Survival chemist: How to mix DIY grooming supplies in the post-apocalypse

Why is it you always seem to run out of deodorant on the night you've got the big date?

What about one week into a sweaty societal collapse scenario? (Heaven forbid.)

Thankfully, with some MacGyver-like ingenuity and a few common ingredients, you can whip up some lifesaving (and date-saving) grooming supplies that'll keep you looking and smelling as good as the store-bought stuff you left behind in the old world.


All you need to make your own toothpaste is baking soda, some salt, a bit of flavoring like cinnamon or vanilla if you want it to taste better, and some water.

Mix 4 teaspoons of baking soda and 1/2 tsp of water until it looks similar to toothpaste. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and a few drops of whatever flavoring you have on hand. Add the remaining water to thicken it up and you're ready to brush.

Store the leftover in an airtight container if you want to use it again.


If brushing isn't enough to get rid of nasty breath, you can make some mouthwash by boiling 2 cups of water and adding in 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Stir until it is completely dissolved and let it cool. Then just rinse and spit.

Shaving cream

According to grooming guru John Allen, if you realize you've forgotten your shaving cream, you shouldn't panic and use soap. That'll dry your face out and make you more prone to nicks.

First, Allen recommends soaking a washcloth in hot water and steaming your beard as much as possible. Some olive oil mixed with any kind of conditioner if available will make a simple shaving cream that will soften your beard and leave your skin smooth.

Then Allen recommends splashing cold water on your face to close your pores. Forgot your aftershave too? Anything with alcohol in it will work.


There are two basic ways you can create your own deodorant quickly to get rid of any unwanted sweat or smell. The first is by combining 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, 1 tablespoon of baking soda, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Mix these three ingredients together in a small container and slap it on your armpits.

If you don't have any olive oil or cornstarch around, you can mix baking soda, water, and some lotion until a paste is created. You can add some cologne if you'd like it to be scented or just leave it as is. (Quick tip: For best results, allow the paste to dry. Thoroughly. On second thought, stinking might be better than smearing goop in your pits.)


If your hair is funky and you're out of shampoo, throw together 1 oz of olive oil, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of cider vinegar. Mix all the ingredients together well (throw them in a blender for best results) and use it like regular shampoo. Or for salad dressing.

Cleanser and acne cream

Acne sucks, and no one is safe from a zit showing up at the wrong time. If you don't have time to cleanse, exfoliate and moisturize for a few days to get rid of the unwanted eruption, you can dab toothpaste (yes, toothpaste) on the zit and leave it on over night. The toothpaste will dry up the zit, allowing it to heal much faster.

If you've got problem skin, vinegar mixed with a little salt can make for a great acne cleanser as well. Gently rub the mixture over your face and wash off in 30 minutes.

Hair gel

Need to tame your mane and you've run out of gel? You can make your own if you have some powdered gelatin around. (Quick tip: use unflavored.)

Just mix about 1 teaspoon of gelatin in a cup of warm water until it's dissolved. Keep refrigerated for future use. If gel isn't your thing and you're more of a mousse guy, pro stylists make a quick hair mousse by beating together 2 egg whites.

Rub it in your hair and allow to dry, then style. (Quick tip: Make sure you don't use too much and avoid sitting in the hot sun afterwards. Trust me.)

Shoe deodorizer

If your shoes have developed a funk but you don't have time to wash them or air them out over night, you can either place a dryer sheet in each shoe, or put some baking soda (or baby powder) inside to help absorb the odor.

  1. 3 years ago

    Is the author really that Italian that he thinks slopping olive oil on every part of your body is a good trick?

    • 1 year ago

      It's not?

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