Shopping for ingredients

Thanks to the internet, shopping for DIY skincare ingredients has never been easier: at the click of a button you can buy everything from Ghanaian shea butter and Californian avocado oil, to green tea extracts from China and neroli essential oil from the Mediterranean – all from the comfort of your own home. Certainly, the advent of online shopping has made things much easier for us DIYers to embark on our adventures.

However, before we all get carried away and fill our online shopping baskets with every kind of butter and oil under the sun, here are a few points to bear in mind when choosing and buying ingredients:

  • Only buy from a reputable supplier. Type “almond oil” into an internet search engine or e-commerce search box and you’ll come across links to dozens of retailers selling it. Don’t just go with the first site or retailer you see, or buy from the cheapest place; do a bit of research and ask yourself the following questions before clicking that “Check-out” button:
    1. Does this retailer specialise in raw ingredients for beauty products? What else do they sell?
    2. Is there adequate information provided on the products/ingredients they’re selling, e.g. not just a product’s USPs and benefits, but also information on origin of product, process method, allergens or use-by date? Does the information seem credible to you?
    3. Is the retailer able to provide INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) or MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) documents for the ingredients where necessary?
    4. Is there clear information on how the item is packaged? (e.g. if you’re buying shea butter, do you know if it comes in a sealed tub or just wrapped in a plastic bag?)
    5. Does this retailer have good customer reviews? Type their name into a search engine. Are they mentioned by other credible sources?
    6. Are the retailer’s contact details visible? If you have a follow-up question about the purchase, how can you get in touch?
    7. Where is the retailer based? Will there be an expensive delivery charge?
  • Start with the basics. If you’re just starting out, don’t go overboard and buy every kind of oil, butter or essential oil there is – I wouldn’t want you to bankrupt yourself on a hobby! Start with a few versatile ingredients like almond, avocado and coconut oils, shea and mango butters, and just one kind of wax. As for essential oils, the following are good ones to start with: a minty one (peppermint or spearmint), a floral one (rose geranium or lavender) and a citrusy/lemony one (sweet orange or lemongrass).
  • Only buy what you need. Unfortunately, carrier oils and butters do go rancid after a certain period, so don’t stock up on things just because they’re on offer (unless you’re confident you’ll use them up within its recommended lifespan). Always check the lifespan of a product before you buy in bulk.
  • Pay attention to the size. The price-per-unit for different essential oils can vary a lot depending on how precious the oils are. Don’t just blindly assume they all come in same-size bottles (Some precious oils are sold in 2.5ml bottles, whereas for more common oils 10ml is standard). The good thing with essential oils is that a little goes a long way, so even a small bottle will last you a long time.

Tip: Pick up DIY body and skincare as a group hobby. Together, you can invest in a wider range of ingredients, and then just split the cost amongst yourselves!

Below is a list of UK-based suppliers that I have purchased ingredients from, or have come across in my research. [Note this isn’t an endorsement of any kind!]


Just A Soap:


Mystic Moments:


New Directions:

The Soap Kitchen:

All there’s left for me to say now is Happy shopping! ?

Featured image credit:, by Nico Paix, reproduced under CC BY 2.0

Published by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *