Big Beauty Box

Happy New Year!

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For Christmas, Teedz requested a repeat of the Beauty and the Beets package she received last year, namely, another couple jars of those luxurious shower scrubs.  So in addition to some more coffee sugar scrub and salty citrus scrub, I made a big beauty box with more aids to relaxation in it: bubble bath, bath tea, and a crowning achievement, homemade LOTION.  I’m not even kidding.  My major regret was that while every woman in my family got a jar of the luscious stuff, there wasn’t enough left over for ME.  I guess I’ll have to make some more.  Let’s begin, shall we?

Rose-Lavender Bubble Bath

We’ll start with the easiest one and get trickier, okay?

For a bubble bath, you need to start with a soap base.  You can use unscented dishwashing liquid, which is super cheap, but I like castile soap because it’s so cool and old-fashioned.  I bought a rose-scented one to use as my base.  Then you need some glycerine for slipperiness and good bubble staying-power.  I picked this vegetable glycerine up at a health food store in the beauty section, but you can also find it in the first aid aisle of your local pharmacy.  To get the lavender part of the rose-lavender scent, I also got some lavender essential oil and some dried lavender, both from the health food store.  And of course you need a container for mixing.

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Pour 1 cup castile soap and 2/3 cup glycerine into your container (I doubled this recipe because it was going to two people).

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Give those a stir, because they won’t automatically mix.

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Next, add a few drops of essential oil and stir again.

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For visual variety, add a few teaspoons dried lavender to the mix.

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Give that a stir and let it sit for a few days.  The lavender pieces will start to break down in the liquid, infusing it with more lavendery goodness.

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I decanted the resulting emulsion (you will have to shake it up a bit before using) into two glass bottles.  This is them sitting next to the new batch of salt and sugar shower scrubs.

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Bath Teas / Foot Soaks 

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These little sachets of salt are great for their versatility.  You can toss them in the tub, hang them from the faucet while it’s filling, or plop them in a little foot bath for whenever you have a few extra minutes to relax.  The epsom salts are a good healing soak for new mothers and the oatmeal and sea salt make for a skin-smoothing experience.

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I made two different flavours of these.  In the first, I started with a base of 3 cups epsom salts and 1 cup coarse sea salt.  Then a few drops lavender essential oil.

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To that I added 1 cup dried chamomile flowers and 3/4 cup dried lavender flowers.

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All stirred up!

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To the other one I started with the same 3:1 ratio of epsom salts to sea salt.

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Then I added in 3/4 cup dried peppermint leaves and 2 cups ground oatmeal.

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(To make the oat stuff simply chuck some rolled oats — not instant — into a food processor and give it a good whaz.)

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All stirred up too!

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Then I set up an assembly line.  I used some organza we’d rejected from our screen printing exercises, some hemp twine, and an old plastic easter egg as my container-holder.

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I scooped 3-4 tablespoons of the salt mixture into each little pouch and tied it tightly with the string, making a loop so that it can be hung from the faucet.  I used green twine for the peppermint ones and blue for the lavender.

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Luxury Lotion 

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This is probably one of the greatest things I’ve made.  I played around a bit with the original recipe from Girls’ Guide to Guns and Butter and came up with two separate flavours.  With the ratios I used, the resulting lotion is thick and creamy.  It will leave a bit of grease on your hands that absorbs relatively quickly, and the best part about it is that it doesn’t wash off very easily, which, during cold season when you’re washing your hands constantly, is a very good thing.  Anyway, I suggest you give the above post a bit of a read, just to understand the science of the whole thing a bit more.  I’m just going to plunge right in.

The below proportions make about three cups of lotion each, which makes them ideal sizes to give away as gifts.  If you’d like to be selfish and just make some for yourself, then adjust the amounts accordingly.

Rose Water Lotion:

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For this one I cut up a bunch of beeswax.  This is the emulsion that holds everything together.  You’ll need about 4 tablespoons beeswax.

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Plop the beeswax in a double boiler or a microwave-safe container (you can do it either way) and start adding in your other liquids.  Here I’m adding about 2 squirts of vegetable glycerine.  This is what makes the lotion all slippery-feeling.  Don’t add too much or it will be too slippery.

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Scoop out 3 tablespoons shea butter, which I didn’t realize was powdered until it got EVERYWHERE.

