LUNAR GARDENING The moon is a powerful influence on the earth whether we view this as a gravitational force or as a spiritual or energetic power. When the moon is in the stage between the new and the full moon it is waxing. This is a time of gaining and expanding when the moon’s gravitational force is pulling away from the earth. This is a good time to harvest and an ideal time to make or decant your preparations. The moon’s force is helping to pull the energies and chemical constituents out of the plant and into the preparation. If you want or can wait to decant your tinctures and oils at the moment of the full moon, or just beforehand, then you will have this added energy force pulling a little extra out of the plants. The stage from full to new moon is known as waning, when the gravitational influences are pushing down and inward. It is a good time for storage or final preparations.
IN THE KITCHEN A good way to start experimenting with creating beauty products is to make a scented flower oil. Many recipes require this as a base and it can be used in its own right as a gorgeous body oil applied after a bath or as a massage oil for the whole family. Firstly you need to harvest several large handfuls of flowers and arrange them to dry on a clean, dry cloth. Leave on a sunny windowsill for a few days until completely dry. Take a large clean glass jar and fill to the brim with dried flowers, cover with a good quality organic oil such as almond or sunflower. Seal with a lid and leave on the windowsill to infuse for 2 weeks. Shake daily to mix. After a fortnight, strain through a sieve and store the oil in a dark bottle in a cool place out of direct light. It should keep for up to one year.
You can also make scented oil with fresh flowers but these will need to be changed every two days so that the oil doesn’t grow mouldy. You could try rose for a gorgeous body oil, calendula for soothing baby’s bottom or chamomile to treat mild sunburn. Experiment and have fun. Involve your children in the process and soon you’ll all be brimming with herbal knowledge. This infused oil is the starting point for lots of other scrumptious treats for your skin.
LUSCIOUS CREAM Cream is a mixture of oils/fats and water and is absorbed by the skin, having a rehydrating effect. To make a delicious and simple facial cream, you need to mix together organic scented oil and organic flower water with melted beeswax. Vegans can use shea butter or coconut oil. Flower water can be made from flowers such as lavender, rose or orange blossom and you can tailor it to your skin type. For example, rose is good for mature dry skin, lavender for irritated or sensitive skin.
STORAGE Glass makes a good container as it is easy to sterilize, can be used again and again and won’t taint the natural ingredients inside. Keep an eye out for pretty bottles and jars in antique shops and save any that you are finished with in the kitchen. It is important to remember to sterilize jars and bottles before use. Wash in hot soapy water, using an old toothbrush for those hard to reach places. Allow to air dry.
FACE CARE Facial skin deserves a little pick me up every now and then. For very dry skin you can use an avocado to hydrate and soften the face. Mash half an avocado with a fork until creamy. Apply the mixture to the face and neck. Rinse off with a warm flannel after 15 minutes. Afterwards apply a toner such as a parsley toner made using 25g fresh parsley and 250ml boiling water. Pour the water over the parsley and leave to cool completely. Strain and pour into a clean jar. Apply to skin with a cloth. Once in a while a facial scrub helps to refresh and renew the skin. Grind 4 tbsp rolled oats and 25g almonds to a fine consistency. Add water until it becomes a paste. Apply to the face with fingertips, massaging in a circular motion. Rinse off with cool water.
DENTAL DELIGHTS The act of brushing is more important than using a cleaning agent. Brush the teeth thoroughly for at least two minutes, twice a day. Flossing is important too. You can brush teeth just using water. However you can make your own tooth powder or toothpaste, which is good fun. Mix 1/2 cup baking soda (for the cleansing properties) with 1/8 cup of salt (for abrasive properties) and store the mixture in a glass jar in a cool dark place. You can add a few drops of peppermint essential oil if you like. Dip a dampened brush into the mixture and give your teeth a good brush. This will keep for quite a while but you will probably want to make up a fresh batch every few weeks or so. To make toothpaste, add 3 or 4 teaspoons of glycerin and 10-15 drops of essential oil such as peppermint, anise, lemon etc to the powder recipe. If you have a squeezy container, spoon it in, otherwise it can be stored in a jar.
HERBAL HAIRCARE Use homemade products for clean, glossy locks without the hair-miles! This recipe for soap nut shampoo can be adapted to your hair type, adding chamomile flowers for fair hair and rosemary for dark hair. Soak the soap nuts in a cup of water for at least 8 hours or overnight; adding any herbs if using. Then, strain the liquid and add the juice of one lemon. Apply to your hair, massaging into the scalp in a circular motion and rinse thoroughly with water. For styling, Aloe Vera can be used as a natural gel. Peel off the skin exposing the translucent gel and apply to hair. Once dry it leaves a healthy glossy sheen to the hair.
BEAUTY TOUCHES Make your own lip-gloss using 4 tbsp of almond oil and 4 tbsp cocoa or shea butter. Melt ingredients in a small bowl over a pan of boiling water taking care not to overheat. Pour into a small sterilised glass container and allow to cool. Add more oil to soften it. You can also add grated beetroot or a few blackberries to the bowl to give the lip-gloss a pinkish sheen. Simply strain before decanting into a jar.
SCENTED TREATS Using the lip balm recipe above you can make your own solid perfume that can be applied to wrists, cleavage or behind ears for a delectable natural scent. Add ten drops of essential oil of your choice to the basic lip balm recipe. Try jasmine and patchouli or rose and geranium.
BLISSFUL BABES To make your own calendula baby oil you need 250ml organic oil (such as almond, apricot or olive) and 2 and a half tbsp of calendula flowers. Combine oil and flowers. Leave on a sunny windowsill for 2 weeks, straining and changing the flowers every two days. Shake daily. After a fortnight, strain and bottle in a dark container. Keep out of direct sunlight. This is a gorgeous oil to use for baby massage. To make a bottom butter that’s good enough to eat you need 50g shea butter, 50ml organic sunflower oil and two drops of organic chamomile essential oil (optional). Blend ingredients until smooth, pour into a glass jar and store in a cool dark place. Use within two months.
USEFUL EXTRAS Biting insects can be rife during the summer months but with your own homemade insect repellent you needn’t worry. Add 20 drops of lemon oil, 10 drops of lavender and seven drops of eucalyptus to 250ml water. Decant into a spray-topped bottle. Shake well and spritz over exposed areas – avoid face and eyes. It is a good idea to do a patch test first as citrus-based oils can irritate some skins.