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  • Writer's pictureMeg

Food as Make Up and Zero Waste Products

Updated: May 26, 2022

As a teenager I had problematic skin; categorically classified as combination, with big pores and acne. For this reason I have a long standing belief that I must wear make up to look nice – even normal. Like many people around the world, my problematic skin cleared significantly once I gave up eating dairy products. The relationship between dairy consumption and problematic skin is well documented. Dairy (even organic and varieties without added hormones) all contain natural hormones that can lead to acne because milk comes from pregnant or lactating cows. Some studies suggest there are around 60 different hormones in one glass of cows milk and cheese (coagulated milk) is even more problematic. All animal proteins contain inflammatory proteins that have been linked to disease, but dairy’s proteins have been most linked to skin problems, especially whey and addictive casein proteins. I have long stopped putting these products in my body but I have also become more aware about the products I put on my body.

I was left inspired after watching a Facebook video in which a girl made up her face using only items in her pantry, including a Mars bar… I went on to read a DIY make up article by Pure Jojoba which explained how you can make almost any make up using just nine of the following natural ingredients:


The benefits of making your own make up are endless; it’s cheap as you’re not paying for a brand, its satisfyingly easy using a few products likely to be in your pantry right now, you can be sure it’s safe as they’re natural ingredients and finally, you can package it in whatever you like, hence avoiding plastics.

Power Foundation

I simply combine tapioca (otherwise called arrowroot) powder and carob or cocao powder. Tapioca acts as the base, whilst carob is a sweeter tasting powder, providing a slightly lighter colour than cocao. I prefer to use carob in the winter and cocao in the summer. I am going to start incorporating turmeric for its oil secretion properties. You can start by combining a quarter of a cup of tapioca and carob each then add more or other powders until to achieve desired colour. You can stored it in a previous powder foundation container, I currently have mine in a small jar.

Blush or Bronzer

I recently attempted to make my own blush, with a beautiful big organic beetroot, using a friends dehydrator. I put the dehydrated pieces into a high power blender and blitzed, then used my powder brush to transfer into a jar.


I didn’t get the results I was after using my homemade beetroot powder so I bought some pink clay powder from to use as blush. Prior to Valeries Pantry opening had to buy these sorts of goods online, now I get all my butters and powders from that beautiful local store, including beetroot powder available in bulk. As a rule, combine tapioca powder with beetroot powder or pink clay, then with other powers until to reach desired colour. To make bronzer combine brown powders like allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, cocao with smaller parts of tapioca, beetroot and turmeric.

Eyebrow powder

I have a love-hate relationship with my eyebrows, having to trim scarily long hairs, fill patches and darken to the colour to that of my hair colour. I was recently acquainted with activated charcoal, purchased on eBay but now available in bulk at Valerie’s Pantry. I use a thin eyebrow brush to fill the natural line of my brow with activated charcoal. The powder you use will depend on your hair colour, use the pictures above to decide. I recommend using the powder from the lid to start with, getting a minimal amount of powder to start with and building up until desired colour and density is reached.


I previously found the following Rouge Ginger recipe for a mascara, which I used for around a year:


  • 1/2 teaspoon of finely grated soap

  • 1/2 teaspoon of activated charcoal

  • 3 drops of almond, coconut oil or other oil of your preference

  • 1/8 teaspoon of filtered water


Place your finely grated soap into a heatproof dish and warm up, add water then add the activated charcoal and oil. Mix together with a wooden skewer and pour into your designated container, I poured mixture into previous mascara container, using a small funnel. I recently went back to using Arbonne mascara, as I just missed my lashes looking big and Arbonne is the most ethical cosmetic company I know of. I also use their liquid foundation for special occasions or when I have a break out. This recipe is Erin or the Rouge Ginger’s, she recently posted on her blog that she has found a zero waste commercial mascara which I may try in future (link below).

Eye Shadow

Is it just me or has eye shadow been in overwhelming excess since 2008? I have never even bought myself one, they just get given to me, but I won’t be able to use up my supply in this lifetime. If you have used cosmetics that you’d like to be rid of but cant bring yourself to put in the bin, consider recycling them through Terra cycle (link below). I rarely wear eye shadow but powders like lucuma, carob, cocao would make lovey shades, activated charcoal using a fine brush could also be used as an eyeliner.


Homemade toothpaste is perhaps the epitome of the zero waste movement; the founder of which I would argue is New Yorker Lauren Singer, who blogs as Trash is for Tossers and has opened the Packaging Free Shop in NYC.

