Why do you use so many new/fancy/hard-to-get ingredients?

When I create projects and formulations to share on Humblebee & Me I am constantly trying to strike a balance between keeping things interesting and keeping things accessible. I launched Humblebee & Me in late 2011; when I started I was posting 7x a week, then 4x a week, and now I post 2x a week on both YouTube and here on the blog. As of early 2021, I have shared over 1300+ posts and 500+ videos featuring a wide variety of different formulations and projects using all kinds of ingredients.

To start with: there are a lot of ingredients out there that can be used in DIY cosmetics. Far, far more than we use in cooking. UL Prospector has listings for over 21.5k different ingredients for use in personal care products! As home crafters, we have access to a fairly small selection of those ingredients when you take into account allllll the things big manufacturers and brands can purchase. Some of these ingredients are simple, single things (like carrier oils or vegetable glycerin), and some are more complex ingredients made from blending multiple raw ingredients (things like emulsifying waxes, preservatives, and many actives).

Some ingredients are more accessible than others, and some countries have better availability than others. The most accessible ingredients tend to be carrier oils, butters, essential oils, waxes, some clays, some herbs, and food-type things like starches. The country with the best ingredient availability is the United States. Most countries that have good DIY ingredient availability will have easy access to some things that are impossible to source in other countries. Prices can also vary a lot from country to country.

As a Canadian, I don’t have easy access to everything Americans do—I’m very familiar with not being able to purchase things locally (or even nationally). I understand the headache of international shipping, currency conversions, and duty fees. I’m constantly replying to people asking me if I have projects using X ingredient with “no, I can’t get it in Canada”.

I try not to use too many exotic things all at once, but I also have them and want to play with them. I’m constantly learning, experimenting, and growing as a creator, and the projects I share reflect that. I try very consciously to balance sharing formulations with fancier ingredients (especially if the fancy ingredient is hard to substitute out) with simpler projects like clay masks, balms, body butters, soaps, and toners. You might be surprised to hear that those more accessible recipes are typically my least popular posts!

Also, I’ve said it before, but DIY is cost-effective, not cheap. Just like with cooking at home, there is an up-front investment for ingredients, but most of the things we use are pretty inexpensive per batch or per usage, especially when compared to high-end store-bought products.

I’m trying to keep things accessible and affordable, but I also want to keep things interesting. There’s only so much I can do with inexpensive, readily available ingredients—especially ones that are readily available globally. I’m trying, and I’m certainly conscious of it, but I publish twice a week and have been doing so (or more!) since 2011. I need to branch out to new ingredients to keep things interesting and to keep producing new content, and not everything is going to be cheap and available in your town, state, or country. If a particular formulation doesn’t speak to you, or the ingredients aren’t available, just wait a few days—I’ll share something else! I also have a very extensive catalogue of past projects for you to peruse (over ONE THOUSAND!), so if one lotion formula uses some ingredients you don’t have, there’s a good chance one of the other 60+ lotion formulas I’ve shared over the years will meet your needs 😊

You can find my simpler DIYs here.

I hope that provides some insight! Happy making 🙂

Posted in: Ingredients