Friday, August 2, 2013

Using herbs and vegetables in homemade 'beauty' products

    The fall 2013 issue of "Herb Quarterly" arrived in the mail the other day. I love, love, love this magazine and have subscribed to it off and on for many, many years. The fall issue is number 136. Wish I had them all ...
Herb Quarterly
     Anyway, I couldn't wait to open it and devour every word. This is a magazine I can sit down and read cover to cover. It always contains tons of wonderful information. 
    My husband, Steve and I, enjoy reading. We have been known to spend an entire weekend day in bed reading, only getting up long enough to use the bathroom or get a bite to eat. We still read, but I don't read as much at home as in the past.
    In my job as Community Editor at the local newspaper, I read and write nearly the entire day. My food column, "On the Table," appears in the newspaper every other week. I spend a number of hours reading up on whatever that week's topic is going to be. When I get home from work, I usually don't want to read another word, but lately, we decided to head to bed an hour earlier than normal and spend that hour reading. And, I must say, I am certainly enjoying it.
    Back to the "Herb Quarterly." If you are not familiar with it, I recommend buying an issue. It costs $5.99, but if you like it, a subscription is $19.97 for one year, which is four issues - winter, spring, summer and fall. 
    Healing Children with Herbs, Herbs for Digestion, Elderberry: 2013 Herb of the Year, DIY Herb Oils for the Home, Transitional Gardening, A Vegan Holiday Table and Herb and Veggie Beauty are the featured articles.
    Regular features include Medicine Chest, Herbal Healthwatch, Herbalist's Notebook and The Organic Gardener, among others.
    One article I particularly enjoyed reading was "Herb and Veggie Beauty" by Janice Cox. Janice, a regular contributor to the magazine, lives in Medford, Ore.

    Janice is the author of "Natural Beauty at Home," "Natural Beauty for All Seasons," "Natural Beauty Beauty from the Garden." 
I own this book. :-)
    According to her website, her passion for home beauty started out of necessity ... natural bath and beauty products were hard to come by ... and it was an easy way to save time and money.
     "Get her book and you'll never look at fruit the same way again," notes the Times Picayune newspaper. "You'll also never pay high department store prices for creams and lotions that can be made simply and cheaply at home."
    For more on Janice, visit her website
    Now, on to the "Herb Quarterly" article.
    Because vegetables have an earthy scent, Janice notes that pairing them with fresh herbs improves the vegetable fragrance in recipes. She recommends leaving the peels and skins on the vegetables when using them in the recipes.
    Here are some of the recipes from the article.

    Fresh Carrot and Clary Sage Mask
       1 fresh carrot, grated (approximately 1/2 cup)
       1 tablespoon fresh chopped clary sage
       1 tablespoon white kaolin clay
       1 tablespoon pure honey

   Place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend on high until you have a smooth, creamy mixture.
    Yield: 4 ounces
    To use: Spread the mixture on your face and neck using your fingertips or use a small pastry brush. Let sit for 20 minutes then rinse with warm water followed by cool water. Pat skin dry.
    Store any remaining mask in the refrigerator for up to one week.

   Janice notes that carrots are rich in vitamin A. Fresh carrots and carrot juice have antiseptic qualities, and clary sage soothes, cleanses and adds moisture to dry complexions. Look for the clay, also called white China clay, in a health food or natural food store.

    Sweet Potato Facial Mask with Chamomile
       1/2 cup fresh sweet potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed
       1 tablespoon fresh chamomile or 2 teaspoons dried chamomile tea
       1 egg

    Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well until you have a smooth, creamy mixture.
    Yield: 2 ounces
    To use: Spread the mixture on your face and neck using your fingertips or use a small pastry brush. Let sit for 20 minutes, then rinse with warm water followed by cool water. Pat skin dry.
    Store any remaining mask in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Looks good enough to eat.
    Sweet potatoes - and regular potatoes - are an old folk-medicine remedy for cleansing skin and removing surface impurities, Janice writes in the article. They help with blemishes and eczema. Chamomile is calming and contains antibacterial properties useful for keeping a clean and clear complexion.

