It’s time to review our very first Garden Therapy Book Club book, A Green Guide to Natural Beauty: 35 step-by-step projects for homemade beauty by Karen Gilbert.
There are many different types of books we will be looking at in Book Club, but when the book is DIY or project-based, then the best way to test it out is to give the projects a try. As the title suggests, A Green Guide to Natural Beauty boasts 35 different natural beauty projects, which made it very appealing given that I’ve been aiming to make as many of my bath and body products as I can. As part of the Natural Skincare Series I’ve shared recipes and tutorials for soap, scrubs, and bath products all made with natural ingredients, and where possible ingredients from my garden.
First and foremost this book is beautiful. The photography is stunning and while those who love lots of bright colour may find the pages a tad on the beige side. There is a reason for this, however, as the projects listed use natural ingredients (read: no crazy colorants or unnatural fragrances). I’m happy to keep my colour in the garden and the purest products on my skin, so I really the look of natural-coloured skincare products. The first chapter of this book discusses natural skincare in detail: equipment, ingredients, preservatives, and shelf life. All in all this is a great summary and provides a great deal of background into the benefits (many) and drawbacks (mainly preservatives and shelf-life) of natural products. This section is worth a good read.
The rest of the book covers recipes and detailed instructions with photos on Chapter 2: For the Face, Chapter 3: For the Body, and Chapter 4: Bath and Shower.
I picked two recipes to try: Apricot Face Scrub (Chapter 2) and Mango Lime Body Butter (Chapter 3).
Apricot Face Scrub Recipe p. 60
This fairly simple recipe only required a few minutes to make, as long as you have the ingredients. The ingredients aren’t that common, but since I have a natural products guru who I buy from, I was able to secure everything quite painlessly. The concept is to mix apricot kernel oil, caster oil, and manuka honey with kaolin (white clay) and ground rice to make a paste. They drawback with this recipe is that it will only last a few days and must be stored in the fridge to preserve it, so Karen suggests making only a tiny quantity at a time.
While the recipe is super easy to make, all-natural, and fairly inexpensive, I didn’t like the feel of the product. The ground rice is a bit harsh on the skin (she suggests trying ground oatmeal for a gentler scrub), and the oil leaves my face feeling unpleasantly greasy. I’ve used it every day for a week and must wash afterwards with my homemade soap. My face feels pretty good after washing a second time and moisturizing but I am still on the lookout for a different cleanser/exfoliatant recipe that suits my needs more.
Mango Citrus Body Butter p. 78
This recipe is listed as mango and LIME body butter, but I added a citrus essential oil blend which had an even balance of lemon, lime, sweet orange, and tangerine.
- 10g beeswax or jojoba wax
- 25g cocoa butter
- 30g shea butter
- 25 g mango butter
- 1 tsp almond oil
- 1 tsp vitamin E
- 20 drops citrus essential oil (recipe suggested 10 lime, 5 sweet orange, 5 lemon)
- Double boiler
- Metal spoon
- Airtight 100ml jar
- Digital kitchen scale (this wasn’t listed in the recipe but it is essential for weighing your ingredients)
1. Melt the beeswax, cocoa butter & mango butter in the double boiler. Leave mixture over a gentle heat for 20 minutes to prevent the butter from going grainy when it cools.
2. Add the almond oil and vitamin E and heat for a few more minutes until completely liquid.
3. Remove from heat and add essential oils, stirring thoroughly
4. Pour into jars and leave to set.
Five stars! This recipe is great. It’s easy, smells delightful, and makes your skin feel amazing. Some people may be adverse to the oilyness that takes a bit of good massaging to rub in, but I don’t mind in the least. My skin feels delightfully soft if I apply right out of the shower and it is even healing my dry heels after a week of use when no other moisturizer has.
In summary, I liked this book a great deal and I may try a few more recipes. I will post about them if I do. In the meantime please share your experiences with the projects listed here or in A Green Guide to Natural Beauty, if you have a chance to try out the recipes, by leaving a comment on this post.
Update June 28, 2012: Check out this and some other great body butter recipes at Revitalise Your Health‘s article on the Top 3 Best DIY Body Butter Recipes. I want to try the whipped coconut butter next!