I’ve been interested in natural beauty DIY recipes since I was about eleven years old when I first attempted to make my own citrus lip balm. I remember being SO excited when I poured the mixture into little tins. It was the first time I realized that products were not limited to what the store presented on their shelves. I was just as excited when I rediscovered my love of DIY beauty recipes in 2010 and even had an Etsy shop where I sold my botanical lip balms, bath salts, perfumes, etc. for a while. I have created many recipes of my own over the years, but I haven’t created anything like that in more than a year – probably because I get a lot of free samples to review! But I’ve been longing to get back into it and so was thrilled when Spring House Press sent me a copy of The Natural Beauty Solution by Mary Helen Leonard (June 2015). I included this in my Best Books to Gift holiday guide on Sweet Violet Bride and set aside time over the holidays to really dive in and read it from cover to cover.
Not only has this book reinvigorated my love of natural DIY beauty but I highly recommend it for anyone new to the idea of switching from commercial beauty products to simple and natural recipes. It is great for beginners, but also for those who like me might have some experience already. The first chapter takes us through the first steps of cleaning out your cabinet and replacing your toxic products – including why parabens, sulfates, phthalates, mineral oil, and artificial fragrances are bad.
Mary Helen Leonard lists all the steps you need to take to completely change over your beauty routine and in a simple easy-to-follow manner (she even includes worksheets in the back for a bathroom cabinet cleanse and results/observations). With each recipe she lists the main ingredients (including alternate suggestions for different skin types), directions on how to make, and how to use. The book is also sprinkled throughout with helpful troubleshooting tips for different skin concerns, faqs, and mini interviews with beauty experts.
I particularly enjoyed the section in the beginning about the essential ingredients to stock up on and chapter 5 which is all about hair – info on the no-poo method, how to make different types of washes/rinses, conditioning oil, a hair mask, dry shampoo, and a detangler. Those are the recipes I’m going to try first because I’ve been trying to troubleshoot an itchy, irritated scalp for more than a year. Her troubleshooting tips about hard water vs. soft water might have already helped me out a lot!
There are also chapters on face and body of course, both of which are filled with beautiful ideas and recipes I’ll be trying and adapting to my own liking throughout the year. Gorgeous photography by Kimberly Davis is seen throughout the book (with at least one photo per recipe), making this a visually pleasing addition to my library also. Because this book has a lot of very basic recipes (what I like to think of as building blocks when I want to bring out my bin of ingredients and play) I’m sure I will reference this often. I love the charts that list which type of carrier and essential oils are best for certain skin types too! I definitely bookmarked those. I’m personally excited to try Niaouli essential oil and watermelon seed oil neither of which I’m familiar with but are mentioned a lot in this book.
If you are completely new to this whole world of green beauty, this book can be your guide as you take your first steps. If you’re adept at making your own basic sugar scrub but want to learn how to create your own face cream through the process of emulsion – this is also a great book. I give it two thumbs up!