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Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Macerating Oils with Herbs

Macerates make superb skincare oils. And it is possible to tailor them specifically for yourself. Maceration is the process of transfering the therapeutic parts of plants and flowers into the oil. You must use dried herbs or flowers and it is very important to identify which herb or flower you are using correctly. Not all plants have beneficial qualities. Very clear easy to follow directions for drying your herbs can be found at The Herbal How To Guide as well as any help identifying which herbs to use.
Once you have your dried herb, you then bruise it substantially in order to break the tough outer skin. The herb can then be covered with a suitable skincare oil. Plain olive or sunflower is most common but it is entirely up to you which oil you use. Cover the bruised herb with your chosen oil and then allow it to steep for two or three weeks in a sunny place, giving it a gentle swirl every day. If you do not have reliable sunshine, then simply place it in a warm place - airing cupboard or close to the Aga will do.
After two to three weeks the oil is then ready to be strained. First through a fine mesh sieve and finally through coffee filter paper or muslin, to remove any last traces of plant material. The oil can then be used to make your chosen skincare product.

Herbs in Water - Facial Teas
You don't have to keep your dried herbs for using solely as macerates in oils.  They make wonderful teas and facial washes that can be used as toners or comkbine with other ingredients to make cleansers.  Most of these herbs can be macerated in oils if you wish but often their properties are more forthcoming in water, however their shelf life is vastly reduced when made into a tea.

Chamomile tea is excellent for calming the skin. Simply make up a bowl of tea using a preparatory tea bag (or fresh from your garden if you have it!) and when it has cooled bathe the face with it.  Chamomile can be successfully macerated in oils which then will make wonderfully soothing balms or baby creams.

Angelica (or Dong Quai) is antiseptic and if you buy some from the herbalist you can make a tea for bathing the skin. (It is also useful against eczema and very dry skin conditions).  Infuses in warm oil very easily.

Calendula whether grown in your garden (Marigold) or bought makes a wonderful soothing wash for the skin as well as the well known macerate - use with sunflower or olive oil.

Comfrey which used to be used during medieval times for helping to reduce swelling around broken bones is a useful skin healer. Difficult to find as a dried herb at the normal chemist shop but occasionally can be found as an infused oil from the health food shop.

Green Tea - just your normal standard tea bag of green tea makes a great face wash. Powerful antioxidant and very soothing, can be macerated in oil too.

Lavender - Make a tea from the fresh flowers (and stalks) and bathe the face when cool.  Makes a wonderfully fragrant macerate when combined with oil.

Peppermint - Another tea bag that should always be in your kitchen cupboard. Very cooling to the skin. Can relieve itching sensations.  Makes a fragrant macerate in oil that is useful for foot balms and products that require a refreshing scent.

Nettle - More beneficial for dry skins and those prone to exzema and sometimes combined with burdock.  Macerates well.

Coming Next.  Natures Skin Peel (A fraction of the cost you would pay at the beauty parlour and just as effective!)

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