Matcha Green Tea for Beauty

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

Matcha Miracle

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

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

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

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

Matcha Tea Facial Mask

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

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

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

Soothing Matcha Lotion Bars

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

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

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

Detoxing Matcha Bath Salts

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

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

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

Matcha Bath Tablets

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

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

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

Green Tea Sugar Scrub

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

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

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

Green Tea Skin Toner

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

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 tsp matcha

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

Camellia Oil

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

Green Tea and Healthy Skin

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

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

The Perfect Cup of Matcha

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

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

Wildcrafted Beauty

Explore the natural world and search for the perfect ingredients for your DIY all-natural personal care products.

Harvesting and wildcrafting plants was a necessity for our ancestors who depended on plants for everything from homesteading to medicine to personal hygiene. Today, purchasing products made with natural, plant-based ingredients is a lifestyle choice – one many person have chosen in an effort to move away from using questionable chemicals on their skin and hair. But while we may look for words like “natural” and “organic” or even “clean” on the label, there’s only one way to truly know what’s in your body care items – make them yourself. Beauty products containing wild and foraged ingredients have become more popular than ever, as more people want to use safer ingredients. These homemade items also offer an opportunity to connect with nature and enjoy the satisfaction of creating something from plants. Here are some recipes to get you started.

Wildcrafting Basics

Foraging or hunting for wild plants is fun, but it’s important to know what you’re doing. If wildcrafting is a new activity for you or you intend on exploring an unfamiliar area, make sure you study {and bring along} a local plant guide, and/or take a class or guided herb walk. A good rule to follow when it comes to using wild plants: if it’s all right to eat, it’s usually safe to use on your skin and hair.

Botany & Wildcrafting Course by Herbal Academy

As with any new ingredient, do a patch test inside your arm or behind your leg before spreading something on your face and body. Many local natural food stores may have some samples of wild plants you can try ahead of time.

Finally, harvest responsibly. Never take endangered or at-risk species or forage in protected conservation areas. Don’t pull from one area, potentially decimating a stand of plants – spread out your harvest and don’t take too much. For these recipes, you will need only a small amount of wild ingredients. Finally, make sure you bring the proper tools to avoid damaging the plant.

Nettle Hair Rinse

Nettles like to grow in moist areas, so you will find them along streams or in the cool part of the forest. These plants grow several feet high and, as many of us know, have hair-like bristles on their leaves that cause a stinging sensation when touched. The young shoots and leaves are edible and lend themselves to various body care items, including hair rinse. Nettles stimulate hair follicles on the scalp, yielding healthier hair. The apple cider vinegar in this recipe also treats the skin on your scalp, keeping it clean and healthy and helping to balance its pH.

1 cup fresh nettle leaves or 1/2 cup dried nettle leaves

2 cups boiling water

2 Tbls apple cider vinegar

Place the nettle leaves {use gloves if you’re handling fresh leaves} in a ceramic or glass bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let the mixture steep until cool, then strain. Stir in the apple cider vinegar and pour into a clean container. To use: As a final rinse after shampooing, pour some of the rinse onto your head and massage into your scalp. Rinse with cool water. Yield: 16 ounces.

Juniper Berry Foot Soak

Many species of juniper produce edible berries, but the fruit of common juniper {Juniperus communis} is what most people prefer. There is some controversy over the safety of consuming the berries – eating large amounts over an extended period of time may cause illness – but applied topically, they’re safe and natural antiseptic, making them well-suited for a cleansing and refreshing soak. Fall offers the best time to collect fresh berries, and you can dry them for year-round use.

1/4 cup fresh juniper berries, slightly crushed

1/4 cup Epsom salt

2 Tbls baking soda

Fill a large tub or basin with warm water. Add the juniper berries, Epsom salts, and baking soda and stir well until the salts and soda have dissolved. Soak your feet in the fragrant water for 15-20 minutes. After your footbath, massage your feet with some natural oils or a rich cream. Yield: 4 ounces, enough for one footbath.

Wild Berry Facial Mask

Wild berries such as blackberry, elderberry, and mulberries all contain antioxidants and vitamins A and C, which help cleanse and nourish the skin. Used as a facial mask, berries soothe the complexion and also help rid it of surface impurities and dead skin cells. This not only leaves you with glowing skin but also helps your skin function more efficiently and absorb more moisture. When harvesting, make sure to gather only edible berries – if you can eat them, you can apply them topically – that are free from pesticides and herbicides.

1/2 cup fresh berries, slightly mashed

1 Tbls almond flour or white clay powder

In a small bowl stir together the berries and flour or clay until you have a smooth, creamy mixture. You may need to add a bit more flour or clay depending on how juicy your berries are. Store in the refrigerator until ready to apply. To Use: Spread the mask mixture on clean skin, avoiding the eye and mouth area making sure to cover your neck {a part of the body often overlooked}. Let the mixture sit for 15-20 minutes, then rinse off with warm water and pat skin dry. Store any leftover mask in the refrigerator, where it should last a week or two. Yield: 4 ounces.

Blackberry Leaf Hair Rinse

From July through August, the peak season for this favored fruit, blackberries pop up along country roads and in the woods, lending themselves to jams, pies, and other confections. The plant also provides some key beauty-boosting ingredients. Wild blackberry and raspberry leaves are naturally cleansing, serving as an excellent final rinse for your hair and scalp. Naturally acidic, they restore hair’s natural acid level, which is often stripped away by alkaline shampoos. To add a bit of color to your product, toss a few fresh berries in this recipe. If you don’t have access to fresh leaves, find them at natural food stores or look for herbal teas made with the leaves.

1 cup fresh blackberry leaves, washed and chopped, or 1/2 cup dried leaves

2 cups boiling water

Place the leaves in a ceramic or glass bowl. Pour the boiling water over and allow the mixture to sit for 15 minutes. Strain and pour into a clean bottle. To use: After shampooing, pour through your hair as a final rinse. Dry and style your hair as usual. Save any leftover rinse in the refrigerator; it should stay fresh for a few weeks. Yield: 16 ounces.

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Wild Violets Cold Cream

Violets grow wild in shady areas and are a very “friendly” plant, meaning that they love to spread out and take over a patch of ground. They’re also useful in teas and add a lovely pink shade to vinegars. Some people like to candy them for cake decorations. For cosmetic use, they have a gentle, soothing, and mildly astringent effect great for facial steams, as a mouthwash, or in perfumes. In this cleansing cream, wild violets provide a delicate fragrance that soothes all skin types.

1 Tbls coconut oil

1/4 cup sweet almond oil

1/4 distilled water or pure water

2-3 tsp fresh violet flower heads

Mix together the oils in a heat-resistant container. Heat until the oils begin to melt, remove from heat, and stir until melted and well mixed. In a separate bowl, mix together the violets and water. Heat this solution until just boiling. Pour the heated oil mixture into a blender and turn the blender on low. Slowly add the hot violet infusion and continue to blend. You will have a pale-colored cream. Let the cream cool completely, then pour into a clean container. To use: Massage into your skin and rinse well with warm water. Yield: 4 ounces.

Horsetail Nail Strengthener

We can trace Equisetum arvense all the way back to prehistoric times when it grew and flourished some 200 million years ago as dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Some people consider horsetail a pesky weed since it grows profusely and is difficult to remove once established. It’s found along roadsides and in the woods. The hollow stems absorb important minerals such as iron, magnesium, and potassium from the soil, and they boast a high silica content, which can help treat brittle nails. Use this strengthening nail soak daily.

1 tsp fresh horsetail stems, chopped

1/2 cup boiling water

1 tsp pure honey

Place the horsetail stems in a glass or ceramic dish. Pour the boiling water over them and let sit for 30 minutes. Strain off the stems and discard. Add the honey and stir well. Let the solution sit for a few days, then pour into a clean bottle with a tightly fitting lid. To use: Brush the solution over your nails using a clean cotton swab or small brush and let dry. Do this every day for 10-14 days and you should see an improvement in the condition of your nails. You can also soak your nails in this solution when giving yourself a manicure. Yield: 4 ounces.

Dandelion Age Spot Oil

It seems as if dandelions may finally be getting the respect they deserve, as many homeowners have started letting these sunny plants pop up in the yard. Edible from flower to root, these “weeds” serve as useful food for pollinators in the wild. When harvesting, make sure you pick wild dandelions from an area that has not been sprayed with harmful chemicals. {Oftentimes, road crews spray for weeds, so you’ll have better luck in a known yard or out in the woods.} The name dandelion comes from the French dent de lion, “lion’s tooth,” because of the plant’s deeply jagged leaves. For beauty purposes, the yellow flower heads make a wonderful bath and hair rinse. In this recipe, the leaves help naturally fade away stubborn freckles and brown age spots. {Since this is an all-natural treatment, it will take several applications before you see results.}

1/4 cup fresh dandelion leaves, chopped, or 2 Tbls dried leaves

2 Tbls castor oil

2 Tbls sunflower oil

Make sure the dandelion leaves are clean and dry; pat with a clean towel to remove excess moisture. Place the leaves and oils in a heat-resistant container and gently warm. Do not boil. Let the mixture sit for at least three hours. Strain out all the leaves and pour into a clean bottle with a tightly fitting lid. {Those little roller bottles work well.} To use: Rub a small amount of the oil into your skin daily. It may take several weeks, but you will soon see your freckles and age spots begin to fade. Yield: 2 ounces.
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Floral Botanical Wrap

You don’t need to go to a spa to enjoy a full body wrap. For this treatment, you just need to dry brush or scrub your body, moisturize it thoroughly with natural oil, and then wrap up in herb-soaked towels to tone and hydrate the skin. You can manage on your own, but enlisting a partner can make the wrap much tighter. Depending on where you end up lying down, you may want to use an old sheet or something water resistant like a shower curtain.

Relax outdoors if it’s a nice day and you have some privacy. For the wildflowers in this recipe, choose your favorite edible ones such as elderflower, violet, dandelion, wild rose, milkweed flowers, bee balm, pineapple weed, mint, or lemon balm.

2 cups fresh wild flowers

1/4 cup dried fennel seeds

Place all the fresh herbs and flowers inside a large ceramic bowl or bucket. Fill this container with very hot tap water and let steep for 5 minutes. Then soak your sheet or cotton towels in this solution. As they soak, prepare your body by gently dry brushing your skin, then massaging in your favorite natural oil {almond, avocado, coconut}. Wring out the hot, wet sheet or towels and wrap snugly around your body. Lie down and cover yourself with a dry towel or blanket. Lie quietly for no more than 10 minutes. When time’s up, slowly unwrap. You should feel refreshed! Massage more natural oil into your skin if you wish. Yield: one full body wrap.

pineapple weed

 

Pineapple Weed Bath

Often overlooked, Matricaria discoidea is a common weed that grows in a variety of climates. When crushed, the small yellow flowers emit a fresh, pineapple aroma, making it a perfect ingredient in tea and flavored syrups. Of course, it’s also enjoyable in the bath as an energizing soak.

1 cup Epsom salts

1/2 cup pink Himalayan salt or sea salt

2 Tbls baking soda

2 Tbls pineapple weed flowers, slightly crushed

Fill a large muslin tea bag or a small piece of fabric with herbs and tie up. To use: Toss the fabric bag into your bath as you fill the tub and allow the salts to dissolve and the pineapple weed to perfume your bath. Soak for 20 minutes; you can use the cloth bag as a washcloth. Yield: 12 ounces.

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Your Skin-Care Routine

When it comes to skincare, it’s not about using the best and most expensive brand. It’s about the ingredients and what they do to the skin. By following a good skin-care routine, you can really change the surface of the skin. It does take time for certain ingredients to work in the skin, but with enough patience and dedication, you have the ability to repair and improve your skin. If you have no skin concerns, for now, you can start a preventive skin-care routine that will make sure your skin stays looking good for longer. Because the reality is that our skin does age, just like our body. It takes 10+ years for sun damage effects to show up on the surface of our skin—brown spots, fine lines, wrinkles, and broken veins. Check what is already in your cabinet and see which things you need to add to your routine. Start making more time for your skin today!

Cleanser: To cleanse the skin and pores, lift off dirt & makeup, and prepare skin for further product absorption. Gel cleansers are best for normal/oily skin types; milk cleansers for normal/dry skin types. Oil-based cleansers can be used for all skin types, especially when used as the first cleanse in the evening, removing makeup, and prepping the skin for a second cleanse.

Toner: To make sure all remains of cleanser are off the skin and brings the skin back to a natural pH level.

Serum: The most penetrating product due to molecule size, serums are usually where you will find active ingredients such as vitamin A and C, peptides, hyaluronic acid, AHA, and BHA. Choose a serum with ingredients that are best for your skin type.

Eye Care: The eye area is the most delicate part of the skin and needs to be treated with care. Apply a pea-size amount of eye cream or eye gel around the eye bone with ring finger.

Moisturizer/SPF: If your moisturizer doesn’t contain SPF, make sure you use one on top of it or apply makeup containing sun protection. SPF blocks the UV radiation from the sun, which is present all year long.

Night Moisturizer: Specific night moisturizers contain more active ingredients than day creams. As your skin is sleeping, it is regenerating so what you apply before bed does count.

Exfoliator: Once or twice a week its important to slough away dead skin cells that have built up on the surface of the skin. By removing these dead skin cells, the skin becomes brighter and smoother.

Face Masks: Once or twice a week, apply a mask. There are clay masks for oily/acne-prone skins, and cream or gel masks for drier/aging skins. They really plump and refine the skin, leaving the skin glowing. For best skin results do an exfoliation before applying a face mask, and leave the mask on for as long as possible or sleep with it on overnight.

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Herbal Skin Care Recipes for Your Face

Try herbal skin care recipes such as Lemon Lip Balm and Rose Petal Facial Toner to freshen your skin and make your face glow.
Your skin says a lot about you. Treat yourself well and your skin should reflect your spirit’s rosy health—but a little herbal skin care never hurts.

Skin and Body Care

We know that what’s on the inside is what counts, but beauty on the outside is also important. It’s what signals that we are fulfilled, joyful, and happy with life. Glowing skin is not the result of cosmetics (though the toners and moisturizers in this chapter can help rejuvenate tired skin), but it is the culmination of a life well lived, a spirit well fed.

As the skin is our largest organ (and an organ of elimination, at that), it needs constant care and nurturing for its continued health. Your skin says a lot about you (as does the health of your hair): Is it tired, dry, and papery?

Greasy, sallow, and pitted? These conditions indicate an imbalance in your body that can be addressed by any of the remedies outlined in the previous chapters. These conditions (and usually the imbalances that cause them) are reversible and can always be resolved using natural methods that heighten your energy and nourish your life.

The skin, hair, and body treatments that follow can be enjoyed by most teens, men, and women. Let the making of these remedies be fun activities that you do frequently, as these products tend to have short shelf lives. Use them often and enjoy your radiant (and healthy) skin and hair.

Facial Care

Herbs and flower preparations have been used for centuries for both men’s and women’s facial care. Since Maria Prophetissa discovered distillation techniques and created what we call the “bain-marie,” chemists and boutiques have sold flower waters and essential oils for beauty applications.

These lovely waters were favorites with ladies throughout the Middle Ages and have never lost their popularity.

With facial care, we generally consider two applications: drying (toning) and moisturizing. Determine your skin type and use whichever remedy will achieve the effect you need. Scent them as desired (lavender is a traditional and lovely facial scent), and enjoy.

Lavender Facial Wash

Yields approximately 1 cup

This is a simple-to-make facial astringent that soothes, tightens, and tones the skin. Follow it with Red Clover Whipped Lotion (the recipe follows) for a rich moisturizer.

1/2 cup fresh lavender flowers
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup distilled witch hazel
1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin
2 to 3 drops lavender essential oil

Combine the dry ingredients and the witch hazel in a 1-pint glass jar; steep overnight or up to two weeks. Strain and reserve the liquid; add the glycerin and essential oil. Using a cotton ball, dab the facial wash over your face using upward motions. (After straining the liquid out, try gently scrubbing your face with the flowers and oats instead of throwing them out; they will remove dirt and grime from the crevasses of your skin and exfoliate. Follow with the facial wash. Delightful!)

Red Clover Whipped Lotion

Yields 2 to 3 cups

Make a tiny batch of this lotion at a time, perhaps for special occasions when you want your face to glow. It’s extremely rich and, depending on how much water you add, can be dense or light as a cloud.

1 cup fresh red clover blossoms
1 cup of cocoa butter
1 to 2 cups distilled water or rose water
1 to 2 teaspoons jojoba or sweet almond oil (optional)

Place the herbs and cocoa butter in a bowl. Without heating, use a spoon to mix the blossoms into the cocoa butter. Cover and store in a dark cabinet or pantry. Steep for two weeks.

In the top of a double boiler, gently heat the cocoa butter just until you can strain out the blossoms. Discard them and pour the melted cocoa butter into a deep soup pot (this is to reduce splattering). Using a wire whisk or an electric hand mixer, slowly add the distilled water by the tablespoonful, whisking constantly, until you have the desired consistency. Add the oil if desired, and whisk together. Scrape the lotion into a small container. This lotion lasts several weeks when refrigerated.

Rose Petal Facial Toner

Yields 2 cups

This is a simple and delightful astringent for the face.

1 cup packed fresh rose petals
1 cup distilled witch hazel
1 cup distilled water
Rose water or vegetable glycerin (optional)

Combine all the ingredients in a 1-pint glass jar. Steep overnight or up to two weeks. Strain and reserve the liquid. If desired, dilute it with additional distilled water or rose water, or whisk in a few drops of vegetable glycerin. Apply this toner with a cotton ball, using upward strokes.

Dandelion–Elder Flower Blemish Lightener

Yields 2 cups

Adapted from old wives’ recipes, this classic blemish lightener uses buttermilk. Many old recipes call for tansy flowers, but I find elderflower to be just as lovely.

1 cup fresh elderflowers
1 cup fresh dandelion flowers
2 cups fresh buttermilk

Combine all the ingredients in a glass jar. Steep overnight in the refrigerator (refrigeration is important!). Strain and reserve the liquid. Using a cotton ball, apply the lotion to your face in upward movements. Once your face is covered, lie down and rest for 10 minutes. Rinse with cool water.

Store this lotion in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Lemon Lip Balm

Yields 1 cup

Lemon is a luscious, summery fragrance, and many of our beloved herbs offer that scent: lemon balm, lemon verbena, lemongrass, and wood sorrel (Oxalis) leaves and seedpods. Pick your favorites to infuse in the oil for this lip balm.

1 cup fresh lemon balm (or herb of your choice), chopped
1 cup vegetable oil (such as canola)
1/4 cup beeswax
2 to 5 drops lemon essential oil or high-quality culinary lemon extract

Follow the instructions in chapter 4: Medicine-Making Methods for making an herbal salve. Once the wax has melted, pour the mixture into small lip balm tubes or into 1/4-ounce tins. Because these small containers absorb heat easily, do not keep them in pants pockets or in a hot car.

 

 

Healing with Frankincense Essential Oil

Make the most of brain-health-boosting and cell-building frankincense essential oil.

If I was stranded on a deserted island and could choose only one essential oil to have with me, I would select frankincense, an oil that is both versatile and potent. Perhaps that’s why it has been in use for thousands of years and considered a precious gift according to Christian beliefs — the perfect present from three wise men.

Healing with Frankincense Essential Oil

While frankincense can be used for a host of health concerns, here are a few of its many amazing healing properties:

Skin, Nail and Scalp Antimicrobial: An exciting study in the journal Letters in Applied Microbiology found that not only was frankincense effective against several organisms linked to skin, nail and scalp infections, it also helped break down the biofilms that often underlie these difficult problems. Biofilms are thin, potentially health-damaging layers of microorganisms that secrete substances to help ensure their survival in or on the body. The presence of biofilms is usually a factor in infections that are difficult to eradicate. Earlier research in the same journal also found frankincense helpful against Candida Albicans and Staphylococcus aureus biofilms. Frankincense essential oil is one that may be safe to apply directly to skin, nail and scalp infections; however, some experts recommend never using essential oils undiluted. If you want to try it, use caution and test the oil on a sensitive patch of skin, then wait 48 hours. Otherwise, use the oil diluted in a carrier oil — three to four drops of essential oil in a teaspoon of carrier oil.

Multipurpose Antibacterial: Frankincense is effective against many other types of bacteria, in addition to those of the skin, nail, and scalp. In one study, researchers found that the essential oil showed significant antibacterial action against the three types of bacteria tested, which included E. coliBacillus subtilis, and S. aureus. These antibiotic-resistant bacteria are linked with food poisoning and other serious health-damaging infections. In addition to directly killing the bacteria, the oil prevented the bacteria from proliferating. The oil also demonstrated antioxidant capabilities, which means it can destroy harmful free radicals linked to cellular and tissue damage.

Oral Health: Because of its antibacterial and antimicrobial qualities, frankincense is a good supporter of oral health. To use it, look for a toothpaste that incorporates frankincense, or make a homemade mouthwash using high-quality essential oil.

Anti-Pain Power: Researchers set out to determine the validity of frankincense as a traditional remedy for arthritis, muscle and stomach pain. They validated its natural analgesic effects and effectiveness, and for these types of pain frankincense may be applied directly to affected areas (use caution, or dilute in a carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil for sensitive skin). Some health experts recommend using internally, but always consult a medical professional before doing so.

Mood Booster: In a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, a natural compound in frankincense was found to have antidepressant qualities. The compound, known as incensole acetate (IA), can regulate hormones secreted by the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands. The hypothalamus and pituitary glands are located in the brain and are involved in mood regulation, while the adrenal glands sit atop the kidneys and help address stress in the body. The researchers concluded that IA has potential as a novel treatment for depression.

Wrinkle Reducer: Numerous small-scale studies found that daily use of frankincense essential oil diluted in a carrier oil such as coconut or sunflower reduced the appearance of wrinkles and sun damage. It may also be useful to reduce stretch marks and eczema.

Using Frankincense Essential Oil

There are many frankincense essential oil products on the market, but they’re not all of equal quality. When choosing an essential oil, look for one that has been reviewed by independent third-party laboratory testing.

High-quality frankincense essential oil is one oil I sometimes recommend be used neat (undiluted); however, some experts recommend always diluting essential oils. As previously mentioned, always conduct a 48-hour skin test of frankincense essential oil diluted in the carrier oil of your choice prior to more extensive use. If you have sensitive skin, dilute three to five drops of frankincense essential oil in one teaspoon of carrier oil such as sweet almond or fractionated coconut oil (a liquid version of coconut oil).

To benefit from its ability to disinfect and freshen the air, diffuse five drops of frankincense in an essential oil diffuser (preferably not an oil burner, as heating the oil can destroy its therapeutic properties). Diffuse for up to an hour.

Frankincense is classified as a base note, meaning that when added to essential oil blends it tends to last longer than many other oils. Usually, base notes should comprise between 5 and 20 percent of a blend. Frankincense adds a rich, warm, incense-like quality to essential oil blends.

 

antiwrinkle-cream jpg

Frankincense Antiwrinkle Cream

Skin-soothing and moisturizing, this fresh face cream helps reduce the appearance of blemishes and wrinkles.
Because this luxurious cream does not contain preservatives, use it within a month or store it in the fridge for up to three months.

This luxurious moisturizer helps soothe skin, reduce blemishes and minimize the appearance of wrinkles. Unlike most of the anti-aging creams on the market, this one does not contain petrochemical-based products or chemical preservatives, making it a real treat for your skin. Keep in mind that because it is free of preservatives, it doesn’t last as long as chemical-laced commercial products, so you’ll want to use it within a month or keep it for up to three months in the refrigerator. You may want to use an old blender for this recipe, as the beeswax can leave a film that is difficult to completely remove.

• 3/4 cup sweet almond, apricot kernel or fractionated coconut oil
• 2 tablespoons shaved beeswax
• 30 drops frankincense essential oil
• 1 cup of filtered water

1. In a small saucepan over low heat, stir almond, apricot or coconut oil and beeswax together just until beeswax dissolves. Do not allow the oil to become hot. Immediately remove the saucepan from heat and add frankincense essential oil.

2. Pour water into blender, cover and begin blending it on high speed. With blender running, slowly pour the beeswax-oil mixture through hole in blender lid. The mixture will begin to thicken after about three-quarters of the beeswax has been incorporated.

3. Once all the beeswax has been blended, immediately pour cream into a 16-ounce glass jar or two 8-ounce glass jars. Use a spatula to remove any remaining cream from the blender. Makes about 1- 3/4 cups.

Old-Time Herbal Beauty Tips

Before the big cosmetics companies took over, women often invented their own beauty aids. Here are a few of the herbal beauty tips my grandmother left behind.

Some old fashioned herbal beauty tips are extremely simple. For example, to bleach, your skin rub cucumber slices on your face.

For centuries, herbs were the main source of beauty aids, then along came the big cosmetic companies and the world was swamped with (sometimes dangerous) chemicals. Lately, however—as we rediscover organic recipes—herbs, fruits, and vegetables have found their way back onto milady’s makeup table.

As a matter of fact, I recently read a magazine article in which a duchess and a princess (folks who can certainly afford “the best”) recommended the use of exotic plants for beauty care. About that same time—as I searched through some old family hideaways for my grandmother’s salve recipe—I came upon a list of herbal beauty tips that Grandma had once written out for her daughter (my aunt).

There wasn’t that much difference between royalty’s road to loveliness and Grandma’s either, except the old girl didn’t buy most of her materials—she grew ’em!

Here’s the advice that my grandmother wrote down for her daughter those many years ago:

IN THE MORNING: Mix a handful of oatmeal with enough spring water to make a paste, and put this mixture on your face and neck. When it dries, rinse the paste off with whey, then with water, and dry your skin with a soft rag.

AT NIGHT: Rub a mixture of honey and glycerin onto your face, then after awhile wipe it off gently with a soft cloth.

ONCE A WEEK: Add a teaspoon of honey to one mashed apple, mix them together, and put this “cream” on your face and neck. Leave it in place for half an hour, and then rinse with whey or cold milk. (Make sure your husband will be gone awhile before you start this treatment!)

TO SMOOTH WRINKLES: Apply barley water and a few drops of balm of Gilead to your wrinkles every day.

TO BLEACH YOUR SKIN: Rub cucumber slices on your face.

FOR SOFT HANDS: Shake a half cup of glycerin, a half cup of rose water, and a quarter cup of witch hazel in a jar. Apply this to your hands after they’ve been in the water.

TO HEAL CHAPPED HANDS: Rub them with damp table salt.

FOR BRIGHT HAIR: Add vinegar to the rinse water after washing your hair, or make a rinse of mullein, nettle, sage, or burdock tea.

TO DARKEN GRAY HAIR: Boil an ounce of chamomile or sage in a quart of water for 20 minutes. Rinse your hair with this brew, and use a hairbrush dipped in strong chamomile or sage tea.

TO PREVENT DANDRUFF: Rub a tea made from the leaves and bark of willow into your scalp. Rinse the area with marshmallow tea.

FOR A RELAXING BATH: Hang a bag of dried comfrey or rosemary In the bath water.

FOR PERFUME: Fill a jar with pressed rose petals (or any sweet-scented flowers), add as much glycerin as the container will hold, and cover It tightly. After three weeks, you can pour the perfume off into a bottle.

TO MAKE A SACHET: Combine one ounce each of powdered cloves, caraway seed, nutmeg, mace, and cinnamon with six ounces of powdered orrisroot. Put the mixture in fancy bags and place them in closets and dresser drawers.

Now, some of the ingredients that Granny mentioned may not be familiar to you. Take “balm of Gilead,” for example. That’s just plain ol’ balsam. And “marshmallow tea” sounds like a sticky mess, but Grandma wasn’t talking about the soft, white candy. She was referring to the root of the marshmallow plant. “Orrisroot,” another name that may be puzzling to modern folk, Is the dried, powdered root of various European Iris plants.

Grandma foraged or grew most of her ingredients, but you can often find them in health food stores, supermarkets, and pharmacies, or even still growin’ wild along the roadside.

Naturally (no pun intended), I started to use some of these old-time recipes and found that comfrey does make a nice skin softener, while oatmeal leaves the skin silky and is especially good on oily teenage complexions.

However, a word of caution: Anyone can be allergic to almost anything, so check out any unfamiliar substance before you rub it all over yourself. To do this, just place a small amount on the tender skin of your inner arm and cover the area with an adhesive bandage. Then wait 24 hours and have a look. If the patch shows any reaction, such as redness or obvious irritation, that ingredient just isn’t for you.

My grandmother often said she didn’t feel a bit older at 80 than she did at 16, and she didn’t look her age either. Did this wonderful woman’s organic beauty rituals account for her natural glow and glamour? Well, let us just say that—after a few weeks of using some of Grandma’s “secrets”—I’ve begun to believe that they did!

bars of soap

Recipes to Make Your Own Soap, Lotion and More

You can easily make safe, effective toiletries — including lotion and deodorant — at home, using simple, healthy ingredients.

$50 off the Botanical Skin Care Course for a limited time!

If you’ve ever read the labels on health and hygiene products, you know it can be a challenge to find a product that doesn’t contain long lists of ingredients you can’t even pronounce, let alone know what they are or what they’re for. Plus, there are the occasional headlines that yet another standard ingredient in the products we use every day turns out to be counter to the very health and cleanliness the product is supposed to promote. Sometimes the easiest way to ensure that you’re using the best, healthiest products — from soap to toothpaste — is to simply make your own. You can easily make safe, effective toiletries — including lotion and deodorant — at home, using simple, healthy ingredients.

Try your hand at one or all of these basic recipes and rest assured that your body is getting the best care you can give it. You should be able to find the basic ingredients listed below at your local pharmacy or health food store.

Shea Butter Soap

2 cups glycerin soap base, melted in a double boiler
2 tbsp shea butter, melted separately
Several drops of your favorite essential oil (optional)

Mix well, pour into molds (you can use regular food storage containers), and cool.


Whitening Sage Tooth Powder

Mix together 1 tsp each of baking soda, table salt, and dried sage.

Scoop onto a dampened toothbrush and brush as usual.


Body Butter

1/4 cup grated cocoa butter
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp avocado oil
1 tbsp grated beeswax

Combine all the ingredients in an ovenproof glass container. Place the container with the mixture in a pan with a 1- to a 2-inch water bath. Melt the oils and wax gently.

Pour the melted mixture into a clean jar and allow to cool. Stir the cooled mixture.

Spread the butter on your body and massage into the skin. Yields 4 oz.


Basic Deodorant Powder Formula

1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup cornstarch
Antibacterial essential oils such as cinnamon, rose, birch or lavender, as preferred

Place the baking soda and cornstarch in a glass jar. Add the essential oils; stir and cover. Dampen a powder puff, cotton ball or sea sponge and dab into the mixture (or sprinkle the mixture on the sponge); pat underarms. Makes 1 cup.

herbal infusions

 

Discover over 200 herbal recipes in the Botanical Skin Care Course

Herb Infused Waters for Summer Hydration

Hydration is key when summer hits, and while I love ice water, sometimes a hint of flavor can make the water feel a bit more special. Plus, herb-infused water is an easy upgrade when entertaining, your guests will be impressed!

You can use any combo of herbs, fruits, and edible flowers that you like, here are some of my favorite combos:

1. Lemon Balm and Mint: lemon balm has a sweet lemony flavor that adds brightness while mint will add that refreshing cooling effect. Lemon balm is known to relieve digestive problems, anxiety, lower blood pressure, aid in concentration and is antiviral (1). Mint is known to also relieve digestive bloat, upset stomach, and vomiting (1). A lemon balm and mint water infusion would be great on a hot day when you might need a mood lift or feel extra stressed.

2. Watermelon and Basil: cubed watermelon adds a touch of sweetness while basil pairs well with summer fruit. Basil improves circulation and soothes headaches while being antimicrobial (1). The contrast of pink plus green makes a great spring and summer refresher. Watermelon can also be substituted with strawberries for a fun twist.

3.Mint and Cucumber: cucumber water is a classic ‘spa water’. Add sliced cucumbers to impart a touch of flavor and add mint, which can relieve upset stomach and cools you down at the same time.

4. Chamomile: alone, chamomile has a sweet apple flavor, pair it with lavender, lemon balm or stevia leaves for a sweeter twist on herb water. Chamomile is known to promote relaxation and relieve stress, ease stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea (1) and is also loved by children. The cute white flowers will give this infusion a feminine look, great for a girls day or night.

5. Strawberry and thyme: strawberries add vitamins, sweetness and a pale pink hue. Thyme adds a distinct herbal flavor and brings benefits such as soothing sore throats, stimulating the immune system and can help fight urinary infections (1). Together they make a tasty pairing fit for any summer entertaining, or as a treat after an afternoon working in the garden.

Water infused with herbs is a healthy, sugar-free alternative for any time of the year, but especially refreshing during the warm months. When infusing waters, roughly chop, tear or bruise the herbs to release their oils and scent. In a pitcher or large mason jar, infuse water and herbs for a least 2-4 hours before serving for the best flavor. Throw in a few edible flowers such as calendula, pansies, borage, rose petals or chamomile for an extra layer of color and interest. There is no wrong or right combination when it comes to infusing water with herbs- use the flavors you like and use the herbs you have on hand!

4 Ways To Use Clary Sage Essential Oil

Discover over 200 herbal recipes in the Botanical Skin Care Course

What is Clary Sage?

Clary Sage is a variety of sage that belongs to the genus Salvia. During the summer months, the flowers adorn gardens with their purple, pink and light blue flowers. Clary Sage has been noted in history as far back as the middle ages when it was used for the eyes.

The sweet, fresh flowers and leaves yield a colorless to yellow-green oil when steam distilled. The scent is almost nutty and some say that it may smell a little musty. Clary Sage blends well with many essential oils but in particular Lavender, Geranium, Jasmine, and Sandalwood.

Although this oil has a reputation for having an affinity to the female body, it is also rich in linalool and has often been used to positively affect the emotions. It can feel lifting, but not overly stimulating, yet calming at the same time. Clary Sage is often added to blends for anxiety, stress, tension, pain and many female issues such as menstrual cramps.

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There are many ways to use Clary Sage essential oil. Here are my 4 favorite ways to use this oil:

Uplifting Scent/Mood Elevator

When feeling down, insecure, irritable and even anxious, I like to make a blend with Clary Sage to use in my diffuser. By combining other relaxing and uplifting oils, the effect seems to bring balance into my life.

  • Clary Sage Essential Oil – 40 drops
  • Bergamot Essential Oil – 80 drops
  • Sandalwood Essential Oil – 20 drops
  • Jasmine Absolute Oil – 10 drops

Blend the oils in a small dark glass bottle. Use 3-5 drops in your diffuser as desired.

Aphrodisiac Massage Oil

When emotions are out of whack it can be difficult to feel sensual and connected to your partner. To feel more confident, at ease and sensual, why not try exchanging massages. Try using gentle pressure with long strokes to encourage circulation and relaxation.

  • Clary Sage Essential Oil – 40 drops
  • Ylang Ylang Essential Oil – 20 drops
  • Patchouli Essential Oil – 10 drops
  • Sandalwood Essential Oil – 14 drops
  • Perilla Seed Oil – 4 ounces

Blend the essential oils with the Perilla Oil, or your favorite massage oil. Shake well and use as a massage oil.

Menstrual Cramp Roll-On

If you are a woman, chances are you have experienced menstrual cramps. They can vary from mild to moderate, and even severe. Cramps can leave you feeling tired, in pain and even bloated. Over the years I have learned to keep a roll-on with this blend in my monthly kit – along with Swiss chocolate, The Notebook DVD, and The Honey Pot Menstrual Pads!

  • Clary Sage Essential Oil – 15 drops
  • Geranium Essential Oil – 8 drops
  • Lavender Essential Oil – 3 drops
  • Copaiba Essential Oil – 10 drops
  • Black Pepper Essential Oil – 3 drops
  • Golden Jojoba Oil – 10 ml

Blend all the essential oils with Jojoba Oil. Pour into 2 roll-on bottles. Make a label and use as needed by gently massaging the lower abdomen.

Anti-Aging Skin Care

Clary Sage has a wonderful affinity for the skin. It is said to improve the appearance of fine lines while giving the skin a youthful and glowing look. Add this blend to your favorite creams and lotions for a little extra boost for your skin!

  • Clary Sage Essential Oil – 15 drops
  • Rose Absolute Oil – 1 drop
  • Frankincense Essential Oil – 6 drops
  • Patchouli Essential Oil – 3 drops
  • Unscented skin care product – 4 ounces

Place unscented skin care product, in a clean bowl. Add essential oils. With a clean whisk incorporate the essential oils into your product until completely mixed. Pour or scoop your finished product back into the original containers. Enjoy this blend in the morning and/or evening.

*Clean and “sterilize” your bowl and whisk by adding 1 tsp of Everclear alcohol to the bowl and wiping down the entire bowl with a clean paper towel.

Safety Guidelines

There are a few safety guidelines that should be observed when using Clary Sage essential oil.

  • Do not drink alcohol and use Clary Sage essential oil. It has long been known to enhance the effects of alcohol. When mixed with alcoholic beverages, it is said to produce intense dreams and to amplify your hangover the following morning!
  • When using Clary Sage with hormone-affecting essential oils, such as Geranium, make sure to consult your healthcare professional/aromatherapist before use.
  • Consider using a designated driver if you are intensely working with Clary Sage essential oil! The deep relaxing effect can produce drowsiness and may make you unfit for getting behind the wheel.
  • Avoid this oil during pregnancy as it may increase circulation in the reproductive organs; however, this oil was tested in a group of late-term pregnant women with no ill effects.

Grapefruit Essential Oil: A Fresh Scent, Home Remedy

Luscious, juicy, and pleasingly fragrant grapefruit shares the nutritional qualities of other citrus species, being high in vitamin C, plus delivering ample potassium, folic acid, beta-carotene (red fruits only), and capillary-strengthening flavonoids.  It has a stabilizing effect on blood sugar, enhances digestion, acts as a mild diuretic, diminishes the appetite, and offers valuable protection against infectious illnesses.  And – who can resist the delightfully uplifting scent of the freshly squeezed juice and peel?

Native to tropical Asia and the West Indies, grapefruit trees are now cultivated primarily in California, Florida, and Texas, as well as Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Israel.  Much of the essential oil is produced in the United States by cold expression of the outer part of the fresh peel of the ripe fruit, yielding a yellow or yellowish-green liquid.  Oil that is distilled from the peel and remains of the fruit after making juice is of inferior quality for aromatherapeutic purposes. Grapefruit essential oil oxidizes quickly (as do all citrus oils), so use it within 1 year, or within 2 years if you keep it refrigerated and don’t open it often.

Grapefruit essential oil is one of my top picks to include in massage oil blends, often combined with ginger, cypress, and peppermint essential oils, to ease conditions of water retention, fatigue, heavy legs and feet, and general overall achiness.  Its astringent action also benefits oily skin and scalp.

This delightful medicinal oil offers an amazingly effective and aromatically pleasing cognitive boost that stokes your mental fires, enhancing concentration and mental clarity.  I’ve long adored both the fruit and the oil, as I find the fruit deliciously satisfying and it’s oil scent-sational.  It makes my mind and body smile!  Clients love it when my reflexology treatment room smells of grapefruit – clean and fresh.  I highly recommend adding grapefruit essential oil to spritzer recipes (room mists) to lighten and brighten the environment and mood of those in it. It blends well with other citrus essential oils as well as peppermint, spearmint, lavender, neroli, rose, geranium, rosemary, and ylang-ylang.

Psychological Benefits:  Grapefruit lifts the spirits, being beneficial during times of overwhelming stress, depression, mental fatigue, and nervous exhaustion. It’s especially helpful for the PMS blues.  Like other citrus oils, it delivers a general feeling of well-being and builds your sense of humor.  A rather empowering oil, grapefruit helps improve your confidence and sense of self-worth.

Essential Properties In A Nutshell:   Anti-infectious; gently warming; very refreshing and cleansing; detoxifying; appetite suppressant and digestive aid; eases tension and digestive headaches; enhances circulation; astringent and diuretic; deodorizing; emotionally uplifting during times of great stress; antidepressant.

Safety Data & Usage Information:  Grapefruit essential oil is considered nontoxic, nonirritating, and generally nonsensitizing, with only a low risk of photosensitivity.Good to know:  Certain medications come with a warning against ingesting grapefruit juice while you are taking them.  Why?  Because grapefruit juice contains dihydroxybergamottin, a chemical compound that interferes with the effectiveness of many medications.  Grapefruit essential oil – expressed from the peel only – does not contain this compound, so it is safe to use in aromatherapy for individuals who are avoiding grapefruit juice because of their medication.

Always dilute essential oils properly – according to age, health, medication intake, and skin condition – prior to application.

The following oh-so-fragrant recipe highlights the therapeutic nature of grapefruit essential oil with regard to its gently stimulating, mentally clarifying properties.

“Sunshine-in-a-Bottle” Mist

By their very light, refreshing nature, most citrus oils tend to be rather uplifting to the psyche and particularly good at stimulating a sluggish mind and stagnant circulation, which is why I chose them for the basis of this sparkling, ultra-fresh formula.  I added rosemary essential oil for the sharp, energizing, mind-clearing properties that it lends.  A few spritzes around my home office with this mist is a sure-fire way to blast out the “mental cobwebs” after an afternoon spent working at my computer.

Contraindication:  DO NOT use this mist in small rooms or bedrooms with children under 2 years of age or in rooms with caged pets.

Essential Oils:

• 20 drops grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) essential oil
• 15 drops lemon (Citrus limon) essential oil
• 15 drops sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) essential oil
• 10 drops rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ct. cineole or non-chemotype specific) essential oil

Base:

• 1/2 cup plain, unflavored vodka (80- or 100-proof)
• 1/2 cup purified or distilled water

Container:

• 8-ounce plastic (PET or HDPE) or dark glass spritzer bottle

To Make The Mist: Pour the vodka and water into the bottle, then add the grapefruit, lemon, orange, and rosemary essential oils.  Screw the top on the bottle and shake vigorously to blend.  Label the bottle and allow the spray to synergize for 1 hour.  Store at room temperature, away from heat and light; use within 1 year.

To Use: Shake well before each use.  When in need of mental stimulation, lightly mist your surrounding area and breathe deeply.  Use as desired.

Yield:; 8 ounces (240 ml)

Bonus uses: The essential oils in this formula contain general antiseptic properties that will help keep your work area and home free of infectious nasties.  Spray throughout the house several times per day during cold and flu season.  You can also spray the blend on your hands after washing as an added layer of wellness protection.  I suggest placing a bottle by the kitchen sink and in each bathroom.

It’s Spring Cleaning Time!

Essential Oils for Home Cleaning

Here in Utah, the first day of spring isn’t quite full yet of all the gardening we’d like to do, but it is full of the promise that soon enough we’ll be out there once again, digging in the dirt! In the meantime, we’re opening the windows, letting the fresh air in, and doing some spring cleaning.

Look to your pantry to naturally clean your clothes and your home. Adding essential oils contributes antibacterial properties to your homemade cleaning agents and gives that oh-so-fresh-and-clean scent. This basic blend of oils is antibacterial and it smells divine!

Once you’ve made up a batch of the Antibacterial Essential Oil Blend, add it to the other recipes included for cleaners or create your own. Once you start creating your own cleaning products, you’ll discover just how easy it is to make cleaners that are truly clean.

Happy Cleaning! 

Antibacterial
Essential Oil Blend 

Ingredients 
40 drops clove oil
35 drops lemon oil
30 drops cinnamon oil
25 drops eucalyptus oil
20 drops rosemary oil
15 drops lavender oil
10 drops tea tree oil
10 drops peppermint oil

Instructions: Combine all oils in a light-proof bottle.

Foaming All-Purpose Paste Cleaner 

Ingredients 
baking soda
liquid castile soap
the antibacterial essential oil blend

Instructions 
Make a paste of equal parts baking soda and your favorite liquid castile soap. Adjust the ratio to your liking. Add a few drops of the essential oil blend. The baking soda is abrasive, so take care when cleaning delicate surfaces.
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Foaming All-Purpose Spray Cleaner 

Ingredients 
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon borax
2 tablespoons liquid castile soap
1 cup vinegar
20 drops antibacterial essential oil blend

Instructions 
Heat water and borax, and stir until borax is dissolved. Stir in liquid castile soap, vinegar, and antibacterial essential oil blend. Store in a spray bottle. To use, spray and wipe clean. The vinegar smell will dissipate shortly.

 

 

We made it through another winter!! It’s getting warmer, the days are getting longer, flowers are starting to bloom, and you’ll start to see butterflies and bees buzzing around.

I don’t know about you, but Spring is without a doubt my favorite season! I love all the bright colors, warmer weather, and all the wonderful smells Spring brings.

To make Spring even better (I know, how is that even possible?!) we are introducing a NEW limited time blend!! Trust me, you won’t want to miss out on this one!!

Make Fragrant Essential Oils: Warrior’s Spirit for Courage

This Warrior’s Spirit blend promotes courage and protection as well as physical and emotional support.

• 12 drops lavender oil
• 6 drops carrot seed oil
• 3 drops black pepper oil
• 3 drops angelica oil
• 3 drops myrrh oil
• 2 drops sage oil

Natural Perfumery

Craft evocative personal scents using natural ingredients, which lend delicate nuances to fragrances and evolve over time.

Thanks to the art and science of aromatherapy, we now appreciate the profound links between aroma and health; scents are processed in the amygdala, the same area of the brain that processes emotions. Because of the integration of scent and emotional processing, making natural perfume can contribute to our well-being. Perfume creation, which involves active olfaction and a total focus on the sense of smell, has been compared to concentrative meditation — it can help eliminate stress and bring about a sense of calm and peace. Not to mention, making perfume gives you the opportunity to develop your sense of smell!

Creating your own fragrances isn’t difficult. Maybe you already know that you prefer a certain type of perfume — an aroma that you identify with and that makes you feel good. Maybe you’d like to make a perfume to comfort, to uplift your spirits, to promote self-confidence, or for meditation. Or maybe you’d like to wear perfumes that reflect the season or evoke a specific mood. The possibilities are endless, and trying new combinations is part of the fun.

Natural Perfume Components

Natural perfumes made with essential oils and absolutes won’t be the same as commercial, alcohol-based perfumes. Essential oils are extracted from aromatic plants by steam distillation, or by physical expression, as in the case of citrus oils. Absolutes are made by solvent extraction; they’re aromatically similar to the plant but are very concentrated and best appreciated when highly diluted. Rose, jasmine, and orange blossom are the most popular absolutes. They’re expensive so you could use an infusion in jojoba oil as a budget-friendly alternative.

In mainstream perfumery, synthetic aroma chemicals dominate. This means that when a modern synthetic fragrance is applied, the effect is often linear — the perfume doesn’t substantially change its character from application until it has faded from our perception. The scent of perfumes made with extracts from aromatic plants, however, will evolve on our skin after application; we’ll first sense the top notes, then the middle notes at the heart of the scent, and finally the lingering base notes. Commercial perfumes are constructed for their initial impact and presence, their persistence, and for sillage — the trail of fragrance left in the air when the wearer walks by. Oil or wax-based natural perfumes are more subtle, and will usually fade more quickly. However, what’s lost in bombastic impact is more than made up for by the gentleness and beauty of naturally derived ingredients, and by the mood benefits of the aroma.

Fragrant Harmonies

Natural perfume isn’t composed randomly. To create a successful perfume, you’ll need to understand the olfactory relationships between essential oils, their volatility (which determines which scents are top, middle, and base notes), their diffusiveness, and their odor intensity.

The scent of every essential oil is made up of many chemical components, each of which has its own olfactory characteristics, and the components’ relative proportions have a major impact on the overall aroma of the oil. For this reason, some essential oils, such as rose or jasmine, are complex enough to make good single-ingredient fragrances, which are instantly recognizable. If you combine three essential oils, you create a new odor sensation, although you’ll still be able to discern the presence of the individual oils. But by combining five or more oils, you’ll create a completely new scent, which we’ll struggle to discern the individual ingredients of because hundreds of chemicals will be constituents contributing to the aroma.

