Tuesday, April 3, 2012

All-Natural DIY Body Wash


My living room is a disaster today-I am talking mountains of down comforter, mounds of tissue, and a nest of pillows. I have been attacked by a combination of cold/allergies/oh-so-fun time of the month issues, and I am down for the count. I did want to put a post up today though, to make up for my lack of posting, and to make myself feel like something more than a runny, sneezy, sweatpant-clad slob. I even showered for the occasion. And on that note, my post today is on homemade, DIY, natural body wash.

We have all seen the commercials...an unrealistically fit and attractive woman with perfectly shaved and glowing skin lathers up in the shower with mountains of foam and cleanses her unusually already clean skin. Who the heck actually looks like that when they shower? I shower when I have peeled myself out of bed or off the couch, and it is generally not an attractive state. But ladies, I have a secret one-up on the commercial girl. And you can too. If you make your own body wash. I am not advocating throwing out whatever you have on hand now. I used up what I had left, and then made my own about two months ago, and I have been loving it. I have about half a bottle of some Softsoap body wash in my shower, which I will use for comparison in this post.





Making your own body wash is easy and extremely cost-effective. You will absolutely love the price point on this. And it is so much better for your skin. Let's start by looking at my Softsoap body wash. I paid $3.50 for this bottle (with a coupon). It has 18 ounces of product. If I used this regularly, I would get about three weeks of use out of the bottle. I tend to shower twice a day because I work out. If you have a family, you are likely going through a lot more of this than I am. My bottle is the "Ultra Rich Shea Butter Creme" variety, and it boasts that it is moisturizing and touts the benefits of the shea butter enrichment.

The back of the bottle lists the ingredients: Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Acrylates Copolymer, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Fragrance, Sodium Chloride, Glycol Distearate, Laureth-4, Sodium Hydroxide, DMDM Hydantoin, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Tetrasodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Gelatin, Acacia Senegal Gum, Mica, Iron Oxides, Titanium Dioxide. Notice how the main selling point of the product-Shea Butter-is waayyyyy down the ingredients list.

You can go through and research some of these ingredients on your own time-but they are considered "safe" in  most cases if the absorption and exposure is not extended. I can't help but feel that use over a lifetime can be detrimental to health. Beyond the science of things, I know that I have issues using a lot of these chemical-based cleaners. My skin is constantly dry and itchy. I have to spend tons of money on moisturizers (made of more chemicals) to have soft skin. I sometimes break out in rashes and irritation. I can search for months to find one that truly moisturizes my skin, and then feel as if I have wasted my money on a product. So I switched to making my own body wash. The results have been amazing.

My skin is moisturized and smooth. I rarely need to use lotion and when I do, I can feel good about the fact that it is because my skin is actually thirsty, and not depleted of moisture because of harsh chemicals. I make my body wash about every two weeks, and it costs me about $.55 to make each container of homemade body wash. Some of the store-bough washes are upwards of $7. It's better for my family and our budget. The ingredients in my body wash are simple and natural: coconut-oil based castile soap, water, coconut oil, and if I choose to use any, natural essential oils. That's it! Easy, cheap, and all-natural. I also use this as my shaving lotion! It works wonderfully! Your skin and your wallet with thank you.

Start with a bar of natural castile soap. I am using Kirk's here. I buy it in a 3-pack at Harmon's, but it is also available at natural food stores, such as Sunflower Market or health food stores. A package costs between $3-$4. Some Wal-Marts are rumored to carry this in a 3-pack for $1.50, but I have yet to find it. I have also used Dr. Bronner's, but it is more expensive, between $4-$5/bar. You can also use liquid castile soap, but that runs between $14-$17/bottle. I find this method to be much more cost-effective.


This homemade body wash will behave differently than the store-bought product. It will not suds as much, but it is still working. Our shampoos and body wash from the store suds because of the sulfate in them-it is not an indication of whether or not it is cleaning. This soap, unlike commercial products, is not a detergent and will not strip your body of moisture or oils needed to maintain healthy skin.

Take your bar of soap and grate it into a mixing bowl. Just use a cheese grater (this is from the dollar store, and I use the big holes) to grate the whole bar of soap up. Set it aside.



Boil eight cups of water. Add the soap to the boiling water and cook, stirring until the soap has dissolved. Turn off the heat and allow the soap to cool until it is lukewarm. It will be very liquid, and will thicken as it cools completely. A note here: The Dr. Bronner's brand thickens more than Kirk's does. Kirk's is very liquid after sitting for several hours and resembles the liquid form of Dr. Bronner's soap. I am preferring the very liquid Kirk's over the gelatinous Dr. Bronner's. It goes a long way and it very skin-softening.



