Tag Archives: flowers

Skin food; oatmeal floral mask & peeling

Oatmeal & floral powder

Oatmeal & floral powder

I get so many questions about natural skin care and how to find stuff that is not full of chemicals. Some raw materials take some studying up on to understand how to use and blend, or they are not always so easy to find, but there is plenty of stuff you can make yourself with really simple ingredients that you either already have in your home or that are easy to find in your local health food store. Here is one wonderful product that I use. It is very mild and can be used 1-2 times per week. You can make up the powder and store it cool and dark in a jar with tight-fitting lid which will save you a lot of work. When it’s time to use, you just add the other ingredients to make a paste. Easy!

What you need for the powder:

  • 1 dl Organic oatmeal
  • 2-5 teaspoons dried lavender flowers or rose petals. If you use rose petals, add the larger amount to get a nice scent. For my blend I use 2-3 tsp lavender flowers. I prefer the lavender during the summer as it is really soothing and has a wonderful scent.

What you need for the paste:

  • Coldpressed vegetable oil, I use sunflower
  • Hydrosol of lavender, rose or witch hazel. If you don’t have hydrosol, you can use a herbal infusion or water.
  • Organic lemon
  • A bit of honey (optional)
  • If you like, you can add a drop or two of essential oil to the finished paste (optional), I don’t because I want it really mild and the floral scent is gorgeous on its own.
Really simple and easy-to-find ingredients

Really simple and easy-to-find ingredients

Step one:

In a mixer or a mortar, crush oatmeal and dried flowers to a powder, the finer it is, the better it will spread.

Step two:

When it’s time for a scrub, peeling or a mask: For a facial, mix 1 tsp of the powder with 1/2 tsp vegetable oil, 1/2 tsp hydrosol, infusion or water, a few drops of lemon juice and a dash of honey. Mix it all together to a paste. If you want to use it on your whole body you need to make about 4-5 times the amount of paste.

On clean, moist skin apply the paste with circular massage movements, you want to get the circulation going. This is the peeling effect. Now you can wash it off or leave the paste on for about 15 min to get a deeply moisturizing mask before you wash it off with lukewarm water. Pat dry and apply a light oil to your face to add more yummy nourishing food for your skin (sunflower, thistle, jojoba, grape seed oils are easy to get and fine for your skin).

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Dried rose petals

One last point; When you make stuff at home for your skin care, always use organic products. If you want your powder to look more beautiful, add some whole flowers or petals to get some colour in there.

Forgotten childhood dreams

When I was a child, already at a small age, I was absolutely fascinated by all the pots and bottles the ladies had; lotions, perfumes, creams and make-up. I wanted to know how they were made, these lovely-smelling potions and I was blown away by beautiful jars and bottles. I experimented with flowers in different concoctions to make a cream or perfume which of course never succeeded, but I always had a feeling that the elusive answer was just around the corner.

As with many childhood dreams, I forgot all about it, but my fascination was still there and I would buy products for skincare and make-up. Finally I ended up never really using the stuff. I liked the idea but I’m not a make-up-kind-of-girl.

Since early 80’s I have been looking at skincare from another point of view; natural. I experimented with natural ingredients and it was fun. I can’t say exactly when it became more than a hobby, it’s always been there. And that is what I realized the other day; This was a childhood dream that I forgot and now I am living it. I remember this feeling of fascination in me and I can’t believe I ever forgot it.

MACERATION or HERBAL OIL

There are many ways of using herbs; fresh, dried, boiled (tisane), distilled (essential oil), in alcohol (tincture) and in vegetable oil (maceration/herbal oil). Herbs are full of active chemicals that can be drawn out in different solvents such as alcohol, vegetable oil or glycerine. A maceration or herbal oil is when vegetable oil is used (oil extraction). Some well-known macerations are easily found in the market-place, such as Arnica (Arnica montana), Marigold (Calendula officinalis) and St Johns wort (Hypericum perforatum), but there are many others. Extracting herbs in oil is a simple process that easily can be done at home.

As always, quality plays a great role in the final product; you need to use the very best herbs and vegetable oil. One of the easiest vegetable oils to find for the purpose is organic sunflower oil which is most often used. The finished herbal oil has its own specific properties and in ancient time they were used as medicines and unguents for perfumery. The macerated oils carry some color from the plant, St Johns wort is red, and have their specific therapeutic properties.

Macerations can be used in all kind of products that are fatty; creams, oils, liniments and can help with a wide variety of problems; muscular aches, sprains, cramps, depression and skin-problems. Some are anti-inflammatory and promote wound healing. Since they are active substances, use 5-30% in a blend for desired effect. In large dosages they can be slightly drying or even irritating to the skin. Macerations are excellent to use for people who are very sensitive to essential oils as they are milder in their action on the skin.

