Homemade 2-Ingredient Lip Balm

Homemade 2-Ingredient Lip Balm // Mono + Co

These are a breeze to make, under 20 minutes was all it took after I finished experimenting with my wood butter.  I am using the same recipe as my wood butter : 3 parts coconut oil and 1 part beeswax.  Even this ratio is measured by eyeballing given the tiny batch I am making.  My yardstick for a successful lipbalm recipe is down to earth realistic: as long as the mixture hardens to a balm consistency at room temperature, I won’t frown over a few millilitres differences, not when everything is made of natural ingredients.

If you are interested, this beeswax to oil ratio guide seems to suggest that 1-3 is a good mix for balms.  In fact, on days when I can’t locate my chapstick, I simply smear some oil on my lips and I am good to go.

Homemade 2-Ingredient Lip Balm // Mono + Co

Adding coconut oil is a good idea here in Singapore since it stays in liquid state at room temperature, so the lip balm will be softer to apply.  If you prefer to perfume your lip balm with essential oils, neutral smelling carrier oil like almond and avocado oil will be a better choice.

Homemade 2-Ingredient Lip Balm // Mono + CoHomemade 2-Ingredient Lip Balm // Mono + Co

I mix and heat oil and beeswax in this tiny glass measuring beaker from Daiso.  The beeswax turns solid quickly after the beaker has been removed from water bath.  I am fighting against time to fill the container with the mixture, while the pouring stream starts to solidify.  It is therefore not a good idea use a tall and large mason jar that will end up with lots of solidified wax at the sides during transferring.  This 100ml beaker therefore seems to be the perfect size for my homemade skincare treats.  The spout also helps pouring the mixture into the narrow lipstick tube easier without the need to buy a tiny funnel.

I have some previously diy-ed cocoa butter beeswax lotion that are still way to hard to apply and taking forever to use up.  I will be melting a portion of it with a suitable carrier oil in this beaker to reconstitute into a lotion,  I think my dry feet will thank me.

5 Pantry Items As Natural Bath And Beauty Products

5 Pantry Items As Natural Bath And Beauty Products // Mono + Co

Through the course of switching to more eco-friendly body and skin care products with less packaging, I discovered a few gems in my kitchen.  Here are 5 that have become my must-haves in both the kitchen and bathroom.

++ Baking soda : This has so many uses around the house that I have been buying the larger 1.81kg box from Arms and Hammer in paper packaging instead of getting those 100g plastic bottles from the baking supplies aisle.  Occasionally, discount stores offer the 454g pack at $1.  I will add a teaspoon here and there for its clarifying and exfoliating properties.  It makes a great foot soak too, for removing feet odours especially from after wearing not so well ventilated covered shoes.  Brownie points for its paper packaging that can be recycled.

++ Organic raw honey : With the 1kg tub going slightly above $20, this is even cheaper than my gentle facial cream cleanser which isn’t even organic.  Do honey’s natural anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties sound like a good idea for a cleanser?  While commercial brands of facial cleanser add honey as one of the many ingredients on the list, I am going for the 100%-honey-and-nothing-else method to clean my face when I don’t wear makeup.  I first learned about plain raw honey as cleanser from a local skincare entrepreneur at an eco-event.  Nothing to mix or cook, simply smear a thin layer of raw honey over damp face, leave it for 10 minutes and rinse off.  The first few attempts left a long trail of ants on my bathroom basin and counter, I now know better to rinse using more gentle action with less messy splashes.  I use only about half a teaspoon each time so the 1 kg tub would have last me really long if I hadn’t used it as food in the kitchen.

5 Pantry Items As Natural Bath And Beauty Products // Mono + Co

Until I can find a bee farm here, I will definitely end up with a plastic container after I finish up the honey.  I am starting a habit to reuse plastic type with recycling symbol #5 (Polypropylene or PP) instead of throwing them into the recycling bins since they are of stronger nature, able withstand higher temperature and thus has more potential for reuse.  As opposed to #1 (PET) from bottled water and disposable food containers which should not be reused and can be easily avoided by bringing own water bottles and lunch boxes.

The tub from honey happens to be a PP5, so off with ideas to reuse the nice looking translucent container.  The handle makes it a convenient non-hot-food storage container, like this honey lemonade I made with “ugly” lemons I bought off the shelves on discount.

++ Apple Cider Vinegar : I religiously start my mornings with a warm mug of water mixed with a tablespoon of ACV.  ACV is also my go-to ingredient for homemade facial toner after diluted with either plain filtered water or brewed green tea.

