before it gets better" nonsense. "You should experience immediate relief," she says. "High-quality products will soothe you right away."

Styled by Christy Kurtz.
10_janelle-jones-refinery29-diy-beauty-130731-073Photographed by Janelle Jones.
Clarifying Toner

Grigore wholeheartedly believes that making your own skin care really is the only way to go. As such, she's positively full of tidbits and info on all of the benefits of doing DIY. For instance: "You know those commercials that tell you all about the rejuvenating benefits of an avocado and argan oil hair conditioner or a concealer with shea butter?" she says. "Well, in those products, the stuff that's good for you is last on the list of ingredients. When you make them at home, it'll be first." She can keep going like this for days, folks.

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Your toner is going to be the second easiest product to create, since it's basically dumping a bunch of liquids in a bottle. Steady hands and a funnel are probably a good idea, but they aren't required — you'll just have a bit more of a mess to clean up afterwards.

For this you'll need one tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup water, and 10 drops of lavender essential oil. Pour the ingredients one by one into a bottle, then cap it off. You can put it in a pump bottle, to be used with cotton balls, or you can use a spray top and spritz it on like a facial mist throughout the day.

12_janelle-jones-refinery29-diy-beauty-130731-082Photographed by Janelle Jones.
In addition to being good for your skn, making your own products is good for the soul. "You need to take some time for yourself," says Grigore. "These days we are all so stressed and busy that we don't want to take more time for anything extra, especially things like this. Set aside a couple of hours on a Sunday — do it with a friend or your partner. Make extra and give it out as low-cost, cool presents. You will feel great for doing it, I promise."

Styled by Christy Kurtz.

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