Around the House

Ethical Lifestyle

Haircare and Skincare


Face Cleaners and Toners

These are things we use all the time, and are often made of nasty stuff we don't know with the main ingredient being marketing. I am guilty of using aftershave and not knowing what is in it half the time, the other half realising that this is freely available for a lot less without the marketing as the active ingredient. I always have peroxide handy for instance, mainly because I live in an area with ticks. But I got to thinking on this, what can I make at home? Taking the challenge I decided to start making my own.

There are some basic ingredients you can use if you want to play further. Whey, a by-product of cheese and yoghurt making can be used as an astringent by itself or in a mixed one. With the amount that comes out of cheese I always seem to have some available. Likewise, if you wish to use peroxide if you're like me you have a small bottle handy at all times for tick bites after removing them (Dab onto bite site to clean out and kill any remaining tick).

However, as an experiment I went and found some readily available ingredients to make your own aftershave/astringent splash and found some other uses for it besides (See supplement below). In all of this I would recommend Gin or Vodka, but you don't have to go expensive. Bottom Shelf is perfect for this kind of use, after all you're not drinking it. I bought the cheapest around in a full bottle (Cost not that much more than a half bottle) and I still have most of it so for around the cost of a cheap bottle of liquor you will get many, many uses out of it. And whey of course is free whenever you make cheese or yoghurt, which were the August recipes. Making cheese out of two litres of milk makes about a litre of whey so you will have plenty to play with. Other ingredients you could get include Witch Hazel, another toner without the harshness of alcohol. Or of course, as my grandmother used to do you could brew chamomile tea, let go cold and use as a cheap and environmentally friendly gentle cleanser or another ingredient for cleansers and toners. Look around and see what you can find.

Aftershave/Splash on Astringent

This is a very simple and quick job, perfect for recycling glass aftershave bottles to make your own in once they run out. For this I used cheap vodka but gin will also work for this. A good idea is to have the small metal funnel used with hip flasks for this as this will otherwise be a very messy process, especially with small bottle necks. I started used aftershave as a teenager for hereditary oily skin as a oil control, splashed on in the beginning of the day and it stuck. Not for everybody, but would not be without it now, especially in summer. Part of why I'm doing this – I tend to go through it.

This will make a very personal aftershave or astringent splash, how you scent it is up to you. I used old 100ml Imperial leather bottles so I used about 12-15 drops to scent this. One (lighter one) was Sandalwood, the other Amber (Yellowish) to see how both go. Your oils may seem expensive, but remember they last because you're not using a lot each time. Blend your own or use your favourite essential oil to whatever socially acceptable strength you wish. Make it as creative and personal as you are – part of the beauty of making your own.

  • Vodka
  • Water
  • Essential/scented oils
  • Hip flask funnel
  • Storage Bottle
  • Clean and sterilise bottle first with alcohol and then rinse with water.
  • Fill the storage bottle to about halfway with your gin or vodka using the funnel. Add your oil or oil blend cap and shake to mix in.
  • Pour in water shake and cap again.
Whey Toner

This was something that was inspired by don't waste the crumbs use of whey to clean skin and hair. Here it's being made into something that you can keep in your bathroom in a bottle and use like a pre-made product. This is very easy and simple like the Aftershave/astringent splash above. In this case I used up the last of the commercial aftershave in one of my bottles to be used for above, so the preservative and scent was in one. You don't need a lot of alcohol is this one, just enough to stop it going off instantly.

  • Whey
  • Water
  • Vodka
  • Scent (if desired).
  • Bottle Funnel (optional)
  • Sterilise your bottle with alcohol then rinse with water.
  • Pour in whey, add scent and about a capful or less of the alcohol and shake to combine when capped.
  • Add water and mix again.
Chamomile and Whey Toner

This was one that I thought off remembering my grandmothers use of cold Chamomile tea. It involves mixing the two, no extra scent with a small amount of alcohol to preserve it as both to off quickly. Use up pretty quickly anyway as neither store well, even with a small amount of preservative in it. 

