Face Oil Beauty Rituals

This week I tweaked my beauty ritual and have started to use just pure, organic, cold pressed seed oils on my face and I’m so surprised at how amazing my skin feels – I can’t stop touching it.

In the morning, after a bath or shower, I apply a few drops of raspberry seed oil to my face and neck. It smells a little like cucumber which I find fresh and pleasing and it sinks straight in -there is no shine or oily-ness left behind and my skin still feels so soft and silky, even at the end of the day. I haven’t even wanted to put foundation on my skin afterwards because it feels too good.

In the evenings I’ve been using black currant seed oil (after cleansing with a little coconut oil and a few drops of lavender and water in the basin). The scent is just like black currants, which is unusual for the seed oil to smell like the fruit, but very delicious.

I’m feeling so precious when I spend this time nurturing my skin and appreciating it when I touch my face throughout the day. It has made me consider how many more daily acts of self care there are that I can bring a deeper awareness, appreciation and simplicity to. Things like washing my hands, dressingpreparing a meal – there can be so much joy in it.

Do you have a daily self care task that becomes a precious moment because you cherish yourself as you do it?

There are many other nourishing oils that can be used as a face oil, including jojoba, apricot and sea buckthorn, click here to see the full range available from Essential Oils and You. Alternatively you can get in touch to request a Bespoke Blend of oils designed especially for you.

For more tips and inspiration on Self Care click here.

How to use Essential Oils from Trees to Support our Respiratory System and in Skin Care.

One of the many things I love about essential oils is how the effect on our body is connected to the plant itself and that plants action in life. Trees produce oxygen by their mode of respiration which supports us with our respiration, so, it seems natural for the essential oil to support conditions that affect our respiratory system, like colds and coughs. When you breath in essential oils you can feel it in your body immediately, and this is particularly prominent with tree oils such as eucalyptus and pine. You can feel them cleaning and clearing as they pass from the tip of your nose deep down into your lungs. I feel my chest expand, even my posture changes and I will naturally be more open and stand taller – just like a tree.

Eucalyptus trees.

Everything is connected so it goes beyond the respiratory system, but it’s a good example of feeling for yourself in your body, how the oils can support.

Frankincense & myrrh have a less fierce action on the respiratory system, much more calming, helping to bring a gentleness back to your breath. They are a great support for conditions such as asthma, panic attacks, stress, anxiety and for use in meditation.

Click here for links to free gentle breath meditation audios, they are quick, simple and a very practical support for real life.

Meditation_A-B0014-000481-CL-LR
Image care of Unimed Living

Frankincense is a great oil to scent the room with when you’re taking a moment to breath gently. Myrrh has a much subtler smell so doesn’t work that well in a burner, I prefer to massage this into my wrists to support connection with myself. Click here to read my blog on using myrrh in this way.

Frankincense and myrrh are also examples of how essential oils can act on our bodies in the same way they do so as a tree in life. The essential oil comes from the resin that is produced by the tree when the bark is cut or injured. The resin is a sticky, thick, goo that covers the affected area and then hardens to seal and protect the damaged site, it’s a bit like the way humans form a scab to protect their bodies when the skin is broken.

Frankincense resin.

Can you see why frankincense and myrrh are used in skin care? The resin is healing the tree and the oil that is produced from the resin is used for it’s healing properties on our skin. Frankincense is one of the most popular ingredients in many skin care products. Myrrh is particularly affective in helping festering and difficult to heal wounds, especially in the mouth -it’s useful for mouth ulcers and popular in oral care for this reason (see my blog on gargling with myrrh for more details).  I also like to use myrrh on dry, hard, cracked skin, it’s the base of my blend for scars and usually appears in the skin care products I make -it has recently been working wonders for a client with bed sores.

Benzoin is similar to frankincense and myrrh, it is a tree that produces a resin that is made into an essential oil. It is very protective to the skin but has a very pleasing vanilla like scent that makes it particularly comforting to use for stress and anxiousness as well as in skin care.

I find that even the character of trees confirms how they work on the body. Large, tall strong trees like pines and firs and huge eucalyptus trees with tonnes of leaves are very expansive to the respiratory system, powerfully cleansing and clearing. Whereas the more delicate small trees like frankincense and myrrh work in a more gentle way, supporting reconnecting when you feel out of sorts. Both are very powerful but different in action, a reflection of ourselves as humans; we all have different strengths and qualities that offer support in different ways.

