Learn How to Make Cosmetics From Scratch

A woman in striped shirt mixes cosmetic ingredients in a bowl


Making your own cosmetics is a great way to ensure the ingredients are pure and natural, and to minimize wasteful, non-recyclable packaging. Most of the following recipes use familiar ingredients that you can find at the supermarket or health food store, such as arrowroot powder, cornstarch, cocoa powder, activated charcoal, and coconut oil. Links are in title.

Charcoal eyeliner

Black activated charcoal in a glass dish on a counter.

Anna Chaplygina / Getty Images

Activated charcoal is pure black powder, which makes it perfect for makeup purposes. If you can apply it dry, it may feel a bit gritty but it will stay put. Add oil for a smoother feel, but watch out for smudging. One word of caution: Be sure to source coal-free charcoal, such as Nature’s Way that makes its charcoal from burned coconut shells. If you can’t, then try the following recipe instead.

Almond eyeliner

Almonds in a bowl on a burlap cloth.

Arx0nt / Getty Images

This eyeliner is made from burned almonds, which is a traditional way of making ‘kohl’ or ‘kajal’ in the Middle East and India. This recipe calls for the addition of ghee (clarified butter), but you can also use coconut oil.

Beetroot powder blush

Sliced and whole beetroot on a wood table.

istetiana / Getty Images

Beets have a rich, luscious color that’s perfect for using in makeup. Dehydrate and grind to a fine powder, or buy it pre-ground in capsules.

Seaweed mascara

A child holds up seaweed while standing in the ocean.

Cavan Images / Getty Images

Activated charcoal is a common ingredient in homemade mascara, but this recipe includes a nourishing seaweed called bladderwreck to keep lashes healthy. Save an old mascara tube to refill.

Eye shadow

A woman applies eyeshadow to her lid.

Stanislav Shkoborev / Getty Images

This excellent article has all kinds of ideas for making different shades, from pale pink to dark brown. It can serve as a stepping stone to further DIY inspiration.

Powder foundation

A homemade mineral powder in a jar.

kazmulka / Getty Images

Homemade foundation has three parts to it – a base, a binder, and a color. These can be adjusted according to your preferences, and you’ll find detailed directions here.

Liquid foundation

A woman holding oil in a pipette bottle.

Jamie Grill / Getty Images

To make liquid foundation, you start with powder foundation and add oils. The quantity can be altered to change the consistency. Use your own homemade powder or buy a high-quality organic brand.

Brow filler

Cocoa powder in a spoon spilling onto a table.

Anna Quaglia / EyeEm / Getty Images

If you’ve got cocoa powder, then you can darken your eyebrows easily. Add a touch of cornstarch to lighten, or activated charcoal to darken, and some oil to smooth application. Recipe here.

Natural luminizer

Small bars of beeswax on a table.

StevenStarr73 / Getty Images

This recipe is a DIY and considerably cheaper version of RMS Beauty’s famous luminizer. Using beeswax, oils, and a touch of mica powder, you can get that same shimmery glow on your cheekbones, lips and eyelids.

Zero-waste self tanner

Henna powder in a dish with scoop.


This unusual recipe comes from Ariana Schwarz of my all-time favorite zero waste blog, Paris To Go. Using henna, black tea, and oils, you apply the mixture nightly until you reach your desired skin shade and let it set for several hours before rinsing in the shower.