Matcha Green Tea for Beauty

While its history dates back to 12th century Japan, matcha, the powdered form of green tea {Camellia sinensis}, seems to be enjoying a resurgence today as a very popular hot or iced beverage. The name matcha actually means “powdered tea,” and you will find this vibrant-green ingredient in tea blends, cookies, smoothies, lattes, noodle dishes, ice cream or enjoyed on its own steeped in water. It has also made its way into commercial beauty products, providing a range of benefits that help us look our best.

Matcha Miracle

While matcha comes from the same plant as green tea, it’s grown in a slightly different manner. Growers cover the tea plants with shade cloths before harvesting, which prompts the plants to produce new leaves that have exceptional flavor. These new-growth leaves are then picked, steamed, dried in cold storage, and ultimately ground into the striking, fine green powder we see sold in tea shops, natural food stores, and some grocers.

When you make a traditional cup of green tea, you infuse or steep the leaves in hot water, then strain and drink. Because the leaves are powdered, matcha requires no straining – you drink the entire tea leaf, and this provides a more potent form of green tea bursting with antioxidants called polyphenols that are well known for fighting heart disease and some cancers as well as regulating blood sugar and blood pressure.

In topical body care products such as cleansers and toners, matcha continues to offer health benefits, specifically with its antioxidant, vitamin, and mineral content. Vitamins B2 and E are both essential for healthy skin, and the powder’s anti-inflammatory properties soothe and improve troubled complexions, making it a featured ingredient in many commercial anti-aging products. It’s also a natural cleanser, boosting skin’s appearance to look fresher and healthier. If you suffer from skin conditions such as acne, a solution of strong green tea will help, especially when used at night after washing your face.

When purchasing matcha, make sure to buy a good quality, organic powder from a reputable source. Read the label; it should contain only Camellia sinensis. When you use finely ground matcha, you use the entire green leaf, so it’s worth the extra expense. Here are some recipes for you to enjoy at home.

Matcha Tea Facial Mask

This cleansing mask works for all skin types. It contains matcha and green clay, both useful in deep-cleaning skin to help it retain more moisture.

  • 1 tsp matcha
  • 2 tsp pure water
  • 1 tsp green clay or baking soda
  • 1 tsp honey or agave

Mix together all ingredients in a small bowl until you have a smooth, creamy mixture {add more water if needed}. To use: Spread on clean skin and let sit for 15 minutes. Rinse with warm then cool water and pat skin dry. You can follow up with some cool green tea as a finishing rinse. Yield: 1 ounce.

Soothing Matcha Lotion Bars

These rich balms target rough skin spots such as hands, feet, knees, and elbows. Melt together the ingredients into stick form for a packaging-free option, or make them in small soap or candy molds and store in little tins. These matcha-infused bars also help with bug bites or small cuts.

  • 1/2 cup cocoa butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil or shea butter
  • 1/4 cup beeswax
  • 1 Tbls matcha

Place all the ingredients in a heat-resistant container or bowl and set inside a water bath. Gently heat the mixture, stirring, until the butter, oil, and wax melt and the mixture is fully mixed. Pour into a small mold or large lip balm tube and let cool completely until solid. To use: Rub or massage into rough skin spots or use after showering om warm skin. Yield: 8 ounces.

Detoxing Matcha Bath Salts

Soaking in natural salts like Epsom helps relieve sore muscles and promotes a good night’s sleep. Green tea serves as a helpful detoxifying, anti-inflammatory ingredient, and the addition of dried lavender buds in this recipe makes the perfect evening soak. If you want to avoid having to clean out the buds from your tub or drain, place the whole mixture inside a muslin tea bag, or tie it up in a piece of cotton fabric.

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup Epsom salts
  • 1 Tbls matcha
  • 1 tsp dried lavender buds

Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir well to mix. Pour into a clean container with a tight-fitting lid. To use: Pour 1/2 cup into your bath as you fill the tub or place 1/2 cup of the mixture inside a muslin tea bag and toss into the bath to dissolve. Yield: 16 ounces.

Matcha Bath Tablets

Because they contain a concentrated amount of skin and body care ingredients in a convenient form, bath tablets or “bath bombs” have become very popular. You simply pop the tablet in your tub {or a footbath} and it dissolves into a soothing soak. Adding green tea powder to your mixture provides a calming and cleansing effect on your skin, and its powerful antioxidants will help soothe and heal.

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup citric acid powder
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 1 Tbls matcha
  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • Essential oils {optional}

In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Melt the coconut oil in the microwave or on the stovetop. {You can add a few drops of essential oil to the melted oil for scent.} Slowly add to the dry ingredients and mix well; you will have a mixture that looks like wet sand. Next, pack the mixture into a small mold {measuring cups, muffin tins, and ice cube trays all work well}. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then unmold and set on a cotton dishcloth or ceramic tray. Let dry overnight. To use: Drop in a full tub of warm water and let dissolve. For a footbath or smaller soak, make smaller tablets or break larger ones in half. Yield: 16 ounces.

Green Tea Sugar Scrub

Matcha green tea is perfect for energizing and cleansing the skin, and all skin types will benefit from this soothing scrub full of natural oil and refreshing citrus. A good skin scrub will cleanse the skin of surface debris and dead skin cells, allowing your skin to breathe and retain more moisture.

