Homemade Toiletry Recipes: Soap, Shampoo, and More | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Homemade Shampoos, Toothpaste, & Deodorant

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DIY Toiletry Recipes

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We cook our own food, so why not try whipping up products that get absorbed by our skin and hair, too? Here are recipes for shampoos, conditioner, moisturizer, a bath soak, and toothpaste. Made using pantry ingredients, they’re safe, fun, and easy on the wallet!

So many hair and body care products are not only overpriced but also loaded with chemicals. You’ll feel better knowing what’s in the stuff that goes on your skin—and we guarantee your skin will look and feel better, too.

“Almond meal … acts as a pleasing alternative to soap at any time. It softens, cleanses, and whitens the skin.”
–The 1916 Old Farmer’s Almanac

Homemade Toothpaste

Washing your hands with toothpaste and water will eliminate fish odor.

Even today, baking soda remains in the lead ingredient for oxidizing stains and removing plaque without removing tooth enamel. A combination of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide lifts particles caught between teeth and kills bacteria.

Do not add anything to the baking soda to make it more abrasive. You may want to add an artificial sweetener for taste (which is essentially all some of those “natural” toothpastes do), but do not add real sugar which would promote tooth decay.

  1.  “Bare-Bones” Toothpaste: Mix 1 teaspoon baking soda with 1/2 teaspoon hydrogen peroxide; make a paste; scoop up with your toothbrush and proceed as you normally would.
  2. “Minty” Toothpaste: Mix together 6 teaspoons of baking soda, 1/3 teaspoon salt, 4 teaspoons glycerin, and 15 drops of peppermint or wintergreen extract. Depending on how much you use at a time, this recipe is good for 15 to 20 applications and should be stored in any appropriately sized container with a snug lid.
  3. “Modern” Toothpaste: Mix baking soda with equal amount of coconut oil, creating a paste. Add an essential oil in mint or herb if desired (5 drops per tablespoon of paste). Add sea salt for taste (a dash for every two tablespoons paste).

Note: Check with your dentist before usage. The American Dental Association only accepts toothpastes containing fluoride and recommends fluoridation of community water supplies. This is a debated subject; we refer you to your respective health care provider for their professional recommendation.leaf-3070153_1920_full_width.jpg

Eye Make-up Remover (Safe and Gentle)

  • Save on those very expensive eye make-up removers with this recipe. Combine 1 tablespoon canola oil, 1 tablespoon castor oil, and 1 tablespoon light olive oil.
  •  For use on your entire body, put some castor oil in a little spray bottle. To maximize absorption, spray it on your skin after showering and gently rub it in while your skin is still warm and your pores are open.

Homemade Moisturizer

  • For healthy skin, add rosemary oil to the bathwater.
  • Another age-old tradition to prevent wrinkles around the eyes is to apply a drop of castor oil around each eye before going to bed. Castor oil acts as a humectant, meaning that it attracts and retains moisture in the skin. This promotes healthier skin cell rejuvenation. Some plastic surgeons apply castor oil around an incision after surgery for this exact reason.

Bath Soak for Healthy Skin

Tales of the queen of Egypt, Cleopatra, tell of her beauty and her radiant skin. Her secret? Apparently she used to take frequent baths in fresh milk! Researchers now have found that the lactic acid in milk is the cause of the stunning skin. Alpha hydroxy acids help loosen dead skin and give healthy skin a deep cleansing.

  • As the tub fills, pour in two cups to one quart of fresh milk or butter milk. Fresh milk can be substituted with one cup of powdered milk. A few drops of lavender essential oil may increase the relaxing effects. Soak in the tub for at least 20 minutes and gently massage your skin with a wash cloth or a loofah to rub off all the dead skin.
  • After taking your bath, drain the tub and take a quick shower to rinse off all the milk on your body.

Homemade Deodorant

The best homemade deodorant contains baking soda. You equal parts baking soda and cornstarch. OR substitute cornstarch with arrowroot powder if cornstarch bothers your skin. Then just pat it on your underarm. If you prefer more of a paste, add a few drops of coconut oil. 

  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch OR arrowroot powder.
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil to make a paste.
  • Some readers say that mixing in a few drops of anti-bacterial tea tree oil makes it even more effective.

Note: For those allergic to coconut oil, substitute with half as much of a liquid oil such as almond, jajoba or avocado oil.


Homemade Shampoo

You can make your own shampoo with ingredients you have in your kitchen. Seriously. For cleaning alone (without styling), a homemade recipe really does eliminate oil and grime as well as any store product so you’ll have clean, shiny hair.

  • Mix ½ cup water and ½ cup castile vegetable-based liquid soap. Or dilute a bar of castile soap in water. (Castile is a vegetable-based soap.) The shampoo won’t suds like a store brand but it will clean. Rinse with warm water and then lemon juice. 
    • Optional: Add 1 teaspoon light vegetable oil or glycerine to the mix (omit if you have oily hair)
    • Optional: For scent, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil or buy scented castile soap or substitute ½ cup herbal tea —such as chamomile, lavender, and rosemary—for water.
  • One of our favorite homemade shampoo recipes uses baking soda (which opens the hair shaft and rids it of dirt and debris) followed immediately by an acid rinse of cider vinegar in warm water (which closes the shaft and leaves hair smooth and manageable). Give this two-step process a try.
  • If regular shampooing with water is impossible for some reason, try mixing 1 tablespoon salt and 1/2 cup cornmeal in a shaker bottle. Sprinkle lightly onto hair, then brush thoroughly to get rid of dirt and oil. A combination of baby powder and cornstarch can also be used the same way.

Customize With Essential Oils

If you like your store-bought shampoo but would like to add to it a little, the essential oils that old-timers relied on for hair care really do work.

  • To nourish and moisturize, pour some shampoo or conditioner into your palm and add a few drops of cedar wood, chamomile, clary sage, lavender, rosemary, thyme, or ylang-ylang.
  • To add thickness and body, use cedar wood or clary sage.
  • To reduce oiliness, try bergamot, cedar wood, lavender, lemon, pine, rosemary, or ylang-ylang.
  • To add luster, try sweet basil, Roman chamomile, or lavender.
  • To detangle hair, use chamomile, grapefruit, marigold, passionflower, or sweet clover, and to relieve dandruff, try cedar wood, clary sage, lemon, pine, rosemary, or tea tree.

See our natural health editor’s shampoo recipe which uses only 2 ingredients!

We hope you enjoyed our DIY recipe ideas. We’d love to hear what works for you!

About The Author

Heidi Stonehill

Heidi Stonehill is a senior editor for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, where she focuses much of her time on managing content development for the Almanac’s line of calendars. Read More from Heidi Stonehill

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