Natural Beauty Products: What Worked, What Didn’t

Over the years I’ve tried a few things here and there switching my beauty products to natural ones. In fact I have some of the “recipes” here on the blog. Others never made it even close! I thought I’d quickly go through and spell out things I’ve tried;both workable ones and the not so workable ones.

Natural Facial Care:

Oil Cleansing Method – The very first homemade beauty product I tried, I still use and love to this day! About 4 years later, my skin still responds beautifully to the oil and it controls the dryness and redness I used to experience. I no longer need to use foundation as ‘cover-up’. One difference I have made is that I use this only once or twice a week now instead of everyday. I also don’t mix my oils much anymore and choose to leave them separate as I often leave out the castor oil.

Moisturizer – In the last few years I’ve needed very little moisturizer since switching to the oil cleansing method. But when I do, I just use extra virgin coconut oil. A thin layer soaks into my skin quickly and doesn’t stay “greasy” at all.

Exfoliant – Every few weeks or so I mix a teaspoon or so of whole cane sugar into my oil mix and massage gently on to my skin to exfoliate.

Honey – Many women use a honey facial mask to help clear blemishes and as an all over mask every once in a while, but I haven’t found it to be that effective for me.


Natural Hair Care:

Natural Shampoos – I’ve tried a variety of natural shampoos (some worked horribly!!!) and the one that I do keep in the house is one by Burts Bees. It’s not 100% natural, but it does the job better than others I’ve purchased.

“no-poo” – the simplicity behind going without shampoo always fascinated me. But living with curly hair I was very hesitant to try it! But last summer I went completely without shampoo or conditioner for 2 whole months and actually really liked it. Now, I did do the basic baking soda “wash”, where you take a bit of baking soda and dissolve it into hot water, apply and then rinse with a diluted bottle of apple cider vinegar. It worked better than I thought, and everything was going swimmingly until…….our water softener ran out of salt. Once it did, my hair got super oily and flat and even after the softener was up and running again, it just wasn’t right. So I went back to my shampoo and still haven’t gone back yet.

Gel – The one thing I can’t really get away from with my curly hair is gel. Without it I look like a poodle back from the groomers – it’s not pretty. the two options I’ve come across have been a sugar-water mixture (nixed that right away) and a gelatin mixture. And the gelatin actually worked!! A bit to well. It became to hard and by the end of the day it looked like I had a massive case of dandruff. After just one try at it, I went running back to my very conventional gel.


Natural Skin Care:

I used to be the one that bought fancy scented lotions, so I began switching to natural options quite soon into my “natural living conversion”. I didn’t like the thought of all those chemicals soaking in all the time, but felt that I had to have them because of the eczema I always struggled with.

Coconut Oil – For the most part, I use coconut oil as an all over body lotion. Goes on easily and soaks in nicely.

Lotion Bars – As an affiliate for MadeOn Hard Lotion Bars, I was sent a couple lotion bars last fall to try out and have been enjoying them ever since (they last a long time). Made of only coconut oil, shea butter, and beeswax the lotion bars are soothing to the skin and have helped keep my eczema from completely destroying my hands. (note – they do not cure eczema as it’s a systematic issue) But these bars work great for dry patches of skin and are really soothing on the legs after shaving!


Natural Deodorant:

Homemade Deodorant – I’ve used this basic recipe since last summer and it still works for me. The only changes I’ve made have been to decrease the baking soda (I began to get a bit of discoloration so it was irritating my skin) and normally use arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch.

I also go without it a lot. Yup – I don’t wear it, especially when I’m just going to be home for the day. I found that after the initial switch and my body getting rid of built up toxins, that I actually needed to use it less and less.

Miessence – I also have this deodorant on hand for when I go out and want to smell better than tea tree oil. :-) It works well and the Tahitian Breeze scent I have is beautiful. Joanna from Actual Organics sent me some last year to try, and while it is rather pricey, the ingredients are ones that I can pronounce and feel good about putting on my skin.


Natural Dental Care:

Toothpaste – This toothpaste works fairly well, but I’m not completely sold on it. I’m now back to using a natural toothpaste but would like top head back to the drawing board. maybe a clay based one…..? I dunno. But this one does work in a pinch.


I’d also love to know what you’ve tried, what you like, and what didn’t work at all!



