Non Toxic Homemade Halloween Makeup

Unfortunately, Halloween makeup can contain lots of not so nice chemicals. As you may know, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the federal government agency responsible for overseeing cosmetics, does NOT conduct itself any pre-market testing, or require any pre-market testing, of cosmetics or cosmetic ingredients. In fact, as clearly stated on the FDA’s website, cosmetic manufacturers are free to use almost any ingredient they want in their cosmetics, except for  9 ingredients that the FDA has banned and certain color additives are regulated. Compare this to the European Union, which has banned well over 1,100 ingredients from cosmetics or limited them.

Then, on top of that, you have Halloween makeup, which is frequently done as inexpensively as possible by companies that don’t really care about bad reactions because the products aren’t on the market long enough. So you  find not only hormone disrupting phthalates and carcinogenic compounds found in regular makeup but also often heavy metals such as lead and more.

So what’s a green mama to do to make her goblins, ghosts and witches eek-o-scary? Homemade, non toxic Halloween makeup of course!

EDIBLE GOOP (Wounds, Warts, and More)

My favorite homemade Halloween recipe is for “edible” goop. And while I describe this as edible you can eat it but it doesn’t taste all that great.

You can use edible goop to make scars, warts, wounds, etc.

gelatin in bowlTo 1 oz. gelatin (not Jello, but plain, unflavored old-fashioned gelatin, usu. located right next to the Jello), add 2 tablespoons boiling water and stir, let sit for 3 minutes. As you stir, the gelatin will dissolve.

The picture shows the dissolved gelatin after sitting a bit.

Smart Mama Tip: The gelatin doesn’t smell all that great, so you can add 2 to 4 drops of an essential oil if your child doesn’t like the smell. Sweet orange essential oil is a good one to add. If you do add an essential oil, make sure it is suitable for skin contact.

Then pour mixture onto natural waxed paper or other surface. You need to shape the gelatin to make what you want – a wart, a scar, whatever. You need to work fairly quickly, particularly if you are going to mix in some color.gelatin on waxed paper The picture on the right is what the gelatin looks like when poured on natural waxed paper.

Add in what you need to create the effect that you want. If you want a wound, add some red coloring. If you want the wound to look old, consider adding some chocolate syrup. If you want a witch’s wart, add some green coloring and perhaps some hair (some bristles from a brush perhaps?). For a ghoulish effect, add cornstarch or flour. For a swamp thing, perhaps dill weed or tarragon. For dead skin, add oatmeal. Get creative! For the leech looking effect below, I added some instant coffee crystals and some brown coloring from water added to coffee crystals.

gelatin woundLet your creation cool and gently peel off the waxed paper.

Once dry, adhere using corn syrup – you just need to let the corn syrup dry.

You can scale up the batches as needed. These look best made the same day that you are going to wear them – they dry out and shrink a bit.

For cleanup of your bowl, just peel the gelatin out – it will all stick together. If some gets stuck, just use hot water to dissolve it a bit to get the dish clean.


homemade face paint shorteningHomemade face paint is hard, I think. With pantry staples, I haven’t hit upon a successful recipe to give the same consistency as store bought face paint.

But, with homemade, you know what is in the stuff! No heavy metals, for one thing.

So, the usual recipe for “edible” face paint is 10 tsp cornstarch, 2 tsp white flour, 5 tsp vegetable shortening and 1/4 tsp vegetable glycerin. Mash together with a fork until the mixture balls up. Once this is mixed together, you can add a bit more glycerin as needed. This will make a white base. Separate into different white blobs and add the necessary color. I’ve made a tan (for a lion or cat) using some water collected from coffee crystals. This mixture is relatively “pasty” and will not give you clean lines, but it works. It is edible, although it isn’t very tasty.

Another option is to add basically equally parts lotion and cornstarch. For this recipe, I’ve used 1 tblsp Harley James baby lotion and 1 tblsp cornstarch. (I bought some offace paint with lotion the Harley James to try but I still like my Earth Mama Angel Baby.)  The trick to this one is to have a lotion that you like to start – one that gets a 0 or a 1 over at Skin Deep’s cosmetic safety database. The white made with lotion will still be a little translucent, but if you make colors, it will give you cleaner lines, particularly if you use a comsetic brush to paint. Again, I’ve made a tan using water from water added to a few coffee crystals.

