STEP-BY-STEP GUIDES TO MAKING LOTIONS, BUTTERS, AND MILKS

“Imagine the security of knowing you’re applying healthy substances onto your skin.

Imagine the pleasure of a soft, smooth and youthful skin.

Imagine the satisfaction of making your own cosmetics.”

– Jan Benham

THE POWER OF BOTANICALS

We have been primping, perfuming, and decorating our bodies since the beginning of time to enhance our attractiveness and magnetism. While we’ve given up practices like face masks made of crocodile manure and lead paint for whitening the skin, natural skin care has always had an enduring attraction. Since Cleopatra’s time, botanical extracts have remained the most important resource for healing and beautifying in the natural world.

Adding botanical extracts such as essential oils in the correct amount to your own handmade creams and lotions allow for customization of your products, contributing to both psychological and physiological well-being.

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BENEFITS OF MAKING DIY NATURAL MOISTURIZERS

The advantage of homemade natural moisturizers is that they can be customized by the producer by using specific ingredients for their inherent properties. Homemade moisturizers that are made with all natural ingredients are full of skin-nourishing minerals and vitamins. Their natural benefits include the ability to hydrate and rejuvenate the skin, the ability to restore damaged skin cells, and the ability to prevent future damage caused by harsh environmental factors by creating protective temporary barriers on skin. Producing homemade moisturizers has the added advantage of being eco-friendly, as the use of natural products means that chemicals are neither being used on the skin nor polluting the atmosphere. Because products can be stored in reusable containers and can be custom labeled for each new product after being sterilized, there is less waste from the disposal of packaging.

There is a large variety of moisturizers, the most popular being face creams, body lotions, body butters, and face milk. They can all be easily produced at home with a few simple natural ingredients that basically need to be melted together and cooled before they are stored in their containers for later use. Creams and lotions are comprised of three things: 1) a “base” or “carrier” oil, which will be a healing and nourishing oil of personal preference, 2) water that is purified of toxins and pollutants, also known as distilled water, although pure floral waters or other water-based liquids may also be used, and 3) an emulsifier (usually a wax, although it can also be a combination of other natural ingredients that provide emulsifying properties once they are combined).

Emulsifiers are the binding agents that keep the water and the oil joined together in a moisturizer because these two components will not combine otherwise; they are a necessary component for creating the fixed and lasting emulsion of oil and water.

Most commercial body butters are actually dense creams that have more wax content in them. A lotion is simply a diluted cream, and milk is a diluted lotion. Each product is slightly more diluted than the one before: BUTTER (thick, heavy, oily) → CREAM (thinner than butter and usually whipped) → LOTION (thinnest, lightweight) → MILK (more liquid than lotion but richer).

TYPES OF EMULSIONS

There are two types of emulsions although both types contain the same ingredients – oil and water. They are Oil-in-Water Emulsions and Water-in-Oil Emulsions.

Oil-in-Water moisturizers are those with more water than oil. These are also referred to as water-based products. The oil or fat droplets simply disperse in the layer of water. These emulsions are used more in moisturizing products (e.g. body lotions and day creams.

Water-in-Oil moisturizers are usually oil-based products used for a fatty feel (e.g night creams and sunscreen and makeup). In this emulsion, water droplets are suspended in the oil layer. This type is the ideal base for dry or sensitive skin, as it is milder and leaves the skin’s lipid bilayer undamaged.

INGREDIENTS FOR DIY NATURAL MOISTURIZERS

CARRIER OILS
A carrier oil will be the main, “base,” ingredient in a moisturizer recipe. The ideal carrier oil is one that is healing, nourishing, rejuvenating, and protecting. Popular choices for oils include Olive and Jojoba. Oils are safe to use, they are effective, and they are free from the chemicals found in commercial moisturizers. They can be custom-picked for their particular skin benefits and to match certain skin types.

EMULSIFIERS
Waxes are the most commonly used emulsifier. Emulsifying waxes are derived from plant-based fatty alcohols. Waxes also thicken a cream – without a wax, creams would have the runny consistency of a salad dressing. The molecular makeup of an emulsifying wax attracts oil particles and absorbs water particles. Because the oil remains mixed in with the water, the wax helps the oil penetrate the skin and replace lost moisture. In the process of producing a homemade moisturizer, the emulsification occurs after the heated oil phase, the heated water phase, and the cooldown phase has been completed.

POPULAR EMULSIFIERS – EMULSIFYING WAXES (“E-WAXES”) AND ALCOHOLS:

  • BEESWAX is not an emulsifier on its own. Beeswax and Borax in combination make a natural emulsifying system, but their consistency will not have the same high quality that emulsifiers made with Cetearyl Alcohols can offer. A very small amount of Borax is required, but using beeswax without it can make a cream or lotion fail. An emulsion can be created with a combination of natural ingredients. These ingredients must always be combined in order to have an emulsifying effect, unlike wax, which works all on its own. A good starting combination for a natural emulsifier is Beeswax, Liquid Lecithin, and Borax. Here is a simple formula for a basic natural emulsion recipe: 80% Beeswax, 10% Borax, and 10% Liquid Lecithin.
  • EMULSIFYING WAX NF (INCI NAME: CETEARYL ALCOHOL (AND) POLYSORBATE 60) can be used to create thin or thick emulsions, depending on the concentration used. The typical usage rates are 3-6% of the total recipe weight. The advantage of using this emulsifying wax for cosmetic preparations is that it does not leave a residue on the skin. It has excellent stability and will not cause the ingredients in a product to separate.
  • (INCI NAME): CETEARYL ALCOHOL is a fatty alcohol that is a combination of Cetyl and Stearyl alcohols. It is known to be a skin softener and conditioner, lending emollience to a moisturizer. The typical usage rates are 1-25% of the total recipe weight. It can be used as a thickener and stabilizer as well. Using 1% will thicken a product to the consistency of a light lotion. For the rich consistency of hand cream, a maximum amount of 25% is suggested. It can be used as a co-emulsifier if used at concentrations of 2% or less.
  • (INCI NAME): CETEARETH-20 can be used on its own or it can be combined with other emulsifiers such as Glyceryl Stearate. It gives a silky, shiny feeling to the finished product. The typical usage rates are 1-6% of the total recipe weight. The maximum usage level recommended is 30%.
  • (INCI NAME): GLYCERYL STEARATE  is both an emulsifier and a stabilizer for emulsions, the latter being a chemical that inhibits emulsions from separating. It helps reduce the surface tension of the substances that are to be emulsified. It works as a lubricant giving skin the appearance of being soft and smooth by forming a barrier on the skin’s surface, thereby slowing the rate of water loss. Usually, it is used in combination with another emulsifier such as Polysorbate 20 or Ceteareth-20. The typical usage rates are 1 – 5% of the total recipe weight.
  • (INCI NAME): CETEARYL ALCOHOL/CETEARETH-20 is not a wax but rather a waxy pellet that is used in lotions. It is especially beneficial for lotions that are intended to be thick and waxy such as those for the tougher skin of elbows and feet. The typical usage rates are 2% or 6% of the total recipe weight. It can also be combined with emulsifying wax.

BEFORE ADDING AN EMULSIFYING WAX TO A MOISTURIZER RECIPE, A FEW FACTORS NEED TO BE TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION:

  • NATURAL VS. SYNTHETIC EMULSIFIERS: Even the most “natural” emulsifiers need to be extracted, separated, and processed out of plant oils and fats until they become the emulsifiers that are commonly used.
  • CERTIFIED VS. NOT CERTIFIED: A supplier should be able to clarify whether or not an emulsifier is organically certified for those that are strict on using only certified products. Not all “natural” emulsifiers are going to be certified, as there are high costs to become certified.
  • GLOBAL STATUS: Criteria to consider may include the status of the emulsifier being vegan, halal or kosher.
  • SUSTAINABILITY: Some DIY cosmetic producers insist on using only fair, sustainable, non-bioengineered oils for emulsifiers such as palm oil or palm oil derivatives. There are varying levels of sustainability and emulsifiers that are palm-derived do not always carry the name “palm.” Some of the examples of plant/palm-derived ingredients include Cetyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Palm Kernel, Olive, Sunflower, high- and mid-oleic Sunflower, Peanut, and Coconut oils.
  • HLB: HLB stands for “Hydrophilic-Lipophilic Balance.” There is a belief that emulsifiers that are water-soluble (higher HLB value) are best suited for oil-in-water emulsifications and those that are oil-soluble (lower HLB value) are best suited for water in oil emulsification.
  • OPTIMUM OIL PHASE CONCENTRATIONS:  The performance of the emulsifier is affected by the amount of oil used in the products, so it is important to know in which particular oil phase the emulsifier would work best.
  • VISCOSITY RANGE: The type of emulsifier used can adjust the viscosity of the product. The emulsifier selected should suit the desired viscosity range, whether it is that of a body milk moisturizer or that of a thick night cream.
  • REQUIREMENT OF A STABILIZER/CO-EMULSIFIER: Co-emulsifiers are emulsifiers that are not meant to emulsify on their own and are instead used to enhance the activity of an existing emulsifier. Some emulsifiers might require the addition of a stabilizer or co-emulsifier for increased product viscosity and stability. The requirements of the formula should be considered before adding a co-emulsifier. To illustrate, if an emulsifier works only with a synthetic stabilizer, it should not then be used in an organic or natural formula.
  • BEST WORKING PH RANGE: Emulsifiers have ideal pH ranges at which they work best. Departing from this range may cause changes in the texture, appearance, viscosity or stability of the product. It is even more vital to consider the pH range when creating the product’s preservative. To illustrate, if using a weak acidic preservative that works most efficiently at a pH that is lower than the pH at which the emulsifier works, then either the preservative or the emulsifier needs to be changed.
  • ALCOHOL TOLERANCE: Due to their binding and emollient properties and their ability to alter the consistency of liquid products, fatty alcohols that protect and soften the skin are often incorporated in emulsions and are then referred to as “co-emulsifiers,” because they are meant to support the other “main” emulsifier. Alcohol has the power to weaken many emulsions, however. Suppliers can provide more information regarding the alcohol tolerance of a product if alcohols are going to be applied to emulsions.
  • OIL PHASE CHARACTER: It is imperative that the chosen emulsifier suits the ingredients in the moisturizer. Sometimes the oils used will be plant oils, waxes, and butters and at other times they might be fractionated oils, fatty alcohols or monoesters rather than triglycerides (fats and oils.
  • COLD VS. HOT PROCESS: The most commonly used emulsifiers come in the forms of pellets, flakes or powders that need to be melted with the oil or water phases. This can be a disadvantage if heat-sensitive ingredients are also being used, but should be used if ingredients do need to be melted. Liquid emulsifiers are available that allow for a cold blending technique.
  • SHEAR TOLERANCE: Some emulsifiers require a homogenizer, which is a mixer that produces fine particles and droplet sizes, as well as a “high shear” – the rate at which fluid moves between two parallel plates, one being stationary and the other moving at a constant speed. Some emulsifiers cannot withstand high shear and would be destabilized by a homogenizer.
  • APPLICATION DOSAGE: The emulsifier is generally added at approximately 20% of the oil phase, though some work best at lower or higher concentrations. The concentration can be reduced with the addition of co-emulsifiers or stabilizing agents.

ADDITIVES FOR DIY NATURAL MOISTURIZERS

Additives are optional ingredients that may be added to a product for their healing or preventative properties or for the ways in which they boost the qualities of the product itself. Some additives for moisturizers provide extra hydration, boost the hardness or softness of the product, improve its appearance, reduce/prevent/stop skin irritation, and/or promote the growth of healthy cells. Most additives are included in the mixture of ingredients during or after the melting stage of the production process. Regardless of which additives are selected, they should all comply with Health Canada and FDA regulations and be certified for cosmetic use to ensure that they will be safe on skin.

THICKENERS
Thickeners can be natural, synthetic, or semi-synthetic and they are derived from various sources including natural sources. The most versatile thickeners are those that are synthetic. They provide stability and better performance of cosmetic products by enhancing the consistency, volume, and viscosity. Some thickeners allow water to remain on the skin and thus offer a moisturizing property. They are composed of varying molecular structures including polysaccharides, proteins, alcohols, silicones or waxes.

