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Admittedly, figs are perhaps in my top three favorite fruits of all time. Here in Virginia, August brings a wave of fresh figs, and the fig trees are heavily laden with these juicy and sweet ripe fruits. My family's home in Virginia Beach has about a dozen huge fig trees, and if we're visiting at just the right time, we can snag some baskets and climb up into the shady limbs, dropping one after another into the baskets while snacking on just as many in the process. The harvesting time kind of sneaks up on us...one day they're still a little green and the very next morning the squirrels have literally taken a single bite out of every slightly ripened fig on the tree. We keep a whether eye out, and pick at just the right moment - usually multiple times a week and even sometimes twice a day. As I mentioned in my previous posts, everything feels like it ripens at once in the summer months, so we often have a LOT of these little fruits on hand...not that we're complaining. Figs are absolute heaven on a hot summer day! And - nothing seems to pair more beautifully on a summer table than beautiful, ripe purple figs with Lindsay Emery's signature pink porcelain bowls and dessert plates! 

Get the recipe for my Fig & Ricotta Flatbread with fresh garden herbs on the Suite One Studio Blog --> 

I've kept my hair long for about 18 years now, with the occasional drastic chop and donation. When I was 12 years old, the movie Practical Magic came out and since the moment I first saw it, Nicole Kidman gave me forever hair goals (and I still to this day am desperate to get her epic layered haircut, but alas, have never found someone who can do it just right). Other than the subtle witchy vibe, keeping my hair long gave me a sense of individuality, of femininity...of inner elfishness like I just stepped out of Lothlorien treehouse heaven. It's my bit of consistent style and whimsey in a totally fleeting fashion-fad absorbed world. My hair grows like a weed, and the upkeep can sometimes feel tedious. A long time ago I committed to only using minimal, botanical based products and the least amount of effort and styling tools possible. Eventually I learned that the less I do to my hair, the better it feels and healthier it stays. Botanical infused hair oils (and good nutrition!) are my not so secret allies for maintaining long, strong locks. 

I started using botanical infused hair oils years ago and it was hard to find ones that didn't have sketchy ingredients in them. My long time go-to was Badger Hair Oil and over the past five or six years I've been making and using my own hair oil at least twice a week as I've been growing my hair longer and longer. I also use a lot of hair oil...so keeping it inexpensive to make was important. Herbal goodness doesn't just stop with the internal application of teas and tinctures. Herbal and botanical body care items are absolute magic for harnessing the power of herbs topically. This botanical infused hair oil is what I would consider 1/2 of what contributes to long, strong locks. The other half is good nutrition, and I'll cover that in another post. And, obviously, there's the genetic factor (thanks, mom and dad). I slather my hair and massage my scalp with this oil twice a week, sleep with it in overnight, then wash my hair in the morning (and I only wash my hair about twice a week). I let my hair air dry as much as possible and rarely ever use any product in it after I wash it. Humidity, however, is a gross and unrelenting hair adversary. In the summer, I'll give my hair a spritz of sea salt spray or use my aloe sun soothing spray on the ends...but that's about it. Humidity generally always wins. 

Herbs and Hair Health: My go-to herbal allies for hair are Nettle (shocker), rosemary, aloe and coconut + jojoba oil. 

Nettle (Utica dioica) is so nutrient dense, being extremely high in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and zinc - dietarily making it one of the most mineral dense plant foods we can consume. Nettle also has a rich content of two fat soluble vitamins, vitamin A and carotenoids (the pre-cursor to vitamin A), and vitamin K. B vitamins are also tucked away in those nutrient dense stinging leaves too. These are all vitamins and minerals we need in the right proportions in our diet to maintain overall health as well (and I'll dive into that later on). When I utilize herbs for hair health, like nettle, I'm using these vitamins and minerals on my scalp and also on the strands to help repair damage, split ends, and soothe the texture of the strands. Nettle supports both the hair follicles and hair strands. Rosemary I use specifically for the circulatory and oxygenation of hair follicles on the scalp - hence the good scalp massage part of the hair oil ritual. 

