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.

Sheabutter_captionimage_

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.

 

The Basics: Herbal Oils

Herbal oils are simply oils infused with herbs, much as you would 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 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 puree 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.

Quick Infused Oil:

Use this recipe when you need an herbal oil fast.

2 cups dried herbs {flowers, leaves, roots, barks, and/or seeds

2 to 2 1/2 cups almond, jojoba, or olive oil

In a blender or food processor, combine the herbs and oil. Blend or process until pureed. Place the mixture in a slow cooker turned to the low setting {about 100 degrees F} and keep it covered. To prevent spoilage, keep the herb submerged in oil at all times; add more oil if necessary. Stir daily for about 3 days. Let the oil cool. Using a fine-mesh strainer or cloth, filter the herb out of the oil, pressing as much oil out as possible. Pour the oil into amber bottles, and label the bottles with the contents and date. Store it in a dark place.

Calendula Infused Oil:

Apply this beautiful golden-colored oil directly to your skin to soothe rashes, sunburns, and skin irritations, or use it as part of a healing herbal salve or cream recipe. Store for up to 2 years if kept out of light and in a cool place.

1 cup wilted fresh or 1/2 cup dried calendula flowers

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

In a blender or food processor, combine the flowers and oil. Blend or process until pureed. Pour the mixture into a clean, clear glass jar, cover, and place in a warm spot out of direct sunlight. Make sure the herb is submerged in the oil at all times; if necessary, add more oil. Shake the jar vigorously every day for 2 to 3 weeks. Using a fine-mesh strainer or cloth, filter the herb out of the oil, pressing as much oil out as possible, and compost the herb. Bottle and label the oil and store it away from heat and light.

St. John’s Wort-Infused Oil:

St. John’s wort infused oil helps heal damaged nerves as well as other tissues. Conscientious, regular massage of an injured area with this oil can bring astonishing healing, even to old injuries. Taken internally, it helps heal stomach ulcers.

1 cup fresh St. John’s Wort flowering tops

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

In a blender or food processor, combine the herb and oil. Blend or process until smooth. Pour the mixture into a clean, clear glass jar and cover. Make sure the herb is submerged in the oil at all times; if necessary, add more oil. This oil should become bright red as it develops; if it does not, place the jar on a sunny windowsill where sunlight can warm it. Shake the jar vigorously every day for 2 to 3 weeks. Using a fine-mesh strainer or cloth, filter the herb out of the oil, pressing as much oil out as possible. Compost the herb, bottle and label the oil, and store it away from heat and light.

Earache Oil:

This classic formula is a must for every family medicine chest and a first-aid kit. It combines the properties of mullein flowers and garlic to reduce bacterial growth and prevent and ease earaches, wax buildup, and irritation. Remember, though, that ear infections, whether in children or adults, should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare practitioner before you treat them at home.

2 or 3 fresh garlic cloves

2 tablespoons fresh or dried mullein flower

1/2 cup almond, jojoba, or olive oil

Crush the garlic well and break up the mullein flower. In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic, flower, and oil. Blend or process until pureed. Pour the mixture into a clean, clear, glass pint jar and store it away from heat and light. Make sure the herb is submerged in the oil at all times; if necessary, add more oil. Shake the jar daily for about 2 weeks. Strain and compost the herb. Bottle and label the oil and store it away from heat and light.

To use, pour some oil into an amber bottle with a dropper, let it warm to room temperature, and put 2 or 3 drops of the oil into the ear that needs treatment. Tilt your head so that the oil flows easily down your ear canal. Massage the back of your ear several times to help disperse the oil throughout the ear canal. Repeat two or three times daily.

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.

Rose Hips and Rose Hip Tea

The rose hips or fruits of different species of the rose plant have always had a significant place in natural medicine, as they are very rich in vitamin C content. The color of these rose hips varies from dark red to bright scarlet and their shapes differ too. While some of the rose hips may be ovoid in appearance, there are others that are pear-shaped. Basically, the rose hips are collected from the variety of the rose plant called the dog rose or Rosa canina. However, herbalists prefer the larger rose hips of the Japanese rose called R. rugosa. Even other varieties of the rose plant, including R. acicularis as well as R. cinnamon, are also valued greatly. Incidentally, all these different varieties of rose plants belong to the Rosaceae family.
As mentioned earlier, the rose hips or the fruits of the different varieties of the rose plants enclose the high quantity of vitamin C and hence are of great value to the practitioners of herbal medicine. In fact, the rose hips are used to prepare teas, purees, extracts, marmalades, and even soups and all these are consumed as nourishment’s as they contain lots of vitamin C. Extracts from the rose hips are generally included in several natural vitamin mixtures like tablets, capsules, syrups and many other similar things. Interestingly, manufacturers of most such vitamin amalgams are always careful about never mentioning the proportion of vitamin obtained from rose hips and from artificial ascorbic acid. The rose hips are known to possess properties that help in preventing as well as healing scurvy (a disease caused by vitamin deficiency). In addition, the rose hips also have gentle laxative and diuretic effects which help in the movement of bowels and increasing the urine outflow from the body respectively.
Chemical analysis of the rose hips has shown that they contain 0.5 to 1.7 percent vitamin C. However, the real content of vitamin C in the commercially available dried rose fruits varies depending on the accurate botanical source of the plant from which the rose hips have been acquired. For instance, the quantity of vitamin C present in these commercially available dried rose hips is influenced by factors like the place where the rose plant was grown, the time of harvesting the rose hips, the manner in which the fruits were dried, where and how the dehydrated rose hips were stored and other things like these. It has been often found that many commercial varieties of the rose plant material contain little or no traces of vitamin C at all. Even though we may take it for granted that the commercial varieties of the rose hips available in the market possess approximately one percent of vitamin C on an average and the entire vitamin is available in the end product, at least, one proposal does not seem to be convincing. As the present cost of vitamin C acquired from the rose hips is at least 25 times more than the artificial product, it is not feasible for the manufacturers to add enough of the natural substance in their products.
In addition to substantial proportions of vitamin C, the rose hips possess several other chemical amalgams which comprise 11 percent of pectin and three percent of a blend of malic and citric acids. Researchers are of the view that the presence of malic acid and citric acid contributes to the rose hips’ laxative and diuretic effects. As a consequence, physicians frequently recommend the use of rose hips or preparations with it to treat constipation and urinary problems.
Over the centuries, gardeners across the globe have admired and loved the rose flowers that are undoubtedly elegant as well as aromatic. At the same time, the gardeners have also held the hips or the fruits of the rose plant in high esteem for its numerous medicinal benefits. The rose hips vary from oval to round to pear-shaped in appearance and they appear either in the latter part of summer or during the fall. Interestingly, in reality, the rose hips are not fruits, but receptacles or containers that enclose the actual fruits of the rose plant. The actual rose fruit is known as ‘seeds’ or ‘achenes’.
Long ago, people thought the rose hips to be sacred. This is corroborated by the fact that during the Middle Ages, the rosary of the Catholics was made from rose hips and hence they were called rosary. These rosaries were used to count the prayers as they were also being said. Even today, the beads of the rosary used by the Catholics resemble the rose hips and as the fruits of different species of the rose plant, these modern-day beads are also smooth and elongated in appearance.
Here is an important point to note. Compared to the hybrids, it is generally easier to take care of the different original species of the rose plant. In addition, the original species of the rose also generate more tender and fleshy hips that are best for consumption. If you intend to use the rose for culinary as well as decorative purposes, you should go for the original species of the rose and cultivate them in your garden. On the other hand, if you fancy the climbing variety of the rose and also want them to fruit generously, never ever trim or prune the plants soon after their blossoming season in summer.
It may be mentioned here that if not harvested, the rose hips generally remain on the plant all through the early part of the winter or till the birds, rabbits, and field rodents have either eaten them up or stored them somewhere for future use. Owing to the high intensity of ascorbic acid present in them, the rose hips stimulating tart taste that is very much fruit-like. In fact, fresh rose hips enclose as much as 60 times the quantity of vitamin C contained in the oranges and the rugosa roses. The rugosa rose bears comparatively large round shaped fruits and are known to contain rich proportions of vitamin C.
In addition to being a beautiful and aromatic flower, the rose is also beneficial as remedies for several disorders. The leaves, as well as the petals of the rose plant, provide a comforting effect and if ingested as a tea, can diminish body temperature during high fevers. The tea prepared with rose petals and leaves is also effective in cleansing toxins and heat from the body, particularly when they give rise to rashes on the skin and inflammatory (swelling and irritation) problems. Several researched have shown that the rose also possesses properties that increase the body’s immunity and helps to restrict all kinds of infections from becoming larger problems. This is possible owing to the rose’s cleansing or purification properties.
An infusion prepared with rose petals may be used to alleviate cold and flu symptoms. At the same time, the infusion is effective in treating sore throats, runny nose as well as congested bronchial tracts. On the other hand, infusion or syrup prepared with rose hips is beneficial in reinforcing the lungs to combat all kinds of infections and is especially useful for those who suffer from chest problems. At the same time, roses are also effective in combating infections in the digestive system and restoring the normal and essential bacteria in the intestines. The petals and seeds of the rose have a diuretic effect and are beneficial in relieving excessive fluids from the urinary bladder. This way, they also help in getting rid of the waste and toxic substances in the body through the kidneys. Hence, the rose is also considered to be an effective cleanser and purifier.
Like the rose hips, the petals of the rose flowers also have numerous remedial uses. For instance, the rose petals are effective in relieving congestion in the female reproductive system. In addition, the rose petals may also be used to treat the excessive accumulation of fluid in the urinary tract and thereby alleviate pains and, in women, heavy periods. Physicians also recommend the use of rose petals to treat erratic menstrual periods, infertility as well as to perk up sexual desire in individuals.
An infusion prepared from the rose petals acts as a useful astringent and is effective for treating diarrhea, enteritis, and dysentery. It may be noted here that tea prepared from rose petals may be used as a laxative to clear bowel movement. At the same time, the rose petal tea is also an effective medication for the liver and enhances the flow of bile, invigorates as well as purifies the liver and the gallbladder. It also helps in alleviating problems related to lethargic liver like headaches and constipation.
Rose hips, as well as the petals of the rose flowers, possess inspiring as well as reconditioning effects on the nervous system. They are also capable of alleviating the problems of insomnia, do away with depression, drive out fatigue and also offer comfort in conditions such as tetchiness.
Rosehips-700x525