Take a reusable container to use for your body wash. I like to use this old yogurt container. I didn't like using old shampoo bottles as much, because I like to dip my shower puff directly in the container. That's up to you. Add one cup of the liquid soap to the container. Add two cups of water to the soap and mix.



I think this next step is what makes all the difference in moisturizing. Add one tablespoon of coconut oil to the soap and water. I microwave the container for one minute to melt the oil, and then whisk it all together.



I also like to add a few drops of essential oil. Today, I used four drops of lavender.


That's it! The soap will become thicker as it cools and sets (if you use the Dr. Bronner's. Kirk's remains very liquid), but just put a bit on your loofah, and wash away. It will not suds as much as you are used to, but for you will absolutely love the way your skin feels. You will see that the coconut oil forms a sheen on your skin, but it absorbs and leaves you feeling baby soft. A note: If you want a lot of sudsing, and to stretch your soap even further, reuse a foaming soap bottle. I just put some of mine into an old Bath & Body Works foaming soap container, and it foams up really nicely! I definitely recommend this!

Oh! I also just store my leftover castile soap in a large plastic tub (an old Sea Salt Caramel Tub from Costco), and use it whenever I need to make more body wash. I also use it for hand soap and shampoo!

There you go! Homemade body wash for $.55, and it works beautifully! Happy natural living :)

28 comments:

  1. thank you for this wonderful recipe! I couldn't find the link for your shampoo, but would love to see that too.

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  2. Do you think this would be ok to use on toddlers/children?

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    1. Absolutely! Castile soap is all-natural and vegetable-based, as is coconut oil. I sometimes add essential oils too, and something like lavender oil would be gentle and soothing. The one thing is that the castile soap is not tear-free, so just be sure to keep it out of their eyes. My friend uses this for her 2 year old and 10 month old all the time. It is so much better for them than anything you would buy in the store :)

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  3. I attempted making this body wash this evening. I used Dr. Bronner's bar soap. Even after cooling, the consistency is so runny that I'm worried about adding the additional water and coconut oil. Am I doing something wrong? Any suggestions will be helpful! Thank you.

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  4. I have noticed that mine does that too, occasionally. It really depends on the ambient temperature. I made some a few weeks ago that was very liquid until the temperature dropped, and now it is like a gel-mass. The concentration seems to be the same no matter the liquid/gel state. As such, I still dilute mine down with water and add the coconut oil, and it foams exactly the same when you lather it up. I really like to use a loofah, and it will be really foamy. Just dip a part of the wet loofah in the container and lather it up in your hands. Just a note-the consistency of most commercial products for body wash are loaded up with glycerin, and that makes the sort of silky, thick texture. You can buy glycerin at health food stores and add it, but I really think it's an extra step or expense that isn't needed. The thickness of the wash doesn't have an effect on it's ability to suds and foam. The Dr. Bronner's liquid soap in the bottle is very, very liquid (Also very expensive) and it is highly concentrated and gets very foamy. Good luck!

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  5. check out vitacost.com They are a great website and they have the liquid Dr. Bronners for a great price. Thanks for the recipe. I plan on trying this out!

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  6. Have you tried mixing a bar of castile soap with 4 parts water of same weight as bar in a plastic bag? Let it sit for a few days to dissolve. No grating or heating.

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  7. how much soap do you use? you said you store the rest. i'm confused lol.

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  8. Great I was gettin scared because mine is still liquid after a few hours. I used the kirks too my 3 pack from walmart was like 2.50.

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  9. how do you use liquid soap?

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  10. For those of you dealing with it being too liquify, you might try using a mixer or blender. Other body wash recipes use this and it seems to work for them. I like you recipe. Do you have ideas for oils that would be "manly"? I am looking for one for my hubby:)

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    1. Re manly scents - essential oils with base note help. Vetiver, sandalwood, Texas cedar are my favorites.

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  11. Sorry but isn't Castile soap from Spain and olive oil based, not coconut ?

    At least the Castile soap here in Europe is so. Plse can anyone shed some

    light on this ?

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    1. Castile soap did refer to the soap from Spain. However, here in America, "castile" now refers to pretty much any soap that is vegetable based.

