How to use fresh herbs in DIY cosmetics

Reader Rachel was wondering how she could use fresh Lavender and other herbs from her garden to care for her skin.
I love this question, since freshly picked herbs are way more potent than anything for the supermarket ! If you don´t have a garden, there are many herbs that can be grown in pots, bout from the grocery store or picked wild. These are some easy and low-effort ways to use them for your skin & hair. These recipes can be used on their own, or as ingredients in DIY cosmetics. They can also be drunk / used as salad dressing !

Herbal waters

You can use these on their own as a toner, hair rinse, added to a bath or for facial steaming. Or add it to DIY cosmetics in place of water (like to scrubs, flax seed rinse, masques...) Infusion is a fancy name for a herbal tea: you can steep the herb in boiling water (just like a tisane). If you´re using tougher parts of plants like berries, roots, stems, bark etc, you need to make Decoction, which means simmering them in a saucepan for 15 minutes.  Macerations aka sun teas are made without high heat, which keeps all the nutrients in the herb intact.

I recommend using distilled or boiled water, unless you have spring water ! How strong you make it is up to you, 2 ts for a glass of water is a good strength to begin with.

Infused oil 

This can be used for cleansing the face, moisturising the face or body, or for the hair. Basically you put the herbs into oil and let it stand for a couple of weeks. Here are some basic instructions, and here are some important tips. For best results use cold pressed oils without additives !

Herb vinegar

Use as toner or hair rinse (diluted with water !). Use 1:2 herbs:vinegar. I like apple cider vinegar. Remember to only use the organic, unfiltered kind (it usually has dark things floating around at the bottom). Here is a nice how-to.

Which herbs ?
Read my herbal hair rinse recipes. Also: so many herbs so little time and Herbs With Cosmetics Applications have great info.

  • Storage ? Herbal waters will hold up to a week in the fridge. Oils and vinegar will hold for months without problems.
  • You can always make very strong mixtures, and then dilute small portions to use.
  • Start out with just one herb at a time. There will be herbs your skin will love and there will be herbs your skin will hate. If you start out with a mixture of 10 different herbs, you won´t know which is which. Less is more here !
  • Avoid aluminium pots, ad they can react with some plant materials.
Other sources:

Photo by Bardot In Blue    

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