  • 1 cup of raw sugar
  • 1/2 cup camellia oil or sweet almond oil
  • 1 Tbls matcha
  • 1 tsp fresh orange zest

In a small bowl, place all the ingredients and stir well until mixed. Spoon into a clean container with a tight-fitting lid. To use: Massage a small amount into damp skin and rinse with warm water. This is best done in the tib or shower. You may want to stand on a towel, as the oils can make shower tiles slippery. Yield: 8 ounces.

Green Tea Skin Toner

As simple as creating a great cup of tea, this skin toner provides skin-protecting and beautifying benefits. Natural beauty estheticians will often recommend a green tea rinse for those suffering from acne or a troubled complexion because of its healing and antibacterial properties.

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 tsp matcha

In a small ceramic or glass bowl, place green tea leaves or matcha powder. Pour the boiling water over the tea and let it sit until the mixture completely cools. Strain the liquid and pour into a clean container. To use: Apply to clean skin with a cotton pad or spray bottle. Do not rinse. Yield: 8 ounces.

Camellia Oil

New popular cooking and body care oil is Camellia oil or “tea seed oil,” which is simply green tea oil. It comes from the seed of the Camellia sinensis plant. You may see it listed on commercial beauty products. It is also a popular cooking oil in southern China. Shop for this oil online or at local Asian food markets.

Green Tea and Healthy Skin

Green tea/matcha has become a popular ingredient in many commercial and homemade beauty products, thanks to its many health and beauty benefits. Here are just a few:

  • Studies have shown that drinking and applying green tea to your skin helps fight skin cancer.
  • Due to its high content of a class of polyphenols called catechins, it works as an anti-inflammatory ingredient to reduce skin irritation, redness, and swelling. Try a soothing mask of green tea and cucumber juice to calm a bad sunburn or insect bites.
  • An antibacterial, green tea kills systemic bacterial inflammation. In the evening use a strong infusion of green tea as a toner after cleansing. {do not rinse off}.
  • Vitamins B2 and Vitamin E in green tea help your body maintain collagen, making skin appear younger and firmer.
  • It has caffeine and tannins that reduce puffiness under the eye area to relieve tired skin. To refresh and renew, lie down for 10 to 15 minutes with two cool tea bags or cotton pads soaked in tea.
  • Use green tea to cleanse your scalp as an after-shampoo rinse – it may help promote new hair growth as well.

The Perfect Cup of Matcha

We know that drinking matcha can improve physical health, but it can also provide emotional and spiritual benefits as well. To create the “perfect” cup, it takes almost zen-like attention to detail that can act as a form of meditation. Focusing on the process and ritual of preparing tea can reduce stress and release those “feel good” hormones. A good cup of matcha is made a bit differently than the usual cuppa. Here are some easy-to-follow steps. Make sure to use top-quality tea {that you can reasonably afford}, as some cheaper versions can contain contaminants.

  1. Heat 1/2 cup of water to boiling and set aside.
  2. Add 1/2 cup matcha to a ceramic bowl or cup.
  3. Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cool water to the tea and mix well until smooth.
  4. Add the hot water to the bowl and stir with a small whisk or fork until you have a nice frothy and creamy mixture.
  5. Add cream or sugar if desired, and take a moment to enjoy the aroma before sipping.

How To Dilute Full-Strength Essential Oils

Essential oils pack enormous wellness potential into a remarkably small bottle. This natural power is created by careful extraction of plant constituents from large amounts of botanicals – leaves, bark, seeds, petals and peels of plants. It takes 50 pounds of Geranium leaves, for instance, to extract just one pound of Geranium essential oil. This kind of concentration gives you access to and control over the natural constituents you apply to your skin … but due to this extraordinary power, it is important to control it.

Your skin is both a barrier and a doorway. It absorbs essential oil directly into your body and allows you to gain access to the health benefits these products offer. But skin can’t always handle the high concentrations essential oils pack. You may run into problems like skin irritation, phototoxicity (citrus oils reacting to sunlight and causing blisters), and topical allergies. To use essential oils safely and effectively, it is necessary to dilute them.

 

Benefits for Your Skin

Diluting is good news for both you and your skin. Adding essential oil to a neutral carrier oil makes it easier to spread the valuable essential oil over large areas, and more efficiently carries the aromatherapy benefits to your body. Plus, your little bottle will last way longer than you might expect since you are using the equivalent of just one drop or less with every application. There are some instances when it is advisable to use essential oils neat (at full potency) – such as in a diffuser, through an inhaler, or for some cleaning applications. But all topical use requires dilution.

How to Dilute
Don’t be intimidated by the process of diluting. It’s important, but certainly not hard to do. It gives you tremendous control over potency and personalization of the oils in your collection. All you need is a few drops of essential oil combined with a carrier oil such as Fractionated Coconut, Grapeseed, Jojoba, or Rosehip or even Olive Oil. For a 3% dilution do either of the following:

Combine 4 drops of essential oil with a teaspoon (5ml) of carrier oil and mix well. To scale that up, add 12 drops of essential oil to one tablespoon (15ml) of carrier oil. Or, open a new, empty 10ml roll-on bottle. Add 9 drops of your favorite essential oil and fill the rest of the bottle with a carrier oil. Replace the lid shake gently. Consider taking a shortcut by adding a few drops of essential oil to lotion, hand sanitizer, aloe vera, body soap, shampoo, or conditioner. For household cleaning blends, you can use water instead of carrier oil, but this isn’t recommended for applying to the skin since they easily separate between uses.

