Shopping guide.

The most difficult thing in my transition to natural products was finding all the ingredients for recipes. I mean, where does one find bees wax for goodness sake? In order to make your transition easier, I thought it would be helpful to create this resource.

International readers (outside of SA)

Since I buy all my ingredients locally, this shopping guide is targeted to South Africans. However, if you are not in South Africa, then I recommend looking on Amazon or Making Cosmetics. I’ve found everything there, but it’s not cost effective for me to buy from them when there are local options.

Specialist DIY Suppliers

The suppliers listed here are more specialised for DIY cosmetics and packaging. I’ve indicated which stores I’ve personally ordered from before with a ✅ and those I haven’t ordered from with a ❌.

DIY Naturally

Best natural supplier overall.

  • Natural ingredient philosophy.
  • Fair prices.
  • Sample-size & bulk quantities.
  • Good product information & documentation (eg. MSDS / TDS).
  • Good product range of natural ingredients.
  • Good range of packaging <100
  • Unique equipment & packaging (eg. Lipstick moulds & mini measuring spoons).
  • They have a physical store in JHB (by appointment).
  • Wholesale buying discounts.
  • Loyalty program.

Cosmetic Studio

My Backup Plan.

  • Good product range, but a lot of synthetic ingredients. Do your research.
  • Fair prices.
  • Sample-size quantities.
  • Good product information.
  • I go here for sample sizes of specialist ingredients which DIY Naturally don’t stock. (Eg. To buy 1g of Hyaluronic acid powder).
  • Some packaging <30.
  • Apparently they offer international delivery.

Fun with soap

Best Prices.

  • Excellent prices for most things.
  • Bulk quantities.
  • Serious lack of product information and no documentation for ingredients.
  • Wide product range, but includes many synthetic ingredients. Do your research.
  • Website experience is messy & difficult to navigate.
  • They have a physical shop in JHB.
  • A lot of plastic packaging, some glass & aluminium.

Soap Oils & Herbs

For The Odd Thing.

  • This is the only online store (that I found) that sells sericite mica for DIY makeup.
  • Small product range.
  • Some packaging <30.
  • Some products have competitive pricing and smaller product sizes for sampling.


Botanical Ingredients Only.

  • Wide range of purely natural & botanical ingredients like carrier oils, butters, waxes, essential oils, extracts & clays.
  • Fair prices.
  • Lacks functional ingredients like preservatives, emulsifiers, solubilisers etc.
  • Some packaging <30.
  • Good product information.
  • Loyalty program.

Essentially natural

The Last Resort (Most Expensive).

  • Too expensive. I can always find what I need at a cheaper price elsewhere (even when I include shipping cost).
  • Widest range of ingredients & packaging.
  • They do offer discounts for bulk purchases.
  • Good product information.
  • Limited sample sizes that are often out-of-stock.

General Retailers in sA

The general retailers featured here have large product ranges which are not specific to DIY, but you will be able to get more bang for your buck in terms of shipping cost, because you can also shop for groceries, supplements and toiletries at these stores as well. All of these stores also have loyalty programs in which you can earn points to spend later. I have purchased from both stores multiple times.

Faithful To Nature

General Natural Products

  • Affordable ‘Faithful to Nature’ house brand
  • Select carrier oils & butters
  • Essential oils
  • Herbs
  • My recommended retail options for my recipes.

King Online

General Ingredients

Faithful to Nature
For general natural & organic products and my ‘recommended retail options’ that you’ll find at the bottom of my recipe posts, you can shop at Faithful to Nature. I love that Faithful to Nature has a strict ingredient policy which determines what they sell;  they provide the ingredient list for every product; and their ingredient library is a helpful resource if you don’t know what a specific ingredient is.

Recommendations for specific Ingredients

Bees wax

Unless your neighbour is a bee keeper, this may seem like a rather difficult ingredient to find. The good news is that South Africans do have a friendly bee keeper as our neighbour, and he delivers nationwide. Please support Darran from The Adaptable Bee. Darran has an online store that sells handmade bees wax pellets and DIY kits for making your own bees wax candles and bees wax wraps (great gift idea). He also sells ready-made bees wax candles. He is my first choice for many reasons: (1) you support a small & local business; (2) you get purely unrefined bees wax; (3) bees wax is sustainably sourced on a small scale; (4) handmade bees wax products are so much cooler than mass produced versions.

Natural Liquid Soap

The Bear Necessities make a coconut-based and fragrance-free liquid soap, which is by far the best in my opinion (for so many reasons). This is the liquid soap that I would recommend for all my DIY recipes. They sell a 200ml bottle, and 500ml bottle. A little goes a long way, and the lather is better than any other liquid soap product I’ve tried so far. It is very affordable when compared to other coconut-based liquid soaps. The glass packaging is a bonus too!

Aloe Vera

Beginner Recipes
If you’re following my beginner recipes that call for a fragrance-free and preserved aloe gel base, then Badger Aloe Vera Gel is the best. It is certified organic, and contains zero unnecessary ingredients. Plus, the price is excellent when you consider that it’s a certified organic product – just look at the price of its closest & non-organic rivals Bettaway aloe vera gel, or eOil’s prepared aloe gel base. These are fragrance-free, but their additives are not completely natural. The second best natural options are Totally Wild organic aloe or Natraloe aloe gel, but these are not plain and unfragranced.

Intermediate/ Advanced
If you are following my intermediate and advanced recipes in which you do the preservation or gelling yourself, then you can buy fresh aloe juice, or organic aloe vera liquid. Fun fact: organic aloe vera is actually a liquid.

Coconut Oil

I like to buy bulk 5-litre coconut oil from King Online, which I mostly use for soap-making. I swear by coconut oil soap for the best lather, and the hardest soap bars.