Aloe I include for it's soothing and repairing quality on hair strands. Have you ever used aloe topically on your skin? Works just as good in your hair too! Aloe is also super nutrient dense with some of the same nutrients that nettle carries and then some. Rich in Vitamins A, C, B12, niacin and folic acid, the inner gel also packs in calcium, magnesium zinc and iron. The fresh gel is so soothing and moistening for dry scalps, infusing the skin with nutrients and is cooling and soothing for itchy or flaky skin and just coats the hair strands in glycoproteins and nutrients. I absolutely love aloe for almost every single body care need, and I keep an aloe plant in my home constantly. 

Finally - the carrier oils. Coconut and Jojoba are my go-to's for hair health. I tend to have dry skin and dry hair, and personally coconut oil is my ideal oil to use topically due to it's high vitamin E content. The medium chain fatty acid content of coconut oil is what makes it so soothing for topical skin and hair health and it seems maintain that moisture for a long time - it's not something you have to continually re-apply and re-apply. Jojoba is an oil I repeatedly use to help balance oil production via the hair follicles. It's also moisture rich but lighter than coconut oil, not clogging pores or follicles and helps to maintain a perfect oil balance on my scalp. There are ton of other beneficial oils you can use on your scalp and in hair oils - these are just my preferred favorites. They're also excellent herbal extractors. Once I chop and fill my jars with the herbal inputs, I completely cover everything with a mix of these two oils and set it in the hot summer sun...

Solar infusions are my preferred way to let herbs infuse in oil, especially during the summer. Herbal oil infusions are SO luxurious and nourishing to use topically (like this calendula infused apricot kernel oil - a longtime favorite of mine!) when given enough time and moderate heat, most herbs extract beautifully in a carrier oil and have a relatively long shelf life. Once I prep my oil, I set it out in the garden for about two weeks and let the summer suns heat permeate through this formula, in a sense also infusing it with the essence of high summer. 

This is my base formula, always consistent and always effective. I sometime like to add various essential oils depending on what I'm feeling in the moment. Options include more rosemary, lavender, cedar, patchouli or, you know, whatever your favorites are. As always, play with it and make it yours. Try using different base oils if these don't quite work for you. Sesame oil, olive oil and argan oils are also excellent to use too. 

Botanical Infused Hair Oil

1 cup dried nettle leaves, chopped fine
1/2 cup fresh rosemary leaves, finally chopped
2 cups coconut oil
2 cups jojoba oil
1/4 cup aloe gel
essential oils

Chop herbs as fine as possible and add to a large mason jar, Cover completely with the coconut oil and jojoba oil, adding more oil if needed to entirely cover the herbs once it's settled. Scrape the inside of a large aloe leaf to remove all of the gel, between 1/4 - 1/2 cup. You may also use purchased aloe gel, but make sure there are minammly added ingredients and no alcohol. Cover with a tight fitted lid and give it a good shake. Let sit in the summer sun for about 2 weeks, shaking daily. After it's solar infused, strain through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth and squeeze out all of the liquid. Store in a glass jar and use weekly. Massage a generous amount into your scalp for about 2-3 minutes, and coat hair strands completely with the oil from root to tips. Comb through and put your hair in a braid. Sleep overnight with the oil in your hair and then wash as normal in the morning. 

 

Photography by Renee Byrd


This post is sponsored by my friends at Mountain Rose Herbs

Being a fair skinned redhead, I've been chronically susceptible to skin damage and sun burns my entire life. When I was a kid, I was the poor impressionable youngster covered head to toe in baggy peace frog t-shirts, huge hats and solid white sunscreen coated legs tagging awkwardly along behind my beautifully tall, blonde & tanned older sister at the beach. I feel like I get a sun burn just walking out to get my mail everyday. Forever the outdoor, tree-hugging nature devotee, I've worked in public gardens, organic summer camp veggie gardens, community herb gardens and spend most of my free time in the summer hiking and camping....so avoiding the sun is something I choose not to do. I do take plenty of precautions though, especially as I've gotten older and my skin has become more sensitive to the long term effects of sun exposure (hello, permanent shoulder freckles). I use high quality non-toxic sunscreens every single day, I cover up with SPF clothes when I'm outdoors for several hours at a time, and I use topical (usually herbal) sprays immediately after I've gotten too much sun. I've been making a soothing after sun skin spray with aloe, lavender and calendula for a couple of years now and it works like a charm to prevent sunburns from getting too bad, and expedites the healing process if I was careless enough to lose track of time under the sun. 

