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Why load up your bathroom cabinet with expensive products, which can contain harmful parabens and dyes, when you can make your own pure and natural products at home? Most of the ingredients in these fun and easy-to-make recipes are commonly found in most kitchen cupboards and each batch you make is guaranteed to save you money, with the ingredients costing a fraction of what you would usually pay for shop-bought products!

Whitening Toothpaste

Conventional toothpastes can be expensive and also full of added ingredients that are completely unnecessary such as sweeteners and even sodium lauryl sulphate, a foaming ingredient which is also found in shampoo. This isn’t something you would necessarily want in your mouth! This simple recipe for whitening toothpaste contains only natural ingredients. Experiment with various essential oils to suit your taste, and try putting a pinch of sage in it. It has antimicrobial properties which make it ideal for use in toothpaste, although it does taste quite strongly, so you’ll only need a pinch! You will need a glass jar to store it in, this recipe will make approximately 5 ounces of finished product. Store it in a cool dark place to keep the oils stable.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons distilled water
2 tablespoons fine sea salt
3 tablespoons coconut oil, softened
½ cup baking soda

Optional Ingredients

1 tablespoon xylitol
3 drops essential oil to taste – peppermint, clove, orange and anise all work well

Equipment

Glass mixing bowl
Spoon
Pestle and mortar
Glass storage jar
Measuring cup

Method

Use the pestle and mortar to reduce the sea salt to as fine a powder as possible. Add it to the baking soda and mix together thoroughly. Add it to the baking soda and the xylitol if you have chosen to use it. Start adding the coconut oil to the mixture and then a little water and keep mixing until it reaches the desired consistency. Store it in a glass jar and simply scoop onto your toothbrush and brush your teeth as normal when you are ready to use it.

Dry Shampoo

This dry shampoo is perfect for camping trips with no showers or even for the days when you fancy a lie-in instead of waking up early to wash your hair! You can add a drop or 2 of essential oil (the powder will absorb the oil, making sure your hair smells gorgeous with no greasiness), and the recipe is available for all hair tones; for light hair, use just the powder and essential oil of your choice, but for darker and auburn/red hair you can mix it perfectly with cocoa powder and cinnamon to match your hair tones and avoid that ‘dusty look that dry shampoo sometimes has after you apply it. Either arrowroot or corn starch both work very well as an absorbent base powder; experiment with both and find your favorite!

Ingredients

¾ cup of absorbent powder
3 drops of essential oil

Dark Hair
3 tablespoons of cocoa powder (unsweetened)

Red Hair
3 tablespoon cinnamon

Equipment

Glass mixing bowl
Clean salt shaker (for application)
Sieve or colander

Method

Sift the absorbent powder through the sieve or colander to remove any lumps. Add the other ingredients and mix together well. When applying it, it needs to be at the roots of your hair. Separate your hair into sections using a comb and some hair grips if it makes it easier. Shake a little bit onto each section of hair, one at a time. Comb through each to absorb the oil, and there you have it – clean, sweet-smelling hair in a fraction of the time that it takes to wash it!

All-Natural Deodorant

Store-bought deodorant can contain everything from aluminium, which has been linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease to parabens and dyes which can irritate your skin. This home-made deodorant comprises of only natural ingredients and you can be confident that it will keep you smelling great on the hottest of days, while the shea butter and coconut oil are kind to the delicate skin under your arm. You can experiment with optional ingredients and essential oils to find the combination that works best for you.

Ingredients

1/3 cup baking soda
1/3 cup corn starch powder
6 tablespoons coconut oil – solidified
6 -7 drops essential oil – lavender and lemongrass work well

Optional Ingredients

Arrowroot powder (use instead of corn starch)
2 tablespoons shea butter
3 tablespoons baking soda
2 tablespoons beeswax
6 drops Vitamin E oil

Method

Melt the coconut oil in a bowl over a pan of hot water and add your chosen essential oils. If you are using shea butter and/or beeswax add these too and stir continuously until all the ingredients have melted. Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes, then add the vitamin E and corn starch. Whisk thoroughly for a few minutes until it is all combined. Then, pour into your chosen storage container and store it in a cool dark place. When you’re ready to use it, simply scrape off a small amount and apply it to a clean dry underarm with your fingers and it will melt into your skin. Wait a few minutes to get dressed to avoid marks on your clothes.