Another recipe is 3 tblsp cornstarch, 1 tblsp flour, 1/4 cup water and 3/4 cup corn syrup (light). The corn syrup makes this sweet, so it may be too attractive for little ones. To make this, add the cornstarch adn flour in a bowl. Stir in the corn syrup and water until smooth. Once it is mixed together, divide as needed and add colors.


For fake blood, use light corn syrup, a dash of castile liquid soap (to make clean easier), and red coloring. Easiest to use is red food color. If you want darker blood or more realistic blood, add a dash of blue or some chocolate syrup.


Use aloe vera gel (you can get at almost any natural food store), and mix in some fine glitter. This should be kept away from the eyes. Alternatively, if you have some mineral makeup that you trust, you can use it as well.

How To: Homemade Baby or Dusting Powder

baby powderTimes are tough. No doubt about it. So saving green may be just as important as being green. And if you can use what you got to do both, fantastic!

Baby or dusting powder is super easy to make at home, and may reduce exposure to a toxic chemical IF you are currently using a powder containing talc.

Talc is a mineral, produced by the mining of talc rocks and then processed by crushing, drying and milling. Processing eliminates a number of trace minerals from the talc, but does not separate minute fibers which are very similar to asbestos.

Talc is found in many personal care products. The products that pose the most serious health risks are those that can be inhaled – body powders, including baby powders; medicated powders; and perfumed powders and designer perfumed body powders.

Talc is toxic. In animal studies, after exposure to cosmetic grade talc, researchers found some evidence of carcinogenic activity in male rats and clear evidence of carcinogenic activity of talc in female rats.

Talc poses the biggest health risk when you inhale it. The common household hazard posed by talc is inhalation of baby powder by infants. Since the early 1980s, records show that several thousand infants each year have died or become ill following accidental inhalation of baby powder.

Researchers have also found a strong link between frequent use of talc in the female genital area and ovarian cancer. Talc particles are able to move through the reproductive system and become embedded in the lining of the ovary. Researchers have found talc particles in ovarian tumors and have found that women with ovarian cancer have used talcum powder in their genital area more frequently than healthy women.

So what can you do? Just make some. You can use this homemade powder for babies, or for dusting if you want.

How to do it? Just take some corn starch and add about 10 to 15 drops of essential oil. Blend in a blender (or I use a clean coffee bean grinder). Then, for baby powder, put in a shaker top container. For dusting powder, put in a covered container about 2 to 3 inches deep. Voila! For babies, lavender essential oil is best. For adults, just use one that is approved for skin contact.

If you don’t want to make it, look for talc free powder and also free of synthetic fragrance. Eden’s Kiss has a nice one.

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Demonstrating Homemade Cleaning Recipes on BetterTV

I’ve been absent from my blog for a bit because I’ve been doing some exciting activities to promote my book. One of those exciting activities was an appearance on to demonstate some homemade cleaning recipes. Here I am demonstrating how to clean your microwave, how to pull up grease stains from carpet, how to make an all purpose cleaner and how to make a soft scrub all without conventional cleaners.

And, I have to say, the BetterTV people rock. So check it out.

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Non toxic flea control for dogs

Pesticides have been linked to a host of adverse health effects. And using pesticides on your pets can result in the transfer of those pesticides to your kids, especially if they don’t wash their hands after playing. But, nobody wants pests in the home either. So, many pet owners are looking for non toxic solutions for control of pests such as fleas.
One solution is to use essential oils to control fleas on dogs. Certain essential oils repel fleas, such as citronella, cedar, peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus, lemongrass, sweet orange, and lavender. However, you should never apply essential oils directly to a pet’s coat as it can cause skin irritation or allergic type reactions. So, you can place essential oils in a spray bottle or mister with distilled water or add essential oils to baking soda and sprinkle on the dog. The same mixtures can also be used with your dog’s bedding.  

For misting, add 10 to 20 drops to 2 cups distilled water and spray. This works particularly well if sprayed on the legs and belly before going in an area known to have flease. And here’s how to make the baking soda mixture to control fleas: 

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Summer Fun – Homemade Butter with Kids & Marbles

homemade butter churnKeeping children entertained during the summer can be frustrating. Whines of “I’m bored . . . ” may drive you crazy, particularly during afternoon thunderstorms. 

