When you first get started on your own adventure in living a more natural lifestyle you will very quickly realize that there are tons of uses for household items, many of which you already have in your kitchen cabinets! I’ll be sharing many tricks, DIY recipes, and life hacks in this blog and if you want to follow along you’ll need a few items. Below are my 5 “must have” items I can’t live without on my adventure!
5 Must Have Ingredients for DIY Natural Home and Beauty Projects!
#1 – Coconut Oil!!! A quick google search and hundreds of uses for coconut oil (CO) will pop up! There are two types of CO you need to know about for DIY home and beauty recipes:
1) Pure, unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin coconut oil – Cold-pressed CO is made by expeller pressing dehydrated coconut flakes to extract the oil. Extra-Virgin refers to the first pressing before it is clarified/refined using a centrifuge. It will solidify in cooler temperatures but has a low melting point and melts easily at skin temperature. We use this all the time to cook with! CO is an easy to digest oil that helps provide digestive support by promoting probiotics and destroying bad bacteria and parasites in your digestive tract. In addition, CO’s healthy fats support thyroid and adrenal gland function, help balance blood sugar, and contain medium chain triglycerides (MCT) which can even promote weight loss! Besides being a wonderful addition to your kitchen cupboard CO has a number of other uses, including:
• anti-fungal properties which can be used to treat athlete’s foot, ring worm, and cradle cap
• added to lotions and moisturizers to treat dry flaky skin from eczema or psoriasis
• used as a wound salve or to treat diaper rash
• natural UV protection (approximately an SPF of 3-4) and can be added to DIY sunscreen
• added to homemade toothpaste or used for oil pulling to promote good oral health
• natural hair conditioner that treats and prevents dandruff and can be used as a hair detangler for children
** Unrefined CO does smell like coconut. If you find the smell of coconut offensive you can use refined CO in your skin and beauty recipes. But unrefined CO is richer in phytonutrients than refined coconut oil so I wouldn’t use refined to cook with (at low temperatures) if you wanted to retain all the health benefits. When cooking at higher temperatures refined CO is better due to its higher smoking temperature. While unrefined CO does have a slight coconut taste, it is subtle and I don’t notice it altering the flavor of what I’m cooking much. We buy Carrington Farms brand at Costco.
2) Fractionated coconut oil – This is a fraction of the whole oil that has been extracted to retain the liquid form and therefore does not retain all of the same ingested health benefits as pure, unrefined, extra-virgin coconut oil. I would not use this for cooking. However, its natural liquid state makes it a great ingredient for DIY skin and beauty products, including:
• natural facial moisturizer
• helps promote eyelash growth
• used in spray sunscreens due to natural UV protection
• added as a moisturizing ingredient to DIY baby wipes
I buy Dr. Adorable brand fractionated CO off Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Fractionated-Coconut-Pure-Organic-Dr-Adorable/dp/B00H8XVWS6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1431029587&sr=8-1&keywords=dr+adorable+coconut+oil
#2 – Baking Soda – Baking soda (BS) is sodium bicarbonate created by combining carbon dioxide to sodium carbonate (also called Washing Soda or Soda Ash). It is a common mineral added in baking recipes as a leavening agent. It is alkaline in nature and can be used to balance acidity in cooking as well as in DIY recipes and helps remove offensive odors naturally. In addition, it is a natural, but gentle, abrasive which makes it a wonderful addition to cleaning and beauty recipes! Baking Soda can be used for so many things it is a must-have in every DIY home. We buy ours in bulk from Costco! Check out some of the amazing uses for Baking Soda, including:
• Extinguish grease fires
• Removes tarnish from silver
• Natural oven cleaner when combined with vinegar (yay! Science!)
