20140724_121137_1.jpg Yes, the title has to be in all caps.  It’s for emphasis.  I need all caps because I’m so excited that after some hundreds of trials, I have finally formulated a scrub I like. I’m, of course, picky about my skincare products.  Duh. That’s mostly why I make my own.  But I am particularly picky about scrubs.  It is so easy to create a scrub that sucks.  It’s much harder to make a crappy lotion or cream.  There are a few store-bought scrubs I like but they always have at least one of two problems: either they have unsavory ingredients or they cost too much.  As for most DIY scrubs…I have a few issues with them.

They are greasy. This is my biggest problem with most DIY scrubs.  They contain oil, salt, and sugar.  This does not a yummy scrub make!  Sure, it will exfoliate but so does a sandbox.  If you’re the kind who likes to scrub often or scrub your whole body, after a while of using this combination of ingredients, your pipes will start to suffer.

They don’t rinse clean. This is related to the fact that they are greasy.  I don’t like oily or sticky residue after scrubbing.  I want my skin to feel supple, yes, but I also want it to feel clean.  I want to moisturize as usual and be on my way.

They are sticky. Sometimes I see a recipe that doesn’t call for much oil or any at all.  Usually, in its place, glycerin is used.  Glycerin is not a bad ingredient for a scrub.  It rinses better than oil but it can leave a sticky film that lingers if you use too much.  It’s a humectant, meaning it draws moisture to the skin, so it has its benefits.

They’re too abrasive. Too much salt can make a scrub harsh.  Sugar is gentler.  Brown sugar is really gentle.  A combination of sea salt and sugar is best, more sugar than salt.

The texture is just all wrong! A good scrub should spread easily, have some slip, feel grainy but not like kitty litter or small pebbles. It should make your skin feel clean, soft, and touchable.  The texture is the most important part of a good scrub!

I like to use my scrub 2-3 times a week on my face and as needed on my body, usually right after I shave for super silky smoothness.  I cleanse, scrub, moisturize – in that order.  You’ll notice that amounts are given in volume, not in mass like I normally prefer.  My scale is broken for the 3rd time and I refuse to buy the same one again but I can’t find one I like.  If anyone has any suggestions, please share!  Volume works well enough here though.

Ingredients & Tools

  • 1 tablespoon cetyl alcohol
  • 2 tablespoons jojoba oil
  • 2 tablespoons castile soap
  • 1 tablespoon glycerin
  • 1 tablespoon witch hazel
  • 2 teaspoons vitamin E oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Optiphen
  • 2 teaspoons silk amino acids (optional!)
  • essential oils (optional, just make sure they’re safe for use on the face)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (organic brown if you’re sensitive)
  • 1/4 sea salt (you can use black salt if you’re fancy)
  1. Combine cetyl alcohol, jojoba oil, and vitamin E oil in mixing container.  Heat until just melted, either in the microwave or in simmering water.
  2. In a separate glass or Mason jar, combine glycerin, witch hazel, silk amino acids.  Add to the mixing container.
  3. Using the immersion blender, blend briefly until it’s combined and thick – should take less than 15 seconds.  Add castile soap and essential oils (if using).  Blend for 5 seconds or so.  Transfer mixture to the bowl.  Let it cool about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in Optiphen, salt and sugar.  Spoon into your storage container.


You can add all kinds of stuff and make all kinds of substitutions.  The sky is the limit, let your imagination run free! Send questions my way at and stay tuned for another email question session soon.

Homemade Hair Growth Serum

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I recently got a haircut that I hate.  I had just gotten my hair to the length I wanted and went to the stylist to have it cut into the shape I wanted and even it out some.  Unfortunately, just about all my length is gone now.  I am quite annoyed because I told him exactly what I wanted – just the back and the sides, don’t really touch the top or the front.  I should have said something as soon as I saw the first large tuft of hair fall but I think once I saw that, I just kind of gave up and accepted that I would have a haircut I didn’t really like.  *sigh* It happens to the best of us at least once, I guess.  And like everyone is saying, it’s just hair.  It will grow back.  Welllll, I want it back now!  I especially want my little sideburns back.  How you gonna just take those off without permission?  I need those!  So since I’m in a rush for my hair to grow back, I made a little concoction to speed things up a bit.