Lauren writes of toothpaste:

“Sure, you have to get over the saltiness of the baking soda, get into using a spoon instead of a tube, and you might miss the frothing and bubbling of commercial toothpaste, but I think of it this way: There was a time when we were trained to tolerate the stinging minty paste that we all grew up with, the one that burned because it was “working.” That burning became normal – I was taught to believe that it was what clean felt like. Not because it was super clean, but because that is what my family and my authority figures said. I later realized that my aversion to brushing with baking soda wasn’t because it doesn’t work, it was because it didn’t align with how I was raised to view cleanliness”

I used Lauren’s bicarb, coconut oil and essential oil recipe, I’ve tried several others also. In fact I think I’ve made every toothpaste recipe on the internet; the coconut based ones set like a rock, the activated charcoal ones are too messy to use every day and bicarb soda can be salty tasting and abrasive. I never wanted to try clay based toothpaste recipes because, to be honest, I thought they were just... weird. With bentonite clay becoming readily available in bulk food stores I decided to give a clay toothpaste recipe a chance and I was so pleasantly surprised. I filled this jar at Valerie’s Pantry for a total of 72 cents. I add filtered water until I reach the desired consistency. The texture becomes unbelievably similar to commercial toothpaste. I add around 5 drops of DoTerra tea tree essential oil for its antiseptic properties (it just makes a world of difference flavor-wise too) and around 10 drops of peppermint or spearmint essential oil for the feel and smell of firey freshness. You could also add clove or the On Guard blend (which contains clove oil), as it is a well known remedy for tooth aches. I recommend DoTerra because aside from containing synthetic chemicals that are toxic, poorer quality essential oils also often smell and taste like alcohol. Another beauty of bentonite clay is that it is said to naturally re-minimalises your teeth. I've spoken to dentists about this recipe over the years and their consistent response is that is it more important to use a good tooth brush than tooth paste; and my compostable bamboo toothbrushes pass the dentist test too!



I have tried soy-wax based deodorants and found my pits to be smelly and my clothes to be stained. I recently tried a recipe I found on which I find works much better at taming body odour:


  • 2 tablespoons of melted shea butter

  • 2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil

  • 1 teaspoon bicarb soda

  • 4 teaspoons tapioca flour

  • 20 drops of organic DoTerra frankincense essential oil


Slightly melt the coconut and shea butter then add powders and stir through. Once mixture has cooled add essential oils (of your choice). I have previously used bicarb heavy recipes which can be irritating to the skin at times. I’m also not a fan of (soy)wax-based recipes either as I find they stained my clothes. Less bicarb soda means there is less chance of skin sensitivity, but still provides odor neutralisation. The butters are incredibly moisturising. My oil of choice is frankincense which is considered the oil of all essential oils, known for its skin care properties and incredible scent. Lavender, litsea or lemongrass may be nice to change it up with changing seasons. Although I made the above recipe and six months on I’m not ever close to scraping the bottom of the jar.


These days I refill my No Pong containers at Valeries Pantry, Kat has 3 deodorant pastes available in bulk that all work a treat.

Dry Shampoo

I confess I used to purchase dry shampoo in an aerosol can (bad) for $9 on special (worse). Similar to powder foundation, I combine tapioca powder and activated charcoal, as I have dark brown/black hair but you could use tapioca on its own for blond hair or combine with the power most similar in colour to your hair. I use an old blush brush to apply onto the roots of my hair, then brush through with a hairbrush. It can seriously drag out the time between washes which is great for those of us with dry hair.

Facial cleanser

You can find plenty of recipes for how to make your own cleansers. Hisotrically I have used the Ethique facial cleansing bars available at Valeries Pantry. Lately I have started using the facial cleanser and toner recipes in Home by Natural Harry - a zero waste lifestyle recipe bible.

Moisturiser/Body Butter

I was taught to always use a high-quality moisturiser from adolescence. However, I feel my skin has become overly dependent on moisturisers to regulate the oils on my face. My dear friend Katie, who founded swears by this recipe for body butter, but I also found another recipe which is exactly the same but uses coconut oil instead of shea butter (also whip from solid with essential oils for several minutes). I have been using it as my facial moisturiser as well, it can feel oily if you apply too much or don’t allow adequate time for it to absorb before applying make up.


  • Half a cup of shea butter, at room temperature

  • 2 tablespoon base oil, for example hemp oil or fractionated coconut oil

  • 10-20 drops essential oil of your choice, I advise looking up which oils are best for your skin type, I used around 10 drops of Frankincense and 10 drops of Lavender for my oily skin

  • Optional: Add natural sunscreen for a small amount of UV protection


  1. Before you start to prepare whipped shea butter, make sure your unrefined shea butter is on a room temperature. Do not melt or heat it! Put your shea butter in a bowl and mash it with a fork. The same way you make a mashed potato.

  2. Add base oil(s) and mash it little bit more.

  3. Put the mixture into the mixing bowl. Mix it on a high speed with electric mixer for approximately 5 minutes.


Once upon a time I purchased essential oils off an online candle making company, not realising the difference in quality. My Mum used to buy me perfumes for my birthdays and Christmas gifts but I kindly asked her for books or cash instead. Between the alcohol in perfume and the corporate greed of companies and celebrities that profit from designing them, I’d prefer to opt out and use quality simple essential oils instead. Aromas such as frankincense and lavender has long been used in aromatherapy for relaxation and skincare. To use as perfumes these should be diluted with a carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil, almond oil or rose hip oil. I’ve been blending my own essential oils in roller bottles and using them as perfume on my wrists. Isn’t simplicity lovely?

Have fun and enjoy,

Meg x

References and Resources



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