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I get asked this question a lot, “Where do I start? There's so much to learn! What should I buy first?” Those can be difficult questions to answer! Over a period of three years I have learned so much and changed so much that I sometimes don't know where to start, myself! I decided that it was time for me to give you a definitive guide on where to start for yourselves. Because some like to start with cleaning products or essential oils, while others prefer to make their own beauty products and cosmetics, I decided to make you SEVERAL shopping lists, that way no matter where you choose to start changing in your life, you have a shopping list to do it with!
Start with your diet and go from there
The absolute hardest part of this journey to a healthier and hippier lifestyle is learning to change your eating habits. To this day I am still fighting this one, which is why I say to start here because you will forever be learning new things and making adjustments to your diet. Not to mention having to fight yourself over foods and drinks that you absolutely LOVE even though you KNOW just how bad they are for you. I am not here to tell you to eat vegan, vegetarian, paleo, or any of the other hardcore subsections of the eating crowd. Those are all your own choices to make. The most important thing I can tell you about changing your diet, no matter which type of diet you decide to choose (because they all can be healthy or unhealthy depending on how you do it!):
- Buy as much organic as possible. This is so important. The pesticides and herbicides that are sprayed on the non-organic foods are detrimental to your health, including your immunities. My mom and I both suffer from Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. When we made the choice to buy as much organic as possible and really choose our meats and dairy that was grass fed, we stopped getting cysts on our ovaries. I also personally suffer from Endometriosis (I have already had one laparoscopy for it) and this one change in my diet has made me not have another endometriosis episode since my diet change. The hormone disruptors in the foods I was eating was causing my mom and I serious hormonal issues!
- Look at the ingredients and buy whole foods. If the package has a long list of ingredients, it most likely contains a whole bunch of synthetic ingredients that are not good for you. If you can't pronounce the ingredients on your ice cream container, then you might not have real ice cream in hand! Also, just because a food professes itself to be vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free/paleo/etc. doesn't mean it's healthy. There are tons of over processed vegan foods that you can buy, and eating a ton of them will make you gain weight and unhealthy.
- Going with the previous point, make your own stuff. It's so much easier to control the ingredients if you are making it yourself. It actually saves you a LOT more money to make it yourself too! The amount of money you spend on a jar of season salt or taco seasoning is crazy compared to just mixing it up yourself! I make my own bread at home, because of the ingredients in a lot of bread found in restaurants and the grocery stores cause my to break out in eczema on my hands. When I make my own bread with organic flour, I do not have this problem. Making your own condiments can also be very beneficial considering that the majority of products on the market are made with high fructose corn syrup, artificial dyes, and more! I have lost weight, not from watching what foods I eat, but watching the additives that go into my body.
Get the toxic chemicals from your home – make your own cleaning supplies and save money too!
All of the cleaning supplies that I was using before I decided to change the way that I lived, was doing me in. I was breathing in and getting on my skin toxic chemicals that are endocrine disruptors, bronchial irritants, and more! Cleaning ingredients vary in the type of health hazard that they pose. Some cause immediate hazards such as skin or respiratory irritation, watery eyes, or chemical burns, while others are associated long-term, problems such as cancer. Making your own cleaning supplies not only avoids these hazards but also is great for the environment. Many of the synthetic ingredients that are used in commercial cleaning supplies are toxic to the environment, including the aquatic animals in those environments! Not only are you saving the environment by making your own cleaning supplies, but you also end up saving a TON of money in the process. If you do choose to buy some of your natural cleaning supplies from the store, it's a great idea to check out the products you are purchasing, on EWG (Environmental Working Group). They have gone through many products and ingredients on the market and tell you their rating on each product based on the ingredients within it. You might be shocked to learn, some of your favorite cleaning supplies are actually hazardous to your health! There are some really great products on the market, so don't be disheartened!
Beautify yourself with homemade cosmetics and toiletries
Your skin, the largest organ of the human body, absorbs up to 65% of what you put on it or touch. This fact is what made me realize I needed to be more careful what was going onto my skin. I didn't realize that all of, and I mean ALL, of the bath and beauty products that I was using, contained toxic ingredients including endocrine disruptors, which were contributing to all of my reproductive issues, eczema, acne, and even nerve pains. Switching to the makeup, shampoos, lotions, and deodorants that are made with good ingredients, is pretty hefty on the wallet. You can't really leave Whole Foods without spending a decent chunk of cash on all of those products. Making all of your own natural beauty, cosmetics, and toiletries not only is better for you and your skin, but it can save you a huge heap of money. I know personally, from selling my own products, just how much some of these companies mark up their products. Just because they have the certified organic stamp on their product, some companies feel they can charge astronomical prices. When you make your own products the price that you pay per product, is seriously a tiny fraction of what you were paying for in the grocery store!
