How to make a Stretch Mark Balm

I made a balm to help with stretch marks this week. I’m 15 weeks pregnant and my tummy is beginning to expand, so this is to help ensure I am not left with stretch mark scars as my body changes. You can use this balm to help avoid stretch marks when gaining or losing weight for what ever reason, including during and after pregnancy. Since my breasts have also increased in size, I will be using it on them until the baby is born. If breast feeding, then only apply at times when there is space between your baby feeding as you don’t want them feeding on the balm, or being put off by it.

Stretch Mark Balm – Recipe for 50g Pot

  • Beeswax, 5g
  • Shea butter, 5g
  • Rosehip oil, 20g
  • Calendula oil*, 20g
  • Essential Oils (optional):
  • Caution: not all essential oils are safe to use in pregnancy, so check any safety advice if you want to tweak the recipe. Also, essential oils should be used at a much lower dose in pregnancy, as they can cross the placenta, so use around 0.25%.  I always imagine I’m choosing oils that will be safe for the baby if I’m making something for someone who is pregnant.
  • *You can replace the calendula oil with something else if you wish for example daisy oil, olive oil, apricot oil, safflower oil or camellia oil. You can also replace the rosehip oil, but this is particularly useful for scars.

Instructions:

  • Weigh out the beeswax and shea butter using the scale and weigh or measure out the base oil.
  • Use a bain marie or double boiler to melt the beeswax (do not heat directly), then add the base oil and continue to gently heat. Add the shea butter at the end so it is not heated longer than necessary. As soon as it’s completely melted remove from the heat.
  • Let it cool a little before adding essential oils, so they are not affected too much by the heat.  If it begins to solidify give the mixture a stir.
  • Pour the mixture into a clean, dry container and leave to cool and set before applying the lid and labelling so you don’t forget what’s inside.
  • The balm should last for 12-18 months, but if it smells rancid, it may have been contaminated and should not be used.

Click here for more details on making a Balm.

You can order a custom made massage balm for pregnancy, stretch marks, scars and many other health & wellbeing conditions here: Bespoke Blends.

How to make Soap, Hot Press Style – Workshop Notes

These notes are designed to follow on from my Soap Making Workshops. If you have not attended a workshop you can still read through the notes, then follow the recipe and instructions to make your own soap. Make sure you follow the recipe exactly, so all the caustic soda/ lye is used up and your soap is safe to use on your skin. Feel free to ask any questions if you’re unsure about anything.

Equipment
• Slow cooker or ‘crock pot’.

• Scales
• Bucket/suitable container for mixing.
• Measuring jugs
• A stick blender (immersion blender)
• Spatula
• Baking parchment paper
• Loaf tin or jelly moulds for soap shapes – silicone moulds are great.
• Optional Extras – essential oils to fragrance and flowers to decorate

Safety
• Wear professional safety equipment, to protect yourself when the sodium hydroxide is used – goggles, gloves and a mask are essential once you begin using the sodium hydroxide.
• Use solid stainless steel or polypropylene for mixing sodium hydroxide in.
• Ensure you are in a well ventilated space so you are not breathing in the fumes from the sodium hydroxide.
• Make the soap at a time where you will not be distracted and there are no children or pets around.
• Use the exact amounts in the recipe to ensure all the sodium hydroxide is used up when the soap is complete and ready to use (see below for how to tweak the recipe)*

Soap Recipe

  • Spring Water – 380g (do not use tap water)
  • Sodium hydroxide (caustic soda/ lye) – 137.40g
  • Olive oil – 650g (do not use pomice olive oil)
  • Shea butter – 80g (for creaminess)
  • Coconut oil (not fractionated) – 270g (for bubbles in your soap)
  • Orange essential oil – 30g
  • Calendula (marigold) petals – hand full.

Instructions
• Prepare the loaf tin or container by lining it with parchment paper – if you are using silicon moulds they won’t need lining.
• Weigh all the ingredients out.

• Put the oils & shea butter in the slow cooker first on a low heat so they gently melt.
• At this point make sure all your safety gear is on and there are no distractions, then in a separate container, add sodium hydroxide (caustic soda/ lye) to water, this causes an exothermic reaction, making the mixture heat up very quickly. Never add water to sodium hydroxide as it will be too concentrated initially and could bubble up. Because of the fumes that are produced, at this point, I often do it outside if there is a safe and suitable space. DO NOT GET THE MIXTURE ONTO YOU!
• Stir the sodium hydroxide and water, initially it appears cloudy, wait for it to become clear and then add it to the oils & shea butter in the slow cooker.
• Use the stick blender to blend everything until it leaves a ‘trace’. This means, when you drip the mixture you can still see the impression it leaves behind in the mixture.

This is the point that you would pour the soap if you were making cold pressed soap.