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BUTTERS
For those that prefer their moisturizer to have a thicker, richer texture than oils have to offer, butters are an ideal option, as they have more saturated fatty acids and higher melting points. Some are preferred for their antioxidants, vitamins, and fatty acids, which work to diminish signs of aging and other skin issues. Other butters are preferred for their ability to protect skin from UV damage or from coarse, cracked skin.

Butters can be heated and added to other types of moisturizers during their liquid phases. When incorporating a butter into a lotion, such as to create a “Shea Butter Lotion” for example, the amount to add will vary for each recipe. The recommended ratio is 75% solid to 25% liquid oil. Although the body butter can be used as soon as the base ingredients are blended together, the mixture will be too dense and tough to spread over the skin at this stage. When whipped, however, the air that is incorporated into the mixture creates a lighter consistency that makes the application much easier. This also means less butter is needed at the time of each application, which in turn extends the life of the product.

PRESERVATIVES
Preservatives are natural or synthetic ingredients with anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties that are added to personal care products to keep them fresh and to protect both the product and the user from the negative effects of harmful bacteria. Preservatives are only needed in products that contain water. They work by preventing spores from germinating and producing more microorganisms and by deactivating cells by disrupting their cell membranes. Many store-bought moisturizers contain preservatives that can be harmful to skin whereas producing homemade moisturizers allows for the use of natural preservatives that can help minimize negative skin reactions.

Homemade natural products can also be made without preservatives; however, they will not last as long as commercial moisturizers. There are a couple of solutions to this issue, including the option of creating products in small batches that will be used within a short time period, adding ingredients with antimicrobial properties, or creating anhydrous products, which are products that do not contain water, as introducing water to cosmetic containers is the leading cause for the development of harmful bacteria, mold, yeast, and fungi. This includes ingredients that contain water such as hydrosols/floral water, Aloe Vera, or goat’s milk to name a few popular choices. Any water used should ideally be distilled and boiled before having anything added to it, but generally the less water in the product, the longer it will last. Glass containers are highly recommended for storage, as they can be reused and they eliminate the risk of products being tainted by the harmful chemicals that are commonly found in plastic containers. Product contamination can typically be prevented or slowed down by also using dispensing bottles instead of open mouth jars because the bacteria from fingers can be introduced to the product.

To extend the longevity of a moisturizer, an anti-oxidant is needed, as it will reduce the rate of oxidation. This is a chemical process during which natural ingredients are degraded or damaged due to exposure to oxygen. An oxidized product will develop brown or black spots. An antioxidant can be added directly to oils or added to the oil phase of the moisturizer formula. Naturally preserving additives that are anti-oxidants include Geranium Essential Oil, Grapefruit Seed Extract, and Green Tea Extract, among many others.

To help preserve the moisturizer, an anti-microbial is needed, as it will work to destroy bacteria and other unwanted micro-organisms. Naturally preserving additives that fight bacteria, mold and fungus include Vitamin E oils, Tea Tree Oil, Jojoba Oil, Avocado Oil, Olive Oil, Red Raspberry Seed Oil, Green Tea, Aloe Vera or honey.

There are ingredients that boost the capabilities of preservatives but there are also those that interfere with or completely inactivate them. Some of the ingredients that might interfere with them include pigments like ultramarine blue and thickeners like cellulose derivatives and guar gum.

CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING WHEN LOOKING FOR A SUITABLE MOISTURIZER PRESERVATIVE: 

1. Which ingredients are being used? Are they oil-soluble or water-soluble?

2. What will the product’s final pH be?

3. Is it non-sensitizing? In other words, does it have any tendencies to cause allergies or sensitivities?

4. Is it long lasting? Will it continue to work under both normal conditions and less favorable conditions?

5. Does it take rapid action to quickly re-sterilize the product, if it should become contaminated?

6. Is the preservative non-toxic and non-irritating?

7. Is it compatible with all the ingredients in the formula?

8. Does it remain stable under heat? Does it undergo disintegration during storage?
FLOWER WATERS (ALSO CALLED HYDROLATS OR HYDROSOLS)
Floral waters are a byproduct of the essential oil production process. They have similar properties to essential oils but are gentler on the skin and are thus safer to use on the face than essential oils. Floral waters contain therapeutic properties that would not be found in the essential oils of the same floral matter. Popular floral waters used in cosmetics include Rose Water, Lavender Water, and Orange Blossom (neroli) Water.

AROMATIC OILS
Aromatic oils such as synthetic fragrance oils or essential oils can be added to a moisturizer formula for a pleasant scent with therapeutic properties that benefit the user both physically and mentally. The essential oil of choice should be one that would not cause an allergic reaction to the user. The percentage of essential oil to a cream or lotion should never exceed 2%.  Both types of oils can be easily added to a moisturizer emulsion once it has been melted and removed from heat. They should be mixed in thoroughly. The final moisturizer product should be kept in a closed container in a cool area. To prevent any unexpected allergic reactions, a skin patch test is highly recommended.

COLORANTS
Moisturizers can be colored with the use of any water- or oil-based colorants. The following colorants are typically used in moisturizers: LabColours, Micas, Oxides & Ultramarines, Jojoba Wax Beads, Natural Tinting Herbs, and D&C and FD&C Dyes.

  • D&C (Drugs & Cosmetics) Dyes
    These are colorants that the FDA and Health Canada have allowed for use in externally applied drugs and cosmetics. FD&C (Food, Drugs & Cosmetics) Dyes are certified color additives for use in foods in the United States. In North America, these are now referred to by their Color Index (CI) names rather than their former “FD&C” names.

    Some ingredients such as fragrance oils can discolor moisturizers. Usually, the product takes on the same hue or leaves a tint that is the same as the fragrance oil. A fragrance oil such as vanilla would possibly turn the product brown, but if the color is undesirable then it can be prevented with the use of a vanilla stabilizer. Another instance of discoloration, such as when a white moisturizer turns pink or develops green flecks, indicates a contaminated product that needs to be disposed of immediately.

  • D&C AND FD&C DYES
    These are potent synthetic dyes that are available in water-soluble or oil-dispersible varieties. When added to a formulation, they produce bold, vibrant colors but their intensity can be adjusted by incorporating them drop by drop until the desired shade is achieved. These dyes can also be mixed to create new colors.  The disadvantage of these dyes is that they bleed, so if a body butter is made in colored layers, after a few days the colors will leak into the layers and blend together. The dyes also have a tendency to fade with time, most likely over the course of a few months, but this will not be an issue with products that are meant to last for a time much shorter than that.
  • OXIDES & ULTRAMARINES
    These dry powder ingredients produce vivid, dense matte colors. They are not soluble in water but easily disperse in oil, so they must only be added to the oil phases of moisturizer recipes.  After being combined with oil, they can be introduced into an extensive assortment of formulations.
  • PEARLESCENT MICAS
    These are colorants made by crushing natural minerals into a fine powder to add shimmer to moisturizers. Micas are often combined with various synthetic dyes, Oxides, Ultramarines, and natural colorants to create more colors and shades. They are not suited to every recipe, as they come in a wide range of formulations. It is important to check a Mica safety guide and the supplier notes about each one to ensure the correct type is chosen for a recipe to prevent any possible reactions.
  • JOJOBA WAX BEADS
    Made from Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil and D&C Dyes, these colorants are meant to be melted before being added to oil- or wax-based cosmetic formulas such as recipes for body butters, balms, and body oils, to name a few.
  • NATURAL TINTING HERBS
    These powdered herb colorants can add color to lotions or body oils, but although they retain color in containers, there is a chance they will fade over time. The best way to add them to a moisturizer formula is to infuse one of the liquid phases with the chosen herb before the liquids are mixed into an emulsion. If a herb needs to be strained from a warmed oil, a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer can be used. The recommended ratio for usage is 2 tbsp (30 g or 1 oz) of powder per 1 cup (340 g or 12 oz) of oil.

IMPORTANT TIPS

When creating DIY products, it is imperative to prevent the transmission of infection. This can be done by ensuring proper hand washing. It is important to use sterile gloves and a hair net to provide the necessary protection.

Sterilize everything with which the lotion or cream will come into contact; have a spray bottle of alcohol ready with clean sterile jars and towels at hand.

To create a lotion or cream, two ‘phases’ must be produced: an oil phase and a water phase. They both need to be heated to kill any microbial visitors.

All your oils and waxes – including your emulsifying wax – and butters will go into the oil phase and may be taken off the heat as soon as the wax is melted.

All your waters (distilled, or up to 40% floral waters or aloe or witch hazel with distilled water) will be heated just until light steam wafts from the surface and tiny bubbles form on the bottom of the pot. Borax, if you are using it, will be dissolved in your water phase.

Tinctures, actives, essential oils and preservatives will be added after the cream has begun to emulsify.

WHEN THE WAXES HAVE COMPLETELY MELTED (OR THE BORAX IS DISSOLVED), YOU ARE READY TO MAKE THE PRODUCT. YOU CAN DO THIS IN ONE OF THREE WAYS:

  1. Use two pitchers to pour both phases back and forth until they are emulsified and cooled, then pour into sterile containers; this is the traditional method, used since the Middle Ages.
  2. Whip the water phase with a stick blender while pouring a thin stream of the oil phase in, and after all, is blended, continue to whip for another five minutes before pouring into sterile containers.
  3. Put ice in one bowl, and place the second bowl on top – stainless steel bowls of the same size are excellent for this. Begin pouring both phases in while whipping with a whisk; this will cool the cream as it emulsifies, and you will feel this happening as the whisk hits the bottom of the bowl. When it is all emulsified and cold, pour into sterile containers. 

Pour your cream just before it arrives at the thickness you want because as it cools, it will get a bit thicker. Caution: if it is just right in your emulsion for a lotion, and you want to put it into a lotion bottle, you will have to add more sterile water phase now, or it will be too thick to travel up the length of the pump.

MAKING A MOISTURIZER FOR ALL SKIN TYPES

REQUIRED TOOLS

  • A double boiler (or a pot filled with boiling water and a heat-resistant glass bowl that can be placed over the pot)
  • A stainless-steel saucepan
  • A measuring jug – 1 L (approx. 34 oz) size preferred
  • A stirring spoon
  • Measuring spoons i.e., teaspoon (5 ml or 0.16 oz), dessertspoon (10 ml or 0.33 oz), and tablespoon (15 ml or 0.50 oz)
  • A scale that has both imperial and metric measurements
  • Empty glass jars and bottles for a finished product
  • Label (to keep the final products organized)

REQUIRED INGREDIENTS

* Ingredients are measured by weight, in grams, for accuracy

WAXES AND OILS:

  • 28 g (approx. 1 oz)/4 dessertspoons lanette wax (emulsifier)
  • 60 g (approx. 2 oz)/6 dessertspoons Jojoba Oil

WATERS:

  • 200 g (approx. 7 oz) distilled water
  • 50 g (approx. 2 oz) Rose Water

PRESERVATIVE:

  • 1.23 g (¼ tsp) Grapefruit Seed Extract

ESSENTIAL OILS:

  • 12 drops Lavender
  • 8 drops Geranium
  • 7 drops Palmarosa

STEP BY STEP PROCESS

  1. Sterilize all utensils, product containers, and workshop surfaces. Wipe utensils and wipe down surfaces with alcohol.
  2. In a heat-resistant bowl (or in a double boiler), melt the emulsifying wax and oils.
  3. In another saucepan, heat the liquid ingredients (Rosewater and distilled water) until they have reached boiling point.
  4. When the waxes and oils have completely melted, and the water is gently boiling…
  5. Slowly, add the waters to the melted wax and oils, stirring constantly until all water has been added.
  6. Remove the double boiler from the heat source. Continue stirring until the mixture has completely cooled.
  7. Add grapefruit seed extract, plus any essential oils, nutrients, and goodies.
  8. Pour into sterilized jars and bottles.
  9. Label.

