Throughout my years of herbal obsession and experimentation, I’ve gone through probably hundreds of herbal body care items, both store bought and formulated in my kitchen. When I’m looking at ingredients for already made products, my philosophy is the fewer ingredients the better (and I preferably like to recognize every single ingredient listed on the label). As an herbalist, I’m always trying to make my own stuff too – from cuticle salves to infused nourishing oils and hair elixirs. Experimenting is so fun, and using single herbs one at a time can really help to fine tune each recipe and get exactly what you want – whether for facial scrubs or simple salves or toners. My beauty cupboard is a mish-mash of old bottles with homemade formulas and a fair amount of bath products from Mountain Rose Herbs – one of my all time favorite makers of natural herbal beauty products. I keep a few staples with me all year long, and in the summer time my beauty routine shifts to the bare minimum with some seasonal specific herbal go-to’s for my skin.
As a very fair skinned person, summer skin health is super important to me, and I’m always hyper aware that this time of year I need to nourish my skin a little more due to constant sun exposure. It’s rare that I ever wear anything on my skin except for sunscreen in the summer (which over time is extremely drying on my skin), so re-hydrating and nourishing my skin with simple, nourishing herbal based oils and soaks work beautifully. I have a simple daily routine that I begin during summer months and keep this routine through early Fall. I find this collection of herbal products to be ideal for semi-sensitive, sun parched skin on the dryer side as these formulas and products are cooling, moistening and very hydrating.
First thing in the morning, and then throughout the day on extra hot, humid days, I use the White Rose Hydrosol spritz on my face that I keep refrigerated. This hydrosol is simply made from the petals of Rosa alba through a water steam distillation and has a subtle and floral rosy scent that’s hydrating and cooling to parched skin. It feels especially good after I take Gromit for along walk and the southern humidity makes my skin feel like it’s just crawling with sweat. This white rose hydrosol gives my face a fresh and clean feeling without actually washing my face, and it’s incredibly invigorating as a little facial pick-me-up midday. Also – instant aromatherapy with these sweet and subtle rosy tones.
Second, after I use the hydrosol in the morning I apply a small amount of Rosehip Seed Oil to my whole face for extra moisture that soaks right into my skin without leaving any oily residue. My skin (generally dry and only mildly sensitive) LOVES oils and responds really well to the nourishing and light quality of rosehip seed oil instead of creams or lotions. Rosehip seed oil is rich in fatty acids – especially Linoleic acid and Linolenic acids making it extremely tonically hydrating yet also light on the skin – perfect for the summer months when lighter skin products are my preference.
In the evenings about three times per week, I take a long soak in an Epsom Salt bath along with about 1/2 cup of Relaxing Bath Herbs to nourish my muscles, soothe my skin, and calm my whole body from either a full day of appointments or a couple of hours of rock climbing (which, admittedly, I’ve gotten super into since January). Having climbed about 5 days per week a couple hours at a time for nearly 6 months straight now, my muscles have gone through a lot of changes and, unfortunately, I suffer from pretty extreme leg and foot cramps. Using these Epsom salts consistently has made a huge difference in how frequently these debilitating cramps show up (which, if you’ve ever had whole leg or foot cramps you know how hellishly painful they are. I feel like they’re going to end me). In a full warm bath, I add about 1/4 cup Epsom salts with a cloth bag of relaxing bath herbs, containing hops, rose petals, chamomile, lavender, comfrey, and passionflower. The salts absorb transdermally into my muscles for tonic support, while this aromatic herbal soak blend relaxes my mind and soothes my skin (and it smells like a field of flowery dream heaven).
Using the cloth bag for the herbal soak is optional…sometimes I just like soaking in a flower bath because it’s beautiful and magical and, why not? This is also a beautiful formula to have as a facial water wash for your face in the morning. Just fill a large bowl with slightly warm water, add about 2 tbsp of relaxing bath herbs, let “steep” for about 5 minutes and then wash your face gently with the water in the morning or at bedtime.
Finally, for the days when I have sunscreen on my face, am out in the sun and sweating in the summer humidity, I use a homemade DIY facial scrub. I often use zinc oxide based sunscreens so they stay on top of my skin all day (not the best feeling, but super effective), and this facial scrub just makes my face feel extra cleansed and soothed after being out in the sun all day. I use a simple combo of moistening milky oat tops, aromatic lavender flowers, nourishing neem powder and exfoliating Dead Sea salt. This makes a decadent base formula (almost powder like) that you can then add any additional scents or oils to as you like. The lavender in this formula already gives it a sweet and fragrant smell, but other herbs such as eucalyptus or chamomile work well too for both soothing inflamed skin and also aromatic qualities.
This recipe makes approximately 10 uses when using about 1 teaspoon at a time. You can use either a high speed blender or a spice grinder for these herbs and make sure whatever grinder your use is well washed with no other scents or the facial scrub will carry those scents too!