Shopping list for DIY green cleaning your home
You can clean your entire home with just these ingredients below. I am not kidding you when I say you will save a TON of money in the long run too. Not only are you getting rid of all the toxic substances, from the commercial products, that you inhale or absorb into your skin, you are also helping the environment by switching your cleaning practices over. Who can hate saving money, your health, and the environment all at the same time? Certainly not me!!!
- Washing Soda – Though you can make this yourself by baking your baking soda in the oven at 400-450 degrees for at least 1 hour, you can still purchase it through amazon and sometimes your local grocery store or Walmart. Washing soda is used to clean everything from toilets and bathtubs to dishwasher detergent, dishwasher tablets, laundry detergent, and more!
- Baking Soda – This has so many cleaning, baking, and beauty uses, your home should never be without baking soda! I use baking soda in my laundry detergent, soft scrub, on my dishes, and for tons of beauty uses!
- Liquid Castile Soap – Real soap rather than the synthetic detergents that are sold. Castile soap is highly concentrated and great for cleaning everything from bathtubs to dishes! Avoid cleaning dishes with castile soap if you have hard water because castile soap can react with hard water and will leave mineral spots on your dishes!
- Bar Castile Soap – I use this in my homemade laundry soap, for our bodies, and sometimes to make hand soap.
- Sal Suds – Great for homes with hard water, this stuff rocks for use in everything from dish soap, to mop your floors, to cleaning your laundry, and more!
- Distilled White Vinegar – (This is cheapest at your local grocery store, Costco has great prices on vinegar!) Your home needs this! Used in everything from laundry softener, dishwasher rinse aid, all-purpose cleaner, window cleaner, stove and oven cleaner, stain remover, pee neutralizer, natural homemade bleach and more!
- Soap Nuts – I am in love with soapnuts! I use them to clean my laundry but I even love to use them to clean my hair, my body, and even my counter tops!
- Oxyboost Oxygen Bleach – Until I found OxyBoost, I wasn't a big fan of oxygen bleach because the most popular and easy to find brand, OxyClean, is filled with additives. I use this stuff for so many uses, in our dishwasher powder, in our laundry, for stains in the carpet, to get the stink out of all sorts of things, to brighten my whites, to brighten my colors, in the mop bucket, in the carpet steam cleaner, and more!
- Lemons/Lemon Juice – I love to juice my lemons for some herbal tea lemonade and then save my lemon peels for all of my cleaning needs. Lemon essential oil is found in the peel and can still be utilized when it's in peel form. You can soak the peels in vinegar and use that vinegar for all of your cleaning needs. I like to drop some lemon peels into my garbage disposal and run it, to freshen and clean it! I also like to use lemon juice in my natural homemade bleach!
- Rubbing Alcohol – I most often use this in window cleaner and antibacterial hand gel, though I have been known to put some in my all-purpose spray as well.
- Essential Oils – Essential oils aren't just for smelling pretty or calming your nerves, they have natural chemical properties that make them powerhouse cleaners too! I have used orange oil by itself to get the sticky off of bottles and containers. I use lemon in my dish soap to help cut the grease, and even lemon in my laundry to help whiten my whites! Lavender is great because it kills germs and makes everything smell better at the same time! When cleaning the bathroom clove and tea tree can kill and rid you of fungus and mold, while eucalyptus not only antiseptically cleans it freshens the stale air too! I love to use essential oils to repel and kill bugs, in fact, it gives me great pleasure muahahaha 🙂
Shopping list for the top 10 essential oils for all your cleaning/bath/beauty needs
I am asked all the time what a good list for my top 10 essential oils would be. Boy, was it difficult to only limit this list to 10. I have a love for quite a few essential oils that did not make this list! I tried to narrow this list down to the top ten that can be used for cleaning, natural health, and beauty. For your pocketbooks, these would be the best ones to start with based off of all of those need. To learn more about how to safely use essential oils (I suggest this for everyone! Do not use these oils lightly!) you can read through my post on Introduction to Essential Oil Safety! Some of these essential oils are not suitable for children of certain ages, but can easily be substituted for ones that are. All you have to do is read through my post on Essential Oil Safety with Children and Babies, to find the right oil substitutions for your needs!
