This post is sponsored by iHerb.
As a continuation of the non-toxic beauty conversation we’ve been having here on the blog, today I want to chat about perfume. More specifically, why it’s important to be careful with products containing “fragrance”, and how to make your own beautiful DIY body mists with essential oils instead.
Growing up, I wasn’t really the type of teenage girl who had a vanity covered in perfume bottles and body sprays. My mum has had asthma for as long as I can remember, so the list of mum-approved scented products in our house was short. It wasn’t until moving away for university that I started to go wild in stores like Bath + Body Works, slathering myself in tropical-scented body lotions and misting myself in glittery body mists. I’d missed out on years of smelling like a synthetic vanilla cupcake, and there was lost time to make up for!
Eventually my tastes matured and I moved from being a student with no income to getting a proper J-O-B. I started buying all sorts of perfumes and didn’t think twice about spritzing myself with them a few times each day. Just like other conventional personal care products, ignorance was bliss. I knew that studies were starting to flag concerns about ingredients in these things, but didn’t want to give up the perfumes I loved.
What’s in the bottle
If you flip over your body mists, perfume, shampoo, conditioner, and all the other products in your bathroom, you’ll likely find ‘fragrance’ listed. While it would be great if this meant fragrances from lovely, real things like fruits and flowers, the reality is that synthetics hide under this label too. In other words, man-made chemicals that serve the purpose of scenting products (sometimes covering up the smell of other chemicals), that are also cheaper to produce.
Why should we be careful with ‘fragrance’?
The FDA defines fragrance as “a combination of chemicals that gives each perfume or cologne (including those used in other products) its distinct scent.” This includes ingredients that come from petrochemicals, solvents, preservatives, stabilizers, and colouring agents. Companies aren’t required to disclose every individual ingredient, and instead, get away with bucketing them as ‘fragrance’.
Just like food with mysterious ingredients, the lack of transparency is a little worrying – especially when you consider that those chemicals make their way into our bodies through our skin and the air we inhale. What’s even more worrying are the studies showing that many of these ‘fragrance’ chemicals are linked to reproductive, hormonal and developmental issues, cancers and other health concerns. They can also trigger allergic reactions, asthma and skin irritation. No thank you!
A better alternative: All-natural DIY body mists with essential oils!
Essential oils have received a lot of attention in recent years – particularly around issues of quality and sourcing. Once you’ve found a reputable, reliable brand, the process of replacing any toxic conventional perfumes and body mists becomes super easy. Not only is this a better choice because our exposure to synthetic chemicals decreases, but the aromatherapy benefits of essential oils can help to boost our spirits too.
I recently had the opportunity to try a few new products from iHerb, and used them to create some of my own 100% natural and non-toxic DIY body mists. I’m not an expert perfumer by any means, but had so much fun channelling my inner mixologist while making these. The process is super simple and so are the ingredients – the way they should be! Here’s a breakdown of everything I used and the reasons why.
Why? Witch hazel comes from the bark and leaves of the witch hazel plant. It has gentle anti-inflammatory properties and has been used for years as a natural way to calm skin, reduce redness and relieve a whole bunch of conditions like acne, rosacea, psoriasis, burns, etc. Witch hazel also contains antioxidants which help support our cells and protect the skin from free radicals and other harmful toxins in the environment. In a body spray, it helps to prevent the essential oil from separating and settling at the bottom of the bottle. It also works as a preservative. The one I opted for is alcohol-free, and note that ones that do contain alcohol are more drying to the skin.
Why? I’ve read that vegetable glycerine isn’t a must-have ingredient, but apparently it makes scent last longer so I figured it couldn’t hurt to add a bit.
This really comes down to personal preference, and certainly feel free to choose whatever scents you enjoy most. I’ve noticed I always tend to gravitate towards minty, citrusy, and vanilla scents, and the list below reflects that. The ones I selected were:
Bergamot has antibiotic and antiseptic properties, can help relax muscles, relieve pain, reduce odour, boost mood and help to speed the healing of wounds. It can also help with reducing fevers and digestive discomfort.
Eucalyptus essential oil is a powerful decongestant with cooling, antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which is why you’ll find it in many cold relief products. It also helps to eliminate odours, promote relaxation (both mentally and muscularly), and relieve pain.
Grapefruit has antiseptic and anti-depressant properties, can help boost mood, supports detoxification of the body and drainage of the lymphatic system.
Lavender is very well known for its ability to support and calm the nervous system, making it perfect for helping us to fall asleep and de-stress. It also has anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antiseptic properties, and can be used to relieve pain and indigestion.
