Bath and Body for the Holidays

This is my final post about holiday gift giving ideas. I know we are passed the holidays, but I think it is important to finish it. This post is going to focus on the idea of giving homemade body care products to friends and family.

Much like the treats and the hand made textile gifts, these products also need to fit the trifecta. Time, money, effort/skill. If you are lacking in one, do everyone a favor and just buy the stuff to give.

Effort/skill. I love making my own body products. Yesterday I made a hair mask out of an egg, some coconut oil, and some lemon juice. My hair feels really nice and I noticed a distinct shine I didn’t have before. I cannot, however, give this as a gift. Eesh, what a disaster. When giving homemade body products you have to know what you are capable of and if it is feasible to do.

Pretty good staples for gift giving would be soap, a salt or sugar scrub, soaks or bath bombs, lip balm, and body butters made of only oils. Note how lotions, masks, and hair products are not listed. Unless you have your own line of products that you have developed and tested, it is unlikely that whatever you make is going to be shelf stable long enough for your gift recipient to use it. The reason being is the ingredients used. Making lotion requires the mixture of water and oil in specific blends to make an emulsion. This is great to practice with and use on yourself, as these homemade blends are usually stable for about two weeks before they spoil. Maybe a bit longer if stored in the inconvenient refrigerator. Who doesn’t want stroll to the kitchen naked to put on frigid lotion after a warm, lovely shower? Bacteria usually contaminate lotions, and they grow well in the oil/water mixture, which make them spoil. Body butters, on the other hand, are made with only oils. These do not promote the growth of bacteria as rapidly as lotion does. This is the same for soap, which after the chemical reaction of saponification, also eliminates water. Lip balms are usually oil. Bath bombs and soaks are made with dry ingredients and left to dry. Sugar and salt scrubs are just mixtures of soap and sugar or salt. All of these are shelf stable for a very long time. So, if in doubt, don’t make it.

Time. A bar of soap needs to cure for up to six weeks. Did you know that? Make sure you have ample time to make the products you want. Much like making your own chocolates, or crocheting everyone scarves, it can take an extraordinary amount of time to craft quality products you would be proud to give as gifts. On top of this, if you want to customize, you will have to take that into account when preparing each batch. You will quickly find yourself spending a large amount of time figuring out how to make x number of bath bombs with this fragrance or that without having to make six large batches. Basically time and planning go hand in hand.

Money. This is going to be your biggest blockade, I promise. Body products claim to be pennies on the dollar, and they can be. However, the initial cost is no joke. I good soap mold for making a block is anywhere between $10-50. Quality essential oils and fragrances  can be expensive as well. The cost savings comes in when you buy in bulk, not just the little you need to make 2lbs of soap. It took me several hundred dollars, over a period of time, to accumulate the supplies and stock I have now to make what I want, while only replenishing ingredients as I need them. Just be aware when you start this project.

I would love to hear about your successes or failures at giving homemade bath products. Let me know in the comments. Until next time!

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