- Lavender Essential Oil (MRH lavender eo or PT lavender eo) – One of the most versatile essential oils, I think I use more of this oil than any other. With antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties it makes a great cleaner in your home, but its gentle calming and anti-inflammatory properties make it great for healing wounds and in skin care products. I am pretty sure I use lavender essential oil is in nearly everything thing I make for my home and self.
- Tea Tree Essential Oil (MRH tea tree eo or PT tea tree eo) – This is the all purpose oil. Antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and more, this essential oil can be used in everything from disinfecting your bath tub to cleansing the acne on your face, to even ridding your scalp of dandruff!
- Sweet Orange Essential Oil (MRH sweet orange eo or PT sweet orange eo) – This gentle essential oil is a mood-lifter in a bottle! Safe for little ones and effective at cleaning greasy kitchens, while also effectively killing bugs in and out of your home, sweet orange essential oil has many uses!
- Lemon Essential Oil (MRH lemon eo or PT lemon eo) – This antiseptic essential oil is also a major de-greaser that can clean and whiten your bath tub, clothes, and more! With great smelling uplifting properties. I prefer to use sweet orange over lemon when using on children because it is gentler.
- Peppermint Essential Oil (MRH peppermint eo or PT peppermint eo) – Safe for use on children 6 years and over, I love to use peppermint essential oil for many purposes! It's great in toothpaste, hair care, muscle salves, vapor rubs, and even repels a TON of different pests including spiders and wasps!
- Clove Essential Oil (MRH clove bud eo or PT clove bud eo) – This highly anti-fungal essential oil is not only a great pain reliever in salves but also makes a great cleaner of mold in your bathroom! Bugs hate it but your teeth love it (highly diluted and not for children under the age of 2!) when you have an ache! 1-2 drops in a tablespoon of vegetable glycerin or coconut oil can help instantly soothe a terrible toothache!
- Roman Chamomile Essential Oil (MRH roman chamomile eo or PT roman chamomile eo) – Calming and soothing for both you and the kids, chamomile essential oil is great for facial care, baths, for asthma, soothing teething (not internally), and for insomnia and muscle pain. Chamomile, along with lavender, is one of my most use essential oils on my kiddo!
- Geranium Essential Oil (MRH geranium eo or PT geranium eo) – This florally smelly essential oil has been known throughout history for its ability to heal wounds, facial skin care, tick repellents, and to helping regulate hormones and cramps during Aunt Flo's visit.
- Eucalyptus Essential Oil (MRH eucalyptus eo or PT eucalyptus eo) – Though this essential oil is not safe for use on or around children under the age of 10, it is very useful if using outside of that! I use this in my adult vapor rubs, cleaning the bathroom, mopping my floors, and freshening stale air in a bedroom! This essential oil is also an insecticide that bugs hate to be around too!
- Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oil (MRH cinnamon leaf eo or PT cinnamon leaf eo) – Though you can effectively use cinnamon bark around your house and in diffusion for the same purposes that you use cinnamon leaf essential oil, but cinnamon bark essential oil is much more irritating to the skin and therefore cinnamon leaf is recommended instead. This antibacterial and highly antiseptic essential oil is great in antigerm recipes used to clean the house, and help your body rid itself of colds and flu. Also great in muscle relief salves, this essential oil brings circulation through warmth.
Shopping list for the top 15 herbs for all your natural health and beauty needs
With only a handful of herbs, you can make all sorts of healing salve, syrups, tinctures, facial care products and more! These herbs that I have listed here, are great for steeping in oils for salves, some are used in tooth powders and pastes, some are even great for teas and in your cooking. Many of these herbs are great for natural facial care and hair care products! Note: 1 lbs. of many of these herbs is quite a lot and will last your house a few months! This list is by no means a definitive list, there are so many great herbs out there, that I had to cut my list down several times before landing on 15 for you! As you learn more about herbs and their many uses, you will find yourself acquiring more as you go along. These 15 will easily help you to make any of the hippy recipes you find. Most of them are multi-taskers and can be used for quite a few purposes. It is best to research each herb thoroughly as you buy them so that you are learning as you go on!
