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 – 330g (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 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.

Essential Oils, Nature and Education

My workshops involve making aromatherapy and skincare products using essential oils and other plant derived ingredients. I choose to run them in settings that have a connection to nature, preferably with plants that yield essential oils. I feel it is important to know where the ingredients come from, who looks after them and how. This in itself can tell you a lot about the plants properties, qualities and help understand why it might be useful for supporting health and wellbeing. It also highlights how precious the plants are, when you realise the quantity of plant material needed and the huge amount of work that goes into providing a tiny little bottle of essential oil, you cannot help but respect it and the way you use it more deeply. A lot goes into every single drop and it makes a difference if what goes into it is love, care and consideration for the all!

In 2020, I will be running several courses in association with the Field Studies Council, this is an organisation who have been providing outdoor education since 1943 and are dedicated to taking care of our natural environment.

I feel honoured to be working with them and highly recommend visiting any of their stunning sites which are situated in areas of natural beauty all over the country. In most cases you can stay onsite, with meals provided and they offer a huge range of natural history and art and craft courses. It is a gorgeous opportunity to go away for a weekend and connect with nature. My workshops are part of a new initiative focusing on health and wellbeing and will be offered at the following centres:

Orielton Field Studies Centre, Pembrokeshire

Weekend Course in Wales: Botanical Alchemy – Natural Skin Care & Aromatherapy at FSC Orielton, from Friday 17th – Sunday 19th April 2020. Takes place at their impressive Georgian mansion secluded in 120 hectares of diverse habitats including woodland, grassland, meadows and freshwater. Click here for full details.

Millport Fields Studies Centre, Isle of Cumbrae

Weekend Course in Scotland: Botanical Alchemy – Natural Skin Care & Aromatherapy at FSC Millport, located on the Isle of Cumbrae on the Firth of Clyde, from Friday 1st – Sunday 3rd May 2020. Click here for full details.

 

Flatford Mill Field Centre, Suffolk

One day workshops in Suffolk: a series of 4 consecutive day workshops at FSC Flatford Mill, set amidst the quintessentially English countryside of the Dedham Vale. You can book the following workshops individually, or all four for a discounted price, click each workshop for full details:

Slapton Ley Field Studies Centre, Devon

Weekend Course in Devon: Botanical Alchemy – Natural Skin Care & Aromatherapy at FSC Slapton Ley on the coast of South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, from Friday 7th – Sunday 9th August 2020. Click here for full details.

Click here to see the full 2020 course schedule on my website, with events running at Glasgow Botanic Gardens,  Royal Horticulture Societies in Devon & Surrey, Mayfield Lavender Fields in Surrey, the Rose Retreat in Bulgaria and a Weekend Retreat at Upper Vobster Farm in North Somerset…

 

When you can’t see the Roses for the Weeds – Appreciation is the Key!

Recently, I had the absolute pleasure of working at Hever Castle, in Kent, during their summer event: ‘Hever In Bloom’ -it’s a week in their calendar when the gardens are in full bloom and I gave daily talks and ran workshops for visitors about essential oils.

I can not help but appreciate my surroundings here and each day I enjoyed walking around the walled rose garden that smells so heavenly in the warm sunshine. And here I am reminded of an anecdote on the importance of appreciation that Natalie Benhayon shared previously at a presentation for women, it goes something like this…

You have the most beautiful rose garden, you’ve put lots of work into it leading up to the summer and there is an entire rainbow of coloured flowers on show, delicious scents that make you swoon and an abundance of wild life enjoying the full blooms in all their glory. It’s a stunning sight and everyone that passes by is impressed and can’t help but enjoy it.