  • For children ages 2 to 10 and people with sensitive skin: 4 drops of essential oil in a tablespoon of carrier oil.
  • For adults with normal skin: 13 drops of essential oil in a tablespoon of carrier oil.
  • For short-term, targeted applications: 22 drops of essential oil in a tablespoon of carrier oil.

Safe Topical Use

Some essential oils are considered “hot.” Cinnamon, mint, clove, and others have spicy or mentholated qualities that can affect your skin. Use a lower dilution when mixing with these oils. Another thing to be aware of is that many citrus oils are phototoxic … they can cause blisters and an uncomfortable rash if used topically before exposure to sunlight. Dilute phototoxic oils especially well, and keep skin exposed to these oils out of the sun for 12-24 hours to avoid an adverse reaction.

 

 

Laurel Essential Oil

Laurel Leaf essential oil has a fresh, spicy scent that opens your lungs and your mind.

It’s invigorating and inspiring.

Laurel has a host of therapeutic properties. I like to remember that it’s associated with achievement and victory. So it’s a great helper when it comes to clearing away anything that stands between you and your best—that’s why it’s good for healing so many issues! (That’s how I like to think of it, anyway!)

Stay focused and clear with Laurel.

I especially love using Laurel for decongestion and mental focus. It is the perfect companion when you have a cold or allergies but still has to go to work.

Use 5 drops of this stock blend in your diffuser.

Ingredients:

  • 10 drops Laurel (Laurus nobilis)
  • 10 drops Rosemary ct. camphor (Rosmarinus officinalis ct. camphor)
  • 20 drops White Spruce (Picea glauca)
  • 10 drops Distilled Lime (Citrus aurantifolia)

 


 

Massage sore muscles with Laurel Leaf essential oil.

Have you ever seen someone win a race and be crowned with Laurel leaves? This is a practice from ancient times that has survived to today.

When we think of Laurel Leaf essential oil (sometimes called Bay Laurel or Sweet Laurel), we can think of a cheering section to help us stay energized and go the distance.

So if you need a massage oil for sore muscles, perhaps resulting from a cold or flu (Laurel is excellent for respiratory issues!), Laurel is a great choice for your blend. It soothes, encourages, and energizes.

Here’s a recipe you can try for your next massage.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz (60 ml) jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis)
  • 6 drops Laurel (Laurus nobilis)
  • 8 drops Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ct camphor)
  • 15 drops Orange (Citrus sinensis)

 


 

Use Laurel Leaf for respiratory health.

When I make a blend for respiratory support, I know I can rely on essential oils that contain the chemical component 1,8 cineole.

1,8 cineole is antiviral, antimicrobial, mucolytic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory. It’s present in oils like Laurel Leaf and Eucalyptus, which are famous respiratory helpers.

Here’s a recipe for one of my favorite Aromatherapy inhalers that I use to support my lungs and sinuses. I carry my inhaler with me and use it to prevent myself from getting sick. If I’ve forgotten to bring it along and happen to get sick, I rely on it even more.

Stay Healthy Inhaler

  • 3 drops Laurel Leaf (Laurus nobilis)
  • 5 drops Saro (Cinnamosma fragrans)
  • 4 drops Ravintsara (Cinnamomum camphora ct. 1,8 cineole)

Directions

You can get blank Aromatherapy inhalers at Amazon. They look like little lip balm tubes, and inside there is a cotton insert. Just drop your essential oils on the cotton insert, then snap the inhaler closed. To use it, just raise it to one nostril, pinching the other closed, and inhale.

 


 

Wash up with Laurel Leaf essential oil.

Laurel Leaf essential oil doesn’t want anything to slow you down, least of all a cold. It’s a wonderful anti-infectious agent, so it can “deactivate” microbes before they get in your system.

That’s why it’s the perfect ingredient for foam soap.

Here’s a recipe that’s easy to make, and perfect for the bathroom sink. You’ll need a 2 oz (60 ml) foam pump bottle.

Laurel Orange Foam Soap

  • 2 oz (60 ml) castile soap
  • 6 drops Laurel (Laurus nobilis)
  • 15 drops Orange (Citrus sinensis)
  • 10 drops Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Directions:

I’ll bet you can guess the blending directions on this one! (Just put everything in the soap pump. Easy, right?)

You can find foam soap pumps at Amazon They have two sizes—50 ml and 250 ml. This recipe is for a 50 ml bottle. You’ll notice that the Castile soap doesn’t quite fill the bottle to the top. That’s because when you put the lid on, the liquid will rise, and if it’s too high it could overspill.

 


 

Get to know Laurel.

Spend a little time blending with Laurel, and you may find yourself connecting with it in more ways and getting different blending ideas.

Elemi Essential Oil

Elemi essential oil is distilled from a resin, is very skin-loving, and is great for the respiratory system.

Elemi has a lot in common with Frankincense.

But while Frankincense resin is produced in response to a wound in a plant’s trunk, Elemi resin is produced when the Canarium luzonicum tree sprouts leaves. When the resin makes contact with air, the tree produces a soft aromatic oleoresin that can be distilled for the essential oil.

