All about the co-op market: bulk personal care
October 18, 2016
October is Bulk Month. Buying in bulk is the greenest way to buy, since it minimizes packaging that takes resources to make and becomes waste to dispose of. Bulk buying also saves money due to the reduced packaging, printing and advertising costs. And, bulk is great for sharing with friends and making DIY gifts.
Here at Frontier Co-op, we've been selling bulk since 1976. You may be familiar with our bulk herbs, spices and teas. If you’ve seen the bulk bins or jars in your local co-op or natural foods store, chances are good that they contain our products, whether or not you see our name. But, we also have a whole category of bulk products outside the food world that you may not be familiar with: bulk personal care.
A lot of these products have intriguing names (like kaolin clay) and look gorgeous (the hibiscus flowers and rose buds are stunning!) — you can check them out, as well as purchase them, here in the Co-op Market. But, what in the world do you do with them? I asked my more experienced colleagues that, and learned you can do way more than I ever imagined. Here’s a run-down of some general categories of our bulk personal care products and ideas for use. (This is not an exhaustive list, by any means.) You’ll find links to more specific guidance and recipes at the end of this blog post.
Clays are the go-to for spa-like facial masks, and they’re simpler than you might think. “Add water, stir, apply and let dry,” as one of my co-workers puts it. Another co-worker indicated she also plans to use her clay in deodorant powder, mineral foundation, detox bath blends and dry shampoo.
Salts are ideal for exfoliating scrubs — which can be as simple as a salt + olive or coconut oil — for your face, feet or anywhere on the body. They’re also great for soothing mineral baths.
If you picture dull, old-school potpourri when you think of dried flowers, it's time to re-think. Visualize your own personal blend of these beauties in an earthy wooden bowl or elegant crystal vase. Wouldn’t the pink rose buds look pretty with contrasting hawthorn? I’m thinking of making one with hibiscus, rose buds and linden. Aromatic flowers also make great sachets for closets and drawers.
But, flowers have uses far beyond potpourri and sachets. Some of the more common personal care applications include body butters, eye and neck pillows, skin salves and soothing baths. (Soak in a luxurious bath while waiting for your mask to dry!) Relaxing lavender, soothing calendula and calming chamomile are favorites for the bath.
The usefulness of herbs reaches beyond the culinary world to enhance salves for smoothing and soothing your skin, facial masks and as an ingredient in hair care applications. One special herb, red henna leaf powder, makes a wonderful natural hair dye. You can even add coffee to create a darker auburn hue. And, don’t overlook adding herbs to your potpourri and sachets.
Camphor granules and menthol crystals
These items are often used in DIY shaving creams and hair products for their cooling effect on the skin.
Beeswax is an emollient — it is soothing to the skin and also thickens salves.
Probably the coolest thing about these bulk items is that you can combine them in just about any application you want. Have fun, be creative, experiment! One of my favorite ideas from a co-worker is a “bath tea.” After having her first baby, she wanted a soothing, relaxing bath, so she brewed up some lavender, calendula and red raspberry leaf in a saucepan and strained it into her bath water. She enjoyed it so much she layered the flowers and herbs in decorative jars and gave them to friends. There’s a great baby shower gift idea! (The moms deserve something for themselves, too, right?)
If you have specific questions you’d like answered or deeper dives you’d like to see in blog posts related to bulk, feel free to leave a comment below.