5 Pantry Items As Natural Bath And Beauty Products // Mono + Co

The ACV comes in 2 sizes and I buy whichever is on sale.  The larger empty glass bottle is reused as a water pitcher at home, reminding me to keep myself hydrated throughout the day.  I have kept aside 2 of the smaller size version, waiting for a perfect aha moment to reuse them.  Glass recycling is not as lucrative anymore anyway, so I might as well reuse these glass bottles instead.

++ Coconut oil : I bought coconut oil a few years back to make granola with a sweet smelling whiff of coconut, but the oil has since doubled up as a makeup remover.  I used to buy makeup remover with mineral oil to take off water-proof mascara, though I no longer wear mascara, this oil-in-make up remover thing got stuck with me.  While harboring thoughts of making my own makeup remover to save some moolah sent me to the kitchen pantry where my huge jar of coconut oil sat.  An earlier oil cleansing method attempt which I tried with coconut oil was brushed off as too troublesome since I ended up with the chore of preparing a pail of hot water and a greasy washcloth in the laundry.  However, the attempt taught me that coconut oil is indeed a very effective natural makeup remover.  So now, instead of going through the whole oil cleansing ritual, hot towel and all, I only rub the oil over my face to dissolve the makeup and wash away the grease and makeup with diluted liquid castile soap.  I did not come up castile soap + coconut oil recipe on my own, though I think the method of separate application is.  It actually came from a few sources (here and here) that gave instructions on how to diy makeup remove pads, I simply remove the need to buy (and discard) cotton pads and come up with my own 2-step cleansing process, talking about adapting for zero waste.

++ Tea seed/ Camellia seed powder : This year, I am adding tea seed/ Camellia seed powder to my growing list of natural body and skin care ingredients.  The powder was first acquired, after a long search, as a dishwashing detergent alternative that I have written earlier.  I am not sure why I had to have a hard time looking for this product here in Singapore, given its effective cleansing properties, affordable pricing and its popularity in Taiwan and Hongkong.  Camellia oil, on the other hand, is easily available in health shops here, marketed as a cooking oil that has an even higher oleic acid than olive oil.  The Japanese and Koreans also add the oil to their skincare regime.

5 Pantry Items As Natural Bath And Beauty Products // Mono + Co

As for the powder with natural saponin, it is simply the residue which would otherwise be discarded from the process of camellia oil extraction.  The factories grind these seed residues into a very fine powder that can be dissolved in water, forming a paste or mixture for cleaning purposes.  Camellia seed powder, unfortunately, has a very short shelf life; one year if the packaging is unopened and 3 months after opening.  And after mixing with water to form a paste, it must be used up by end of the day as the process of decomposition starts to take place.  Given our humid weather here, I have been storing the powder in an airtight container with its past life as the ubiquitous Chinese new year goodies container.

5 Pantry Items As Natural Bath And Beauty Products // Mono + Co

I also reuse dessicants found in Japanese seaweed packets to keep the powder dry.  On the right is an older packet I have been placing inside the powder for past few months and the newer one is on the left.  I find it wasteful to discard these palm-size packets that come with my Daiso seaweed sheets (and they weigh more than all the sheets added up!) so I reuse them in my cookie tins, tea leaves and anything that would thank a dry storage place.  They should be food safe since they come in direct contact with the seaweed sheets anyway.

Because tea seed powder needs to be used up quickly once opened, I have been finding ways to use them beyond cleaning my kitchen counter.  Like those pantry items above, camellia seed powder has crept into my bathroom as skin/hair care products.  Take note that when using tea seed powder as shampoo or facial cleanser, always be careful not to let it get in eyes.  Like any product with saponin, they sting and irritate the eyes when in contact.

Shampoo

1 teaspoon to 200ml water.  Shake to mix in a squeeze bottle.  Apply to scalp, massage gently to clean, rinse completely.

User note: The first time I shampooed with camellia seed powder, I was sorely disappointed that my scalp didn’t feel squeaky clean like my kitchen dishes after washing.  The real difference came the next day, when I noticed that my normally greasy scalp was not oily at all. This kind of prove that the shampoo was working in its own gentle way; cleaning my scalp and hair without stripping away all the natural oil, so the body will not produce even more oil to compensate.

Facial Wash + Scrub

Because the powder is really fine, it makes a gentle cleanser and an even more gentle exfoliant.
Mix 1 teaspoon of tea seed powder with 60ml of water to form a runny mixture.  Rub gently over face to clean.  Rinse completely.

Facial Mask

Mix 1 tablespoon of tea seed powder with just enough water to form a mud-like consistency, thick enough to apply on face.
Spread mask on face, avoiding delicate eye area.  Leave for 10 minutes.
Wash with water, remember to keep eyes shut until all residue has been rinsed clean.