Here are a few recipes that highlight Elemi’s talents!

Elemi is excellent for respiratory support.

I use Elemi for respiratory infections accompanied by a lot of mucus—such as colds or sinus infections. It’s especially helpful in blends for children because it’s so gentle.

I use Elemi in a chest rub blend for kids over five years old. You can make it in a 1 oz (30 ml) bottle.

Resin Chest Rub

  • 1 oz (30 ml) jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis)
  • 2 drops Elemi (Canarium luzonicum)
  • 1 drop Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)
  • 1 drop Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha)
  • 2 drops Cedarwood (Juniperus virginiana)

Just combine your ingredients in the 1 oz (30 ml) bottle. Rub a bit on the child’s chest two or three times a day.

For kids under five, you can diffuse the essential oils instead of applying them topically. Run the diffuser for about an hour several times during the day. Before bedtime, run it for half an hour in the child’s room, then turn off the diffuser when it’s time to go to sleep.

Elemi’s emotional and mental effects are also similar to those of Frankincense, so this blend is very calming and centering. Perfect for bedtime!


 

Make Elemi bath salts for relaxation.

Relaxation is so important for the nervous system and overall health, yet relaxing doesn’t come easily for a lot of people.

Back when I was a Massage Therapist, I made a lot of blends to encourage relaxation. One of my favorite ingredients was (and is!) Elemi essential oil. Elemi centers your mind and reassures your heart. It lets stress, over-thinking, and circuitous thoughts just fall away.

So I have a bath salt recipe that’s great for before bed!

Elemi Let Me Relax

  • 4 oz (112 g) Himalayan salts
  • 10 drops Elemi (Canarium luzonicum)
  • 2 drops Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides)
  • 2 drops Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha)
  • 6 drops Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)

Directions

Just put your salts in a wide-mouth 4 oz (120 ml) jar. Drop your essential oils into the salt as you stir gently. This recipe makes enough for four baths, with about 5 drops of essential oil per bath. (This dilution is very skin-friendly!)

If your muscles are sore, you can add Epsom salts to this recipe. Just add a half-cup of Epsom salts right to your bath water.

I suggest making this blend fresh every few weeks, as opposed to keeping it in storage, since it’s not made with a preservative.


 

Elemi is great for reducing scars.

Resin-based oils, including Frankincense and Elemi, are good at reducing scars and supporting healthy tissue re-growth. What I take away from the way Elemi resin is produced—so gently and naturally when the tree sprouts leaves—is that it can heal old wounds while encouraging new, healthy growth.

I thought it would be great to have this healing effect in a body butter for scars! So here is my recipe. It’s good for both old and new scars.

Scar Reducer Body Butter

This makes 6 oz (180 ml) of body butter. I like to make it in three 2 oz (60 ml) glass jars. You can also use an 8 oz (240 ml) jar, and just have space left over in the jar.

  • 1 oz (28 g) Beeswax (Cera Alba)
  • 2 oz (56 g) coconut oil (Cocos nucifera)
  • 2 oz (56 g) cocoa butter (Theobroma cacao)
  • 1 oz (28 g) shea butter (Butyrospermum parkii)
  • 60 drops Elemi (Canarium luzonicum)
  • 16 drops Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum)

Directions:

  1. Melt the beeswax in a Pyrex measuring cup over the stove. (Use the “double boiler method”—putting the Pyrex in a soup pot that’s about ¼ full of boiling water.
  2. Add the coconut oil and melt.
  3. Add the cocoa butter and melt.
  4. Add the shea butter last, and stir gently until all the shea is melted.
  5. Remove the blend from heat.
  6. Add the essential oils, stirring gently.
  7. Pour your liquid body butter into the jars, place the lids over the tops (so the essential oil won’t evaporate), and let them cool for several hours.

You can use this body butter all over, but it’s especially healing for areas that are scarred or have been wounded, so go ahead and massage those places with extra special care!


 

Some of my favorite homemade perfumes include Elemi essential oil.

Elemi is a resin-based oil. It’s a base note and has a warm, peppery, piney, lemony aroma that can ground the other scents in a blend and harmonize them with one another. I have a true love for the incredible aroma of the essential oil.

Here’s a current favorite blend I’d like to share. I make it in a base of beeswax and vanilla-infused jojoba, winding up with a smooth, silky balm. The essential oils I use are:

  • 1 oz (28 g) Beeswax (Cera Alba)
  • 2 oz (60 ml) vanilla-infused Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis)
  • 25 drops Elemi (Canarium luzonicum)
  • 15 drops Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)

Directions

  • First set up the Stovetop Melting Method. Place a Pyrex measuring cup in a soup pot ¼ full of gently simmering water.
  • Melt the beeswax in the Pyrex.
  • Add the vanilla-infused jojoba and remelt, stirring gently with a glass stirring rod or the handle of a stainless steel spoon.
  • Remove the blend from heat and add the essential oils, stirring gently.
  • Pour the blend into three 1 oz (30 ml) glass jars or metal salve tins.

Apply your perfume on your wrists, neck, and anywhere you’d like to smell good!

I can’t end this essential oil Spotlight without saying something about vanilla-infused jojoba! It’s just jojoba wax that has been infused with vanilla oleoresin. And it has such a rich, decadent scent! It’s the perfect background for Elemi and Frankincense. You can buy ready-made vanilla-infused jojoba, or make your own!


