I’m not opposed to essential oils. I have a collection and use them. But when the situation allows, I prefer to grow or use plants from my native land, wherever that happens to be! Its fun, learning about and using the nature’s bounty. Whether its something you grow yourself (such as lavender, mint, chamomile, calendula), or forage from the wild (rose hips, back yard plantain, black spruce, black poplar buds) finding plants for skincare is a wholesome, enjoyable activity, one that can be done with friends or family.
Making your own infusions is incredibly simple. Need a project for the children? Teach them to identify and forage the plants, how to infuse, then strain the oils. Show them how to use it in natural skincare products! If you need ideas, check out my favorites under the natural living section of my blog!
Infused oils can be used in lotion and skin cream, but it can also be used without any additives. Infused oil makes a wonderful facial moisturizer and due to its lightness, quickly absorbs into the skin.
Light Oils & Herbs
These are best suited to tender skin (such as the face) and of course, young children. The following are light and quick to absorb, options that are safe for most folks. Among commonly used oils are apricot kernel, avocado, hemp and jojoba (semi-light). When using herbs, choose mild ones! Sometimes a hint of stronger herbs are nice in the combination, but only a hint! Commonly found gentle plants include calendula, chamomile, lavender, rose hips.
Heavy Oils & Herbs
Commonly used for drier skin is almond (sweet), castor, grapeseed and olive oil. If you wish for a kick of antibacterial properties, the common herbs that may be included are rosemary, sage, thyme, and peppermint. Oils infused with stronger herbs may help control skin fungus’, etc. Infusing herbs is simple, cheap, and its fun!
Nothing will make you feel so self-sufficient as making your own skincare from herbs you foraged or grew in the back yard! One word of caution: don’t get too carried away! It’s easy to make far too much in the excitement of the moment. As always, if herbs are unavailable to you, they can be purchased at health foods stores or ordered online!
How to Make Infused Oils
Once you have chosen your oil, foraged or bought your herbs, the process is very simple.
Using a pint (500 ml) glass jar, fill 1/2 of the way with herbs (fresh or dry). Note: if using stronger herbs in your infusion, jars content should hold no more than 1/5 of them
Pour oil over until it covers herbs by 1/2-1 inch.
Set in an undisturbed place for at least several weeks. I’ve infused black poplar buds for as long as 6 months. The end product was wonderful! Some claim that sun exposure yields the best results, while others claim properties keep better in a dark, cool place. I’d recommend you try both!
When the time is up (or you need the infusion), place a cloth (coffee filters not recommended) over glass jar and secure with canning ring.
Keep adding herbs/oil as needed until oils have drained through completely. You can strain the liquid again, this time through a doubled up cloth to secure any bits that may have seeped through.
Discard herbs and bottle up oil in a convenient-to-use container and apply to skin as needed or use oil in the other recipes outlined above. As always, proceed with caution when using herbs in your oils. Always test on a small area of skin before using liberally on yourself or someone else. Enjoy!