Applications

Different parts of the rose plant are useful for different purposes and hence they have different applications. The rose hips or fruits of the rose plant, flowers, and even the petals are beneficial in some way or the other and used by people as a tincture, syrup, essential oil, cream, lotion, rosewater, massage oil, gargle, and decoction.
Rose hips – R. canina:
 The rose hips (R.canina) or the fruits of the plant are used as tincture as well as syrup to treat different ailments.
TINCTURE: The tincture prepared from rose hips (R. canina) are ingested as an astringent (a medicine the draws affected tissues closer) to treat diarrhea, alleviate colic or stomach pains and is also blended with cough medicines.
SYRUP: The syrup prepared from the rose hips (R. canina) is used to provide flavor to other medicines, mostly the bitter and bland ones. The syrup is also blended in cough mixtures or may be ingested as a rich source of vitamin C.
Rose hips – R. laevigata:
 Medications prepared with rose hips (R. laevigata) are normally ingested to treat stomach disorders. They may be applied as a decoction.
DECOCTION: A decoction prepared with rose hips (R. laevigata) may be blended with other herbs like dang shen, bai zhu and shan Yao and ingested to treat insistent diarrhea that is accompanied with stomach flaw.
Essential oil – R. centifolia / R. Damascena:
 The essential oil (R. centifolia / R. damascene) extracted from the rose hips or the fruits of the rose plant are basically beneficial to treat skin and stomach conditions. This oil is normally used externally and applied as a cream, lotion, oil and massage oil.
CREAM: A few drops of the oil extracted from rose hips may be added to creams to heal parched or irritating skin.
LOTION: One ml of the tincture prepared with another herb lady’s mantle may be blended with 10 ml of rosewater to treat itching in the vagina. Use the same blend to prepare a cream by following a standard base. Blend the rosewater with the equivalent proportion of purified witch hazel and use it as a comforting and moisturizing lotion to treat skin that is inclined to be affected by pimples or acne.
OIL: Bathe with water containing two drops of the oil extracted from the rose hips to get relief from depression or melancholy, grief, and/ or insomnia.
MASSAGE OIL: To avail relief from anxiety and fatigue add approximately two ml of rose oil to 20 ml of almond or wheat germ oil and massage the same on the forehead and other parts of the body. The same blend may be used to alleviate lethargic digestion.
 Flowers – R. rugosa:
 The rose flowers (R. rugosa) is helpful for treating menstrual and liver disorders and may be ingested as a decoction.
DECOCTION: A decoction prepared with rose flowers (R. rugosa) may be blended with another herb motherwort and ingested for treating heavy menstruation. On the other hand, when the decoction is blended with herbs like Bai Shao Yao and Xiang fu, it provides an effective medication for liver dysfunction.
 Petals – R. gallica:
 The petals of the rose flower (R. gallica) are beneficial in treating menstruation and stomach disorders. A tincture prepared with them may be used as a gargle for throat infections.
TINCTURE: Ingesting approximately three ml of a tincture prepared with rose petals thrice daily is helpful in treating diarrhea as well as sluggish absorption of food. When the same tincture is blended with other herbs like the lady’s mantle, white dead-nettle or shepherd’s purse, the medication is effectual for treating erratic or intense menstruation.
GARGLE: When the tincture prepared with rose petals is diluted with warm water, it may be used as a gargle to heal aching throats. The tincture may also be blended with another herb sage for a similar application.

Rose bowl

  • 4 cups bone-dry rose petals
  • 2 cups dried rose leaves
  • 2 Tbs. ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups dried lavender buds
  • 1/3 cup orrisroot powder
  • 2 Tbs. ground allspice
  • 1/4 cup ground cloves
  • 2 ground tonka beans
  • 6 drops oil of roses
  • 3 drops oil of lavender
Combine all the dry ingredients, mix well, and add the oils, a drop at a time, mixing as you work. Seal into a jar, and cure for 6 weeks in a dry, dark, warm place that is well ventilated. Shake the jar daily. When cured, turn the potpourri into a decorative container with a tightly stoppered lid. Open only when the potpourri is in use.
rose hip tea

Rose Hip Tea

It’s amazing what I find on my walks around my neighborhood. I’m lucky enough to live in a place where blackberry bushes are literally everywhere and fruit trees grow on almost every street. We’re talking figs, various varieties of plums, apples, and pears. Gorgeous curbside gardens overflowing with kale, chard, and tomatoes are the norm. Artichokes are growing on street corners. Seriously, people, I live in a city that’s full of incredible food! And the best part is that gardeners are willing to share it! It’s pretty freaking awesome if you ask me. Just the other day, I came home with at least eight pounds worth of fruit just picked from some neighbors’ trees. I’m a lucky girl.

