Skin creams that have been in­fused with herbs add an ex­tra di­men­sion to your skin­care rou­tine. Learn how to make your own and reap the ther­a­peu­tic ben­e­fits.

Herbs & Superfoods - - Herbs For Natural Beauty -

When start­ing out, it’s a good idea to be­gin with a ba­sic for­mula. With more com­pli­cated for­mu­las, a num­ber of fac­tors af­fect the sta­bil­ity of a cream. For ex­am­ple, the ra­tio of oil to cream can af­fect the cream’s sta­bil­ity, as can high al­co­hol con­cen­tra­tions, herbal in­gre­di­ents high in mu­cilage and as­trin­gents, and chem­i­cal salts, which can be found in min­eral and spring wa­ters.

Creams can be tricky to make as water is in­tro­duced, which al­ways makes things a lit­tle more chal­leng­ing. You need to get the mix of oil and water right.

Natur­opath and med­i­cal her­bal­ist Val­mai Becker, of Phyto­farm in Banks Penin­sula, says when cre­at­ing creams you usu­ally start with an oil. “In cos­metic creams I use a base or­ganic cold-pressed sun­flower oil be­cause it doesn’t have an odour. It’s pretty high qual­ity and it doesn’t cost too much, ei­ther. You can use al­mond oil as well, but al­mond is pretty expensive and some peo­ple re­act to it. There’s also apri­cot and jo­joba oils."

These oils act as a car­rier for herbs and es­sen­tial oils, but in­fused oils, such as cal­en­dula-in­fused oil (see the recipe in Health & Well­be­ing chap­ter), can be used as well. Among other things, cal­en­dula con­tains ly­copene. Ly­copene’s an­tiox­i­dant and Uv-block­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties nat­u­rally make it a valu­able weapon against skin age­ing. An­other in­fused oil that’s great for the skin is rose­hip-in­fused oil.

When first start­ing out with creams, dried herbs are ideal. The most likely rea­son oils go ran­cid is be­cause of the water con­tent.

The ra­tio Val­mai uses is 100g dried flow­ers to 500ml oil. “But if some­body just wanted to make a small jam jar full, they could just fill the jar up with flow­ers and pour oil in it.”

To add a mois­tur­is­ing fac­tor to your creams, co­conut but­ter, co­coa but­ter or shea but­ter can be added. These are all emol­lients, which help to re­duce mois­ture loss from the epi­der­mis.

Any water used in your for­mu­las should be pu­ri­fied (de-ionised or distilled); don’t use tap­wa­ter, min­eral water or or­di­nary bot­tled water as they con­tain chem­i­cals that will make prod­ucts go off more quickly.

Any es­sen­tial oils used should be ther­a­peu­tic rather than cos­metic grade, as cos­metic oils con­tain ar­ti­fi­cial aro­mas.

Emul­si­fiers are also es­sen­tial in creams and lo­tions. Oth­er­wise your prod­uct will sep­a­rate and you’ll find oil on top. A veg­etable-based emul­si­fy­ing wax is easy to work with and rel­a­tively cheap.

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