Aloe + Lavender + Calendula = skin soothing magical combo

These three herbal ingredients are some of the absolute best for skin repair and cellular skin health preventatively and acutely and they're always in my herbal arsenal. Aloe has been a topical skin remedy for me for as long as I can remember, and I've kept an aloe plant with me every year since my first college dorm room (his name is Spindle, and I'll feature him in my next blog post because he's just that awesome). The inside of aloe vera leaves are filled with a thick, latex-like gel substance that's produced by the inner parenchymal cells in the center of the leaf. When this gel is diluted, it's referred to as Aloe Vera Gel or sometimes Aloe Juice. Aloe is largely comprised of water, along with polysaccharides and glycoproteins  - both of which have anti-inflammatory properties. The gel also contains lignin, sterols, Vitamin A & E and even B-12 AND salicylic acid - a pain relieving compound also found in white willow. With it's wide array of soothing components, it's no surprise aloe has been used for wound healing for generations with tremendous success. For skin specifically, aloe gel supports the repair of epidermal skin cells and is a lifesaver for sun burnt skin! 

Lavender flowers contain between 1%-3% essential oils, and the compounds differ slightly between species. When used topically, lavender has a mild pain relieving (analgesic) effect and is also anti-inflammatory while being energetically cooling to help combat heat related issues (like sunburns!). I prefer using Lavender angustifolia essential oil in my skin spray for all of these herbal actions PLUS it smells incredibly good! 

Finally, calendula flowers make up the rest of this skin soothing trio. Calendula carries anti-inflammatory power while also contributing to wound healing and skin repair after damage (thought to be be due to the intense metabolism of glycoproteins during tissue regeneration). Calendula flowers have traditionally been used for topical healing and soothing burns, and from my personal experience it's remarkable at helping soothe sunburns and over-heated skin. You can also use calendula flowers in my Calendula Infused Apricot Oil recipe and accompanying Classic Calendula Salve recipe. 

Side note - I use this exact same skin spray on insect bites to help with the inflammation and redness, itchiness and pain and yep - works well on those too. 

I use all three of these herbs in my skin soothing spray and keep a bottle in the refrigerator almost all summer long (because keeping it cold feels SO good on sun kissed skin). This simple recipe is incredibly easy to make and, best of all, it's affordable and effective. I use a ton of this stuff and drench my skin with this spray generously - even when I'm not sun burnt - just to cool and soothe my skin when I'm overheated in the southern summer heat. A spritz on the face is pure heaven on those 90+ degree days. 

Added bonus - Mountain Rose Herbs has their Summer Sale happening now, August 14 - Friday August 27th with 20% some of their herbal goodies including their aloe gel and lavender essential oil

Soothing After Sun Skin Spray

2oz Aloe vera gel

 1/2 cup calendula flowers

 1 cup filtered water

 Lavender essential oil
Makes 4 ounces

Bring 1 cup filtered water to a boil and pour over 1/2 cup calendula flowers to make a strong infusion. Let steep for 15 minutes, then strain. In a 4 ounce glass bottle, fill halfway (2 ounces) with aloe vera gel and fill another 2 ounces with the strong calendula infusion. Top with 10 drops lavender essential oil. Seal with a spritzer top and shake well. Keep refrigerated and use generously and frequently on sun kissed skin. 

 

This post is sponsored by my friends at Mountain Rose Herbs. All thoughts and opinions are my own. It is my goal to use and recommend only the highest quality herbal products from companies that I wholly trust and fully support. Industry standards including sustainable harvestingquality controlorganic / fair trade standards and responsible sourcing are all things I care deeply about when working with herbs and herbal companies. I have been using Mountain Rose Herbal products for almost a decade, and have always been so impressed with their commitment to environmental stewardship. Thank you for supporting the brands that help to make this blog possible. 

HELLO, I’M LINDSAY.
Herbal medicine and nutrition is my expertise. Understanding plants, their properties, and their powers is my passion.

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