On one of my walks yesterday, I came across a gorgeous wild rose bush that was bursting with these gorgeous ruby orbs. They’re called rose hips, and while they may not be the first to come to mind when you think of edible fruits, they certainly are a fruit that’s worth looking for. Rose hips are the fruits that develop from the rose blossoms after their petals have fallen off. Cool, right? Heck, I’d take a bouquet of rose hips over their flowered counterpart any day!

So why should we be eating rose hips? Well, upon doing a little research, I discovered that these little red fruits are incredibly nutritious. Apparently, just a single teaspoon of rose hip pulp provides more Vitamin C than an orange, making it an excellent immune system booster. Rose hips are also incredibly high in beta carotene (thanks to their incredible reddish-orange color). Beta carotene is essential for maintaining gorgeous skin and healthy cells. It’s astonishing how high the antioxidant content of rose hips is! I even read that rose hips are clinically proven to improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Those are some powerful fruits, I tell ya.

Rose hips can be eaten fresh (after the seeds have been scooped out) or they can be dried and stored for later use. I’ve seen recipes for rose hip jams, syrups, and tinctures. In fact, there is even a traditional Swedish rose hip soup that is quite popular during the cold winter months to help fend off colds and flu. Here, I chose to make a simple rose hip tea to really enjoy their health benefits. Depending on the variety of rose, the hips will vary slightly in appearance and flavor. The rose hips I found were from a rugosa rose bush, which is known for having the biggest, most vibrantly colored rose hips. Overall, they have a mildly tart taste and remind me a bit of the flavor of cherry tomatoes.

There are a few ways to make rose hip tea. I chose to steep the rose hips in a teapot of boiling water for about 20-30 minutes, but you can also simmer them on the stove in water for the same amount of time until they break up and form a pulp. Either way works, just strain the pulp before drinking the tea. And of course, you can eat the pulp, as well!

Fresh Rose Hip Tea (makes 2 cups)

10-12 fresh rose hips, seeds removed
2 cups boiling water
1. Put the rose hips in a teapot or French press. Pour boiling water over them, cover, and let steep for your desired amount of time. (See note above).
2. Strain through a fine mesh strainer or push the plunger of the French press.  I pressed on the rose hips to release more of their goodness. Sweeten the tea with honey, if desired. And eat the rose hips, if you’d like an extra boost of Vitamin C!

About Essence by Ashley November

I believe there is only one way to beautiful, nature’s way. I have believed this for years and still do. Constantly seeking out wonderful natural ingredients from all four corners of the globe, and bring you products bursting with effectiveness to enhance your natural beauty and express your unique personality. And while I’m doing this, I always strive to protect this beautiful planet and the people who depend on it. I don’t do it this way because it’s fashionable. I do it because, to me, it’s the only way.

Floral-Bath-Salts-Tutorial

Just like the skin cells on your face, the cells on your body regularly shed to reveal new, healthier skin underneath. That turnover process slows as we get older; to give it a nudge, reach for a body scrub.

A scrub works in a few ways: As you massage it over your body, the exfoliating granules help to slough off dead skin, and the rubbing action itself boosts circulation and helps drain your lymph nodes, by increasing blood flow to the skin’s surface. Plus, after all, that deep cleansing work in the shower, your post-wash moisturizer will be better able to soothe and hydrate your skin.

But another important benefit of using a scrub is how good it can feel at the moment. Being mindful of the refreshing texture against your skin and captivating scent that fills the shower allows you to enjoy the treatment as it’s happening—an experience that can lift your mood and affect your outlook as you continue your day or evening.

Types of Body Scrubs

Typically, a body scrub has larger exfoliating particles than a facial scrub as the skin on your body isn’t as delicate. Common ingredients in store-bought scrubs are salt, sugar, and crushed nut shells, and some include chemically exfoliates, like alpha hydroxy and glycolic acids, which can help smooth and firm skin, and salicylic acid, which can help improve the appearance of blemishes or redness. You can make your own buffing scrub with ingredients like olive oil, honey, raw sugar, ground cloves, oatmeal, and even ground coffee. Adding your favorite essential oils to the mixture transforms your shower into an aromatherapy session.

Try this homemade scrub:

¼ cup olive oil
½ cup white or brown sugar
½ cup ground oatmeal (or coffee grounds for a more invigorating scrub)
1-3 drops essential oil (try lavender, almond, citrus or peppermint oils)

Whisk together all ingredients and pour into a mason jar or other airtight container. Use just a quarter-sized amount at a time, storing the scrub in a dry place for up to three weeks.

If you’d rather stick with a smooth shower gel, using a loofah or exfoliating cloth can provide the cleansing scrub your skin needs. Experiment with various products and tools to find a scrub and technique that feels the best on your skin.

How to Use a Body Scrub

If your skin is healthy and firm, you can use a shower scrub up to three times a week. But if you have sensitive or thin skin, limit a good buffing to once a week.

Hold off on running the water in the shower and spend a few minutes using your hands or scrubbing tool to rub your scrub in circular motions onto dry skin for full and longer-lasting coverage. Turn on the water and rinse, using your hands to help remove any remaining granules. If you’re short on time, massage the scrub all over your body and rinse during your normal shower routine.

Be careful not to over scrub. Though your body skin is heartier than the skin on your face, it is susceptible to irritation. Always moisturize after you’ve dried off for smooth, nourished skin.

Do you use a self-tanner? Try a non-oily body scrub before applying any tanning lotion to guarantee an even application. By removing the dead skin cells, you’ll avoid splotches and dark spots, especially around your knees and elbows. Body scrubs are also great for removing self-tanner from your body.

When Not to Use a Body Scrub

If you have a sunburn or are experiencing a rash or other skin condition, give the body scrub a rest. Some of the ingredients—and the actual rubbing—could further irritate your skin. You’ll also want to skip it after shaving if your scrub contains salt or any chemical ingredients.

Highland Beauty

Part of the United Kingdom, Scotland covers the northern third of the Island of Great Britain, and while it shares a border with England to the south, it’s otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, and the Irish Sea on the southwest coast. In addition to the mainland, the country comprises more than 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides. Its romantic, craggy coastal cliffs, its moors, and its fields provide a landscape of rugged, enduring beauty. And its seaside habitats provide us with key ingredients to boost our own beauty, no matter where we live.

Scottish herbal gardens

In a country with such an astounding landscape, the Scottish take advantage of nature, putting these native plants and herbs to good use. Strolling along you will see small gardens and containers full of flowers, herbs, and vegetables. {Walking is a popular pastime in Scotland. The “right to roam” is something the Scottish people embrace, and you are allowed to trek, hike, and walk all over the country, so long as you are respectful to both private and public lands.} The countryside is also a source of important species, and plants that some may think of as weeds or as insignificant, such as rosehips and nettles, are actually quite useful when made into a healthy morning tea or in treating tough skin issues like eczema. The sea, of course, offers a variety of beauty ingredients – sea kelp and ocean salt, in particular, which soothe the body and boost circulation.