For hot pressed soap, you leave the mixture in the slow cooker, on a low heat with the lid on for 15-20 minutes.

Set a timer so you remember to return and check the mix.

When you return, the mixture looks like the fat has separated from the liquid. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to mix everything together again, and then leave it for another 15-20 minutes.

When you return this time, the mix looks like vaseline or apple sauce, and will have lots of air through it. Stir everything together again.

The mixture is still very hot so take care.

Turn off the heat on the slow cooker.

• You can now add in the essential oil** and blend  it evenly through the mixture (optional).
• Sprinkle calendula petals into the mixture and stir through evenly (optional) (calendula / marigold petals keep their colour when added to the mix, others usually turn brown).
• Pour into the loaf tin/ soap moulds. Decorate with dried petals (optional).
• Leave for 24 – 48 hours to allow the soap to set before cutting into slices or whatever shapes you want. If you have used silicon moulds pop the soap out.
• The soap is now ready to use.

The Science bit – the ingredients go through a chemical process called saponification to turn into soap. The acid (in this case the oils) mix with the sodium hydroxide. This usually takes between 24-48 hours but the hot process method speeds this up by keeping the mix heated and it is not necessary to cure for weeks, it is usually ready to use in 24 hours. During the saponification process glycerol is released from the fatty acids allowing them to combine with the hydroxide ions creating soap. The release of glycerol results in glycerin in the finished soap.

**Essential oils do not usually hold their therapeutic benefits in the soap making process, but they are a natural way to bring a fragrance to the soap. I usually use citrus or lavender essential oils in mine. Click to check out this interview with Robert Tisserand on what happens to essential oils in soap making.

*Recipe adjustments
If you want to adjust the recipe or design your own, then I recommend using the online tool:  Soap Calc** – this is because each ingredient has it’s own saponification value which means it will need a specific amount of sodium hydroxide in the soap. You can enter your recipe into the tool and it works out for you the correct ratio of ingredients to ensure all the sodium hydroxide is used up during the soap making process. For example if you want to replace the olive oil for apricot oil in the recipe above everything else will need adjusting to make sure the final product is safe for your skin.

Super Fat – if you hear this term, it means there is more fats and oils in the recipe than will be used in the saponification process, which means the final product leaves your skin feeling nourished and moisturised. This recipe has a super fat value, and you should notice that the soap does not dry your skin or leave it feeling stripped.

**Click here to check out this YouTube video on using the tool Soapcalc.

How to make Soap, Cold Press Style – Workshop Notes

These notes are designed to follow on from my Soap Making Workshops. If you have not attended a workshop you can still read through the notes, then follow the recipe and instructions to make your own soap. Make sure you follow the recipe exactly, so all the caustic soda/ lye is used up and your soap is safe to use on your skin. Feel free to ask any questions if you’re unsure about anything. Please note that using the cold press method means you will have to wait 6 weeks for your soap to be ready to use. Click here for the Hot Press method which means you can use your soap within 48 hours.

Equipment
• Scales
• Bucket
• Measuring jugs
• A stick blender (immersion blender)
• Spatula
• Baking parchment paper.
• Loaf tin or jelly moulds for soap shapes – silicone moulds are great.
• Optional Extras – essential oils and flowers to decorate

Safety
• Wear professional safety equipment, to protect yourself when the sodium hydroxide (caustic soda/ lye)  is used – goggles, gloves and a mask are essential once you begin using the sodium hydroxide.
• Use solid stainless steel or polypropylene for mixing sodium hydroxide in.
• Ensure you are in a well ventilated space so you are not breathing in the fumes from the sodium hydroxide.
• Make the soap at a time where you will not be distracted and there are no children or pets around.
• Use the exact amounts in the recipe to ensure all the sodium hydroxide is used up when the soap is complete and ready to use (see below for how to tweak the recipe)*

Soap Recipe Ingredients (use exact measurements shown):

  • Spring Water – 397g (do not use tap water)
  • Sodium hydroxide (caustic soda/ lye) – 166g
  • Olive oil – 775g (do not use pomice olive oil)
  • Shea butter – 75g (for creaminess)
  • Coconut oil (not fractionated) – 350g (for bubbles in your soap)
  • Orange essential oil – 22g
  • Calendula (marigold) petals – hand full.

