Articles & Experiments

A Quick Guide to Cera Bellina & Liquid Oil Ratios

I’ve been having fun playing with a new ingredient lately—cera bellina. Cera bellina is derived from beeswax, and it does some really cool things. For starters, it makes oil gels! Think about ointments—that soft, creamy, translucent texture. Cera bellina does...

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10 Recipes to Make with Cocoa Butter

I’ve been thoroughly smitten with cocoa butter ever since my first tub of it arrived. This brittle, cream-coloured butter smells like super delicious chocolate, and it is a wonderful addition in all kinds of body butters, lotions, and balms. It melts around...

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A Guide to Making Substitutions in DIY Recipes

I get asked about substitutions, additions, and swaps a lot—hence this guide to making substitutions. I’ve already got guides on carrier oil substitutions and essential oil substitutions, so this article is going to be a bit more scattered. I’ll look at...

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The Clay Experiments: The Heavy Clays

Today I’m continuing my series of clay experiments with a category I’m calling the “heavy” clays—rhassoul and bentonite. These are the two heaviest”miscellaneous” clays I have, so I figured I’d pair them for this part of my...

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The Clay Experiments: The French Clays

I love my clays, and it’s about time I got to know them a bit better. My oil and wax experiments have been invaluable to me and many readers, so I thought I’d take that approach and to my clay collection. Today we’re starting with the French Clays I own: green and...

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My Favourite Oils for the Face

The first natural beauty habit I adopted was putting oil on my face. Back in 2010 Meredith talked me into it with her glowing recommendation of argan oil and the gift of a small bottle of the awesome stuff. I questioned her about all the things we think we know about...

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A Quick Guide to Different Emulsifying Waxes

In my time working with emulsifying waxes, I’ve found that they vary quite a lot. There are two main categories of emulsifying waxes—complete and incomplete. We’ll be looking at complete emulsifying waxes (or e-waxes) here as incomplete e-waxes require...

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A Quick Guide to Colourants

When you want to add a bit of colour to something, there’s a lot to consider. What colour do you want? Do you want opacity along with the colour? How long do you want the colour to last? What is the end use of the product? And let’s not forget the...

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A Quick Guide to Bayberry Wax & Liquid Oil Ratios

My series of wax to oil ratio experiments continues today with bayberry wax and olive oil. Bayberry wax is a plant-based wax made from the fruit of the Myrica faya shrub. The resulting wax is dry, crumbly, and green, and smells wonderfully of the forest. Candelilla...

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A Quick Guide to Cocoa Butter & Liquid Oil Ratios

Now that I’ve worked with three different waxes for these quick guides, I thought I’d try cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is a wonderful ingredient—brittle, cocoa scented, and velvety soft on the skin. It melts at about 34°C, which is just a few degrees below...

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A Quick Guide to Different Shea Butters

Shea butter was one of the first ingredients I fell in love with. First argan oil, second—shea butter. I kicked things off with a wee tub I found at the St. Lawrence Market, and followed that up with a bulk buy through a shop in Toronto’s Kensington Market....

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DIY Project Clean Up Tips

You might not guess it, but I get a surprisingly large number of questions about how to clean up DIY messes. Beeswax, shea butter, clays, and other assorted powders can make some pretty mighty messes that outclass a kid’s pizza party pretty fast. Here’s...

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A Quick Guide to Carnauba Wax & Liquid Oil Ratios

After the rather surprising success of my Quick Guide to Beeswax & Liquid Oil Ratios post, it seemed like a good idea to do more of them, with different ingredients. So, today I’m venturing further into vegan wax territory. Carnauba wax, also called Brazil...

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A Quick Guide to Coconut Oil & Beeswax Ratios

I find my quick guide to liquid oil and beeswax ratios so useful that I knew I’d have to extend it out to soft oils as well. Today we’re looking at beeswax and coconut oil, a perennial favourite in DIY body products. Coconut oil is a soft oil, solid at...

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My Soap Mould

My wooden soap mould is really awesome, and I get a fair amount of questions about it, so I thought I’d do an entry on it for anybody who’d like to re-create it. My dad made this for me a couple years ago, and it’s awesome. There are a few things...

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A Quick Guide to Candelilla Wax & Liquid Oil Ratios

After the rather surprising success of my Quick Guide to Beeswax & Liquid Oil Ratios post, it seemed like a good idea to do more of them, with different ingredients. So, today I’m venturing into vegan wax territory. Candelilla wax is a plant based wax,...

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Ingredients That Aren’t Worth Buying

It’s probably no surprise to you that I have an ingredient problem. So many things are just $3–$5 for the smaller size, and then the descriptions and reviews sound so promising… and before I know it I’ve justified a cart full of mysterious powders,...

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Tips on Creating Your Own DIY Recipes

As I’m sure you can tell, I’m not much for following recipes—I’d rather make up my own. Sometimes it works, sometimes it sort of works, and sometimes it’s a catastrophic, err, “learning experience”. Over the last few years...

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A Quick Guide to Beeswax & Liquid Oil Ratios

This is an experiment I’ve been meaning to conduct for ages. For as many DIY concoctions I’ve made over the years, I still found myself wondering how much beeswax to add to something to get a certain level of hardness or thickening. So, one short winter...

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DIY For Beginners

Happy New Year! If one of your resolutions is to make more and buy less (well, buy less finished stuffs and more ingredients, that is), this is the post for you—especially if you’re super new to this whole DIY thing. I’m going to walk you through which...

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A Quick Guide to Buying Your First Essential Oils

So, you’re getting into making your own body products and household cleaners. You’ve found a supplier, you’ve found their essential oils section… and whoa. There are hundreds. And they all sound amazing. The reviews rave about how this one...

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DIY Habits You Should Get Into

As much as I have resisted the idea, a lot of my assorted DIY-ing is scientific-ish. Drat. My high school science teacher was right (though I have never bothered to balance the equation of surplus electrons for anything I have ever made, and I can safely say I never...

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Natural Hair Care: Washing Your Brushes & Combs

One of my favourite articles on natural(ish) hair care dates back to the early 1900s, and is written by Mlle. Aline Vallandri, a woman who is famous for the length and health of her hair. The article is accompanied by a rather shocking (to modern eyes, at least)...

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A Quick Guide to Solubility

Let me preface this by saying I am no scientist, and this guide is definitely a quick one (and based very much on personal experience). I took 12th grade chemistry, and that’s it—and that was a while ago. I did, however, convince my brilliant friend Adrian to...

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