I previously posted about how to make homemade playdough. Another option to keep kids occupied, with the promise of a treat at the end, is homemade butter. It may sound complicated, but it isn’t! 

You will need: 2 cups or so of water, 2 marbles, 1 plastic container with a tight fitting lid, and 1 pint heavy cream (non homogenized is best). Choose organic and you will have organic butter. 

Wash the marbles thoroughly and dry. Put the glass marbles in the freezer and get them cold. Put the water chilling in the freezer or the refrigerator. It needs to be cold but not frozen. 

Take the heavy cream or whipping cream and put in the plastic container. The container should be half full. Add the marbles, screw the lid down, and start shaking all different directions. The kids should be doing the shaking. Vary the speed and the direction, but keep it going. You’ll need about 1/2 hour of shaking to form a clump of butter with kids (you can do it in less, but it seems to take 30 minutes with kids). You can use a glass container, but the marbles can break it so with kids, plastic is usually the best option. 

As you might expect, the cream will pass through stages until it makes it to butter. It is easiest to strain off buttermilk as it forms during sloshy and frothy stages, rather than straining at the end. It also means you can keep tabs on how warm the container is getting in hot little hands. If it seems like it is getting too warm, just refrigerate for a bit and then keep going.  (You can set aside the buttermilk for other recipes.) 

Resume shaking the jar and continue to strain any liquids that form. Whey or buttermilk that remains in the butter will break down quickly and turn the butter rancid. 

The kids should see small yellow “grains” of butter forming and eventually, a lump of butter. When the lump appears, stop shaking and take the marbles out. Add 1/2 cup or so of the cold water to the container and shake gently, then drain off. Press the butter against the side of the container and run some more water. If it is clear, you are done. If not, repeat until the water runs clear. Instead of leaving the butter in the container to rinse it, you can use cheesecloth. Take the butter lump out and place in the cheesecloth. Pour some water over the butter on the cheesecloth and squeeze. Keep doing until the water runs clear. Another alternative is to take the butter out of the container, and place in a bowl. Press the butter against the side of a bowl with a spoon, but this tends to be messier than leaving the butter in the container or using cheesecloth. Whichever method, you’re done once the water runs clear.


Voila, you have homemade unsalted butter. Take it out and knead to reduce air bubbles, or press against side of bowl with a spoon. If you want to make salted, add 1/2 teaspoon salt by kneading it in. Then enjoy!

Homemade Cleaning Recipes – Green, Healthy, Non Toxic and Frugal!

castile soapThe 518Moms blog posted some green cleaning tips from my forthcoming book, Smart Mama’s Green Guide: Simple Steps to Reduce Your Child’s Toxic Chemical Exposure , and since they are some of my favorite tips, I thought I would share the post with you. So check it out for green cleaning tips that are non toxic AND will save you some green. 

But, the blog post left out my most favorite tip – a homemade soft scrub. I find a soft scrub to be the most versatile cleaner – from the toilet to counter tops to sinks. All you need is some liquid castile soap, some baking soda, some essential oil and some glycerin (perhaps). I like Dr. Bronner’s rose or citrus castile soap – rose smells wonderful if you like floral, and citrus is great too. Just place 1 cup baking soda in a squeeze bottle and add castile soap until you get the consistency you like. I like almost a ratio of 1 to 1, but make it as you want. You can add an essential oil for a pleasing scent, or add an oil with antibacterial properties, such as tea tree or rosemary. If you plan to store (not use up right away), add 2 teaspoons vegetable glycerin. 

A note on castile soap – castile soap is a soap made from vegetable oil, not a brand. Target carries Dr. Bronner’s castile soaps in the natural beauty oil, or you can pick up from almost any health food type of store. You can also order online – Mountain Rose Herbs (click on the affiliate ad over on the left and I make some many if you order – I love Mountain Rose Herbs and that is why I’m an affiliate). 

However, if you have hard water, a soap may not work that well. Try a small amount and see how well it performs.

Green your cleaning: make your own homemade scrub

One of my favorite homemade cleaners is a basic scrub. It is so easy to make – just baking soda.  I use it like you would use Ajax or other hard scrubs.