MAKING A HOMEMADE LOTION – 237 G (APPROX. 8 OZ)

REQUIRED TOOLS AND INGREDIENTS

  • 120 g (1/2 cup or 4 oz) Almond Oil or Jojoba Oil (or any other liquid oil)
  • 60 g (1/4 cup or 2 oz) Coconut Oil
  • 60 g (1/4 cup or 2 oz) Beeswax/Emulsifying Wax
  • 5 g (1 tsp) Vitamin E Oil (optional)
  • 30 g (2 tbsp) Shea Butter/Cocoa Butter (optional)
  • Essential Oils, Vanilla Extract or other preferred natural extracts (optional) (see the recipe for the ratio)
  • 237 g (8 oz) mason jar or tin

STEP BY STEP PROCESS

  1. Combine Almond Oil/ Jojoba Oil (or any other liquid oil), Coconut Oil and Beeswax/ Emulsifying Wax in a double boiler or a glass bowl on top. If using Shea/Cocoa butter, add it as well.
  2. As the water heats, stir the ingredients occasionally as they melt so that they are fully incorporated.
  3. When all ingredients are completely melted, add Vitamin E Oil (if using) and any essential oils or scents like Vanilla. A 2% dilution of essential oils is the ideal amount to add to a lotion. To make a 2% dilution, add 12 drops of essential oil to every 30 ml (each fl. oz.)
  4. Pour mixture into the 237 g (8 oz) mason jar/tin. The viscosity of this product will not pump well through a lotion dispenser.
  5. Use the final product within 6 months in the same manner as a regular lotion. 

MAKING A BODY BUTTER – 454 G (16 OZ)

REQUIRED TOOLS AND INGREDIENTS

  • 75 g (1/2 cup or 4 oz) Shea Butter
  • 75 g (1/2 cup or 4 oz) Cocoa Butter or Mango Butter
  • 120 g (1/2 cup or 4 oz) Coconut Oil
  • 120 g (1/2 cup or 4 oz) light oil (such as Almond, Jojoba, or Olive Oil)
  • 10-30 drops of preferred Essential Oils (Optional)
  • 455 g (16 oz) mason/glass jar

STEP BY STEP PROCESS

  1. Combine all the ingredients (except the essential oils) in a double boiler or glass bowl.
  2. Stir them constantly over medium heat until all the ingredients are melted.
  3. Once melted, remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. If including essential oils in the formula, add them now.
  4. Allow the mixture to cool in the fridge for 1 hour or until it begins to harden but still remains somewhat soft.
  5. Using a hand mixer, whip the mixture for 10 minutes until fluffy.
  6. Refrigerate the whipped mixture for 10-15 minutes to set.
  7. Store the final product in a 455 g (16 oz) glass jar with a lid.
  8. Use the butter in the same manner as a regular lotion or body butter.
  9. The butter may soften at room temperature in which case it may be stored in the fridge, but it will remain whipped at a temperature lower than 24 áµ’C (75 áµ’F).

MAKING A BODY MILK LOTION – 1 L (1000 G OR APPROX. 34 OZ)

REQUIRED INGREDIENTS

  • 60 g (2 oz) Beeswax/emulsifying wax
  • 15 g (1/2 oz) Cocoa Butter
  • 45 g (1 ½ oz) Palm Kernel Oil
  • 235 g (8 oz) Coconut Oil
  • 120 g (8 tbsp or 4 oz) Almond Oil
  • 235 g (8 oz) Goat’s Milk
  • 355 g (12 oz) distilled water
  • 15 g (1 tbsp or 0.5 oz) Germaben II

STEP BY STEP PROCESS

  1. Mix together the Beeswax/emulsifying wax, Cocoa Butter, Palm Kernel Oil, Coconut Oil, and Almond oil in a glass bowl.
  2. Microwave or heat the mixture over the stove until melted.
  3. Whisk in the water and Goat’s Milk until the whole emulsion cools. When first mixing the oils and liquids together, the milk may have a strange appearance and it may seem to be curdling, but continuous mixing will help it turn to lotion.
  4. Add the Germaben II to the mixture once it has become lotion. If the lotion is too thick, add more water to thin it out. Re-heating the lotion and mixing again helps it stay emulsified.
  5. If the lotion starts to separate, add more emulsifying wax.
  6. Store the final product inside a 1 L (1000 g or 34 oz) glass jar in the fridge.

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

Pay close attention when heating any mixtures that include oil, as the oil can rapidly overheat. This is especially true for small amounts of oil, which can overheat in seconds. Never leave oil unattended on the stove. If called away from the stove, be sure to remove the pan from the heat.

Avoid overheating the oils. The wax and oil mixtures simply need to be melted, not boiled.

Keep young children and pets out of the way.

After each use, clean all equipment in boiling water, rinse well, and dry. It is best to use these utensils only for making cosmetics and to avoid preparing or storing food in them due to the possibility of cross-contamination.

IN ESSENCE…

    • Botanical extracts have remained the most important resource for healing and beautifying in the natural world.
    • Homemade moisturizers that are made with all natural ingredients are full of skin-nourishing minerals and vitamins.
    • There are only 3 required ingredients for making DIY natural moisturizers: a Carrier Oil, Water, and an Emulsifier.
    • Optional additives can further enrich a natural homemade moisturizer with ingredients such as Thickeners, Butters, Preservatives, Colourants, Aromatic Oils, and Floral Waters.
  • In order to prevent contamination when developing moisturizers, it is important to sterilize everything with which the moisturizer will come into contact.

The Basics: Creams, Lotions, and Salves

Dry, itchy skin? Cuts, scrapes, infected wounds, or rashes? They can all be soothed and renewed with the healing nourishment of herbs applied in a moisturizing base – the realm of creams, lotions, and salves. Of course, your skin is your largest eliminative organ. It’s often exposed to the elements, and it’s somewhat delicate {no fur or scales to protect it!}. This means that it can take a beating from the weather and can be prone to wrinkling and drying. Because your skin breathes and eliminates toxins and other substances from your body, you may experience conditions such as rashes, acne, or boils as your skin releases these substances.

Creams, lotions, and salves are all marvelous ways to apply healing herbs to the thirsty, damaged or troubled skin, but they’re each formulated slightly differently.

Cream. A cream is a mixture of oil and water, with a little wax added for body and texture. It’s a bit like mayonnaise because it’s an oil combined with a watery or non-oily substance whipped together so they don’t separate {a process called emulsification}. With mayonnaise, oil and eggs are mixed, while with cream, oil and tea concentrates are combined. Many commercial creams include an emulsifier such as borax, which prevents the oil and water from separating, or they include substances that add texture, such as lanolin, cocoa butter, or acetyl alcohol. My recipes also contain vitamin C powder, which acts as a mild preservative, but you can substitute an equal amount of ascorbic acid, which is available over the counter at pharmacies or in the canning area of the grocery store. Or you can add 2 or 3 drops of vitamin E or rosemary oil to the oil phase as a preservative. A cream moisturizes and soothes your skin.

Lotion. A lotion is similar to a cream, but it is lighter and contains more liquid. You can pour a lotion and spread it easily, which can really make a difference when you have inflamed, needy skin. By varying the ingredients, you can create lotions that are astringent, moisturizing, antifungal, antibacterial, or regenerative. My lotions also contain vitamin C powder, as a preservative, and you can substitute vitamin E or rosemary oil just as you might in a cream.

Salves. A salve is a wonderful way to use your infused oils. Salves are made of oils and wax and are typically somewhat solid, so they’re more convenient to use than oils. Although not as moisturizing as creams and lotions, salves last longer and provide a protective barrier that keeps bacteria out and moisture in. { Studies show that moist wounds heal faster than dry ones.} Salves keep the healing power of the herbs close to skin injuries, reducing inflammation and soreness and reducing cracked skin on feet and lips. Lip balms are a form of a salve. Salves can be made with a single infused oil or with a combination of several; customizing a salve for individual use is part of the challenge and fun of making it.

You’ll find a basic recipe for a cream, a lotion, and a salve, and then some sample recipes for you to try, using herbs from your garden. Be extra careful to wash all utensils, surfaces, containers, and your hands before beginning to make any of these recipes because this combination of ingredients is susceptible to spoilage. Keep everything as hygienic as possible will yield long-lasting remedies.

If you make creams, please be aware that they spoil easily, so store them in your refrigerator if you’re going to keep them for more than a few days. Don’t introduce bacteria by dipping your fingers into the cream; instead, use a little craft stick or a small spoon to scoop it out of the jar.

Basic Cream:

Creams are composed mainly of oil and water, and each oil and water mixture is referred to as a “phase.” The two phases are prepared and heated separately and then mixed together in a blender. You’ll heat the two phases so they are close as possible to the same temperature {160 degrees to 175 degrees F} before you combine them.

An emulsifier is required to hold the phases together in a creamy state. I use ordinary household borax as an emulsifier because it’s a natural, gentle substance that does the job.

Oil Phase;

1/2 ounce {2-3 teaspoons} beeswax

1 tablespoon coconut oil

4 tablespoons infused herbal oil

10-20 drops essential oil or combination of essential oils of your choice {optional, for fragrance or additional healing properties}

Water Phase:

4 tablespoons tea concentrate {as you’d make for a dried tea} or strong tea infusion*

2 tablespoons aloe gel

1/2 – 1 teaspoon borax

1 teaspoon vitamin C powder

Heat the beeswax, coconut oil, and infused herbal oil in a saucepan over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. Add the optional essential oil. In another pan, heat the tea, aloe gel, borax, and vitamin C powder over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. {Both phases should be heated to 160 to 175 degrees F.}

Place the water phase ingredients in a blender and set it on high. Through the opening in the blender jar cap, dribble in the oil phase ingredients. When the cream is thoroughly mixed, pour it into jars. Let it cool, cap the jars, label, and refrigerate.

  • To make a strong tea infusion, combine 1 cup ground dried herbs and 1 cup freshly boiled water, and steep for 30 minutes, covered.

Skin Protection Cream:

This cream prevents drying and chapping. It’s formulated with glycerin, which is moisturizing and texturizing, making it lighter and extra creamy.

Oil Phase:

1 ounce {about 1 1/2 tablespoons} beeswax

2 tablespoons coconut oil

4 ounces almond oil

10-20 drops essential oil of your choice {for fragrance}*

Water Phase:

2 ounces lemon balm, rosemary, or lavender strong tea infusion

2 ounces glycerin

1 teaspoon borax

1 teaspoon vitamin C powder

Heat the beeswax, coconut oil, and almond oil in a saucepan over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. Add the essential oil. In another pan, heat the tea, glycerin, borax, and vitamin C powder over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. {Both phases should be heated to 160 to 175 degrees F.}

Place the water phase ingredients in a blender and set it on high. Through the opening in the blender jar cap, dribble in the oil phase ingredients. When the cream is thoroughly mixed, pour into jars. Let it cool, cap the jars, label, and refrigerate.

  • For a sweet-smelling cream, try adding equal amounts of orange, grapefruit, lemon, and lavender essential oils to the basic cream. For an antiseptic cream to heal cuts and infections, stir in thyme, oregano, or tea tree essential oils. For a skin-protecting and age-defying cream, add rosemary essential oil and/or vitamin E oil {and use Gotu kola tea for the water phase}.

Anti-fungal Cream:

Use this handy cream for athlete’s foot, ringworm, and other common fungal infections. Prevention is the best medicine here. Don’t let an athlete’s foot fungus migrate into your nails, where it can be very difficult or impossible to treat.

Oil Phase:

1/2 ounce {about 2-3 teaspoons} beeswax

1/2 ounce {1 tablespoon} coconut oil

4 tablespoons calendula infused oil

10-20 drops oregano or thyme essential oil

Water Phase:

4 tablespoons strong thyme tea infusion*

2 tablespoons aloe gel

1/2 – 1 teaspoon borax

1 teaspoon vitamin C powder

Heat the beeswax, coconut oil, and calendula infused oil in a saucepan over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. Add the essential oil. In another pan, heat the tea, aloe gel, borax, and vitamin C powder over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. {Both phases should be heated to 160 to 175 degrees F.}

Place the water phase ingredients in a blender and set it on high. Through the opening in the blender jar cap, dribble in the oil phase ingredients. When the cream is thoroughly mixed, pour into jars. Let it cool, cap the jars, label, and refrigerate.

  • To make a strong tea infusion, combine 1 cup ground dried herb and 1 cup freshly boiled water, and steep for 30 minutes, covered.

Ginger-Cayenne Heat-Treatment Cream:

Here’s help for muscle aches and pains. You can make the infused oil yourself, using the recipe below,* with 1/2 cup ground or powdered dried ginger and 1/2 cup ground or powdered dried cayenne.

