Herbal Skin Care Basics: Tools, Ingredients, Recipes

Discover the best natural ingredients for concocting your own herbal skin care products, and whip up these easy, refreshing recipes for Rose Water, Bay Rum Aftershave and Astringent, and Sea Salt Body Scrub.

| March 24, 2011

The following is an excerpt from Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health by Rosemary Gladstar (Storey Publishing, 2008). In this inspirational guide to a greener, healthier life though caring for and honoring the body, you’ll find time-tested herbal remedies that are safe, effective and easy to prepare. Gladstar, a renowned herbal teacher and a driving force behind the contemporary herbalist movement, presents teas, tonics, oils, salves, tinctures and other natural therapies for dozens of common maladies and for promoting overall health and wellness at every stage of life. This excerpt is from Chapter 5, “Recipes for Radiant Beauty.” 

Gathering the Ingredients

It’s wise to assemble ahead of time all of the ingredients and utensils you’ll need. There have been times I haven’t followed this bit of advice, and in the middle of a project found I was out of a necessary ingredient. This can be either a big or a little inconvenience, but it’s always annoying.

As with any recipe, you can substitute ingredients and experiment with the formulas to create a more personalized product, but be sure you understand what the particular ingredient in the formula is “doing” so you can substitute one that has similar properties. Otherwise, the product may not turn out as hoped for. Ask yourself the basic questions. Is this ingredient an emulsifier? Does it help thicken the product? Does it add moisture? For instance, if you substitute liquid oil for solid oil in a cream formula, the cream may turn out runnier than you’d like.

These recipes have lots of room for creativity. I am one of those people who gets frustrated with exact proportions. Coffee mugs are my usual measuring cups, and spoons from my silverware drawer serve as measuring spoons. When adding essential oils, I lose count somewhere after the fourth or fifth drop and proceed forward by scent and common sense alone. Nothing is exact in my world, and, needless to say, things don’t always turn out exactly the same. But I’ve learned to follow my intuition, and generally it leads me in its own creative process. Using my common sense rather than exact measurements has often produced exquisite results.

Not to worry, however, if you prefer to follow exact directions! I have carefully formulated each of these recipes so that you can follow them step-by-step with assurance. I strongly suggest that you make the recipes as directed the first couple of times so you get a feel for how they develop. Later, you can try adding your own scent, substituting one type of vegetable oil for another, or using different herbs in the formula. Be sure to write down each of the ingredients and the proportions so you can re-create the formula at another time. Don’t make the common mistake of thinking that you’ll remember. I still lament the many times I’ve made a perfect product but couldn’t recall the scents I’d added or the proportions of oil to water.

Helpful Kitchen Tools

No special tools are needed for creating any of the wonderful cosmetics mentioned in this article. A kitchen with all its normal gadgets will supply you with most of what you need, and the ingredients called for can mostly be found in supermarkets or natural foods stores. If not available in your local grocery store, these items can easily be acquired from mail-order sources. Although you don’t need many specific items in order to create your natural beauty products, the following everyday tools will be helpful to use during recipe-making:

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