A Basic Starter Guide to DIY Personal Care Products–Bonus Recipe: Natural Nail Polish Remover

mortar and pestle on white surface

Article Read Time: 10 Minutes

If you want something done right, do it yourself. That’s my M.O. I’ve lived by the creed for decades and do not regret it one bit. From making toothpaste to giving birth – in DIY, the power in self-confidence and self-awareness is life-altering.

If you’re thinking of becoming a DIYer – you absolutely can. Here’s a guideline based on my personal experience of making personal care products for my very large family of ten people.

Knowledge is Passion's Fuel
Why do you want to DIY? Avoiding chemicals? Lower costs? Friends are doing it? If your motives are aligned with a pure cause your DIY journey will be filled with fun, joy, and success. Be sure you are willing to invest the time and money into DIY projects for the right reason. That said, everything starts with understanding what you’re doing! Once you’ve identified which product you want to make, become intimate with the ingredients you’ve chosen to use and why you are using them – the purpose you are using them for.

I LOVE learning. I just love it. I’ll go on an informational hunt on a single ingredient and store link after link in my notebook on just that one thing. It gives such confidence when I use that ingredient in my products and share those products with family. I’m always spouting off random facts about my products. Contrary to what everyone says, Google CAN be your friend. The key is to use the right keywords when searching AND check the sources on credible sites ONLY.
The library is still a wonderful place to check out books. If your local town has a good library, take a gander and see if you can find out the science behind your ingredient usage. You may find some good recipes too.
Do you know someone who DIYs successfully (Not unlike yours truly)? Pick their brain. If you have a science question about an ingredient asking a relevant professional is a good idea as well.

Proper Preparation
Once you’re armed with knowledge and a recipe. You will want to find a method of recording it. ‘Cuz you’re gonna want to tweak it. And then you’re gonna want to repeat it. You can’t do that if you’ve forgotten what you’ve done. Trust me on this. I went through a few years DIYing without a proper method of recording…what can I say I’m a bit hard-headed. The reality is not every recipe you find will work for you. And if you have a large family like I do, this will be more apparent.
Currently, I use a database app that I’ve customized from scratch. I have a bit of knowledge of databases. If you’re unlike me, you can start by using a basic notes app or software. You can also use a basic spreadsheet. You can go old fashion and do it paper and pen style. I suspect it would be a nightmare to update if you need to tweak a recipe. Make sure you choose your method carefully – suitable for you only. Because if you want to move your information, it can be a pain. Also – backup your file frequently!

These are the columns I use in my database
  • NAME – Name of the recipe
  • PHOTO – photographs of the recipe
  • INGREDIENTS – List of ingredients in the recipe
  • INSTRUCTIONS – self-explanatory
  • TAGS – To help categorize your recipes so that they are searchable. Example: oral care, facial care, body care etc.
  • NOTES – This is my most important category. Use to record feedback, updates, tweaks etc.
  • RELATED INFORMATION/RESEARCH – I add links to any relevant research info here.
Containers & Jars
I LOVE containers and jars! I will buy a product just for the jar. Reusing your jars – specifically, the glass will save you a lot of money. You’ll want to start stocking up on containers and their lids. Depending on your product, glass jars with plastic lids work best for long-lasting use. Metal lids can become corroded over time (salt, alcohol, vinegar). Plastic containers can be just as useful. I prefer plastic containers for dryer products. Start collecting jars containers for the purpose of storing your creations. Of course, if you don’t mind spending a bit of money, you can order containers and jars from any relevant online site. Your local health store may sell them as well. 

Needless to say, labeling is important! Cutesy labels like the ones with the old-timey chalk writing provide nice aesthetics, but impractical for products that will be handled daily. They are better for pantry items. A practical investment into a labeling machine will do wonders as a DIYer. They come in a variety of prices and sizes. You’ll want a labeler that creates labels that will stay on through oil and water spills. Those that stay on through a washing are even better.

Vegetable, Nuts and Fruit Oils
Most DIY personal care product requires oil of sort. Having these on hand - as a staple on your shopping list makes the jump into the DIY world a bit easier. Because you are creating products that you and your family will be using personally, buying the best quality you can afford is absolutely essential. Additionally, quality ingredients make your concoctions effective.
Use organic whenever possible to minimize the number of chemicals in your products. Use unrefined, cold-pressed, or virgin oils. In other words, avoid oils that are processed. When reading the labels avoid oils that imply they are “cold-pressed” at first. This ultimately means that they are pressed for their oil and then refined via chemical extraction.  Oils that are generally unrefined usually taste, smell and look like the food they came from.
Oils to have on hand…
  • Unrefined Coconut Oil
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Side note – I do not use or MCT coconut (liquid) oil because they are fractionated, and the fatty acids that give it its benefits are removed. In other words, MCT coconut oil is processed and not true coconut oil. If the recipe calls for oil that stays liquid at room temperature– then use oil that stays liquid at room temperature.

Butters and Waxes
Depending on the thickness you are trying to achieve in products – having butter and waxes come in very handy. They are also good at preserving products and making them last longer as products are thicker requiring a minimal amount.
Here are some to have on hand.
  • Beeswax
  • Shea Butter
Vegan alternatives can be Cacao Butter, Carnauba Wax. I am not vegan and don’t purposefully make vegan products, so I can’t speak intelligently on how these alternatives work. I have worked with Cacao butter and have found they solidify verrry slowly! It took days for my cacao lip balm to solidify. If you find a vegan DIY recipe make sure the creator of the recipe is experienced in making vegan DIYs.

