Natural Bug Sprays

This is part of our ongoing series on using essential oils for home and body care. You can see our archive of essential oil posts here.

We’re celebrating Pollinator Week around here with a series of pollinator-related posts. When you grab a bottle of bug spray, I’m guessing that “pollinator” is not the first word that you think of, instead, it’s likely “mosquito” “f-ing mosquitos”. Am I right? But guess, what?! Mosquitos are pollinators!

Pollination aside, we will never grow to love the pesky mosquitos, ticks, and fleas. Today we’re sharing a natural, non-toxic bug spray. I find that this works well when the mosquito populations aren’t too high, but I admit, there are still times, particularly in the swampy waters at the shore, that I have to use something containing DEET. What this spray lacks in DEET, it makes up for in its beautiful scent, and in the ability to personalize (there are so many mixing options below!).

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Homemade Lotion Bars

I feel like these homemade lotion bars should be rose scented to keep with this week’s unintentional theme.

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Does your skin resemble dry, cracked, dusty earth? Mine does.  It’s the worst, especially in the winter.  Poor, poor me.  No, but really, my entire body has dandruff and I know you probably didn’t want to hear that, but I said it.  It is disgusting and it plagues me.  Dry skin is the monkey on my back.  You might think I’m being a little dramatic, but applying lotion six times a day (REALLY) is no joke!  This is my life. Welcome. Instead of spending a quarter (maybe I’m being a little dramatic here) of my annual income on lotion, I mixed up a double batch of this homemade version and called it a day well spent.  This easy lotion bar concoction only requires three ingredients! Yeah Kate, we know, your no-heat rosehip jam only has two. Congratulations.  No, congrats to YOU after you read through this lotion bar recipe and immediately order the supplies. I applaud you.  Happy moisturized skin to you my friend.

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Dandruff Shampoo. seriously.

You are now well aware that Sarah and I like to mix our own cosmetic and beauty products, which we jokingly refer to and tag as potions. So far we’ve shared the gamut from dry shampoo to pore strips to deodorant along with the more mundane (yet totally sinus opening and skin smoothing) body scrubs. Just to add fuel to the fire, I recently learned that my local herbal apothecary offers classes in mixing your own salves, balms, perfumes, and more. It looks like our potion blending isn’t going to slow down anytime soon! But today I’m going to share a potion that’s a bit less glamorous ~ homemade dandruff shampoo. 


I moved to Colorado and my head turned into a blizzard. Why? In general terms, dandruff is caused when the skin cells on your scalp grow and die off too fast. In some people it coincides with the dry air of winter, in others it may be compounded by stress, and commonly it’s due to the fungus malassezia. The fungus requires fat to grow, and so it’s commonly found on our scalps, where we have plenty of oil producing sebaceous glands.

In my case, I would like to blame the outbreak on a change in my body chemistry after becoming pregnant, or Colorado’s dry weather, but if you ask Sarah, she will quickly laugh and tell you that I’m a great host for fungus*. We won’t go into detail, but being the great host that I am, I have some experience treating the fun-guys, and every time I’ve turned to tea tree oil. A vast number of studies have shown that it’s a great fungicide and has proven effective in treating a number of different fungal infections on and in humans (everything from dandruff to toenail fungus to athlete’s foot). You’re starting to get grossed out, aren’t you? How about some cute mushrooms to return you to your happy place?


Since tea tree oil is powerful in its concentrated form, you want to be careful about using it at full strength (and some people are extra sensitive or allergic, so test your sensitivity if you’ve never used it before). An easy way to use tea tee oil as a cure for dandruff is to mix it into your shampoo. As little as 5% tea tree oil is enough to do the job. Rather than mixing it with each shower, I like to make up a large batch using 5% tee tree oil and 95% Dr. Bronner’s crazy magic amazing wonderful liquid heaven. As you can see in the photo, I put it in its own labeled bottled and am good to go.

I’m sure you never get dandruff, but if you happen to run into a stranger with flakes, now you have a homemade and totally effective potion to share with them!

 *If you’re interested in learning more about the fungus world, Sarah’s been reading Mycophilia by Eugenia Bone. She’s been raving about it and has me excited to read about the fungus among us. 