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Green Monday : DIY Bath/Foot Soak

Green Monday : DIY Bath/Foot Soak // Mono + Co

After a while, the habit of reading food ingredient label will automatically extend to the body care product section.  With more beauty trends focusing on naturally derived ingredients, I also started making some for my own use with very basic recipes starting with bath and body products.  It’s tempting to stock up on a variety of ingredients to keep up with the huge range of diy bath product recipes available online, but I am determined to stick to what I already have.  Apart from a few types of essential oils, sweet almond oil, and castile soap that I bought last year (Yes! All these lasted me that long!), I got the rest from my kitchen pantry: honey, baking soda, raw sugar, sea salt, coconut oil, oatmeal, apple cider vinegar, etc.  I am very tempted to buy some bentonite clay, but that will probably have to wait until I finish up my jar of store-bought clay mask.

I always tell my friends that they will get a lot more bang for their buck if they make home spa products at home.  Since I am making these products for my own use, chance are I will be super generous with the key ingredients such as honey or olive oil, food grade, no less and sometimes even organic.

I made this “Rosebuds + Himalayan Pink Salt + Epsom Salt” bath soak for a recent vacation and like it so much that I made more back home as a foot soak since I don’t have a bathtub. For this soak, I used a mix of Epsom salt and Himalayan salt, with more of the latter since it is the cheaper of the two.  The rose buds from floral tea section were honestly more for aesthetics purpose, to have an entire bathtub of water smell like rose tea, I will need way more than the 30+ buds that I have added here.  If you have a favorite essential oil that you like, add a few drops of that instead.  The addition of rosebuds is a nice touch if this is put together as a gift.

Green Monday : DIY Bath/Foot Soak // Mono + Co

This 300g bottle of bath/foot soak took me less than 5 minute to diy and cost less me than $2.  Make one for your regular home spa treat, or pack this in your luggage to soothe your aching muscles at the end of the day!

Here are some interesting links that I referred to when I decided on the Epsom and Himalayan salt mix, with some common precaution to note when taking bath soak:

// 2-salt combo mentioned here, here and here as a detox bath

// a pretty gift idea

// Epsom salt with baking soda, also for detox

// precautionary notes here state that Epsom salt are not recommended for patients with high blood pressure or severe varicose veins

// benefits of Epsom salt, and Epsom salt baths here

// or detox with just Himalayan salt

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DIY Facial Toner

DIY Facial Toner // Mono + Co

I occasionally turn to my kitchen pantry for a DIY no-frills face cleansing regime since my journey started to educate myself on healthier alternatives for the little things we eat and use every day.  Skincare is definitely on the list.  The task of looking for effective skincare products with the least chemicals and even lesser packaging materials is more daunting nowadays as the number of brands and product range increased with more advanced research and development.

What used to be a simple clean + moisturize procedure has since morphed into a multiple-step skincare routine that requires ever more products.  There is no way I can fit so many fancy products in my tiny bathroom, so I zoomed in on some of the edible key active ingredients and made them on my own.  I am lucky that I do not have sensitive/ acne-prone skin or allergy reaction to these food ingredients.  But I will always test new ingredients on a small patch first (behind the ear or back of the arm) before applying on the entire face and neck.

DIY Facial Toner // Mono + Co

So what can be made from my kitchen pantry?  Many skincare products sitting on the shelves have drawn their inspirations from natural food like fruit, honey, oat, seaweed, olive oil, etc.  I simply bump up their concentration level in my homemade version in place of chemicals with names that I can’t pronounce, like 100% raw honey facial cleanser, or a 50% oatmeal + 50% banana mask.

I like to make them in really small batches, sometimes enough for only one application for items such as facial masks, to ensure freshness and to avoid contamination and the inconvenience of storage.  I use various recipes in rotation, depending on what ingredients I have in stock.

DIY Facial Toner // Mono + Co

One of the first few items that I DIY-ed and still using now is a toner made with only apple cider vinegar and filtered water.  I tried making my own after reading how apple cider vinegar benefits skin beyond the kitchen.

I have been using the one from Bragg, the raw, unfiltered and organic version with the “mother”- the beneficial enzyme, visible floating around when the bottle is shaken.  This is more expensive than the filtered ones, but a little goes a long way, after dilution, it costs less to make than buying the commercial toner.

I dilute 1 part vinegar with 8 parts filtered water, making 100ml or less each batch and store it in a clean glass bottle.  There are recipes out there that use more vinegar than mine but I thought it would sting my skin and choose the safer, more diluted recipe.

DIY Facial Toner // Mono + Co

Here’s another variation of the toner : some afternoons, I would save a few tablespoons of strong green tea from my teapot to mix with the vinegar instead of filtered water for extra anti-oxidant properties.  I usually make just enough for one application as this mixture needs to be store in the fridge.

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