Oil Phase:

1/2 ounce {2-3 teaspoons} beeswax

1 tablespoon coconut oil

4 tablespoons cayenne and ginger-infused oil

10-15 drops wintergreen essential oil {optional, for fragrance and pain-relieving compounds}

Water Phase:

4 tablespoons ginger tea concentrate {as you’d make for a dried tea}

2 tablespoons aloe gel

1/2 -1 teaspoon borax

1 teaspoon vitamin C powder

Heat the beeswax, coconut oil, and cayenne and ginger-infused oil in a saucepan over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. Add the optional wintergreen essential oil. In another pan, heat the tea concentrate, aloe gel, borax, and vitamin C over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. {Both phases should be 160 to 175 degrees F.}

Place the water phase ingredients in a blender and set it on high. Through the opening in the blender jar cap, dribble in the oil phase ingredients. When the cream is thoroughly mixed, pour it into jars. Let it cool, cap the jars, label, and refrigerate.

* Basic Herbal Oil:

1 cup finely ground dried herbs {flowers, leaves, roots, barks, and/or seeds}

1 1/4 cups almond, jojoba, or olive oil

In a blender or food processor, combine the herbs and oil. Blend or process until pureed for greater extractability. Pour the mixture into a clean glass jar with a lid, making sure the plant material is completely submerged in the oil. If it’s not, add more oil until the herbs are covered by about 1 inch of liquid. Cover the jar and store it in a dark place, shaking it daily, for 2 to 3 weeks. Filter it carefully through cheesecloth, a muslin bag, or a square of linen, gathering up the edges and squeezing out the oil. Compost the herbs. Pour the oil into amber bottles, and label the bottles with the contents and date. Store it in a dark place.

Oils

Herbal oils are simply oils infused with herbs, much as you’d steep rosemary in olive oil for culinary purposes. Healing herbal oils can be taken internally for a variety of ailments, can be used externally for therapeutic or daily beauty routines, and can be incorporated into herbal salve recipes. Dried herbs are preferred since fresh herbs will sometimes ferment.

Basic Lotion:

Good choices for the strong tea infusions are calendula, chamomile, comfrey, ginger, lavender, Oregon grape, peppermint, plantain, and rosemary.

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup strong tea infusion*

Cosmetic clay

1/2 teaspoon vitamin C powder

25 drops essential oil or combination of oils of your choice {for fragrance}

In a small bowl, dissolve the salt in the tea. Stir in the cosmetic clay and vitamin C powder until the mixture is creamy. Add the essential oil and blend thoroughly. Bottle, label and refrigerate.

  • To make the infusion, combine 1 cup ground dried herbs and 1 cup freshly boiled water, and steep for 30 minutes, covered.

Poison Ivy or Poison Oak Lotion:

This lotion works quickly and thoroughly for anyone suffering the misery of poison ivy or oak, any rash or burn, and even for acne.

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup combination of plantain and/or calendula strong tea infusion* and/or aloe vera gel

Cosmetic clay

25 drops peppermint essential oil

1/2 teaspoon vitamin C powder

In a small bowl, dissolve the salt in the tea or aloe gel. Stir in the cosmetic clay and vitamin C powder until the mixture is creamy. Add the essential oil and blend thoroughly. Pour into bottles and cap, label, and refrigerate. Apply as needed to the affected area, avoiding your eyes and mucous membranes.

  • To make the infusion, combine 1/2 cup dried herb and 1/2 cup freshly boiled water, and steep for 30 minutes, covered.

Basic Salve:

Good choices for the infused oil in this recipe include calendula, cayenne, ginger, peppermint, rosemary, St. John’s wort and turmeric {turmeric can stain}.

1-ounce beeswax

1 cup infused oil

5-10 drops essential oil or combination of oils of your choice {for fragrance or additional healing properties}

Grate the beeswax into a small bowl. In a saucepan or double boiler, heat the infused oil gently to about 100 degrees F. Add the grated beeswax slowly, stirring as it melts. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for a few minutes before you add the essential oils. Stir to thoroughly combine. Pour your salve into jars and let it cool. Cap and label jars. Apply the salve as needed to the affected area. You can store a salve indefinitely.

Tips for Salves.

If you prefer a salve that’s harder or softer than this recipe, just add more or less beeswax or oil. You can test the consistency of the salve before it hardens by scooping out a spoonful and dipping the back of the spoon into a little bowl of ice water to harden the salve. If it’s too soft for your taste, heat the ingredients again and add more beeswax. If it’s too hard, heat the ingredients again and add a bit more oil. Test after each addition to get the consistency you prefer. Sometimes, after the salve is poured into a jar and when it’s nearly set, a small crater will appear in the middle of the surface. You can add a small amount of hot salve to the crater to create an even surface.

Healing Salve:

Use to reduce inflammation and lessen the possibility of infection from a skin injury.

1-ounce beeswax

1 cup infused oil, using equal parts calendula, yarrow, and St. John’s wort – infused oils

5-10 drops essential oils of your choice, such as lavender, orange, mint, or thyme {for fragrance}

Grate the beeswax into a small bowl. In a saucepan or double boiler, heat the infused oil gently to about 100 degrees F. Add the grated beeswax slowly, stirring as it melts. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for a few minutes before you add the essential oils. Stir thoroughly to combine. Pour your salve into jars and let it cool. Cap and label the jars. Apply the salve as needed to the affected area. You can store a salve indefinitely.

One of my favorite recipes is Healing Lip Balm:

A lip balm is no different than a salve in its formulation, except that you may wish to make it a little firmer. This one works wonders for chapped, dry lips.

1-ounce beeswax

1 cup infused oil {calendula, ginger, peppermint or spearmint, rosemary, and St. John’s wort are good choices}

5-10 drops essential oils of your choice {for fragrance}

Grate the beeswax into a small bowl. In a saucepan or double boiler, heat the infused oil gently to about 100 degrees F. Add the grated beeswax slowly, stirring as it melts. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for a few minutes before you add the essential oils. Stir to thoroughly combine. Pour your mixture into lip balm tubes and let it cool. Cap and label the tubes.

Great Grandma’s Old-Fashioned Lavender Recipes

The ‘recipes’ are extremely old but still usable in our modern lavender era. We did not change the wording.

Scottish Handwater and English Sweet Handwater:

Scottish Handwater
 
1 handful of lavender flowers
1 handful of thyme leaves
1 handful of rosemary leaves
1 bottle of still white wine
Place all the ingredients in the wine, cover, and allow to infuse in a warm place for two to three weeks. Strain and bottle attractively.
An old English recipe for sweet handwater is based on the simple Scottish recipe but it is more complex in its ingredients and the final product was distilled.
Here are an adaptation and translation.
English Sweet Handwater
 
6 handfuls fragrant Damask roses
2 handfuls rosemary
2 handfuls lavender
2 handfuls sweet marjoram
2 handfuls sweet basil
2 handfuls sweet balm
1 tablespoon cloves
2 tablespoons cinnamon bark chips
1 handful of bay leaves
Thinly sliced rind of two lemons
Thinly sliced rind of two oranges
Handful of flowering rosemary tops
White wine
Cover with white wine and leave in a warm place for 8 to 10 days. Distil off and bottle.Handwaters are a wonderful idea. They are added to the final rinse of delicate garments, used as a final hair rinse, or added to a basin of water when washing hands or face.
A traditional Scottish recipe used equal quantities of lavender, thyme and rosemary infused in wine.

Lavender Water for Fever and Headaches:

2 tablespoons dried lavender leaves
1 tablespoon Sweet Cicely
1 tablespoon marjoram
1 tablespoon red rose petals
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large pinch ground cloves
Powder all the ingredients as finely as possible and mix with four cups of either surgical spirit or brandy.
Allow to steep for 14 days, strain and bottle, sealing tightly. Add a few drops to cold water, wring out a towel in the liquid and place on the forehead. Repeat until relief is obtained.
In my experience, a sachet of the same mixture makes an excellent portable headache reliever.
In the once Imperial Library of Hungary lies a handwritten manuscript inscribed long ago by Queen Elizabeth of that country and dated 1235. In it is written the original prescription for the famous Hungary Water. The Queen was paralysed, but was cured by a secret herbal recipe invented for her by a hermit. The preparation was rubbed each day into her limbs and eventually restored her. The Queen’s formula for Hungary Water became well known throughout Europe and was particularly widely used in southern France. The original recipe given here is on a queenly scale but can, of course, be made in much smaller quantities.

Lavender Cosmetic Vinegar and Sweet Water for Linens:

White wine vinegar
Freshly gathered heads of lavender with the dew dried from them
Fill a glass jar with whole heads of lavender blossoms, and cover with white wine vinegar.
Leave the jar with a plastic lid on in a sunny place for 2 weeks, shaking the bottle each day.
 Empty the bottle, straining out the vinegar. Refill the bottle with fresh lavender flowers and cover with the same vinegar. Repeat after 2 weeks making a triple infusion in all.
An old Scottish recipe used half rosemary and half lavender to make a very refreshing vinegar for adding to ‘Sweet Washing Water’.
Lavender foot baths are another very old-fashioned pleasure and made good use of lavender’s ability to soothe the peripheral nerves, as well as its antiseptic qualities and its clean sweet fragrance.
A strong infusion of lavender flowers and leaves in boiling water was made.

This was added to a basin of warm water in which the feet were allowed to soak blissfully at the end of a long day.

Sweet Water for Linens

This recipe is culled from Bulleins Bullworke {1562}

Three pounds of Rose water, cloves, cinnamon, sauders’, 2 handfuls of the flowers of Lavender, lette it stand a moneth to still in the sonne, well closed in a glasse; Then distill it in Balneo Marial.
It is marvellous pleasant in savour, a water of wonderous sweetness, for the bedde, whereby the whole place shall have a most pleasant scent.
Sandalwood
Bain Marie or waterbath

Oil of Lavender:

This is not the commercially distilled essential oil, but a rubbing oil which can be used at full strength. {Essential oil of lavender obtained by distillation of fresh lavender flowers should be diluted in light vegetable oil for use as a massage oil when needed.}
To make oil of lavender, take a clean glass bottle and add to it a good large handful of fresh lavender flowers and cover with one liter of olive oil. Cover and leave to macerate in the warmth of the sun for three to five days. Strain through a cloth, add fresh flowers to the bottle and return the lavender-infused oil. Repeat until the oil is highly perfumed and charged with the active principles of lavender.

Lavender Sleep Pillow:

Mix together the following ingredients:
3 parts of lavender flowers
Hop flowers or lemon verbena leaves
Rosemary leaves
Marjoram leaves
Sweet Cicely leaves
2-3 drops lavender oil {recipe Oil of Lavender above}
Sew the mixture into a bag made of thin material which allow the fragrance to escape eg. Organza or muslin.
Make a pillow slip to contain the sleep pillow. Silks are ideal.

