If glancing at the ingredients list on the back of most store-bought body wash bottles leaves you craving a simpler, natural alternative, my favourite tried-and-tested recipe for a homemade body wash can help. The beauty of making your own beauty products is that you’ll know exactly what you’re putting on your skin each and every day.
Homemade doesn’t have to mean a compromise on quality, either; this natural body wash moisturises as it cleanses the skin, and it smells great too. Better yet, you can customise it to your personal oil and scent preferences, and it’s suitable for men and women.
If you don’t already have any of these ingredients in your home, this list may seem a bit daunting at first glance. Keep in mind, though, that each container of ingredient will last a long time and supply several batches of body wash.
Start saving your beauty product bottles and containers today so that you can wash them out and use them to store your new homemade products. This recipe makes around 8 fl oz/240 ml, but can easily be doubled if you want to make a bigger batch.
Homemade body wash recipe
(Scroll down for notes on the ingredients.)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 ½ teaspoons carrier oil (e.g. jojoba, grapeseed, avocado, olive – I use jojoba)
1 tablespoon xanthan gum
½ cup or 120ml Castile soap
¼ cup or 60ml water
½ teaspoon vegetable glycerine (optional)
25-30 drops essential oils, depending on taste and skin type (see sample mix, below)
1. In a small saucepan, melt the coconut oil over a low heat. If you live in a hot climate and your coconut oil is already liquid, excellent! That makes one less step for you.
2. Remove saucepan from the heat.
3. Add a carrier oil of your choice and combine thoroughly with coconut oil.
4. At this point, you need to make sure your mixture is cool. If it’s too warm, the xanthan gum will not combine properly. Once cool, add the xanthan gum and whisk thoroughly. Make sure to break up any lumps.
5. Add 1/8 cup or 30ml of Castile soap and combine. The xanthan gum should react with the soap so that you get a thick, creamy texture. Add the remainder of the soap and mix well so that there are no lumps.
6. To finish, top off with water (and vegetable glycerine if using).
7. Pour into a bottle with a squirt top so that it is no more than 80-90% full. (I use 8 oz/240ml bottles.)
8. Add your desired essential oils and swirl vigorously (like a wine glass). Do not shake or the mixture will foam heavily. It’s also a good idea to swirl the bottle a little before each use.
Notes on the ingredients in your homemade natural body wash
Carrier oils – including coconut oil – moisturise your skin while providing a base to mix with the xanthan gum. They also serve to dilute the essential oils so that you can apply them to your skin. Essential oils are potent and need to be diluted before topical use.
Xanthan gum has dual use as a food-thickening agent and as a stabiliser in cosmetics. Here, it causes the mixture to thicken and prevents the ingredients from separating.
Castile soap is an oil-based soap which is doing the bulk of the cleaning in this recipe. It has myriad uses and can be used as a household cleaner as well as in bath products.
Vegetable glycerine provides additional moisturising benefits.
Essential oils have aromatherapy benefits as well as affecting the skin. Lavender is commonly used for sensitive skin, orange for improving dull or oily skin, and peppermint for cooling, refreshing, and calming acne-prone skin.
There are infinite variations on the essential oils you choose to mix into this homemade body wash recipe, based on your scent preferences and skin type. You can also use different amounts of drops depending on how strong you’d like the scent to be, but keep in mind that less is generally more when it comes to essential oils.
There’s also no limit to how many or how few oils you incorporate – I’d recommend anywhere from two to six types. I’m sharing one mixture that I like, below, but most of the fun in making your own bath products is being creative and choosing scents that you love. You can read more about the properties and uses of different essentials oils here.
Sample essential oil mixture for a homemade body wash
9 drops lavender
7 drops orange
5 drops balsam fir needle
5 drops peppermint (use caution with the amount of mint or your skin will be very tingly!)
2 drops cinnamon cassia
If you are pregnant, have any pre-existing medical conditions, or you will be using the products during the kids’ bath time, make sure you do some research on the specific types of essential oils you’ll be using, as not all of them will be appropriate.
Then sit back, relax, and enjoy your handiwork. You never know, you might love turning your kitchen into a chemistry lab so much that you find yourself wanting to make more of your own beauty products.
Author: Elizabeth Vather