Boswellia carteri tree
Boswellia carteri – the tree that produces frankincense essential oil from its resin.

You could not compare the delicacy of a flower that may last a few days or weeks to the strength of a huge oak that could live for generations. One is not better than another, for each brings a natural beauty that is needed. In this same way, we can appreciate each other for our natural qualities, we all have something to bring to this world of value and it is a true gift for humanity when we share ourselves in full.

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 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.

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. I left mine on a table near a sunny window for the day, 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, I actually found a few with creatures wrapped inside so they didn’t make it into a jar.

Fill the jar to the top, 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.

rose oil

Seal the lid tightly and leave for 3 -6 weeks in a sunny place or a warm cupboard, shake the jar every day.

Then strain the spent rose petals through some muslin cloth, or a fine sieve, into a bowl.

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 on a warm day 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…

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.

How to use Essential Oils on Holiday

essential oils on holidayInspired by the sprinkling of sunshine over the UK this week, it’s time to share some summertime essential oils, essential for taking on holiday.

Essential oils come in very small bottles so they are a practical addition to your luggage, even if you’re only taking cabin bags. However, it’s still worth considering which are the most useful ones to take with you, so this blog is to help you weedle it down to just a few essentials that will come in most handy.

The main issues or symptoms that are commonly experienced when travelling are: around the journey itself; skin care; insects and first aid, so here I have listed some specific symptoms, some appropriate essential oils and simple, practical ways to use them.

essential oils on holiday

TRAVEL

Travel sickness -cardamom, spearmint, chamomile (roman*)

Jetlag – peppermint, lavender

Anxiety (fear of flying) – neroli, lavender

How to use – make a blend in a ‘rolette’ bottle (see how below) to roll across your wrists and tummy, or sprinkle a couple of drops on a tissue to keep in a pocket or in your bag and gently breathe in as a preventative measure or at the time of feeling the symptoms.

SKIN CARE

After sun skin care – lavender, palmarosa, chamomile (roman*)

Sun burn – lavender, chamomile (german/blue*), peppermint

How to use – blend in a base of aloe vera gel or add to your aftersun lotion, see my previous blog for Blending every day products – how many drops should I use?

INSECTS

Insect repellent – lemongrass, citronella, geranium, lavender or tea tree -use one or a combination of those you like the most.

How to use – blend in a base of aloe vera gel, add to your aftersun lotion, (see my previous blog for How many drops should I use?) or make a blend in a rolette bottle (see how below). Some of these essential oils combined would double as a perfume – I like geranium, lavender & lemongrass.

Insect bites – chamomile (german/blue*), lavender

How to use – apply directly to the affected area or as a blend in a ‘rolette’ bottle (see how below).

FIRST AID – Lavender

If you only take one essential oil on holiday make it lavender, it’s the most useful essential oil for most minor first aid situations.

It’s antiseptic, anti microbial & cleansing so ideal for first aid, it is particularly effective on burns, so great for skin care and after sun, it’s ‘insecticidal’ so will deter insects and is very relaxing and calming so it helps with easing travel sickness and tension.

It’s also nice to sprinkle a little in hotel rooms if they don’t smell lovely, especially on the pillow.

For more details on how to use lavender essential oil, see my previous blog on ‘Lavender, Essential First Aid’ .

rolette bottle

Rolette Bottles – here’s how to prepare a rolette bottle:

Using a ‘rolette’ bottle (as pictured) is very practical as you can keep it in a pocket or handbag and it is easy to use. 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.

Instructions

Fill the bottle with a base oil eg. olive oil, then drop appropriate essential oils directly into the bottle, if you have a 10ml bottle, then you will need between 2 and 10 drops of essential oil, see my previous blog for more details on How many drops should I use? Fix the roller ball cap and lid and give it a shake to disperse the oils evenly.  Make a label for the bottle so you don’t forget what it contains.

chamomile & blends

Holiday tip: Rather than take bottles of essential oils you could prepare the blends that you are likely to need in rolette bottles and take these with you instead.

* Chamomile roman or blue/german – There are two types of chamomile essential oil: roman chamomile is more gentle, and german/blue chamomile, which is deep blue in colour, is more powerfully anti-inflammatory in action. I have recommended the german/blue chamomile for sunburn and insect bites, but the roman chamomile is also suitable in each instance.