Here are a few recipes for you to create at home in the celebration of this small country.

Scottish Sea Kelp Bath

The sea has been used for centuries as a source of fresh ingredients and a place for purification and relaxation. Today, baths containing sea salt and mineral- and vitamin-rich sea kelp are popular spa treatments, but you can easily draw yourself one at home. It can help your body detox and it relaxes your muscles. Look for kelp in powdered form at most natural food stores {it may be brown, green, or red}. If you are lucky enough to live by the ocean, you can use fresh seaweed and kelp; just make sure you take it from a secluded spot away from swimmers and rinse it thoroughly with fresh water before adding it to your bath.

  • 1/2 cup Epsom salt
  • 1/2 cup sea salt
  • 1/4 cup powdered sea kelp {1 cup freshly picked sea kelp}

Mix together all ingredients and stir well. If using fresh kelp, store in the refrigerator or freezer until bath time. To use: Pour the mixture and/or your fresh pieces of kelp {you will feel like a mermaid!} into a warm tub under running water and soak for 20 minutes. Make sure you follow up with a rich body lotion or natural oil, as this bath can be drying to your skin. Yield: 10 ounces.

Nettles Body Lotion

Stinging nettles grow along Scottish country roads and backyards and are often thought of as a pesky weed with a nasty bite. But herb-lovers know the wealth of nutrients nettles provides, and this plant is often a key ingredient in many herbal teas and body-care products. Dried or processed nettle is safe to use on your skin and hair and provides anti-inflammatory properties. This simple body lotion works great for extremely dry skin by reducing irritation. You can find nettle tea at most natural food shops and online. {If you have nettles nearby, be sure to wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and thick gloves when harvesting.}

  • 1/8 tsp borax powder or baking soda
  • 1/2 cup strong nettle tea {2 tsp dried nettle leaves to 1/2-cup boiling water}
  • 1/4 cup light oil such as almond, light sesame, or sunflower}
  • 1 Tbls grated beeswax

Mix together the borax and nettle tea and stir well. Heat until mixture is just boiling and very hot. In a separate container mix, the oil and beeswax and heat until the wax just begins to melt. Remove from heat and stir until wax is melted completely. In a clean blender or by hand in a large bowl with a whisk, combine the two mixtures, adding the nettle tea to the oil mixture in a slow, steady stream until you have a creamy emulsion. Let this mixture cool completely. Pour the lotion into a clean container. To use: Massage into your skin as you would any rich lotion. Yield: 6 ounces.

Stinging Nettle

If you do happen to brush up against a stinging nettle plant, here are some simple ways to take the “sting” out of your encounter. First, do not touch or scratch the affected area; this only spreads the irritants {much like poison oak or ivy}. Next, wash your skin with soap and water and pat dry. Use a bit of masking tape or cooled wax to remove some of the nettle hairs and fibers from your skin by pressing gently. Finally, apply some aloe vera gel, which will soothe the sting. Soaking and cooking in water or drying the herb removes its sting. Gather fresh nettles with care, making sure to wear gloves. Place them in a paper bag or let them hang upside down to dry.

Sea Kelp and Yogurt Facial Mask

Many of the nutrients in seaweed and kelp are fat soluble, becoming available when introduced to natural oils and fats. Fresh yogurt makes an excellent base for a nourishing and cleansing facial mask because it contains fat, as well as natural acids that help rid your skin of surface impurities and cleans out pores.

  • 1/4 cup yogurt {you may want to try yogurt made from sheep’s milk}
  • 1 Tbls sea kelp powder
  • 1 tsp aloe vera gel
  • 1/2 tsp vitamin E oil

Mix together all ingredients until smooth and creamy. To use: Spread the mixture on your face and neck and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse off with cool water and pat your skin dry. Follow with a light natural oil or more aloe vera gel. Yield: 2 ounces.

rosehips

Wild Rosehip Facial Mask

Usually harvested in the fall, rosehips are small, orange-red fruits about the size of a cherry found just below the rose flower. Many natural food stores sell powdered rosehips. Extremely rich in vitamin C, which boosts collagen production, these beach beauties help revive the skin.

  • 1 Tbls dried rosehips, crushed
  • 1 Tbls water or rosewater
  • 1 tsp raw honey

Mix crushed rosehips and water and stir well until you have a smooth paste. Add the honey. Spoon into a clean container. To use: Spread the mixture on your face and neck and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse off with cool water and pat your skin dry. Yield: 1 ounce.

Oatmeal Body Cleanser

No Scottish breakfast would be complete without a serving of whole oats. This healthy grain contains saponins that remove dirt from pores, and it also helps to moisturize. It’s especially helpful for relieving redness and irritations. All skin types can use oats, including those with sensitive skin. Make sure to use whole grain oats, which provide the most minerals and vitamins to benefit your skin.

  • 1 cup whole oats
  • 1/2 cup whole milk or almond milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbls raw honey

In a food processor or blender combine all ingredients and blend on high until you have a smooth, creamy mixture or lotion. Pour into a clean container with a tightly fitting lid and store in the refrigerator. To use: Massage into damp skin to clean your face and body. {Use it as you would any liquid cleanser or body wash.} Yield: 8 ounces.

Soothing Scottish Oatmeal Bath

Another oatmeal recipe, this one includes baking soda and sea salt for extra cleansing and detox power. Choose a variety of your favorite herbs, such as dried nettle, chamomile, lavender, or mint. Try this bath if you have a bad sunburn or insect bites.

  • 1 cup of dried herbs or a combination of herbs
  • 2 cups whole oats
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until you have a fine powder that resembles whole grain flour. Pour into a clean, dry jar with a tightly fitting lid. To use: Pour 1/2 cup into your bath as you fill the tub. Or place the mixture inside a muslin tea bag or cotton cloth if you’re concerned about bits of herbs in your tub. Simply hang or float the bath bag in your tub as you fill it. Yield: 28 ounces.

Mary, Queen of Scots, Bath

Imprisoned by her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, and eventually executed for treason, Mary, Queen of Scots, led a unique life. One of the things she was known for during her rule of Scotland was her love of baths filled with sweet white wine. In fact, it took 346 bottles of wine to fill her tub. According to the BBC, Mary believed this soak helped her complexion, and it may have provided some pain relief. Wine or vinegar in the bath does restore a natural, healthy acid to your skin. However, unlike Mary, you will only need half a bottle for your own bath.

  • 2 cups sweet white wine

Pour the wine directly into your bath as you fill the tub and stir well. To use: Soak for 20 minutes; afterward, use a rich body lotion or natural oil to lock in absorbed moisture. Yield: 16 ounces.

Luffa Love!

They may look exotic, but these all-natural scrubbing sponges are easy to grow in your backyard, making a great addition to your garden bed – and your beauty routine.

While they may look like sea sponges, most luffa {or loofah} “sponges” that you see on store shelves come not from the sea but from a plant. These scrubbers help exfoliate dead cells and surface impurities for healthy, glowing skin. The bonus; you don’t have to go to a store to buy one. Growing luffa is actually quite simple and fun.

