Self-care can be energising, relaxing and free. Cherie Pasion shares her DIY self-care products that you can make easily from ingredients already in your pantry.

In this fast-paced world, it’s important but increasingly challenging to carve out time and space to fill our cups.  For many of us – busy in that endless juggle of family, work and other areas of our personal lives – self-care and taking time out to nurture ourselves isn’t always high on our priority list.

When it comes to giving ourselves some much-needed TLC, oftentimes we need to grab the opportunity when it presents itself.

That’s why I’m a big proponent of simple and fuss-free solutions. In this article, I’d like to offer three DIY pampering ideas – a body scrub, bath salts and a face mask – that you can make in a matter of minutes from ingredients commonly found in your pantry or fridge. If you don’t have them on hand, they are the sort of ingredients you can pick up easily and affordably on your next grocery shop.

Not only are these DIY recipes quick and easy to whip up, they have some other benefits too:

  • Lighter on the planet and the back pocket – by using organic and/or natural ingredients you have on hand or are easily accessible you are reducing waste and saving money.
  • Engages your creative self – DIY inspires you to have some fun and get creative. Thereby helping to reduce stress and anxiety, instil a sense of accomplishment and allow yourself to express and respond to what you’re feeling.
  • Helps adopt an informed, no-tox lifestyle – by creating your own self-care pampering products, you know exactly what you’re putting onto your skin.
  • Helps you feel good – we all need a bit of TLC to help us relax, feel good, and show ourselves some appreciation.

DIY body scrub

After you try making body scrub, you won’t want to fork out the big bucks buying store-bought again. It’s so easy and fun to make.

Body scrub is a great way to look after yourself – as it exfoliates and hydrates your skin, leaving it soft and smooth. It’s recommended to use this scrub on your body (not face) and use no more than 2-3 times per week.

When you strip body scrub back to the bare essentials, all you need is sugar and oil. I like to use organic raw cane or coconut sugar and organic coconut oil. You can also use macadamia oil, sweet almond oil or even olive oil. My personal preference is coconut oil, as I like the smell, it’s hydrating and anti-microbial.

To make a basic sugar and oil scrub, use a 2:1 ratio. For example, 1 cup of sugar to ½ cup of oil. Simply stir together, then spoon into a reusable container. (Top tip: If you’re storing the scrub in the shower, you may wish to keep in a non-breakable container such as a plastic container or aluminium tin).

Once you have the basic scrub covered, you might wish to get more creative. In that case, explore what’s in your cupboard and have some fun. Coffee grounds are a great addition and are thought to promote healthy skin. If you’re making the scrub for immediate use, you can even save waste by using coffee grounds straight from your espresso machine. Otherwise, use dry coffee grounds to avoid spoilage.

To make a coffee sugar scrub, use equal quantities of coffee, sugar and oil. For example, ½ cup sugar, ½ cup ground coffee and ½ cup oil.

Other ingredients you can use from your pantry include raw cacao powder, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, lavender flowers and honey. If you have essential oils (100% pure), you may wish to add a few drops of your favourite scents. Peppermint, orange, sage and lavender oils work well. Otherwise try Australian bush oils such as lemon myrtle, which is relaxing and uplifting and supports Australian-made.

When mixing up your scrubs, play around with consistency. Some people prefer scrub to have a dry and crumbly consistency (in that case add more sugar or dry ingredients such as coffee or cacao), while others like it wetter (add more oil). There’s no hard and fast rule, so play around and see what suits you.

To use, gently massage small spoonfuls of the scrub into your skin, and then rinse off in warm water.

Doing the maths: I’ve seen similar scrubs retail at hand-made markets for anywhere between $15-30 and in large supermarkets for $12-15 for a 300g tub. In comparison, you can pick up 1kg of organic sugar for approximately $3 and 500ml of organic coconut oil for $5-6. By utilising what you have in the pantry already, you can keep the costs down. If you purchase essential oils, for example 50ml lavender oil can be purchased for $10-15, the investment will go far given the small quantity needed.

DIY bath salts

This lovely treat for your body and soul is extremely easy to make. It takes less than a minute and requires only four ingredients, although you could simply get away with just using epsom salts and still reap the benefits.

The base of the bath salt mix is epsom salt (magnesium sulfate), which is known for relieving muscle aches and pains and detoxifying the skin. Epsom salt, if you don’t have on hand, is readily accessible at major supermarkets (1kg for $6). The other main ingredient is pink Himalayan salt, which can be picked up for less than $5.

The ratio for this recipe is 1 cup Epsom salts, ½ cup Himalayan salt.

Now it’s time to get creative. If you have essential oils at home, you may wish to add 10-15 drops. Lavender oil is a calming scent to add. If you have dried flowers in your tea collection or from your garden – add those too. A few rose petals, cornflower petals or dried lavender add a further sensory dimension.

Mix all the ingredients together and store in a reusable container. (Top tip: DIY bath salts presented in test tubes or cute little jars make terrific Mother’s Day gifts, or end-of-year thank you gifts for teachers.)

DIY face mask

Oatmeal and honey. These two staple breakfast ingredients can do more than just attract Goldilocks. They can also give your face a relaxing boost. Oatmeal is good as an anti-inflammatory and is soothing. It also has a gentle exfoliating action and contains Vitamin E. Honey is moisturising, soothing and has anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant properties.

To make this DIY face mask, simply grind up ½ cup oatmeal in a coffee grinder or food processor until it resembles flour and place in a mixing bowl. Next add a tablespoon of hot water. Mix until smooth. Lastly, add a tablespoon of raw honey. It’s recommended to make just what you can use, as it’s perishable and doesn’t store longer than a day.

Before using, wash your face with your normal cleanser. Then massage the oatmeal and honey mix in circular motions onto your face, avoiding your eyes and mouth. Leave until the mixture dries, or around 10-15 minutes. (Top tip: While waiting for the mask to dry, you may wish to soak in the bath enjoying your DIY bath salts. Double the pampering!)

Rinse the mask off, preferably over a bowl or a sink with a drain cover, to avoid the oatmeal clogging up your drains (instead add to your compost). Pat your face dry, apply your regular moisturiser and sit back and bask in your soft and supple skin.

Final thoughts on self-care for less

While this article focused on pampering, self-care is more than just relaxing in a bath and applying scrubs and potions.

Self-care means different things to different people, and you don’t need to spend money to ensure you’re supporting your physical, mental and emotional health in the best way possible.

Self-care could mean setting personal boundaries, going for a walk in nature, keeping a gratitude journal, spending time with loved ones or even organising your sock draw.

You know better than anyone else what will bring you back to a place of equilibrium. Hopefully this article has shown that you can find inspiration in unlikely places.