For as long as I can remember, I have had problems with strong scents in things like perfumes, colognes, lotions, and hand soaps. This problem got considerably worse when I got pregnant with our first child and has gotten worse still after the birth of our third child. When we end up sitting behind that sweet, older woman at church that wears way too much perfume, it’s all I can do to breathe, let alone keep from sneezing uncontrollably! In addition to the sneezing and watery eyes that I get when I am around scented perfumes and colognes, I also get dry and cracked skin when I use lotions or hand soaps that contain strong fragrances.
In order to combat this problem, I had stopped using any sort of perfume or body spray on myself (I never was much of a perfume person but I did enjoy using lemon or coconut-scented body sprays) and have tried just about every sort of “natural” lotion and hand soap that I could find. For me, this has been a long journey – over the course of five years or more – and, at this point, I have found that it is easier, cheaper, and more effective to just make my own hand soap and body spray. And I promise you, it is super easy and quick – otherwise, I would not have kept up with it all this time!
I do still purchase body lotion – mostly just because the recipes for homemade lotion are a bit more involved and I haven’t been able to keep up with my usage – but I always look for the “fragrance-free” option and make sure that I double check the specific product on ewg.org before purchasing.
[Side note: The Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) is a wonderful website that is run by a non-partisan group of researchers (in other words, not affiliated with or funded by a certain company or business sector, which would inevitably lead to a bias in the findings) who do extensive testing on food, cleaning, and personal care products and report their findings by attaching a grade to each product and listing any offending ingredients that you might have concerns about – either because it may be carcinogenic, a hormone disruptor, a known allergen, or harmful to the environment. Overall, a great way to make sure you are buying the best product out there for our bodies and for the environment! Check it out!]
Here are my tried and true recipes for hand soap and body spray that can easily be personalized by choosing essential oils in your favorite scents!
HOMEMADE HAND SOAP
¼ cup liquid castile soap
¾ cup warm water
Optional: essential oils (such as, grapefruit and bergamot, lemongrass, sweet orange, peppermint, etc)
Pour castile soap and water into a hand soap container with the foaming pump on top. *This is important – you must use a foaming hand soap container in order to make this work.* If desired, add several drops of your favorite essential oil (start with 5-10 drops and see what you think…with essential oils, a little bit goes a long way!). I also frequently make this hand soap recipe with no essential oils at all and it still works great!
[For the castile soap, I use Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Hemp Unscented Baby-Mild Pure-Castile Soap made with organic oils. I buy this by the gallon (at $37.43/gallon) and use it for hand soap as well as mopping our hardwood and bamboo floors. I buy the unscented version but Dr. Bronner’s also makes scented liquid castile soap if you prefer to buy it that way.]
If you’re not sure where to start with the essential oils, just think of your current favorite hand soap and try to mimic the scent. My favorite ones are grapefruit and bergamot for the bathroom sinks (because I love the Kiss My Face soap with that scent), or lemongrass, or peppermint, or I like to use a combination of citrus oils like lemon, sweet orange, and grapefruit for the kitchen sink. It’s fun to play around with the essential oils and make your own favorite scent!
HOMEMADE BODY SPRAY
4 oz distilled water
½ Tbsp witch hazel
20-30 drops essential oils (such as lemon + orange or grapefruit + bergamot)
Mix all of the ingredients in a glass bottle with a spritzer top. (You can purchase these bottles pretty inexpensively online.) Once again, play around with the essential oils to make your own unique scent!
Have fun and happy experimenting!