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Then 12 tablespoons (3/4 cup) sweet almond oil and 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) avocado oil.

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And then 3 squirts of vitamin E oil.  Not only is this good for damaged skin but it will also extend the shelf life of your lotion.

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Melt the beeswax/oil mixture in your microwave or double boiler until there is nothing solid left in it and it’s all mixed together.  Pour it into a tall narrow container (like a wide-mouthed mason jar) that will fit an immersion blender and leave it to cool for a bit.

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Basically, lotion is an emulsion of oil and water, and the beeswax is what freezes it into its emulsified state.  So now we need water for this to work.  For this first one I used 1 1/2 cups rose water (you can get this at the grocery store) and 1/2 cup filtered water (if you’re on a chlorinated city water system you’ll want to use filtered or distilled water).  The water and the oil have to be the same temperature in order to mix properly, so what I did was heat up the water to the same temperature as the cooling oil, which was about 130°F.  It just meant that I didn’t have to wait as long for everything to cool properly.  I’m not a patient person.

Now you stick your immersion blender in the oil mix and start whizzing it up until it gets light and foamy.  It will fly everywhere, which is why you should use something narrow to mix it in like a jar.  I used a bowl and things got messy.  I’ll show you a picture in a minute.  Anyway.  As you’re mixing, ever so slowly trickle in water and get it mixed in, a little bit at a time.  If you put them in at the same temperature, you can get all the water mixed in perfectly, though towards the end you’ll have to mix a bit harder to get it all combined.  I wish I had more pictures of this part to show you how cool it is, but I only have so many hands.

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It will look like rich, thick icing.  It looked so much like icing, in fact, that my mother walked past it and though that’s what it was.  So she stuck her finger in it and tasted it.  BAD IDEA.  Apparently it tastes awful.  So resist the urge to eat it.

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This is the still-warm lotion spread on my hand, so you can see the texture.

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Plop it into little jars for storage, or leave it in the jar in which you mixed it, if you’re that clever.

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But here is a dobble of the stuff after it’s cooled, and you can see how thick and rich it is.

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Orange Whip Lotion:

Here’s the mess I left after the second mixing session.  There’s lotion and oil everywhere.

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I didn’t take pictures of the mixing process for the second batch, but I’ll give you the ingredients here and you can go to town.  Just remember that the water and the oil have to be the same temperature (not exactly, but close) in order for the whole science thing to work.

In a heat-proof container, mix together and melt 4 tablespoons chopped beeswax, 2 squirts vegetable glycerine, 3 tablespoons shea butter, 8 tablespoons coconut oil, 4 tablespoons avocado oil, 4 tablespoons sweet almond oil, and 3 squirts vitamin E oil.

Add 8 drops sweet orange essential oil to 2 cups hot distilled or filtered water and drizzle into hot oil mix, blending to emulsify.

Store your lotion in a cool place, maybe in the fridge to be on the safe side.  I’m not sure how long this stuff lasts, with the antibacterial beeswax and vitamin E in it, but you’ll probably use it all right away because it’s awesome, anyway.

It’s relatively easy to clean up, as long as you wipe out your oily-waxy containers with paper towel before washing them in soapy water.

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Beauty and the Beets

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I have extremely sensitive skin.  Just looking at something wrong will cause me to break out in hives, rashes, or various forms of acne.  So I’m very careful about the stuff that I put on and in my body.  I also find that soaps, lotions, and all that stuff made with all natural ingredients seem to me to be more luxurious than the anonymous filled plastic bottles you can pick up at any store.  Why not share that luxury as a gift?  There are two high-powered executive type ladies in my family, so I thought I’d make a little “working woman’s survival kit.”  Here, then, are instructions (from various places) for some little home-made beauty products with a touch of luxury.  I’ll start with the hardest project first, and move to the easiest, though I wouldn’t really call any of these projects hard.

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Let’s make some lip balm!  It’s frightening how much you can pay for this stuff in the stores.  This recipe here, which I modified from one I saw on TLC, produces about 3/4 cup (6oz) of lip balm (which filled 12 little half-ounce tubs), and cost me about $4 in supplies.  BAM.  If you were wondering, I got the plastic tubs from Patch on Etsy.

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Start with 1/4 cup beeswax.  You can get this in tiny, easy-to-melt pearls from some places, but this being Newfoundland I got it in a solid 2oz block, which is pretty much 1/4 cup.  This stuff is local, from Paradise Farms.