But – there has to be a ‘but’ – and that ‘but’ is a very small patch of weeds, tiny infact, just a few sprouts, but they’re really annoying you, so when anyone pays you a compliment about how beautiful your rose garden is, you respond with “Oh, but look at those weeds, I really need to get on top of them”, and when the person responds with “What weeds? I hadn’t noticed any.” all you can do is remain focused on the weeds: “Oh they’re all over the place, those darn weeds!”. And, yet, the garden is breath takingly beautiful. Yes, there are a few weeds to deal with, and if they were ignored they may begin to affect the beauty in the rose garden, but by bringing all the focus to them, you miss out on the beauty and joy in the garden – When you can’t see the roses for the weeds, it seems even a few weeds have taken over the show…

It’s worth considering how much we bring appreciation into our daily life. How often do we bat away a compliment by playing it down, ignoring it, completely denying it, or possibly admitting it with a ‘Yes, but…’ deflection. What would happen if we actually accepted that compliment and realised the importance of showing and sharing our natural, unique and lovely qualities? We are taught to not blow our own trumpet, but what if the more we blow our own trumpet, the more others will realise it’s ok to blow theirs and before long we’ll have a full blowing orchestra of people shining. The music is then enjoyed by many, just as the beauty of the rose garden is, and we too can enjoy and cherish ourselves with out holding back or playing small.

If it feels a little awkward to accept a compliment and enjoy the rose garden in full (while still taking care of the weeds) then we can start to bring appreciation into our daily life. This can be as simple as taking a moment in between the day’s tasks and recognising the completion before rushing onto the next task. We can easily get caught in the overwhelm of ‘things to do’ but if we were to appreciate each little step along the way, then the whole day doesn’t need to pass by under the pressure of trying to get a ‘to do’ list done, with a view to only appreciating and feeling satisfied if we complete it -which never happens as the ‘to do’ list is always never ending!

Appreciation can then begin to really bloom, with our rose garden showing the depth of the beauty that resides in us naturally, what ever kind of day we are having.

‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’, but there is no trying to be sweet, the sweetness is just there, so take a moment to stop and enjoy it.

If you feel like you would like more time to stop and smell the roses, you might like to join ‘‘A Rose Retreat‘ in beautiful Bulgaria, beneath the Balkan mountains, in the rose valley – an opportunity to deepen your understanding of appreciation in a place that will constantly reflect this. Click here for more details.

   

 

Natural Perfume and Aromatherapy Workshops – Summer 2016

Natural Perfume Making Workshops this Summer, make your own unique & completely natural, organic perfume, with the finest quality essential oils.

Audrey Hepburn
Stop, breathe gently, smile and appreciate.

There are so many beautiful scents in the air at this time of year here in the UK, walking down the street or through the park, the air is perfumed every now and then by some flower or other coming into bloom. It always makes me stop, breathe gently, smile and appreciate… nature has such a sweet way of reminding us of simplicity, joy and bringing us back to the present moment.

I’m also appreciating the magical venues I have picked for my Natural Perfume Workshops this Summer; firstly there is Mayfield Lavender Farm just outside London. The scent at this venue will be obvious before you even arrive at the farm, as the fresh, lovely smell is carried in the air around the field. You will also be blessed with the truly stunning sight of the iridescent lavender as well as the gentle humming sound of bees. It is a truly inspiring setting for learning about essential oils and making your own unique perfumes, in the midst of the beautiful purple flowers under the gazebo -featured in this image:

Lavender Perfume Workshop
Mayfield Lavender – venue for Summer Perfume Workshop in Surrey on Saturday 23rd July, 2016.

The next venue for my Natural Perfume Making Workshop is at my favourite florist – Kate Langdale’s Flower Studio in Brighton. The reason I’m so in love with this place is because of the unusual scented varieties of many plants and flowers she supplies, many of which yield their own essential oil. Not only does she have some incredibly beautiful scented roses (quite rare in florist these days) but I’ve manage to purchase pink peppercorns and scented geranium leaves in the past. It is a joy to be surrounded by such a gorgeous array of seasonal flowers when making our bespoke perfume blends.

Kate Langdale Florist Brighton Workshop Venue Kate Langdale's Flower Studio - venue for Summer Perfume Workshop in Brighton
Kate Langdale’s Flower Studio – venue for Perfume Workshop in Brighton.

