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Live it!: How to create your own natural beauty products

The ingredients of many of the store-bought beauty products caused Jen Anfinson to rethink her health and beauty care. Eventually she began making her own natural products with household items. (PHOTOS BY DAN BURDETT | LIVE IT! MAGAZINE)

These days, grocers big and small seem to have a section or aisle dedicated to organic foods, vitamins, supplements and skin-care goods marketed as an alternative to chemical-laden products.

Whether these consumables ultimately offer any increased health benefits seems to depend on who you ask.

What is known, however, is a myriad of skin-care products consistently have the opposite effect of their design, with soap repeatedly singled out as the biggest culprit.

According to a report on, a website focused on women’s health issues, many antibacterial soaps contain synthetic lathering agents, artificial colors and chemicals that are not only bad for your skin, but can also make you sick.

It’s something that prompted Jen Anfinson to rethink her health and beauty care, and eventually led her to make her own natural products.

They were such a hit among family and friends, Jen, who lives in rural Paynesville, now spends much of her time touring the region hosting workshops for others seeking natural substitutes to store-bought beauty products.

Jen was recently at Copperleaf Senior Living Community, a retirement and assisted living facility on Willmar’s northside, conducting a workshop that doubled as a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association’s annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

Live it! Magazine tagged along as she shared a recipe with staff, residents and guests for a natural body scrub that can be applied daily.

Here’s what we learned:

Body scrub

This scrub is comprised of three simple ingredients: sugar (white or brown, though brown tends to be softer on the skin), a carrier oil (ie: olive oil, grapeseed oil) and any essential oil.

A carrier oil is a vegetable oil derived from the fatty portion of a plant, usually from the seeds, kernels or the nuts, and is used to dilute essential oil, which, used in a concentrated form, can cause severe irritation or reactions in some individuals. The term carrier oil is derived from their purpose in carrying the essential oil onto the skin.

Essential oils are distilled from the leaves, bark, roots and other aromatic portions of a botanical. Essential oils evaporate and have a concentrated aroma, boasting the fragrance of the plant or other source from which it is extracted. 

These oils are available for purchase at most grocers or online. Popular scents are lemon — a powerful antimicrobial agent, according to the International Journal of Food Microbiology — and peppermint, which naturally calms the body.


  • Pour 1 cup sugar into a mixing bowl
  • Add 1/2 cup carrier oil (ie: olive or grapeseed oil)
  • Stir with a wooden spoon until the oil soaks into the sugar and the ingredients begin to exhibit a grainy texture.
  • Scoop the contents from the bowl and into an airtight jar or similar receptacle.
  • Add five drops of the essential oil of your choice, stirring the oil with a small spoon for about 30 seconds.
  • Seal the jar. Use the body scrub as you would any other bath scrub.

Why it works

Sugar is a known humectant, meaning it draws moisture from the environment into the skin. Thus, sugar or sugar derivatives help hydrate your skin and keep moisture within.

Olive oil, Jen says, aids the skin due to its abundance of natural antioxidants. It also penetrates deeply into the skin, according to, providing a cleansing effect and preventing pores from clogging. The mild abrasive qualities of the sugar, combined with the penetrating action of the oil, remove dead skin cells, leaving the epidermis looking renewed.

Other recipes by Jen

Beauty mask

2 tablespoons banana

2 tablespoons oatmeal

20 drops Vitamin E

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 tablespoon glycerol

Body cleanser

3/4 cup Castile soap (mottled soap made with olive oil and sodium hydroxide)

1/4 cup honey

1 tablespoon olive oil

45 drops essential lemon oil

Hot chocolate milk bath

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 tablespoon vanilla

Buttermilk bath

1 cup powdered buttermilk

1 cup milk

1/4 cup honey

Vitamin E

5 drops essential oil of your choice

Rose water

 Jen Anfinson was featured in the December 2015/January 2016 issue of Live it! Magazine in a story on steampunk jewelry, and is quickly becoming our DIY guru. Jen presents workshops on a myriad of DIY topics across the region, including a number through the Great River Regional Library system. For more information on Jen’s upcoming classes, visit the Great River website at and select the events option. You can follow Jen on Facebook.

Dan Burdett

Dan Burdett is the community content coordinator at the West Central Tribune. He has 13 years experience in print media, to include four years enlisted service in the United States Air Force. He has been an employee of Forum Communications since 2005, joining the company after spending two years as the managing editor of the Redwood Gazette and Livewire in Redwood Falls. Prior to his current position, Dan was the presentation editor at the Tribune.

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