  • Chamomile tea
  • Whey
  • Alcohol or Gin
  • Bottle
  • Funnel (if needed)
  • Rinse bottle with alcohol to sterilise and rinse out with water.
  • Make Chamomile tea and allow to go cold and strong.
  • When Chamomile tea cold pour into a bottle and fill with whey, capping bottle and shaking to stir.
  • When combined add about a capful or less with alcohol for preserves, shake and store.

Supplement -  Dish washing Detergent

This detergent is something I just thought up when thinking of the aftershave I made this week. It is a mixture of soap, Vodka and water. When I've run out before I've worked with soap in a bottle of water, which made up a sort of detergent. Deciding to see if the alcohol changed how it worked I added the alcohol and found the soap dissolved and stabilised better in the mixture. Not only that, the alcohol makes it antibacterial.

  • Soap (ideal to use that tiny leftover bars left lying around)
  • Vodka or pure alcohol
  • Water
  • Small Bottle
  • Put soap in bottle
  • Pour alcohol over and add water.
  • Put lid on and shake, let the soap dissolve.
  • Keep near you and shake occasionally, encouraging soap to dissolve.
  • When soap dissolved use as normal.


This week was a pretty simple one, looking at haircare. Being a parent of a school age child and having to constantly battle head lice one thing I go through is conditioner. Rather than using a chemical shampoo that would have killed my daughters hair long ago I decided to use conditioner, letting the dammed bugs steep in it for an hour or so and then comb them out. I doing this with a kid with very long hair I can go through bottles of the cheap stuff at a rate. So When I was thinking of this week I thought, well, why not. What I came up with was an other way around idea of how to do haircare that can benefit those who have my problem, but others. So I came up with the idea of producing a conditioner first then shampoo/rinse treatment.


This conditioner, while runnier still does the job even for head lice washes, suffocation the little buggers well enough to comb out and separating their eggs from the hair. If you wish you can add extra ingredients like Eucalyptus, neem or tea tree oil to this mixture, but it also works though suffocation then a comb out just fine. The coconut oil base solidifies at room temperature, but remains very viscous in hair. May need storage in the fridge and water bathing at the time if pre-made, or make at the time and keep at a temperature ready to use. This is runnier than normal conditioner, though you can make it thicker as well. The whey and Chamomile don't keep well so only make a day or so in advance.

  • Coconut oil
  • Whey
  • Chamomile tea
  • Spoon
  • Mug
  • Jar
  • Make the Chamomile tea from bag or loose tea and let steep till dark and lukewarm.
  • Top up tea with equal amount of whey, stir in.
  • Add coconut oil till thick and vicious and shake.
  • Use Immediately if desired or water bath in lukewarm water before using.
Shampoo Rinse

This, like the Conditioner won't store well, but is based on two things – the use of whey or vinegar as a hair toner and the cleaning qualities of chamomile tea as my grandmother used it. Use second to take out the coconut oil, may be twice. Make only a day or two in advance as this will not store.

  • Whey
  • Chamomile tea
  • Mug
  • Jar or container
  • Spoon
  • Make the Chamomile tea from either teabag or loose tea and let steep till lukewarm and dark.
  • Add half whey into glass jar and shake to combine.
  • Store in fridge or use immediatley.

Moisturiser/Lip Balm

This week we're looking at a contribution from a friend, Alie Arjaans which focusses on the moisturisers and lip balms. This produces a very nice little product that should not be stored near heat or direct sunlight but otherwise keeps well at room temperature. I'll now hand you over for the explanation...

This past week I came across small glass bottles, excited to utilise them to create a lip balm or because of the size of the jar, a cream for skin. The mixture I came up with has created a yummy balm that is beautiful on the skin using basic ingredients from a friends farm and supermarket.  

What did I include:.  

In the end  I used a reasonably priced macadamia oil, a more expensive coconut oil, a cap full of vanilla essence as the base. I added bitter orange, organic lemon and ginger  to the mix. It does take some thorough mixing to create a yummy mix that thickens the next day as All the ingredients thicken. I am using it for lips, face, hands, body. It helps the skin feel silky smooth.  

I came a cross a mason jar with a straw so had fun making wonderful teas including licorice, orange lemon, ginger. So many Varieties of fresh ingredients to assist with sore throats, increase vitamin intake. Great for popping in your bag for the days outing.  

Method and words by Alie M. Arjaans. Photo and Introduction by. Monique M. Toth