Taking your health, and the health of your family, into your own hands often starts with eating locally grown and unprocessed foods, keeping a garden, and learning more about your skincare. These are profound steps along the journey of wellbeing.
When we eat local, and use flowers and herbs from our garden for skincare, we start to remove things from our daily lives such as dependence upon and support in the form of dollars for pesticides, soil additives and other chemicals, oil companies and additional air pollution because of truck transportation, and packaging waste.
What we add to our daily lives is a deep connection to our health- inside and out, support for the local economy, and more nutrient dense foods and skincare products. Our skin is our largest organ and it absorbs 70% of what it comes in contact with. So let’s talk about some simple recipes you can create to heal and beautify your skin from local plant life.
An easy way to practice self care and give your skin some glow is with a DIY facial. With a few simple steps you will be on your way to renewing that youthful glow and reaping the benefits of slowing down and practicing self care. You can easily give yourself the treat of a home facial with a few ingredients from your cupboard or natural foods store. In its simplest form a facial consists of 6 steps: Cleanse, Exfoliate, Steam, Mask, Tone, Moisturize.
Cleansing is the first step and something you most likely do every day, although with your facial you will want to spend just a little extra time and care doing it. Wet your face with warm water and gently massage your favorite cleanser onto your face and neck. Use circular upward strokes, massaging for at least a minute. This gives the cleanser a chance to do its work and helps increase the circulation in your face and neck. If you want to try something different you can experiment with oil cleansing. Although it may seem counter intuitive, cleansing with oil is very effective at loosening and removing grime without stripping the skin. Simply use approximately a teaspoon of your oil of choice and massage into the skin like you would your cleanser, gently wipe off with a warm washcloth. You can use coconut, hazelnut, olive, sunflower, or any other oil of choice. Here is a detailed step by step method if you would like more info.
Exfoliation is one of the most effective ways to soften the skin. Gentle exfoliation helps remove any build up of dead skin so next steps are more effected and can penetrate deeper into the skin. If you have an exfoliating cleanser, great, just use that. You can easily make your own exfoliating face scrub by mixing ground nuts, rice, beans or oats to your cleanser or a little bit of clay and water. You can even use coffee grounds, sugar or salt! Just make sure that whatever you are using it has a fine consistency. You do not want to scrub your face with any large particles that may scratch your face. Rub your hands together with the exfoliant and then gently and thoroughly massage onto the face for approximately 1-2 minutes. Rinse with warm water or wipe with a damp washcloth. Your skin will feel oh so smooth after this step.
A facial steam adds plant nutrients directly to your skin and cleanses toxins from your pores. The steam opens pores and gently loosens excess sebum, grime and dead skin cells priming the skin for a nourishing mask. You can choose different herbs depending on your skin type. You will need a towel, a mixing bowl, hot water and herbs. You simply add your choice of herbs to a mixing bowl (a small handful is plenty). Pour hot water (boiled) over the herbs as if you were making tea and then quickly sit holding your face over the bowl and drape the towel over your head. This will trap the steam and allow you to get the full benefits of the herbs. If your face feels too hot back away from the bowl or let some steam out of the towel. Allow the steam to fully open the pores and deeply penetrate the skin for approximately 10 minutes.
Herbs for facial steams:
Rose petals – gentle astringent, calming
Lavender – anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, relaxing
Sage – anti-bacterial, astringent (best for oily, congested skin)
Chamomile – anti-inflammatory, calming
Mints – anti-bacterial, refreshing, invigorating
Basil – anti-inflammatory
Rosemary – astringent, rejuvenating
Thyme – anti-bacterial, astringent
Calendula – soothing, anti-inflammatory
This recipe from Garden Collage focuses on “plants you’d otherwise compost”. If you’re doing this steam in the evening, and don’t want to use a caffeinated tea, we suggest replacing it with chamomile, rose or both! These flowers have calming effects on the skin, as well as anti-inflammatory and astringent properties, providing relief from redness or acne.
Homemade masks are super simple and can be made from a variety of home ingredients. Clays are the most common base for any mask. Kaolin and Rhassoul are suitable for normal to dry skin types and Bentonite and French Green are best for oily skin. You can mix in other herb or seaweed powders for added benefits. I usually use about 2 tablespoons of clay and 1 teaspoon boosting powder. You can also make “active” masks out of fruit, veggies and yogurt – think smoothie for your face. You can find some simple tips and recipes here.
For a clay mask simply mix the dry clay powder with your liquid of choice until it forms a smooth paste. You can also add 1-2 drops of essential oil for added benefits if you would like. You can use just water or replace it with a floral water, honey, yogurt, juice or tea. Apply to your face and neck and allow to set for 15-20 minutes. It may dry completely or you may still have some moist spots. When you are ready to remove the mask hold a warm washcloth over your face for min to loosen the clay and then gently wipe off. Continue until all of the mask has been removed
Simple, yet essential and often overlooked aspect of any skincare routine is toning. After all that cleansing, opening and unclogging of pores you need to close them back up so they don’t get all full of gunk again. Toning takes care of that. My favorite toner as my skin has matured and become the glorious combination of dry AND oily is an astringent floral water. They are effective at hydrating and toning the skin at the same time. And they smell fabulous. My favorites are Lemon Balm, Lavender and of course Rose. Rosemary is also a lovely refreshing hydrosol. If you have dry, sensitive skin you can tone with Aloe Vera. If you have oily and congested skin you can use witch hazel. And when you have nothing….just use cold water. Spritz or pat a small amount onto the face and allow to dry.
Moisturizing is the last step that locks in moisture, protects the skin and leaves you with that glow for the rest of the day. I would suggest just using your favorite moisturizer for this step. A proper cream moisturizer is a mix of oil and water and these are not the easiest things to make at home. I often use a moisturizing oil blend, as they are easy to make and contain no preservatives. The simplest would be just jojoba oil mixed with a few drops of essential oil. I prefer lavender, fennel or carrot seed. Lavender is a fabulous for oil and blemish control, while fennel and carrot seed help with fine lines. If you want to get creative you can mix in ¼ part herbal infused oil (see recipe below) or other oils such as carrot, red raspberry (natural spf 27-50), pomegranate, camellia, cranberry or macadamia. These oils all have added anti-oxidants, extra nourishing fatty acids and vitamins.
Now look in that mirror and enjoy your soft glowing skin! If you are going outside be sure to apply sunscreen and avoid applying makeup for the day if possible. Allow the skin time absorb all the goodness you just gave it.
Solar infused Calendula Oil
Dried Organic Calendula Flowers
Organic Carrier oil of choice (olive, coconut, jojoba)
Fill a jar of desired size ¾ full with dried calendula flowers. Add flowers loosely, do not pack as oil needs to flow freely around the blossoms.
Fill the jar with oil, be sure that all the flowers are covered and leave a small amount of space at the top.
Allow to steep in a sunny spot for 3-4 weeks. You can cover the jar with a black cloth if you would like. Gently agitate once a day and infuse with your own healing energy.
Strain into a clean jar using a strainer and cheesecloth or muslin. Add a few drops of vitamin E if you don’t plan on using it up within a couple months.
This oil can be used as a healing massage oil, baby oil, bath oil, or incorporated into salve, balm or cream recipes!
Here is one more fun recipe you can easily make with ingredients from your cupboard. This scrub is fantastic for the whole body.
1 C organic sugar
1/4 C organic oil of choice (olive, almond, jojoba, coconut, macadamia)
20 drops organic essential oil of choice (lavender, citrus, rosemary) or ½ tsp powdered herbs (pumpkin spice, cinnamon, turmeric) or organic citrus zest (orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime)
Mix sugar and Oil together. Add essential oils/herbs/zest. Mix again. Scrape into reusable jar. Use in shower as needed to exfoliate and hydrate dry skin.
If you are looking for more great DIY recipes one of my favorite companies Mountain Rose Herbs has a fantastic blog here. This company is also a great resource for high quality herbs, oils, butters and essential oils.
We all want radiant skin. We all want to look and feel our very best. Growing a garden that supports this is time and energy well spent. The following list of herbs are all fairly easy to grow in the garden or in containers. Each has multiple uses externally for your skin care recipes and many can be used internally as teas or in your culinary creations.
Mints (peppermint, spearmint, catnip, lemon balm etc) -best in container as they are vigorous and can take over easily.
Comfrey – also very vigorous, plant where you want it to stay! Very difficult to remove once established.
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