In addition to nourishing and healing our bodies, plants also provide us with a bounty of ingredients for enhancing our natural beauty. This time of year, I like to combine herbs picked fresh from my garden with essential oils to create my own skin care products. Since everything we put on our bodies is absorbed through our largest organ, the skin, when possible and within reason, I try to avoid preservative-laden products with synthetic ingredients in favor of simple preparations. Here are a few of my favorite recipes.
Calendula body oil
I grow calendula in my garden for the beauty of its warm orange blossoms and also because it’s my go-to herb for soothing skin. I like to massage a thin layer of this oil into my skin after bathing to seal in moisture. Gentle enough for babies, it can also be a useful part of any herbal first aid kit—simply dab oil on the cuts, bites, and other skin irritations that often accompany a season well spent outdoors.
Calendula flowers, dried or freshly dried
Organic sunflower seed oil (carrier oil)
Fill a jar 2/3 full with calendula flowers and cover with sunflower seed oil. Seal jar with a tight-fitting lid and let steep in a warm place for 2-4 weeks. Strain, bottle, and store the oil in a cool, dark place. If you’d like (and you’re not using the oil on a baby), you can add your favorite essential oil—use 2-3 drops per ounce of strained calendula oil.
Lavender Honey Yogurt Mask
As I mention in my Flowers That Heal blog, I love using lavender-infused honey to treat minor skin troubles, and it also makes a wonderfully soothing facial mask when combined with probiotic-rich yogurt. To make the honey, stir 1/4 cup of dried lavender flowers into a cup of honey, place in a jar, put on tight fitting lid, steep for 2-4 weeks, strain and store in a clean jar. Smooth this mask on right out of the refrigerator to cool sunburned skin, or simply apply any time you’re in the mood for some easy-yet-luxurious self-care. You’ll be amazed by how radiant your face looks after you rinse the mask away.
6 tablespoons probiotic-rich whole milk yogurt
6 tablespoons lavender honey
Mix ingredients and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, noting the yogurt’s expiration date. To use, remove about 2 tablespoons from the container and apply to a clean face. Leave on for 10 minutes, then rinse and apply moisturizer.
Rose and Coconut Body Scrub
I adapted this recipe from Herbal Goddess by Amy Jirsa. I like it because it uses sugar, which is less abrasive than salt, as an exfoliant. And it smells divine! While this scrub is great in the shower as a total body treatment, it also works well to clean and soften hands worn weary after a long day in the garden.
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup organic cane sugar (brown or white)
1/2 cup dried rose petals
3 drops rose essential oil
Mix the oil, sugar, and rose petals in a bowl, adding additional oil or sugar as needed to reach your preferred consistency. Add the essential oil, blend, and transfer mixture to an airtight container. To use, scoop a fingerful and rub over damp skin.
Green Clay Mask
I always keep some green clay around the house because it doubles as a great skin care mask and also an invaluable first aid remedy. French green clay is wonderful for those who struggle with oily skin and/or blemishes and it can also be used to soothe bug bites.
2 Tbsp French green clay
1-2 Tbsp. aloe vera gel
1 drop lavender or tea tree essential oil
Mix clay and aloe vera gel in a small bowl. Add aloe vera gel to reach desired consistency. Add one drop of lavender or tea tree essential oil and blend well. Apply to clean skin and leave on for 10 minutes. Rinse off. Repeat once weekly for radiant skin.
Interested in learning more about making your own skin care and other healing products?
My book Healthy at Home features recipes I’ve used personally and professionally for years.
For essential oils, dried herbs not found in your garden, and other ingredients, I recommend Mountain Rose Herbs. Your local health food store is a great resource, too.