In perfume, the initial impact is given by the “top note,” or the aromatics that evaporate most quickly; the heart of the scent is composed of “middle note” aromatics, defining the theme of the perfume; and less volatile “base note” aromatics anchor or fix the scent, giving it persistence. The oil or wax base of a natural perfume will also decelerate evaporation to an extent, which is why a natural perfume takes a little longer to make its presence known. By contrast, alcohol-based conventional perfumes are highly volatile.

In addition to the broad top, middle, or base category a particular aromatic might belong to, aromatic connections will be running throughout the perfume, because many essential oils share aromatic constituents. These form what we might think of as aromatic bridges, which will bring cohesiveness and harmony to your blend; aromatic contrasts will add drama and excitement.

Choose a Theme

When crafting a personal scent, you might want to create a soliflore, where one floral fragrance dominates; or a more sophisticated bouquet, which might be floral, herbal, or based on fragrant woods, soothing balsams, citrus, or vanilla. Each of these ideas can be fused so you might choose a floral-balsamic composition or an herbal-woody-spicy scent.

You can also create a more abstract scent that reflects seasons, places, or feelings. Evoke a walk in the forest with conifer oils or a tropical garden with sumptuous ylang-ylang. You could even use vanilla and citrus to make a fragrance inspired by the aroma of cakes baking!

Follow Your Nose

Top notes: Citrus is commonly used as a top note, because of its high volatility. Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) has a fresh citrus top note and sweet citrus body, with lemony, floral, peppery, and lavender-like nuances — elements that can bridge with many other scents. Use the furanocoumarin-free (FCF) version to eliminate the risk of phototoxicity, which is a burning reaction from topically applied essential oils that are triggered by exposure to sunlight. Other citrus top notes include yellow grapefruit (C. paradisi) for sharpness, lime (C. aurantifolia) for lightness, mandarin (C. reticulata) for freshness, and yuzu peel (C. junos) if you like a stronger aromatic citrus presence. Many citrus essential oils and aromatics are phototoxic, though the risk is minimized by using steam-distilled essential oils; research the aromatic you plan to use before adding it to a scent.

Herbal top notes give freshness to a blend; try using bergamot mint (Mentha citrata), lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), and petitgrain (C. aurantium).

Floral top notes include the green scent of neroli (steam-distilled C. aurantium var. amara) and damask rose (Rosa x damascena), which gives a gentle freshness, lift, and harmony.

Spicy top notes include black pepper (Piper nigrum) for light warmth and lift, and caraway seed (Carum carvi) for sweet warmth and intrigue. Versatile coriander seed (Coriandrum sativum), with sweet, spicy, woody, floral, and citrus notes, can act as a bridge.

Middle notes: Floral heart notes can be as defining or as subtle as you wish. Heady Jasminum grandiflorum absolute should be used sparingly for its intense, diffusive, warm floral fragrance. Like rose and orange blossom absolutes, it makes for a classic floral heart. Arabian jasmine (Jasminum sambac) is intensely sensual, and it makes a good soliflore. Rose absolute (Rosa x centifolia) will make a smooth, rich, sweet soliflore, or can be the dominant floral in a composition. In small amounts, its delicacy can transform fragrances. Orange blossom absolute (solvent-distilled from Citrus aurantium var. amara) is a rich and heavy floral that should be used sparingly. It can make an interesting soliflore with neroli as a top note. A little ylang-ylang extra (Cananga odorata var. genuina) goes a long way; it’s diffusive, sweet, rich, and tropical. In small amounts, it lifts and harmonizes blends.

For an herbal heart, try sweet, fresh lavender absolute; rose geranium (Pelargonium spp.); or sweet, diffusive Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) for its apple notes.

Citrus oils evaporate quickly, making them difficult to use in the heart of a scent. However, litsea (Litsea cubeba) is fresh, sweet, sharp, and lemony, and has reasonable tenacity.

Spicy oils make good partners for flowers and woods and can sit within the heart of a perfume. Clove Bud (Eugenia caryophyllata) is perfect for spicing up rose fragrances. Use it minimally; the scent is powerful, and the oil can irritate the skin. Cinnamon leaf (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) should also be used sparingly.

Woods and resins for heart notes include Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), which imparts woody and smoky notes; Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), which gives a mild “pencil shavings” aroma; and frankincense (Boswellia carterii), which offers a fresh, resinous effect. Both frankincense and Eastern red cedar reach the top notes while staying in the heart. Frankincense suffers from overharvesting for the essential oil trade, so be sure to seek out sustainably sourced oil if you wish to use it. Conifers usually make their presence felt in top notes, but are tenacious enough to stay in the heart.

Base notes: These oils all act as fixatives as well as fragrance elements. If you’re looking for a balsamic, ambery, rich effect, try the resin of rock rose (Cistus ladanifer) or myrrh (Commiphora myrrha).

Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) is distinctive and complex and will add character to blends with its persistent, earthy, herbaceous notes. Vetiver (Vetivera zizanoides) is a rich, sweet, woody, earthy aroma, with remarkably persistent musky notes.

Sandalwood (Santalum album) is the base of many traditional attars; blend it with rose or jasmine to create a simple, beautiful scent. The scent is sweetly woody and persistent, with balsamic and musky notes. Sandalwood is often overharvested in the wild; seek sustainable sources for this oil.

Vanilla (Vanilla planifolia) is sweet, rich, and warm, with woody and even tobacco notes. The solvent-extracted absolute is quite expensive, so the budget-friendly way to use it is to buy vanilla-infused jojoba oil, to which you can add your other ingredients.

The given recipes are only a few examples of perfumes you can create. Adapt them to suit what you have available — or what you prefer — and don’t be afraid to substitute fragrances or vary the proportions of aromatics. Enjoy; it’s your perfume!

Natural Oil-Based Roll-On Perfume Recipe

This oil-based roll-on perfume recipe is easy to adjust to your personal fragrance preferences, and fragrance-infused carrier oils expand the possibilities.

Yield: 0.35 ounces (10 milliliters) liquid perfume.

 

Pack your preferred personal scent into a roller ball bottle to have on hand throughout the day. Note that the provided measurements will give a concentration of around 5 percent essential oils. You shouldn’t use more than 2 drops of absolute per 0.35 ounces (10 milliliters) of carrier oil.

Ingredients:

  • 10 drops essential oils and absolutes (see “Oil-Based Perfume Variations,” below)
  • 0.35 ounces (10 milliliters) jojoba oil
  • A colored-glass roller-ball bottle

Instructions:

  1. Add your heart notes directly into the bottle, and smell as you go, in case you need to adjust.
  2. Next, add the base notes, and, again, remember to smell after every drop. You can always add more, but you can’t subtract.
  3. Finally, add your top notes.
  4. When you’re happy with the aroma, fill the bottle to the shoulder with jojoba oil, fit on the roller ball and lid, and invert the bottle gently several times to thoroughly distribute the oils in the jojoba.
  5. Give your composition a name, label the bottle, and note the formula.

Oil-Based Perfume Variations

Essential oils are extremely concentrated and must be sufficiently diluted in a carrier oil to be used safely on your skin. Don’t adjust the proportion of aromatics to carrier oil in these recipes. All the following quantities are calculated for 0.35 ounces (10 milliliters) of liquid perfume.


Tropical Flowers

Top: 2 drops lime

Heart: 3 drops ylang-ylang

Base: 5 drops sandalwood

Variation: Use vanilla-infused jojoba as the carrier for a creamy effect.


Herbal Bouquet

Top: 3 drops bergamot mint, 2 drops rose, and 2 drops lavender

Heart: 1 drop rose geranium, 1 drop Roman chamomile, and (optional) 1 drop lavender absolute

Base: 1 drop patchouli or vetiver


Meditation

Top: 2 drops Bergamot and 2 drops neroli

Heart: 2 drops frankincense

Base: 2 drops Myrrh and 2 drops sandalwood

Your Guide to Vegan Skin Care

Today it’s easier than ever to choose a lifestyle that aligns with your health goals and ethical choices. If you’re a vegetarian, you avoid meat and fish and opt instead for plant-based foods, dairy, and eggs. A vegan diet takes things a step further, eschewing all products associated with animals, including animal-derived ingredients like milk, eggs, and honey.