Scalp stimulation is key for fast hair growth.  I strongly recommend head massages on a regular basis.  Don’t make a habit of playing with your hair but massaging the scalp does wonders for growth.  This serum only requires 3 ingredients.

  1. Jamaican black castor oil
  2. peppermint essential oil
  3. rosemary essential oil

Place about 3 tablespoons of castor oil, 30-40 drops of peppermint oil, 30-40 drops of rosemary oil in a small container.  Mix thoroughly.  Apply to your scalp and MASSAGE your scalp with gentle to moderate pressure for at least 10 minutes.  Let the mixture sit on your scalp and tingle and do its work for at least an half an hour.  You probably want to wear a plastic shower cap so you don’t get oil all over your furniture and stuff.  Shampoo and condition as usual after.  Repeat as often as necessary.  I’m probably going to do this everyday or every other day until I achieve at least 1 or 2 inches of growth.

I think this cut has traumatized me enough that I might go back to long hair and scrap this whole #shorthairdontcare attitude.  Maybe I’ll be brave enough to post a picture in a week or two after I recover and come to terms with my hair.  A lot of drama, I know, but this is the first time I’ve ever truly hated my hair and couldn’t even find a way to improve it somewhat while I wait for growth.  I tried a hat but that was worse.  Maybe it’s about time I build a scarf collection.

Lotion Making Math & Ratio Guide

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I say it all the time but I’ll say it again.


The teacher in me loves to answer questions.  I just love to help and spread knowledge!  I especially love when people ask me questions about topics we both love…like making beauty products!

Many of the questions I get are about math and proportions of ingredients.  In one of my favorite emails the author said she was “math challenged.”  Fear of math is pretty common.  I completely understand.  In this post, I’m going to quickly discuss how to do the math you need to make lotion.  It’s easy.  At the end, I will share an ingredient ratio guide for products.

Let’s do a quick lesson on percentages.

If a manufacturer says that a preservative is effective at 1% concentration, what do you do?  

If you are making batches of lotion to use at home, you’re probably making fairly small batches, probably no more than 20 ounces.  Measuring 1% of 20 ounces is easy.  First, move the decimal 2 places to the left.

1% becomes 0.01

Now you can multiply.

0.01  x  20 ounces  = 0.2 ounces of preservative

I don’t like using ounces because they’re not precise enough to me.  I like to use grams.  There are 28.3495 grams in an ounce.  So if you’re making 20 ounces,

20   x  28.3495  = 567 grams

0.01   x   567 grams = 6 grams of preservative

If a recipe calls for 60% water, you do the same thing.  First, move the decimal 2 places to the left.

60% becomes 0.60

0.6   x  20 ounces = 12 ounces of water

or, in grams

0.6   x  567 grams = 340 grams of water

Okay, good.  Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here is a great ratio guide.  The grams given are for making a batch that weighs 20 ounces/567 grams.


Notice that I called this a ratio guide, not a stone tablet of ratios.  You may change these.  One of my favorite body cream recipes doesn’t follow this guide too closely.  I wanted it creamier so I increased the butter and emulsifier, decreased the water, and left out thickener.  Please play with proportions!  If you ever want to write and customize your own recipes, you have to be willing to experiment with proportions.  That’s the only way to get information!

I hope this answers any math questions!  As always, please email with questions.

Make Your Own Lotion: Water Phase Ingredients to Try

Make Your Own Lotion: Water Phase Ingredients to Try


A few months ago, I did a post about how to pick oils for your homemade lotion.  If you’re interested, you can check it out here.  It was a popular post all about the oil phase of a lotion.  In this post, I will talk mainly about picking good liquids for the water phase.

The water phase of recipes is sometimes overlooked.  We often focus heavily on which kinds of oils and butters to use.  Let me tell you a little secret though: a lot of these oils and butters that are popular and expensive are overrated. I have bought my fair share of fats du jour – babassu oil, argan oil, tamanu oil, meadowfoam seed oil, cupuaçu butter, to name a few.  Some of them are amazing.  Most of the time, though, you can’t even tell the difference.  I usually use the same oils and butters that I love and have come to depend on, mostly because they are well-priced and get the job done.  Sometimes, I splurge and have a little fun but one of the reasons I started making lotion at home was to save money so I don’t want to get too caught up in trends.