• Add to washing machine as natural fabric softener and to remove odors
• Is a natural fungistatic – which means it can prevent fungus from growing and spreading
• Removes plaque when brushed on teeth or added to homemade toothpaste
• Helps dry wetness and control odor therefore is a great addition to homemade deodorant
• Is a natural facial scrub and exfoliant
• Can soothe irritated skin and relieve body aches when added to a bath
• The Alkalinity helps open up the hair follicle and clean the hair when used as a shampoo (note: you must use some sort of acid base rinse to help restore the pH balance of your hair – more on this in a future post)
• Seriously, this list could go on… Check out google or Pinterest for more amazing ways you never knew you could use Baking Soda!
#3 – Vinegar – Aside from making delicious salad dressings, BBQ sauce, and “pickled” veggies from the garden, vinegar is one of my all-time favorite cleaning products! The uses for vinegar are practically endless! Below are some awesome ways you may have never thought to use both Distilled White Vinegar as well as Apple Cider Vinegar.
1) Distilled White Vinegar (DWV) – we buy the giant bottle from Costco for all our uses around the house!
• Clean the sticky off your scissors
• Clean and deodorize your garbage disposal or dishwasher
• Steam a cup of vinegar to help clean the crusties out of your microwave as well as reduce odor
• Spray on tile grout then scrub with toothbrush to make it whiter and prevent mildew
• Add to washing machine to help remove stains and brighten colors (by removing the soap residue that dulls dark colors)
• Kill weeds and crabgrass in your drive/walkway and use as a slug repellent in gardens
• Spray on furniture to keep your cat from using it as a scratching post
• Get rid of skunk odor
2) Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) – You will often see people, especially crunchy granola types, refer to ACV “with the mother” when talking about DIY home remedies or health benefits of ACV. What this refers to is a bacterial culture that is added to the liquid to promote fast fermentation. Bragg’s Organic Raw Unfiltered ACV is probably the most popular brand for this reason (also, you can upcycle the glass bottles by adding a sprayer and using for your DIY recipes that require a spray bottle). There’s limited scientific proof backing up the claim that ACV with the mother has superior health benefits to regular ol’ ACV, however. Plus, I’m cheap and Bragg’s is way more expensive, so I typically just use regular old Heinz ACV. We buy the biggest bottle we can at Kroger (Can’t figure out why in the world our Costco doesn’t carry ACV…).
• Put a little ACV in the bottom of a cup and cover with cling-wrap with holes poked in it for a DIY fruit fly trap
• Add a little ACV to your dog’s water to help prevent fleas, alleviate itching and improve the condition of their skin, aid in digestion and urinary tract function, and help relieve and prevent arthritis. Can also be used to wipe out itchy ears to keep them from scratching.
• Used as a hair rinse to balance the pH after an alkaline shampoo (or BS wash)
• Help get rid of warts
• Relieve the burning sensation after a sunburn
• Treat a sore throat or upset stomach
#4 – Some essential oils. I prefer Young Living brand oils because they provide high-quality therapeutic grade oils and I trust in their “seed to seal” guarantee. See my previous post about why I chose Young Living. Please don’t hesitate to ask for more information on the company or their oils. Below are a few of my “must-haves” essential oils and the best place to start if you only want to buy a few.
1) Lavender – If you only bought one essential oil, make it lavender! It is probably the most versatile of all essential oils and is even gentle enough to use around babies and children! Lavender is probably best known for promoting rest and relaxation but can also help reduce muscle tension; reduce allergy symptoms; soothe irritated skin; alleviate symptoms from eczema or dermatitis; alleviate dandruff; alleviate redness, itching, or swelling from bee stings; reduce redness and soothe pain from burns; is a natural antiseptic (when used topically) that may help stop bleeding, clean wounds, and kill bacteria in cuts and scrapes; alleviate symptoms of motion sickness; even help stop a nosebleed!
2) Peppermint – Probably my second favorite essential oil because of the myriad of uses it is good for, including freshening breath; clears the respiratory tract and can alleviate allergy symptoms; promotes alertness and concentration; naturally thickens and nourishes damaged hair; reduces heartburn and relieves indigestion, gas and diarrhea; alleviates nausea; relieves fever; reduces or alleviates headaches or migraines; relieves joint pain and arthritis; soothes aching muscles; even acts as a natural insect repellent!