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About Donielle

Donielle is an amateur herbalist and natural momma to two littles (with another babe in heaven) after dealing with being less than fertile. She has a passion for nourishing nutrition, natural living, and spreading the word on how food truly affects our health.


  1. Great post. These are all things that I have been thinking about and working on.
    Here’s where I am in all of this mix:

    I have been using this jojoba oil and rose water facial cleansing routine for quite awhile now and I love it:

    For deodorant, the baking soda doesn’t irritate me, but then I don’t use as much. I am not sure if it cleared up some issues for me so I don’t need it much anymore, or if my health has improved and so I don’t need it much, but all I use is a baking soda slurry:

    I am planning on trying the Made On Lotion Bars asap as I really have dry skin on my body. I will say that I really like Shea Butter plain on my hands, though. I even use it as a natural lip balm and it is great for that.

    For shampoo, I am really on the fence. Currently I am using Giovanni’s Triple Treat. Like yours, not totally natural but OK.

    And for toothpaste, I am currently using NOW brand’s xyliwhite, though I am wondering about glycerine. I have heard the talk about glycerine sticking to your teeth and preventing them from remineralizing and I don’t know what to make of it as others say that this is completely not true. No fluoride for us, but I am really concerned about enamel. I wonder if you have any thoughts about that.

    That’s what’s working (and sort of working) for me now :)

  2. I’ve been overhauling our “beauty” routines since last fall and have found through trial and error a few of the things that work for me. So for OCM is working great for cleaning my face. I still get a few blemishes in the problem areas but it’s only been about 3 weeks so that may get better. Overall my skin looks and feels smoother than before. For deodorant I bought one natural brand after another before finally finding that Crystal deodorant in the spray bottle did the trick. Still has yet to go through a hot summer so I may change my tune but for now it’s been perfect. I’m also on day 5 of using a homemade shampoo and conditioner from recipes I got from frugalgranola. Applying it well seems to be the hardest part and one I haven’t quite figured out yet but I’m still trying. The one lingering problem is frizz. I have long, wavy, frizzy hair. Next up on the block to try is Aloe gel. Wish me luck! 😉

    b. Reply:

    @Sarah, I stumbled here from another site but I’ve heard that flaxseed gel works well. Google it and give it a try.

  3. I just started the OCM a couple weeks ago… It seems to be helping so far. I plan to try to no ‘poo method next. :)

  4. I also have fairly curly hair, and for a “gel” styling product I use a teeny bit of coconut oil, like very little, but just enough to tame the curls. It works really well, defines the curls but doesn’t leave my hair greasy at all :) I am waiting for my current shampoo to be finished, then I intend to go no ‘poo…

  5. I had the same problem with the no poo method! It worked wonderfully for months until my water softener ran out of salt and my scalp turned flaky. Even after I replenished the salt, I can’t quite cure the flaky scalp.

    I’ve tried a lot of the natural beauty methods you mentioned. I like the OCM, but now I’ve been using powdered goat’s milk instead lately. For toothpaste, I was using peelu dental fibers but just switched to Christopher’s herbal tooth powder. I like it a lot so far.

  6. I’m still debating deodorant. I live in Phoenix (and I’m out in the heat all day) and am a heavy sweater no matter what the season. The only deodorant that has ever helped even a little was the Secret Clinical Strength and I try not to use that very often. Even with that I still end up with huge wet patches under my arms (and stink).

    Elizabeth Reply:

    @Stacy, I found that I had a hard time getting used to not using an antiperspirant. The homemade deodorant works well for the smell, but you really have to just get used to the wetness.

    Leah Reply:

    Stacy, I switched from regular to homemade deodorant, and I found that there was an adjustment period. I tended to stink using regular deodorant, I continued to for the first period of the homemade, and then out of nowhere- no more odor! I did find that instead of putting my homemade deo in a stick, I prefer to moisturize my underarms with coconut oil, and then right before I get dressed, I spread a layer of a baking soda/cornstarch mix under my arms. That’s what keeps me driest.

  7. Have you tried aloe on your hair? I haven’t done it in the summer humidity yet, but I find that a coat of coconut oil as leave in conditioner and then glob of aloe as my gel seems to work pretty well with my curls. You just have a whole lot more of them than I do.