To make a scrub, all you need is baking soda and an essential oil. For scent, you can add any favorite essential oil. For cleaning, I like citrus type scents but pick what works for you. Okay, so here is how to make a scrub, courtesy of Healthy Child Healthy World:

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Non Toxic Solutions for Insect Repellants and Controlling Bugs

swarm of mosquitoesGot bugs? 

Summer means playing outside and hanging out as the day sinks into twilight. But what about those pesky bugs? A lazy summer afternoon can be ruined by biting bugs. 

Conventional insect repellants contain synthetic pesticides, phthalates (hidden in the fragrance) and other nasty chemicals. Many conventional pesticides contain DEET.  DEET’s use is controversial.  Major regulatory and medical establishments, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, claim DEET is safe and effective if used properly. However, studies have found that DEET can slow motor skills and impair central nervous system function, especially if used in combination with permethrin (used on some outdoor clothing to repel insects).  These studies associated adverse health effects from sustained, regular use of DEET-containing repellants (at least once per day, for 5 or more days).  The reported adverse health effects included skin irritation and headaches to seizures, restlessness, rapid loss of consciousness and even death.  

Before you turn to conventional insect repellants, try prevention. A Smart Mama knows that prevention is alwasy the preferred solution. So, to prevent bugs in the first place:

  • Stay indoors at dawn and dusk, when the flying insects are most likely to be out and about looking for you.
  • If you live near a woods, spread a 3-foot-wide swath of wood chips between your lawn and the woods to deter ticks.  Ticks aren’t able to navigate the chips.
  • Don’t let mosquitoes breed.  Eliminate standing water in your yard.  And don’t forget to clear clogs from gutters – mosquitoes will breed in a very small amount of water.
  • If you have a birdbath, change the water twice weekly (no standing water for mosquitoes).
  • Don’t forget to change any outdoor pet water dishes daily.
  • Plant scented geraniums, lemon thyme, marigold, tansy, citrosa plants, sweet basil, and/or sassafras near your home to repel mosquitoes.

If you are still having bug problems, you might want to try an insect repellent that uses essential oils instead of using a product containing a synthetic pesticide. Plants whose essential oils have been reported to have repellent activity include citronella, cedar, verbena, geranium, lavender, pine, cajeput, cinnamon, rosemary, basil, thyme, allspice, garlic, and peppermint. Calendula ointment is also an excellent insect repellent.  But, there is a downside to using these products. They tend to give short-lasting protection, usually less than 2 hours. So, if you are in an area with insects carrying potentially life-threatening diseases, and you need to have long lasting protection, it may make sense to use an insect repellent with DEET or something similar.  Just make sure you follow the instructions.    

If you are going to use insect repellants based upon essential oils, keep in mind that it works by scent. So, these products usually need to be applied and re-applied generously. Also, essential oils can be irritating or cause allergic reactions.  It is always a good idea to patch test before applying all over.  And, of course, if you know you have a reaction to a particular plant, then stay away from products containing that plant. 

What are some non toxic alternatives? 

california baby insect repellentCalifornia Baby’s Natural Bug Blend Bug Repellent Spray uses citronella, lemongrass and cedar essential oils to repel bugs.  A lot of readers have reported enjoying the scent.  Trust me – it does not smell like synthetic citronella. 

Burt’s Bees Herbal Insect Repellent relies primarily upon rosemary to repel insects.  Its ingredients are: glycine soja (soybean) oil, ricinus communis (castor) seed oil, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf oil, cymbopogon schoenanthus (lemongrass) oil, thuja occidentalis (cedar) leaf oil, mentha piperita (peppermint) oil, cymbopogon nardus (citronella) oil, eugenia caryophyllus (clove) flower oil, geranium maculatum (geranium) oil, and tocopherol.  


Ecosmart’s Insect Repellant uses a blend of the following organic plant oils:  rosemary, cinnamon leaf, lemongrass and geraniol.  It comes in a spray bottle.  The other ingredients are isopropyl alcohol, isopropyl myristate and wintergreen oil.  My son really likes this scent – I think it is a little much, actually I lot much.  I understand that it is available at Wal-Mart. 


A Smart Mama reader recommends Mexitan’s Skeedattle Anti-Bug Spray.  The ingredients are vanillin, citronella oil, lemongrass oil, peppermint oil, potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate.  The company does not use synthetic fragrances or preservatives, and the products are paraben free.  As an added bonus, you can use the product on pets to repel fleas and ticks. 