Here are the full details for the workshops this Summer, spaces are limited so please book early to avoid disappointment:

Mayfield Lavender Farm in Surrey on Saturday 23rd July, 2016 -10am -1pm

1 Carshalton Road, Banstead, SM7 3JA (15 miles from London).

Kate Langdale’s Flower Studio in Brighton -date to be confirmed (get in touch to set new dates to suit you).

84 Bath Street (just off Dyke Road), Seven Dials, Brighton BN1 3JD

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Cost: £60*
  • Price includes
    • 2 x 10ml bespoke natural roll on perfumes to take home, made by you, using the best quality oils.

To book a place, please contact me by email at:

laura@essentialoilsandyou.co.uk or telephone 07828954020

For more information on this workshop read my blog post on Natural Perfume Making.

I also run perfume workshops for private groups and parties, they are a really lovely opportunity to be with friends, family and even colleagues while enjoying making your own beautifully scented perfume to take away.

Audrey Hepburn flowers

For a little inspiration on breathing gently and appreciation, check out the free meditations on Unimed Living health & wellbeing website.

Favourite Scent Photo ‪‎Competition

Instagram competition

To celebrate my year with Essential Oils & You, I’ve designed a competition to give away an essential oil perfume blend -designed especially for you and completely natural and unique.

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning, is share a picture via social media that shows your favourite scent.

rose pomegranate geranium

You can use any of the following platforms:

Instagram – when sharing make sure you use the hashtag #essentialoilsandyou and tag me @essentialoilsandyou – www.instagram.com/essentialoilsandyou/

Facebook – tag: Essential Oils & You in the text – www.facebook.com/LauraHoyEssentialOilsandYou/

Twitter – use this tag in the text: @oilsandyou – https://twitter.com/OilsandYou

Email – email your images to laura@essentialoilsandyou.co.uk

competition instagram lavender

The photo doesn’t have to be related to essential oils, it can be of anything that gives a sense of the smell you like, from your favourite flower to your favourite meal, it could be a cleaning product or even a person who you love the smell of… feel free to enter more than one image if you discover you have lots of favourite scents.

The competition closes at midnight on Christmas Eve and the winner will be announced on Christmas Day.

instagram competition scents

Thank you all for your support this year, looking forward to sharing more nurturing ways to use essential oils in 2016…

With love, Laura x

See my previous blog on Natural Perfume Making for more details on the prize or to make your own.

rose cream

How to Make Your Own Natural Oil Perfume and Aromatherapy Blend

Here are the notes from my Natural Perfume & Aromatherapy Workshop, for those of you who would like to make your own unique, natural fragrance, but are unable to make the workshop in person.

Introduction – It’s actually very simple to make your own natural perfume as there is no need to use any alcohol, fixers or preservatives, you can just use natural essential oils for the scent, and a nut or seed oil as the base. It really is that simple, and the rest is just play time.

So this workshop/ blog post is really about introducing you to the endless array of possibilities involved in making your own natural perfume and to let you experiment and get confident with the ingredients. There are so many amazing essential oils to choose from and the real beauty is that they actually have a huge array of benefits, way beyond the scent that you create -which in itself can have dramatic effects on the way you feel.

 

How to make your own natural perfume blend

Container ~you can make your perfume blend in any container you like, there are lots of lovely bottles to play with, I’m often searching for old vintage perfume bottles in antique shops, or waiting for friends to finish there branded fragrance so i can use the bottle but I find using a ‘rolette’ bottle (as pictured) is very practical. It comprises of a small glass bottle (10 or 15ml), a roller ball top (that releases a little oil across the skin when you pass it over), and a cap.

Lasting effect ~Natural perfume does not have the same staying power as an alcohol based fragrance, so you can carry these little bottles around in your handbag or pocket and retouch the scent throughout the day.

Recipe – for a 5% blend strength for 10ml bottle

  • 10ml base oil e.g. apricot or jojoba ~you can choose just one or blend as many as you like.
  • 0.5ml essential oils (10 drops) ~you can choose just one or combine as many as you like (see below for how to choose essential oils).