 

Get to know Elemi.

While Elemi fits right in with the other oils produced from resins (like Frankincense and Myrrh), it definitely has a unique personality that helps it stand out . . . and can help your blends stand out, too!

How To Make Pine Resin Salve – Herbal Academy

Learn how to make pine resin salve for wound care to add to your first aid kit!

Source: How To Make Pine Resin Salve – Herbal Academy

Craft Making in the Internet Age

A craft making revolution is underway. Crafting culture is elevating and expanding the traditional economy of handicrafts. The recent developments have been stimulated by online media sites like Pinterest, which provide interactive forums for learning and sharing thousands of creative projects, while e-commerce sites like Etsy provide a global market reach for what are still essentially small-scale, locally produced goods. A know-the-producer connection has sprung up from social media interaction via blogging, personal websites and Facebook. While the tradition of handicrafts is maintained, the newly transformed economy has made crafting a lot more viable and lucrative as a result of the burgeoning, internet-connected crafting movement.

Despite the modern developments in the crafting community, however, much of the same basic and traditional things still go into making crafts: a good idea that encompasses a made item that’s unique, beautiful and useful. Crafting has, and always will involve creativity, talent, time, and attention to details while fashioning the item. One of the most important elements in the mix are the interesting and unusual materials that crafters utilize to bring their vision to life and functionality. While ideas have the potential to be trendy, cycling in, then out of fashion, or even utility, one crafting material, in particular, seems only to be growing more popular with time: essential oils. Crafts that are imbued with the rare aromas of these oils have another dimension of appeal that can’t be attained with anything else.

Essential oils are the extracted essences of various flowers, leaves, woods, etc. These are being employed in handcrafted home and body care products as well as in the alternative practice of aromatherapy. For crafters, essential oils offer a kind of powerful aromatic DNA signature to the crafting process, adding another aesthetic dimension and point of creative inspiration beyond the usual ideas or materials.

Getting Started with DIY Body Care

I love to create easy, effective products to use in my body care routines at home. I infuse homemade body butter or deodorant with essential oils for their specific aroma and effect.  I make nutrient dense facial masks and moisturizers with organic, single ingredient skin care oils, raw foods and clay powders to have a deeper connection to what comes directly from the earth.  And I take the time to really consider what I put on my skin and in my body because I know it all has a greater effect on my whole sense of wellness.

This is part of my self-care, but what does this type of care truly mean?  For me, self-care is a deep belief that embodies many small rituals and practices I try to incorporate in my daily life to achieve an overall state of balance and vibrant health.  Every aspect of my life is part of my understanding and practice of self-care because I know that each element has an influence on the next.  With that mindset, I have spent several years improving on what I put on my body to make the most out of the practice of body care.

Ultimately, true self-care is a practice in mindfulness.  The beautiful thing I have learned over the years from experimentation with making products on my own at home is that once the basics of DIY creation are understood, the practice of creating something very specific to my own needs is fun, engaging, meditative and empowering.  Here are some things I incorporate into my practice of homemade body care, which may help you get started down this path as well.

1. Know that you are the expert of YOU

For years, I chose the wrong facial products because I listened to other people tell me about my skin.  When I started paying attention to what my skin actually needs and stopped treating my skin as a whole, I was able to take better care of my skin. My skin changes with the weather, climate, location, time of month/year, etc. and I cannot use the same product on it day in and day out and expect to glow every day.  If I use argan oil as a moisturizer in the winter (which I do) it is the right fit for me.  But in the summer, it feels too heavy and I adjust it or use a lighter fatty oil that doesn’t leave my skin feeling oily in the summer heat.

2. Take time to create something at home to save time and money in the store

I don’t need a product designed to sit in a warehouse or on a shelf for years to take care of my skin.  If I spend a little time researching organic or raw ingredients and following simple recipes, I am sacrificing the convenience of a finished product.  But I am giving up on a high product price by creating something very specific to what I need right in my own kitchen.  This creates more space in my life for quality time at home doing what I love where I love to do it rather than chasing down the next quick fix product.

3. Keep the ingredients clean and simple

Many of the elements we crave in our skin care routines are found in foods and simple ingredients.  From fresh avocado to lavender essential oil, I know that using just one or two elements at a time is often all I need to create something meaningful, useful and effective for my skin.

5 reasons to create your own body care products

Creating your own body care products can be very rewarding for a variety of reasons. From having control over what goes in them, to customizing according to your preferences, to reducing waste, saving money and more.

1. You decide what goes in them

When you make your own DIY body care products, you know exactly what’s in them. If you choose to reduce your exposure to the common preservatives, fragrance and color chemicals found in many commercial body care products, then you can when you DIY.

2. You can customize according to your needs and preferences

DIY body care products let you customize the aroma, batch size and benefit from your own personal preferences and needs. Need a relaxing massage? Just mix a small amount of skin care oil with your choice of a gentle essential oil. Want a soap-free hand gel with a purifying benefit? Mix aloe vera gel with tea tree essential oil.

3. You can reduce waste

DIY body care products help you reduce waste because you’ll throw the less unused product away while reusing your own custom containers. Amber glass is the premium container for your DIY products because it’s recyclable, dishwasher safe and provides great protection against light degradation. Cut down on plastic waste by using your amber glass bottles over and over again.