Lavender used as an inhalant is considered to speed recovery from colds, bronchitis, tonsillitis and flu.Many people who have used the lavender-based herbal sleep pillows from us have reported not only overcoming insomnia but that they were helpful in cases of asthma, and particularly in breaking up pulmonary congestion. The ingredients of sleep pillows vary but it is important to make the mixture around 3 parts of dried lavender flowers and leaves. The fourth part, made up of various tranquilizing or sleep inducing herbs, can be mixed in different proportions according to what you have available.

lavender-fans-trio

Lavender Fans:

These can be quite exquisite but should be treated as strictly ornamental and hung from a mirror or used to ornament a pillow or dressing table. They are better made as miniatures.
English lavender is freshly cut with long stems when approximately half the flower spike is open. Tie at the base of the bunch and about one-third of the way up the stems.
Cut two pieces of lavender organza or lace into a fan shape to cover the upper two-thirds of the lavender stems when gently teased out to form a fan shape. The lavender stems {I use pairs of stems for strength} form the ribs of the lavender fan. These are now sown into the lace casing, sewing both sides of each rib.
Press flat between books until dry and retaining their fan shape. Finish each little with lace and lavender ribbon bows, and wrap the satin ribbon tightly around the handle as a final touch, tying off with a bow and sprig of dried French lavender.

potpourri making

Lavender Fragrance and Fancies {How To Make Potpourri}:

Making your own potpourri is a delightful hobby and easier than you may think….
The ancient and fragrant art of potpourri is one of the few truly civilized and civilizing processes left for the twentieth century inhabitant to partake of. This ‘preservation of garden souls’ is a work worthy of time and loving care and its products can bring delight not only to the maker but to so many others.
We will disdain the often quoted and unworthy translation of the French ‘rotten pot’, and proceed hastily to the fact that there are two distinct techniques for potpourri production, ‘moist’ and ‘dry’.
Moist potpourri is an old method of production and its presumably the source of the French title, for it is the fragrance, and most certainly not the appearance  that is the attraction with this variety. Moist potpourri are reputed to retain their fragrance for up to fifty years, so the process results in much longer staying power. They are made from floral materials that are partly dried, despite the name.
The peak time to pick any floral ingredient is just as it is coming into full bloom. Pick after the dew has dried but as early as possible on a sunny day. Dry the flowers on papers or preferably on screens, out of sunlight but in an airy place. For moist potpourri they should be only partly dried. leathery when finished rather than crisp. Aim for a very limp appearance. Around one third of their bulk will be gone.
We use large straight sided glazed pottery crocks with good fitting tops to hold and mature moist potpourris. These should really be set aside for the purpose as it takes a number of weeks to mature a batch. Never use metallic spoons to turn the mixture. Buy some long-handled wooden spoons and keep them for this purpose alone. To make your job pleasant the crock needs to be sufficiently large and wide-mouthed to hold all the ingredients comfortably during the necessary turnings and stirrings as the mixture ages. The shortest time needed to mature the mix is two weeks. This is really far too short. The best results come with longer maturation. We wait at least six to eight weeks, but in previous centuries, far more noted for their patience than our own, the crocks were left to stew for months.
The general principles are simple. Place a layer of ‘leathery stage’ petals at the bottom of the crock, then cover with a layer of common {not iodized} salt. Add another layer of petals, then salt, alternating them until the crock is about three quarters full. A batch requires at least two weeks ageing before the remaining ingredients are added. Weigh the mixture down with a plate on which is placed some heavy non-corrodible object. A large bottle of homemade preserves is an answer. A large glass jar filled with sand and tightly capped will do the job well too. Each day the mix needs to be stirred well from the bottom. A kind of ‘petal soup’ appears and should be mixed back into the petals. If a hard crust appears, remove it and allow it to dry. Reserve this for the final mixing when it should be crushed and added back.
Next the spices, ground roots, dried peels, fragrant leaves and fixatives are added and blended. Leave for one month, stirring daily and covering again, to mellow and mix the fragrances. Finally add whatever essential oils may be required and allow the mix to continue to ‘stew’ {the word is too appropriate to be avoidable}, stirring daily, for a few more weeks.
If all this sounds tedious in the extreme, interrupting a very busy schedule, you are probably one of those who would most greatly benefit from its therapy! The fragrance alone is sufficient reward as the mixture is stirred each day, and it is no more difficult to build this routine into your day than any other daily routine.
Now is the time to move the potpourri into its final containers. Remember how long it will give pleasure to its owner and choose something worthy of the contents. Old Chinese ginger jars, oriental porcelain jars, even old-fashioned tea-caddies and marmalade jars in fine pottery are suitable. Haunt secondhand and antique shops for suitable potpourri jars. The only provisos are that there is a solid cover and that it is made of glazed pottery of some kind. Once you are looking, it is amazing how many unusual and attractive old containers suggest themselves.
The mixture in its new container will still be a little raw in its quality of fragrance, but in a few weeks will be a delight. When you wish to scent a room, remove the cover and a delicious subtle fragrance will gently pervade the whole area. Otherwise, keep the lid on the mixture.
Here are a few recipes for moist potpourri. Once you have mastered the basic technique you will be able to devise your own mixes.

Lavender Antiseptic Washes and More…

Lavender Antiseptic Wash.
This is a favorite treatment for eczema, cuts, acne and minor burns.
Take a good handful of the flowers and boil together with half a liter of water for ten minutes. Filter and allow to cool before using.
Since Roman days this has been used in hot baths, to relax the body, and it is known to have a marked effect on the peripheral nervous system. It has also been widely used as a gargle for sore throats and sore or infected gums, due to its antiseptic properties and relaxant effect on the nervous system.
Hungary Water.
1 gallon brandy or clear spirits {equal to 16 cups}
1 handful of rosemary
1 handful of lavender
1 handful myrtle
Handfuls are measured by cutting branches of the herbs twelve inches long. A handful is the number of such branches that can be held in the hand. After measuring, the branches should be cut up into one-inch pieces, and put to infuse in the brandy. You will then have the finest Hungary Water that can be made.
Four Thieves Vinegar.
This antiseptic vinegar is attributed to a gang of four thieves who robbed the bodies of victims of the plague in Marseilles in 1722. They washed their bodies with it, frequently disinfecting their hands, and sprinkled it on their clothes and around their houses. It is said that all four survived without infection.
Actually it is not surprising that this famous aromatic vinegar was so successful. Many of its ingredients are among the most powerful natural antibiotics in the world. Another case of empirically gained knowledge long preceding that obtained by scientific investigation.
*Infuse garlic cloves, lavender flowers, rosemary, sage, calamus root, mint, wormwood, rue, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in a glass flagon of wine vinegar and leave sealed in the sun for 3-4 weeks to release the powerfully antibiotic oils into the vinegar. Filter, pour into smaller bottles, add a little camphor and seal until ready for use.
Soothing Massage Oil.
1/2 cup safflower or sunflower oil
Dried pot marigold petals
12 drops essential oil of rose geranium
12 drops essential oil of lavender
10 drops essential pine oil or oil of cypress
Place the safflower oil in a glass jar and add as many freshly dried pot marigold petals as possible.
Cap the bottle and place in the sun for 4-5 days. Filter off the petals and squeeze out any retained oil from them before discarding. The oil will now be deep orange and fully charged with the active healing principles of calendula. Mix the other essential oils into the infused oil of marigold, bottle and store in the refrigerator.
lavender-hand-cream

Lavender Cream and Lavender Night Cream:

This is an antiseptic cream and has been traditionally used for all manner of minor cuts, abrasions, bruises etc.
* 125 g white wax
500g sweet almond oil
370 g distilled water
10 g essential oil of lavender
2.5 g spike oil
Lavender Ointment:
 
25 drops essential oil of lavender
10 drops essential oil of lemon or neroli
5 drops essential oil of thyme
2 tablespoons oil of lavender
60 g pure beeswax
Warm the beeswax in a small pot in a roasting pan of hot water and, when melted, beat in the oil of lavender; then, as the ointment cools, add the essential oils, continuing to beat until cool. Store in a covered jar in the refrigerator.
Oil of Lavender.
This is not the commercially distilled essential oil, but a rubbing oil which can be used at full strength. {Essential oil of lavender obtained by distillation of fresh lavender flowers should be diluted in light vegetable oil for use as a massage oil when needed.}
To make oil of lavender, take a clean glass bottle and add to it a good large handful o fresh lavender flowers and cover with one litre of olive oil. Cover and leave to macerate in the warmth of the sun for three to five days. Strain through a cloth, add fresh flowers to the bottle and return the lavender-infused oil. Repeat until the oil is highly perfumed and charged with the active principles of lavender.
 
g=grams
Lavender Night Cream
1 tablespoon avocado oil or apricot oil
1 tablespoon almond oil
3 tablespoons lanolin
1 teaspoon oil of lavender {see
‘Oil of Lavender’}
If you work outside a lot this is the ideal answer to sore chapped hands and weather beaten skin.
Put the lanolin in an ovenproof bowl and place in a roasting pan half full of hot water.
Pour in the avocado and almond oil and beat well to completely combine.
Remove from the heat and continue to beat as the mixture cools and thickens.
Add the oil of lavender. Continue beating until mixture is thick and creamy and cool.
Pour into a small pot, cover and store in the refrigerator.
Vitamin E can be added by squeezing the contents of 2 or 3 capsules at the same stage as oil of lavender is added.

Recipe: Lavender Water:

Of course, this can be bought commercially. My favorite comes from Norfolk Lavender in England. But for home purposes you can enjoy making up your own supply.
In a clear glass bottle steep 100 g of lavender flowers in half a liter of alcohol {brandy or vodka are both good}. Place in the sun for a few days, then strain. Repeat until the fragrance is very strong.
Strain and seal in a glass bottle. If your hair is weak, falling out and breaking, try an old idea and rub lavender water into your scalp several times a week. Try it too as a rub for rheumatism. It has a long tradition of usage for both problems.
lavender breath mints

Lavender Sweet Breath Lozenges and Lavender Inhalant:

egg white
icing sugar
lavender oil
These sweet lavender pastilles were once most fashionable among ladies as a breath freshener after indulging in a little wine. A few drops of essential oil of lavender were added to well sieved icing sugar and mixed thoroughly. It was then bound with sufficient lightly beaten egg white to form a stiff paste, and small portions shaped into lozenge shaped pastilles.
These were then set aside to dry and harden in a warm place.
While these pastilles were an emergency social measure, a mouthwash made from an infusion of sage leaves was much favored for everyday use, as was sage toothpaste.
Lavender Inhalant.
Make a hot infusion of one good handful of lavender in 3 1/2 cups of water. Add a few drops of oil and inhale the steam under a cloth. If you wish, add one or more of the following:
thyme, sage or peppermint.
As an alternative, you might like to try William Turner’s suggestion from the New Herball {1551}:
 
“I judge that the flowers of Lavender quilted in a cap and worne are good for all diseases of the head that comne from a cold cause and that they comfort the braine very well.”
lavender tisane

Sweet Lavender Tisane:

Queen Elizabeth I reputedly consumed countless cups of this tisane.
3 tablespoons fresh English lavender flowers
2 cups boiling water
Honey
Allow the flowers to steep for 3 to 4 minutes, strain and serve with a slice of lemon and honey if liked.
If using dried flowers, halve the quantity used. A little mint or rosemary can be added for an interesting flavor variation.
The English long served their equivalent of the modern fruit salad with lavender flowers and on a bed of lettuce and lavender leaves. This is a delicious modern adaptation of that old idea.
lavender and rose washballs

Lavender and Rose Wash-balls:

2 bars Castile soap {or any good quality pure soap} finely grated

10 drops oil of lavender

Rosewater

Heat a quarter of a cup of rosewater and pour over the soap and allow to stand for 10 minutes.

Work together very thoroughly, then incorporate the lavender oil. Set aside to begin drying out.

After two days, form balls of soap between your hands and set aside to dry in the sun.

When the balls have almost fully hardened moisten the hands with rosewater and polish each wash ball by rubbing between the hands.

Now put aside for approximately six weeks to fully harden.

Wash balls make delightful gifts wrapped in a square of tiny sprigged fabric tied with a satin ribbon.

Recipe: Oil of Lavender.

This is not the commercially distilled essential oil, but a rubbing oil which can be used at full strength. {Essential oil of lavender obtained by distillation of fresh lavender flowers should be diluted in light vegetable oil for use as a massage oil when needed.}

 To make oil of lavender, take a clean glass bottle and add to it a good large handful of fresh lavender flowers and cover with one liter of olive oil. Cover and leave to macerate in the warmth of the sun for three to five days. Strain through a cloth, add fresh flowers to the bottle and return the lavender-infused oil. Repeat until the oil is highly perfumed and charged with the active principles of lavender.

Creams, Lotions, and Salves

Dry, itchy skin? Cuts, scrapes, infected wounds, or rashes? They can all be soothed and renewed with the healing nourishment of herbs applied in a moisturizing base – the realm of creams, lotions, and salves. Of course, your skin is your largest eliminative organ. It’s often exposed to the elements, and it’s somewhat delicate {no fur or scales to protect it!}. This means that it can take a beating from the weather and can be prone to wrinkling and drying. Because your skin breathes and eliminates toxins and other substances from your body, you may experience conditions such as rashes, acne, or boils as your skin releases these substances.

Creams, lotions, and salves are all marvelous ways to apply healing herbs to the thirsty, damaged or troubled skin, but they’re each formulated slightly differently.

Cream. A cream is a mixture of oil and water, with a little wax added for body and texture. It’s a bit like mayonnaise because it’s an oil combined with a watery or non-oily substance whipped together so they don’t separate {a process called emulsification}. With mayonnaise, oil and eggs are mixed, while with a cream, oil and tea concentrates are combined. Many commercial creams include an emulsifier such as borax, which prevents the oil and water from separating, or they include substances that add texture, such as lanolin, cocoa butter, or acetyl alcohol. My recipes also contain vitamin C powder, which acts as a mild preservative, but you can substitute an equal amount of ascorbic acid, which is available over the counter at pharmacies or in the canning area of the grocery store. Or you can add 2 or 3 drops of vitamin E or rosemary oil to the oil phase as a preservative. A cream moisturizes and soothes your skin.

