Articles & Experiments

Let’s Talk About Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid and I began our relationship over a year ago, with The Ordinary's Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 serum, and that relationship has since grown into quite the love story. HA is one of those ingredients I'd heard all sorts of lovely things about, but last year...

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Bentonite Clay and DIY Beauty

Today I'm really excited to share with you an interview on clays (specifically bentonite) with Ian Hutcheon, Professor Emeritus in Geochemistry at the University of Calgary. Bentonite clay has quite a bit of lore surrounding it in the DIY world. It's not at all...

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How to Scale Any Recipe

Recipe scaling is something I get a reasonable amount of questions about, so I thought I'd write out a how-to on how to scale any recipe so you can confidently make lots (or very little) of the things you love. I've also created a downloadable spreadsheet that you can...

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A Quick Guide to Stearic Acid & Liquid Oil Ratios

Today we're looking at stearic acid, and how it behaves when melted together with olive oil at different ratios. Stearic acid is a pretty humble ingredient—mine is unassuming white beads that are bigger than cetyl alcohol, but not by much. We use it to thicken and...

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So, You Want to Sell the Things You Make

This hobby, moreso than many others, seems to have people opening up their own Etsy shops and stalls at local markets within months of making their first lip balm. And frankly, that's a bit concerning. If you told a friend you'd just learned to make a great marinara...

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Why Homemade Sunscreen is Never a Good Idea

Back in 2012 I published a short post on DIY sunscreen, the gist of which was “don’t make it, you can’t know if it works.” That post continues to get a lot of traffic and quite a few comments, many of which aim to convince me that DIY sunscreen is (or can be) a good...

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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 that! It...

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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 34°C/93°F,...

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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 some starter...

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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 investigation. Here are the questions I...

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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 co-emulsifiers...

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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 all-important...

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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 body...

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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. After I...

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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 how I deal...

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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 wax is...

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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 room...

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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 that are particularly...

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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, derived...

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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, oils, and...

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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 I've learned some lessons when it comes to...

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