Dry Ingredients
There are three dry ingredients that are a continual staple in my DIY resources. Baking Soda, Arrowroot and Bentonite Clay.
Baking soda acts as an abrasive as well as a deodorant. It works well in toothpaste DIYs and deodorant recipes. Arrowroot acts as a stabilizer, bulking agent and provides texture and “movability”.  Bentonite Clay is a potent detoxifier. If you have sensitivities to baking soda as a deodorant, bentonite clay can be a replacement. 

Essential Oils
Essential oils are a complicated, controversial topic. I avoided essential oils like the plague until a few years ago. I took brand-free a masterclass in order to feel confident in my handling of them. There was SO much competing information out there from brands and representatives, I just couldn’t trust what I was being told. Essential oils are safe to use in reasonable, commonsense situations. Some key things to understand when using essential oils…
  • They ARE plant chemicals in concentrated form. Yes, they are natural, but they are concentrated so, therefore….
  • Dilute. Dilute. Dilute. NEVER apply an unfamiliar essential oil to your skin neat until you’ve had a chance to do an organoleptic evaluation. (Smell, taste, touch, instinct)
  • Essential oils do not have vitamins and minerals. While essential oils originate from plants, roots, bark, etc. they are not food and therefore do not contain vitamins and minerals. Do not expect them to provide vitamins and minerals in your DIY. Because they contain the chemical composition of their parts, some essential oils may affect hormones. Research your choice thoroughly.
  • Only purchase essential oils that you can verify with certifications. Certifications should be available and accessible for viewing online or upon request. Organic, Chromatography, Aromatogram, IFRA, Technical data sheets, etc.
A brief word about Therapeutic Grade  - Be aware that the term is not an internationally recognized, third-party process. It is a marketing term trademarked for an internal certification process. Personally speaking, I do not prefer a self-validating certification. It simply does not inspire my trust.
To kick start your DIY journey – start with well-known oils. My personal recommendations…
  • Lavender Vera
  • Orange (Expressed – Fairer skinned folks should avoid the sun after topical application) or Steam-distilled (not phototoxic)
  • Peppermint
  • Tea Tree
Quick Dilution Guide for Essential Oils
To repeat my earlier point - dilute, dilute, dilute! Essential oils are concentrated plant chemicals! Generally, It takes hundreds of pounds of plant material to create a small bottle of essential oil. By diluting, you are not only being safe, but you are also being sustainable! Use these precious earthly energies wisely with reverence and respect to the wisdom of nature! Purchase only from companies that support sustainability as well.

  • 6 Drops of EO in 1 ounce = 1% (For Children)
  • 12 Drops of EO in 1 ounce = 2%
  • 18 Drops of EO in 1 ounce = 3%
  • 30 Drops of EO in 1 ounce = 5%
  • 60 Drops of EO in 1 ounce = 10%
  • Tip: There are approximately 2 tablespoons in an ounce.
There are many recipes online that contain high dilution percentages of essential oils. Use this guide to adjust those recipes as needed. Generally, the 2% dilution rate applies to skincare, body care, etc. Stick to the 2% dilution rule when putting together your personal care DIYs.

The basic tools every DIYer should have on hand…
  • Funnels of different sizes
  • Wooden/plastic utensils & measuring equipment (some ingredients react to metal or stainless steel)
  • Cleaning Brushes of various sizes to wash jars, bottles
  • Glue Remover ( to remove labels – a recipe for natural glue remover is below!)
  • Double boiler for melting waxes and butters.  (any heat resistant bowl over a pot of simmering water acts as a double boiler)
Remember mistakes are what perfect a recipe. There are some recipes that I have not changed after many alterations. They’ve evolved into perfection through trial and error. Others I’m continually changing and experimenting with. Don’t be afraid to experiment! Always take notes and write down your perceptions.

Here’s a simple recipe to get you started on your way!

Nail Strengthener, Polish & Glue Remover
person holding sliced lemon fruit
This recipe was created just for nail care, but I quickly found a use for it in removing glue from labels!
  • 15 drops of Lemon essential oil (expressed, not distilled)
  • Melted Virgin Coconut Oil
  • 10ml. Roller bottle
Add the lemon essential oil to an empty clean roller bottle. Fill the bottle with melted coconut oil. Shake.
To use as a nail strengthener and polish remover. Add just a dab to the nail. Use a cuticle pusher to scrape off nail polish. You may need to buff and/file the rest of the polish away. I’ve had great success with this as a polish remover.

To remove glue from jars and containers. Roll the bottle in the palm of your hand and rub the hand over affected areas until the glue dissolves/weakens and then scrub the container with soap and water.

Tip: Fill the container with hot water and let it sit prior to removing labels and follow through with the glue removal instructions.
Because the lemon essential oil acts as a solvent, it keeps the virgin coconut oil in a liquid state for the most part.

Where to Buy? (Affiliate Links – Thank you for your support!)

Why I choose to use Florihana essential oils.

Tropical Traditions is the only authorized distributor of Florihana products in the US.

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I Use Florihana in My DIYs!