In many lotion recipes, the liquid of choice is distilled water.  It’s preferred over tap water, not because of cleanliness, but because distilled water does not have any solutes – nothing is dissolved in it, it’s pure water.  Tap water usually contains chlorine, fluoride, minerals, and other substances so most lotion makers prefer distilled.  Distilled water is very inexpensive and can be found at any store.  It’s also kind of boring.  There are a zillion other liquids you could choose.  Here are some.

Aloe Vera 

Aloe is…it’s just the best. Is it any surprise that this is first on the list? It’s good for so many skin ailments.  Sometimes, when a burn needs soothing or skin is crying out for hydration, I will snip a piece of squeeze it directly from the leaf.


You can grow it in your house!

Sadly, you probably won’t have much success if you try to use it straight from the plant in your recipes.  Instead, you should use aloe vera liquid.  This isn’t the same as aloe vera gel that is sold in stores as a sunburn soother.  I get my aloe vera liquid from Brambleberry.  You can use aloe vera liquid in lieu of water.  You don’t need to make any adjustments.  Your skin will be hydrated and soothed.

Colloidal Oatmeal Tea


Colloidal oatmeal is miraculous stuff.  It’s just oat flour.  Oat flour can be made at home easily.

1. Get your oats.

2. Grind to a powder in a spice/coffee grinder.  Fin

But you can’t just dump oat flour into your lotion.  You need to make tea.  Easy peasy.  Click here to see my post on how to make it.

I recommend using a mixture of  colloidal oatmeal and another, thinner liquid.  Colloidal oatmeal is more viscous than water or aloe vera liquid and could make your lotion thicker than you want.  If you want a thick & creamy emulsion, you can use colloidal oatmeal only in your water phase.  If you want something a little lighter, replace only half of the water phase with colloidal oatmeal.  It does wonders for itchy skin.  It’s terrific on dry skin. Even stubborn eczema symptoms can be relieved using colloidal oatmeal.


Yes, the same kind you drink.  20140526_141837

Just steep the tea in hot distilled water and use in place of water.  I like to make the tea twice as strong as I would like to drink it.  Chamomile tea is a lovely choice.  So is calendula.  Combine them with lavender essential oil for a soothing, ultra-relaxing concoction.  When substituting tea for water, there is no need to change the ratio. Occasionally, I will use green tea in a spritz, toner, or cleanser.  Not all herbs are good choices so pick wisely and do your research.



If you’re going to use milk in your recipes, you have to keep a few things in mind.  Firstly, I don’t recommend milk for beginners.  You need to be extra careful and diligent about sanitation.  Milk lotions are more prone to spoiling.  Only use pasteurized milk.  Don’t use milk products that contain live cultures.  If you want to use yogurt or buttermilk, which are great for skin, check to make sure it doesn’t contain live cultures or heat it up enough to kill the bacteria.

Goat milk is very popular for lotions.  Goat milk lotion will be rich yet light.  Even regular whole cow’s milk would be nice.  Another choice is almond milk.  Keep in mind that milks have a high fat content.  If you replace all the water in a recipe with milk, you may end up with a thicker or greasier lotion than you want.  Feel free to dilute milk with distilled water for a lighter finished product.


Hydrosols are a favorite addiction additive of mine.  Rosewater is probably the most well-known one but there are many including chamomile, calendula, cucumber, lavender, lemon verbena and many, many more.  Besides the fact that they usually smell divine, they also add to your formulation in the same way an essential oil would.  Because they’re often highly concentrated, they can be pricy but you can use them sparingly.  Replace 5-20% of your water with a hydrosol instead of replacing all the water to save money but still reap the benefits.

Silk Amino Acids

Silk amino acids  add a smooth, silky feeling to products.  Most of the time, you only need to use it about 2% concentration to see effects.  They are great for light, summery lotions.

Hope you enjoyed this post.  As usual, if there are any questions, email


Email Question: Facial Moisturizers

I’m so excited about summer’s approach. Not because I like the hot weather because I really don’t.  Over 75 degrees F is too hot for me.  I like summer because my skin and hair LOVE humidity.  I know most people find humidity to be hair enemy #1 but as long as my hair is in its naturally curly state, my hair thrives on the damp air.  But summer mugginess is even better for my skin.  I doubt I will see a pimple for months and I will achieve the dewy finish I’m always after.  I’m so excited.

