Green living 0714

African American woman relaxing with facial mask on.

Ever taken a close look at those bottles in the bathroom, skimmed through the long list of chemicals and wondered what, exactly, you’re putting on your skin and hair?

A lot of the products we depend on to keep our skin soft, our hair shiny and our pores clear is filled with stuff that isn’t exactly found in nature. More shoppers are looking for green alternatives at the grocery store, but all-natural products often come with hefty price tags. Green living experts say you can get cheaper—and even better—natural beauty products by shopping in other aisles to create effective and earth-friendly products of your own.

“When you make these basic things, you can save a ton of money,” says Sophie Uliano, a California-based healthy living expert and author of Gorgeously Green: 8 Simple Steps to an Earth-Friendly Life.

Annie Bond, a Rhinebeck, N.Y.-based green living expert and author of Better Basics for the Home, says the possibilities for putting together your own products are nearly endless. “If you’re trying to do something good for your skin, and putting a lot of chemicals on your skin instead of the healing ingredients available in nature, you’re losing an opportunity to do something really good for yourself,” Bond says.

Your own toner

Toners are an easy, do-it-yourself staple that can even out your skin tone and prevent blemishes. Uliano suggests filling a small bottle with equal parts aloe vera and witch hazel— which you can pick up at a health food store. “It helps remove extra grease, grime and residue that could be left after cleansing,” Uliano says. “Aloe vera is very moisturizing, and witch hazel is good for blemishes.” Bond offers a toner with more ingredients. For both, combine the items in a squeeze bottle. After washing your face, soak a cotton ball with the concoction and gently dab it all over your face.

Uliano’s Toner

  • 2 ounces aloe vera
  • 2 ounces witch hazel

Bond’s Toner

  • 1⁄2 cup lemon juice
  • 1⁄2 cup spearmint infusion (using a mint tea bag works)
  • 1⁄4 cup cucumber juice
  • 1⁄4 cup chamomile infusion
  • 1⁄8 cup carrot juice

Fruity face mask

Hit the produce aisle to gather the ingredients for a free radical-fighting facemask, Bond says. Mash the fruit into a paste, then add the other ingredients. Spread it on your face, and let it sit for 10 minutes, then wash off with warm water.

  • 5 strawberries
  • 5 blackberries
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

A good scrub

Mix natural exfoliants and an oil to create a sweet-smelling body scrub, something Uliano says is a great candidate for a simple homemade item. “I would never buy a body scrub, because they’re just so easy to make,” she says. “(This recipe) is just lovely, and it’s going to make your skin moisturized.”

  • 1 1⁄2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 1⁄2 cups grape seed oil
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cleanse with care

For a moisturizing skin cleanser, Bond suggests picking up some veg- etable glycerin at a health food store. Blend it with water, and add a splash of rosewater for a sweeter scent.

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin
  • 3 teaspoons water
  • Splash rosewater (optional)

An all-out blowout

For people prone to dry hair, Uliano suggests whipping up a quick hair mask with products from your kitchen. Mash up an avocado, then add coconut oil. Apply it to your hair, wrap it up in a shower cap, and leave on for at least 30 minutes.

  • 1 avocado
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil