If you enjoy the challenge and adventure of making things yourself you will probably be attracted to the ancient art of herbal beauty. Herbs have been used in beauty recipes for centuries and were relied upon and rightly so for their healing and beautifying qualities. Here are some herbal beauty tips for your beauty care.
Anything that can enhance beauty and promote a sense of well-being is bound to be appreciated and with herbal beauty you get the added satisfaction of knowing that you are using only natural products without unnecessary chemicals.
For the best effects only fresh herbs should be used in recipes but do not despair if you cannot grow your own because dried herbs come a close second best and work almost as well.
Sterilization of Equipment
A lot of people are put off making their own herbal preparations because of the risk of them going off. But as long as you sterilize all your equipment before starting a recipe store the finished preparation in the fridge and make sure you use it all quite quickly between three and five days you should have nothing to worry about with the recipes give below.
Sterilizing is quite a straight forward procedure first of all, wash all glass storage containers and Lind in soapy water and then rinse them thoroughly with clear warm water. Soak the lids in a solution of one tablespoon of cider vinegar to two pints of water.
Then put the jars and bottles in a large saucepan and fill it with enough water to cover the largest jar. Bring the water to the boil then quickly turn owns the heat to a low simmer. Cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain the bottles clean tea towel. When they are completely dry put the lids back on to the containers ready for use.
Methods of preparation
If you are going to use dried herbs for your recipes and cannot prepare your own then it is a good idea to buy them from an herbalist from a health food shop as there is a better chance that they have been stored properly and that their quality has been carefully preserved.
For most recipes you will need to make up a base liquid by the infusion or decoction method. The infusion process is a simple as making a cup of tea and is used where your materials consist of leafy herbs.
As an example of the proportions of materials for a typical herb infusion, add 1 oz (25g) dried herbs, or a handful of fresh ones, to 2 pints (1 litre) boiling water. Set the liquid aside to brew and then strain off the solid matter. An infusion can be stored in the fridge in a glass jar with a muslin or linen cover, for at least three days.
The decoctions process is usually used to prepare a solution from seeds, roots or barks, as opposed to leafy herbs, but herbs can also be treated in this way if you require a more concentrated liquid than the infusion method gives.
Use the same proportion of materials as described for the infusion process but, after adding the boiling water, simmer the liquid in partly covered enamel saucepan for 20 minutes, or until the water has reduced by half. Strain the mixture thoroughly and it is then ready for you to use.
Herbal Hair Care
The best herbs to use for making shapoos are: for fair hair,
- Nettles or rhubarb toot; for brunette hair,
- Cherry bark,
- Parsley or cinnamon; for red hair,
- Sage or henna; for dark hair,
- Elder leaves,
- Rosemary, sage,
- Henna or lavender.
To make a gentle herb shampoo, make an infusion or decoction, depending on your materials, but leave the brew to stand overnight before straining. Pour the herbal water into an enamel saucepan and add 1 oz (25 g) grated castile soap.
Heat and stir constantly until the soap has melted. Allow to cool, and then add couple of drops of a herbal essential oil. This recipe makes enough for eight shampoos and should keep for at least six to eight weeks.
For herbal rinses, simply make an infusion or decoction from any of the herbs already mentioned, and make sure you strain the mixture well. For best results, use the liquid as a final rinse. Pour the mixture over your hair into a bowl and keep rinsing until your hair feels squeaky clean.
To add a pleasant fragrance to your hair after washing, use an infusion of rose petals, jasmine, violet or lavender as a final rinse. If you are suffering from dandruff, you can use an infusion of burdock or horsetail to clear and freshen the scalp.
Bringing your face back to nature
Making your own facial skincare preparations not only allows you to ignore a lot of the overpriced products on the market, but also gives you the added satisfaction of knowing exactly what you are putting on your face.
To make an almond cleansing cream, take
- 4 fl. Oz (100 ml) oil of sweet almonds,
- 1 oz (25 g) hydrous lanolin (available from chemists)
- 1 oz petroleum jelly.
Melt the fats slowly in a double-boiler, remove from the heat and then beat until cool.
For an apricot cleansing cream, take four tablespoons of apricot oil, two tablespoons of sesame seed oil, two tablespoons of butter and one tablespoon of distilled water. Blend all the ingredients together until smooth. Store in the fridge in an airtight container.
A rosewater infusion makes a god cleanser on its own, or you can add some found almonds to a small amount of rosewater to obtain a thicker consistency. Use a herbal tonic on its own to cleanse your face or or, after cleansing, to remove all traces of cream.
An excellent tonic can be made by mixing two pats rose water with one part witch hazel. If you have an oily skin, increase the proportion of witch-hazel, and if you have a direr complexion, increase the amount of rosewater.
For a mild skin tonic, simmer a bunch of fresh rosemary in 10 fl, oz ¼ litre of distilled water and half a measure of brandy for 20 minutes. Strain well and use generously.
Face masks are excellent for bringing back the bloom to a dull complexion. If your skin is oily, remove the skins from two tomatoes, cut them into quarters, scoop out the seeds and place all the flesh into a quarter.
Add one tablespoon of peppermint leaves and half a tablespoon of dried yeast to the flesh and pound into a paste. Stir in a dash of lemon juice and spread the mixture over your face, avoiding the eye area. Leave on for ten to 15 minutes and rinse off with warm water.
For dry skin, blend one tablespoon of skinned almonds into a paste, using either a liquidizer or a mortar and pestle. Then add one tablespoon of fresh parsley, two comfrey leaves, a thin slice of melon and one tablespoon of honey. Blend again, then spread on your face. Leave the mask on for 15 to 20 minutes, then wash off with warm water.
To soothe chapped lips, melt 1 ½ fl. Oz (40 ml) essential oil of roses and ½ oz (15 g) beeswax together. Remove from heat and beat in 1 ½ fl. Oz (40 ml) sweet violet infusion.
Herbal beauty tips for hands and feet
For a lanolin hand cream, take
- 4 oz (100 g) lanolin,
- 4 oz (100g) white petroleum jelly
- a little almond oil
Warm the lanolin and petroleum jelly together and gradually beat in the almond oil and rosewater.
Remove the mixture from the heat and continue beating for a further ten minutes, preferably with an electric mixer. Leave over night and beat again in the morning.
For an easy elderflower hand-lotion simply shake together five parts of glycerin to 15 parts of your fingertips in decoction of horsetail.
Do not neglect your hard-working feet. When they are tired and aching, revive them with a herbal foot bath. Add 4 oz (100g) of herbs a mixture of thyme, peppermint, rosemary, chamomile and marjoram-to 2 pints (1 litter) water.
Boil for five minutes and pour into your foot bath. If foot odour is a problem, soak them in an infusion of rosemary or a decoction of oak leaves.
Herbal Bath Fragrance
The bath is a great place to indulge in herbal beauty – be as extravagant as you like, then lie back, relax and let the herbs soak in.
If you just want to scent your bath water, use a strong decoction of either rosemary or lavender, or when the herbs are available fresh, simply drop a spring into the water. Lavender is a mild disinfectant and will help to soften your skin.
For sumptuous bath oil, add a couple of drops each of essential oil of marjoram, essential oil of thyme, essential oil of lavender to a measure of brandy.
Mix the oils and the brandy together thoroughly, and add about a teaspoonful to your bath water. This bath oil will keep fresh for a few days in the fridge.
A good way to add herbs to your bath water is to collect some of our favorites and then tie them together in a muslin bag. Attach the bag to the hot water tap and then run your bath. The water will wash the sweet smelling essences of the herbs into the bath water.
After a hard day’s work you might like to try this recipe which will ease aches and pains. Take a cupful of each of the following: burdock, comfrey, moonwort, and sage and St. John’s wort.
Make a decoction of these herbs and add to your bath water with once tablespoon of Epsom salts. Try a decoction of horsetail added to your bath if you have any small scratches or bruises, as horse tail is said to aid healing.
These recipes are just an example of the many preparations the can be made easily at home.
But there is no need to tie yourself to recipes be adventurous and explore the possibilities of creating your own personal preparations and with a little time and patience you could become a real top-to-toe natural beauty.
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