Archive for the ‘Homemade Skin & Hair Care’ Category

Long, steaming, fragrant, luxurious baths is there really anything better to wash the stress away?  I admit, it’s rare I get opportunity for such luxuries.  For the last ten years the majority of my baths involve quick in and out jumps in the shower, a child at the door that suddenly has to “go now!’, or is laying outside prone against the floor asking over and over what I’m doing. This is if I’m lucky, the youngest one is also sly enough to recognize if I’m in the tub, I can’t catch her getting into the “forbidden” stuff in the pantry.

Yet, on the rare occasions I do get to treat myself to a truly relaxing bath time I have a few tricks up my sleeve to save money on expensive bathing spoilers. Sugar scrub is one of these such items. I love the feeling the exfoliating scrub leaves on my skin and the softness to it from the oil.

To make you own is very simple and requires four to five ingredients.  They are:

MYO Sugar Scrub

1/4 cup demerara cane sugar (Course sugar)

1/4 cup white sugar (fine sugar)

3 tbsp liquid oil (Olive or aloe vera work best)

1/4-1/2 tsp fragrance oil  (Mix and match scents if you desire to create Lavender/Camomile, Vanilla/Verbena, Lavender/Vanilla, Gingerbread Cookie.)

Put all items together in a bowl and stir with spoon. If you find the sugar to dry, add a few drops more oil and stir until desired consistency.

You can also add other ingredients, such as epsom salts for reliving aches, crushed herbs or flower pedals.

Now…go make yourself some sugar scrub and enjoy a relaxing soak.

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I truly do love the smell of gardenia’s, and take every opportunity I can in their blooming season to cut bouquets, open windows and enjoy the pure sweetness day and night they can offer.  It is such a depressing day when the flowers fade giving way to summer heat.  When I stumbled upon ways to preserve that fragrance in a simple perfume and water spritz I just had to try them.  They did not disappoint.

First you need to pick your fresh flowers, as gardenia’s are delicate and do not last long after picking you need to be rather quick and prepared to process them right after pickings.

Once picked, separate the pedals from the green stems.  Now you get to decide what you wish to do with them.


To make perfume you need

Distilled water

Alcohol :  Rubbing alcohol, witch hazel, or vodka (100 proof) works best.

Glass jar

Mix your distilled water and alcohol base together in even amounts. (1 part water to 1 part base).

Fill glass jar with gardenia pedals until filled, pack them down slightly so the jar is full but not to point the flowers are mashed.

Add the water/alcohol mix to the flowers and seal.  Warning, they will take on a brown look, this will get worse as they sit and release their oils, this is ok. Let rest in a low light location for several weeks to fuse the fragrance.

Strain water/alcohol mix through paper towels/cloth into pitcher or bowl.

Add your new perfume to spray bottles and enjoy.  Store in dark/low light location.

Water Air Freshening/Body Spritz

To make a water spritz, you place your flowers in a large kettle and add distilled water.  Heat water slowly on low heat until just under boiling, reduce heat and let flowers steep in hot liquid until water naturally cools to lukewarm or room temperature.   Strain flowers from liquid with us of a cloth, retaining the liquid in a glass bowl.

Using glass containers or canning jars store your liquid air freshener, be sure it is stored in a semi to dark location, or cover the bottle with thick towels to keep out light.  When needed to use just fill a dark colored spray bottle.

Yep, it’s that easy. Now you are ready to spray your room, add a cup to your bath, or rejuvenate yourself.

The brown coloration you see is natural. I have used the water to color homemade paper, “antique” papers and color wool and fabrics. Not only do they get a unique color but smell wonderful also.

For variety in either of these try adding mint, lavender, roses, rosemary,sage, basil, hollyhock, lilac or other flowers to the pot.  Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg also can be used to accent.  Experiment and enjoy.

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Today began the first of the mint harvest.  My tackle today was the spearmint patch outside my front door and the first project before I began hanging any for drying was soap making.  Today I whipped up a batch of fresh mint and a batch of orange bergamot mint bars.  I’ll make more batches of various mint infused fragrances over the next weeks and this is just the beginning of the harvests.  I’ll keep you posted as I work through the spearmint, peppermint,  sweet lemon mint, apple mint, chocolate mint, and orange bergamot mint beds on other projects.

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I’ve been on my feet a lot the last two days and they are protesting this abuse.  Their protesting has gained attention and so tonight they will be getting a slight pampering.  So many times it seems I just don’t have the time to put into truly taking time to relax. To much to do, so little time to get it all done in and everything has a time limit it has to be done in.  I’m sure many are in this same boat and for them I offer a relaxing and re-energizing foot bath recipe.

Relaxing Foot Bath.

A dish pan or other water holding bowl big enough to cover your feet and ankles in hot water.

Hot water

To this add:

A generous squirt of honey

A splash of vanilla extract

A splash of almond extract

A small squirt of shampoo

A handful of marbles

While soaking feet, gently rub them atop the marbles to get a soothing foot massage.  For added relaxing benefits, grab a cup of chamomile tea and sit back and relax.