3) Tea Tree – I fell in love with Tea Tree oil when I was looking for natural solutions to help my hormonal acne while trying to conceive. No store bought cleansers or spot treatments were helping so I turned to nature as a last resort. Tea Tree oil is a natural astringent that helps open up pores which loosens up dirt and oil and helps kill the bacteria that can cause acne! It was the only thing that worked and I still use it when I have the occasional breakout. In addition, tea tree oil helps kill and prevent lice as well as fleas; eases discomfort from rashes, bug bites, or sunburns; cleans cuts and scrapes; cleans and freshens breath; reduces inflammation in mucous membranes and can relieve a sore throat; relieves pain from earaches; helps fight nail fungus; even kills mold!
4) Thieves – Thieves is an essential oil blend of clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus, and rosemary. This is the newest addition to my favorite oils but now I know I won’t be able to live without it in my home! I love Thieves for its ability to prohibit bacteria and fungus growth and I was most excited about it because it naturally cleans counter-tops, floors, and pet cages without toxic chemicals. In addition, Thieves oil may prevent infections and promotes healing in cuts and scrapes; relieves cold and flu symptoms; provides relief from headaches; relives pain and hastens healing from broken bones or aching joints; kills mold and airborne germs; is a natural hand sanitizer; reduces phlegm and congestion; treats warts; some even say it can be used to help you quit smoking!
**All four of the above “must have” essential oils are available in the Everyday Oils collection by Young Living! You can get it, plus an 11th bonus oil, a home diffuser, and samples of other best-selling oils as part of the Premium Starter Kit with no commitment to buy or sell the oils! Ask me how!
#5 – Carrier Oils – carrier oils are often used in conjunction with essential oils to dilute for sensitive skin, aid in the absorption of essential oils into the skin, to help extend the use of essential oils since they do not evaporate as quickly, or as an ingredient in massage oil, lotions, creams, bath oils, lip balms, etc. In addition, carrier oils can be used for the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM) of skin care – more on this in a future blog post. There are a wide variety of carrier oils out there. I’ve only listed a few of my favorites below. Make sure when purchasing a carrier oil that it is both organic and cold-pressed. They may be easier to find in the cooking aisle rather than the cosmetics aisle or order online. Find more information about carrier oils and their uses here at DIY Natural:http://www.diynatural.com/carrier-oils/
1) Coconut Oil – coconut oil is probably my favorite carrier oil because it has so many beneficial properties. It is antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral making it a perfect addition to homemade salves, ointments, and skincare products. I use it daily as a carrier oil with Melrose blend and Frankincense and Lavender essential oils as my facial moisturizer – I’ll share that recipe later this week!
2) Castor Oil – Castor oil is similar to Coconut oil in that it has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. It is often used as a topical ointment to treat pain and soothe irritated skin.
3) Jojoba Oil – Jojoba oil closely mimics our skin’s oil and is therefore used as a common ingredient in DIY skincare recipes. It is absorbed easily without leaving the skin feeling greasy. It makes wonderful massage oil and is a desirable ingredient in OCM and other skin care recipes for oily or acne-prone type skin.
4) Sweet Almond Oil – is good for all skin types but very moisturizing, making it an ideal ingredient for DIY skincare recipes that call for a carrier oil.
5) Olive Oil – besides being a wonderful oil to cook with, Olive oil is a great carrier oil for infusing herbs or to combine with other easily absorbed carrier oils to make medicinal salves.
Keep the conversation going! What are some of your “Must Have” ingredients in your natural home? Comment below!
And make sure to check out my next post: 5 Good-to-Have Ingredients for DIY Natural Home and Beauty Projects!
* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products and techniques mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information here is in no way intended to replace proper medical help. Consult with the health authorities of your choice for treatment.