OK, so you’ve found yourself heading for the deep end of the DIY pool. You’ve got a great pantry of carefully selected ingredients—ones with many uses and reasonable price tags. But now you’re itching to try some new things. Some fun, slightly more pricey things. There’s certainly no shortage of ingredients to try, but not all of them are worth the investment. Here are some I’ve really enjoyed playing with.

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Silk

Silk is probably my favourite luxury ingredient—I add it to a lot of recipes, and I’m always amazed at its versatility. It improves the performance of lotions, serums, and masks. It helps manage moisture (both too much and too little!), encourage healing, and adds a slight sheen to hair and skin. To be honest, I can’t think of anything off the top of my head that you couldn’t add silk to.

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A few different types of lavender essential oil

If you like lavender, it’s worth spending a bit of extra money to try a few different kinds. I’d recommend 40/42 for soaping, but after that give French, Belgian, Population, and others a try. Read the reviews, try a few, and see what you think—I’ve found it to be wonderfully educational to do little scent tests and pick out the differences between the different varieties.

P.S. This holds true for all essential oils you really like, lavender is just one of the easiest essential oils buy multiple varieties of. Others include the mints, chamomile, and eucalyptus.

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Carmine

The only reason to buy carmine (made from the cochineal beetle) is if you want to make lip stain, but if you do, it is irreplaceable. Its colour and potency simply cannot be matched with any other natural ingredients.

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Aloe vera 200x concentrate powder

It’s a bit of an upfront investment, but in the end it’s actually quite a bit cheaper than buying the bottled plain juice, which is often just re-hydrated from this powder anyways. You’ll also enjoy the ability to make both dry and wet aloe products. I got mine from Saffire Blue.

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Bamboo bioferment

If you miss the feeling of silicone, bamboo bioferment is a fun new toy to play with. It’s great for hair products, but can also be added to cosmetics, creams, and more. It’s made from the silica that naturally occurs in bamboo, and adds great slip to products.

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Phytokeratin

Keratin is the protein that makes up our hair and skin, and it’s used in the famous (or infamous) Brazilian Blow Outs. It’s great for hair, and the “phyto” version is made from plant sources instead of animal sources. I definitely recommend picking some up if you love making hair products like mists and leave-in conditioners. Unfortunately the supplier I got mine from (New Directions) has since discontinued it, and I’m not sure where it’s available at this point.

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Allantoin

This common nitrogenous compound is commonly found in diaper cremes and other products for dry, irritated skin. It aids in natural keratin production and is fantastic in anything you make that’s for healing or soothing skin. And, because it’s an odorless white powder it incorporates easily into pretty much anything that has a water part.

All these products, unless otherwise mentioned, are available from New Directions Aromatics and/or Saffire Blue.

So! Those are my top picks? What are yours? Have any questions about something you’re thinking about trying?

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