Lotion. A lotion is similar to a cream, but it is lighter and contains more liquid. You can pour a lotion and spread it easily, which can really make a difference when you have inflamed, needy skin. By varying the ingredients, you can create lotions that are astringent, moisturizing, antifungal, antibacterial, or regenerative. My lotions also contain vitamin C powder, as a preservative, and you can substitute vitamin E or rosemary oil just as you might in a cream.

Salves. A salve is a wonderful way to use your infused oils. Salves are made of oils and wax and are typically somewhat solid, so they’re more convenient to use than oils. Although not as moisturizing as creams and lotions, salves last longer and provide a protective barrier that keeps bacteria out and moisture in. { Studies show that moist wounds heal faster than dry ones.} Salves keep the healing power of the herbs close to skin injuries, reducing inflammation and soreness and reducing cracked skin on feet and lips. Lip balms are a form of a salve. Salves can be made with a single infused oil or with a combination of several; customizing a salve for individual use is part of the challenge and fun of making it.

You’ll find a basic recipe for a cream, a lotion, and a salve, and then some sample recipes for you to try, using herbs from your garden. Be extra careful to wash all utensils, surfaces, containers, and your hands before beginning to make any of these recipes because this combination of ingredients is susceptible to spoilage. Keep everything as hygienic as possible will yield long-lasting remedies.

If you make creams, please be aware that they spoil easily, so store them in your refrigerator if you’re going to keep them for more than a few days. Don’t introduce bacteria by dipping your fingers into the cream; instead, use a little craft stick or a small spoon to scoop it out of the jar.

lavender flower spikes

Basic Cream:

Creams are composed mainly of oil and water, and each oil and water mixture is referred to as a “phase.” The two phases are prepared and heated separately and then mixed together in a blender. You’ll heat the two phases so they are close as possible to the same temperature {160 degrees to 175 degrees F} before you combine them.

An emulsifier is required to hold the phases together in a creamy state. I use ordinary household borax as an emulsifier because it’s a natural, gentle substance that does the job.

Oil Phase;

1/2 ounce {2-3 teaspoons} beeswax

1 tablespoon coconut oil

4 tablespoons infused herbal oil

10-20 drops essential oil or combination of essential oils of your choice {optional, for fragrance or additional healing properties}

Water Phase:

4 tablespoons tea concentrate {as you’d make for a dried tea} or strong tea infusion*

2 tablespoons aloe gel

1/2 – 1 teaspoon borax

1 teaspoon vitamin C powder

Heat the beeswax, coconut oil, and infused herbal oil in a saucepan over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. Add the optional essential oil. In another pan, heat the tea, aloe gel, borax, and vitamin C powder over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. {Both phases should be heated to 160 to 175 degrees F.}

Place the water phase ingredients in a blender and set it on high. Through the opening in the blender jar cap, dribble in the oil phase ingredients. When the cream is thoroughly mixed, pour it into jars. Let it cool, cap the jars, label, and refrigerate.

  • To make a strong tea infusion, combine 1 cup ground dried herbs and 1 cup freshly boiled water, and steep for 30 minutes, covered.

Skin Protection Cream:

This cream prevents drying and chapping. It’s formulated with glycerin, which is moisturizing and texturizing, making it lighter and extra creamy.

Oil Phase:

1 ounce {about 1 1/2 tablespoons} beeswax

2 tablespoons coconut oil

4 ounces almond oil

10-20 drops essential oil of your choice {for fragrance}*

Water Phase:

2 ounces lemon balm, rosemary, or lavender strong tea infusion

2 ounces glycerin

1 teaspoon borax

1 teaspoon vitamin C powder

Heat the beeswax, coconut oil, and almond oil in a saucepan over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. Add the essential oil. In another pan, heat the tea, glycerin, borax, and vitamin C powder over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. {Both phases should be heated to 160 to 175 degrees F.}

Place the water phase ingredients in a blender and set it on high. Through the opening in the blender jar cap, dribble in the oil phase ingredients. When the cream is thoroughly mixed, pour into jars. Let it cool, cap the jars, label, and refrigerate.

  • For a sweet-smelling cream, try adding equal amounts of orange, grapefruit, lemon, and lavender essential oils to the basic cream. For an antiseptic cream to heal cuts and infections, stir in thyme, oregano, or tea tree essential oils. For a skin-protecting and age-defying cream, add rosemary essential oil and/or vitamin E oil {and use Gotu kola tea for the water phase}.

Anti-fungal Cream:

Use this handy cream for athlete’s foot, ringworm, and other common fungal infections. Prevention is the best medicine here. Don’t let an athlete’s foot fungus migrate into your nails, where it can be very difficult or impossible to treat.

Oil Phase:

1/2 ounce {about 2-3 teaspoons} beeswax

1/2 ounce {1 tablespoon} coconut oil

4 tablespoons calendula infused oil

10-20 drops oregano or thyme essential oil

Water Phase:

4 tablespoons strong thyme tea infusion*

2 tablespoons aloe gel

1/2 – 1 teaspoon borax

1 teaspoon vitamin C powder

Heat the beeswax, coconut oil, and calendula infused oil in a saucepan over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. Add the essential oil. In another pan, heat the tea, aloe gel, borax, and vitamin C powder over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. {Both phases should be heated to 160 to 175 degrees F.}

Place the water phase ingredients in a blender and set it on high. Through the opening in the blender jar cap, dribble in the oil phase ingredients. When the cream is thoroughly mixed, pour into jars. Let it cool, cap the jars, label, and refrigerate.

  • To make a strong tea infusion, combine 1 cup ground dried herb and 1 cup freshly boiled water, and steep for 30 minutes, covered.

Ginger-Cayenne Heat-Treatment Cream:

Here’s help for muscle aches and pains. You can make the infused oil yourself, using the recipe below,* with 1/2 cup ground or powdered dried ginger and 1/2 cup ground or powdered dried cayenne.

Oil Phase:

1/2 ounce {2-3 teaspoons} beeswax

1 tablespoon coconut oil

4 tablespoons cayenne and ginger-infused oil

10-15 drops wintergreen essential oil {optional, for fragrance and pain-relieving compounds}

Water Phase:

4 tablespoons ginger tea concentrate {as you’d make for a dried tea}

2 tablespoons aloe gel

1/2 -1 teaspoon borax

1 teaspoon vitamin C powder

Heat the beeswax, coconut oil, and cayenne and ginger-infused oil in a saucepan over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. Add the optional wintergreen essential oil. In another pan, heat the tea concentrate, aloe gel, borax, and vitamin C over medium heat until warm to the touch, but not hot. {Both phases should be 160 to 175 degrees F.}

Place the water phase ingredients in a blender and set it on high. Through the opening in the blender jar cap, dribble in the oil phase ingredients. When the cream is thoroughly mixed, pour it into jars. Let it cool, cap the jars, label, and refrigerate.

* Basic Herbal Oil:

1 cup finely ground dried herbs {flowers, leaves, roots, barks, and/or seeds}

1 1/4 cups almond, jojoba, or olive oil

In a blender or food processor, combine the herbs and oil. Blend or process until pureed for greater extractability. Pour the mixture into a clean glass jar with a lid, making sure the plant material is completely submerged in the oil. If it’s not, add more oil until the herbs are covered by about 1 inch of liquid. Cover the jar and store it in a dark place, shaking it daily, for 2 to 3 weeks. Filter it carefully through cheesecloth, a muslin bag, or a square of linen, gathering up the edges and squeezing out the oil. Compost the herbs. Pour the oil into amber bottles, and label the bottles with the contents and date. Store it in a dark place.

Oils

Herbal oils are simply oils infused with herbs, much as you’d steep rosemary in olive oil for culinary purposes. Healing herbal oils can be taken internally for a variety of ailments, can be used externally for therapeutic or daily beauty routines, and can be incorporated into herbal salve recipes. Dried herbs are preferred since fresh herbs will sometimes ferment.

Basic Lotion:

Good choices for the strong tea infusions are calendula, chamomile, comfrey, ginger, lavender, Oregon grape, peppermint, plantain, and rosemary.

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup strong tea infusion*

Cosmetic clay

1/2 teaspoon vitamin C powder

25 drops essential oil or combination of oils of your choice {for fragrance}

In a small bowl, dissolve the salt in the tea. Stir in the cosmetic clay and vitamin C powder until the mixture is creamy. Add the essential oil and blend thoroughly. Bottle, label and refrigerate.

  • To make the infusion, combine 1 cup ground dried herbs and 1 cup freshly boiled water, and steep for 30 minutes, covered.

Poison Ivy or Poison Oak Lotion:

This lotion works quickly and thoroughly for anyone suffering the misery of poison ivy or oak, any rash or burn, and even for acne.

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup combination of plantain and/or calendula strong tea infusion* and/or aloe vera gel

Cosmetic clay

25 drops peppermint essential oil

1/2 teaspoon vitamin C powder

In a small bowl, dissolve the salt in the tea or aloe gel. Stir in the cosmetic clay and vitamin C powder until the mixture is creamy. Add the essential oil and blend thoroughly. Pour into bottles and cap, label, and refrigerate. Apply as needed to the affected area, avoiding your eyes and mucous membranes.

  • To make the infusion, combine 1/2 cup dried herb and 1/2 cup freshly boiled water, and steep for 30 minutes, covered.

Basic Salve:

Good choices for the infused oil in this recipe include calendula, cayenne, ginger, peppermint, rosemary, St. John’s wort and turmeric {turmeric can stain}.

1-ounce beeswax

1 cup infused oil

5-10 drops essential oil or combination of oils of your choice {for fragrance or additional healing properties}

Grate the beeswax into a small bowl. In a saucepan or double boiler, heat the infused oil gently to about 100 degrees F. Add the grated beeswax slowly, stirring as it melts. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for a few minutes before you add the essential oils. Stir to thoroughly combine. Pour your salve into jars and let it cool. Cap and label jars. Apply the salve as needed to the affected area. You can store a salve indefinitely.

Tips for Salves.

If you prefer a salve that’s harder or softer than this recipe, just add more or less beeswax or oil. You can test the consistency of the salve before it hardens by scooping out a spoonful and dipping the back of the spoon into a little bowl of ice water to harden the salve. If it’s too soft for your taste, heat the ingredients again and add more beeswax. If it’s too hard, heat the ingredients again and add a bit more oil. Test after each addition to get the consistency you prefer. Sometimes, after the salve is poured into a jar and when it’s nearly set, a small crater will appear in the middle of the surface. You can add a small amount of hot salve to the crater to create an even surface.

Healing Salve:

Use to reduce inflammation and lessen the possibility of infection from a skin injury.

1-ounce beeswax

1 cup infused oil, using equal parts calendula, yarrow, and St. John’s wort – infused oils

5-10 drops essential oils of your choice, such as lavender, orange, mint, or thyme {for fragrance}

Grate the beeswax into a small bowl. In a saucepan or double boiler, heat the infused oil gently to about 100 degrees F. Add the grated beeswax slowly, stirring as it melts. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for a few minutes before you add the essential oils. Stir thoroughly to combine. Pour your salve into jars and let it cool. Cap and label the jars. Apply the salve as needed to the affected area. You can store a salve indefinitely.

One of my favorite recipes is Healing Lip Balm:

A lip balm is no different than a salve in its formulation, except that you may wish to make it a little firmer. This one works wonders for chapped, dry lips.

1-ounce beeswax

1 cup infused oil {calendula, ginger, peppermint or spearmint, rosemary, and St. John’s wort are good choices}

5-10 drops essential oils of your choice {for fragrance}

Grate the beeswax into a small bowl. In a saucepan or double boiler, heat the infused oil gently to about 100 degrees F. Add the grated beeswax slowly, stirring as it melts. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for a few minutes before you add the essential oils. Stir to thoroughly combine. Pour your mixture into lip balm tubes and let it cool. Cap and label the tubes.

Shave – Cut Lotion for Men and Women.

Apply a drop of this simple, inexpensive, and effective lotion to stop bleeding and prevent infection in the event of a razor nick.