Instructions:
• Prepare the loaf tin or container by lining it with parchment paper – if you are using silicone moulds they won’t need lining.
• Weigh all the ingredients out.
• Mix the oil and butter ingredients first (melt the coconut & shea butter in a double boiler first, this means a separate pan with the butters in, on top of a pan of water, so that they are heated very gently by the steam from the water, rather than directly on the heat).
• At this point make sure all your safety gear is on and there are no distractions, then add sodium hydroxide to water and stir, this causes an exothermic reaction, making the mixture heat up very quickly. Never add water to sodium hydroxide as it will be too concentrated initially and could bubble up. Because of the fumes that are produced, at this point, I often do it outside if there is a safe and suitable space. DO NOT GET THE MIXTURE ONTO YOU!
• Initially the mix of sodium hydroxide and water is cloudy, wait for about 5 minutes for it to become clear and then combine it with the oils & shea butter.
• Blend with the stick blender to blend everything until it leaves a ‘trace’. This means, when you drip the mixture you can still see the impression it leaves behind in the mixture. Ensure you dunk the blender fully into the mix, so it doesn’t splash anywhere.
• At this point add in the essential oil** and blend a little more (optional).
• Sprinkle calendula petals into the mixture and stir through evenly (optional) (calendula / marigold petals keep their colour when added to the mix, others usually turn brown).
• Pour into the loaf tin/ soap moulds. Decorate with dried flower petals (optional).
• Leave for 24 – 48 hours to allow the soap to set before cutting into slices or whatever shapes you want. If you have used silicone moulds pop the soap out.
• Store the soap in a cool, dark, well ventilated place so it is exposed to the air and wait for 6 weeks before using. Use the Hot Press Soap Making Notes to make a soap that is ready to use in 24 hours.

The Science bit – the ingredients go through a chemical process called saponification to turn into soap. The acid (in this case the oils) mix with the sodium hydroxide. This usually takes between 24-48 hours. During the saponification process glycerol is released from the fatty acids allowing them to combine with the hydroxide ions creating soap. The release of glycerol results in glycerin in the finished soap. The soap is then left for 6 weeks to ‘cure’.

**Essential oils do not usually hold their therapeutic benefits in the soap making process, but they are a natural way to bring a fragrance to the soap. I usually use citrus or lavender essential oils in mine.

*Recipe adjustments:
If you want to adjust the recipe or design your own, then I recommend using the online tool:  Soap Calc*** – this is because each ingredient has its own saponification value which means it will need a specific amount of sodium hydroxide in the soap. You can enter your recipe into the tool and it works out for you the correct ratio of ingredients to ensure all the sodium hydroxide is used up during the soap making process. For example if you want to replace the olive oil for apricot oil in the recipe above, everything else will need adjusting to make sure the final product is safe for your skin.

Super Fat – if you hear this term, it means there is more fats and oils in the recipe than will be used in the saponification process, which means the final product leaves your skin feeling nourished and moisturised. This recipe has a super fat value, and you should notice that the soap does not dry your skin or leave it feeling stripped.

Click here to check my events page to view up and coming workshops, or get in touch to request a new workshop.

***Click here to check out this YouTube video on using the tool Soapcalc.

How to make Bath Salts with Essential Oils


First of all, it’s really important to know that essential oils are hydrophobic, meaning they don’t mix with water. Because essential oils are extremely concentrated, they should never be used undiluted on the skin, even if you just want to add a few drops of essential oil to the bath, they need to be diluted first (check out How to Use Essential Oils in the Bath for full details).

The same principle goes for making bath salts, the essential oils must be diluted first. Adding them to salt is not enough because when you add the mix to the bath water, the salt ‘melts’, leaving undiluted essential oils floating on top of the bath water and in direct contact with your skin. So, first add the essential oils to a fatty base oil such as olive or almond oil, this can then be mixed in with the bath salts – when added to the bath the salt will melt and you will be left with essential oils dispersed in the base oil, which will give the added benefit of nourishing your skin*.

Bath Salt Recipe (the basic components that you can tweak to your taste):

  • Salt – 200 grams,
  • Base/Carrier Oil – 10 grams (or ml if simpler to measure) of any nut/seed/fruit oil e.g. almond/sunflower/olive oil,
  • Essential Oil – 5 drops (choose 1 or several essential oils to use but ensure the ‘total’ number of drops is 5).
    • pour the base oil into a jug, then add the drops of essential oil and stir,
    • pour the salt into a large bowl, add the blend of base and essential oil and mix thoroughly,
    • add a hand full of the salt mix to the bath, do so once the water is run and you are ready to step in (if you add it while the water is still running, the essential oils in the mix will evaporate with the steam).

Muscle Relaxing Bath Salt Recipe:

  • Epsom Salt** – 200 grams,
  • Oil – 10 grams – arnica (macerated in olive oil),
  • Essential Oil – 5 drops – lavender, black pepper &/or chamomile.

Skin Soothing Bath Salt Recipe:

  • Dead Sea Salt** – 200 grams,
  • Base Oil – 10 grams – calendula (macerated in olive oil), apricot &/or. camellia,
  • Essential Oil – 5 drops – chamomile, lavender &/or neroli (orange blossom).

