Homespun holiday beauty hacks


sugar scrub

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Winter has a way of wreaking havoc on both body and bank account. Chapped skin, aching feet and hands that resemble those of an old witch in a fairytale forest somewhere are just some of the charming side effects of the harsh elements.

Then there’s the never ending list of gift recipients. It’s tempting to duck into a store or three while gift shopping to pick up some fancy schmancy scrubs, soaks and masks — budget be damned! But for many, including me, the stress of dwindling cash far outweighs the delight of that pretty bag full of goodies.

Instead, create spa-worthy goodies that are so luxurious, effective and inexpensive, you can even give them as gifts. Treat yourself and those you love to homemade spins on fancy pampering products using items you may already have in your kitchen.

And please do not even think about using synthetic fragrance oil for these recipes. Make sure all of your additives are safe to use for their intended purposes, and do a patch test before diving in!


Good enough to eat

The holidays were made for cookies and candy, so in the spirit of sweet treats, get scrumptious from head to toe! Your lips will be mistletoe-ready with Living Chic on the Cheap’s yummy vanilla lip scrub that you can throw together in about a minute with sugar, oil and vanilla extract. I used organic sugar because that’s what I had on hand and love how the amber hue resembles a perfectly baked sugar cookie. Speaking of sugar cookies, you must make this amazing sugar cookie foot scrub from So Let’s Hang Out. If you really want your tootsies to tingle, add a few drops of peppermint essential oil. This one is also an ace multitasker and softens hands in a jiffy.

Vanilla lip scrub

Candy canes scream, “Holiday!” I am wild about this peppermint candy cane sugar scrub recipe from The Idea Room. Gifting this? Tie a pretty ribbon and a couple of candy canes to the bottle for a festive presentation.

Oatmeal is, in my humble opinion, manna from heaven. Try a mask made of a nourishing ripe banana, some ground oatmeal and a drizzle of honey to rehydrate and calm upset skin. Birchbox has a great recipe, but I omitted the egg white and added a bit of olive oil instead. This luscious mask isn’t exactly gift friendly, but, hey, you’re working hard. Treat yourself. While we’re on the subject, all this sweet talk is making me hungry. You, too? This super easy, super healthy oatmeal cookie recipe will curb your cravings. You’re welcome.


Tea and sympathy

If we’re going to talk cookies, we have to talk tea, aka the greatest beverage on a cold winter’s night ever. Say good-bye to itchy, irritated skin with Salt Tree’s ingenious London Fog bath soak, featuring our good friend oatmeal and earl grey tea. More of a floral person? Soothe sore muscles with Garden Therapy’s Lavender Bath Salts recipe. I happened to have lavender buds on hand because I’m classy like that, but they’re not necessary. Mix a scoop of the London fog soak with a bit of the lavender bath salts for a divine bathing experience. Truly, nothing is as sophisticated as lavender earl grey tea.

Lavender bath salts

For all you coconut oil lovers, this Black Tea Body Scrub from Savvy Naturalista has a whipped texture that will make you feel like a frosted cupcake at afternoon tea.


Fizzy pop

I am a sucker for fizzy bath balls and tablets. I feel a childlike sense of wonder every time one begins to bubble and swirl about. This magical experience, however, isn’t exactly cost effective. Fortunately, Everything Etsy has the perfect DIY recipe! Some tips: you don’t need to order a huge bag of citric acid online to make these. I’m not about to spend a bunch of money when I’m experimenting with a new recipe. I found a jar of citric acid for around three bucks at Walmart, right alongside the canning supplies. Also, almond oil is totally not necessary; good ole olive oil worked beautifully for my tablets. I halved the recipe used an ice cube tray from a dollar store as my mold, and it filled all but one cube compartment.

Bath fizzies

Whether or not you’re giving these as gifts, have fun with packaging. Mason jars and travel pots are super cheap. Bath fizzies look super cute packaged in a basic sandwich baggie tied with pretty ribbon. You can even make handwritten labels using address stickers from the stationery section.

Stress? What stress? 'Tis the season for comfort and joy!