Aloe Vera and Coconut Facial Moisturizer

This luxurious facial moisturizer contains only six natural ingredients which will pamper and nourish your skin, and none of the chemicals and preservatives found in store-bought products. This recipe uses almond oil, which is excellent for dry skin, as the base but you have lots of other options too; try grape seed oil for acne-prime skin, or apricot kernel oil for skin that feels dry or aging. Hemp oil is also a great choice for this recipe as it is very light and suits all skin types. You can also add a few drops of essential oil to your moisturizer; try lemongrass to brighten and tone or lavender which is soothing if you have dry skin, or problems with blemishes. Be careful when adding the essential oil — you only need to add a few drops — just enough to give your moisturizer a very faint scent. You will find that this recipe makes around 350ml of finished product or enough for 6-7 small jars, and it will last at least 12 months when stored in a cool dark place. Why not split the cost of the ingredients with friends, make a batch between you and take a jar home each!

Ingredients:

5 tablespoons Aloe Vera gel
3 tablespoons cocoa butter
3 tablespoons coconut oil (solidified)
4 drops carrot seed oil
1 teaspoon Vitamin E liquid
5-6 drops essential oil

Equipment

Glass mixing bowl
Hand blender
Storage bottles
Mixing spoons
Pan
Whisk

Method

Place the Aloe Vera and your chosen oils into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Melt the coconut oil and cocoa butter in a pan over a low heat, stirring continuously. When they have all melted, combine with the oils and mix together. It now needs to be blended, but only a little at a time; over-blending will render it far too runny. When it has reached the consistency of mayonnaise, it is blended to perfection. Place into your storage jars and leave the lids off until your moisturizer has cooled; store in a cool dark place and it will keep for 12 months.

Cucumber, Tea Tree and Aloe Vera Facial Mist

This refreshing and rejuvenating facial spray has the irresistible scent of your favorite essential oil and pure distilled water to give your skin a moisture boost. Ideal for cooling down on a long hot day in the office, or during a flight or long drive. It can even be spritzed lightly over your make-up to give your skin a fresh dewy look or sprayed lightly on dry hair to moisturize split ends and give your hair a lovely fresh scent.

Ingredients

1/2 cup distilled water
3 tablespoons organic Aloe Vera
1 teaspoon vitamin E oil
1 organic cucumber
5 drops tea tree oil

Equipment

5 oz. glass spray bottle
Glass mixing bowl
Knife
Chopping board

Method

Peel and dice your cucumber, and place into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Mix thoroughly together, remove most of the cucumber chunks until only a couple are left, then pour into the spray bottle and give it a good shake. Keep it out of direct sunlight and in the fridge before use.

Silky Vanilla Beeswax Lip Balm

This tempting lip balm is easy and fun to make and costs a fraction of the price of store-bought products which can contain chemicals and preservatives. You can add an optional tint with a pinch of red or rose Mica powder, a sparkly mineral derivative found in cosmetic products. Make sure you choose one that states it is ‘cosmetic grade’. This recipe uses a couple of drops of vanilla for a subtle scent but you can use an essential oil of your choice (peppermint, anise and lemongrass are all great options), or you can leave it unscented if you prefer.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons coconut oil, solidified
2 tablespoons shea butter
1 ½ tablespoons beeswax, grated
2 drops vanilla extract

Optional Ingredients

¼ teaspoon Mica powder (rose or red)
2-3 drops essential oil of your choosing

Equipment

Glass mixing bowl
Pan of hot water
Spoons for mixing
1oz glass jars for storage

Method

Melt the grated beeswax, coconut oil and shea butter in the glass bowl over a pan of hot water, stirring continuously. Add the essential oils and stir again thoroughly. Place into your storage containers and allow to cool. This recipe will make the equivalent of 10 standard sized tubes.

Cooling Peppermint Foot Lotion

After a long day on your feet, a cooling foot lotion with hints of peppermint is just what you need! It will leave your feet feeling soft and silky, and the vitamin A in the olive oil will help to keep cracked, dry heels at bay. You can also add tea tree oil to this lotion if you wish, it has quite a strong smell but it has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties which can be helpful for problem feet.