Refreshing Bath Salt Recipe:

  • Salt (your choice, see below**) – 200 grams,
  • Oil – 10 grams – your choice eg. olive, almond, apricot oil,
  • Essential Oil – 5 drops – rosemary, mandarin &/or coriander seed.

Tip: If you want to add flowers & petals to your bath salts, (e.g. rose, lavender, chamomile) sprinkle a few spoonfuls into the mix, enough for your desired visual effect. Note, that it can make the bath more difficult to clean afterwards, so wrapping all the salts/flowers/oils into a muslin cloth and tying them up with string will mean you don’t need to collect all the petals after your bath.

* Caution, due to the base oil the bath can be slippery so be careful not to slip!

** Epsom Salt is more suitable for muscle aches & pains. Dead Sea Salt is more suitable for soothing the skin – I usually use a mix of both in my blends to get the benefits of both.

Scar Care with Essential Oil Blends – Before and After, So Far…

images shows the stages of healing during the first week

Last month a cabinet of heavy perfume bottles tipped onto my head and left me with two cuts on my forehead.

The following pictures show the stages of the wounds healing during the first week, until the scab fell off the lower cut (which happened naturally over night, I did not pick it*):

images shows the stages of healing during the first week  First week of healing

I’ve been making bespoke blends with essential oils for clients for many years to help them take care of their scars after a variety of operations including mastectomy, caesarean & broken bones. The experience of caring for my own scar has given me a deeper appreciation for the preciousness of what I offer & how supportive it can be.

Day 2, still in shock a little.

I felt quite tearful & vulnerable just after it happened, especially when I looked at the cuts on my face. I went away for 4 days straight after it happened so I swiftly made my usual blend (recipe below) to take care of it – knowing I was able to do this with effective quality ingredients made me feel better – I use rosehip oil, calendula macerated in olive oil and essential oils of myrrh, lavender, chamomile and rose.

Initially I only dabbed it very gently around the wound as it was sore and did so twice a day. At this stage it is important not to apply it directly onto the wound, as it prevents it drying out & the scab from forming but since the oils absorb into the skin, it is still effective.
When the scab fell off and I could see that the skin had closed completely underneath, I continued to apply twice a day directly onto the scar and spent more time gently massaging it in as it was not so sore.

After the first week I made a balm which is easier to apply than an oil blend – made with the same ingredients, just with added butter & wax to make it a solid consistency.
These pictures are taken from the 2nd to 4th week after the incident:

 

What I noticed is how much the redness faded and how the skin was raised around the scar and has flattened out now. 

Day 19, feeling a lot more myself.

I didn’t appreciate that much had changed each day until I put the pictures together, I had a few thoughts that it wasn’t doing much and a few moments where I only just remembered to apply, but the pictures show a gradual improvement and that’s after only one month. It really makes a difference to be consistent with your care and you can continue to care for a scar for as long as you want, years even and also begin to care for old scars and still see an improvement.

 

The images below show the scars healing between 2 and 3 months, they are closer up than the previous images and I actually have wrinkles more prominent than the scars. I will continue to use the scar care balm as each time I compare previous pictures, I can see an obvious continuation in improvement, but I also notice that I’m less dedicated to applying the balm twice daily as they don’t show so much now, but again, the when I see the difference, I’m inspired to keep going…

 

If you would like to try a scar care balm, for any type of scar including mastectomy, caesarean, old injuries, even acne scars, please get in touch Laura@essentialoilsandyou.co.uk or use the recipes below to make your own.

There is plenty of research to support that massage itself helps scars to heal, so the combination of ingredients in the blend and the act of massage helps the scar to heal as best as possible, although everyone will do so in their own way and time. It’s important not to make it about the end result, but supporting yourself as best you can through what can be a very vulnerable time… I also made an effort to support my body to heal from the inside too, I took Vitamin C powder each day and avoided all unhealthy inflammatory foods.

  • Scar Care – 20ml Oil Blend Recipe (5% max strength blend used first week)
  • rosehip oil, 10ml
  • calendula macerated in olive oil, 10ml
  • myrrh essential oil (not suitable in pregnancy), 10 drops
  • lavender essential oil, 7 drops
  • chamomile essential oil, 2 drops
  • rose otto essential oil, 1 drop

 

*Do not pick the scab however tempting it may be, the skin is reforming underneath and if you pull the scab you’re likely to tear away some new skin and delay the healing or even make the scar worse.

To Nurture, Cherish and Adore – inspired by Natalie Benhayon

Do you nurture yourself every day? Have you ever cherished yourself?

Could you even allow yourself to adore you?

When I first heard Natalie Benhayon say these words a few years ago at a presentation, I couldn’t even say that I had a real understanding of how to nurture myself, let alone cherish (and adore was not even on my radar), they were literally just lovely words to hear.