4 teaspoons witch hazel lotion

13 drops lavender essential oil

7 drops geranium essential oil

Put all the ingredients in a sterilized 1-ounce glass bottle with a tight-fitting lid.

Shake well to combine.

Keep in a cool, dark place.

Shake before using.

A Simple Recipe for Your Hands Using Lavender.

Manicurists charge a lot for hot oil hand treatments.
Here is a delightfully simple recipe you can create for less.
1 tablespoon olive or other cooking oil
1 teaspoon almond extract or 1 drop lavender essential oil {optional}
2 small plastic bags that will fit over your hands
1. Place the oil in a microwave-safe dish and heat it on medium-high for a few seconds until it is warm, not hot. Add almond extract or lavender, if desired. Stir.
2. Rub the oil on your hands, massaging your fingers and palms. Cover your hands with the plastic bags and wrap a clean hand towel over the bags. Sit comfortably for about 5 minutes.
3. Remove the bags and rinse your hands with warm water, massaging away the oil. Gently pat dry with the towel and apply a light hand lotion.

Gypsy Herbal Astringent Lotion.

This wonderful herbal astringent lotion has been hailed as the first herbal product ever produced and marketed. Legend has it that the early Gypsies formulated it and claimed it to be a cure-all. Whether or not it is I hardly know, but I do know that it is an excellent astringent for the face and a great rinse for dark hair.

This Gypsy herbal astringent lotion combines gentle common herbs in a masterful way, it’s easy to make, and it’s a versatile formula that serves many purposes. The Gypsies used it as a hair rinse, mouthwash, headache remedy, aftershave, footbath, and who knows what else! I have seen this formula sold in department stores in exotic little bottles for a fancy price. You can make it for the cost of a few herbs and a bottle of vinegar.

  • 6 parts lemon balm
  • 4 parts chamomile
  • 4 parts roses
  • 3 parts calendula
  • 3 parts comfrey leaf
  • 1 part lemon peel
  • 1 part rosemary
  • 1 part sage
  • Vinegar to cover (apple cider or wine vinegar)
  • Rose water or witch hazel extract
  • Essential oil of lavender or rose (optional)
  1. Place the herbs in a widemouthed jar. Fill the jar with enough vinegar that it rises an inch or two above the herb mixture. Cover tightly and let it sit in a warm spot for 2 to 3 weeks.
  2. Strain out the herbs. To each cup of herbal vinegar, add 2/3 to 1 cup of rose water or witch hazel. Add a drop or two of essential oil, if desired. Rebottle. This product does not need to be refrigerated and will keep indefinitely.
  3.  To use: Pour a small amount of the toner onto a clean cotton ball and rub over your scalp or massage lightly into your scalp after shampooing.

Lemongrass Oil.

You may have tasted the refreshingly mild flavor of lemongrass, a herb that’s commonly added to foods and beverages. But have you ever tried using lemongrass oil, an all-around herbal oil with many health benefits? Keep on reading to discover more about lemongrass oil.

What Is Lemongrass Oil?

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon) is a tall perennial plant from the Poaceae grass family, which thrives in tropical and subtropical regions, such as in India, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, China, and Guatemala. This plant grows in dense clumps and has bright-green, sharp-edged leaves, similar to grass.

Lemongrass is a popular flavoring in Asian cooking – added to curries and soups, or paired with beef, fish, poultry, and seafood. Fresh lemongrass is also used to make lemongrass tea.

There are over 50 varieties of lemongrass, but not all are edible or ideal for medicinal purposes. The two varieties of lemongrass most popularly used today are Cymbopogon citratus and Cymbopogon flexuosus. While they can be used interchangeably, especially for making lemongrass oil, C. citratus is more popularly known in culinary applications, while C. flexuosus is more dominant in industrial applications, such as perfumery.

Lemongrass oil is extracted from the leaves of the plant. It has a thin consistency and a pale or bright yellow color. It has a strong, fresh, lemony, and earthy scent.

Uses of Lemongrass Oil

Lemongrass oil is a great addition to various skin care and cosmetic products, such as soaps, deodorants, shampoos, lotions, and tonics. It also works as an air freshener and deodorizer, especially when blended with other essential oils like geranium or bergamot. Simply put it in an oil burner, diffuser, or vaporizer.

Lemongrass oil is also known for its ability to repel insects, such as mosquitoes and ants, due to its high citral and geraniol content. Spray it around your home, diffuse it, or rub a diluted mixture on your skin.

Lemongrass oil’s refreshing scent makes it a valuable aroma therapeutic oil. It’s clean and calming aroma helps relieve stress, anxiety, irritability, and insomnia, and prevent drowsiness.Lemongrass oil can also help relax and tone your muscles, as well as relieve muscle pain, rheumatism, period cramps, stomachache, toothache, migraines, and headaches.

Here are some ways to use lemongrass oil:

  • Make a refreshing foot bath. Add two drops to a bowl of warm water, and soak your feet for 10 minutes. If your feet are aching, add two tablespoons of Epsom salts.
  • Make a massage oil by mixing it with sweet almond or jojoba oil.
  • Kill your pet’s fleas and lice by spraying diluted lemongrass oil all over his coat. You can also soak his collar in it, add it to his final rinse after shampooing, or spray it on his bedding.
  • Blend it into your favorite bath products or add it to your bath water. 

Composition of Lemongrass Oil

The main compounds of lemongrass oil are geranyl acetate, myrcene, nerol, citronellol, terpineol, methyl heptanone, di pentane, geraniol, neral, farnesol, limonene, and citral. These are known to have anti-fungal, antiseptic, insecticidal, and counter-irritant properties.

Citral is known for its antimicrobial effects, and can help kill or suppress the growth of bacteria and fungi. It’s said that lemongrass oil’s quality is generally determined by its citral content.

Another beneficial compound in lemongrass is limonene, which helps reduce inflammation and kill bacteria, according to research.

Benefits of Lemongrass Oil

Lemongrass oil has analgesic, antimicrobial, antiseptic, carminative, astringent, antipyretic, fungicidal, bactericidal, and antidepressant properties, making it one of the most versatile and health-promoting essential oils. It works well for:

  • Inflammation – Lemongrass is an analgesic that can help reduce pain and inflammation, which can lead to many chronic diseases. According to a 2005 study by Dr. Sue Chao, lemongrass oil is one of the top six essential oils with anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Hair problems – If you’re struggling with hair loss, oily hair, and other scalp conditions, lemongrass oil may be beneficial as it can help strengthen your hair follicles. Just apply a diluted solution onto your scalp, and then rinse out.
  • Infections – Lemongrass can help kill both internal and external bacterial and fungal infections, such as ringworm and athlete’s foot.  In a 2008 study from the Weber State University in Utah, it was found that out of 91 essential oils tested, lemongrass ranked highest in inhibitory activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection.
  • Fever – The antipyretic effect of lemongrass oil helps bring down very high fever, especially when it is beginning to reach dangerous levels.23
  • Digestive issues – A diluted lemongrass mixture helps facilitate nutrient assimilation and boosts the functioning of the digestive system, which is helpful for treating bowel problems and digestive disorders. It also prevents the formation of excessive gas and increases urination, which helps eliminate toxins from the body.

How to Make Lemongrass Oil

Lemongrass oil sold in the market today is made via steam distillation. But if you have lemongrass growing in your backyard, you can easily make this oil by infusing it with another carrier oil. Here’s a simple method:

Materials:

4 to 6 lemongrass stalks
Fine cheesecloth
Mortar and pestle
Carrier oil (Olive, rice bran, grapeseed, or any unscented natural oil)
Two jars
Dark glass container

Procedure:

  1. Get two lemongrass stalks and remove the leaves. Crush the stalks using a mortar and pestle (or any heavy object) to release the oil.
  2. Fill a jar with your carrier oil of choice and put the crushed stalk in it. Leave the jar for two days in a place where it can get plenty of heat and sunshine.
  3. After two days, strain the oil using the cheesecloth and transfer it into another jar. Make sure to press and squeeze the stalks until they’re completely dry.
  4. You may need to repeat the process using fresh new stalks to achieve the desired lemongrass fragrance. Just keep replacing the stalks every two days to increase the oil’s potency.
  5. Once you’ve reached the desired fragrance, transfer the oil into a dark glass container and leave it in a cool, dry and dark place. You can use this oil for a year or more.

How Does Lemongrass Oil Work?

Lemongrass oil is a tonic that influences and helps keep the systems in your body working properly, including the respiratory, digestive, nervous, and excretory systems. It also allows nutrients to be absorbed into the body, which keeps your immune system strong and robust.

Lemongrass oil can be diffused using a vaporizer, inhaled, applied topically, or ingested. To ensure the efficiency of lemongrass oil, you should use it depending on the health condition that you want to improve. For example, if you want to quell stress and anxiety, diffuse the oil using a vaporizer. But if you want to relieve muscle pain or use it to treat infections, it’s better to massage a diluted solution in the affected areas.

For internal health ailments, such as digestive issues, lemongrass oil can be taken internally in a diluted form. However, I do not recommend taking this oil orally without the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider.

Is Lemongrass Oil Safe?

Lemongrass oil is generally safe as long as it is used in small quantities (it is one of the strongest-smelling oils in aromatherapy) and properly blended with a carrier oil. Undiluted lemongrass can actually burn and injure your skin due to its high citral content, so it’s best to mix it with a carrier oil. Some of the best carrier oils you can use with lemongrass oil are basil, palmarosa, vetiver oil, lavender, rose, clary sage, patchouli, ginger, fennel, geranium, sandalwood, and cedarwood.

I advise doing a patch test before applying lemongrass oil on your skin, to see if you have any adverse reactions to this essential oil.

Side Effects of Lemongrass Oil

Skin irritation, discomfort, rashes and a burning sensation are some topical side effects experienced by people with sensitivity to lemongrass oil. Using the oil may also lead to lowered blood glucose, and may have contraindications for people who are taking oral diabetes drugs or antihypertensive medications, as well as those who are diabetic and hypoglycemic.

I do not recommend children, pregnant women, and nursing moms to use lemongrass oil orally. Those with liver or kidney disease and other health conditions should also consult their physician before using lemongrass oil.

Cinnamon Leaf Oil.

Beyond its alluring fragrance and spicy-sweet flavor, cinnamon provides many  benefits for your health, such as its insulin-like effects, which can be useful for diabetics. But did you know that you can also get many of cinnamon’s health benefits by using cinnamon leaf oil? Here are facts worth knowing about this oil.

What Is Cinnamon Leaf Oil?

Cinnamon leaf oil comes from Cinnamonum verum (also called Laurus cinnamomum) from the Laurel (Lauraceae) plant family. This small and bushy evergreen tree is native to Sri Lanka, but now grows in many countries such as India, China, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Indonesia. There are actually over 100 varieties of C. verum, with Cinnamonum zeylanicum (Ceylon cinnamon) and Cinnamomun aromaticum (Chinese cinnamon) as the most consumed.

Cinnamon tree can be distinguished by its small, white flowers, shiny, leathery green leaves, and purple oval berries. Its papery, pale brown bark has thick quills that roll inside one another, and are gathered every two years.

Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices known to man. It was valued in ancient Egypt not only as a medicine and beverage flavoring but also as an embalming agent and is also mentioned in the Bible. Cinnamon was so precious that it was considered more valuable than gold throughout some of its history.

You’ve probably heard of cinnamon bark oil, but don’t be confused – it’s an entirely different product. Cinnamon bark oil is extracted from the outer bark of the tree, resulting in a potent, perfume-quality essential oil. Cinnamon bark oil is extremely refined and therefore very expensive for everyday use, which is why many people settle for cinnamon leaf oil, as it’s lighter, cheaper, and ideal for regular use.

Cinnamon leaf oil has a musky and spicy scent, and a light yellow tinge that distinguishes it from the red-brown color of cinnamon bark oil.

