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 ingredients to get, the basic concepts you should know, the projects you should do first, and where to go from there. Sound good? Cool!

Massage oil, body butter, and lip balm are all made entirely from oil soluble ingredients, so they're nice and easy.

First off—ingredients & equipment. You can spend a fortune on butters, oils, essential oils, extracts, and everything else. You don’t need to, I promise.

  1. Starter ingredients & shopping lists
  2. Starter essential oils & shopping lists
  3. Equipment you need
  4. DIY Equipment I use all the time

I order pretty much from New Directions Aromatics and Saffire Blue, and Amazon also has almost everything you’ll need. I’ve also got a big list of places to shop here, featuring shops all over the world.


Ok, now that you’ve got your ingredients ordered, it’s time for a few basic DIY principles while they’re in the mail. These principles will help you learn about what ingredients do in different concoctions, and why certain things don’t work.

  1. A quick guide to carrier oil substitutions
  2. A quick guide to essential oil substitutions
  3. A quick guide to solubility
  4. DIY habits you should get into
  5. Preservatives: When to use, Myths & Misconceptions, Which one & how much
  6. A quick guide to the metric system, part 1 & part 2 (bonus reading for Americans)


Phew. That was quite a lot of reading, but now that you’ve got your ingredients and your basic concepts down, it’s time to make stuff! YEAH.


I always like to tell people to start with lip balm. That’s because it’s something most people use already, and they’re used to paying obscene amounts for it. DIY lip balm is also very easy to make (no emulsions, it’s just oil + oil), so you get to start off with a nice success to boost your confidence. Here’s two of my favourite recipes:

  1. Super Simple 2-Ingredient Sticky Coconut Lip Balm (watch the video!)
  2. Naked Lip Balm
  3. Peppermint Cocoa Lip Balm


Awesome! From there, try a few other oil based things, like body butter and body butter bars.

  1. Perfect body butter bars
  2. Massage truffles
  3. Whipped cocoa-coco body butter
  4. Eczema salve
  5. Argan oil face serum
  6. Massage oil

Somewhere in here you should definitely try out a homemade face mask, since you’re doing so well with all your homemade goodies & all.


Now, as you’re going, ask yourself these questions to help analyze what you’re doing:

  1. What category (liquid, soft, brittle) does each carrier oil/butter fit into?
  2. What is each ingredient doing in the recipe? Thickening, hardening, moisturizing, scent, exfoliation, etc.
  3. What would happen if I left this out, or used twice as much? (Hypothesize & then try it with a small amount!)

Always remember to take notes and label things!

Feeling good about all that? Got the oil + oil thing down? Sweet! I think we’re ready to try some lotion. No worries, with the emulsifying wax, lotion is really, really easy to make. Just read the instructions, measure carefully, and you’re off to the races. Here’s my how-to video on lotion; I walk you through the entire process so you can’t fail 🙂

  1. Labdanum & Petitgrain Lotion
  2. Manly Winter Lotion
  3. Winter Healing Lotion
  4. L’Occitane Lavender Lotion


After lotions, if you’d like to add some solubilizer (polysorbate 20, a dispersion style emulsifier that doesn’t thicken things like e-wax does), you can move into room sprays, spritzes, and hair mists.

  1. Anti-Frizz Hair Mist
  2. Chamomile, Lemon, & Cinnamon Highlighting Hair Mist
  3. Air Conditioning in a Bottle
  4. Sleepy Time Pillow Spray

Got that? Awesome! Those are the basics. From here you might want more ingredients to try more things, but you’ve got the basics down. From here you can head towards soap making and DIY cosmetics (starter article 1, starter article 2). Well done!

Soap and lotion are both emulsions, and use lye and emulsifying wax (respectively) as their emulsifiers.

Last but not least… if you’ve bunged something up and need a good laugh, check out my blogs on my abject failures—part 1 and part 2!