Make herbal waters & HYDROSOLS
Floral and herb waters have a long history in natural skincare. Learn how to make your own using basic equipment you already have, and save money.
Herbal waters are basically herbal teas, made using whole, dried herbs via infusion or decoction. These fragrant waters, as well as hydrosols, can be used in place of plain water in DIY skincare.
You can use whichever herb you like. Popular choices include chamomile, which is soothing and anti-inflammatory; plantain, which is useful for problem skin; gotu kola, which has excellent skin rejuvenating properties; neem, which soothes eczema and psoriasis; and rosehip, which is soothing and rich in vitamin C.
To make a simple herbal water, steep one generous tablespoon of your chosen herb to three cups of boiling water in a non-metal teapot for 10 minutes. Strain well and measure 148ml into a saucepan for later use (see Donna Lee’s Simple Base Cream, right). Make this just before creating your herbal creams.
Hydrosols (sometimes called floral waters), or distillates, are the result of steam distilling plant materials. They’re similar to essential oils but in far smaller concentrations. They can also be used in place of water for most formulas. You can make your own rosewater using this basic method.
• 8-10 cups spray-free, heavily scented rose petals • water • ice • large saucepan with a domed lid • 2 heat-resistant glass or ceramic bowls (should be heavy so that they don’t move around in the water).
Place one of the glass bowls upside down on the bottom of the saucepan. Place the other bowl on top of the first bowl, right side up. Sprinkle the rose petals onto the bottom of the saucepan. Fill the saucepan with water so that it just covers the rose petals. Place the lid on the saucepan upside down (this is where a domed lid comes in handy), turn on the heat and bring the water to the boil.
Reduce to a simmer, then fill the inverted lid with ice cubes. As the steam from the boiling water hits the cold lid, it condenses, flows down to the centre of the lid and drips into the bowl. Voila! Rosewater.
Check the bowl every 10-15 minutes. You should end up with 1-2 cups of water that smells rosy. If you leave it on the stove too long, the scent will eventually become diluted. The distilling process should take 20-30 minutes. Allow the rosewater to cool before bottling.
Rosewater has skin softening and hydrating properties when used regularly. It can be used in an atomiser bottle and misted onto the skin as often as required, or gently wiped over the face and neck several times a day.