Click here to order bespoke blends of essential oils ready made for your holiday requirements.

Travel Tips: here’s a blog to help you in general with how to pack your suitcase: ‘Travel Suitcase – What to Pack?

How to Take Care of your Hands with Essential Oils

Be delicate, tender and gentle with your hands.
Be delicate, tender and gentle with your hands.

A few years ago I noticed my hands getting a little bit cracked and battered, I have very sensitive and soft skin and it was starting to split around the finger tips from all the bottling and pouring I do at work.  I had experienced this on and off before, but this time I was a little more conscious that it was showing me I hadn’t been taking care of them.  I had stopped using moisturisers on my hands years earlier, as it is an area I’m prone to getting eczema on, and many contain perfume, alcohol and other potential irritants.  But, now they were shouting out for some nourishment, so I made up some simple moisturising creams and ensured there was one in my bathroom, and one at work, so each time I washed my hands throughout the day I gave my hands a little love. I was absolutely amazed that within 2 days, my hands had literally transformed, completely soft and smooth again.  Such a simple addition to my daily routine and of course the action of massaging a lovely cream with essential oils in was another nurturing moment in my day. It was only a short moment after a trip to the bathroom or washing up so it certainly wasn’t taking up a lot of time in my day, but the difference made a huge impact on my day and the way I look after my hands, especially the way I do things with my hands, like unscrew caps, and shut doors, I generally just want to be more careful and gentle with them.

Here are a few blends that I particularly like for the hands; I have specified the number of drops for adding to 100ml container of cream, if you have very sensitive skin then half the amount of drops.

Protective and soothing blend, so great for sensitive skins.

Benzoin 10 drops, mandarin 20 drops and chamomile 6 drops

Deeply nourishing blend, so perfect for very dry, cracked hands in need of some serious care.

Myrrh 16 drops, palmarosa 10 drops and rose 8 drops

Cleansing and anti-microbial blend, great for really mucky hands.

Lemon 10 drops, lavender 20 drops and thyme 5 drops

For various sized pots of cream you can refer to the following blog post link to see how many drops you should use: Blending Instructions

Make your own natural hand cream using my recipe in the following blog post from my Cream Making Workshop:

I love playing around with different creams and flavours but even choosing a lotion you fancy from the supermarket will make all the difference to your lovely, well used, hands and fingers.

Top tips for taking care of your hands:

ALWAYS use washing up gloves when washing up, even if it’s just one cup or spoon, as putting your hands in and out of water especially with washing up liquid in can dry them out! My favourites are from the brand Bizzybee and the ‘luxury household’ type feel absolutely gorgeous inside, it is a real treat putting my hands in them.

ALWAYS use gardening gloves when gardening.

ALWAYS be delicate, tender & gentle with your hands.

Click here to read more on how to take care of your nails with nourishing carrier oils and essential oils.

This is a beautiful article that helps us recognise what gentleness feels like in our body and asks Why is Gentleness Important?

Why is gentleness important? photo care of Unimed Living
Why is gentleness important? photo care of Unimed Living

How To Make Your Own Natural Face and Body Cream

rose creamsThese are the notes from one of the workshops I regularly run, with instruction on how to make your own completely natural face & body cream, with out chemical emulsifiers or preservatives. Please ask any questions as these notes are designed to go with a practical session, but they should be clear enough for you to re-create your own version of this yummy cream yourself…

Introduction – During the workshop we will go through the process together of making your own completely  organic, natural face and body cream, without using any chemicals, emulsifiers or preservatives.

cream 3

When the cream is ready, and you have your own pot to take away, you can choose to mix in essential oils or not, and if so, you can choose one or a few different essential oils to mix in, and a blend strength that suits its intended use (up to 1% for the face, and up to 5% for the body). See blend strength chart in my previous blog for more details.

If you decide to make your own cream after the workshop, then you can follow the recipe used, but you may like to vary the ingredients a little according to your skin type, or to get a specific effect.

Just be aware that you need to keep the ratios of different types of products the same -so keep the amount of water, oil, butter and wax products used the same.  There is room for a little variation here, you just need to be aware that if you use more water products, the cream will have a thinner consistency, and if you use more solids then it will be thicker in consistency, so you can tailor this to your desire too.