4. You can save money

Yes, in addition to other great reasons, DIY body care products can save you money because you can buy ingredients in bulk and make just the amount you need. Aura Cacia skin care oils, for example, come in a variety of sizes so for instance, you could buy a 16-ounce container of sweet almond oil and fill a single 2-ounce amber glass bottle with a sweet almond oil based bath, body or massage oil 8 times over rather than buying the products 8 times.

5. Engage in simplicity and mindfulness

Finally, when you engage in the practice of making your own DIY body care products, you engage in simplicity and mindfulness. The process can be approachable for anyone who cares to be creative, cares about what they put on their body and cares about the impact those products have in the world. You don’t need to be a cosmetic formulator with a technical degree in product development when so many easy-to-make recipes are available and you have access to ingredients.

Quick tips for DIY hair care

Finding the right products to highlight the best aspects of my hair has been challenging, to say the least. After being told far too often as a child that my hair was ‘difficult’ and a myriad of bad salon experiences in my young life, I was left with some angry follicular issues as I moved into adulthood.

A trial and error approach

As I learned more about myself and my hair, it became clear to me that the solution was within my grasp. I figured out that I couldn’t wash my hair as often as my friends because my fine, tight curls are also very delicate and both dry out and break off easily. I discovered that I needed a whole lot more moisture and way fewer drying agents. It was a true trial and error process.

What I learned

My hair responds well to deep conditioning. Coconut oil and argan oil are mainstays in my weekly organic haircare regimen, along with a little help from rosemary essential oil and apple cider vinegar. I treat my hair as I treat my children – with a lot of love and care and respect. The result is that now, my hair once maligned by stylists for its difficulty is easy to manage and thrives without much shampooing. While I once spent hours straightening, spraying, gelling and mousing my curls into submission, I now run some argan oil through it while it is wet and I let it air dry. Easy, nourishing and authentic to the hair I have.

Try it for yourself

DIY hair care is all about learning what fits YOU. With the right amount of understanding of what your locks love, you can simplify your hair care regimen and feel good about what you put in your hair. Here are some tips I like to rely on with DIY hair care:

1. Know that if your hair is oily and thick, a coconut oil hair treatment, while trendy, isn’t the best fit for you. Stay true to your hair and pick the right oil to use in conditioning based on what your hair needs, not what your favorite blogger recommends.

2. Simple, naturally derived ingredients like clay powder, cornstarch, argan oil and avocado oil can go a long way in the creation of dry shampoos and homemade conditioners.

3. The right essential oils can help with the aroma of your DIY haircare product AND can contribute to a happy scalp.

4. Organic vegetable glycerin is an ideal swap for heavily formulated, silicone based frizz and flyaway serums. A couple of drops can tame flyaway hair with ease.

Homemade deodorant: The quest for a clean counter to body odor

For years I have searched for the perfect clean alternative to commercial deodorant. Perfect for me, that is. Not one to be overly concerned about sweat or perspiration (it is natural and healthy for the body to perspire, so why to suppress it?), I wanted something that was a good counter for body odor that was also effective — meaning, something that would last longer than an hour or two.

Before I explored homemade deodorant, I tried many naturally derived, store-bought deodorants, which have a bit of a bad rap. They aren’t as effective as the consumer wants them to be, often requiring reapplication throughout the day. In some cases, the ingredients in these deodorants aren’t as clean as we want them to be, which can also prove to be a challenge.

After a little bit of digging, I found a couple of recipes online that were quite simple to make in my own kitchen. I tweaked the recipes to create a formula that incorporated some of the best aromatic effects of the chosen essential oils and to give them a stronger odor fighting punch. Once all the ingredients were gathered, it took less than 15 minutes to create a cream deodorant that rivaled a natural version I paid a tidy sum for someone else to make for me. Never again with this recipe. I am happy to report it worked well — sometimes for a couple of days at a time, and didn’t leave permanent white streaks on my clothing.

What you need to make your own homemade deodorant:

1. Baking soda

A key ingredient in clean deodorant, baking soda can be used on its own for a simple deodorant as a paste made with water. It is a must-have in any homemade deodorant recipe, as it is free of harsh chemicals and very effective at keeping odor at bay.

2. Powdered clay

Another great component used to fight odor, clay comes in a lot of varieties. I like bentonite clay, but other powdered clays can be used as well. However, color rich clays are generally not recommended as they could cause discoloration to the skin.

3. Coconut oil

Great for fighting odor and for moisture, coconut oil was is the key binding ingredient for the dry powders.

4. Cornstarch or arrowroot powder

Either powder can be used to absorb moisture. This is great for keeping underarms dry.

5. Essential oils

Essential oils contribute the desired aroma to homemade deodorant. Choose gentle oils like bergamot (bergapten-free), lavender, coriander or geranium because the underarm is a sensitive area. Bergamot (bergapten-free) essential oil, in particular, is great because it is a terrific odor fighter with a fresh, light scent. Be sure to use a bergapten-free version because the bergapten in standard bergamot essential oil makes the skin susceptible to UV radiation should your skin be exposed to sunlight.

