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Make Your Own or Buy?

Oil is shown alongside flowers.

We’ve all said it at some point: “I could make that myself!” Usually it’s a craft or art sale; in reference to food; or often, natural products. And it’s true! There are so many things you can make yourself. The question is: is it worth it for you to do so? There are a few questions to ask yourself when deciding between DIY and purchasing pre-made:

  1. Will it save me money? At first glance, it might seem like making things yourself will automatically be cheaper, because you’re not paying a markup plus labour costs. But the ingredients only cost less (per product) if you’ll be using them all. Often making things costs more because you have to buy a variety of ingredients and materials which you didn’t already own — if you already own the ingredients or need a lot of something so that none will go to waste. If you buy ingredients just to make a recipe and then don’t use them all up, you’ll end up spending more. This can be helped by finding other people who want to make the products with you, and who will split the ingredient costs. Or, if you want to use up all the ingredients, you can sometimes make enough of the recipe to have gifts ready for birthdays or the holidays.
  2. Will my ingredients be inferior or superior quality to those in the product I could buy? This can go either way. Manufacturers often have access to higher quality ingredients at more affordable prices, meaning the product that you buy may be higher quality than what you could make. On the flipside, sometimes a more generic product can be improved upon if your DIY version would use premium ingredients.
  3. How long will it take me? Is it really worth the effort? Take a look at the estimated time on the recipe and think about what your time is worth. If it’s labour intensive, is it worth it to you? That’s up to you to decide!
  4. What is the skill level? Some things are easy to make! These include bath salts, room mist and bath foam. Bath bombs, lip balm, whipped body butter and any balm or salve are all a little bit harder, but not daunting at all. Meanwhile, cold-process soaps, and lotion both take more skill and can be frustrating. These projects are best to try if you plan to make them several times — the learning curve can make the experience frustrating and it may not be worth it if you’ll only be making the recipe once.
  5. Do I like doing it? If not, see #3: how long will it take? Is it worth your time?
  6. Do I have the tools I need? If you own the tools called for, or can easily borrow them, you’re set! This includes packaging. If not, see #1: will it actually save you money?

Our friends at The Apothecary in Inglewood have a good series of DIY blog posts outlining how to make a whole bunch of products yourself. Have a look!