Easy Handmade Products for Skin, Health & Home
Looking for a fun craft project you can do at home? Try your hand at these DIY recipes for dry shampoo, throat drops, and cleaning spray. They are paraben- and toxic-free, made using herbs, flowers, and other plants.
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Herbal Dry Shampoo
The key ingredient for this recipe is arrowroot powder or cornstarch, both of which help absorb excess oil. When used alone, they can leave a light layer of white powder behind, so I’ve created three recipes designed for light, medium and dark hair. Each dry shampoo formula includes one or more herbal powders for their scalp benefits or for use as a subtle colorant. To make an herbal or floral powder, grind dried herbs or flowers in a coffee grinder, then sift them through a fine mesh sieve to yield a soft, silky powder. A general guideline is to grind around 1⁄4 cup (60 g) of dried herbs to yield roughly 1 tablespoon (4 g) of powder.
The light hair tones variation incorporates powdered calendula flowers for their scalp-toning properties and to break up the stark white color of the arrowroot.
Cocoa powder adds a brown tint to the medium hair tones dry shampoo while powdered hibiscus (or red rose) flowers add a hint of red.
Dark hair types need the extra cocoa in the dark tones variation in order to help the dry shampoo blend into your hair color. I added nettle leaves, too, for their hair-strengthening benefits and darker color. As an alternative, try using ground rosemary instead.
Makes: 1⁄2 Cup (65 G) Dry Shampoo
LIGHT HAIR TONES FORMULA
1 Tbs. (4 g) powdered calendula flowers
1 ⁄2 cup (65 g) arrowroot powder
MEDIUM HAIR TONES FORMULA
3 Tbs. (18 g) cocoa powder
2 Tbs. (7 g) powdered hibiscus flowers or red rose petals
1⁄2 cup (65 g) arrowroot powder
DARK HAIR TONES FORMULA
2 Tbs. (7 g) powdered nettle leaves
1⁄2 cup (65 g) arrowroot powder
5 Tbs. (30 g) cocoa powder
- Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl or jar. To use, sprinkle a small amount onto the crown of your head. Start out with just a bit, because you can always add more. Work the powder into your roots, using your fingers. Brush out with a hairbrush, until no sign of the shampoo is left.
Lemon Balm & Ginger Sore Throat Drops
These herbal drops are a tasty way to soothe coughs and sore throats. Lemon balm is an amazing antiviral herb that also calms nervousness, promotes restful sleep, and gently settles an upset stomach. Ginger is a beloved kitchen spice and powerful anti-inflammatory that’s helpful for treating colds and flu, especially when chills, congestion, nausea, and upset stomach are part of the symptoms.
Makes: 3–4 Dozen Drops
3⁄4 cup (180 ml) water
1⁄2 tsp. ground ginger
1 Tbs. (1 g) fresh or dried lemon balm
1⁄2 cup (120 ml) honey
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar [Editor’s note: you can substitute erythritol for sugar. Try Ellyndale Naturals Sugarless Sugar from NOW Foods.]
2 to 3 cups (250 to 375 g) confectioners’ sugar [Editor’s note: erythritol makes a great alternative to confectioners’ sugar; try Swerve Confectioners.]
1⁄2–3⁄4 tsp. peppermint extract, to taste
- In a small saucepan, heat the water to a simmer. Place the ground ginger and lemon balm in a half-pint (250 ml) jar and pour the simmering water over them. Cover with a saucer and steep for 30 to 40 minutes to make a strong herbal tea. Strain and measure out 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) of the tea to use in the recipe.
- To a large, deep, stainless steel pot, add the 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) of herbal tea, honey and granulated sugar. Stir until evenly combined. Place the pot over a medium to medium-high burner, and bring to a boil. The candy will expand as it cooks, so you need the extra room of a taller pot to keep it from boiling over. Cook without further stirring until the mixture reaches 300°F (149°C) on a candy thermometer.
- While the mixture cooks, prepare the powdered sugar molds by filling a large cookie sheet or cake pan with confectioners’ sugar. Use something small, such as the top of the peppermint extract bottle, to make as many tiny indentions in the sugar as you can. Be sure to leave a little space between each one, so your sore throat drops don’t all run together.
- Once the candy mixture reaches the correct temperature, remove from heat and stir in the peppermint extract. At this point, I find it works best to quickly transfer the hot mixture to a 4-cup (1-L) Pyrex measuring cup with a pouring spout to make pouring easier.
- Pour the hot candy mixture into the individual cavities of the powdered sugar mold, working quickly before it hardens in the pouring container. Allow the throat drops to cool completely, 30 to 40 minutes, then toss them around in the confectioners’ sugar so they’re fully coated. This will help with keeping them from sticking together. Store the sore throat drops in single layers between pieces of parchment paper in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for longer storage for 4 to 6 months or more.
Lemon & Rosemary All-Purpose Cleaning Spray
You can infuse the herbal benefits directly into the castile soap and then dilute it with plain water as needed. But this recipe would work fine with plain castile soap too, if you need to make up a batch of this cleaning spray more quickly. This is a great all-purpose spray with a clean, invigorating scent. It’s especially great for cleaning trash cans and baseboards.
Makes: 1 Cup (250 ML) Cleaning Spray
1 tbsp (2 g) fresh or dried rosemary
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
1⁄3 cup (75 g) liquid castile soap, such as Dr. Bronner’s
14 drops lemon essential oil
2 drops rosemary essential oil
1 cup (250 ml) distilled water
MAKE THE INFUSED CASTILE SOAP
- Place the rosemary and lemon zest in a small glass jar. Pour the castile soap over and stir gently to combine. Cover the jar with a lid and place it in the refrigerator for 2 days to allow the rosemary and lemon to infuse into the soap. It’s normal for the soap to turn cloudy when it’s cold.
- After 2 days, remove the infusing jar from the refrigerator and allow the soap to return to room temperature. Strain the soap through a fine mesh strainer into a clean jar. Store in the refrigerator for 3 weeks or until needed.
MAKE THE CLEANING SPRAY
- In a glass jar, combine 1 tablespoon (14 g) of infused soap and the essential oils. Gently stir in the distilled water and pour into a spray bottle.
- Shake well before spraying over surfaces in need of cleaning such as trash cans, baseboards, bathroom counters and doorknobs. Be sure to spot test if you’re unsure of its behavior on a particular surface.
Recipes excerpted with permission from The Big Book of Homemade Products for Your Skin, Health & Home by Jan Berry, founder of the blog The Nerdy Farm Wife.