I have made many macerations through the years, trying different plants and vegetable oils. I found Jojoba oil to be excellent for flowers, now Jojoba has become so expensive it’s not really possible anymore, so I use Sunflower oil. I have used Olive oil for St Johns Wort since there is a true affinity between them. Today I find it easier to buy the macerations I use the most; arnica, calendula, hypericum, comfrey and some others. But there is one maceration I make every year for my own luxury, and that is with roses. In the early days I always used Jojoba for the roses but today I use a very fine organic cold pressed sunflower oil. It gives me a beautiful oil that I use in my facial products. The scent is rather faint and a bit greenish, the texture is absolutely wonderful. I use this in a dosage of 20% in any given product.

What is interesting about macerations is the fact that they don’t go rancid sitting in the sun. Normally sun, heat and light is the worst environment for a vegetable oil. I believe that the active substances in herbs and plants actually help to conserve the vegetable oil. Their shelf-life depends on what vegetable oil was used and how it is stored. Better to make smaller quantities so they are used up during the season and more can be made the next year. In this way you also find your favorites and you learn to “better” the process each time.

HOW-TO:

Pick your chosen herb at the right time of day and season and fill a glass jar, cover the herbs with cold-pressed organic vegetable oil, cover and set in the sun. The jar should be turned regularly and left in the sun for 2-3 weeks. When macerating flowers you need to exchange the flowers in your jar every so often, usually 1-2 times/week, depending on what flower you are using. For roses I exchange the petals every 3 days. Once the oil is saturated you strain, filter and bottle it. Store in a cool and dark place.

WHERE WILDERNESS CREATES ABUNDANCE

One of the nicest thing in my life is my garden. I always had one, no matter where or how I lived; little tiny gardens in my window, a somewhat larger one on the balcony, or even a few different ones when I live in a house surrounded by land. When I feel depleted or exhausted I go into my garden to replenish; smell a flower or a herb, replant something, clear some weeds…having my hands touch the earth is soothing and healing. I can spend hours in my garden and I love all the scents!

For an outside garden I have found it takes 5 years to reach balance, that is when the garden has found its rhythm. Some plants have an affinity for each-other and thrive together – in my garden the most obvious at the moment are the different thymes that are so loved by the roses…I can feel their harmony.

Some plants just can’t stand each-other – lately it has been the rosemary and parsley – and need to be moved apart. Other plants are okay, but not happy and it takes me some time to realize that they need other neighbors. It also happens that plants shrivel up and die, very quickly, when they are not happy. When a new plant comes to my garden, I place it in different spots, with different “friends” to see where it is the happiest, it actually perks up when it hits the right spot. I tried, at one point, to plan my garden – to no avail. The plants, herbs and flowers were not always happy with my planning and I had to start moving things around a bit. This is why it takes time…plants live, breath and have different personalities; I’ve got the pushy roses, the shy ones and the very careful, sensitive ones. They are all roses but oh so different in character. I had a beautiful Aquilegia that just shriveled up and barely survived, so I moved her to the back-garden which is wilder and rougher…she has now become a huge family, lining the neighbors wall and thriving with high grasses, blackberries and nettels…she likes the wild life!

Most of my berries live in a totally wild area behind my house. It is a tiny jungle of currants, black and red, gooseberries and raspberries mixed up with a jumble of vague bushes. Each year they deliver such an abundance of fruit that it keeps us with jam and juice for the entire winter season. Once I tried “cleaning up” the jungle a bit, that year we had no berries… so I go with the flow and allow it to happen as it will. Sometimes the plants that arrive chez moi are hot-house bred and they almost always need to die the first season, no matter how diligently I try to nurse them, only to come back with a vengeance the year after. Some of the stuff in my garden just moved in by itself and stayed, chatting happily away with the neighbor.

We don’t create our gardens, we open a space where creation is allowed and then it happens. This is my best tip for stress-management 🙂

THE MAGIC OF SCENTS

Ever since I can remember scents were always important; they would work on my imagination and carry me off. I never thought about it because it has always been such a vital part of who I am, but lately I have looked at what scents do to me. (Mind you, scents can even be smells or stinks…it doesn’t matter, I make no difference.)

When I think of scents, there is a whole world opening up in me; scents are the embodiment of history, every single story told and untold. They evoke mystery and adventure, they are the whiff of faraway lands, dreams and colors, displaying a whole array of emotions and music within. Scents are truly Grace.