It’s important to know that these ingredients function primarily as deodorants and not antiperspirants. Perspiration, specifically underarm sweat, is a normal function of a healthy body. The body odor that sweating produces can be a nuisance, but fortunately, it can be controlled naturally through regular washing and the application of a deodorant. Unlike antiperspirants, which can be formulated with substances which plug and suppress the sweat gland, deodorants won’t interfere with the normal functioning of these glands. Deodorants can interrupt the formation of body odor by decreasing the bacteria that cause body odor, as well as helping to mask body odor when it does occur. Essential oils provide cleansing and purifying aroma benefits to the mix. Essential oils are easy to incorporate into completely natural DIY homemade deodorants which will feature less worrisome, more wholesome ingredients than conventional commercial versions which often rely on odor neutralizing chemicals, drying alcohol, bactericides, and synthesized fragrances.

Powder Deodorant with Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

  • Total Time: 15 mins
  • Hands-on Time: 15 mins
  • Makes: 4 ounces

A deeply floral DIY powder deodorant made with baking soda, corn starch, rice, and ylang-ylang essential oil.

ingredients:

  • 48 drops Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
  • 4-ounce Amber Wide Mouth Jar with Writable Label
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon uncooked rice
  • cotton ball or powder puff

directions:

1. Into jar, measure baking soda.

2. Add ylang-ylang essential oil and stir until a damp powder form.

3. Add corn starch and rice and stir until well mixed.

4. To use, apply deodorant to under arms using a cotton ball or powder puff.

 

Natural Balms for Cuts, Stings, and Bruises

Though there are a variety of ointments available for treating minor wounds, many of them are made of synthetic compounds that can irritate the skin or provoke allergic reactions in people with chemical sensitivities. Fortunately, there are simple natural remedies that often prove themselves effective against painful stings, cuts, bruises and infections without producing side effects.

St. John’s Wort, a herb widely used as a natural alternative for combating depression, can be made into medicinal oil that works well for various skin conditions. Soaking its crushed flowers in olive oil for several weeks in the sun – until the oil turns a reddish color – produces a natural ointment that can either be ingested or else applied directly on the skin to treat cuts and bruises and relieve inflammation.

Chamomile flowers can help promote the healing of minor wounds; they also work as a natural antiseptic. Make a compress by steeping 2 tablespoons of Chamomile in 1½ cups of hot water for 15 minutes and then straining out the flowers. Soak a cloth in the water (once it’s lukewarm) and apply it to affected skin a few times throughout the day.

Soaking in English Oak (sometimes referred to as Tanner’s Bark) is another good remedy for skin inflammation. This herb is available either finely cut or as a coarse powder. A quart of boiling water poured over 2 teaspoons of English Oak will create a soothing bath additive.

Arnica has antiseptic and pain-killing properties, but it should always be applied externally. This herb is available whole, cut, crushed, and powdered, and can be applied to bruises and sprains. Because its potency can vary in different commercially available forms, always follow the suggested dosage written on the package or bulk container that it comes from.

Another proven remedy for skin irritations comes in the form of a time-honored breakfast cereal: oatmeal. Oats can soothe skin inflammation and have even been used to treat warts. In addition, oat straw can be boiled in water (about 3½ ounces of chopped straw to 3 quarts water) for twenty minutes to make a bath additive that helps relieve itching.

Natural skin applications often require more time and forethought to prepare, but they are generally less expensive than commercial balms and healthier, as a rule, because they’re made of substances that the body is more accustomed to than synthetics.

Rose Water Hydrosol

Winter in Utah/Oregon means a lot of time indoors and, we hope, a lot of time for projects. I have a penchant for all things floral, so it’s only natural that one of my projects would be to bottle a favorite scent.

For an easy-to-make winter refresher, I turn to rose hydrosol, also known as rose water. Rose is known to be very good for your skin–both moisturizing and full of antioxidants–and a rose hydrosol makes a delightful facial spray.

I use essential oils as a way to relax and decompress. Sometimes this means using a few drops in the shower (pretending I have an aromatherapy steam shower) or sometimes it means lighting a candle. Many doctors working with integrative medicine view aromatherapy as complementary to other alternative healing methods, and I subscribe to the theory. I know this: a drop of essential oil can help me relax and feel refreshed.

For full step-by-step instructions for making your own rose hydrosol, see below.

flower-water-health-7-sophia-moreno-bunge-gardenistaAbove: Rose is good for cleansing and hydrating and is useful for headaches and tired eyes.

You can make your own floral hydrosol with any scented flower or herb of your choice. Lavender, jasmine, orange blossom are a few of my other favorites.

flower-water-health-2-sophia-moreno-bunge-gardenistaAbove: Fresh rose petals and ice cubes for making a hydrosol.

A hydrosol is designed to be sprayed on your skin; use flowers from your garden or those purchased from a local organic farmer that you know have not been sprayed with chemicals. The best floral hydrosols are made with flowers that are in season when they are most fragrant. Fear not: you can also make floral hydrosols from dried flowers using this same process.

What you’ll need:

  • Rose petals from about six very fragrant roses (or roughly five or six handfuls of petals).  If you are using dried flowers, you’ll need three handfuls.
  • Large cooking pot and a lid that fits snugly.
  • 2 small, heat-safe glass or ceramic bowls.
  • Plenty of ice.
  • Ziploc bags for ice (so it can be easily replaced after it melts).
  • 6 cups of distilled water.
  • A small spray bottle.