The recipe we will use is for a simple cream involving no chemical emulsifier.  Most cosmetic creams will use an emulsifier of some kind -usually emulsifying wax.  This is because to make a cream, you need to mix oil and water together, two substances that don’t like to mix with each other.  An emulsifier kind of thickens the two and makes them like each other.  They are made from chemicals, and cannot be natural or organic. So this recipe is a little tricky, as it involves mixing the ingredients carefully so they don’t split.  But, with patience and care, it is possible (it is in fact similar to how mayonnaise is made).  You will need to use a fairly good blender, whereas with an emulsifying wax you can usually just whisk the ingredients. The recipe does include beeswax, and this has some naturally emulsifying properties which helps the process.

Ingredients:

  • 200g Floral Waters/ Herbal Infusions –  or blend of both.
  • 70g Butters/ Wax – I like to use 35g of Shea Butter & 35g of Coconut Oil.
  • 130g Base/Carier/Vegetable Oil – I use a blend of different oils including Olive, Apricot, Avocado, Macadamia, Rosehip (see my range of carrier oils for inspiration).
  • 10g beeswax

Optional Extras

  • Aloe vera gel or Aloe vera water –include this with the water ingredients (50ml aloe, 150 floral water).
  • 5ml vitamin E
  • Essential Oils: 0.1 – 2% blend strength for face creams and 1 – 5% blend strength for body (see blend strength chart in my blending blog for more details). For this recipe 1ml (20 drops) of essential oils would be approximately 0.25% blend strength which is usually enough.

About the ingredients:

Waters:

Floral waters

There are 2 versions of floral water, you can use the water that is produced during distillation of an essential oil, or you can use a handmade version, which is spring water mixed with an essential oil, left for a week or 2 and shaken intermittently, and then filtered.  They are similar in action to essential oils but much gentler. Rose water is available to buy from my webshop.

Infusions

An infusion is just like making a cup of herbal tea (a proper cup of herbal tea that is not made from a dried up old bag of dust).  You place your choice of herbs in a tea pot (or cup) and pour boiling water over the herbs (make sure the water is ‘spring water’ and not from the tap to avoid contaminating the cream).  One heaped teaspoon (double the amount if using fresh material rather than dried) to 175ml of water is a standard therapeutic infusion. If using a cup, make sure you cover it to keep the volatile oils from escaping with the steam. Leave to steep for 10 minutes, and strain before use (any little bits of plant material will contaminate the cream).

Oils:

Carrier Oils (base oils)

These are cold pressed from the fruit nut or seed of a plant, for example olive (fruit), almond (nut) or sunflower (seed).  Make sure you use good quality oil that has not been refined, as the refinement process will have destroyed many of the nutritious qualities of the oil.

These are some of my favourite base oils to use on the face:

  • Avocado ~ rich, nourishing, hydrating.
  • Rosehip ~ one of the best base oils for helping scars to heal.
  • Apricot ~ gentle & suitable for all skin types.
  • Macadamia ~ rich, nourishing –has a gorgeous nutty scent.

Macerated oils

An infused oil is carrier oil that has been ‘infused’ with the goodness of a herb or flower for example marigold/calendula or St. Johns wort. Generally the plant material is immersed into a carrier oil e.g. olive or almond oil, and either left naturally to heat in the sun over a period of weeks, or heated gently in a bain-marie for a couple of hours.  The oil absorbs many of the plants properties and the leached plant material is strained out of the oil.

Butters

Again, these have been cold pressed from part of the plant, and include Cocoa, Coconut, Mango, and Shea.  They are solid at room temperature, and bring a creamy effect to the product and have a nourishing effect on the skin, usually high in vitamins and fatty acids.

Beeswax

This is what helps the cream to emulsify, try to find a good quality and trustworthy source.  It is also an emollient, very soothing and protecting for the skin.

Vitamin E – optional

This is a great natural preservative.

Essential oils – optional

Essential oils are normally steam distilled from various parts of plants such as flower, leaves, fruit, roots and bark. With citrus oils it is usually just pressed from the peel, and for some delicate plant material (usually flowers and blossoms) will use a solvent to gently extract the oil.  They have a strong scent to them, so are a lovely way to personalise your blend, but also have very potent healing properties that affect the body on a physical level as well as the way we feel.  Even though the cream is complete on its own, the essential oils will bring another dimension to the effect.