Bite Blocker comes in a lotion, a spray and a wipe.  It is recommend by the Pesticide Action Network North America PANNA). The products are a blend of soybean and coconut oils and are safe for kids.  PANNA reports that the New England Journal of Medicine found Bite Blocker for kids provided better protection than the DEET based product with 5% concentration. Studies conducted at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, showed that this product gave more than 97% protection against Aedes mosquitoes under field conditions, even 3.5 hours after application. During the same period, a 6.65% DEET-based spray afforded 86% protection, and Avon Skin-So-Soft citronella-based repellent gave only 40% protection.  

Another option is a product containing eucalyptus lemon essential oil.  It is the only plant-based active ingredient for insect repellents so far approved by the CDC.  (The CDC has also approved the synthetic version – known as PMD – I would skip the synthetic version completely).  But, eucalyptus lemon essential oil can be toxic if ingested in high concentrations.  So, only use a product with a low concentration of eucalyptus essential oil.  Plus, these products are not recommended for children under 3 years of age, so I tend to skip them.  However, I like eucalyptus lemon essential oil.  Why? Because silverfish do not.  And I do not like silverfish.  I just put a little on a piece of fabric and stick it at the back of my cabinets.  No more silverfish.  Whoo-hoo!  I get mine from: 
Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c

In the interest of full disclosure, I am an affiliate of Mountain Rose Herbs. If you click the link, I get a percentage based upon what you purchase. I love Mountain Rose Herbs and am proud to be an affiliate.

Recipe to Make Non Toxic Homemade Playdough

Homemade playdough is easy to make.  And you probably have the ingredients in your cupboard.
This is what you will need:
  • 1 cup flour;
  • 1 cup warm water;
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil; and
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar.

Mix flour, cream of tartar, warm water, vegetable oil and salt. Cook over medium heat until mixture gums up like playdough.  Take off of heat and allow to cool until comfortable to the touch.  Knead.  To add color, try some eco friendly solutions such as beet juice for pink or tumeric for yellow.  You can add a Vitamin E capsule to keep free of bacteria.  Store in tightly sealed container.

Not sure how to do it – here’s a video courtesy of Healthy Child Healthy World:

Eco Friendly and Frugal Ideas for Easter Egg Hunts

little boy hunting eggsEaster is fast approaching and with it, the all important Easter egg hunt.  Well, all important if you are a kid.  For me, a mom trying to be green, Easter presents a quandry.  Those plastic Easter eggs are pretty much are designed to hold small plastic items that will shortly be tossed – not something I want to support.  My kids don’t go much for real dyed eggs for the hunt – they have been brain washed for a toy and candy filled Easter egg hunt.  But as much as I don’t like plastic toys, I also don’t want to go the candy route.  My children will be bouncing off the walls for days on end.  What to do?


Well, here are some ideas for a bit more Earth friendly Easter egg hunt, and some are more frugal as well:



    • Re-use those eggs.  I’ve got bunches of yes, plastic eggs, that we use every year.  They got passed down to us and we will pass them along when my kids get a little older.  I collect the eggs at the end of each hunt, clean them and just re use them.  Not completely green since they are plastic, but better than tossing them.  And, if I need more, I pick them up at the thrift store.


    • Grow something.  The last couple of years I’ve made seed packets and put those in the eggs.  You can use tiny envelope packets and print instructions on stickers to stick on the envelopes.  If you can’t find tiny envelope packets (usually at a craft store), you can use very small “jewelry” bags too – but those are plastic so not as great as the paper envelope, which you can get made of recycled content.


    • Feed the birds.  Just like the seed packets, you can include wild bird seed too.  My kids had a blast feeding the birds with the wild bird seed.


    • Save some money.  Coins are always a hit – just make sure the age group is appropriate for this potential choking hazard.  And you don’t just have to use US coins – my kids loved the fancy coins they found.  I just stuck in some of the coins we had left over from various trips over the years or that I collected as “bad” change.


    • Stones!  Polished stones (found at the craft store) are also popular, particularly since we just call them true treasure.


  • Go crafty.  You can also make up craft packets – a few beads and some hemp string or something along those lines, age appropriate, can be popular.


What ideas do you have?  Leave a comment with your tips for an Earth friendly Easter egg hunt.