At NU, we’ve declared February the month of self-love! We’re in the midst of winter and sometimes, we can’t help but feel a little gloomy. So let’s be kind to ourselves and take care of our body and soul. Our motto this month: #LoveYourself

One of our first workshops of the month was about homemade personal care products, led by our expert NUbie Rebecca. As promised, we are sharing her favourite DIY recipes below.

There are so many advantages to doing your own products. First, the fun. Doing and making is both playful and relaxing. Second, the cost. #DIY products are made of simple ingredients. When you buy them in bulk, you save money by buying only the quantity you need for your recipe, and you avoid wasteful packaging. Third, the health benefits. You know what goes into your product. You pick natural ingredients with proven benefits. Your products are free from the chemicals and additives that can be found in most ready-made beauty products. Fourth, the results. These products work. You will feel the difference and enjoy the sensation of balanced and smooth skin and hair. 

Here are the recipes that Rebecca shared during her workshop, made with bulk ingredients from the store. We hope you will enjoy them as much as we do!

Stimulating Coffee Scrub for exfoliating dull, dry skin:

Whether you’re picking up a latte on the go, relaxing with a book and a cup of joe at your favourite cafe, or simply brewing coffee in your own home, we can all agree that this warm drink can make a difference in cheering up your morning. But have you ever considered using the bean in your day-to-day routine?

Coffee grounds are an amazing natural exfoliant, plus the caffeine acts as an antioxidant on the skin, revealing softer, glowing skin when you rinse it off. The scrub also calls for honey, preferably raw honey as it has many benefits, such as being antibacterial and very cleansing. The rhassoul clay will make it into a face mask that you can keep on for approx. 15 minutes; you could use the two ingredients to scrub any dull or dry areas on its own, or add the clay to help draw out any dirt, oils, or even makeup remaining on the skin!

Ingredients: 3 tbsp freshly ground coffee (or used grinds) / 2 tbsp raw honey / 2 tbsp rhassoul clay (optional for mask)

Directions: Mix all ingredients together and apply a coat to face. Lightly scrub on skin, or let sit for about 15 minutes for a mask. Remove with a warm cloth.

This is an easy DIY scrub, and a great alternative to using plastic exfoliating beads. I’ve been making this recipe for years as coffee has always been a household staple. Most of us brew our own coffee at home, so whenever you’re brewing your next cup of joe, save the grounds for later!

Ubtan Clay Mask for bright, glowing skin:

This is an Ayurvedic recipe that I had initially for myself tried a few years ago, and fell in love. It’s a simple recipe, using common household ingredients (which you may also find easily in bulk), with no added chemicals and packaging. Ubtan is a traditional Indian clay mask, originally used by brides before their wedding, that keeps skin clear and glowing.

Ingredients: 1 tbsp chickpea flour / 1 tbsp french green clay / 1 tbsp yogurt / 1 tsp turmeric / juice of half a lime

DirectionsMix all ingredients together into a thick paste and apply a coat to face. If the paste is too thin, add more chickpea flour, if the paste is too thick add more yogurt. Let sit for 10-15 min. The mask will start to feel dry, which you can afterwards rub to exfoliate then wash off with a warm cloth. You may use a light cleanser and moisturizer afterwards. Store in fridge for up to 4 days.

The french clay used is not only rich in minerals, leaving the skin refreshed and toned, but is also cleansing and exfoliating, alongside the chickpea flour, the base of the mask, that also lightly exfoliates the skin. Turmeric packs a punch, so it’s important to not go over the recommended dosage. That being said, when used sparingly, it brightens the skin and leaves a beautiful glow, as well as having anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. The yogurt is not only softening on the skin, but it’s packed with probiotics that help balance your skin’s pH, alongside the lime, that also brightens. I personally used coconut yogurt as it is vegan and while I only needed a tablespoon, I decided to eat the rest, but you can use whatever you have on hand! This is a mask that you can use in the summer or winter, to brighten or moisturize, and while I do like to listen to what my skin needs, this is definitely an all-encompassing mask you can use weekly!

Sugary-sweet lip scrub

Let’s face it; whether you’re prepping for Valentine’s Day or you want to show off that new rouge à lèvres, soft lips are a must, especially throughout the winter season, and sometimes the old lip balm just doesn’t cut it. We’ve already done a little exfoliating with our coffee scrub and dabbled in it again with our Ubtan mask, but this time around we’re focusing on our lips!

Ingredients: 1 tsp of honey / 2 tsp of brown sugar

Directions: Mix ingredients together until you get a smooth consistency, while still slightly grainy (from the sugar). Gently rub on your lips and either lick off or remove with a washcloth. Follow up with your favourite lip balm. It’s helpful to keep a little pot to store it in for future use!

