Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What do you want to know? Which products are worth making at home?

In the What do you want to know post, J asked: I always wonder which products it's worth making. I know that there's plenty of fun to be had from pottering around being crafty, but I suppose I'd like to know which things I can make that will save me money/be better quality than shop bought/be better for me than shop bought/etc. I worry that I'd buy a load of ingredients and end up spending a fortune making so-so stuff.

I can say without fear of contradiction that everything I make is nicer than what I would buy in the store. I use more active ingredients - for instance, aloe vera at 10% instead of 0.5% - and the products are customized for my hair, skin, and climate. I make everything my family uses except for toothpaste, anti-perspirant, and mascara. I make a cleaning spray for the kitchen and bathroom that is better than any commercial product I've used.

But "nice" is a relative term and what I think is awesome might not be what you think is awesome. So let's take a look at cost as a determining factor.

You will spend more money on ingredients as you figure out how to make recipes and make mistakes and as you figure out which ones you love and which ones you don't. You will buy way too much of some things - my weakness is oils! - and you will spend money on shipping that you realize could be bought from a more local retailer. But over time, you will get to the point where you have a roster of products you make regularly and well and I think you save tons of money at that point.

Let's take a look at making a 100 gram bottle of conditioner. I like to make conditioners with 7% Incroquat BTMS-50 at $0.073 per gram, this works out to about ¢51. I include 2 grams of cetrimonium chloride, which at ¢3.4 means I'm using ¢6.8 worth in this product. I like to include 2 grams of oat protein (¢12), 2 grams panthenol (¢11), 3 grams coconut oil (¢3), 2 grams dimethicone (¢9), 2 grams cyclomethicone (¢7), and 0.5 grams liquid Germall Plus (¢6).

So a 100 gram bottle of conditioner works out to $1.06, not including the bottle. Normally I'd buy a 250 ml or 8 ounce bottle of conditioner, so this recipe would be $2.63, which I think is quite the bargain for something filled with great stuff my hair likes. If I throw in the cost of the bottle - about ¢88 - then I'm looking at $3.51 for a bottle of great conditioner. Compare this with just about any conditioner and you'll see you're saving a bunch of cash! I find that I use way less of my conditioner than I would a store bought version, so I'm saving even more! On the "is it good for my hair" front - I am getting more conditioner per ml than I would with a store bought one, and I've added cetrimonium chloride to increase the detangling properties.

When I used store bought products, I would have to get my husband or mother to brush my hair after the shower because it was so tangly. Now? I have the odd tangle at the ends, but it generally brushes through easily. My conditioner is soooo much better than store bought! 

I could extend this recipe to a lotion made with Incroquat BTMS-50 easily. I would use a little less BTMS-50 and add some oils to the mix - this could vary between ¢10 to ¢15 for coconut oil to something like $1.25 for argan oil, for example - and you're still below $2.00 for a good lotion. (See the related links section to see more about lotions.)

And when it comes to facial care products, you save a fortune! Have you seen how much a 50 ml of moisturizer can cost???

In all honesty, I can't think of a product that would be more expensive to make than it would be to buy, but that depends upon your tastes. I have never bought hair care products from a salon - I've always been a drug store girl - and I have never bought expensive lotions or potions. (Heck, I didn't use lotions until I started making them!)

If you're interested in this topic, I really encourage you to check out the related links below and check out the comments that others make. I think the general consensus is that we save money making really awesome products!

*All the prices are based on what I buy in smaller amounts from my favourite retailers, but I didn't include shipping and taxes to make the calculations easier. I think you could add 10% to 15% to my estimated costs for those. Besides, I tend to drive down to Voyageur Soap & Candle to get what I want! Yeah, I know that I use gas to get down there, I tend to do a whole bunch of stuff in Langley when I go. 

Related posts:
Substitutions: Formulating on a budget
Question: What is the cheapest lotion you could make?
Is it cheaper to make your own products? Part one
Is it cheaper to make your own products? Part two

1 comment:

Alexis said...

Sunscreen.....I know you don't make that, Susan!

I think conditioners and shampoos are well worth making. This is from a salon brat!!!

The cost of making lotions, especially facial, will depend on how sensitive your skin is and how sanitized you keep your work area. In general, making my products has made my skin better. If you're into anti-aging lotions, you can save $$$$$ as long as you don't go ingredient crazy. But I've made some bad tweaks to formulas which irritated my skin.