10 Planet-Friendly Homemade Makeup Recipes

Make your own beet root blush, cocoa powder brow filler, and more.

Hands holding DIY beauty product surrounded by natural ingredients

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Chances are you've already experimented with DIY beauty in the form of Pinterest-touted face masks, sugar scrubs, and hair products, but have you tried homemade makeup?

Sure, cosmetics engineering seems like it should take place only in florescent-lit laboratories by gloved professionals in white coats—but no. You, sans lab coat, can easily whip up anything from blush to brow filler at home.

With the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's lack of authority over commercial cosmetics, store-bought beauty products are too often teeming with polluting chemicals and microplastics. Making your own makeup means you can control what goes on your skin, down your drain, and, eventually, into our oceans. Plus, you eschew the superfluous packaging, usually comprising a mix of materials that make it virtually impossible to recycle.

Try these 10 makeup recipes made of common kitchen ingredients like arrowroot powder, coconut oil, cocoa powder, and cornstarch.

Getting Started With Making Cosmetics

Before you embark on your journey of cosmetics creation, know that adopting DIY makeup as a hobby might be costly and time-consuming. No, you won't need a lab coat, but some recipes might require special tools, including protective gloves, a digital bench scale, and pipets.

You may use tempered glass materials to avoid plastic waste, but they'll need to be properly sterilized between uses. Always keep a spray bottle filled with isopropyl alcohol handy for this purpose.

Helpful Tools and Equipment

  • Protective gloves
  • Digital bench scale
  • Disposable or glass pipets
  • Glass mixing bowls or beakers
  • Spray bottle of isopropyl alcohol
  • Reusable containers for storing
  • Funnel
  • Labels

Keep in mind that making your own makeup takes a lot more effort than picking up a tube of mascara from your local drugstore. Some recipes may be more complex than others and call for uncommon ingredients. Be sure to do your research before attempting to make substitutions, especially if chemical substances are involved.

Lastly, always perform a patch test on your hand to detect irritations or allergic reactions before applying DIY formulations to your face.

1
of 10

Elderberry Lip Gloss

Person dipping finger in a jar of berry-tinted lip gloss

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Elderberries are deep-purple fruits that grow wild throughout large swaths of the Americas—east of the Rocky Mountains, all the way down to Bolivia. Their rich hue stains foragers' fingers and, therefore, makes for a great, punchy lip color courtesy of nature. Combined with nourishing honey, you have something of a gloss-lip mask hybrid.

First, you must infuse elderberry powder in food-grade vegetable glycerin (two tablespoons of each) for at least a week, allowing the glycerin to adopt the berries' purply color. When it's reached your desired shade, strain the glycerin, discard the elderberry powder, and add in a tablespoon of honey.

Treehugger Tip

Use agave nectar instead of honey for a vegan alternative. They're similar in color and have the same hydrating properties.

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Beet Root Blush

Powdered beet root in glass jar on striped tablecloth

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Another plant known for its bright pigment is the beet. Its distinctly magenta color is perfect for cheeks.

Try making a custom blend by gradually adding beet root powder to a tablespoon of arrowroot powder until you get the shade you want. Two parts beet root powder to one part arrowroot powder will give you a rich pink color, but you can go as light as you desire.

Add in a touch of turmeric powder to achieve a peachy color or cocoa powder to darken the mix. Blend the powders with a sterilized fork and transfer to an airtight container when ready.

To apply, simply dip a makeup brush in the homemade blush and dust cheeks.

3
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Coal-Free Charcoal Mascara

Charcoal in log, powder, and liquid form in wooden bowls

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DIY mascara isn't as tricky as it may seem. The key ingredient is activated charcoal, a fine black powder made from either animal or vegetal sources. Combining this with oil, aloe vera gel, and beeswax will give you a formula that darkens, thickens, and lengthens lashes.

Choosing Sustainable Charcoal

Charcoal is most often made from coal or petroleum—neither exactly eco-friendly—but you can find variations of activated charcoal powder that are instead made by burning wood pulp or coconut husk. 

First, heat a tablespoon of organic coconut oil, two tablespoons of aloe vera gel, and 1.5 teaspoons of grated beeswax in a sterilized double boiler or similar setup until it's melted.

Stir in a quarter-teaspoon of activated charcoal for a light-black color or half a teaspoon for jet-black. You can use half a teaspoon of cacao powder instead of charcoal for brown mascara.

Once finished, use a funnel to transfer your homemade mascara into a clean mascara tube. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before using.

Treehugger Tip

Candelilla wax is a great vegan alternative to beeswax.

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Cocoa Powder Brow Filler

Tight shot of glass jars of cocoa powder and oils

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Cocoa powder can also be used to make brow filler. Depending on how dark you want your brows to be, you can add a pinch of activated charcoal powder to this recipe.

In a sterilized glass bowl, add 3 teaspoons of cocoa powder and 1.5 teaspoons of cornstarch to 2 teaspoons of a gentle carrier oil, such as sweet almond, castor, coconut, jojoba, or a combination. Stir in a pinch or two of activated charcoal for a darker color.

Mix with a sanitized fork, making sure there are no lumps, and transfer to a clean, lidded container when ready. Apply to brows with a makeup brush or clean mascara wand.

