Although the natural/organic homemade bath and home products craze is decidedly mainstream at this point, we pagans have been attracted to natural living for decades.
It makes sense, of course. Most of us have a lot of experience with the key ingredients. Herbs, essential oils, natural waxes, resins and organic bases are things common to the practice of witchcraft.
The high value placed on living close to the earth naturally makes us inclined to make good use of these skills in the mundane world as well as the magical.
While many bloggers have covered the subject of homemade beauty products at length, none that I know of have approached them from the spiritual perspective of a witch. To fill this gap, I decided to give you a review of the most common recipes along with some suggestions about how to use them in a ritual context.
I reviewed them based on the final criteria:
-How easy/difficult it was to find the key ingredients.
-How easy/difficult it was to actually make.
-How useful the final product really was.
Let’s get started.
1. Sugar Scrubs & Salt Scrubs
Overall Rating: B
Finding ingredients was . . . easy. Nothing here you can’t find in your average grocery store—and probably in your kitchen cabinet. Basically just sugar or salt, an oil (like olive oil) and a scent. If you don’t have essential oils as a fragrance, you can always use vanilla extract.
Making it is . . . easy and super customizable. Maybe the easiest of everything on this list. It’s literally just oil and sugar. Only have brown sugar? Brown sugar scrub it is! For salt scrubs, you can use a basic sea salt or be really fancy with the pink Himalaya stuff. You can also get super creative with mixing scents or just use whatever is on hand.
How did it turn out? This stuff is perfect to give away for things like baby showers, birthdays and holiday gifts. It’s a nice home spa type treat. But there are a couple of problems with both sugar and salt scrubs. They both tend to be greasy and can make your skin and bathtub kind of slick. Probably the biggest downside with sugar scrubs is that they attract ants in the summertime, so it’s best to use or give these a way during the colder months. Salt scrubs do not attract ants, but they can be harsher and more irritating to sensitive skin.
Mundane to magical: Add a purifying oil like sage and include in ritual baths to “scrub away” negative energy.
2. Shaving Cream
Overall Rating: D
Finding the ingredients . . . moderately difficult. Coconut oil is pretty widely available. Shea butter, jojoba oil and castile soap usually require online orders or trips to specialty stores.
Making it . . . is a lot of trial and error, especially if you want it whipped. It takes about a day to full set.
How did it turn out? Don’t do it! Anything that is not water soluble and solidifies at room temperature clogs drains. It took me about a week before I realized what the problem was and a half hour of pouring boiling water down my bath tub to clear it when I finally figured it out. So not worth the effort. Go with a quality organic commercial version, or just use a nice, moisturizing bar of well-made organic soap instead.
Mundane to magical: I don’t recommend this at all. So.
Overall Rating: B+
Finding the ingredients . . . was moderate to difficult, depending on how you do it. Unused empty deodorant containers are almost exclusively available online. But they aren’t necessary. Arrow root powder is sometimes available at regular grocers, sometimes not.
Making it . . . was pretty straightforward, but did require some tweaking. I added beeswax to make it harder.
How did it turn out? I love this stuff. Customizing the scents is fun. Woodsy scents like rosemary work well for men’s deodorant, vanilla & orange is perfect for teens, or choose a sophisticated floral like lotus oil for you. It works well, lasts all day and doesn’t have the nasty chemical odor of commercial deodorants, or scary skin-penetrating metals like aluminum. The only downside is that really doesn’t do much for moisture and you may have to reapply.
Mundane to magical: Add a rose or vanilla oil to enhance romantic allure.
4. Lotion Bars/Lip Balm/Boobie Balm/Diaper Balm/Belly Butter
(All of these things have the same basic ingredients with varying ratios.)
Overall Rating: A
Finding ingredients . . . took some effort. The three key ingredients I’ve found essential to this recipe are: shea butter, coconut oil and beeswax. Coconut oil is pretty widely available in most grocery stores around the country. But beeswax and shea butter are harder to come by. Beeswax is sometimes available in craft stores, and shea butter can be found at most beauty supply stores. Both can be ordered online, of course.