Re-Energizing Foot Bath

To hot water add :

Handful of Epsom salts (keep another two hand fulls in reserve)

Handful baking soda

Drizzle olive oil

Squirt of lemon juice

Handful of mint leaves or dash of peppermint oil

Using a loofah begin to clean and massage your feet,  finish with taking remaining handfuls of Epsom salt, using your hands to massage it into your feet tops and bottoms until all dissolved.  Then sit back with a cup of energizing tea such as green tea with spearmint and some invigorating music.

Sometimes, we just need to pamper ourselves.

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I make my own mint baths for relief of aches and pains and to relax.  The process I use is simply to pick the mint, bruise it with a rolling pin to release oils,  and place it in a very large canning kettle with lid on.  Then I fill the kettle with water until it covers the leaves or nearly.  I then heat the water to boiling, reduce the heat and let it simmer until the water in kettle is reduced by 3/4th original content.  Discard the mint , wringing excess liquid out as I go. Then strain the liquid through a clean cloth diaper (not the ones with padded center) into another large kettle to remove sediment, leaves and such.  From this point I ladle into bottles and seal tightly.  I use old wine bottles as they will be stored in a dark place anyways and the corks work wonderful at resealing (or caps if you get the cheaper wines I have both in my stock).  As you can see the color is a darkish green tea coloration.  To use run bath of hot water and add 1 – 2 cups to water, I use 2 cups myself.  The smell is not as overwhelming as if I was making essential oil, but it is still a pleasant and relaxing aroma that soothes senses and soul.

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Hair tonics, quite a interesting word choice when you consider it.  Hair Tonics are not actually good for your hair, they are good for the skin and pores of your scalp and in such they aid in promoting healthy hair growth at the follicle level.  It is important with all tonics to be sure to massage into your scalp to stimulate the pores to open and absorb the benefits for all tonics.  Use some common knowledge in using tonics on your hair. Certain herbs will darken or lighten the hair.  Chamomile brightens dull blond hair and protects against dark UV streaking.  Saffron, Tumeric and calendula also are recommended for blond hair types.  For brunettes such herbs as sage, walnut, mint and black tea are preferred.  Red hair colors can benefit from Henna.  Peppermint and spearmint stimulate the scalp, rose petals are gentle conditioners, rosemary conditions and highlights as well as is an anti-dandruff method and sage is a hair strengthener as well as color enhancer for brunette and redheads. So be certain to use the right herb types for your hair color.  In the following recipes I have included hair types that are desired and to be avoided.

All tonics should be stored in dark colored containers.  Do NOT store in clear containers.  Store in glass if possible, plastic will work but might leach chemicals into your natural hair product.

Mint Hair Tonic


1 handful mint leaves.  (bruise leaves between fingers or between wax paper rolling out with rolling pin to release essential oils.)

1/2 cup white or cider vinegar (use white if you don’t like a vinegar smell, I personally use cider as the smell fades rapidly in the drying process.)

1 to 1 1/2 cups water

Bring vinegar to boil and reduce heat to keep hot.  Add mint and steep for 10 minutes in hot liquid, remove from burner and let cool.  Strain out herbs in cheese cloth or coffee filter.  Add water and place in a dark colored bottle.  Use daily as a rinse after shampoo and conditioning treatment.

Birch Hair Tonic

2 handfuls birch leaves (bruised)

1/2 cup 70% alcohol

1/2 cup water

1 handful peppermint leaves (bruised)

Add leaves to quart canning jar.  Pour alcohol over leaves and leave for 1 week in dark place.  Filter liquid through cheese cloth or coffee filter. Add water and stir well.  Place in dark bottle and use daily, be sure to massage into scalp.

Leave In Hair Rinse

Herbs of your choice.  (Rosemary, sage, chamomile, mint, basil.)

Place herb in cup and add boiling water. Steep for 5 to 10 minutes and filter.  Pour onto hair and comb to evenly distribute.  Let hair dry naturally.

Damaged/Brittle Hair Tonic

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp glycerin

1 cup water

Boil water and add honey and glycerin. Store and use daily.  (Glycerin can be purchased at drug stores or even canning sections or jello sections of food stores.)

Deep Conditioning Hair Tonic

1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup vinegar

1/2 cup herbs of  choice

Heat vinegar to warm and add mayonnaise.  Blend well.  Place herbs in 1/4 cup water and steep to make a strong tea.  Add to vinegar mixture and blend smooth.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  Apply generously to hair and wrap head with towel.  Leave on for 15 minutes to 2 hours before rinsing out with cold water.

I use this once a month on my hair to rejuvenate and repair it from the trauma of day to day living.

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Many of us pay high prices for fancy cosmetic products promising to lift, decrease wrinkles, brighten and lighten our skin, improve the quality and texture of our hair and so much more.  Yet throughout the ages many women did not have these factory created wonders and yet kept good care of their skin and hair through more natural means.  Recent studies have found that those fancy cosmetic items which promise incredible results are in fact no better then products that can be made in the home for a fraction of the cost and without the extra chemicals and additives.  Here are some of the recipes I personally use along with some that are suitable for different hair types, colors, and skin needs then my own.

Remember, your skin and hair requires different blends for different environments, seasons and conditions.  Using the same exact products time and again is not recommended, switch up the routine from time to time,  try new mixes and tonics here and there.   But most of all relax and enjoy pampering yourself with products you know are all natural, smell great, work wonderfully and cost you a small fraction of the cost of store bought.

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