Essential oils are very concentrated and a 5% blend strength should be plenty strong enough. However, if you have sensitive skin or are making a blend for children or someone with fragile skin, then I would drop the percentage to 1% or 2.5% (2 or 5 drops in 10ml).

Instructions

perfume bottles

Measure the quantities of base oil (eg. olive or almond) and pour directly into the bottle, then drop approximately 10 drops of essential oils directly into the bottle, fix the roller ball cap and lid and give it a shake to disperse the oils evenly. If you’re using resinous essential oils like myrrh or benzoin, you will need give the bottle a shake each time you use it as they can sink to the bottom.

Make a label for the bottle so you don’t forget what it contains.

Ingredients

Essential oils and base oils have a multitude of health and wellbeing benefits, so you can either design your perfume with the focus completely on the fragrance you want and then check out the added health benefits, or vice versa: choose oils for their properties and let the scent come together that way.

Choosing Base oils

Apricot oil

I like to use cold pressed vegetable oils as they are more natural with more nutrients but they can have varying degrees of smell to them so I go for something with a light scent so as not to interfere too much with the fragrance. I would recommend almond, apricot or jojoba. You can use ‘refined’ oils which have usually been heat treated to high temperatures to remove the scent, in this case olive oil would be just great.

For help choosing a base oil click here for my webshop.

Choosing your blend

To make your unique fragrance, you need to choose the essential oils you want and the number of drops of each to use. Use some ‘scent tester strips‘ or unscented tissues to put a drop of the oils you like on, and then see how they smell together. To avoid wasting too many drops of precious oils, use separate strips or tissues for each oil you try and write the name of the oil on them, then put the strips together under your nose to see if you like the combination. If you add an oil that you don’t like with the others, you take out the strip, and try something else, rather than have to start again.

Now the play time really takes off, you might find that you put 3 oils together eg. rose, lavender & myrrh, you like the smell of the lavender and rose  but you can’t really smell the myrrh, in this case you could try 2 or 3 drops of myrrh as it is more subtle in scent compared to the others.
It pays to be organised here, so that when you have your perfume ready on the strips, you know which oils you want and how many drops of each to add to the bottle. Depending on your ratio you can go a couple over or a couple under the 10 drops, the drops sizes can vary anyway so it is just a guide.

If you only have one or a few essential oils to play around with, then this is not a disadvantage, start with a couple of your favourites and build from there.

Keep it simple. There are so many possibilities and different essential oils to choose from that it can feel a bit overwhelming, don’t make it complicated. Try using 3 oils to begin with and pick a top, middle & base note, this is a good formula used in perfumery to give a well rounded scent (see my previous blog for details on top middle & base notes). If you start to get confused get some fresh air, and come back to it.

Don’t aim for perfection, the magic of using these natural ingredients means the blend will change with time, different people will pick up different scent notes, and when you wear it on your skin it will unfold throughout the day, so just trust when you’ve put something together that it will be great.

The following blogs will help you to choose which essential oils to put into your fragrance:

The Art of Blending Essential Oils

A List of the most popular Essential Oils, their Uses and Cautions

Blending Essential Oils using Top, Middle and Base Notes.

 

Workshop

If you would like to attend a Natural Perfume Making Workshop in person, or arrange one for a group then click here for further details including up and coming dates.

natural perfume making workshop      IMG_4026

Recipe inspirations and practical uses for the ‘rolette’ bottle:

You can use this exact same principle to make oils for health related purposes that  still smell amazing. I have used the 5% blend strength in the recipes, but if you are using on children, people with a delicate disposition or sensitive skin I would use 2.5% (5 drops in total).

See if you can spot the top, middle & base notes in these examples:

Nail oil ~apply on the skin just before the nails begin to grow, this area supports healthy nail growth, as it is where the new nail is being formed.

nail oil

Nail oil recipe, this for a 5% blend strength (10 drops of essential oil in 10ml base oil).