5
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Charred Almond Eyeliner

Ramekin of almonds on a rustic wooden platter

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This eyeliner recipe gets its jet-black pigment from burned-to-a-crisp almonds. No, really. You start by skewering a single almond with a long, metal skewer (to protect your fingers) and charring it in the flame of a candle. This should, of course, be done over a fire-resistant surface. It should take about 10 minutes to char one, and you'll need three to four burned almonds.

Allow the charred almonds to completely extinguish and cool (preferably on a copper plate or some other nonflammable surface) before grinding them into a powder using a sterilized mortar and pestle. The powder should be black like charcoal.

Mix in a few drops of vegetable glycerin until it becomes a thick paste, then apply using an angled eyeliner brush.

Warning

This recipe contains almonds and should not be attempted or worn by those allergic to tree nuts.

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of 10

Arrowroot Powder Foundation

Glass jars of arrowroot powder and DIY foundation with brush

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Store-bought foundations typically contain a laundry list of mysterious chemicals. This DIY iteration gets its color, rather, from a mix of herbs and spices.

Add as much cocoa powder, nutmeg, and ground cloves as needed to a gentle arrowroot powder base to achieve the right shade for your skin tone. You can also use green clay to counteract redness. Here's a very basic, customizable recipe.

Start with 2 tablespoons of arrowroot powder and 1 tablespoon green clay (optional). Add spices little by little, testing shades on the back of your hand along the way. Record the amounts added of each spice so you can replicate the recipe in the future.

Store your powder in a sterilized powder-sifter jar or other container and apply using a makeup brush.

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Shea Butter Liquid Foundation

Jars of makeup base and shea butter on blue background

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Many DIY liquid foundation recipes start with a powder foundation base. So, create your desired shade using the arrowroot powder foundation recipe, omitting the green clay to avoid excessive thickness. Then, you'll add it to a mix of moisturizing shea and cocoa butters, argan and vitamin E oils, and beeswax following these steps.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon homemade powder foundation
  • 1 ounce shea butter
  • 1 1/2 ounces argan oil
  • 1/2 ounce cocoa butter
  • 1/2 ounce beeswax pellets or candelilla wax
  • 1 drop vitamin E oil

Steps

  1. Combine all ingredients except the powder foundation in a sterilized double boiler or similar setup and heat until melted.
  2. In a separate heat-resistant bowl, gradually add the melted oil-butter-beeswax concoction to a tablespoon of powder foundation until you reach your desired consistency.
  3. Mix thoroughly to get rid of any clumps before transferring to an airtight container.
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Mica Luminizer

Open powder-sifter jar with luminizer, makeup brush, and flowers

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Luminizer is comprised of subtle, light-refracting shimmer that creates the look of a healthy glow. Mica powder—derived from a naturally shiny stone mineral—is most often used as the main ingredient of luminizers.

You can make your own by first melting a tablespoon of beeswax or candelilla wax, 2 teaspoons of coconut oil, and a teaspoon of jojoba oil in a sterilized double boiler. Once melted, add 1-2 teaspoons of mica powder—the more you use, the higher the shimmer.

Pour your luminizer into a clean container while it's still in liquid form, then allow it to set for at least 10 minutes before using.

Sourcing Ethical Mica

A reported 25% of the world's mica is sourced from illegal mines in the Indian states of Jharkhand and Bihar, impoverished areas where child labor is common. Avoid supporting these systems of oppression by researching the source of your mica powder to make sure it's been responsibly mined without child labor.

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Rice Flour Eyeshadow

DIY eyeshadows on a plate with brush and cotton pad

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Making eyeshadow at home is very simple given all the rich colors made available by plants. Creating a general base for color is the trickiest part of all, though—only because it requires some uncommon ingredients.

One way to make a base is by combining a teaspoon of rice flour with 3 teaspoons of kaolin clay (a mild, skin-friendly, and generally sustainable soft clay commonly used in skin care products), a quarter teaspoon of titanium dioxide, and an eighth of a teaspoon of zinc oxide. Just make sure you're not using nano versions of titanium dioxide and zinc, which can be harmful to marine life. Finally, create your color by adding pigmented herbs and spices to your base.

Creating Eyeshadow Colors With Food

  • Brown: Nutmeg, cocoa powder
  • Gold: Turmeric
  • Orange: Saffron
  • Pink: Beet powder
  • Green: Spirulina
  • Gray: Activated charcoal
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Spice-Blend Bronzer

Two shades of bronzer with essential oil and makeup brush

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DIY powder bronzer contains the same ingredients as homemade powder foundation—the key difference here is that a higher concentration of herbs gives the bronzer a deeper color.

Start with 2 teaspoons of arrowroot powder or cornstarch, then start adding your pigment: cinnamon for a glowy reddish tint, cocoa powder and nutmeg for a sunkissed look, and beet root for a touch of pink. You'll have to experiment a bit to find your perfect shade.

Feel free to add a few drops of sweet almond oil or essential oils of choice for a creamy texture. Make sure the essential oils you're using are safe to use on skin undiluted, like tea tree, lavender, rose, and sandalwood.

View Article Sources
  1. "Beauty and a Beast: Child Labour in India for Sparkling Cars and Cosmetics." Terres des Hommes International Federation. 2016.

  2. "Nanoparticles in sunscreens." Environmental Working Group.