  8. Jessica K says:

    My husband and I both have curly hair. I make a hair gel from Aloe Vera gel and add a teaspoon of melted coconut oil. It leaves my hair frizz free and shiny. It also is not greasy at all and it doesn’t leave the hair crunchy. It is soft and defined instead. My husband loves it. He won’t use any other kind now and it works really well on my hair too.

    Christy Reply:

    Jessica, how much Aloe Vera gel do you use with a teaspoon of coconut oil? And do you mean you use Aloe Vera straight from the plant?

    Jessica K Reply:

    I get the 100% pure Aloe gel in the summer when it goes on sale for sunburns but you can get it in the winter on Amazon too. I use about 12-16 oz of aloe gel with a teaspoon of coconut oil. I am mixed race so I do have a little bit coarse hair but (mostly just a bit dry and frizzy prone). I guess if you had a plant you could use the gel from it and mix by hand. Then it would only be a dab of coconut oil. I mix up a large batch and store it in a glass wide mouth jar. It keeps for a long time.

  9. I am so glad you posted this! I had gone no-poo in the past with the baking soda and vinegar, but it is simply too drying for me to do in the Colorado winters, where the relative humidity typically hovers below 25%, so unfortunately, it’s (EWWW!!) Pantene for the cold dry months. I look forward to going back to the no poo in the summer months, and in the meantime, to help control flakes, I will massage some salt into the scalp 1-2 times/week prior to shampooing. It sounds weird, but it really does help–I’m not sure if it’s by exfoliation, the salinity killing off some of the over-produced sebum, or what, but it does work (hey, my car starts when I put the key in it and turn, and I have no idea how THAT works!). I have fine, thin, blond hair, so looking greasy is a SERIOUS concern for me; I also work in a professional environment, and even though I typically pull my hair back every day, I have to use hair spray to keep it tamed. I’d love to see some suggestions on hairspray alternatives? Perhaps some watered down aloe vera gel… I love the idea to try that as a hair gel!

    I, too, have made the home-made toothpaste in your other post, and have had mixed results with it. While my teeth have never felt cleaner, I actually ended up with dark spots between some of my teeth, and so went back to every other time I brush using straight baking soda–which IS abrasive, but it keeps the spots away. I know that it’s not from not rinsing the CO toothpaste well enough–I use HOT water to rinse, I rinse several times, rinsing the brush and brushing with the plain hot water for almost as long as I brush. So, I’m with you: back to the drawing board on that one. Looking forward to your next concoction! BTW, I am the same as you with the deodorant–some days, I run out of the house and realize I forgot to put it on (I get in a hurry sometimes). I don’t have any problems with smell, and like you, have noticed that I actually sweat less now, presumably because my body isn’t trying to get all the bad stuff out anymore.

    As far as the OCM, I must say that I have been excited to have clearer skin than I have ever had before using this method. Of course, it coincides with my going completely makeup-free since about December due to a raging case of blepharitis (my eye doc even wants to call it rosacea, but I won’t let him). However, I have a tough time getting all the oil residue off–I have oily skin to begin with–so I combine the OCM with a micro-fiber cloth. I have yet to need to use sugar to exfoliate, because the microfiber does a good job of that. I had to search hard to find one that didn’t have silver nanites in it (there is too little research done, but initial hypotheses on the dangers of nanites ring true to me, so I stay as far away from them as I can), but they’re out there. And I’ve been using CO as a moisturizer for the better part of a year now. I also just ordered some shea and mango butters, and when they come in, I’ll be making my own lotion bars, as the CO just doesn’t work well enough for my legs and hands.

  10. I tried going no ‘poo….. did NOT work out. I’ve heard that for a lot of people the first two weeks are the hardest. I stuck it out for an entire MONTH. But my hair had never been greasier. I tried adjusting the baking soda, adjusting the vinegar, varying the usage, I tried everything…. it looked like I hadn’t showered in a month and had motor oil in my hair. It got so bad and I got so sick of wearing hats everywhere (I NEVER wear hats) that I gave up and went back to shampoo. I was really hoping for and expecting good results, but it was really gross. As soon as I get the guts to try it again, I will, but I think I’m scarred from that experiment. :/

  11. I was just using coconut oil for deodorant for a while, but lately I’ve just gone to using my “perfume” which is water mixed with essential oils. I had problems with no-poo the first time around that I tried it for a year! My hair just never looked good. I’ve recently been correcting some adrenal/thyroid/hormone issues and have started no-poo again and now it is working great! I think if you have problems using the simple formulas for no-poo then there is probably something going on internally with your body that needs to be corrected and not some problem with you using the no-poo method.