For homemade natural beauty recipes, which often use dairy as a base for creams and lotions, finding a non-animal option may seem tricky But we actually have quite a few plant-derived substances from which to choose, whether it’s agave, natural plant oils like olive or grape seed, or nut milk. These types of ingredients can help you maintain beautiful skin and healthy, shiny hair – without having to compromise your values. Here are a few all-natural, all- vegan recipes to get you started.

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Shea Butter Body Lotion

From the African shea tree {Vitellaria paradoxa, formerly Butyrospermum parkii}, shea butter is an ivory-colored natural fat used much like cocoa butter, with a mild, almost musty fragrance. In cosmetics, it acts as a moisturizer and emollient and also contains anti-inflammatory properties. It can treat all types of skin conditions, from scars to chapped lips, and it’s helpful in treating acne because it’s easily absorbed by the skin and leaves no sticky residue. It also provides mild UV protection from the sun {but should never serve as a replacement for your sunscreen}. You can find it in natural food stores in the skincare section.

1/2 cup distilled water

1/8 tsp borax powder

1/4 cup shea butter

1/2 cup almond oil

Bring water to a boil. Place borax powder in a clean, heat-proof bowl, and pour in the boiling water, stirring well. Set aside. In a microwave-safe bowl or saucepan, combine oil and shea butter and gently heat the mixture until melted, stirring to mix. Transfer this mixture into a blender or food processor and blend on low, slowly adding the hot water solution in a slow, steady stream. Then blend on high until well-mixed. You should have a milky-white lotion. Pour the mixture into a clean container to cool.

To Use Massage into skin. Yields: 6 ounces.

Plant-Based Lip Balm

Several plant oils and waxes work great as substitutes for beeswax or lanolin to soothe dry, cracked lips. The shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, and castor oil in this recipe provides lips with natural shine and protection against the element.

1/2 tsp castor oil

1 tsp coconut oil

1 tsp shea butter

1/2 tsp cocoa butter

1-2 drops peppermint essential oil for flavor {optional}

In a heat-resistant bowl or small saucepan, combine all ingredients and gently heat until melted. {This may be done in the microwave, but be careful not to boil the mixture.} Stir well and pour into a small container. Let cool completely.

To Use Spread on your lips with a clean fingertip. Yield: .75 ounce.

Coconut Oil Body Polish

This scrub is perfect for skin that needs some exfoliation, but also a bit of TLC. The raw sugar exfoliates the skin while the coconut oil helps deeply condition it. After using this treatment, your skin should feel softer and smoother.

1 cup of raw sugar

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 tsp vitamin E oil

2-3 drops essential oil {lavender, rosemary, peppermint} optional

In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients and stir well. Spoon into a clean container.

To Use: Standing in the tub or shower, massage the mixture into your skin. {Be careful: the oil can make the tub slippery.} Rinse with warm water and pat your skin dry. Yield: 8 ounces.

Easy Dry Shampoo

Dry shampoos have become a popular alternative to regular “wet” shampoos, proving especially helpful after a workout during the day or when traveling. But spray-on dry shampoos can contain a wealth of questionable ingredients, when, in fact, all you really need is one tablespoon of either baking soda, cornstarch, or rice powder. That’s it…

To Use: Simply massage the powder directly onto your scalp and through your hair. You may want to lean over a sink as you apply the powder. Leave it on for at least 10 minutes, and then, using a clean, dry brush, vigorously brush your hair, using long strokes, to remove all of the powder.

Reading the Labels

Our skin is our largest organ, and what you use on it does affect your overall health. One advantage of making your own cosmetic products and treatments is that it puts you in control of the ingredients you use and apply to your skin. Of course, you don’t always have time to make all of your skincare products from scratch. So, knowing how to accurately read the labels of store-bought products becomes important.

To start, the term “natural” on the label is meaningless – there’s no authority that monitors this claim. Therefore, you really need to take an eagle eye to the back of the product. Ingredients are listed in order of percentage: if the first ingredient is water, that means water is the most prominent ingredient. You may see a product that boasts a desirable ingredient on the front label, only to find that it’s the last ingredient listed.

Some ingredients such as “sodium chloride” may sound scary {at least to those who’ve long forgotten their chemistry lessons}, but are, in fact, completely natural {sodium chloride is table salt}. Manufacturers often use scientific or Latin names for basic ingredients, but a quick search online can reveal the common name and whether it’s an ingredient you want to put on your skin.

Vegans may not realize that some of their favorite products actually contain ingredients they wish to avoid. Here’s a quick list of animal-derived substances.

  • Aspic: an industry alternative to gelatin; made from clarified meat or fish
  • Casein: a protein derived from milk
  • Cod liver oil: found in lubricating creams and lotions
  • Collagen: taken from the bones and connective tissues of animals; used in cosmetics to help skin retain water and keep it supple
  • Elastin: similar use as collagen; derived from the neck ligaments and aorta of cows
  • Gelatin/Gelatine: for smooth skin and to add gloss to hair; obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones from cows and pigs
  • Keratin: used for hair and as an anti-aging skin care ingredient; obtained from sheep wool or from the skin, hooves, and horns of animals
  • Lactose: a sugar derived from milk
  • Propolis: used for its antiviral and antimicrobial properties to treat breakouts and protect skin; created by bees in the construction of their hives
  • Royal Jelly: an anti-aging ingredient; comes from secretions of the throat gland of the honeybee
  • Shellac: found in hair lacquer; obtained from the bodies of the female scale insect, Tachardia lacca
  • Vitamin D3: found in creams, lotions, and other cosmetics; made from fish-liver oil
  • Whey: a byproduct of cheese making
  • Cochineal dye or carminic acid: adds red color; comes from the cochineal insect
  • Ambergris: adds scent and/or color; derived from whales

Garden Fresh Vegan Cologne

This fragrance uses fresh vegetable and herb leaves to create a light, summer-garden scent. Try it as an after-bath or after-shave splash – or anytime you need an aromatic boost.

4 Tbls fresh tomato leaves, chopped

1 Tbls fresh lemon zest

1 tsp fresh basil leaves

1 tsp fresh mint leaves

1 cup witch hazel

Place all of the fresh leaves and lemon zest inside a clean jar or bottle. Pour the witch hazel over; shake gently. Cover the bottle top and let it sit in a cool, dark spot for two weeks. Strain the liquid and discard any solids. Pour the liquid through a fine strainer or coffee filter into a clean bottle.

To Use: Apply as you would any cologne product. It’s especially refreshing on a hot summer day if kept in the refrigerator. Yield: 8 ounces.

Avocado Facial Mask

Fresh avocados are a classic facial mask ingredient full of natural fats and protein to help stimulate your skin’s own natural production of oil, helping to smooth out rough, dry skin. All skin types can benefit from an avocado facial. Make sure to save the pit; you can grind it up and use it in body scrub recipes, and if you live somewhere warm, you can plant it to have your own little avocado tree.

1/2 fresh avocado, mashed

1 Tbls fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and stir well until you have a smooth, creamy mixture.

To Use: Spread the mask on a clean face and neck and let sit for 15 minutes. {Take this moment to relax!} Rinse with warm water and gently pat your skin dry. Yield: 3 ounces, enough for one treatment.

Vegan Substitutions

Need to find a substitute for an ingredient in one of your beauty recipes? Several plant substances serve as effective replacements for some common ingredients derived from animals.

  • Beeswax: Heavy plant waxes, such as candelilla and carnauba, and oils like coconut can stand in for beeswax, which is used to thicken creams, lotions, and lip balms and help protect your skin. Cocoa and shea butters also work well.
  • Dairy: Today, you can find a wide variety of plant and nut milks to replace animal dairy called for in beauty recipes.
  • Egg white: This part of the egg provides astringent and cleansing qualities for oily skin types, but cucumber, chamomile tea, and aloe vera gel will work similarly.
  • Egg yolks: Full of lecithin, egg yolks help with dry skin conditions, but you can replace them with soy lecithin or use a rich oil such as coconut and olive instead.
  • Honey: In place of honey to cleanse and moisturize your skin look to molasses, maple syrup, or agave syrup.
  • Lanolin: Found in sheep’s wool, lanolin can be replaced with rich plant oils such as soy, almond, and avocado.