Natalie Benhayon
Natalie Benhayon

Since then, Natalie has inspired me to discover very deeply what these words: ‘nurture’, ‘cherish’ and ‘adore’ mean, how they feel in my body and this has ultimately allowed me to begin an intimate relationship with myself, as a person and especially as a woman.

Over the years I have had support from Natalie in many forms, including her presentations at Universal Medicine Retreats, True Movement classes & other Esoteric Womens Health projects, including Women in Livingness Groups, the Women in Livingness Magazine and her ultimate app –Our Cycles. These are just a few examples of the work she has presented and put together -at just 26 years old she is an incredibly inspiring woman who is asking all the right questions about what is going on in world, about the state of women’s health, our relationships and so much more and what’s more, she’s actually making changes.

Natalie Benhayon presenting
Natalie Benhayon presenting

One thing that really struck me early on when I met her was her confidence, she is completely at ease with herself, so steady and committed, and with it very humble. It’s obvious that she does her own thing and does not let others hold her back, she certainly doesn’t hold back her beauty, sense of humour or sexiness. But what I observe and continue to appreciate, is that everything in her life, the way she lives, what she continually discovers and develops is openly shared with everyone, so that all have an equal opportunity to find that confidence in them selves and show it with that same ease in their own way.

Today when I consider the words nurture, cherish and adore, I have a tangible relationship with all three that is continuing to develop and deepen.

To NURTURE for me means to look after myself in all aspects of my life, to ask myself questions about what I actually would love to do right now, to make space to be playful with my daily chores, to not choose to do things that will overwhelm my day, to decide I’m worth taking an extra moment for -whether to light a candle before I take a shower each morning or to breath in the scent of a flower as I pass by. It means not giving myself a hard time when I inevitably make mistakes, noticing the self bashing commentary in my mind and letting it go, moving in a way that doesn’t push or strain my body. Basically, it’s making choices to truly support myself and my body throughout my day to day life.

One of the difficulties I see is that we’ve created a life that doesn’t allow the space for nurturing and we don’t regard ourselves enough to make that space for ourselves. Using essential oils has been a way that I have been able to experiment with nurturing and making that space, but it’s not about the physical act of putting some massage oil on my skin or sprinkling essential oils in a burner, I see them as moments that I can use to learn more about myself. Much of what I have been discovering is shared on these blogs with the purpose of inspiring others to experiment with what nurturing is for them and helping to develop a connection with their body -one of my favourite blogs on this is ‘Myrrh Essential Oil – Supporting Connection with myself‘ -it’s a good example of how it’s not about the oil but about you and the way you use the oil.

rose and neroli face cream

To CHERISH is to really appreciate myself, to know and value my natural qualities and strengths, and know with out doubt that they are worth sharing with others and can support and inspire them too.  It’s also to cherish my weaknesses and flaws, to embrace them, to allow time to focus on them to support myself and allow the support and inspiration from others. It’s knowing that all parts are just as precious, from running a perfume workshop to flossing my teeth.

cropped-cropped-img_07041.jpg

To ADORE is to fall in love with myself. This is absolutely not an arrogance, the more I get to know myself, to ask myself what I’d love to do right now, the more I can feel a loving way of being with myself -I’m letting go of the auto pilot and constant rushing. Some times I take a second to look into my eyes in the mirror, and connect to all those things I cherish and know there is so much more to come… as I work on the others I feel this one more, sometimes it’s as simple as climbing into bed and feeling my feet under the bed sheets.

Natalie Benhayon eyes
Natalie Benhayon

I actually feel that we all innately know how to nurture, cherish and adore; we just need a reminder of how awesome it feels and that we are so worth it.

So, huge thanks and appreciation to Natalie Benhayon for reminding me to truly value and actually love myself, to feel confident in showing myself with the world and know that I have something precious to share.

Natalie Benhayon talks about 'True Sexy'.
Natalie Benhayon talks about ‘True Sexy’.

Listen to Natalie Benhayon interviewed on this audio: Are you deeply nurturing yourself?

Watch Natalie Benhayon speak on True Sexy:

Images of Natalie Benhayon courtesy of UnimedLiving

Rose Scented Oil – How To Make Your Own

This is a very simple recipe for making your own rose scented oil. It is quite different from an essential oil which is made by steam distillation or solvent extraction (which requires about 1200 rose flowers to make just 20 drops of oil!), so much more practical as you don’t require vast fields of roses, nor specialised equipment.

This process is called maceration and involves leaving rose petals in a carrier oil for a period of time until the oil takes on the scent of the roses.

Equipment:

  • Roses (strongly scented and chemical free)
  • Oil ( almond or jojoba oil- something that has little or no scent to avoid over powering the delicate smell of the roses, and that already feels lovely on the skin, my favourite is apricot oil). Click here to see more carrier oils.
  • Container (or Glass Jar with air tight lid).
  • Muslin Cloth

Instructions:

Make sure the rose flowers you collect have a strong scent and have not been sprayed with chemicals, as these will taint the final product – growing your own is best*. I have several potted roses on my balcony and for my test run I only used two flowers in a tiny jam jar, after 2 weeks of using a little on my finger tips as a face oil, I still have half a pot left.

Take the flowers when they are dry and have opened to their fullest, so you and the bees can enjoy them for as long as possible, then just nip them off before they start to wither. It’s best to do so when it hasn’t rained recently to avoid moisture.

Once you’ve harvested your rose flowers you need to remove the petals and lay them out to dry a little as any moisture could result in the oil becoming rancid. Avoid putting them in the light or sun, you can purchase an ‘air dryer’ or lay them on a tray and keep in an airing cupboard, this should be enough to lose the water in the petals but not the essential oil.

Collect the petals carefully and put them in the jar, you will naturally leave behind little bits of dust or grit as you pick them up, and there might be some you want to discard, any creepy crawlies should crawl away,  I actually found a few petals with creatures wrapped inside so they didn’t make it into a jar.

Fill the jar to the top with the dry rose petals, and the pour in the carrier oil. If you don’t have enough petals to fill the jar, use a smaller one, you want to just cover them with oil, and not leave any space for air. Check after a few hours to see if the jar needs topping up with oil, as the petals will start absorbing oil and may sink down into the jar.

rose oil

Seal the lid tightly and leave for 3 -6 weeks in a warm cupboard, away from light or sunshine (airing cupboard is perfect), shake the jar every day or when you remember incase any air bubbles form.

After at least 2 weeks, strain the spent rose petals through some muslin cloth, or a fine sieve, into a container (bowl, jug etc).

rose petal straining

Squeeze as much oil as you can from the petal pulp and you are left with a beautiful, delicately scented rose oil.

squeeze oil

Pure gold oil! You can repeat this whole process and add more petals to this oil for a more intense rose scent.

rose gold oil

This oil feels so precious to use on my face and body. You only need a tiny amount so it’s been well worth it -this last batch was made with a litre of oil so I have plenty to see me through until the next rose flowering season.  It has been delightful having petals drying throughout my home as the smell is heaven.

Tip: You can use your rose oil as an ingredient in making your own natural face cream, see here for recipe and instructions: Natural Face and Body Cream Making Workshop.

Feel free to ask any questions and to share your experiences.

*Growing your own roses – if you want to grow your own roses the David Austin website lets you know if the rose you are buying has a strong scent, Autumn is a good time to order bare root roses, they deliver at end of the year as literally bare roots with a little bit of twig but will still give you a harvest next Summer.

Remember you need to avoid spraying chemicals or fungicides to use them for making skin care products – there are various natural remedies for the inevitable bugs that invade roses, I am currently experimenting with a lavender essential oil and water spray – I will let you know how well this works… Edit – lavender water works well, but must be applied consistently especially when the buds are forming.

I have tried this process a few times now, and have also used flowers from two of my favourite roses that I have on my balcony, Gentle Hermione  and The Alnwick Rose, they have a fairly strong scent but I chose them just because they happened to be in bloom when I decided to make it, you can try using any rose that is scented and not sprayed.  I am planning on making one with a few different types of rose flowers, so as to create a combination of their scents. One of the most popular scented roses is Gertrude Jekyll.

The Beauty and Simplicity of a Hand Massage

Laura and Neave hand massage 2

I decided to write this blog on hand massage as it is such a simple thing to do with friends, family and even colleagues. It can be done anywhere, at a friends house, a coffee shop, even in bed, it’s a great thing to do if visiting some one in hospital or who is bed bound, and you can take as little or as long as you like, even 2 or 3 minutes on each hand would feel lovely. Although it’s such a simple exercise, it can be deeply relaxing, connecting and supportive as well as fun. So here are some tips on how to give a hand massage: Choose a cream, balm or oil blend to use with your partner, you can use my recipes in previous blog posts to make your own cream, balm or massage oil or just use a little olive oil or hand cream, what ever you have handy. Make sure your partner likes the scent of the product you are using, if you have a few options it’s great to get them involved in the choice as smelling the oils/cream already brings them in touch with their body and what they are feeling.