  12. Would spraying a diluted tea tree oil work as a deodorant?

    I’m new at this and learning SO much from your site. Thank you!

  13. Hi! I’ve tried the OCM for my face — twice…I liked it for my face but my lips got really chapped, itchy and flakey! So, back to using a mild coconut soap in the shower in the evenings and just a hot wash cloth in the mornings. My favorite find was at our local fair last summer — — thiSoap, all natural shampoo and conditioner and made a a local woman. It works great and is tear free so great for my little kiddos. I bought a bottle of each at the fair and have since ordered a 1/2 gallon of each — we are now 6 months into these bottles and still lots left…so should last us about a year. I found a clay-based herbal toothpaste at the health food store and have really liked it; just need to go get some more soon! For lotion and lipbalm, I’ve been making my own (just like MadeOn lotion bars) but found that the super dry MN winters we were still having itchy, dry skin…so now also using Aveeno daily moisture lotion (rates a “2” on the Skin Safety database). Just need to find a good, all natural (affordable) mineral make-up!

  14. I think we cannot live totally is almost imposible in our days,that is whay I try to not be extrem but to keep a balance.
    I’ve started by cleaning my bathroom shelves and by keeping my beauty routine simple and eficient.
    About 3 years ago when I’ve started to be interested in natural cosmetics I’ve discovered the site and I’ve started to use welleda,jurlique…and many other natural brands listed there.
    Some are 100% natural some are almost natural.
    Last year I’ve started to make my own soap and I use it since then(and I’m very happy) then I’ve lerned to make a body butter,then a herbal vinegar and so on…I’ve tried also the soda for hair and though worked somehow I find it a little bit difficult so I went back to a natural shampoo.Today I’m washing my hair with my own soap and rinse it with herbal vinegar.It is not so shiny like with the commercial shampoos but is clean and healthy.
    The face cream is one product that I have to buy but I tried to choose something as natural as possible.
    For cleaning I use the oil method which works for me and then I follow with a toner made by myself.
    I clean my face only in the evening and I do not use cream in the night I just leave my skin to breath.
    In the morning I use cream and sun protection.
    For bath I use my soaps and my body butter(only in the winter).
    I brush my theets with soda onece in a while and in rest I use a natural paste from Green People which I really love it.
    What makes a big difference for me is the vinegar…the herbal vinegar rinse clean my hair well and the toner with herbal vinegar really keeps my face blamish free.
    Also I’ve noticed that a clean, healthy diet makes a big difference in the way my skeen looks.
    The most difficult thing for me is to find really natural sun protection which doesn;t make me look like a gheisha…:)
    So…I do not freak out by being all natural but I try to be as much as possible natural.

  15. Nicole Marchand says:

    I am really interested in the herbal vinegar toner. Please tell me more about this. THanks!

  16. I’m shocked that no one has mentioned flax seed gel yet! I haven’t tried it myself, but it’s LOVED by the curly hair community (even with most of them not being all natural). Here’s a link to one girl’s recipe: .

    Also, I’ve had some luck with both Aubrey Organics B5 gel and Beautiful Curls products by Alaffia. You might try those. Good luck!

    donielle Reply:

    @Jenny R, Interesting! Thanks for the recommendations!

  17. Okay well clearly that link didn’t work. Just google flax seed gel and click on the first link (a naturallycurly link). :)

  18. I started oil cleansing about 6 months ago and its been great. My skin glows and looks great! I’ve had people compliment me on how radiant my skin looks and how blemish free I am and when I tell them I oil cleanse they don’t believe me.

    I do two different blends (one for fall/winter and one for spring/summer)

    For fall winter I do a 50% castor oil base with 25% grapeseed and 25% sweet almond oil

    For spring/summer I do a 50% grapeseed oil base with 25% castor oil and 25% sweet almond oil.

    I’ve also begun creating a blend of my oil with african black soap as a makeup remover and then I have a cold cream made by glorybeherbals on etsy with apricot seed kernals that I mix with a quarter size dollop of oil for exfoliation 2 – 3 times a week.