Planting Your Luffa

Luffa {Luffa aegyptiaca}, known also as sponge gourd, Egyptian cucumber, hechima {in Japanese}, Chinese okra, and Vietnamese luffa, belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family of plants, which includes gourds, squashes, pumpkins, cucumbers, and melons. It’s most closely related to cucumbers in appearance and growth.

Luffa is the perfect addition to your garden space. Besides offering a range of household uses, they are edible and compostable and pollinators love their bright-yellow flowers. They are also easy to grow if you give them plenty of sunshine, water, and a place to climb.

You can find seeds at most garden shops and online. Local growers or neighbors will often gladly sell or even give seeds, as each gourd produces 100-200 seeds, depending on size. These large, black seeds are easy to handle, but they have a hard, outer shell so you will need to soak your seeds for 12 hours before planting. Some people also clip a tiny portion off the rounded end to help the seeds soak up more water and germinate faster.

Start your seeds inside before planting. It takes almost 90 days to produce a full-grown sponge, and may not have a long enough outdoor growing season. {North Carolina and Florida produce the most luffa in the United States. If you are lucky to live in either of these states, visit a local luffa farm or grower.} Once the danger of frost has passed and seedlings have sent out their first true leaves, you can transplant them.

If you are sowing outdoors, plant seeds 1-inch deep either directly in the ground or in a container with good drainage and rich, organic soil. Make sure you find a spot with full sun, and provide a trellis or sturdy fence nearby, as luffas love to climb. Water deeply every seven days to encourage strong roots, and fertilize with a finished compost when you see the first flowers form. After pollination, it’s the female flowers which produce the fruit. Luffas can cross-pollinate with other luffa varieties, but not with other gourds, so you can safely plant them next to other Cucurbitaceae species.

Luffa requires a lot of the same care as cucumbers to remain healthy and happy. Train the vines by gently placing tendrils where you would like them to climb. Luffa pods won’t grow unless the flowers pollinate {a good reason to keep bee-friendly companion plants nearby}. According to Luffa.info, you can also promote pollination by using a paper-based cotton swab to remove pollen from the male flowers {clustered, with thin stems} to the female blooms {solitary, with large stems}.

Harvesting Your Plants

For most regions, fall is the time to harvest. If you plan on eating them, pick your luffas when they reach about six inches long. Prepare the green pods as you would summer squash or zucchini; simply peel the skin, chop up the fruit, and add it to recipes. {Save the green peels, as they make wonderful cleansing facial and body scrubs that can be used in place of soap. They are also compostable.

If you want to make sponges, then leave the pods on the vine until they turn yellow/brown. Pick them from the vine and let them dry for about one to two weeks; then cut off the ends of your gourd and shake out the black seeds to save for next year or for sharing. Soak the gourd in fresh water and gently peel off the outer skin. The inner, fibrous skeleton is what you will use as your sponge.

luffa sponges

Caring for Your Luffa

The number one rule of luffa care is to keep it dry. Luffas can harbor bacteria so it is important to sanitize and care for your luffa properly. Rinse your luffa after each use and let it air dry completely. Always store your luffa in a dry spot, and not inside your shower, where it can’t dry completely between uses. Some people attach a piece of cord or rope to their luffas and hang them to dry.

Once a week, rinse your luffa and clean it by either boiling it in a pot of water on the stovetop, placing it in the top rack of your dishwasher or throwing it in the washing machine with a load of towels. Air dry your luffa thoroughly and it should last several months to a year. When it’s time to toss your sponge {it will look a lot darker and start to smell sour}, compost it or place it in the bottom of your flowerpots to help them retain moisture.

How Best to Use a Luffa

Luffa helps exfoliate and cleanse the surface of your skin by removing dead skin cells and other surface impurities. They also provide a gentle massage that boosts circulation and general well-being.

  1. Wet your luffa in the shower or bath with warm water. {The texture of the luffa may seem rough at first, but once you add hot water, it becomes much softer and easier to use on your skin.} The more you wet it and the longer it soaks in water, the softer it will become. Keep this in mind if you plan on using your luffa on classic rough skin spots, such as your feet or elbows, and would prefer a rougher texture.
  2. Apply your favorite cleanser or soap to your luffa. While not necessary, some people enjoy using their luffa with a body wash. You only need a little bit of body wash, and the luffa works double-duty cleansing and exfoliating. Just avoid sensitive skin areas on your body, and never use a luffa on your face.
  3. Starting at your shoulders, massage your body with the luffa in circular motions. Work your way down to your feet focusing on rough skin or areas with dry skin, such as the back of your arms or legs. A circular motion will help remove dead skin cells and is easier on your skin than an up-and-down scrubbing motion.
  4. Rinse your body with warm water, followed by a cool water rinse {as cool as you can stand}.
  5. Repeat weekly or bi-weekly depending on your skin type.

Luffa Beauty Recipes

Here are some recipes for using and enjoying your luffa plants. A homegrown luffa makes a wonderful present, and the addition of all-natural bath products makes the gift package complete.

Luffa Vine Water Toner

Luffa vine water is a traditional Japanese lotion made from soaking a freshly cut piece of hechima vine in some sake or shochu {an alcoholic beverage distilled from rice, barley, and sweet potatoes}. Use it as a toner after washing your face to protect and moisturize your skin.

  • 1 piece of freshly cut luffa vine {about 12-18 inches in length}
  • 1/2 cup sake or shochu
  • 1/2 cup water

In a clean glass jar or bowl, place the freshly cut luffa vine and sake. Let sit overnight {which will allow the water from the vine to fully infuse the alcohol}. Strain the liquid and then add water. To use: Apply to your skin after cleansing as a toner. Yield: 8 ounces.

Green Luffa Skin Cleanser

Much like cucumber peels, the green outer skin of the luffa plant is naturally astringent, making it a great ingredient for cleansing and freshening your skin. This simple recipe cleans well enough to replace your soap, and all skin types will enjoy it. Because it contains fresh foods, store it in the refrigerator between uses.

  • 1 cup green luffa peels
  • 1 Tbls aloe vera gel
  • 1 tsp raw honey
  • 1-2 Tbls water

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until you have a smooth, green mixture. Pour into a clean container with a tightly fitting lid. To use: Massage into damp skin and rinse well with warm water. Yield: 8 ounces.

Soothing Luffa Sugar Scrub

Keeping skin clean not only prevents breakouts, it helps the skin absorb more moisture, so once a week, use a good, all-over skin scrub to remove dead cells, allowing the fresh skin underneath to hydrate. Sugar works well because it’s less dehydrating than salt and it suits all skin types. For extra cleansing power, you can grate dried luffa gourds with a cheese grater and add it to skin-scrub recipes, as I did in this recipe. Grating the dried luffa makes it gentle and less abrasive.

  • 1 cup raw sugar
  • 1/4 cup almond oil
  • 1/2 tsp vitamin E oil
  • 2 Tbls grated dried luffa

Mix together all ingredients and pour into a clean container. To use: Stand in the shower or tub and massage a tablespoon or two of the scrub all over your body to gently exfoliate and moisturize your skin. Rinse well afterward. If you feel you need more moisture, follow up with more almond oil or your favorite body lotion. Yield: 8 ounces.

Luffa Soap Bars

Use this gentle scrubbing bar to remove dirt after a day spent gardening. You can also use these bars to cleanse your whole body, but be careful around sensitive areas. {Do not use this soap to wash your face, as it’s too harsh.} The natural luffa sponge helps exfoliate dead skin cells and surface impurities, leaving your skin clean, soft, and smooth. I use a serrated bread knife to slice the dried luffa gourd. You can use a variety of kitchen items as soap molds, including muffin tins, plastic dishes, mini loaf pans, and clean food containers.