Preparation: The most important thing to prepare here is you! hm

Ensure that you are in a comfortable position that supports you, and does not compromise your body, ensure your partners position is the same.  Be aware you need easy access to their hands and ideally forearms with out stretching, and remember to have your oil somewhere you can easily reach it. You might like to use cushions, move furniture around, get a table for the oil or ask your partner to adjust themselves a little for you, it’s worth taking the time to make the space supportive so you don’t feel stuck half way through with an ache (make sure you adjust if you do).  I usually place a cushion or pillow on their lap with a towel over it so they can rest their arms across it, and only the towel will get oily, but you may need to adapt depending on your partners position and movability.  It’s important to communicate with your partner, to let them know what you are doing so they feel supported and included. Just running through what you’re doing and why, so they know what to expect is enough. You may like to ask if you can remove watches or jewellery, I usually work around rings.

Hand massage workshop

Connection: I start by placing my hands as gently as I can over theirs and give them a few moments to relax. Don’t rush, even if you only have a little time, it will make all the difference if you start by being still and just take a few moments to breath gently in and out through your nose (see here for gentle breath meditation technique). If you notice your partner is very tense or holding their arms very stiff, just encourage them to let go of the tension, ask them to relax their shoulders to allow the hands to let go, if they are very stiff you can ask them to make their arms go floppy.

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Techniques: I then choose one hand to begin massaging, and apply oil to my hands and then massage the oil over the area I intend to cover (so forearm too if this is appropriate and accessible). You can massage both hands at the same time, but I like to do one so I can lift, manoeuvre and support the hand and wrist with the free hand, although I do start and finish by connecting with both hands. I start with long oval circles over the forearms to get the cream/oil applied evenly, I make the moves firm but gentle, flowing and I always make the circles anti-clockwise -a friend once described this as a releasing motion because when you loosen a screw it’s always an anti-clockwise movement, and it is clockwise to tighten it up.

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I like to massage each little finger as delicately as possible, hold their hand and do little circles with it to loosen the wrist, and press into the palm with my thumb in circles. One of my favourite moves is to sandwich the hand between my hands and to very, very slowly slide them off. There are lots of techniques to experiment with, so just do what you feel, stay focused on what you are doing, and connected with your partner. Be playful, ask them what they like and see what you like.

 

Being very gentle does not mean that the massage is less effective than pushing hard,  it feels like I’m allowing and encouraging their body to learn to relax itself, rather than forcing it to with pressure.  If the body can relax itself, then it is more likely to be able to continue this state.

Laura and Neave hand massage 1

Preciousness: As you are face to face to your partner it is easy to talk to them, but keep the conversation related to the moment, how they feel and what their body is saying.  Sometimes just the touch or eye contact is enough, in my experience they often close their eyes and become deeply relaxed. This can be a really precious time with your partner who ever it is.  In the below image I am with my niece, we were only massaging for a couple of minutes but you can tell from the shot it was a magical moment, she also started to give massage afterwards on others and followed my moves perfectly, very beautiful : )

Accessories: A little addition to the treatment that I have come up with recently to support letting the tension in the shoulders go, is using heated healing eye pillows, I just warm them up on the radiator or in a towel warmer, and place them over the persons shoulders before I begin, one on each side across the bits that get very tense and hard – they feel gorgeous! You can buy them from the Lighthouse in Frome, Somerset, UK and from Feather Light Productions website in Australia who also sell a body wrap that I’m about to try out as this will cover the entire shoulder area.  Tension across our shoulders is very common and we can all feel the release as soon as we let go of that tension, so it’s a great way to support this.

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I have been working on community projects for the last couple of years mainly involving hand massages and have had such great feedback from the clients that I have started developing workshops and bringing hand massage to many other situations including at work and home. Most of the photos were taken at a workshop I ran recently, during the time everyone one was giving hand massage (with balms they had just created themselves) the entire room felt completely still, it was absolutely gorgeous.

If you have just 5 minutes with a friend to try this out, I’m sure you will enjoy and feel the difference in your hands and how relaxed you feel. We can be very careless and rough with our hands, so it’s a great way to bring a care and attention back to a part of our body that we use so often.

With thanks to Neave, Molly, Jean, Louisa, Ellen, Kathie, Sonia, Alison, Betty, Heather & David ~ all starring in the photos above.

You might also like to read my blogs on Taking care of your hands, Essential oils in hand & nail care and Myrrh essential oil- supporting connection with my wrists.

How to Carry Out a Patch Test with Essential Oils for Sensitive Skin

Essential oils are highly concentrated and can sometimes cause irritation and are generally diluted before using them on your skin.

Even when diluted essential oils can cause reactions to more sensitive skin types and so carrying out a patch test before using the oil in certain circumstances is recommended.

When to carry out a patch test?

It is worth carrying out a patch test before using essential oils on your skin in the following situations:

  • if you have very sensitive skin,
  • if you are generally prone to allergies,
  • if you have very young or aged skin,
  • if your skin is diseased or injured.