I believe scents have not changed that much through history; lavender probably smells the same as it did centuries ago, so we might actually have the same experience now as was had then…scents span time. A story from the bible tells of Maria Magdalene rubbing Jesus’ feet with the oil of Spikenarde (Nardostachys jatamansi). I love that oil with its fresh, deep and musky scent. Knowing the properties of the oil (calming, grounding…) makes the story so much more interesting. I can rub my feet with Spikenarde and have the same experience 2000 yrs later – mind-boggling! Look at ancient poetry and you will find that the herbs, plants and oils haven’t changed. The poems speak of rose, jasmine, sandalwood, aloeswood, rosemary and thyme…

In the bible, poems and other written work through history we can find recipes for perfumes and scents that were used at the time. By recreating them we get an idea of the evolution of perfumery. Every century had its own “scent-fashion” and it has changed over time. Some of the perfumes, or scents, from ancient times would not be very popular today. At the time much of the known perfumes were connected to religious ceremony since scented matter oftentimes was costly and difficult to come by. By offering these expensive and evocative perfumes to the God(s), people hoped that the gods would be benevolent towards them.

The earliest perfumes were usually made from resins and woods, mixed into fat and then burned or anointed. Little by little, over time, the art of securing the evocative and fleeting scent of flowers was found and has been perfected ever since. Today lots of synthetics and alcohol is used in perfumes which somewhat takes away the “heady emotional reaction” to a scent, though the pleasure of it is always there. Everybody reacts on scents in some way, even anosmic people. Scents evoke memories, even long-buried ones, to be brought forth in vivid detail; matter might desist, but scents remain forever.

Flowers’ Fragrance Diminished By Air Pollution, Study Indicates

 

Flowers’ Fragrance Diminished By Air Pollution, Study Indicates.

The power of scent is enormous. This article shows how devastating the results are when scent is distorted or destroyed. I sincerely recommend you to read this.

CHAMOMILE

There are mainly 2 different chamomiles used in aromatherapy: German or “blue” chamomile and Roman chamomile.

German chamomile (Matricaria recutita): An annual aromatic plant, up to 60 cm high. It has a branching stem, feathery leaves and simple white flowers with a yellow center. It is native to Europe, but is now naturalized in North America and Australia. It is mainly cultivated in Hungary and eastern Europe where most of the oil is produced. All over Europe it can be found growing along fields and road-sides. The name “German” comes from earlier days when Germany was its main producer. It is often called Blue chamomile thanks to its deep blue-green color due to the chemical chamazulen. Chamazulen is not present in the fresh flower, it is only produced during the distillation process. The oil comes from steam-distillation of the flower heads.

It has a long tradition as a medicinal herb for all kinds of tension and for its anti-inflammatory properties. Usually it has been used in the form of tea or infusion. The scent is herbaceous with a fruity tinge.

USES:

  • SKIN: All kinds of inflammation; Acne, boils, dermatitis, eczema, inflammations, insect bites.
  • MUSCLE: Anti-inflammatory; rheumatism, inflamed joints, aches and pains, neuralgia, fibromyalgia.
  • EMOTION: Calming and relaxing to the nervous system; Headaches, insomnia, nervous tension, stress.
  • STOMACH: Anti-inflammatory and calming; Colic, indigestion and nausea. (Massage, tea & infusion)

This is a safe oil to use for children, elderly and weak individuals. Remember to keep the dosage down. The oil will stain both skin and materials.

Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile): A small perennial plant, up to 25 cm high with a branched hairy stem, feathery leaves and white flowers with yellow centers, the flowers are larger than those of German chamomile. The whole plant spreads in a creeping manner and has an apple-like scent. It is native to southern and western Europe, now naturalized in North America. It is cultivated in England, Belgium, Hungary, USA, Italy and France. The oil comes from steam-distillation of the flower heads, the scent is warm, sweet and herbaceous.

It has been used as a medicinal plant for at least 2000 years, especially in the Mediterranean area. The ancient Egyptians made note of it, as did the Romans. The ancient Greeks called it earth-apple (kamai – earth +melon – apple) which later turned into chamameleum.

USES:

It is used much in the same way as German chamomile, being calming, anti-inflammatory, hypnotic and a nerve sedative. The roman chamomile has a different, more profound calming action than the German C. According to Dr’s Franchomme & Penoel, Roman chamomile is useful as a calming agent before operations.

This oil is safe to use for children, elderly and weak individuals. Remember; lower dosage. Excellent oil for babies suffering from colic.

Experience: I have had great use of Roman chamomile for my children when they have suffered from stomach-ache or anxiety. Colic: Blend 1 drop in 5ml vegetable oil, rub on tummy (clockwise) cover with a warming pad, lay against shoulder and rock baby gently. The oil, soothing motion and the massage that is given by the rubbing against the shoulder usually helps baby to calm down.

German chamomile is brilliant as an anti-inflammatory for most skin-problems, even eczema. Just pay attention to dosage. I find the scent reviving though calming. I have used it with great success for horses; both emotionally and as a healing agent for wounds.