- Lavender buds – Lavender is great in absolutely everything! I love to steep it in apple cider vinegar, oils, tea, witch hazel for toners, grind it up in facial cleansing grains and more! This herb is so versatile that you can't go wrong keeping it stocked in your home.
- Calendula flowers – The ultimate healing herb, I use this herb in all of my skin healing preparations. My owie creams, fungus salve, cleansing grains and face masks, hair care and more! If there is one healing herb you need to pick between, this is one of the ones that should be picked!
- Chamomile flowers – A very tasty and calming tea, chamomile has been used for centuries for all sorts of remedies. Anti-inflammatory properties make it a great addition to skin preparations and it contains chemical properties that aid in coloring your blonde hair!
- Horsetail – Great in hair and skin care preparations, horsetail is chock full of vitamins and minerals that help aid in regrowth of hair, skin, and nails. I use horsetail in pretty much all of my homemade hair preparations.
- Rosemary leaf – This tasty herb makes a great tea, is great in cooking, helpful in hair care, facial care, and even wonderful in teas for cold and the flu!
- Marshmallow Root – Helpful against a sore throat and cough, during a cold, marshmallow root is in every hair care recipe that I make. Its mucilagenic properties make it very moisturizing for the skin too!
- Hibiscus flowers – Really great for hair and skin, hibiscus is a natural conditioner for both! I also really love to use it for its lovely color when naturally dying my hair! Hibiscus is very delicious in tea, giving a decent amount of vitamin C along with other wonderful healing benefits, and it tastes great too! I am a big fan of hibiscus! I even make my hibiscus lip stain with it!
- St. John's wort – Not only is this herb great in tea for a middle of the winter pick me up, it's also really awesome steeped in oils for healing salves. It not only helps to heal superficial wounds but also aids in soothing sore achy muscles! I use this herb in my owie salve, my muscle salve, my aunt Flo's salve, and even my baby butt balm!
- Licorice Root – Great in cough syrups, facial care products, hair care, and more, licorice root tastes like…well licorice! Not only does it help soothe and moisturize hair and skin, I love to use this in my cough syrups for its sweet taste. Licorice root is considered to be the 10th most widely used herb!
- Black Walnut Hulls – I use black walnut hulls for my anti-fungal salve, hair coloring, tinctures, and is even used internally to rid the body of worms! (though I haven't had to use it for the latter….)
- Comfrey leaf – Also known as “knit-bone” comfrey is a well-known healing herb that helps to mend broken bones and help in skin care. The main healing component in comfrey leaf is allatonin, which is known to help with rapid growth of cells. I use this in my baby powder, owie salves, and more. Though this herb is fabulous externally, it's best to not use it internally without the help of a certified herbalist or health care provider.
- Elder flowers (and elderberries) – This wonderful immune boosting herb can be used in teas, syrups, tinctures, and even yummy gummies! I love to make an immune boosting elderberry syrup for during the cold and flu season!
- Nettle leaf – A great herb for seasonal allergies, skin conditions, and even hair growth and preparations, nettle is a tasty herb with many great uses! Chock full of vitamins and minerals, all of your preparations can't live without nettle!
- Peppermint leaf – I use peppermint in so many things. Tooth powder, tinctures, steeped in apple cider vinegar for hair care and burn relief, steeped in oils for my muscle salve, even used in teas to help aid in digestion and nausea! Peppermint makes a great flavor booster for any healing herbal tea that might not have the best flavor!
- Valerian Root – This herb has been really fabulous for me. Great for use in sleepy time tea, pills, tinctures, and even some salves, valerian root is a nervine that is also great for pain relief too!
Shopping list for all your natural DIY health and beauty needs
The great thing about making your own natural body care products is that you can choose the ingredients that you prefer to use. For the general categories, I give you some of the many options you can choose from. For example, to make salves, lip balms, and butters, you can choose to use any of the listed butters, though some are harder than others so depending on your choice, the recipe may need to be adjusted slightly! With these ingredients below plus some herbs and essential oils, you can literally make everything your family needs to bathe, primp, and heal themselves for a fraction of the cost of what you spend in a year, purchasing commercial products.