    Ladies, if you haven’t given oil cleansing a shot, do! I was a dedicated Noxema girl for 20 years and I tossed my entire supply of it when I moved to this…and I’m a super oily skin.

    Oh and did I mention that I can go from oil cleansing to immediately putting on my makeup with no problems…not one.

  19. Hi Donielle,
    I use the OCM as well and for a moisturizer I use coconut oil.
    For our body we use Almond or Coconut Oil.
    For Shampoo we use either Desert Essence, Burt’s Bees or Aubrey Organics.
    We use our homemade soap.
    As for toothpaste we use coral white ( Their toothpaste is awesome. It’s glycerin and fluoride free.
    Hope this helps.

  20. Hey, Donielle: I very much enjoyed this article. I’m a rebellious hippy at heart, and love to experiment with natural, home-made beauty techniques. About your no-poo experiment… I have very fine, wavy hair, that’s been growing gray for years, so for the last two months, I apply an herbal tonic that includes rosemary, sage, hibiscus, nettles, and horsetail. The gray is very gradually becoming light brown and is beginning to look like highlights in my dark hair. I boil a tablespoon each of the herbs in a quart of tap water (I have hard water, no softener) for 15 minutes, then let it steep with the lid on for an hour. Then I strain it and stick it in the fridge in a glass container. I use about 4 ounces per wash, every other day. When my hair gets too oily (about every ten days), I mix 1/4 c tap water, 1 tsp. lemon juice, and one egg yolk (no egg white), and work it very gently into my scalp. Then I rinse very well. I have an adjustable shower head that has a pulse feature that gently gets all the dirt and oil off my scalp. The egg/lemon solution makes my hair squeaky clean and soft. And it leaves no odor. It is the sulphur in the egg yolk that removes the oil. Egg whites have too much sulphur which is why I don’t use that part of the egg. With this no-poo method, I haven’t had to use shampoo in six weeks. My hair is so shiny, and manageable, and volumized (all the things that the commercial shampoos claim to do, but don’t succeed in doing). I’ll never go back to shampoo. Thanks again for your article. I love the oil facial cleansing part!

    donielle Reply:

    @Meliss, Thanks for leaving the herbal tonic recipe! It’s one thing that I’ll be in the midst of playing with the next couple of months. :-)

  21. What natural toothpaste are you using right now? I’ve been trying to find one and haven’t had any luck. Right now I’m experimenting with oil pulling but still want a toothpaste. Thanks!

    donielle Reply:

    @Kaila, I currently use the toothpaste by Redmond Clay and really like it! Even my die hard conventional toothpaste husband says that it leaves his teeth cleaner than the store-bought stuff. :-)

  22. Pauline says:

    I’d really recommend making flaxseed hair gel. It’s great for using a little in the morning to tame bed hair or creating curled hairstyles (I have staight hair and use it to set pin curls) I found it quite nourishing plus it doesn’t flake, brushes out really easily and you can leave it in your hair overnight and it doesn’t mess up your hair or your pillow. You can play around with ratios, but I make mine with about 2 tablespoons of flaxseed/linseed in a cup of water boiled over a high heat for 10 minutes. The mixture will be slimy. Strain the seeds out using either a sieve or an old stocking. Keep the gel an airtight container in the fridge for about a week. If you just want to use a little to pat down hair, you can skim your fingers gently across the top to add a little hold. Or if you need a lot to set waves or pin curls you can use your hand to grasp big clumps. There’s lots of recipes online if you want to research more – some recipes suggest adding a vitamin e capsule to preserve it for a bit longer or adding parts of aloe vera gel. (Also you can use the seeds to make flaxseed crackers or in other cooking so there’s no waste!)

  23. Pauline says:

    @meliss Hi Meliss I wanted to agree with you about the wonders of the egg based no poo method. I’ve been using it for about 3 weeks now as I had not much luck with the baking soda method. (We have really hard water in London so I think this leaves a gross scum on my roots when I try to use just BS and vinegar rinse – seriously it was so bad my folks were asked me if my shower was broken) My method is similar to yours – I use 2 tablespoons of vinegar mixed with an egg yolk, massaged well into my scalp, left for a few minutes and then followed by a cool water rinse. It leaves my straight (and chemically highlighted!) hair very soft and bouncy. I just wanted to say to any other no pooers out there, that while baking soda is the most popular method, there are alternatives out there like the egg shampoo so try different methods to see what works for you!