Vitamin E Oil

I recommend using natural vitamin E, which is also known as d-alpha tocopherol. You can find 70% natural vitamin E from most of the specialist DIY suppliers mentioned above. This is the type of vitamin E that will function as an antioxidant that protects oils from going rancid. You can use Vitamin E acetate, which is usually in the supplements that you can pop the capsules (eg. like Vitaforce‘s 1000i.u). This type of vitamin E acetate or tocopherol acetate will provide good skincare benefits, but it will not prevent oxidation. Whereas, natural vitamin E oil provides both skincare and antioxidant benefits. There are other natural vitamin E oils on the market, by SOil and Solgar, but they don’t mention the concentration of vitamin E. Therefore, I don’t recommend them. You want at least 70% for antioxidant benefits.

Distilled Water

You can find distilled water at most pharmacies, because it’s commonly used to dilute medicine. If you want to shop online, you can buy it from King Online as well. I’ve found distilled water at both Dischem and Clicks physical stores. You may also use deionized water for homemade cosmetics. Don’t use drinking tap water, spring water or filtered water though. You need a pharmaceutical grade (B.P) of water.

Product Packaging

Besides the specialist DIY shops mentioned above, here are some other options. If you live in JHB then the first place I recommend visiting is Westpak at the Lifestyle Centre. There is an entire aisle dedicated to glass containers of all sorts. If not, you can also find some containers on Faithful to Nature, or you can buy bottles of all kinds from a little shop in Port Elizabeth called The Bottle Store which will courier orders if you ask.

For the best prices though, you can also order from Bonpak, they offer a great variety of packaging. BUT, I must be honest and say that Bonpak’s service is often unprofessional and inconsistent. It once took me 3 weeks to simply get a quote, and even then it was full of errors. I wish I could recommend them, but I am weary, in case you also have a bad experience. They would be first on my list of recommendations if it wasn’t for their bad service. But I’ll leave it up to you to decide. Remember that you can also clean & re-use many of your existing product containers.

Natural Makeup

I’d love to say that I’m completely happy with using DIY makeup all the time, but this just isn’t true. DIY makeup is limited to the kind of colours and coverage it can provide. Hence, I trust the Inthusiasm brand, and I personally use their foundation,  eye pencils, eye shadow and mascara. What I love most about this brand is that they’re more affordable than most, and they only use a few necessary ingredients. They keep it simple, and I like that. Faithful to Nature stocks selected products, otherwise you can also view their whole range and buy directly from their website. 

Looking for something I haven’t mentioned? Please feel free to ask me in the comments section of a recipe post, or via my social media channels. I will be glad to help where I can.

Which essential oils are best to use?

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are the volatile and concentrated oils of the plant. They are obtained by distilling any part of the part including the seeds, roots, bark, stems, leaves, fruit, flowers or branches. Improper use of essential oils is dangerous. Please read how to use essential oils safely, and speak to a doctor or qualified aromatherapist before using them.

How can you determine their quality?

Essential oils can be perfume, food or therapeutic grade. The best quality and most pure are therapeutic grade oils, and therefore they are also the most expensive. Perfume or food grade essential oils are diluted & may contain other synthetic substances. When buying, you should be skeptical when reading the word “pure” on a label, as South Africa does not have very strict labeling policies. You should also read the product packaging carefully to determine whether the ingredient listed is the scientific or botanical name of the essential oil. For example, if a product’s ingredient list just reads “Lavender oil” then it’s more likely that this essential oil is not 100% pure, as opposed to a product that reads “Lavandula angustifolia” or “Lavandula officinale” which is most likely pure.

The Best & Most Expensive: Soil and Burgess & Finch

The SOil brand, and the Burgess & Finch brand are by far the best quality in my opinion, yet they are also the most expensive. SOil differs from Burgess & Finch in that they offer certified organic essential oils. Both brands are therapeutic grade oils, therefore they are more pure, concentrated, and thus more effective. If you can afford it, then these are my most recommended brands of essential oils, especially if you are more interested in the healing and therapeutic benefits of essential oils rather than just the fragrances. You can find the SOil range at Faithful to Nature or King Online or Dischem. You will find the Burgess & Finch range at physical Dischem stores, but not in their online catalog, or from Takealot.

Affordable & Good Variety: Windrose

Windrose is an affordable brand of essential oils, and many of the essential oils in my own collection are from Windrose. I am slowly replacing these with SOil or Burgess & Finch oils, one bottle and one salary at a time. I recommend this brand for anyone starting out in natural DIY and aromatherapy. I also recommend using more affordable brands like Windrose for recipes that require fragrance such as perfumes, sprays and soaps, as these are perfume-grade. Windrose offers a wide variety of essential oils, and their products can also be found at Dischem.

Affordable & Available in Bulk: Dischem’s House Brand

Dischem’s house brand is another very affordable brand that offers perfume grade essential oils. What I particularly like about this house brand is that it offers larger quantities for common essential oils like Lavender and Tea Trea oil; for example 20, 25 or 100 ml bottles are available. However, their selection is limited to just a few common essential oils. Also be aware that Dischem has two ranges of essential oils, and each range has a different packaging design. One range lists the ingredient by its botanical name, and the other by its common name. I’m not sure if there is any real difference between the two, but the range with the botanical name is more expensive, which is why I suspect it is of better quality. [View their online selection here].

Please note: You can support my blog by purchasing from King Online or from Faithful to Nature within 24 hours of clicking the links on this page. It’s at no extra cost to you. I make a small commission which I use to keep the Natural Nerd website running. If you purchase through my links – Thank you, I sincerely appreciate your support.