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Written by Danielle on February 7, 2012 – -
- by Heather Gardner of Conscious Earth CompanyFreckles are a sign of beauty, my mother would tell me, when I had borne the brunt of yet another attack on my freely flowing tousled red tresses and sun speckled skin. Oh how as a young girl, I wished to be ‘normal’, ‘plain’, ‘to fit in’, have flat thin hair in a sociably acceptable shade and not have skin that people play join the dots on with their biros, when bored.
Eventually taking matters into my own hands in the only way I knew how, I turned to Mother Nature. At the young age of 14, I was to be found hiding behind my wardrobe door at boarding school, applying my crafty freckle busting concoction of chamomile, elderflower and lemon toner, making strong brews of sage, rosemary, nettle and horsetail to rinse my hair with, in a desperate bid to darken it, and doing over night herb infused olive oil hair treatments in an attempt to tame those troublesome tresses. Now I have no such woes. In the end I fell in love with being a frisky flame haired female and chose to celebrate the way nature created me.
I came to understand that the beauty I possess is Wild Beauty, untamable by any man made cocktail of chemicals, but personified by pure plant powered potions. There is nothing more satisfying than to care for yourself with fresh, juicy, wild, vibrant, living foods, use the same on the surface of your skin, and become fresh, juicy, wild, vibrant and alive in the process.
We can empower ourselves as women, by taking our beauty where it belongs, into our own hands and knowing what is right for us, not what is right for the profit margins of others. We can craft conscious elixirs of self-love in our own kitchens using ingredients stocked in our gardens and cupboards with simply sensational results. To unleash the full potential potent power of our true Wild Beauty we can go further, further from our over heated homes and out into the forest to start foraging for our skins desires. We can ditch the rouge in favour of the cheeky rose-faced glow we get naturally from dancing through the ditches in search of dandelions and daisies.
To unfurl your inner Green Goddess with wild abandon, firstly look around your garden, hedgerows, local forest or park and see what is available. You can use a small pocket identification book or even an iPhone App such as Wild Edibles with Sergei Boutenko to identify the plants.
A simple way to start making your own beauty potions is to learn how to make plant infusions, vinegars and oils. These can be used as the basis for a myriad of other wild crafted creations.
Depending on your skin and hair type you can choose from, but are by no means limited to the following wild crafted ingredients:
Alfalfa – Very high in minerals, the tea is good to drink when breastfeeding, along with nettles. Strengthens hair & brittle nails, promoting growth.
Blackberry leaves – soothes burns and astringent.
Burdock – skin cleanser, great for acne, eczema. Antibacterial, anti fungal, eliminates toxins. Combines well with dandelions & nettles.
Blueberry/Bilberry leaves – Rich in bioflavonoids they strengthen the skin and capillaries, anti inflammatory, good for the microcirculation of the skin, capillary fragility and rosacea.
Calendula (Marigold) – soothes skin conditions, anti viral, tissue healer, gum disease, great for enhancing fair hair with chamomile. Calendula ointment is great for sore nipples when breastfeeding as well as for baby’s skin.
Cleavers – spring cleaning & detoxing, lymph cleansing, water retention, skin conditions. Relieves tired or inflamed eyes.
Chickweed – soothing to the skin, chapped, damaged or inflamed skin, skin conditions such as eczema.
Chamomile – anti inflammatory, anti allergy, relaxant, sedative, soothing for the skin, great for babies and children
Comfrey – promotes new growth of skin cells & heals wounds.
Daisy – similar to Arnica in action, can be used for bruises or any skin trauma, also for skin conditions, removes blotches & whitens.
Dandelion – detoxing & cleansing, fluid retention, joint or muscle swelling and pain, skin problems, warts & rashes.
Elderflower – normal to dry skin, astringent, soothes sunburn, lightens freckles, and soothes bloodshot eyes. Makes a nice hand cream.
Elderberries – use for darkening the hair or winter wellness syrup.
Eyebright – use as an infusion to sooth irritated or infected, itchy eyes, also brighten and strengthen them. As a tea or a wash.
Heather flowers – nice to add to soap for a scrub.
Horsetail – strengthens the hair, nails and bones due to its high silica content.
Juniper – antiseptic & diuretic, don’t use if pregnant.
Lady’s Mantle – tightening, astringent and healing. The oil makes a nice toning treatment for the breasts.
May Dew – Wild beauty water! The water gathered at dawn on May Day reputed to give you a beautiful complexion, remove blemishes and bring good luck for the year ahead. Gather away from urban environments.