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  12. Anwering my own post above, I just found the following revelatory info :
    From http://www.alcasoft.com/soapfact/castile.html

    'Castile traditionally is made from a combination of olive oil and animal fat. Olive oil gives the soap its mildness and gentleness. The animal fat gives Castile soap its superior cleaning and lasting qualities. Either tallow or lard can be used as the source of animal fat. We chose lard. Tallow produces a very hard bar that needs hot rather than warm water to lather properly making it not best for personal skin care. Lard makes a soap that lathers well in warm water. The fatty acids in lard are very similar to those in human skin making soap produced from it very well matched for human usage.

    Many soap makers call their vegetable oil based soaps Castile. True Castile soaps must be produced from a mixture that is 40 to 60 % olive oil. Many of these modern Castile soaps contain little or no olive oil. In addition these modern soaps are made using coconut oil. Soaps made from coconut oil are very drying and can cause skin irritation.

    These are the reasons we feel our Castile soap made in the traditional way from olive oil and an animal fat (lard) are the best hand-crafted soaps offered on the market today.

    We produce, for those persons who are opposed to using animal material in any way, a Castile soap made using olive oil in combination with palm oils'.

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  13. If you go to www.kirksnatural.com you will find the ingredients list for this soap. Basically it made of coconut oil. Castile soap no longer refers to animal fat. I did this recipe and used 6 c water instead of 8 c. and 2 T. coconut oil. So far it looks good so we'll see if the less water makes is more soap like.

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  14. This has to cost more than $.55 to make one container if each bar of soap alone is $3-$4. That means if you use one bar of soap for each batch, you are at least spending $1 for each one. Then add the small cost of coconut oil and some essential oil. Its still good though. Just wanted to help others understand it is not as cheap as $.55 per container.

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  15. One bar of soap makes more than one container of the body wash. I just mixed this up and the one bar of soap and eight ounces of water makes about 64 ounces of final product . . .

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  16. she says "Add one cup of the liquid soap to the container. Add two cups of water to the soap and mix."

    you would have more left over, which she puts in an old caramel tub from costco.

    if you didn't have any of these items, your initial cost would be about $11 ($6 for TJ's virgin coco oil, $4 for 3 bars of castile soap, i'm even adding $1 for your water bill), and if you're melting a bar of soap into 8 cups of water and only using 1 cup at a time, you'd get at least 7 batches from that, plus you still have 2 more bars to melt. So from your initial $11, you'll run out of castile soap before coconut oil, and you'll get around 21 3-cup batches of body wash, and that's a conservative estimate.
    $11/21 = $0.52 per batch.

    it IS that cheap.

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    1. It also depends on WHICH Castile soap you are using. Dr. Bonners comes in single 5 oz bars that run around $3.00-$3.50 a piece, while Kirks Castile bars are usually in a 3 pack (I think the are 5 oz) for around $3.00 - the Wal-Mart by me has them for $3.28. At any rate, doing body wash this way makes so much body wash that even using the Dr. Bonners Castile, it is still way cheaper than buying commercial body wash, and it makes your skin feel nice too.

      Regarding the runny consistency, I second the person who said to use your mixer on it....that should do the trick.

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    2. Just a side note on the whipping with a mixer....if you do this, you need to chill your soap mixture first...place the bowl in the fridge (or if it is winter, outside ) for a couple hours. When you take it out of the fridge, it will be a big blob of gel. Don't panic! Attack with your mixer now and it will mix up nicely!

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  17. I've been on several of these websites on how to make soap. I'm still new at making this homemade stuff. The essential oil scents for men would be Clary Sage essential oil or the Sandalwood essential oil. Note, I haven't tried this yet, because I am waiting for my hubby's commercial body wash to get used up. Lol. To Linda, thank you for sharing. Just a note, the essential oils have natural healing properties to them...so this is an added bonus to making your own bathing products.

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    1. I've heard that bergamot is good for men too.

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  18. I just made a batch of this last night. You can add glycerin or guar gum to thicken if you like your wash thicker. Just don't make the mistake I did and add both! Ball-O-Soap!

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  19. I made this a couple of weeks ago and am not sure what I did wrong. The both the "leftover" and the final body wash (with the coconut oil and essential oil) are like water in consistency. The final body wash has the coconut oil floating on top. Is this how it's supposed to be? I was expecting it to be more liquidy than standard body wash, but not like water. Did I do something wrong that the coconut oil is floating on top?

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks in advance!

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  20. I just made this last night, it was great. But when I got up this morning all of it was solid. I followed the directions and added the extra water. Should I add more water? It was cold last night prob 30 something outside and 50 something inside.

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  21. I only have liquid castile soap at the moment. Can I sub liquid for grated?

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