Ingredients

  • 5ml organic macadamia oil*
  • 5ml organic almond oil*
  • 4 drops of myrrh essential oil (helps to heal dry, hard and cracked skin)
  • 3 drops of rose essential oil (deeply nurturing, nourishing and hydrating)
  • 3 drops of mandarin essential oil (great for the skin and gives the scent a lift)

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

 

Anxiety, stress, panic attacks ~with a soothing, calming blend you can roll across your wrists or even under your nose as a preventative or when you feel symptoms coming on.

Ingredients

  • 10ml organic olive oil
  • 4 drops of neroli essential oil (soothes & calms nervous system)
  • 3 drops of lavender essential oil (relaxing, clearing & calming)
  • 3 drop of frankincense essential oil (supports breathing gently)

Hay fever ~ with a soothing, calming blend you can roll across your chest or even under your nose as a preventative or when you feel symptoms.

Chamomile

Ingredients

  • 10ml organic apricot oil
  • 5 drops of benzoin essential oil (soothing, comforting)
  • 2 drops of chamomile essential oil (anti-allergy, anti-inflammatory, soothing, calming, helps with itching)
  • 3 drop of orange essential oil (to give the scent a lift)

Nausea, morning sickness ~ with a soothing, calming blend you can roll across your wrists, tummy or even under your nose as a preventative or when you feel symptoms. The recipe here is for a 2% blend strength which is suitable in pregnancy, but you can increase it to 5% if it is for perfume use.

Ingredients

  • 10ml organic apricot or olive oil
  • 2 drops of neroli essential oil (soothing, relaxing, calms nervous tension)
  • 1 drops of cardamom essential oil (refreshing, soothing, calming)
  • 1 drop of spearmint essential oil (refreshing, soothes feelings of nausea)

Colds & sinus problems ~with a blend of powerfully clearing respiratory oils you can inhale the blend or roll across your chest & neck, e.g. eucalyptus, peppermint, thyme.

IMG_4499

Ingredients

  • 10ml organic olive oil
  • 4 drops of eucalyptus essential oil (clears respiratory system, very anti-microbial)
  • 2 drops of peppermint essential oil (clearing & calming)
  • 4 drops of thyme essential oil (powerful anti-microbial, clears mucus and great for chesty coughs)

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.

Essential Oils on Film

Sorry film footage is no longer available to view, hope to update soon…

‘Sunday Brunch’ Channel 4 TV show appearance, Sunday 2nd November, 2014.

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On live TV, sharing with presenters, Tim Lovejoy and Simon Rimmer, some useful information about using essential oils including:

How essential oils are made by steam distillation:

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How herb & spice oils support digestion,

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Why it’s important to enjoy the scent,

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Why rose essential oil is so expensive and how wintergreen essential oil is great for helping muscles to relax.

 

Essential Oil Christmas Workshop

Essential Oil Christmas Workshop with Laura Hoy & Heather Hardy Logo

  • Venue: The Edge Community Centre, 85 Pankhurst Avenue, Brighton, BN2 9AE, UK.
  • Date: Sunday 7th December 2014
  • Time: 10am-12.30pm
  • Cost: £25
  • Discount: £20 if you book and pay by 1st December
  • Price includes a pot of balm and edible treat to take home (both made by you), morning tea, snacks and a hand massage.

A fun, festive and practical workshop open to all. We will be sharing how you can use essential oils to support yourself to nurture, cherish and adore your self in day to day life. This is especially important around this time of year as we can get so caught up in the rush and stress of Christmas.  This morning workshop will be a chance to focus and care for yourself, offering practical tips to bring support though out the crazy month of December and beyond. We will be making a balms for you to use on your body (these can be tailored to you personally),  some edible snacks flavoured with essential oils (to take home too), and giving and receiving hand massages.

Neave and Laura hand massage

Morning Tea and Snacks will be provided.

For more information and to book a place, please contact Laura by email laurahoy26@gmail.com or telephone 07828954020

Read this fantastic blog exposing Christmas and it’s effects on our health: The Silly Season and its effects on Health

Note: Free parking is available around the venue.