Making it . . . requires some experimentation to get right. The ratio of beeswax in particular usually needs to be tinkered with. More beeswax equals a harder balm (best for lotion bars and lip balms) and more coconut oil softens it (better if you mean to use it as a diaper cream, belly butter or a boobie balm). And of course, you won’t know if you’ve gotten it right until it cools completely to room temperature, which usually takes 12 hours. My advice is to get it the way you like it once and write the recipe down in your Book of Shadows to save time.
How did it turn out? Hands down the best final product on this list. I like mine harder rather than softer. Use this stuff for any type of chapped skin problem where light lotions or creams just aren’t enough. As a lip healer, it is better than any commercial lip balm I’ve ever used, including the high-end organic kinds. As a winter hand cream, it heals chapped and broken skin without irritation if you don’t mind the greasiness. I also know several moms with babies who swear by it to heal cracked nipples from breastfeeding (though be careful to make it WITHOUT essential oil for this purpose as some are harmful to baby) and also as a soothing diaper cream.
Mundane to magical: Add a protection oil like rosemary and use to salve as a protective “shield.”
5. Witch Hazel Toners
Overall Rating: C+
Finding the ingredients . . . was easy. Essential oils require trips to specialty stores, but they are optional. Some people just use apple cider and witch hazel.
Making it . . . was very easy. Mix and shake.
How did it turn out? Meh. The apple cider vinegar kind of smells funky for something you leave on your skin. But if you are acne prone, this is much gentler than harsh commercial toners, and the tea tree oil definitely helps. You can even use tea tree oil as a spot healer for break outs and it’s very effective.
Mundane to magical: Add a purification oil, put it in a spray bottle and use as a smoke-free smudge.
6. Facial Cleanser
Overall rating: B+
Finding ingredients . . . was pretty easy. The key ingredients are honey, an oil and liquid castile soap, with the castile being the most esoteric. It’s generally only available at health food stores like Trader Joe’s or your local hippie grocer.
Making it . . . also pretty easy. Be careful not to add too much oil because it will solidify. I have oily skin, so I was nervous about using an oil-based cleanser, but I was pleasantly surprised at how not-greasy it is.
How did it turn out? Nice. I found it especially refreshing with a few drops of peppermint oil. It left my face feeling clean but not too dry. Definitely better than commercial cleansers. My skin felt healthier than regular drug store face wash afterwards. The oil and the castile soap separates overnight because there’s no chemical emulsifier, but it is easily re-integrates with a simple shake of the bottle.
Mundane to magical: Use in glamour and beauty spells to “wash away” old insecurities about yourself.
7. Microderm Abrasion Facial Paste
Overall Rating: C+
Finding the ingredients . . . is as easy as it gets. The simplest versions are just baking soda and water, with the fancier versions including essential oils and/or coconut oil.
Making it . . . also very easy. Just mix and apply.
How did it turn out? Don’t expect miracles. Many articles promise it will erase acne scars and fine lines. It won’t. For sensitive skin, this treatment should be avoided all together, as it is somewhat harsh. It will, however, leave your skin smoother and deep cleaned if used in moderation.
Mundane to magical: Include peppermint oil to “face” the world with a fresh approach.
Moral of the story? Making your own bath products is a fun, healthy activity for the budding and seasoned witch alike. It’s a great introduction to herbalism and learning about the properties of different essential oils, and herbs. It also doesn’t carry quite the same risk as herbal medicine, so if you’re headed in that direction or you’re trying to train a younger witch, this is a nice starting point.
Since I started using natural home and bath products, I definitely feel much more aware of all the chemicals I expose myself and my family to. The more I eliminate unnecessary toxins from our house, the better I feel and I am surprised at what a difference it makes.
While there’s a lot of pros to switching over as many synthetic chemical products as you can to natural alternatives, pre-made organic versions tend to be expensive for those of us on a budget. Making your own is a fantastic way to get around this, share it with your friends and even sell it for a little extra spending money on the side.