Additionally, now is the time I like to increase humectants, such as glycerin or raw honey, in my recipes.  Humectants draw moisture to the skin and hair but only if there is moisture in the air.  If there is little moisture in the air, humectants will actually make skin and hair drier.  So I don’t recommend humectants for those of you in a dry climate.  I usually keep them at a minimum in the winter but start upping the amount late spring/early summer when we start getting more rain and wetness here in NYC.

Onto the email question of the day!

Hi Hippie Girl!  I have been reading your blogs and read the one on making lotions and was wondering if that recipe was for body lotion or face lotion?  I am looking for a facial moisturizer recipe for mature skin- do you have one?  Thanks for taking the time to read this email! 

I love this question!  Mature skin certainly needs extra moisture.  As I age, I really do notice how important moisturizing is.  However, I do not make facial moisturizers.  That is one thing you are very unlikely to see a recipe for from me.  The reason I won’t post one is simple: it’s too risky.  Water-based facial moisturizers have too much potential to cause problems with the eyes.  Eyes are obviously really important because we see with them but they are also pretty vulnerable to infection.  Even though all recipes I post will result in a sanitary product (so long as you work under sanitary conditions) they are not sterile so I don’t plan on making a product that is water-based to be used near the eyes.  The chances of someone’s eyes actually becoming infected from a moisturizer are not that high but it’s not really a risk I am willing to take even with a preservative.  Instead, I recommend using an oil blend on the face, especially for older skin.  Since it’s not water-based, microbes are much less likely to grow to dangerous numbers.  I discuss an oil blend that I make and like here.

Hope this helps!  Please direct questions to I always answer even if I don’t post it here.

Email Question: Alcohol as a Preservative?

This is another fantastic email question.  I love the ones that make me think and even do some research!

I stumbled upon your blog today because I was looking for information regarding a natural preservative. Your blog stated that basically there are none. I know of a company that uses organic grain ethanol as a preservative, and they sell their products worldwide, so i’m guessing this works.
Since you stated that you are a chemistry teacher, would you be able to tell me what percentage I would have to use the ethanol at?
You would have to use ethanol at quite a high percentage for it to be an effective preservative, I would estimate 25% or more.  That would ruin any product I was trying to make, especially a lotion or cream.  Ethanol is also quite drying to skin.
I also asked which brand uses ethanol (which is just alcohol, the same type that gets people drunk) and the reader replied that it was Dr. Bronner’s.  I did a little research and found the ingredients list:
Aqua, Organic Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Organic Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Organic Ethanol*, Organic Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil*, Organic fairDeal Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Seed Oil, Organic Quillaja Saponaria Extract, Xanthan Gum, Tocopherol, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil
Ethanol is very high up on the ingredient list.  There’s more ethanol than there is avocado oil.  I swear by Dr. Bronner’s castile soap.  It’s amazing but their lotions are not, in my opinion.  On Amazon, you can see that all the critical reviews basically say the same thing: the lotion is runny, smells like alcohol, isn’t very moisturizing.  These would be my main concerns with using alcohol as a preservative.
More questions please!  Email

Email Question: Optiphen

I’m so excited that I have a couple posts lined up that are answering questions I’ve gotten to my email!  I’ve gotten questions from all kinds of places.  I live in a little apartment in Brooklyn, NY so getting emails from people in other faraway countries is so incredibly cool.  If you have any questions or comments, please email me at  I always respond.

Here’s the email question (from Kuwait!!):

I want to make body butter, cream, and lotion…if I want to extend the shelf life over a year, is that possible with Optiphen preservative…if so what is the percentage to use Optiphen preservative?


Optiphen is my choice for preservative because it is paraben- and formaldehyde-free.  Optiphen is best in oil-based formulas.  Optiphen Plus is good for just about any recipe.  Use it at about 1% and don’t use at temperatures higher than 176 degrees F.

A lot of email questions are about preservatives!  Keep ’em coming!  And keep your eyes open for more email questions in the future.