Ingredients

½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¾ cup distilled water
25 – 35 drops peppermint essential oil
3 tablespoons shea butter
2 ½ tablespoons emulsifying wax

Optional Ingredients

10-15 drops tea tree oil

Equipment

2 glass mixing bowls
Pan of hot water
Spoons for mixing
Hand-held mixer

Method

Combine the emulsifying wax, shea butter and olive oil in a glass bowl over a medium heat, stirring continuously. Remove from the heat when all the ingredients have melted. Add the peppermint essential oil to the mixture, and also the tea tree oil if you have decided to use it. Pour the distilled water in slowly, and use the hand-held mixer to combine them thoroughly. Mix until the ingredients are no longer showing any sign of separation. Place the mixture into your storage jars and leave uncapped to cool and thicken. This can take up to 48 hours and you should end up with approximately 12oz. of finished product.

Remember, when buying the ingredients or your products, always buy the best quality that you can afford. Try to use organic products wherever possible as they are much better for you. When it comes to storage jars, if you aren’t using brand new ones, remember to sterilize them with some boiling water before you put any of your finished product in them. You will also need to label them with the contents and the date you made them.

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Ten ‘Never Leave Them Out’ Traveler’s Checklist Items

There is nothing worse than finding yourself overseas on that “dream vacation” and suddenly realize that the dream is now a nightmare. Plan carefully because it will not do to run off to Africa on safari at a moment’s notice, trusting in a lucky rabbit’s foot keychain for protection. Sure, grabbing a passport and mosquito repellent will get you there, but you can’t imagine the inconveniences that arise without the items below. The following will tip the scales in your favor.

1. A visa is required to enter a country, and specifies on what terms the visitor is there (tourist, business, work), and how many days the visitor may stay. Sometimes the visa can be obtained at the customs desk of the destination country, but often the visa must be requested and obtained from the country’s embassy before the visitor leaves home. This process takes time, and some embassies are notoriously slow in approving visas, or even reluctant to do so at all.

2. If you plan on renting a car in the destination country, you must find out what is required in order to do so. Will your passport or current license do the trick, or should you apply for an international driver’s license? How much will insurance cost?

3. Photocopies! Make photocopies of your driver’s license, passport, credit cards, social security card, and any other important documents you’ll be carrying with you. One extra set should go with the traveler in a separate place in the luggage from the originals, and a second set should stay with a trusted relative or friend. If, for some reason, you lose the paperwork, you can call home to get the necessary numbers, or a friend can fax them to the officials.

4. Traveler’s insurance is always a good idea. Always. Even if it is never used – which, by the way, would be a good thing, it’s inexpensive and worth it.

5. Prescription medication should be packed, along with the actual written prescription from the doctor. An extra set of eyeglasses or contacts is also a good idea. The medication should always be packaged in original correctly-labeled bottles. An obscure, unmarked bottle or bag of drug in the luggage will tie things up considerably in the airport customs department.

6. A credit card company will become suspicious if an account based in, say, Iowa begins making charges in Madagascar. Always contact the credit card companies to alert them that you’ll be making charges in specific locations, preventing their alarm and temporary suspension of the account.

7. Mentally prepare yourself for an exhausting trip to and from the destination. Be ready for it, overseas travel is grueling, even if all goes well.

8. Take a record of important contact numbers, including close family, the doctor, the dentist, the lawyer, the bank, credit card companies, and the numbers for U.S. Embassies in the destination locations. Relatives should have an itinerary, and an option of emergency contact numbers.

9. Will your cell phone work in the destination country? Probably not. You should investigate his options, but in most cases, it is worth the extra expense and effort to have a cell phone available for use overseas.

10. Search online for forums run by Americans (or natives of the traveler’s country) who live in the destination country as expatriates. They will have experience and wisdom that other tourists may never discover about life in that country. A simple thing like knowing that certain vegetables or street vendor foods are prone to causing stomach upset can make all the difference in enjoying a vacation spot.

Preparation for an overseas vacation is key to getting the most enjoyment from it. In this case, it helps to think like a pessimist, “Something is bound to go wrong,” and be ready. Of course once you reach the destination, it is important to have fun!


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