There is no doubt that today people everywhere are becoming more and more herb minded. They now realize the benefits of using nature's ingredients for a host of beneficial products, from cleaning the house to cleaning themselves. And what better way to use them than to include herbs in your own custom-made soaps.
A good herbal soap exerts its effects on the outer layer of the skin, the so-called horny or epithelial layer, making it smooth and soft. You can make your special soaps by saving leftover soap scraps and using them, or using a grated, pure toilet soap.
Chamomile soap is both soothing and healing, and is suitable for all skin types, including disturbed skin. It is ideal for men whose facial skin suffers trauma from the daily routine of shaving.
Place 5 tablespoons of dried chamomile in a ceramic bowl and add 300ml of boiling water. Cover, infuse for 12 hours, strain through muslin, squeezing all liquid from the herbs, and add to recipe.
Melt 350g of grated soap in an enamel pan over a low heat with just enough of the chamomile infusion to form a soft paste (use a potato masher to help dissolve the soap). Add the remaining infusion and stir continuously until thoroughly blended. Remove from heat and pour into suitable moulds. Allow to harden, remove from moulds, and your soap is ready to use.
Moulds for the soap mixture can be small, shallow cardboard boxes, patty pans, circles, triangles, chocolate moulds, etc — anything you can think of. And you can increase the quantity of the recipe, proportionately, to make more soap.
Honey Soap: This is a very gentle soap that is particularly helpful for dry or sensitive skins.
Prepare an elder flower infusion in the same way as the chamomile, reducing the amount of dried herb to 2 teaspoons to 300ml of boiling water. Put 900g of grated soap in the top of a double boiler with barely enough of hot elder flower infusion to cover.
Melt over boiling water, stir thoroughly and add 110g each of almond oil and unprocessed honey.
Mix well by continuing to stir for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into moulds and allow to cool.
When it has hardened it is ready for immediate use.
Whether you inhale them, add them to your bath, dab them on the skin, or include them in a massage oil, the beneficial properties of pure essential aromatic oils can make you feel terrific. The rich fragrant perfumes of essential oils calm, soothe, heal, fight infection, revitalise, relax and stimulate the body.
The oils are very concentrated and so only a small amount, a few drops, is necessary. Try the following tips whenever a particular problem is bothering you:
- To relieve headaches, put a couple of drops of lavender oil on your fingers and massage your temples. Rubbed into the wrists or on to the nape of the neck it has a calming effect, and if a blemish is coming up, dab on one drop of lavender oil to help it disappear.
- Revitalise yourself after a busy day, when you still have to go out at night, by adding a few drops of bergamot and ylang-ylang oil to a warmish bath and soak in it for 10 minutes. Unwind with a mixture of lavender and rosewood in your bath.
- Help to revitalize your body and restore health after illness by adding tangerine oil to your bath or take it as an inhalation. Also good for a soothing back massage for anxiety or for expectant mothers.
- For relief of muscular pains, massage 6 drops of eucalyptus oil and 6 drops of lavender oil, mixed together, into the afflicted area. And a few drops of eucalyptus or peppermint oil on your handkerchief will case laboured breathing when inhaled.
- Ease indigestion by adding one drop of peppermint oil to a glass of warm water with a little honey added and sip. It acts extremely quickly. This also works well to counteract nausea during pregnancy.
- Use lavender oil as a cleanser for your face. Mix one drop of oil to 100ml of distilled water and apply with a cotton ball. For oily or spotty skin, use tea-tree oil.
- To clear blemished skin, mix two drops each of lavender and chamomile in the palm of your hands, then massage into facial skin each evening after thoroughly cleansing. Leave on overnight.
If your daily schedule doesn't always allow for a relaxing bath, you can still enjoy the benefits of fragrant oils in an aromatic shower. Mix 30 drops of essential oil with 40ml almond oil and rub this over your entire body, diluted 50-50 with water. Plug the shower drain and sprinkle in some of the same aromatics as the water collects.