    I just whipped up a batch of this mask and put it on my face and neck, strategically avoiding where my reading glasses sit. The timer is on and I'm enjoying a glass of Kona Koko Brown beer. Let's hope the sweet potatoes don't turn my skin orange. 
    Timer went off. Rinsed my face in warm water, then cool water, then patted it dry. It feels soft and smooth. No discoloration. Will try it again tomorrow and for the next few days and see what happens. :-)

     Corn Oil Cold Cream
       1/2 cup borax powder
       1/4 cup distilled or filtered water
       1/2 cup corn oil (or vegetable, soy or canola oil)
       2 tablespoons beeswax

    In a glass measuring cup, dissolve the borax in the water and set aside. In another glass measuring cup, mix together the oil and beeswax. Place the glass cup in a pan on the stove with 2 inches of water, making a water bath. Gently heat the oil-wax mixture until the wax begins to melt (8-10 minutes), stirring occasionally.
    When the wax is melted, place the cup with the water and borax mixture in the water bath and heat until hot (do not boil). You want both mixtures to roughly be the same temperature.
   Add the hot water mixture to the oil blend to make the cream. You can do this by hand-stirring constantly, but a blender makes the process much easier and produces a well-blended cream. Place the oil mixture in a blender and turn on slow speed. Pour the hot water in a slow, steady stream and then process the cream on high. Spoon the cream into a clean container and let cool completely. You may want to stir one more time as the cream cools.
    Yield: 8 ounces.
    To use: Massage a small amount of the rich cream into dry skin spots. To use as a makeup remover, massage into your skin, then wipe off with a soft cotton tissue or cloth. 

    I read this recipe to hubby Steve and he wants me to make it for him to use. :-) 

    Cleansing Tomato-Parsley Hair Rinse
       1 cup fresh tomato juice
       1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
       1 cup pure water
       1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

    Place all ingredients in a blender and process until well-blended. Strain out the solids and pour into a clean container.
    Yield: 16 ounces.
    To use: After shampooing, pour the rinse over your hair and massage well into your scalp. Let sit for a minute or two, then rinse with the coolest water you can stand.

    Janice writes, "This cleansing rinse gets hair looking fresh and smelling sweet. Tomato juice is the classic cure for removing harsh smells, such as campfire smoke, from your hair. Parsley also naturally cleanses and deodorizes. This rinse will deep clean the scalp keeping it healthy and promoting new hair growth."

   This next recipe is such a good idea. The benefit of a loofah to scrub the skin with the soap "built in."

    Loofah Slice Soap Bars
       2 bars of natural soap such as glycerin or castile, chopped
       1 tablespoon water
       4 slices dried loofah sponge

    Find a small pan or plastic dish to use as a soap mold that's approximately the size of the loofah slice (muffin tins and candy molds work well). Place the loofah slices inside the molds.
    In a double boiler place the chopped soap and water and heat gently until the soap begins to melt. Remove from heat and continue to stir the soap until it's completely melted. Spoon the melted soap inside the loofah slice molds and allow to cool completely until hard.
    Remove from molds and trim the soaps with a sharp knife.
    Yield: 8 ounces, 3-4 bars of soap.
    To use: Enjoy as you would any bar of soap, but do not use on your face or other sensitive skin areas as it may be too harsh. 

Loofah growing on a fence. It does resemble a cucumber.
    And, did you know that you can grow your own loofah? I did not. Here is what Janice says: "... the loofah sponges available in bath and body shops are actually vegetables." Amazing, right? Well ... to me it is. The loofah belongs to a family of plants that includes cucumbers, gourds, melons, pumpkins and squashes and are the most closely related to the cucumber in appearance and growing habits.

Dried loofah.
    Janice notes that seeds - and sometimes the starter plants - are available at garden centers. Though I have never looked, I wonder if they are available locally. We have a lot of gardening businesses in our area. And, of course, they are available from online seed catalogs. 
    She writes that loofahs like to climb so they should be planted next to a fence or a trellis. A ripe loofah has a dark yellow or brown outer skin that needs to be removed. She notes that you need to "clean the inner 'skeletons,' removing all seeds. Then let it dry in the sun.

    Janice also offers several easy ways to use vegetables on the skin and hair.
    Artichoke hearts blended with a bit of lemon juice conditions the hair before shampooing and is an effective treatment for dandruff or flaky scalps.
    Blend chick peas and garbanzo beans with a little honey or olive oil to make a protein-rich and soothing facial mask. This is good for people with dry or sensitive skin.
   Lettuce juice is a good skin toner. It also soothes skin that has been sunburned.
   Mashed and cooked parsnips can be used on the feet and hands to help brittle nails and dry, rough skin.
    Use potato slices to reduce under-eye puffiness. Lie down and place a freshly cut slice on each closed eyelid. Leave them there for 5 to 10 minutes.
    Lastly, tomato juice can be used as a skin tonic and toner. Janice writes that it restores acidity to people who have oily skin.

          I think I've done enough writing for today ... two posts in one day. Wow! And that's after not posting for nearly a year. Shame on me.

Nighty night and sweet dreams. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

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