herbal solutions for cold-weather skincare

there are so many things that i love about cold weather.  i love the feel of clean, cold air on my skin, i love the smell of wood smoke from fires, i love the way that light falls differently in the afternoons, and (oddly enough) i love overcast days where billowing gray clouds seem like they’re reaching down to touch the earth.  emotionally, i start to come alive as the weather starts to cool down—i wish i could say that my skin harbors the same good feelings.  perhaps the only thing that i despise about cold weather (partly, mind you, because i’ve never had to drive in snow) is the havoc that it wreaks on my skin.  i was blessed with a veritable oil well from the neck up, and saharan sands from the neck down.   the good part about this is that i won’t have to worry too much about wrinkles, due to my “dewy southern complexion,” but the bad part is that, between the oil-control soaps i’ve been handed for my face and the arid wintry wind that exacerbates my already-dry parts, i’m quite possibly a walking wildfire risk! Read the rest of this entry »

herbal preparations: salves

before i started practicing herbal medicine, i think the one time i’d ever heard the word “salve” (pronounced “sav”) was at my grandmother’s house.  salve-making is really a lost art, but it’s so simple and is such a fundamental way of delivering medicine to the body that i can’t figure out we don’t all learn this skill in kindergarten.  for those of you thinking (from my last prep post) about making herbal oils, salve-making is the next logical step in the process, and it gives you a lovely way to showcase your sweet medicine for your family, friends, and local farmer’s markets! Read the rest of this entry »

herbal preparations: infused oils

one of my favorite things to do with herbs is to make infused oils.  you can make many different kinds with many different purposes—anything from cosmetic oils to cooking oils to healing oils to personal lubricants.*  under the right conditions, herbal oils will store for a long time, which is good considering the cost of most base oils and the time that it takes to infuse the plant materials.  when you infuse herbs in oil, you extract those medicinal plant constituents which are fat soluble as well as the essential/volatile plant oils.  one very important thing to keep in mind about infused herbal oils is that they are not essential oils. essential oils come in very small bottles and they are a highly, highly concentrated plant oil.  it takes tons upon tons of plant material to extract any significant amount of essential oil, and many of them are too strong to be used directly on the skin.  when i say infused oils, i mean using a base or carrier oil to extract goodies out of a relatively small amount of plant material.  Read the rest of this entry »