Skip to main content

14th March 2016

DIY beauty recipes

Struggling to look good on a student budget? Film Editor Nicole Tamer imparts her wisdom by sharing her cheap and easy beauty recipes

Let’s be honest; as a student, it’s not always easy to find the right beauty products, especially with a lack of money and time. Luckily for you, I’ve found easy methods to create your own beauty products for a tenth of the price. They can be used either as a replacement, or in a situation when you’ve just run out of certain products. So let’s get started! And remember, a lot of it is trial and error, but it’s a very gratifying and fun experience to use products that you have created yourself.

First of all, you’ll need to invest in four staple products which can be combined to make useful, cheap, and cruelty-free versions of overpriced shelf products. You’ll have to buy them in bigger amounts than needed, but they all last for at least a year and can also be used for other purposes. Try to test them inside your elbow to make sure that you don’t have any allergic reactions.

The four products are arrowroot powder, virgin coconut oil, unsweetened cocoa powder, and baking soda. Each of the products can be found for around £3 in bigger supermarkets or online. Cinnamon, beetroot powder, mica powder, activated charcoal, and essential oils are optional and a bit more pricey.

Mineral or Compact Facial Powder

Only arrowroot powder and cocoa powder are needed for this product. Arrowroot powder gives the skin an HD finish after applying as it immediately minimises the appearance of pores and smooths out small wrinkles with its fine texture. Combined with the wonderfully smelling cocoa powder, a colour closer to your skin tone can be achieved.

Start with one tablespoon of arrowroot powder and mix it with half of a teaspoon of cocoa powder. A chopstick or the end of a teaspoon are adequate mixing tools. Experiment a bit and try it out on the back of your hand to find the colour that fits your skin tone best. Afterwards, fill the powder into an old mineral foundation container or into a small resealable box and use it as any other mineral powder with a soft facial brush. If you add a small amount of alcohol (Vodka from last night, anyone?), the powder can be pressed into an empty compact powder container with a kitchen towel and used after the alcohol evaporates.

The powder colour can be adjusted by adding more cocoa powder. Photo: Nicole Tamer

Bronzer and Blush

In order to create a bronzer, simply follow the same steps for the mineral powder and add a bit more of the cocoa powder into the mixture to make it darker. If a rosy colour is preferred, you could add beetroot powder which can be bought very cheaply online and, if you have any cinnamon left in the kitchen, the bronzer can be made even darker to contour the face better.

From left to right: Swatches of facial powder in skin colour, bronzer with more cocoa powder added, and a dark blush colour achieved by adding cinnamon. Photo: Nicole Tamer

Eyeshadow, Eye Liner, and Mascara (Advanced, requires more products)

Arrowroot powder creates a smooth eye shadow base and, mixed with cocoa powder or mica powder, brown or colourful eyeshadow can be created.

Half of a teaspoon of activated charcoal or cocoa powder mixed with 4 teaspoons of aloe vera gel and 2 teaspoons of coconut oil makes wonderful black or brown eyeliner. Just fill it into an airtight container, dip a slim eyeliner brush into the creamy texture, and apply it closely to the lash line. A cleaned mascara brush can also do the trick if you need a quick mascara fix. Store the liquid eye products in the refrigerator and don’t use them for longer than three months.

Mascara dipped into the eye line mixture. Photo: Nicole Tamer

Eye and Facial Makeup Remover

Simply dip a cotton pad into the Coconut oil, press it onto your closed eyes for a few seconds and wipe all the eye makeup away. It can also be used to remove makeup from the rest of your face, but coconut oil is quite greasy and lighter oils such as almond or jojoba oil might be better for sensitive skin.

Dry Shampoo

Spray dry shampoo is quite pricey and the white leftover is often difficult to massage into the scalp. Arrowroot powder is a lot cheaper and can simply be massaged into blonde hair similar to spray shampoo. If your hair is darker, mix cocoa powder into it as needed. Cinnamon or beetroot powder can be mixed with the arrowroot powder for ginger or strawberry blonde hair.


If you’re in a rush and just can’t find your deodorant, or it just ran out before the important job interview or date, you could either use baking soda or lemon juice, which both have antibacterial properties preventing any bad smells for a few hours. If you want to create a reusable longer-lasting deodorant, mix 6 tablespoons of coconut oil, 4 tablespoons of Baking Soda, and 4 tablespoons of arrowroot powder together and fill it into an empty stick deodorant container or a small glass or plastic container. After leaving it in the refrigerator for half an hour, the hardened mixture is ready to use. Baking soda and coconut oil have antibacterial properties, and the latter acts a base while moisturising your skin. You could add your favourite scents to the mixture in the form of essential oils. A few drops of citrus oils are especially nice in spring.

Homemade deodorant. Photo: Nicole Tamer


Baking soda itself can be used as toothpaste and its soft abrasiveness can even whiten the teeth. Simply sprinkle a bit of the powder on the wet toothbrush and brush your teeth as usual. If you want to create a proper ‘paste’, mix any needed amount of baking soda and coconut oil in a 1:1 ratio and fill it into an airtight jar. The mixture can be blended to make it extra smooth. The toothbrush can be dipped into the mixture and used as a toothpaste that whitens the teeth and contains antibacterial properties fighting plaque naturally.

Coconut toothpaste with baking soda. Photo: Nicole Tamer

Have fun trying out the recipes and remember; they all should be stored in airtight containers and kept in dark and cool places to ensure the longevity of the products. If anything smells off or funny, dispose of it to stay on the safe side. I have tested all of the products beforehand and they have worked great for me, but everyone’s skin and hair is different so don’t expect results or the same scents as high street products.

More Coverage

Zendaya and the art of theme dressing

Are Zendaya and stylist Law Roach the fashion worlds answer to Lennon and McCartney?

Celebrity style guide #6: Michael Schumacher

Schumacher: seven World Champion titles, record holder for total fastest laps… and fashion icon?

Does Hailey Bieber’s Rhode phone case signal the death of the handbag?

Hailey Bieber’s latest release, a phone case specially designed to fit a lip product, is just the next step in the ever-shrinking bag trend of recent years. Does this signal the handbag’s ultimate demise?

Get to know Oddmuse: Aimee Smale on doing ‘what people aren’t expecting’

London-based slow-fashion brand Oddmuse took off over lockdown on TikTok and other social media platforms – I picked founder Aimee’s brain on how to break into the fashion industry and her future vision for Oddmuse