 

Step 1: Place a heat-safe bowl upside down in a pot. Next, drop your rose petals around the bowl, but not on top of the bowl. If you want an extra-fragrant rose water, use more plant material. You also can mix in herbs of your choice.

Step 2: Pour distilled water carefully over the petals until the water level reaches a height of about 1 inch below the lip of the bowl.  Place your second heat-safe bowl in the pot so that it rests on top of the overturned bowl.

Step 3: Place the pot lid on the pot (upside down, so the lid creates a concave space where you will place your ice cubes). When the steam from the water containing the plant material hits the bottom of the icy cold lid, it will create condensation and drip back into the empty bowl. This is your flower water.

Step 4: After your pot has finished simmering, turn off the heat and let it cool (with the lid still on so you don’t lose any hydrosol from evaporation). After it cools, remove the bowl with your hydrosol and pour it into a bottle or jar to store. I decided to make my hydrosol extra aromatic and therapeutic by adding a couple of drops of rose essential oil.

Your hydrosol should last for about six months and should be kept in a cool, dark place (a refrigerator works best).

If you’re interested in trying your hand at making another kind of hydrosol (or stocking up on a few new essential oils), I did some research into ailments and their corresponding aromatherapy treatments, and this is what I found:

  • Muscle soreness (for the gardeners!): bay, caraway, chamomile, eucalyptus, frankincense, ginger, geranium, juniper, lemongrass, lemon verbena, rosemary, sandalwood, patchouli, and myrtle.
  • Fatigue: basil, angelica, cedarwood, clove, eucalyptus, jasmine, frankincense, lemon, neroli, marjoram, peppermint, patchouli, and vanilla.
  • Anxiety: lavender, melissa, myrrh, bergamot, cardamom, chamomile, cypress, frankincense, rose, pine, vanilla, marjoram, neroli, nutmeg, patchouli, and orange/lime.
  • Headaches: basil, chamomile, cinnamon, ginger, eucalyptus, lavender, lemongrass, melissa, marjoram, peppermint, thyme, ylang-ylang, and clary sage.

Rose, Cardamom, and Ginger Body Soak

A DIY recipe for making a healing tub soak of your own.

A Warming Winter Body Soak:

In the following order, blend together in a mortar and pestle:

  • A small handful of whole green cardamom pods
  • A handful of dried rose petals
  • About 1 cup of your favorite bathing salt (Ashley loves Himalayan pink salt for this)
  • A teaspoon or two of your favorite carrier oil (Ashley suggests apricot kernel, sesame, melted coconut, or jojoba)
  • A few drops of essential oil { Start with just a couple drops and then smell the blend for balance, keeping in mind that the scent of the oils will bloom in the warm water of your bath and gently scent the surrounding air}
  • A small spoonful of dried, powdered ginger { “Very warming for this time of year, and it complements the scent of the rose and the cardamom”}

After the mixture is blended, spoon it into a small fabric/muslin bag. As an alternative to using a mortar and pestle, cardamom pods also can be crushed with a rolling pin and the remaining items blended together in a bowl. But, “There is something so nice about the ritual of blending everything to release the scents with the mortar and pestle.”

marble-and-milkweed-bath-soak-2-erin-boyle-gardenistaAshley spoons her salt blend into a muslin bag. Rather than sprinkling her tub with the blended ingredients, she places her filled bag underneath the running tap of the bathtub to infuse the water and dissolve the salt. The extra step saves her from having to scrub the tub post-soak.

Spa~At~Home Parties

Spa-at-Home parties offer an excellent alternative venue to offer your pampering bath and body products for sale. Opportunities to offer the spa experience within the comfort of the home abound – from traditional home-party style evenings to bachelorette bashes, tween birthday parties, and sleepovers – the potential to leverage your products is limited only by your imagination, and motivation!

Setting the Stage

Theme your presentation around the type of event the hostess is having. For example, if your hostess is having a bachelorette party, you’d want to theme the products and demonstrations around items that the bride and her attendants could use in preparing for the big day – items like facial masks, body scrubs, or relaxing bath salts and soaks. For a tween birthday party, you might instead opt for things like fragranced body splashes and lotions, shower gels and bubble bath.

It isn’t necessary to change your product packaging for these types of events, but you can inject fun into the process by creating themed gift sets, baskets or gift bags in non-traditional types of containers. Some great examples include take-out boxes, cosmetic bags, inexpensive totes or purses, teacups, or martini glasses.

Keeping it Simple

The key to success in putting on these types of events is to keep it simple. Limit your product offering to your best sellers, or those that best fit the group. If you plan to offer demonstrations of items such as scrubs or masks, be sure to instruct your hostess to have extra hand towels, tissues, and other necessities ready for her guests.

Handy Spa-at-Home Party Checklist:

  • Pre-printed order forms
  • Business Cards
  • Brochures or flyers
  • Calendar (to book additional parties!)
  • Party games
  • Inexpensive prizes (pumice stones, nail files, cuticle kits, etc.)
  • Plenty of Sample Products
  • Full-size items for sale
  • Party favors (items such as samples, business card magnets, notepads, etc.)
  • Bags to package purchases
  • Cash bag to make change

Offering spa-at-home parties is a creative way to supplement your income, and introduce your products to new prospects. Focus on sharing your passion for the products, and the benefits that they impart, and sales will surely follow.

To your success with spa products!