Orange essential oil has anti-inflammatory, antidepressant and aphrodisiac (wink wink!) effects, helps muscles to relax and can be helpful for relieving gas. It helps to support the immune system and can also be helpful in promoting detoxification.
Peppermint essential oil is known for its ability to help relieve pain, headaches and nausea, relax muscles and reduce digestive distress. Like eucalyptus, it has a cooling effect, relieves congestion and tight muscles, and has antiseptic properties. Peppermint also stimulates memory and cognitive function, making it helpful if you’re trying to focus.
Tea tree oil also goes by the name melaleuca, and is a super powerful antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal, antiseptic and antiviral oil. (That’s a lot of antis!) This makes it helpful for dealing with all sorts of infections, wound healing and scar reduction. For these same reasons, you’ll find it in a lot of DIY home and personal care products including deodorants, shampoo + conditioner, acne solutions, household + bathroom cleansers and laundry detergent.
High quality vanilla extract
Vanilla has a relaxing, calming and mood-boosting effect, as well as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and aphrodisiac properties. It’s one of my favourites for reducing anxiety and supporting the nervous system, and it’s easy to incorporate in both food + personal care recipes.
You can certainly buy vanilla as an essential oil, but it tends to be on the spendy side. (Inexpensive versions are out there too, but they’re typically mixed with other oils so the vanilla scent is weakened.) After doing a pretty extensive Google search I confirmed that high quality pure vanilla extract is totally capable of doing the job, so I went with this one by Simply Organic.
Mini glass spray bottles
Obviously a body mist needs a mister! I found this set of 6 bottles on iHerb which hold 2 fl oz (1/4 cup) of liquid. They were really affordable and unlike others I’ve tried from a few local shops, the spray lids worked really well. I also appreciate that they’re glass, so there’s no worries about plastics leaching into the other ingredients.
The basic formula + 5 DIY body mist recipes
As far as concentration and basic formula goes, I’ve read from a few sources that ideally, you don’t want the essential oils to make up more than about 1-2% of the overall formula. So with this in mind, the basic recipe I used (which all fits into a 2 fl oz bottle) looks like this:
- 2 oz (30mL) filtered water
- 1 oz (15mL) each witch hazel and vegetable glycerine
- 15-20 drops various essential oils, depending on how strong you want it to smell
(Note that if you have bigger bottles, you can simply scale the quantities above to match the volume you want to fill.)
With the recipe template above, here are the essential oil blends I made and why I chose the oils in each one:
I love using this mist for a mid-afternoon energy boost at work, as well as around my apartment when I’ve been doing work on my computer for a while and need a little pick-me-up. Photo editing can get tiresome, but I love the uplifting effect of a few whiffs of this!
De-Stress Bedtime Blend
Lately I’ve been spraying a few pumps of this mist on myself as part of my evening take-off-the-day routine (pajamas, makeup removal, face wash, moisturizing, etc). It has a really calming effect, and I also really like the scent of it on my pillows before I go to sleep.
Apres-Sweat Cool Down
Since eucalyptus and peppermint both have cooling properties and smell super refreshing, I always look forward to spraying this mist all over myself after a sweaty workout. The anti-bacterial and anti-microbial features of tea tree oil also make the spray suitable for cleaning yoga mats, so consider it a 2-in-1, and one less thing to have to tote around in your gym bag!
Refreshed + Revived
This one was created with the intention of coming to Chicago with me last week. At first I thought mixing peppermint with citrus seemed a little odd, but as the name suggests, it does indeed have a refreshing effect. I don’t know about you guys, but my sinuses always get a bit stuffed up on airplanes and the peppermint did a great job at clearing that. Bonus: because the bottles are only 60mL/2oz in size, they’re safe to fly with.
Last but not least, one of my faves because it reminds me of dessert! As I said earlier, I’m a sucker for anything vanilla and really love the sweet aroma of this mist at any time of the day. Since blending up the body mist I’ve also created body butter and body oil versions. In other words, I’m 100% addicted.
Clean beauty how-to: 5 DIY body mists with essential oilsClick To Tweet
If you’re feeling inspired to start making your own unique body mists with essential oils, you can grab everything I used on iHerb. As I’ve mentioned in the past, this is my go-to spot for so many things when it comes to natural foods and personal care products. They carry 8,000+ bath and beauty products that can be shipped to over 160 countries. Customer service is available in 10 languages, meaning that pretty much no matter where you are, you can make these body mist recipes too!
As a new customer you can get a discount on your first order by using this special link, and as an added bonus, type in the promo code WELCOME5 at checkout to get an additional $5 off orders of $40 or more.