Herb Infused Oils for Skin Care
I’m creating herb-infused oils to use in a healing salve for treating my rough, dry hands during the gardening season.
There are many cultivated and wild plants that have healing properties for our skin. Burdock, plantain, and yarrow are 3 common wild plants recommended for treating a number of skin problems. And now that these wild herbs are in season, it’s a great time to harvest them for infusing oils for use in homemade skincare products. I especially love the fact that these plants cost nothing but a bit of time and knowledge to collect and use.
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Herb Infused Oils Aren’t Just For Skin Care
Although the oils that I am infusing for this article are intended for topical use, they are edible too. In addition, you may create infused oils for culinary purposes. Be sure that the herbs you collect are edible! Basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and dill are all very nice cultivated herbs that make delicious infused oils for stir-fries, salad dressings, and other dishes.
Burdock – Arctium lappa
Burdock has been used for medicinal purposes and as a source of food for ages. Applied topically, it is reputed to treat acne, eczema, and psoriasis. (Source) I used the leaves to infuse almond oil for treating dry skin.
Common Plantain – Plantago major
Common plantain (also known as broadleaf plantain) has been used for medicinal purposes, including treatment of pain and inflammation of topical wounds, insect bites, dermatitis and to speed healing of minor wounds. (Source)
Yarrow – Achillea millefolium
Traditionally, yarrow has been used as an edible and medicinal plant. Its scent and flavor are reminiscent of sage. The leaves and flowers may be used topically to reduce inflammation, speed healing, and stop bleeding. (Source.) It is important to note, however, that yarrow may cause dermatitis in some people and should not be used if you are allergic to plants in the daisy and ragweed family.
Collecting & Using Wild Plants
Collect your plant material from an area that has not been sprayed with toxic chemicals. Plants collected along roadsides may be contaminated with pollutants from passing cars. Try to find a place where people do not walk their dogs. Make sure you have permission to collect plants. See Caution Below!
I collected leaves from plantain, burdock, and yarrow from my yard…one more reason to keep an organic yard. After harvesting several cups of each, I rinsed off any lawn clippings or other debris, patted them dry, and loaded them into my food dehydrator.
Dry Plants for Best Results
Dehydrating the leaves removes moisture so that the resulting oil keeps longer. I left the leaves to dry out until they were easy to crumble. If you don’t have a food dehydrator, you may tie leaves up into small bundles and hang to dry.
I crumbled the dried leaves into a bowl that fits in my yogurt maker. The leafy bits were covered with almond or coconut oil (I’m experimenting with different base oils), then I put the lid on the yogurt maker and left it for about 24 hours, stirring on occasion.
Choosing Your Oil for Infusion
You may use a number of different oils for infusing with botanicals. (Note: If you, or anyone who may use the oils, are allergic to nuts, choose an oil that is safe for use.) Oils that work well include: olive, apricot kernel, almond, safflower, or sunflower. If the infused oil will be kept for more than a couple of months, you may wish to store it in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before using.
For an ‘instant’ salve that doesn’t need to be heated with beeswax or other ingredients, use coconut oil as your infusion base for the plant material. The coconut oil will solidify into a ready to use salve. It may get quite soft in hot weather, so don’t put it in your bag and leave in a hot car!
Note: For herb-infused oils intended for culinary purposes, make sure that the oils are food-grade quality.
Infusing the Oil
You don’t need a yogurt maker to infuse the oil. You can put your plant material and oil in a glass jar and leave in the sun for a couple of weeks and stir every day. You can also put the oil and leaves in a double boiler and heat gently on low for several hours. Once the oil begins to turn a greenish shade you may use it.
Use the method of infusing that works best for you.
Once the oil is infused you will need to strain the plant material from the oil. Line a sieve with a paper towel or cheesecloth, place over a bowl and pour the oil and plant material into the lined sieve. Allow to drain naturally or use a spoon to gently press the oil from the leaves.
Storing Herb Infused Oils
Store the botanical infused oils in a cool dark place and use in salves and other skincare products within a few months for the best quality. If you have brown or blue bottles to protect from light, that’s great. Storing in the refrigerator will keep the oils from going rancid.
Using Herb Infused Oils
Your herbal infusions may be used as-is for rubbing into dry, itchy skin. They may also be used as a scalp treatment to provide relief from dandruff. I like to use the oils in a homemade salve.
Using Herbs Safely
Whenever you are collecting wild herbs, make sure you have identified each plant properly using a reliable guide. Test small amounts of the herb on your skin for allergic reactions before applying over large areas of the body. This article is not intended to replace the medical advice of a trained professional.
Using these herbs, collecting wild plants, and foraging for edible and medicinal plants are activities that carry a certain amount of risk and should not be taken lightly. This site and the author cannot be held responsible for individuals taking part in foraging activities…do so at your own risk!
Have you ever created your own herb-infused oils for skincare? Leave a comment!
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