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I grated it and cut it up into little pieces.  I recommend getting all your ingredients measured and containers ready to go beforehand, because once this is ready to go you will need to act quickly.

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Pop the wax into a double boiler (or metal bowl set over a pot of bubbling water) and let it melt completely. It won’t take long.

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Add in 1/4 cup almond oil and 2 tablespoons coconut oil.

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Don’t freak out if the wax curdles — it’s just adjusting to the cooler temperatures of the oils, and will melt again.  Just keep stirring. I also added a few drops of peppermint essential oil at this point, just for a nice cooling sensation on your lips and a fresh scent.

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When everything has been fully liquified again, you can remove the pot from the heat.  Whisk in 2 tablespoons beet juice for colouring (you can leave this out if you wish and your balm will be whitish or ivory, depending on the colour of your wax).  You can add more if you wish, but make sure to whisk it well, as it won’t fully combine with the wax and oil.

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Quickly transfer the liquid to a cup with a spout and pour into your containers.

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I worked too slowly (because I was taking pictures, which then ended up blurry, damnit) and had to re-melt my lip balm in the microwave to get it all out.  Make sure to wipe out the cup and the melting bowl with a paper towel before you wash them — it can get messy otherwise.  Work whatever is leftover into your hands.  It’s quite nice.

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I probably should have smiled for this photo.  But I didn’t realize how grumpy my mouth looks this close up.  😦  But the balm is very nice, very refreshing and smooth.

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Let’s make some deodorant!  Store-bought deodorants are full of all kinds of gross things, and there have been studies done on the links between aluminum used in anti-perspirants and Alzheimer’s.  This recipe, which I modified from the one here, has four ingredients, and each one has a specific purpose.  I doubled what I will present to you below, but it produces about half a cup of solid deodorant.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup arrowroot or corn starch.  The baking soda is your key deodorizer, and the starch is your moisture-wicking agent.

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Melt 6 tablespoons coconut oil (your moisturizing agent and the stuff that will hold everything together in solid form) and whisk that in as well.  Add in a few drops of tea tree oil (for antibacterial purposes, and to add a light scent).  I also added in a few drops of lavender essential oil, just for the frivolity of it all — I know, that makes FIVE ingredients.  I love the combination of lavender and tea tree.

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Pour that into a container with a lid and allow to solidify.  Apply it to your underarms with your fingertips.  Voila.

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***EDIT: So I’ve been using this for a little while now and I have to say that, at least for me, this stuff works BETTER than either the super dooper organic and chemical-free version or the regular brand-name stuff you pick up in the drug store.  Sure, it’s a little grainy going on, but it lasts way longer, there’s no residue getting anywhere it shouldn’t, and in terms of actually deodorizing, it’s tops! ***

Let’s make some shower scrubs!  I think that salt/sugar scrubs are the epitome of pampering oneself at home, so I decided to make not one, but two different kinds.

Orange Salt & Sugar Scrub: In a bowl, mix together 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup sea salt.

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Add in 1/2 cup melted coconut oil, 3 tablespoons almond oil, and 2 tablespoons vitamin E oil (you can get that at the drug store).

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Add in a few drops of orange essential oil, as well as finely grated orange zest.  Stir well.

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Scoop into a container with a tightly-fitting lid, and keep in your bathroom for when you have some extra time in the shower.  Just remember that those oils can make the shower very slippery when you rinse off, so be careful.

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Brown Sugar & Coffee Scrub: Did you know that caffeine is a great thing for your skin?  In a bowl, mix together 1 cup dark brown sugar and 1 cup finely ground coffee (not used coffee grounds).

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Add in 3 tablespoons honey and 1/2 cup light olive oil and mix to combine.

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Scoop that into a container with a tight lid and keep that in the bathroom as well, for when your skin needs a little pick-me-up in the morning!

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Let’s make some eye makeup remover!  This is so easy, it’s like not even a thing.  Mix together 4 tablespoons olive oil with 3 tablespoons almond oil.  To remove your waterproof eye makeup, simply moisten a cotton ball with the stuff and there you go!

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Tidy up the edges of your containers before you put the lids on.  Decorate your containers with a few personal touches.

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Presentation is important, even though it’s what’s IN the containers that counts!

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