  • 2 bars of pure, natural soap {such as castile or coconut oil}, chopped
  • 2 Tbls vegetable glycerin
  • 1 Tbls water
  • 4 slices dried luffa sponge, 1/2-inch thick

Place the luffa slices on an oiled cookie sheet or inside a lightly greased soap mold {mineral oil will work for this}. In a double boiler, gently heat the soap, glycerin, and water until you have a thick mixture and all the soap is melted. Spoon the melted soap inside your luffa slices and allow it to harden. Trim your soap with a sharp knife. To use: Apply to your skin as you would a luffa sponge or any scrubbing bar of soap. Avoid broken skin or rashy areas. Yield: 8 ounces, 3 to 4 bars of soap.

Favorite Herbs Luffa Soap

Combine shredded luffa with other dried herbs, such as lavender, chamomile, mint, or rosemary, to create a soap that exfoliates and smells great! Really, any scented herb you enjoy will work. Do not use fresh herbs in this recipe, as the moisture in the herbs can cause bacteria to grow.

  • 1 bar {1/2 cup} glycerin soap
  • 1 tsp water
  • 1 Tbls dried herbs such as lavender, chamomile, or rosemary {or a combination}
  • 1 Tbls grated luffa

Place the luffa and herbs inside a soap mold. In a double boiler, gently heat the soap, glycerin, and water until you have a thick mixture and all the soap has melted. Spoon the melted soap inside your molds and allow it to harden. Trim your soaps with a sharp knife. To use: Apply to the skin as you would any scrubbing bar of soap. Avoid broken skin or sensitive areas. If needed, follow with moisturizer. Yield: 8 ounces, 3 to 4 bars of soap.

Luffa’s Other Uses

Luffa sponges offer a range of uses beyond your beauty regime, and they have been used and cultivated since ancient times. The Egyptians grew these gourds for food and also used the fibrous “skeleton” to make shoes and sandals. Prior to World War ll, luffas were also used on ships as filters and as insulation material. You can still find luffa sandals for sale in some countries today.

  • Arts: As a natural material, dried luffa makes an interesting “stamp” for creating designs on paper and fabric when dipped in paint. It also adds a natural texture to paint surfaces, such as walls and ceilings. Children can also have fun decorating luffa sponges with a variety of natural items, creating soft sculptures and dolls.
  • Kitchen: Use a luffa to scrub stubborn grease or leftover food on pots and pans. They stay dryer than a regular sponge {microwave your wet luffa for two minutes to kill germs}. To keep a bar of hand soap dry, place a slice of luffa underneath it.
  • Bath: Cut your luffa lengthwise, remove the inner core, and flatten the outer skeleton to create a material that you can use as a washcloth, to wear as spa slides {those sandals you put on after a pedicure}, or even as a natural maxi pad. Of course, a luffa works great to scrub soap scum buildup in the shower.

Scrambled Eggs and Luffa

Not just for beauty, luffa also tastes great. Young luffa gourds or “Chinese okra” {Luffa acutangula} make a tasty addition to stir-fry recipes. You can find them in some Asian markets, and they provide the body with manganese, potassium, vitamin A, and dietary fiber. Slice them on the diagonal in small, 1-inch pieces.

  • 1 Tbls vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 cups luffa gourd, peeled and cut into 1-inch slices
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and stir until light brown and aromatic. Add luffa and stir until softened, about 1-2 minutes. Add eggs and cook until set. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with rice or steamed vegetables. Yield: 16 ounces, 2 servings.

Sea-Sponges-6

What About Sea Sponges?

Considered one of the oldest organisms on Earth, sea sponges – porous, bottom-dwelling sea creatures – grow like plants, but are actually classified as animals. Unlike other animals, however, they do not have circulatory, digestive, or central nervous systems. They belong to the Porifera phylum, referring to their porous features. The sponges filter the water that flows through these pores, gathering nutrients and releasing waste.

You can find sustainably grown sea sponges online and in stores. Softer than luffa sponges, sea sponges serve as environmentally friendly alternatives to the plastic poufs sold in the body wash aisle, since they are biodegradable and regrow after harvesting.

Look for ones that haven’t been bleached or treated with other chemicals. As with luffa plants, sea sponges offer a range of uses, from exfoliating skin to washing dishes to enhancing arts and crafts. And with a variety of species {5,000, in fact} to choose from, you can find the right sea sponge to suit your needs.

Natural Beauty With Fall Nuts

Autumn is a season of transition and harvest, during which we cut back the garden, dry and preserve our herbs, and enjoy fresh apples, grains, and a wealth of healthy and delicious nuts.

When we think of fall nuts we often think of them defined in the culinary sense: large, oil-rich kernels found in hard shells. Botanically speaking, many nuts, including hazelnuts, chestnuts, and acorns are actually fruits composed of a hard shell with an edible seed inside. This tasty seed is packed with unsaturated fatty acids, protein, fiber, and a good dose of omega-3’s.

While they’re certainly tasty, common fall nuts like Brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, and pecans are perfect for natural beauty because they contain so much protein, as well as vitamins, minerals, and natural oils. Finely ground, they make an effective ingredient in skin scrubs, and they help cleanse the skin without drying it out or damaging the surface. You can also make them into rich milk and butters with very little processing.

Nut oils offer a broad range of beauty recipes, and pure almond and walnut oils make wonderful skin and hair conditioners. {Of course, eating them also promotes beauty from the inside out, because they boost collagen production in our skin.} The bonus: you can find them easily at most grocery or natural food stores. Here are some easy natural beauty recipes for you to try at home. Enjoy!

Hazelnut Cleansing Scrub

Quite a few hazelnut species exist, including one native to the Pacific Northwest and Oregon. These nuts, or filberts as they are sometimes called, grow in abundance and are harvested in the month of October. Offering a sweet, mild flavor, hazelnuts are rich in natural oils that keep skin soft and radiant. They have a long shelf life and can stay fresh up to a year if kept in a sealed bag at room temperature or even longer if stored in the freezer.

1 Tbls hazelnuts, finely ground

1 Tbls walnut or almond oil

1 Tsp honey

Mix all the ingredients together.

To Use: Gently massage into your face and neck, then rinse with warm water and pat your skin dry.

Yield: 2 ounces

Almond Facial Scrub

In this cleansing scrub, almonds gently remove dead skin cells from the face to soothe the complexion. Make sure you grind the nuts into a very fine powder, as large pieces can damage delicate skin {you can do this in a food processor or coffee grinder}. You can also purchase ground almond meal at most grocery or natural food stores

1 Tbls almonds, finely ground, or

1 Tbls almond meal

1 Tbls almond oil

1 Tsp maple syrup or honey

Mix together all ingredients. Store in a clean container.

To Use: Gently massage into the face and neck. Rinse well with warm water and pat skin dry.

Yield: 2 ounces

Walnut Oil Cream

Europeans have cultivated walnut trees since the time of ancient Rome for both culinary and cosmetic use. The oil extracted from the walnut contains essential fatty acids important for maintaining beautiful skin and hair.