These are some of my favourite essential oils to use on the face:

  • Rose ~ hydrating, nourishing and deeply nurturing.
  • Lavender ~ cleansing, clearing, gentle, antimicrobial (see my blog post on Lavender for more details).
  • Benzoin ~ protective.
  • Chamomile (Roman chamomile)~ soothing, calming, delicate, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergy, (see my blog post on chamomile for more details).
  • Myrrh ~ deeply healing, great for scars.
  • Mandarin ~ gentle, toning, light.
  • Geranium ~ balancing, feminine, supports hormones.
  • Neroli (orange blossom) ~ calming, gentle, soothing.

See my webshop for more essential oils that you may like to use.

Equipment

  • Scales
  • Bain marie/ double boiler
  • Measuring jug
  • A decent blender
  • Spatula
  • Pots or containers for finished product -make sure they are cleaned and sterilised by rinsing with some boiling water, and completely dry.

Instructions

Prepare the ingredient first, measure and weigh the amounts so they are ready to add in at the appropriate moment.

Melt all the solid oil base products by gently heating them in a bain marie or double boiler.  Then add the liquid oil products to this, you may need to heat it through a little more, as the cool liquids can cause the mixture to begin solidifying again.

When they are completely melted pour this mixture into a blender and let it cool down for a few minutes.  The melted mixture should become a little opaque in colour, but not to the point that it is beginning to solidify, see it has a buttery appearance:

buttery blending

Put the blender on a low setting and add just a little of the water based products at a time. You will see it become milky in appearance:

Milky blending

and eventually thickens to a cream:

Creamed

Take your time when adding the water and blending, as adding too much water initially will make it difficult to emulsify and it will be more likely to split.  If the cream splatters up the sides of the blender, use the spatula to get all the mixture in the bottom each time you add more water, so the entire mixture is evenly blended.

If you decide to add Vitamin E and essential oils to the cream, do this at the very end as you do not want to expose them to heat.  Pour the mixture into some little pots or jars.  Ensure they are clean and dry –I usually pour some boiling water into them to sterilize them first and then dry them.  Pour the cream as soon as it’s ready, as it will become thicker as it cools, and more difficult to get out.

As in the workshop, you can add essential oils at this point too–if you have several containers and you want to create different blends for each one, then it’s ideal.  I find it quite practical to use a chop stick to stir them through.

pot of cream

Shelf Life

Because this cream is very natural and does not contain chemicals or preservatives, it is likely to only last 2-3months.  I would recommend keeping it in a cool dark cupboard or in the fridge if you can.  It will usually only go off if it becomes contaminated somehow and this can often be due to bacteria in the water based ingredients.  Make sure you don’t use any water from the tap if making an infusion, use spring water. Ensure all equipment being used is sterilised.

Using your cream

Having made the cream from scratch, and knowing all the wonderful ingredients that go into it, it can help me to be a little more focused on my skin care routine, to be more appreciative of this time with myself.  It’s particularly lovely to massage gently around the jaw, and to take this time to let go of any tension held in this area.  In doing this I become more aware of the tension held in other areas in the face –including cheeks and eyes!  I also use the cream on my neck across the top of my chest, massaging just under the collar bones which delicately allows me to become more open around the chest area, I can feel the difference in my whole body especially my posture, when I do this. Basically, just enjoy and appreciate using it on any part of your body.

Here are some ingredient variations for inspiration when designing your own versions:

Rich, hydrating and nourishing, for dry and mature skin

  • Rose floral water
  • Avocado, macadamia
  • Coconut, shea
  • Rose, frankincense, myrrh

Gentle and soothing, for sensitive skin

  • Neroli floral water, chamomile infusion
  • Apricot, camellia oil
  • Coconut
  • Neroli, Chamomile, Mandarin

Eczema, delicate itchy and damaged skin

  • Lavender floral water, chamomile infusion
  • Evening Primrose, starflower/borage oil
  • Coconut oil, shea butter
  • Chamomile, lavender, benzoin

Light and balancing for young, oily, combination skin

  • Geranium floral water
  • Grape seed, apricot oil
  • Coconut oil, shea butter
  • Geranium, lemon

Creams for Sale: I make versions of these natural face and body creams at regular intervals, so if you would like to buy one CLICK HERE to view the bespoke products on the webshop. Feel free to request specific ingredients, or preferred effects (eg. very hydrating or very gentle) as I am more than happy to design it to your requirements.