Herbs for the Skin
Fresh and dried herbs used to make infusions with medical properties–applied externally or used with compresses–have been in use for thousands of years. Why would we choose to use chemicals on our skin when these lovely botanicals can be just as effective? These are the principal herbs recommended for use in herbal infusions. Several of them have cleansing and toning qualities that make them useful in any long-term natural skin-care program; all are suitable for any type of skin.
Calendula. Use healing calendula alone or in a half-and-half mix with lavender or chamomile for its anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic capabilities.
Chamomile Flower. Anti-fungal, soothing and cleansing, chamomile flower is the best way to reduce frequent inflammation. The infusion is especially recommended for the fragile skin around the eyes.
Elder Flower. A gentle cleanser, toner, and astringent, elder flower may also be used to reduce inflammation.
Lavender Flower. Though slightly drying, lavender soothes, reduces inflammation and cleanses.
Lime (or Linden) Flower. Similar to chamomile, lime flower is very calming. Its mildly toning, anti-inflammatory effect is beneficial for aging skin.
Mallow. Gentle anti-inflammatory properties make mallow a wonderful way to soothe and calm irritated skin.
Mint. Use to tone the skin.
Rosemary. Antiseptic, toning and vitalizing, rosemary improves blood circulation in the capillaries. Use alone or in a half-and-half mix with yarrow for a more astringent effect.
Thyme. A strong anti-bacterial herb, thyme is effective as a skin wash for acne or infected eczema. Use alone or in equal parts with chamomile and/or calendula to soothe and heal.
Yarrow. Particularly good for aging or damaged skin, yarrow is recognized as a toner, stringent and antiseptic.
To Make a Simple Infusion
Use one generous tablespoon of dried chopped herbs or petals to 9 fluid ounces (250 ml) of boiling water. Place the herbs in a mug and fill it to the brim with water. Infuse for 10 minutes, strain, reserve the liquid, and allow to cool before using. Apply with cotton pads or in a mister and leave to dry naturally.
Storage An infusion only has a shelf life of about 12 hours, so don’t be tempted to bottle large quantities. However, you can freeze a strained and cooled infusion in an ice-cube tray and keep it in your freezer for up to three months. To use, simple rub a cube directly on your face, neck and arms for a cooling and hydrating effect. This also has a toning action because it quickens the blood circulation in the capillaries of the dermis.
1. Lavender Oil Recipes: Tools: Large Jar, Cheese cloth or muslin, large bottle Ingredients: Enough dried herbs to fill the jar and enough oil to completely cover the herbs.
Place the herbs in the jar. Make sure they are completely dry. Any water in the herbs can make the infusion turn rancid. Pour oil over the herbs until it completely covers the herbs. Set in a sunny spot for 2 to 6 weeks. The heat from the sun is going to release the plant constituents into the oil. Once infused, pour the mixture through the cheesecloth and pour the oil into a bottle.
2. Lavender Oil : Fill a jar with lavender stems with leaves and flowers that have been lightly crushed. Pour almond or olive oil on top and allow steeping for a month. Gently shake the jar daily to ensure that the lavender and oil mix well. After a month, strain the mixture and put in a covered jar.
3. Lavender Oil: Place the herbs into a crock pot. For each half a cup of herbs add one full cup of your preferred oil. Simmer on low for 2 to 3 hours. Cool it and “squeeze” the oil through cheesecloth.
Lavender Skin Toner – Steep lavender in Witch Hazel for a wonderful skin toner.
Coconut Milk Shampoo
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup liquid Castle Soap
1 tsp vitamin E, olive or almond oil
10 to 20 drops essential oils of your choice
Combine all ingredients in a glass jar and shake well to mix. Store it in the shower for up to one month. Shake before each use.
Banana Honey Oat Mask
1 Tb honey
1/3 cup oats
Blend all ingredients together until you have a thick and smooth consistency to spread on your skin. Wash face with warm water, and then cover it with your mask. Leave it for 10-15 minutes. Gently rinse your face in warm water and pat dry with a towel.
1 Tbsp unflavored Gelatin
2 Tbsp milk
Measure gelatin into a disposable container. Quickly add milk to the container until you have a chunky consistency. Add more milk if you’re uncomfortable with the volume of chunk. Microwave your mixture for about 10-15 seconds. It will become creamier in the microwave. Stir that around and start applying it IMMEDIATELY to your face. Act quickly because the mixture solidifies very fast. Let it dry for about 15 minutes.
Peel off the crusted mixture until it’s entire removed. Rinse your face with cool water.
Solid vegetable shortening
Unsweetened powdered drink mix (i.e. Kool-Aid)
In a small bowl, mix 1 Tbsp of the vegetable shortening and 1 tsp of honey.
In a separate bowl, mix the drink mix and 1/4 tsp hot water until it has dissolved. Stir in as much of the drink mix as possible. The more you can dissolve, the stronger the flavor will be. Add one drop of the water mixture to the shortening/honey base. Stir well. Repeat until you get the color/flavor combination you want. Pour into a clean container or old lip gloss pot (I recycle Altoid tins for this purpose) Store in the refrigerator. This will keep for one week.
6 Tbsp unrefined coconut oil
1/4 C. arrowroot starch
1/4 C. baking soda
4 capsules Vitamin E oil
20 drops peppermint oil
In a double boiler or in the microwave, soften the coconut oil. Mix everything together until smooth. Transfer mixture to a glass jar. If it becomes too soft in warmer weather, store in the refrigerator. Apply a small amount under each arm with your fingertips and gently rub in.
Honey Cuticle Cream
1.5 oz beeswax
3 oz olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
In a double boiler, melt the wax and oil together. Stir in the honey, and pour into tins or other containers.
Oats & Honey Exfoliant
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp ground rolled oats
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
In a grinder or food processor, grind oats until it has almost become flour. With a fork, mix in the honey and apple cider vinegar until smooth. Wet your face. In circular motions, gently apply a small amount of the scrub. Leave on for 10-15 min. Rinse off with warm water, and moisturize.
Vanilla Cream Massage Oil Lotion Bar
3 Tbsp Shea Butter
1 Tbsp Cocoa Butter, grated
2 Tbsp Virgin Coconut oil
2 Tbsp Sweet Almond oil
1/4 tsp Vitamin E (1 capsule)
1 tsp confectioners sugar
6 drops Vanilla Essential Oil
In a double boiler, mix Shea and Cocoa butters over low heat until melted. Stir in the almond oil. Remove from heat. Drop in the vanilla essential oil and whisk briskly to incorporate it into the liquid. Whisk in the Vitamin E and sugar. Pour the hot massage oil lotion into ice cube molds or muffin tray. Let cool. Once they’re cool all the way through, remove them from the molds store them in a glass jar until ready to use.
Strawberry Foot Cream
2 oz glycerin
1/2 oz corn syrup
1/2 tsp strawberry extract
Combine glycerin with corn syrup, and stir. Mix in extract. Continue stirring until well blended. Transfer to a small glass jar, and rub into your feet as needed.