2 Tbls grated beeswax

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup walnut oil

2 Tbls rose water

In a heat-resistant container, mix together the beeswax and oils. Heat gently in the microwave or a water bath until the wax and coconut oil is melted. Stir in the rose water and pour into a clean container. You may have to stir once or twice to keep the oil and water blended as the mixture cools into a thick cream.

To Use: Massage this rich cream into dry hands, or add a tablespoon mixed with vitamin E oil for a remarkable eye cream to dab on at bedtime.

Yield: 4 ounces

Nuts & Natural Beauty

Here are a few simple ways to use nuts and nut products in your skincare regime:

Oils: Add walnut and almond oils to baths or creams for extra moisture and softness. If you have thick or damaged hair, these oils work great as natural, leave-on conditioners {apply lightly}.

Ground Nuts: Cleanse and exfoliate your body with finely ground nuts, which remove dead skin while also cleaning pores and moisturizing.

Nut Milk: These are classic skin cleansers that you can use in place of soap. Find them in stores or make your own. Add milk to the bath or use as a base for facial masks and skin scrubs.

Nut Butters: If you grind fresh nuts with a bit of oil you will produce an edible nut butter that’s high in protein and natural fats, For cosmetic use, try nut butters as a conditioning hair pack or skin treatment for dry skin and rough skin spots.

Almond Milk Bath

Honey, a natural humectant, locks in moisture in your skin, while almond milk provides rich, natural fats and oils that soften and treat dry or sensitive skin. For a scented bath, use a combination of your favorite essential oils. Scent combinations to try include: sweet orange and lemongrass; peppermint, tea tree, and rosemary; and lavender and rose.

1 cup almond milk

2 Tbls pure honey

4-5 drops essential oils

Mix together all ingredients.

To Use: Pour into a warm bath as you fill the tub. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Pat your skin dry and follow with a rich cream or natural oil.

Yield: 8 ounces

Lavender Almond Milk Facial

We all know lavender for its ability to soothe and relax a stressed mind and spirit. It also has antibacterial properties that, when combined with almond milk and yogurt, help deep clean your skin to remove surface impurities and dead skin cells. This is a good facial mask for all skin types, especially sensitive or mature skin {use it weekly}.

1 Tbls Greek yogurt or sour cream

1 Tbls almond milk

1 Tsp dried lavender

1 drop essential oil of lavender {optional}

Mix together all ingredients.

To Use: Spread on face and neck and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Rinse with warm water and follow with a cool-water rinse. Pat your skin dry and use your favorite moisturizer or skin cream.

Yield: 1 ounce

almond milk

Make Your Own Almond Milk

Store-bought almond milk can be expensive; this simple process offers an easy way to make it at home. Just follow these steps.

  1. Place 1 cup of raw almonds in a bowl and cover with water. Let sit 12 hours to overnight, and then strain.

  2. Place the soaked nuts in a blender with 3 cups of water, a pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon of honey or agave if you like a sweeter flavored milk. {You can omit the sweetener if you’re using the milk for cosmetic use}.

  3. Process the mixture on high. You should have a white creamy milk. Strain your milk through a piece of cheesecloth and discard the solids. Pour your milk into a clean container and enjoy.

Raw Sugar Walnut Lip Scrub

When it comes to exfoliating, we often neglect our lips. But we want to keep them clean and clear of dead skin, so we look and feel fresh. A gentle scrub with oil-rich walnuts will do the trick!

1 Tsp finely ground walnuts

1 Tsp honey

2 Tsp brown sugar

Mix together all ingredients until you have a smooth paste.

To Use: Gently massage a small amount of the scrub into your lips using your fingertips. Rinse well with warm water, then follow up with a rich lip balm or natural oil.

Yield: Just over a half-ounce

The Fragrant Way to Beauty: Wrinkles and the Aging Skin

We don’t always notice ourselves aging, nor perhaps do our close friends and family, yet when we meet someone we haven’t seen for several years, we notice they have aged, and they notice that we have too. That’s often when we are struck by the thunderbolt of recognition that age has crept up on us silently.

The search for the elixir of youth is as old as the hills. Ancient texts abound with tales of alchemists striving to satisfy that demand from their rulers. Today, exclusive clinics offer natural cosmetic treatments to those who can afford them, and celebrity clients keep the source of their youthful appearance a closely guarded secret. After all, if everyone looks as great as they do, it defeats the purpose of looking better than the rest! Cosmetic surgery is an almost commonplace, and injectable treatments are so ubiquitous they’re something people now have done at home. Investment bankers know that if they can find the fledgling company with the latest answer to the ancient question – how to stay young? – they would be flying high!

Behind the scenes of all this frenetic activity, nature’s essential oils have been quietly playing their part. Aromatherapy began in Europe, where it’s widely incorporated into all aspects of life, including at the ritzy Swiss clinics reserved for les clients privee. Cellular regeneration is the key to youthful skin, and because skin cells renew themselves all the time, there’s hope for improvement. Cells need oxygen, which some essential oils may encourage with their circulation-stimulating properties. They also have antioxidant activity, which is needed to deal with free radicals that can easily destroy molecules, including those of all skin layers. Also, some essential oils contain phytohormones, hormonal-like properties that may account for their being able to give skin a firmer and more youthful appearance when used over time.

antiaging image

Essential Oils for Aging Skin

Many essential oils have properties that can help prevent the onset of the telltale signs of aging. The following are used in various combinations by aromatherapists to treat the effects of declining skin tone. Some essential oils have more potent effects than others, and these are often used in combinations. However, some – such as neroli, spikenard, rose, and jasmine – are used singly in luxury anti-aging products.

Anti-Aging Essential Oils

Rose Otto {Rosa damascena}

Rose absolute {Rosa centifolia}

Juniper berry {Juniperus communis}

Marjoram, sweet {Origanum majorana}

Violet leaf {Viola odorata}

Mastic {Pistacia lentiscus}

Clary sage {Salvia sclarea}

Neroli {Citrus aurantium}

Spikenard {Nardostachys jatamansi}

Cardamom {Elettaria cardamomum}

Rosewood {Aniba rosaeodora}

Chamomile German {Matricaria recutita}

Carrot seed {Daucus carota}

Frankincense {Boswellia carterii}

Immortelle {Helichrysum italicum}

Magnolia flower {Michelia alba}

Geranium {Pelargonium graveolens}

Palmarosa {Cymbopogon martinii}

Petitgrain {Citrus aurantium}

Ylang ylang {Cananga odorata}

Lavender {Lavandula angustifolia}

Sandalwood {Santalum album}

Orange, sweet {Citrus sinensis}

Cistus {Cistus ladaniferus}

Jasmine {Jasminum grandiflorum/officinale}

Patchouli {Pogostemon cablin}

Rosemary {Rosmarinus officinalis}

Coriander seed {Coriandrum sativum}

In this section, you will find special combination formulas for face treatments for four age groups, because the skin has different requirements at different stages of life. Using the correct essential oil for your facial skin serum or oil can be more than just taking into account the skin condition and the hoped-for outcome. Before blending a personal anti-aging facial oil, a holistic aesthetician specializing in essential oil skin care will examine the skin and take into account your well-being, overall health, stress levels, and any emotional factors that might be affecting your skin’s condition and rate of aging. So before you choose your oils, cross-reference to see which would be the most appropriate for you. And because you are making these products yourself, you can adapt them over time to take account of changes in your personal circumstances.