Mushroom image from
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DIY Pore Strips

Kate and I are always concocting potions. You may remember Kate’s DIY dry shampoo, deodorant or her rosemary body scrub.  Today we’re teaching you how to make homemade pore strips so call your girl friends and schedule a sleepover, because you’ll make more than enough for one nose!

Have you ever tried Biore pore strips? They’re the amazing!  I mean, it is creepy how much I love seeing tiny stems of dirt, oil and blackheads, but it is also awesome knowing that the gunk is no longer in my pores.  Even though I love the instant gratification of pore strips, I do have a few complaints.  For starters, they are expensive.  I don’t have a big budget for bath and beauty products so spending at least $6 ($1 for each strip) on a box of pore strips is an extremely rare occurrence.  I also feel like I only have a 75% success rate with the store-bought strips.  Sometimes they work SO well and other times they don’t adhere to the side creases of my nose, which is where I have the most black heads. When a friend told me about DIY pore strips, I decided to try them out for myself and share the results with you guys and gals.



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Dry Shampoo to the Rescue!

It’s no surprise that Sarah and I like to make our own cosmetic and household potions whenever possible. We’ve tried our hands at deodorant, body scrubs, and laundry detergent. We like to know exactly what’s going into them, but we also really enjoy personalizing the potions to our tastes, and we often find that homemade is cheaper than store bought.

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Today we’re sharing yet another cosmetic potion: dry shampoo. I didn’t start using dry shampoo until after Alex was born (it really is every new mom’s best friend), but truthfully, I probably should have started using it sooner! I’m not a big fan of showering; I think it just strips my body of the good oils, drying out my skin and hair. I usually take a shower every three days or so, and in between you can start to see my hair gets greasy – that’s where dry shampoo saves the day. It soaks up those excess oils and gives my thin, limp hair a bit of body! The potion I’ve settled on is a mash-up of the different recipes I’ve seen out there, simplifying and using measurements that seem to fit my hair.

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Minty Fresh Deodorant

Mint is our ingredient of the season. We love to use it in drinks, both alcoholic and not, in salads, both savory and sweet, and in the shower!

There couldn’t be a better time for this post. Why? Because it’s about deodorant, and I bet you’re getting your smell on by late afternoon this summer. And because this recipe requires coconut oil, which is sure to be in a liquid state on any given 80+ degree day, making mixing easy!


Now, to back this truck up, today we’re talking about making our own non-toxic, totally biodegradable deodorant that’s safe for your body and smells great too! I’ve been using this exact recipe for close to four years now and feel no need to go back to the store-bought stuff.  You may already have the ingredients in your house, but if you don’t, they are relatively cheap* and each have other uses in your house/kitchen. Finally, it’s always fun to mix up a potion, particularly one that you can personalize with your favorite scents!

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Mint, Salt & Sand Body Scrub

Mint is our ingredient of the season. Look out for a season of cool posts.

A few weeks ago we shared ideas for rosemary body scrubs, reminding you that exfoliating goes a long way towards making your stems smooth with every shave. Did you try it out? What did you think? Today’s scrub will also work on your legs, but we think it makes a refreshing foot scrub. The sand and salt give it a bit more scrubbing power where it’s needed,  the coconut oil will soften and hydrate, and the mint will cool your hard-working soles.


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Rosemary Body Scrubs

Rosemary is our ingredient of the season. Today we’re using the same rosemary essential oil that we used to make those invigorating room sprays. Want the recipe for a perfect evening? Take a shower with these scrubs, pore yourself a Rosemary SAGE Fizz, and roast a plate of rosemary tomatoesliveseasoned_spring2014_rosemaryscrub7-1024x768 copy

We are always down for making our own body care products. Sure, it requires time and sometimes a bit of experimentation, but it’s almost always worth it. Why? It feels good to know the short list of ingredients we use are nontoxic. It’s often cheaper than products from the pharmacy. The options for personalization are endless! And finally, when I’m in the kitchen mixing up a big batch of this or that, I love that Calder refers to them as potions. Silly, but fun.

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