Welcome to our new blog!

Vertical Garden with Heirloom vegetables
 and Medicinal herbs.

7 Skin Care Botanicals for a Handcrafter's Garden

There is quite a variety of handcrafted skin care products available now on sites like Etsy. Green-minded blogs are also showing a rise in posts on homemade skin care formulas. And Pinterest boards commonly include a sampling of these type of recipes, as well. Some examples of the assortment include body butters, first aid salves, lotion bars, dry skin ointments, lip balms. massage oils and exfoliation scrubs. Whether a person is creating custom formulations as an indie producer or simply wanting to make their own for the home, there are several advantages to growing skin care herbs right in your garden.

The obvious benefit is that you don't need to purchase the herbs or botanicals elsewhere, which reduces the initial outlay for creating the product. This can be a big savings since most of us are wanting organically raised herbs that are more expensive. Just as important, is the quality of the goods we are crafting. By having ownership of how the plants are raised, when and how they are harvested and how they are processed, we are in much better control of the freshness and quality of the final product. Not to mention, growing your own plants allows for greater creativity.

By Abalg (own product) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)
or CC-BY-SA-4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0  (http://creativecommons.org/licenses
/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)],  via Wikimedia Commons 

The Botanical and Herbs in this post were selected for:
  • the plant constituents they contain which have value in skin care products 
  • relative ease to raise in an urban garden 
  • suitability for water or oil-based goods related to skin care 

Content covered for each selection include: 

  • Skin Care plant constituents 
  • Growing requirements 
  • Harvesting suggestions 
  • Suggested varieties 
  • Sources 

Calendula contains an anti- inflammatory action associated with a plant ester known as faradiol triterpenoids. The sticky resins which can be noticed on the flower-heads during harvest contain anti-fungal properties. This annual is an easy one to start from seed and will thrive in average garden soil. Allow some blooms to seed out in the Fall for a continuous crop year-to-year. Two medicinal varieties available in the US are “Calypso Orange” and “Erfurter Orangefabige”. Some folks harvest petals only for culinary and soap products. However, the entire bloom contains important plant constituents for skin care. So for these types of products, harvest and dry whole flowers. It can be grown successfully in containers and raised or standard bedding spaces. Check Richters Herbs or Local Harvest for suppliers.

Evelyn Simak [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org
/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Roses for Rosehips 

Rosehips contain vitamins C, A and several B vitamins. Some rose varieties grown for the rosehips can be raised from seed, such as Rosa glauca and Rosa nutka. Plants require a bigger investment but may produce hips within the first growing season. Natives roses raised for rosehips tend to be heartier than the hybrids and thrive in average soils with good drainage. In colder regions, shrubs should be given a foot or more of mulch in the Fall for protection. Harvesting can begin as hips take on color and processing should involve drying at a low temperature to preserve the vitamin content. Additionally, when incorporating rosehips into a skin care product, be sure to use a low heat process of no more than 100 degrees. Commercial growers that specialize in Native and Heirloom roses typically have a variety of roses which produce rosehips, two good varieties are the Dog Rose and the Nootka Rose. Be sure to check for how well your selection is suited to your region's climate.

Lavandula stoechas 
By Patrice78500 (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or 
CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 


The volatile oils for which lavenders are so well known have antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties. The flowers also contain flavonoids which are anti-inflammatory. L. augustifolia contains some of the highest quality volatile oils. L stoechas is commonly used in Europe for its antiseptic properties. Can be started indoors from seed or purchased as plants. Does best in average soil and a ph range of 6-8. Some organic growers apply aged manure or kitchen compost at the beginning of the growing season to improve bloom production. Be sure to use sandy loam for bedding material and mulch with sand in the Fall where your region receives a lot of rain through the Winter. These measures prevent root rot to which Lavender is susceptible. Flowers can be dried on the stem with bundles hung upside down or blooms (stems removed) can be placed in a single layer on a clean tray. Keep out of direct sunlight and in a low humidity room during the drying process. The lavender varieties mentioned here are widely available through seed and plant suppliers.

By Rasbak (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)
or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org
/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

An annual grass often raised as a cover crop. Its actions related to skin care are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, wound healing and moisturizing. Primary constituents include saponins, flavonoids, alkaloids and calcium. Useful in exfoliating scrubs, poultices and creams. The milky tops form as the bottom third of the stems begin to turn brown. These can be used in water-based products. Dried oats and oat straw can be used in oil-based products. It can be broadcast over a bedding space by hand or with a crank-type seeder. Rake the soil lightly to work the seed into the top few inches of soil. Press the soil lightly or apply a thin layer of straw to prevent runoff during watering. Keep soil moist till germination and while seedlings are developing. Oats can be started in Spring or late Summer for a Fall crop. Sources :Pinetree Garden Seeds and Nichols Garden Nursery

By Ghislain118 (AD) http://www.fleurs-des-montagnes.net (Own work) [GFDL
 (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0
 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Baikal Skullcap 

A highly valued plant in Chinese medicine, with it's known use dating back to the 2nd century AD. Chinese research has verified its anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory properties. Chinese uses for Baikal Skullcap includes treatment for colds and flu, as well as skin problems. Can be started from seed in the spring, planted out in the garden as the season warms up or potted up and planted in early Fall as the rains begin. The above-ground growth habit depends on sun exposure, with larger plants growing in full sun and smaller, slower spreading ones in part-sun conditions. Due to it's spreading habit some sources consider it a groundcover plant. Does well in average soil with drainage and hardy to zone 5. Recommended for raised or standard garden beds. For larger crops consider using as a groundcover in the landscape. Three and four year-old roots are harvested in Fall. Since the roots are taken, plants should be allowed to seed-out to maintain a continuous harvest. As with most medicinal root crops, the smaller the root pieces during oil infusion, the better the plant releases its constituents. Sources include: Goodwin Creek Gardens, Horizon Herbs

By Yoko Nekonomania (Flower, California poppy) [CC-BY-2.0
 via Wikimedia Commons

California Poppy 

Like the addictive opium poppy, California poppy has pain-killing alkaloids but far milder and non-addictive. In warmer regions California Poppy will survive the winter, otherwise raise as an annual. Seeds, flowers, leaves and roots are all used in herbal preparations. The seed and root are more commonly used in first aid salves and skin care balms. This one is very easy to raise and self-sows readily. To prevent this, harvest seed pods regularly or plant along contained area such as a paved walk or raised bed. Dry upside down in loose bundles inside a paper bag to contain the seeds. Sources: widely available from flower seed suppliers.

By Dcrjsr (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org
/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

This perennial has a long history of medicinal use. Traditional uses include wound ointments due to the plant constituent, achilleine. Volatile oils are attributed to the herb's anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic actions. Roots, leaves and flower heads are all used in a variety of preparations. Flower tops and leaves are the easiest to harvest and process for skin care formulations as the root mass requires a fair amount of cleaning. Commonly used in creams, balms and salves. In the Urban garden,Yarrow can get out of hand. Where space is limited try raising this one in containers. For larger spaces, it can be used as a lawn substitute. However, Yarrow does not compete well with grass, so sod removal prior to planting is recommended. Usually started from seed. Sources:widely available from herb seed suppliers, but be sure your getting the species Achillea millefolium and not one of the varieties bred for the flower garden.

There is a lot more to say about these useful plants, but I'll stop here. Hoping they give you a start on growing your own high quality herbs for wonderful, new handcrafted skin care goods!

Wishing you a Handcrafted Holiday,

Virginia Menstell

No comments:

Post a Comment