Each essential oil has its own particular qualities. For example, geranium can help with specific skin conditions such as drying or dry patches on the face, increased oiliness, enlarged pores, wrinkles and lines, dark circles under the eyes, and lack of elasticity – all of which can result from going through difficult emotional experiences. But it can also help with the underlying trauma by reducing stress, tiredness, and anxiety – the sort of anxious feelings that can keep a person awake at night and contribute to an aging skin.

Life presents many hurdles, and even on a day-to-day basis, most of us are juggling a career, personal relationships, and child care, not to mention maintaining financial security. Any resulting anxieties could inhibit the action of the immune, digestive, and lymphatic systems – all of which can have an effect on the skin. Despite all this, forget about aging gracefully. No one wants to look their age, and I’ve never met anyone – male or female – who doesn’t want to age as well as they can. So fight it every step of the way.

organic skin care

Skin-Enhancing Oil Extracts for Use in Face Oils

You have heard of the Gold Rush? Well, welcome to the Oil Rush! Patent offices all over the world are receiving applications from cosmetic company research labs trying to corner the market on processing methods for and commercial use of plant oils – with any variation thereof you could possibly imagine! Fortunately, this drive for monopoly doesn’t affect the normal user of these oils – you and me – so we can still take advantage of them.

Before getting to the antiwrinkle oils for the various age groups, we will look at some of the most beneficial additions you could incorporate in small quantities into your oil blends. These can be used on the face, neck, and decollete area of the upper chest.

Acai berry oil {Euterpe oleracea}: Emollient, nourishing skin oil used in anti-aging preparations; has moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties; suits damaged, extra-dry skin types; conditions the skin; includes omegas 6 and 9 and vitamin E; antioxidant.

Blackberry seed oil {Rubus fructicosis}: Skin nourishing and conditioning oil; suits mature, dry, and sensitive skins; includes omegas 3, 6, and 9 and vitamin E; antioxidant.

Black raspberry seed oil {Rubus occidentalis}: Helps retain elasticity; suits most skin types; anti-aging; includes omegas 3, 6, and 9 and vitamin E; antioxidant.

Blueberry seed oil {Vaccinium corymbosum}: Skin protecting oil with antioxidant properties; suits most skin types; including those with acne or blemishes.

Borage seed oil {Borago officinalis}: Moisturizing and nourishing; effective for skin maintenance oils; suits most skin types; high in gamma-linolenic acid {GLA}.

Chia seed oil {Salvia hispanica}: High in omega 3.

Cranberry seed oil {Vaccinium macroscarpon}: Good moisturizing and nourishing properties for anti-aging; suits damaged, irritated, or prematurely aged skin; includes omega 3 and vitamin E; antioxidant.

Cucumber seed oil {Cucumis sativus}: Good moisturizing and skin protection properties; cell regenerating; revitalizing, improves the elasticity and strength of the skin; anti-aging; suitable for most skin types.

Evening primrose seed oil {Oenothera biennis}: Skin conditioning and skin strengthening; useful in anti-aging skin care and scar-reducing facial oils; can be used on most skin types; high in GLA.

Gotu kola {Centella asiatica}: Macerated oil; skin regenerative; stimulates synthesis of collagen.

Hemp seed oil {Cannabis sativa}: Nourishing and skin conditioning; helps retain moisture and skin elasticity in troubled and distressed skin.

Olive squalane extract {Olea europaea}: Skin soothing and softening; suits most skin types; suits extra-dry skin; Anti-aging.

Pomegranate seed oil {Punica granatum}: Nourishing and moisturizing; improves skin elasticity; rejuvenating; conditioning; high in omega 5 fatty acid {conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA}.

Red raspberry seed oil {Rubus idaeus}: Skin protective; anti-inflammatory; nourishing and conditioning for damaged and dry skin; includes omega3 and 6 and vitamin E; antioxidant.

Rosehip seed oil {Rosa rubiginosa}: Cell regenerating and cell-stimulating; improve the appearance of scarring; improves texture and elasticity of the skin; anti-aging; suits mature and sun-damaged skin types.

Sea buckthorn berry oil {Hippophae rhamnoides}: Nourishing and revitalizing; cell regenerating; suits most skin types including prematurely aged skin; Anti-aging.

Strawberry seed oil {Fragaria ananassa}: Moisturizing and texture improving; suits most skin types including oily skin types; blemishes.

antiaging image

The Antiwrinkle Night Oils

The following blends are suggestions for general applications and should suit most people. The blends take into account the various health and well-being issues usually associated with the different age groups.

Antiwrinkle Night Oil for the Over-Twenties

Petitgrain – 4 drops

Lavender – 5 drops

Rosemary – 5 drops

Chamomile German – 2 drops

Chamomile Roman – 2 drops

Lemon – 4 drops

Geranium – 7 drops

Plus the plant oils:

Rosehip seed oil – 20 drops

Evening primrose seed oil – 10 drops

First, blend the essential oils together. Then add the plant oils into the essential oils. Dilute this blend of oils by adding 1 or 2 drops to each teaspoon {5mL} of your chosen carrier oil – such as hazelnut, almond, or apricot kernel oil. Lightly apply a small amount of the fully diluted oil over the face, neck, and decolletage.

Antiwrinkle Night Oil for the Over-Thirties

Sandalwood – 4 drops

Palmarosa – 5 drops

Lavender – 4 drops

Rosewood – 5 drops

Orange, sweet – 4 drops

Chamomile Roman – 2 drops

Carrot seed – 3 drops

Plus the plant oils:

Rosehip seed oil – 20 drops

Sea buckthorn oil – 10 drops

First, blend the essential oils together. Then add the plant oils into the essential oils. Dilute this blend of oils by adding 1 or 2 drops to each teaspoon {5 mL} of your chosen carrier oil – such as hazelnut, almond, or apricot kernel oil. Lightly apply a small amount of the fully diluted oil over the face, neck, and decolletage.

Antiwrinkle Night Oil for the Over-Forties

Neroli – 6 drops

Lavender – 4 drops

Frankincense – 5 drops

Rosemary – 2 drops

Cistus – 3 drops

Lemon – 3 drops

Immortelle – 2 drops

Carrot seed – 3 drops

Plus the plant oils:

Evening primrose seed oil – 10 drops

Rosehip seed oil – 10 drops

Sea buckthorn oil – 15 drops

First, blend the essential oils together. Then add the plant oils into the essential oils. Dilute this blend of oils by adding 2 – 3 drops to each teaspoon {5 mL} of your chosen carrier oil – such as hazelnut, almond, or apricot kernel oil. Lightly apply a small amount of the fully diluted oil over the face, neck, and decolletage.

Antiwrinkle Night Oil for the Over-Fifties

Cistus – 3 drops

Immortelle – 3 drops

Geranium – 5 drops

Rose absolute – 5 drops

Lavender – 3 drops

Ho wood – 4 drops

Plus the plant oils:

Rosehip seed oil – 30 drops

Sea buckthorn oil – 30 drops

Evening primrose seed oil – 10 drops

First, blend the essential oils together. Then add the plant oils into the essential oils. Dilute this blend of oils by adding 2 – 3 drops to each teaspoon {5 mL} of your chosen carrier oil – such as hazelnut, almond, or apricot kernel oil. Lightly apply a small amount of the diluted oil over the face, neck, and decolletage.