Uses of Cinnamon Leaf Oil

Cinnamon leaf oil can be used as an additive in soaps and a flavoring to seasonings. When used in aromatherapy – diffused, applied topically (I recommend diluting with a mild essential  oil or mixing in your favorite cream, lotion, or shampoo), or added to your bath water – it can have health-promoting effects. Here are some ways to use cinnamon leaf oil for your health and around your home:

  • Use it as a disinfectant. With its strong germicidal properties, cinnamon leaf oil works as a non-toxic natural disinfectant. Use it to clean your toilets, refrigerator, kitchen counters and other surfaces, door knobs, microwave, and sneakers. You can even use it to clean and disinfect your chopping boards.
  • Make a facial scrub. Mix it with cinnamon sugar, orange juice, and olive oil to create a rejuvenating scrub that has antiseptic properties to kill facial bacteria effectively.
  • Gargle as a mouthwash. Add a drop or two to a glass of purified water, and gargle with it. For people with dentures, simply make a solution of water, hydrogen peroxide, and cinnamon leaf oil, and soak your dentures in it.
  • Add it to your foot soak. Get rid of nasty fungal infections by mixing a drop of cinnamon leaf oil in a bucket of warm water, and then soak your feet in it. This works great for athletes and people who wear closed shoes for most of the day.
  • Use cinnamon leaf oil as an insect repellent. Did you know that the scent of cinnamon leaf oil can deter pesky household insects, such as black ants, mosquitoes, roaches, and flies? Studies found that it may even be more effective at repelling mosquitoes than the toxic chemical DEET. Simply spray or diffuse the oil around your home. You can also spray it over your mattresses and sheets to get rid of bed bugs.
  • Add it to your shampoo. Add a drop of cinnamon leaf oil to your regular non-chemical shampoo. This will help keep your hair healthy and, in children, help kill stubborn head lice.

Composition of Cinnamon Leaf Oil

The oil extracted from cinnamon leaves contain phenols and beneficial components like eugenol, eugenol acetate, cinnamic aldehyde, linalool, and benzyl benzoate. It also has low levels of cinnamaldehyde, an excellent flavoring agent and the active component that helps repel mosquitoes and other insects.

Benefits of Cinnamon Leaf Oil

Cinnamon leaf oil can work wonders as a quick pick-me-up or stress buster after a long and tiring day, or if you want to soothe your aching muscles and joints. This oil has a warm and antispasmodic effect on your body that helps ease muscular aches, sprains, rheumatism, and arthritis. It’s also a tonic that reduces drowsiness and gives you an energy boost if you’re physically and mentally exhausted.

Cinnamon leaf oil offers benefits against viral infections, such as coughs and colds, and helps prevent them from spreading. It even aids in destroying germs in your gallbladder and bacteria that cause staph infections. When diffused using a vaporizer or burner, cinnamon leaf oil can help treat chest congestion and bronchitis.

Cinnamon can also help remove blood impurities and even aid in improving blood circulation. This helps ensure that your body’s cells receive adequate oxygen supply, which not only promotes metabolic activity but also reduces your risk of suffering from a heart attack.

Cinnamon leaf oil has gastric benefits as well, mainly because of its eugenol content. It works well for alleviating nausea, upset stomach, and diarrhea. It also works as an antibacterial agent that can promote good digestion.

How to Make Cinnamon Leaf Oil

Cinnamon leaf oil, which is more delicate than cinnamon bark oil, is produced via steam distillation. The leathery green leaves are pruned from the trees and then left to dry for several days. Afterwards, they go through a special water-steam distillation machine that extracts the oil.

Cinnamon leaf oil can also be distilled via traditional methods, where a huge wooden vessel is fitted with a copper head on top that holds as much as 200 kilograms of dried cinnamon leaves. The vessel is then placed in a wood-fired boiler that produces the steam for distillation.

How Does Cinnamon Leaf Oil Work?

The phenols in cinnamon leaves give cinnamon leaf oil its rejuvenating and health-promoting quality. Cinnamon leaf oil contains 80 percent phenols, mainly eugenol, which has anesthetic, antiseptic, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties. However, eugenol may also irritate your skin, especially when applied near or on the mucous membranes.

Is Cinnamon Leaf Oil Safe?

While the cinnamon powder on your spice rack is safe to consume internally, the same cannot be said for cinnamon leaf oil. DO NOT ingest it without the supervision of a qualified health practitioner. Do not self-medicate with cinnamon leaf oil, as it can cause irritation, especially on your mucous membranes.

When applying cinnamon leaf oil topically, I advise blending it with safe carrier oils, such as coconut oil, olive oil, or almond oil. It also blends well with other spice oils like black pepper, cardamom clove, and ginger oils. Check and make sure that you don’t have any allergic reactions to cinnamon leaf oil before using it. You can do this by performing a skin patch test: apply a small amount of diluted cinnamon leaf oil on your skin and see if any allergic reactions occur.

I also recommend pregnant women and nursing mothers to avoid using cinnamon leaf oil, as it has emmenagogue effects, meaning it may induce menstruation, which is dangerous for the unborn child. Avoid administering the oil on very young children, too.

Side Effects of Cinnamon Leaf Oil

Use cinnamon oil in moderation and properly diluted, as high dosages may lead to convulsions in some individuals. This oil may also lead to side effects such as skin irritation, mouth sores, dizziness, vomiting, and diarrhea. It may irritate your urinary tract, intestines, and stomach lining, if taken internally. If these symptoms occur, consult a healthcare practitioner immediately.

Calendula Oil.

Marigold has much value today and in traditional cultures as a homeopathic remedy, but the oil extracted from the flowers, called calendula oil, is not far behind in providing benefits. Learn more about this oil distilled from the petals of the pot marigold or Calendula officinalis, and how you can harness its health and practical everyday uses.

What Is Calendula Oil?

Marigold is a genus of about 15 to 20 species of plants in the Asteraceae family. This flower is native to Southwestern Asia, as well as Western Europe and the Mediterranean. The common name “marigold” refers to the Virgin Mary, to which it is associated in the 17th century.

Apart from being used to honor the Virgin Mary during Catholic events, marigold was also considered by ancient Egyptians to have rejuvenating properties. Hindus used the flowers to adorn statues of gods in their temples, as well as to color their food, fabrics, and cosmetics.

Pot marigold or C. Officinalis is the most commonly cultivated and used species and is the source of the herbal oil. “Calendula” comes from the Latin word “calendar,” meaning “little calendar,” because the flower blooms on the calends or the first of most months. It should not be confused with ornamental marigolds of the Tagetes genus, commonly grown in vegetable gardens.

Calendula, with fiery red and yellow petals, is full of flavonoids, which are found naturally in vegetables and fruits and are substances that give plants their lovely bright colors.

Calendula oil is distilled from the flower tops and is quite sticky and viscous. It has a very strange smell described as musky, woody, and even rotten – like the marigold flowers themselves. This smell does not readily appeal to many individuals, even in when used in a remedy.

Uses of Calendula Oil

Here are three classifications of calendula plant and oil uses:

  1. Health and wellness – It has tonic, sudorific, emmenagogic, and antispasmodic properties, but it is mainly used for skin care and treatment. It has great anti-inflammatory and vulnerary action, making it helpful for stubborn wounds, acne, ulcers, bed sores, varicose veins, rashes, eczema, and related conditions. It addresses sore, inflamed, and itchy skin conditions.Calendula massage oil also greatly heals, soothes, and softens skin, making it a good addition to massage oils or when preparing a carrier oil blend.
  2. Cooking – Since the Middle Ages, the petals of marigold have been used as “the poor man’s saffron” for coloring cheeses, butter, and dishes. During the Elizabethan era, both petals and leaves were used in salads, although the latter showed to be very strong. The petals flavored soups and stews.
  3. Practical uses – Marigold has been used as a dye. Dried petals can also be added in potpourris.

Composition of Calendula Oil

In a study, calendula oil was obtained in low yield (0.3 percent) by steam distillation with cohabitation from flowers and whole plants. Identified by the researchers were 66 components, mainly sesquiterpene alcohols. α-cadinol was the main constituent, about 25 percent. The essential oil from the whole plant was found different from that of the flowers through the presence of monoterpenes hydrocarbons aside from the alcohols.

The principal constitutes of calendula essential oil are flavonoids, saponoside, triterpene alcohol, and a bitter principle. The useful components of calendula itself include a volatile oil, carotenoids, flavonoids, mucilage, resin, polysaccharides, aromatic plant acids, saponins, glycosides, and sterols.

Benefits of Calendula Oil

Calendula oil is traditionally used for abdominal cramps and constipation. It’s your skin that will receive a good bulk of the benefits, thanks to the oil’s anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and related properties. Here are some of the promoted benefits of this oil:

  1. Skin dryness or chapping – Calendula oil is a great moisturizer for dry skin and for severely chapped or split skin. It soothes the area and reduces the pain.
  2. Inflammation – It works well on swelling sprained muscles or bruises; its anti-inflammatory action helps lessen swelling from injury. Calendula oil also helps treat spider veins, varicose veins, leg ulcers, and chilblains.
  3. Baby care – The oil helps relief diaper rashes, which can extremely irritate an infant.
  4. Minor cuts and wounds – The antiseptic and antimicrobial action of the oil help speed up healing of wounds and minor cuts, and also benefit insect bites, acne, and bed sores.
  5. Skin issues – Eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, and other skin problems can be soothed using calendula oil, applied topically. Calendula oil’s antifungal action is also great for treating athlete’s foot, ringworm, and jock itch.

How to Make Calendula Oil

Calendula oil is extracted by steam distillation. There is almost no way to obtain 100 percent pure calendula essential oil, so this makes calendula essential oil an infusion and not a pure extract. In order to get the oil from the flower, the petals are steeped in oil, preferably olive oil. The oil left over when distillation is done is calendula oil, which should be a golden orange color.

You can create homemade calendula oil using the following instructions:

What you will need:

  • Dried calendula petals
  • Carrier oil (olive oil, almond oil, or sunflower oil are some great options)
  • A clean glass jar with a lid

There are two methods to infuse the oil:

  • Cold infusion method – This is the usually preferred techniques because it protects the delicate calendula from heat damage.
    1. Put your desired amount of dried calendula petals in a clean, dry glass jar.
    2. Fill the jar with your carrier oil of choice to cover the petals by an inch.
    3. Put in a sunny place to infuse for four weeks.
    4. Drain the petals from the oil and store the oil in a container with a lid for up to one year.
  • Hot infusion method – This method is much quicker than the cold infusion method but won’t have the same strength because of the presence of heat.
    1. Put your desired amount of dried calendula petals in a clean, dry glass jar.
    2. Fill the jar with your carrier oil of choice to cover the petals by an inch.
    3. Dump the entire contents of the jar (the petals and the oil) in a small saucepan or slow cookers. Heat on low for four hours, stirring occasionally.
    4. Let cool. Drain the petals from the oil and store the oil in a container with a lid for up to one year.

You can use the homemade calendula oil as an after-bath body oil, salve, baby oil, lotion, or home remedy for dry skin, inflamed areas, or rashes.

How Does Calendula Oil Work?

Calendula oil is used in various products, oftentimes as a great base for lotions, salves, creams, several natural cosmetics and personal care products, and herbal ointments. It also very commonly works as a base oil in aromatherapy. Furthermore, you can use calendula oil in an all-natural herbal hair color recipe.

You can create an infused oil by filling a jar with the dried flowers, which you cover with a carrier oil. You can get more out of these flowers by macerating the mixture in a blender. Leave it infused for two weeks or more to extract the flowers’ beneficial properties. When ready to use, filter the oil through cheesecloth, and use it directly in a balm or as part of a homemade cream or lotion.

Is Calendula Oil Safe?

Calendula oil is generally safe for use, but I advise you to heed the following safety guidelines and considerations:

  1. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should generally avoid using calendula oil. Do not take calendula by mouth, as there is a concern that it might cause a miscarriage. Avoid topical use as well.
  2. An allergic reaction may occur in individuals who are sensitivity to ragweed and related plants, such as marigolds, chrysanthemums, and daisies. Before using calendula oil, check with your doctor if you have allergies.
  3. Combined with medications used during and after surgery, calendula use might cause too much drowsiness and should be stopped at least two weeks before surgery.

Side Effects of Calendula Oil

If you are not pregnant, nursing, allergic, or about to undergo surgery, you can use calendula oil with likely no side effect. It is best, however, to consult your healthcare provider, especially for therapeutic use.

Remember, though, that sedative medications or CNS depressants interact with calendula. The plant extract might cause sleepiness and drowsiness, and taking it with sedative drugs might result in excess sleepiness. Some sedative drugs include clonazepam, (Klonopin), phenobarbital (Donnatal), and zolpidem (Ambien). I advise you to also explore safe, natural ways to get a good night’s sleep.