1. Buy your own. The only way to know what’s in hair and beauty products is to buy ingredients yourself. No, it may not be any cheaper, but the peace of mind is priceless. Skin is our largest organ, and the scalp takes a lot of abuse when we slather on store bought products without knowing what’s in them. Natural ingredients, on the other hand, can be found at health stores. I buy vegetable glycerine, essential oils, jojoba and other carrier oils online or at the local health food store.

Be careful. There are all kinds of ways to express oil from fruits or nuts. Steer clear of companies and manufacturers that use chemicals to express the oil, and don’t be fooled by the word, “organic.” If it doesn’t have a sticker stamped “USDA Organic,” then the item has some not-so-organic ingredients.

2. Make your own. It may take a while but eventually you’ll have enough products to make your own hair and beauty products. Distilled water, vegetable glycerin, aloe vera gel and an essential oil will make a quick hair spritz. There are recipes all over the net, but I don’t measure. Water is the base, followed by vegetable glycerin and aloe vera gel. Vegetable glycerin is the only problem ingredient because it can make the spritz sticky. Use less or add some water to thin it. Start with a drop of essential oil and work your way up from there.

If pretty packaging is your downfall, recycle old packaging and pour your homemade goodies inside. It wasn’t that long ago that women kept all of their smell goods in pretty glass bottles. Check vintage and antique stores for affordable options.

One last thing, make small batches. While some argue about whether Vitamin E is a preservative, my spritzes and other goodies never go back when I add a little Vitamin E oil to them.

3. Grow your own. If all else fails, grow your own. I’m no green thumb and I’ve managed to keep an aloe vera plant alive for more than a year. I use it to calm mild sunburn and to cool my face, especially in the summer. Harvest a leaf from the button of the plant, slice it open and apply directly to where it’s needed. Store it in refrigerator for up to a week.

Always be sure to test aloe or any plant or herb on a small area to make sure you’re not allergic. Enjoy!