- Butter (shea butter, cocoa butter, mango butter, kokum butter) My favorite butter to use in most healing recipes is shea butter. It's known for its skin healing properties and really makes a great addition to my deodorant and salves. For body butter, I love cocoa butter and mango butter, though mango butter is a lot like shea butter so you can always substitute either one for each other in a recipe!
- Unrefined coconut oil – This stuff should be in every home. Great for use in cooking, beauty products, and health, unrefined coconut oil is used in many recipes! It's natural antibacterial properties make it a great addition to toothpaste, owie salves, or for oil pulling. It's super moisturizing properties make it an excellent option for every type of butter and lotion made. It's even a fabulous well-known hair conditioner! Not only that…it makes a great substitute for butter or other oils in cooking too.
- Beeswax pastilles – (or carnauba wax, for a vegan option) – Waxes are what we use to make recipes a certain consistency. Use more wax, get a more solid consistency, use less and get a more liquid consistency.
- Carrier oil – (hemp seed, olive oil, jojoba oil, grapeseed oil, almond oil, avocado oil, rosehip seed oil,) – There are so many carrier oils out that, and pretty much any of them can substitute one another in all of the natural beauty recipes. My favorites that I always keep on hand and use together in my butters and moisturizers are hemp seed, rosehip seed, jojoba oil, and almond oil. I ALWAYS keep extra virgin olive oil on hand because it can be substituted in any recipe and makes for the cheapest option when steeping herbs. I usually steep my herbs for salves in a combination of olive oil and coconut oil.
- Arrowroot powder (or organic cornstarch) – arrowroot powder or cornstarch are used in body butter, deodorants, lotions as a thickening agent.
- Raw apple cider vinegar – This healing stuff is great for so many uses in both health, beauty, and even cooking!
- Aloe vera gel (aloe vera juice) – With a million and one uses, aloe vera should be a staple in your house. Great for a natural shampoo, conditioner, addition to facial toners, hair products, wrinkles, skin healing, and more; aloe vera is one of the most important and versatile natural care ingredients!
- Vegetable glycerin – Very moisturizing for both hair and skin, vegetable glycerin is a great carrier oil option in water based products since it is water soluble unlike other carriers that are oils. I prefer to use this in my body and room sprays, hair sprays and more because it blends into the final mixture.
- Witch hazel – Used in everything from facial toners, anti-itch, owie cleansing, and more, witch hazel can even be substituted for the water in many recipes, for extra healing results!
- Baking soda – This can be used in all sorts of cleaning products but is also used as a natural deodorant, microderm abrasion, and skin softener in baths.
- Salt (Sea salt, dead sea salt, Pink Himalayan salt) – Used for bath salts, salt scrubs, sinus rinse, sea salt hair texturizing spray, and more! I use dead sea salt the most, though sometimes I do like to mix it up and add some Pink Himalayan salt to the mix too!
- Epsom Salt – Magnesium salt has a ton of uses and many of them help you to feel better! Migraines, insomnia, muscle pains, and more can be soothed with a nice bath in Epsom salt!
- Organic Sugar – Used in sugar scrubs and hair spray products, sugar contains glycolic acid which helps bring moisture into the skin.
- Clay (bentonite clay, rhassoul clay, white kaolin clay, french green clay) – Helpful for making toothpaste/tooth powder, cleansing grains, face masks, detoxifying baths, and more! I always keep bentonite clay on hand for all sorts of healing purposes and prefer to use rhassoul for my face and hair. Those with sensitive skin may choose white kaolin for their facial care needs and those with acne/oily skin can see benefit from rhassoul and french green clay!
- Hydrosols – Though you don't truly need these as they replace water in recipes, hydrosols help to amp up the herbal properties of any given recipe! Facial toners, hair products, and body sprays all benefit from using different hydrosols! If i were asked my top 3 hydrosols that I use in my own personal care products, I would suggest peppermint (great for after-sun sprays, facial toners and aftershave, hair rinses, and my homemade mouthwash), lavender (great for all facial care, aftershaves, hair care, calming and soothing, and even cleansing and healing wounds) , and calendula(great for all facial care, aftershaves, gentle for sensitive skin, and cleanses and heals wounds)!
All information on The Hippy Homemaker is meant for educational and informational purposes only. The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products and/or information are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease. Readers are advised to do their own research and make decisions in partnership with their health care provider. If you are pregnant, nursing, have a medical condition or are taking any medication, please consult your physician.