I grew up on Crest toothpaste, Cascade dish soap, and Coppertone sunscreen, all of which we now know contain harmful ingredients. It wasn’t until I ventured into the world of DIY that I realized I could make much safer beauty and cleaning products on my own. These recipes are easy to follow and the ingredients easy to find, plus you will have no more wrappers, plastic bottles, or tubes to discard, and a much safer product.

Toothpaste My college friend Johanna Smith has been making beauty products since 2012, and she swears by this toothpaste recipe. The rich, volcanic bentonite clay (found online) absorbs and removes toxins through re-mineralizing your teeth; tea tree oil adds antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic qualities; eucalyptus oil has a cooling and protective nature, plus anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and deodorizing properties; and peppermint knocks out bad breath and soothes sore gums and teeth.



1/8 cup bentonite clay
1/4 cup boiling water
5 to 10 drops tea tree oil
5 to 10 drops eucalyptus oil
5 to 10 drops peppermint oil


Pour oils into boiling water. Whisk in bentonite clay. Store in an airtight glass container.

Multi-Surface Cleaner This simple, effective household cleaner combines two parts water and one part apple cider vinegar (or one and one for extra strength) in a spray bottle, along with lemon or pine essential oils for added cleaning powers. Vinegar is antimicrobial and some studies show that it rivals bleach’s disinfecting capabilities, making it a great alternative to chemical products. Vinegar’s strong personality also wards away household intruders like ants.

Dish Detergent Kelley Maresca, owner of Truckee’s Sunshine Organic Herbals, shared this dish detergent recipe, which works great in the dishwasher or sprinkled on extra dirty pots. She sells citric acid in her store on Hirschdale Road, as well as a diverse collection of essential oils to add to the detergent for a pleasant scent, grease-cutting, and antibacterial properties. Just mix 1 cup washing soda, 1 cup baking soda, and 1 cup kosher salt (found at most grocery stores), 1/2 cup citric acid, and 20 drops citrus essential oil, and let the dishwasher do the rest.

Sunscreen Last summer, my friend Rascha Jelks was working in the Tahoe sun every day and wanted to make a natural alternative to sunscreen that would be better for the ecosystem, free from the carcinogens found in regular sunblock, and stored in reusable packaging. While she orders most ingredients from Amazon, she found beeswax beads, shea butter, and aloe vera concentrate from Sacramento Beekeeping Supplies (sacramentobeekeeping.com).


1 cup refined shea butter (thickness)
1/2 cup beeswax beads (water repellency)
1 1/2 cups coconut oil (easy spreading)
1 Tbsp aloe vera concentrate (healing)
20 drops raspberry oil (sun protection)
1/4 cup zinc oxide powder (sun protection)
15 drops essential oil blend (bug repellent and aroma)
Distilled water


In a double boiler start melting shea butter, then add beeswax and coconut oil; stir occasionally until liquid. Once oil mixture cools it can be fluffed by slowly adding distilled water and mixing with a hand mixer. Add aloe vera, raspberry oil, and your essential oil blend like peppermint, citronella, and lavender for cooling and bug repelling. Add the zinc oxide any time after the base oils are liquefied. The amount of zinc determines sun protection (1/4 cup zinc yields 30 to 45 spf). Zinc is toxic when inhaled, so mix carefully in a well-ventilated area with mouth and nose covered. Distribute product into sanitized, small glass jars to store. Reapply sunscreen every couple hours.


  • Ashley Owen

    Ashley Owen moved to Truckee in 2012 with nothing but a dream of life in the mountains, a car full of clothes, and a best friend. One season turned into three or four (and more, and more) and she's still here, honored to be writing about music, art, and food for Moonshine...and singing in a rock 'n' roll band. While the move to Tahoe was serendipitous, Owen is eternally grateful to call this place home and doesn't plan on packing her life into a car any time soon.

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