How to carry out a patch test:

  • Mix a very small amount of the blend you intend to use. (See blog post on blending for safe blend strengths).
  • Using the inside of the forearm, apply a couple drops of your blend to the pad of a band aid and keep the bandage on the skin. After 48 hours remove the bandage and check for irritation.
  • If the skin under or around the bandage becomes red, swollen, itchy, or develops blisters, that is a reaction and you should avoid skin exposure to the blend you tested. 
  • You can remove the bandage as soon as you become aware of a reaction, you do not need to leave it on for the full 48 hours.

Note: It is generally accepted that lavender and tea tree essential oils can be used neat on the skin, and they are very useful to apply to minor first aid situations, like small burns, cuts, spots, bites, but again it is worth carrying out a patch test if you have any of the above mentioned conditions.

Diluting essential oils in a base oil (eg. Olive oil, Almond oil) is ideal as they themselves have many nourishing properties that your skin can also benefit from.  Generally they are full of vitamins and fatty acids that help keep skin healthy and vital.  They also help the essential oils absorb into your skin more easily.

You do not need to dilute essential oils when using them in a burner, diffusor or for inhalation, in fact using a base oil in a diffusor may damage it.

How to Use Essential Oils in Hand and Nail Care

How to take care of your hands and nails with essential oils and carrier oils and make your own nurturing nail oil.

Click to Shop Custom Nail Care Blend.

I had the most divine manicure and pedicure recently with Shami Duffy from ‘Beauty With Shami‘. I’ve only had two in my life, and the other was with my 6 year old niece, both left me smiling every time I looked at my nails, which is quite often with regards to the ones on my fingers, and so a constant reminder of the really gorgeous time spent together.

I had spoken with Shami about 3 months previously about using vegetable oils and essential oils on the nails as they can be very nourishing and support healthy nails.  It was very inspiring as I had never really considered using oils on my nails, although I had always recommended almond oil to people if they wanted to use something, I hadn’t actually used oils for that purpose myself. I always cut my nails down to the absolute minimum since I had had eczema in the past and wanted to avoid scratch damage, it was also recommended to keep them short when I was studying massage. So, when Shami mentioned how much more delicate you naturally became with longer nails, I decided to experiment and grow my nails a little.  I became much more aware when using my fingers in various ways, for example, shutting doors, lifting things, opening cans etc., and I became more delicate in the way I did these things, which really felt gorgeous.  If I was rough with my hands then it would be more obvious and show me I wasn’t being so delicate, I flipped my nails back a few times which really stopped me in my tracks.

Divinities Touch by Kelly Basford

During the treatment she used a gentle exfoliating cream, using palm grains, which are very fine, so there was no rough feeling on the skin.  My hands looked stunningly bright afterwards.  She then used a massage cream with arnica, lavender and chamomile in to massage my hands and feet, completely divine.  Next was a heat treatment which involved painting my hands and feet with a blend of melted beeswax and macadamia oil with a few drops of frankincense essential oil, which quickly solidified and was left on with some heated socks and mitts for intensive moisturising.  At this point I was so relaxed I was almost sleeping. When the masks were removed she painted my nails and I had the most amazing feeling hands and feet.

Nail oil

Just before I left, she applied a blend of macadamia oil with a few drops of rose essential oil, around the nails and on the skin just before the nails begin to grow. Applying it to this area supports healthy nail growth, as this is where the new nail is being formed.

It is very simple to make your own up and I use a ‘roller’ bottle to dispense the oil, which works in the same way as a roll on deodorant.  It comprises of a small glass bottle, a roller ball top (that releases a little oil across the skin when you pass it over), and a cap.

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They usually come in 10ml bottles, and the recipe below is for a 2.5% blend strength, but you can adjust the recipe if needed using the charts on my previous blog post ‘How many drops should I use?’:

Ingredients

*If you can’t use nut oils due to allergies then I would suggest using organic apricot oil and or argan oil instead.

Nail Care Blend by Kelly Basford

Instructions

Measure the quantities of base oil (macadamia and almond) and pour directly into the bottle, then drop essential oils directly into the bottle, fix the roller ball cap and lid and give it a shake to disperse the oils evenly.  Myrrh is quite thick and gloopy, so you may see the drop of oil sink to the bottom, so you will need to shake it well to ensure it has mixed through. Roll the oil just under the nails each day, and enjoy. Ensure you put a label on the bottle so you don’t forget what it contains.

Ingredients to make your own nail oil blend are available to order from my webshop or Click here if you would like to order a ready made nurturing nail oil blend.

Beauty With Shami – Shami Duffy works in Frome, Somerset, and you can contact her using the following email address if you would like to book a session for your hands and feet: beautywithshami@gmail.com

It is a truly nurturing experience, and well worth making the trip, so if you’re not local then I can recommend staying  at The Lighthouse bed & breakfast in Tytherington, near Frome, Somerset: Tel: 01373 453585 Web: www.lighthouse-uk.com