Nettle – a spring cleanser re-mineralizes & strengthens the hair and helps re-growth, great for brittle nails, calms allergies, blood cleansing, great for acne and detoxing the skin.
Plantain – for bruised or inflamed skin. Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory. Traditionally used for arthritis and rheumatism.
Pine Needles – good for aches & pains, high in vitamin c.
Rosemary – digestive, circulation, encourages hair growth, great as a scalp & hair tonic
Rosehips – High in vitamin C it makes a good winter tonic, also strengthens the capillaries and skin, the colour makes it good for the care of red hair.
Sage – memory, concentration, lifts the spirits, darkening the hair, mouth & gum health, not for use in pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Seaweed – High concentration of vitamins & minerals. Nourishes the skin and assists the elimination of wastes from the body, use in all the below recipes the same as land plants. Great in a bath or making oil.
St Johns Wort – antidepressant, antiviral, pain relief, use the oil for muscular aches and pains.
Thyme – antiseptic, expectorant, wheezing, anti fungal. Great for colds & flu, drink the infusion, use the oil as a chest rub, the vinegar as a household disinfectant. Do not use if pregnant.
Wild Strawberry – use the whole plant for removing spots and blemishes. The tea of the leaves is a tonic and alkalizer of the body.
Wild Rose petal – soothing & relaxing, traditionally used in skincare for mature skin and its scent, loved by women.
Yarrow – heals cuts & wounds, stops the flow of blood, restores hair growth. As a tea it creates a ‘sweat’ to help driving out colds and is a digestive.
Gather your plant material, chop the leaves if you’re using them, and strip the stems from your flowers. Place in a large jar and cover with organic cider vinegar. Leave on a windowsill and shake occasionally. After 4-6 weeks or longer, strain through a nut milk bag or muslin into clean jars. If you want stronger vinegar, add more plant material after straining and repeat the process. You will have a flavoured, healthy vinegar to use in dressings and sauces, or as a tonic beverage mixed with honey and water to stimulate the digestive system. Or as a final rinse for your hair after washing (conditions the hair and soothes the scalp) also as a house hold cleaner!
Collect a jar full of healthy, fresh flower heads, leaves, herbs or berries, crush the plant material fist to release the oils and cover with an organic cold pressed oil such as almond, sunflower or grapeseed oil if using for massage, or olive oil for the kitchen. With a chopstick or wooden spatula carefully poke the mixture to submerge the flowers and remove air bubbles. Cover the jar with a piece of cloth or a breathable lid and put it in a warm, sunny place. In about 2-6 weeks, the plant oils & essence will be absorbed into the oil, strain it through your nut milk bag, into clean jars and store in a cool dark place. When making a flower oil, remove the petals when they become brown and ad fresh ones, keep renewing until the oil is strongly fragranced.
In my next post I’ll share with you the wild crafted creams, body butters, soaps and more than can be created based upon these pure botanical infusions.
The Holistic Beauty Book by Star Khechara
Recipes for Natural Beauty by Katie Spiers
Heather is a lifelong 3rd generation vegetarian, Raw Food and Kundalini Yoga Teacher. She began learning about herbs and wild foods at a young age from her herbalist mother while growing up on a remote mountainside in Ireland. She began delving into the world of foraging, potion making, nutrition, and raw & living foods as a teenager searching for answers to numerous health challenges.
At the age of 20 she began learning and experimenting with the Raw Lifestyle and in 2005 she began to move onto a raw diet and has transitioned to a balanced high raw diet over time. She has studied Natural Nutrition and many other healing modalities. She has over 10 years experience as a Natural Remedies, Health & Beauty manager and Brand manager within the UK Natural Products industry, and helping people to achieve better health naturally. Now she lives in the west of Ireland, teaching and running her business www.consciousearthcompany.com as well as running after her feisty little toddler!
Do you already make your own natural beauty products, herbal oil infusions, potions or soaps at home? Share your favorite recipe in the comments below, and let’s spread this knowledge of taking care of ourselves using the power of plants!
Thank you so much for this comprehensive list of herbs and how to use them to enhance my natural beauty.
I find myself in the minority of women in this country, having never taken up the habit of applying various commercially prepared concoctions to my face and skin. If I ever do purchase makeup, or even lipstick, it may get used once, then forgotten in the back of the drawer.
Instead, I rely on a healthy, balanced diet to create my beautifully clear skin from the inside out. Why would anyone want to put makeup on that?