SPOILER ALERT!!! This post contains information which may jeopardise some people’s surprise on Christmas Day. If you happen to be a close friend or family member I suggest you do the right thing and turn back now.
This months’ blog party is kindly hosted by Brigitte over at the lovely and informative My Herb Corner and is on the topic of Herbal Christmas Gifts.
Whilst I’m still struggling to believe that we are approaching the end of November, it certainly is time I started getting organised on the present front. I’m well known for pressing remedies on to my loved ones for their varying ailments, so at Christmas, I like to move away from the medicinal and create some herbal treats that are luxuriant and pampering as well as promoting good health in the winter months.
This year’s line up include some lovely bath and body oils, a deeply moisturising hand and foot cream, some soothing lip balms, a rejuvenating eye gel and some nourishing face cream.
Christmas Bath and Body Oils:
I always like to have some lovely oil blends on hand to add to the bath, use in massage or simply to moisturise my skin. Here are this year’s Christmas themed oil blends which consist of 2% essential oil in 100ml base oil. 2% usually works out as 40-50 drops of essential oil, depending on the size of the dropper. It’s important to blend essential oils in a base oil rather than just dropping them into the bath so as to avoid the possibility of irritating the skin as the essential oils do not always disperse well and can remain in concentrated blobs on top of the water. These oils do not use any emulsifiers therefore they will create an oily film on the water, though as you only need to use a tablespoon per bath, I have never found this a problem. Emulsifiers can be added which will make a more milky bath oil which disperses well in the water but the ones used for this purpose are usually synthetic so I like to avoid them where possible.
Winter Warmer- I created this blend with a couple of family members in mind who suffer from chilblains in the winter months and could use this in a bath or footbath to ease their discomfort. To 100ml of Apricot base oil I added 20 drops Rosemary essential oil, 20 drops Grapefruit and 10 drops Black Pepper. This not only stimulates the circulation and the lymphatic system but also makes a lovely revitalising morning bath for relaxing winter weekends. In fact I’ve just enjoyed one this morning.
Christmas Gifts- To 50ml of Gold of Pleasure Oil (Camelina sativa) and 50 ml Sweet Almond I added 25 drops Frankincense, 15 drops Sweet Orange Oil, 5 drops Myrrh and 5 drops Clary Sage. This blend feels wonderfully Christmassy and promotes visual dreaming. I like to give it with a bar of Rococo’s Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh Chocolate. Enjoy the chocolate in the bath for ultimate indulgence.
Oh Christmas Tree- This blend was created for my husband who loves the smell of pine and also loves luxuritaing in the bath. To 100ml hazelnut oil I added 15 drops pine essential oil, 15 drops silver fir and 15 drops juniper berry. Earthy, fresh and cleansing this is great for washing away the pollution after a long day Christmas shopping in town or to bring the smell of the forest home with you after a brisk winter walk.
Luxury Hand and Foot Cream:
This was made with my mum and sister in mind, both of whom like to look after their hands and nails. The Comfrey is healing and mineral rich, the Avocado and Shea are deeply moisturising, the beeswax is protective and helps to emulsify the cream and the Horsetail is famous for its silica content which helps to strengthen the nails. The Jasmine makes it sexy and luxurious and the spearmint is reviving and refreshing for tired hands and feet.
40ml Comfrey root infused oil
40ml Avocado oil
40g Shea Butter
80ml Horsetail decoction (simmered 15 mins)
1 tbsp Vegetable Glycerin
2ml Vitamin E
10 drops Vitamin A
20 drops Jasmine essential oil
5 drops Spearmint essential oil
Melt the beeswax in a bain marie and add the shea butter and oil when it’s already soft.
In a separate container, mix the horsetail infusion and vegetable glycerine.
Take the oils off the heat and allow to cool until looking opaque. It’s important to get the oils and waters to the same temperature to enable them to mix properly, otherwise your cream will separate, I find I have better results when both parts are about room temperature or a little warmer. I use a small hand blender to mix them as I’m not making a large enough quantity to use my big blender. Begin to blend the oil mixture and slowly add in the waters, a drizzle at a time. Continue to blend until you have a nice smooth, even, creamy consistency.
Stir in the essential oils and vitamins E and A once it is cool and has thickened. Mix well and spoon into jars. This cream will last about a month out of the fridge (less if you life in a warm climate). It has a lovely thick, green appearance and is incredibly nourishing to dry and hard working hands.
I have a much more detailed description of cream making here which will be useful if you are new to the process.
Also a description of ingredients including preservatives here.
It’s really a myth that you have to use emulsifiers to get a properly mixed cream, it just takes dedication and a bit of practice, I had several disasters before I got the knack and even now I sometimes get it wrong. I do occasionally use emulsifiers to make a face cream as it’s hard to make a very light consistency without them, but I like to use all natural products where possible and the emulsifiers used in cream making, even when derived from natural products, are always highly processed in some way. Ultimately oil and water don’t want to mix but they can and do, only your will must be greater than theirs!
Soothing Lip Balm:
This is a simple and delicious lip balm recipe.
40ml Calendula infused oil
30ml Macadamia nut oil
15g Cocoa Butter
1ml Vitamin E
10 drops Vanilla Essential Oil
Melt the cocoa butter and beeswax in a bain marie, adding in the macadamia and calendula and stirring well until everything is dissolved. remove from the heat, add the Vitamin E and Vanilla, stir again and pot in 6 15ml jars. Leave on the side to cool. A good trick it to almost fill the pots, wait a few minutes, then top them up. This ensures an even surface on top of the balm, otherwise you can get a dent in the middle as it settles.
Rejuvenating Rose Hip Eye Gel:
This eye gel is also simple to make and is based on antioxidant rich rose hip.
80ml Rose hip infusion (1 tsp rose hips simmered in 100ml spring water)
5ml Witch Hazel distillate
1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
1/2 tsp Vegetable Glycerine
1/2 tsp Eyebright tincture
I tsp Aloe Vera gel
2ml Rosehip seed oil
10 drops each Vitamins E and A
Whisk all ingredients lightly together except the xanthan gum – I actually use a stick blender in the little measuring jug that came with it to make this recipe which works well but there isn’t enough volume to use a large blender. Sprinkle the gum slowly and finely into the mixture whisking all the time until a gel begins to form, whisk until there are no lumps in it. There is no preservative in this formula except the vitamins and tincture so I suggest it is kept in the fridge where it should last about three months. You need such a tiny amount of this gel that I recommend only using small jars so it does not get wasted.
Unfortunately I ran out of time this week to make the face cream but i will be sure to post the recipe when I get round to it.
Good luck with your Christmas shopping and making!