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These are 7 useful self-care products that I use in most of my homemade products. I think they are staples to have on hand at all times if you are into making these kinds of products. I have listed pros and cons of each ingredient, their uses, and what they are.
1. Cocoa Butter
What is it: Cocoa butter is basically chocolate. Well, it’s the main ingredient in all types of chocolate. It’s a fat that melts at body temperature so it’s great for skin care products, like lotions.
Uses: I use this in my body butter recipe because I enjoy the smell and texture. I like the way it feels on my skin and it’s so easy to use!
Pros: Again, Cocoa butter is basically chocolate. Cocoa butter has moisturizing properties and people seem to enjoy the velvety texture and pleasant smell.
Cons: Cocoa butter is increasingly expensive.
What is it: Yes, beeswax that comes from actual honey bees. Its intention is to help build honeycombs, but it has several other uses as well.
Uses: Beeswax is increasingly becoming more popular in cosmetics and self-care products, like lip balms, lotions, and moisturizers. Beeswax, which is highly flammable, is great for candlemaking as well. Candles burn brighter, longer, and cleaner when beeswax is used. I use beeswax in my lip balm recipe. I only use this lip balm anymore because it is so moisturizing and it feels great on my lips.
Pros: Beeswax provides protection to some foods by preventing spoilage. It can also provide surface protection and prevent water loss.
Cons: It is edible, but has an insignificant nutritional value.
3. Shea Butter
What is it: Shea butter is extracted from the nut of an African tree called the African shea tree. It is conditioning for hair and emollient for skin, which means it holds the moisture in the skin.
Uses: I use shea butter in lotions and occasionally soaps. I love the way it feels on my skin and how it holds the moisture in my dry skin.
Pros: Shea butter melts at body temperature. It absorbs rapidly into the skin and has water-binding properties.
Cons: Shea butter has nonsaponifiable components, so it doesn’t work well with soapmaking. The smell is unpleasant to me and I usually end up adding other oils or butter to mask the smell.
4. Coconut Oil
What is it: Coconut oil is a carrier oil, which means that it helps dilute essential oils before they are applied to the skin for aromatherapy.
Pros: Coconut oil melts at skin temperature. It is emollient, so it holds moisture in the skin very well.
Cons: It is edible, but is very high in saturated fat and can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Coconut oil is a bit greasy when used in lotions, so it needs to be combined with something else, such as a combination of beeswax and cocoa butter or shea butter.
What is it: Essential oils are volatile oils, which means it has a tendency to vaporize. It is an aroma compound that comes from plants. The word “essential” comes from the idea that the oil contains the “essence of” a plant’s characteristic fragrance.
Uses: The most common use of essential oils is with a diffuser, where the oil is distilled in a single process. You can find a comprehensive list of essential oils and their uses here. I use essential oils in almost all of my homemade beauty products. I’ve used it in lip balms, body butter, soaps, and shower bombs.
Pros: Essential oils have a countless amount of benefits. They smell amazing and there are so many different types of scents and aromas.
Cons: Essential oils are dangerous if they are applied directly to the skin without being diluted in a carrier oil. It can cause irritation or provoke an allergic reaction.
6. Baking Soda
What is it: Baking soda is also known as sodium bicarbonate, which is a salt composed of sodium ions and bicarbonate ions. It is a leavening agent in cooking, which means it provides texture in batters by expanding the batter from a reaction with an acidic component in the batter. When baking soda is heated, like when a foot soak is mixed with warm water, it becomes soapy.
Uses: I use baking soda in my shower bombs or bath bombs and I have used it in foot soaks as well.
Pros: I like the feeling of baking soda mixed with warm water because it is soothing to aching feet.
Cons: Baking soda in baking can cause a bitter or “soapy” taste.
7. Epsom Salt
What is it: Epsom salt is the main component of bath salts. It is also known as magnesium sulfate. Epsom salt is supposed to be like a natural mineral bath or a hot spring. It is used to enjoy bathing experiences.
Uses: Epsom salt is used in bath salts and gardeners can use it to improve crops. It has many other medical uses as well.
Pros: Epsom salts can be emollient, lubricating, and keeps skin moist.
Cons: The skin doesn’t absorb Epsom salts when they are in a lotion.