You’ve decided to take an extended backpacking trip abroad.
It makes sense that the next logical thing to do is to start monitoring your finances and dreaming up ways you can save yourself money in your day to day life.
There’s a whole manner of ways you can approach this. You can cut back on your movie dates or omit that morning cup of coffee from your life.
A less conventional option is to open the doors of your toiletries cupboard and take a look at what you’ve got sitting on the shelves there.
Many of the day to day items we use to keep our hygiene in order are probably, shock, horror – items we don’t need.
We’re often conned into buying vast amounts of unwanted products that we may use once or twice.
They then get thrown into the far corners of your bathroom cupboard, left for years to gather dust.
I have a particular vendetta against the “travel-size” toiletries items that you can purchase from chemists and pharmacies.
I found I’d end up re-buying them for any trip I made abroad, in most cases, forgetting that I would have a couple of small tubes of moisturizer laying around my bedroom from my last trip overseas.
I decided that it was time to start looking into making my own items to use around the house and while traveling.
They’re easy enough to package in small plastic jars, I know exactly what I’m putting on my skin for a change and as many of the ingredients are available to buy in bulk… I’m saving money in the long run.
Here are a few homemade toiletries that you can whip up in your kitchen, need very few ingredients and even less of your own spare time.
Toothpaste is an easy one to start with, as it contains only three key ingredients – baking soda and coconut oil, with peppermint oil for taste.
Make sure when buying peppermint oil that it is digestible, rather than essential oil.
- Grab a ½ cup of coconut oil and melt it slightly.
- Add 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda.
- Let around ten drops of peppermint oil trickle into the concoction.
- Mix, put it into a small jar and allow it to harden.
Use by scooping it onto the bristles of your toothbrush using the brush head or a teaspoon.
Rather than spending money on a plastic toothbrush that will spend an eternity sitting in a landfill somewhere, consider purchasing a toothbrush made out of bamboo instead.
They have the same lifespan as a regular toothbrush (up to three months). Every part of the toothbrush, apart from the bristles, is biodegradable.
Editor's Note: At home, consider trying a toothbrush sanitizer as it helps to kill bacteria and keep your brushes totally clean until the next use.
A simple recipe for the toner that I use is two parts filtered water, one part apple cider vinegar. Shake before applying it as you would any other toner… I.e., via a spray bottle or directly on your face.
For a better smelling option – try making your own rosewater toner, which can be done in under an hour.
Remember to patch test either concoction on your skin twenty-four hours before applying it directly to your face.
If you’re like me, you’ll have skin that is continually crying out for moisturizer. I think I used to spend more money on this part of my beauty routine than any other.
Once again, the ingredients required are minimal – coconut oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, and almond oil.
Combine ingredients in a bowl and mix – you’ll be ready to rumble in no time.
I was equally as excited to stumble upon a recipe for homemade lotion bars.
Such a neat and compact item would make a welcomed addition to any backpacker’s bag of toiletries when on the road.
There are slim pickings for natural deodorants out there that work.
For a long time, I had to choose between offending anyone in my immediate vicinity with body odor or putting the aluminum in conventional deodorants directly on my skin.
Yet, you guessed it… you can make your own, using three ingredients – coconut oil, baking soda, and Shea butter, with arrowroot and essential oils as optional extras.
5. Make-Up Remover
Jojoba oil. That’s it. Dab a bit on some reusable cotton rounds and use it as you would any other makeup remover.
Of course, you don’t have to go full hippy. Start slow – try making your toothpaste and see how you progress from there.
Swapping out even one store-bought item for a product you can make yourself will save you money and be much better in the long run for both your health and our wondrous planet.
LC is an ex-expat who is currently re-exploring her home country of Australia. Follow her adventures at home and abroad via her blog Birdgehls, where she writes about travel, expat life, gushes on about various animals and bemoans her often futile attempts to go completely green. Or, you can look her up on Facebook.