For the past 6 or 7 years, I have used oil to moisturize and care for my skin instead of using lotion or body butter, which are far more common.
Ayurveda encourages the use of oil because oil is absorbed by your skin AND acts as an extra layer of protection against the elements. Lotion will dry your skin out and eventually you need to add more, but oil is the lube that keeps on hydrating your skin long after you apply it.
I also prefer using oil because I like the idea that I could eat what I’m putting on my skin. Your skin is your largest organ, so whatever you put on it will be consumed by your body, one way or another. Most lotion has a whole mess of ingredients that I wouldn’t want to eat, so why would I want to put them on my body?
You could just use straight up oil (sesame, sunflower, coconut, almond), which will definitely do the trick. But it’s also fairly easy to make herbal-infused oils and give your skin a little more nutrition.
The most common ingredient in natural skin-care products, including the stuff used for sensitive baby bottoms, is Calendula. Calendula is a plant with an affinity for the skin. It is nearly always applied topically for best results in oils or creams.
Since I prefer oils, I almost always use it as the herbal base for my herbal-infused oils.
Beyond calendula, there are lots of other plants that can be beneficial to skin including lemon balm, milky oats, rose petals, lemon verbena, st. johns wort, lavender, comfrey, and chamomile. You can use dried or fresh herbs. I prefer fresh but I’ve had fantastic results with both.
The oil you choose should be a neutral oil as well as beneficial for your skin type.
Sesame oil is great for drier skin or used in drier, colder climates.
Sunflower oil is a little lighter, so it works well is hotter climates and for people who have skin that is a little warmer and oilier.
Almond oil is thick and warming, so it’s great for people who have cooler AND oilier skin.
Here’s how to make your own herbal-infused oil~
Step 1: Pack a large mason jar with herbs. I like to leave a little space ta the top, but I use a lot of herbs to maximize potency. In this batch, I used fresh lemon balm and dried calendula.
Step 2: Fill the jar with your oil of choice. In this batch, I used sunflower oil.
Step 3: Put the top on securely (I know this seems like it shouldn’t need to be a step, but you don’t want oil leaking!)
Step 4: You have 2 options here. The slow, old-school method of infusing oil or the more modern, fast version.
Old school option is called “Solar-Infusing.” Basically you set your jar of oil out in the sun for 30 days or so. This is ideal in the summer or in warmer, sunnier climates.
The modern option is a stovetop method. You fill a large pot with water. It should be deep enough to nearly cover the jar. Put it on the lowest heat possible and place your jar in the water. Heat the oil for 48hrs. The temperature should never go over 115 degrees and the water shouldn’t boil. You’re not cooking this oil; just heating it so the herbs will infuse the oil with their magic.
For this batch, I solar-infused because it was still sunny most days and hot.
Step 5: Drain the oil by using a mesh sieve, ideally. Wait until all of the oil has drained out. You can also squeeze a little more oil out by pressing the jar into the herbs into the mesh sieve. If you want.
Step 6: Pour your oil into containers and use on your body as much as you want. I know it sort of looks like pee. That’s the calendula making a light oil look a little more yellow. I promise those jars are full of oil.
While these herbal-infused oils might not be as “yummy-smelling” as if you’d just put in a few drops of lavender essential oil, I think they’re a little sweeter to your skin. You’re using the actual plant instead of a super concentrated version of a plant, so they haven’t been processed at all. Closer to the source. Mama likes that. So does your skin. And although I do like essential oils, I would rather use something less concentrated on my thirsty skin. And they often do smell good, it’s just way more subtle.
Have fun making some herbal goodness for your skin!