This is definitely a recipe that calls for simple household items, which is what I love about it. The ingredients I listed allow for 2-3 uses, but you can up the amount while still keeping the 1:2 ratio and store for future use. Also, the honey can be substituted for coconut oil, or any softening oil, for those that can’t use it. The sugar scrub is something I’ve incorporated into may daily routine; after I wash my face, I always do a little lip scrub before I moisturize! As long as you follow up with a good lip balm, or even some coconut oil, this is something you can do daily! Go ahead and rock the world with your pout!

Honey-oatmeal Cleanser for soft skin:

I like to describe honey as a universal life-saver. I put it in my tea, in my hair, and in my lip scrubs, but did you know you can also wash your face with it? Honey in its raw form is antibacterial, so it is very helpful to not only cleanse the skin but also zap away any acne or impurities. Honey is also a humectant, meaning that when it’s on the skin, it helps to draw in moisture and lock it in. This is a recipe that I found a while ago and altered to be more hydrating to the skin. I like to treat my skin to it every so often, or even massage it on my skin when I get eczema or dry patches in the winter.

Ingredients: ¼ cup of raw honey / 1 tbsp of castile soap / 2 tbsp of white kaolin clay / ½ cup of partially ground oats or quick oats / ¼ cup of warm water

Directions: Mix together in a bowl and lightly whisk so that everything is evenly blended into a paste-like consistency. If the mixture is too watery, add more kaolin clay. If the mixture is too dry, add more water. Store in a jar or squeeze-bottle.

There might be a few ingredients that are new to some folks. Castile soap is a natural and biodegradable multipurpose soap that can be used to wash the face and body alone, amongst other personal care and cleaning. Similar to honey, castile soap is antibacterial but can also be used on sensitive skin types, such as eczema or acne-prone skin. White kaolin clay is a more gentle clay, but also works wonders for cleansing as it retains oils and dirt like any other clay. The oats and warm water mix together to create oatmeal/oat milk-like benefits; oatmeal, aside from being a delicious breakfast, is very moisturizing and nourishing on the skin. Since I was a baby, I have suffered from eczema, and my mom would always make an oat milk bath by putting oats in a cheese cloth or sock and massaging it on my skin. The partially ground oats that aren’t absorbed by the water act as a slight, gentle exfoliant for the skin, ensuring the softest skin possible. Feel free to cater this recipe to your own needs as well, for example, adding ground almonds for more exfoliation or switching up the kaolin clay for rhassoul clay if you need a stronger cleanse.

Vegan avocado Hair mask for hydration and balance

I inherited thick, curly hair from my father. My younger sister inherited fine, straight hair from my mother. Growing up in a mixed-race family made me understand one thing- there are so many different types of hair out there, but we all need to manage our manes in one way or another. I love putting oils or honey in my hair, doing ACV rinses and deep conditioning, and I used to straighten my mane, so I personally need as much care as I can get. My sister on the other hand needs just a simple wash and she’s good to go. We both agree on one thing though; nothing beats a night in together with a hair mask on. This is a recipe I mostly built myself, with few inspirations from products I’ve used, masks I’ve tried and advice I have been given. Hair masks aren’t just a Sunday night treat, they’re meant to bring life back to your locks and protect them for the flat iron or windy storms. This is a vegan recipe that can be customized depending on your hair care needs.

Ingredients: 1 ripe avocado (pureed) / 2 tbsp of olive oil / 2 tbsp of coconut oil (liquid) / 1-2 tsp of apple cider vinegar / juice of half an orange

Directions: Puree the avocado and warm the coconut oil beforehand, then mix the avo, olive oil and coconut oil  into a bowl and whisk well, ensuring there are no clumps. Then add the ACV and orange juice. Rub the mixture on your hair and scalp, let sit for 15-30 min then wash.

Let’s dive in; the avocado acts as the base of the hair mask because it’s packed with vitamins and protein, allowing restoration in the hair follicle and giving the hair a soft, shiny feel. The olive oil and coconut oil are a given, they’re hydrating on the hair. If you have very fine hair, just using the olive oil is enough. If you have thicker hair, feel free to add more olive oil or sub for any other hydrating oils. The apple cider vinegar restores the hair’s pH, gets rid of any bacteria or dandruff, removes any product build-up, balances out the oils, I could go on. It definitely has that vinegary smell, which is why I added the orange, not only for a beautiful citrus scent, but to balance the hair’s pH and, with the help of the vitamin C and folic acid, stimulate hair growth. Again, customize this mask to your hair’s needs; I sometimes leave it on for an hour, though my sister only does aprox. 20 minutes. Masks are amazing for locking the hydration into those locks, though there isn’t much need to do them more than weekly or biweekly when you have a great shampoo/conditioning routine. It’s awesome when you can do one using all household items though! 5 ingredients. 30 minutes. One mask.