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How to Make Herbal Infused Oils for Skincare and Medicinal Use

How to Make Herbal Infused Oils
Herbal Infused Oils for Skincare and Medicinal Use

Herbs, Herbalism - folk and traditional medicinal practises. Also known as phytotherapy and phytomedicine.

Herbs have been used since man began really, primarily for eating but also for medicinal purposes - countries like China and North America are well known for using foraged herbs for ailments and skincare and many of our great grandparents knew something about herbal treatments and passed the knowledge down to daughters. Our great great grandmothers especially would have used herbs for skin complaints and ailments - we have all heard of witches in the 1600's being burned, hung or drowned to death because they were deemed to have used magical powers in healing people.

Most people these days without knowing it are still using herbal treatments and herbs in cooking recipes. We know lavender and chamomile promote calmness and sleep, lavender is great for headaches, lemon is a brilliant antiseptic, antiviral cleanser, elderberries are good for coughs and colds and onions are antiseptic. Some herbs are easily grown in the garden or in pots and many can be foraged in Nature in the hedges banks, woods and beaches. We can make our own herbal infused oils for skincare easily but knowing what types of herbs to use can take years to learn and can seem very daunting to the beginner. Below and in my next few Blogs I will guide you gently through your options using a few kitchen utensils and ingredients. These magical oils can be used in your skincare treatments to relieve and help many skin ailments such as acne, psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema, rosacea, dryness, aging skin and even leg ulcers. They also can be turned into medicinal creams handy to use on minor burns, bruises, scratches, bites, stings, inflammation, aches and pains, nappy rash, cradle cap and many more. I'm a great believer that there is something in Nature that can help or relieve our ailments and symptons.

Think how wonderful it would be to make a medicinal, wild foraged moisturiser that not only hydrates and protects your skin but also treats skin problems, soothing massage oils that help you relax or ease painful, aching muscles, hand cream that helps relieve aching arthritic fingers. Many herbs now have scientific research behind them showing just how beneficial they can be rather than relying on pharmaceutical drugs which in some cases can be detrimental to the problems you are trying to cure.

Oils to Use :

Sunflower Oil, Olive Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Fractionated Coconut Oil, Almond Oil.

Beware of some oils that have a short shelf life like Rosehip oil, Evening Primrose Oil etc.

Which oil you will choose also depends on what you are going to use it for i.e. moisturiser, bath oils, massage oils or medicinal creams.

Herbs to use :

In the majority of cases it will be best to use dried herbs although fresh herbs can be used, and in the case of St John's Wort, fresh is reported to be best but you have to beware of mould growing on your oil or the oil turning rancid. If you can not grow them or forage them and dry them yourself, dried herbs can be easily obtained online and some can be found in your supermarket.

herbs and flowers used in skincare
Dried herbs and flowers

You can use herbs like, borage, calendula, comfrey root/leaf, lavender, rosemary, thyme, oregano, lemon balm, garden mint. Foraged herbs may include, chamomile, nettle, fat hen, sticky weed (cleavers), mullein.

Method One

This is the easiest method but takes slightly longer to make. Choose a new or clean, sterile glass jar and fill nearly to the top with your choosen herb, leaving a gap of about 5cm. Pour in your oil making sure to completely cover the herb, if the herb emerges to the top wait a while for it to sink and pour in more oil. Put the lid on your jar and shake well. Place the jar in a sunny spot and leave for about 2-3 weeks, shaking daily.

Using a cheesecloth or good strainer, strain the herbs out of the oil. Squeeze as much of the gorgeous, medicinal oil out of the herbs and cloth. Pour into clean glass bottles and label with the type of oil and herb used and the date. Store in a dark, cool place. The shelf life will be approximately one year.

Olive Oil infused with herbs for skincare use
Herb infused Olive Oil

Method Two

This method uses heat to infuse the oil and is quicker to make. You need to use low, long heat so be careful not to deep fry your oils by having the heat to high! You can use a double burner, slow cooker or yogurt maker for this method.

Place your herb in the double burner, slow cooker or yogurt maker, cover completely with your oil, making sure it's at least 5cm above the herb. Using heat of between 38C-60C heat for between 2-5hrs - you can use 38C heat for up to 48hrs. Leave to cool and then using your cheesecloth strain off the herb, squeezing as much of the precious oil out as you can. Bottle in clean, sterile bottles, label and date then store in cool, dry place. This oil has a shelf life of around six months.

How to dry bunches of herbs
Drying herbs in bunches

Method Three

This method uses alcohol, takes about 24hrs and uses dried herbs only. As alcohol is used this method provides a herbal infused oil that is much less likely to become contaminated. You can use perfumers alcohol, rubbing alcohol or vodka.

NB - Please do not use this method if you intend to use the infuse oil for cooking or food!

You will need a coffee grinder or blender for this method.

Grind your dried herbs to a course powder - don't grind too fine as it will be difficult to strain later. Pour mixture into a clean jar and cover with about 15ml of alcohol, place on lid and shake well to disperse the alcohol through the herbs. Leave for 24hrs.

Pour herb mixture into your blender and pour in your oil, blend for a few minutes. Line a strainer with cheesecloth or muslin, pour infused oil through the strainer, squeezing as much oil out as possible - you might find small pieces of herb floating in the oil which you can either leave or pass through a coffee filter. Pour infused oil into clean, sterile bottles, label and date. Store in cold, dark place. This oil has a shelf life of about one year.

In this blog we are talking about herb infused oils, however you can infuse herbs into Glycerine to make herbal glycerates.

If you would like to learn how to turn your infused oils into skincare or medicinal products please join our Skincare Course

I'm working on a list of herbs and their properties which will be ready soon.

Please note if you are foraging for herbs make sure you know exactly what you are picking - some herbs are poisonous! Also if you are pregnant, have high blood pressure or other ailments make sure you know what you are allowed to use. If you are in any doubt please consult a qualified herbalist or doctor.

x Diane - also known by my family as The Witch - I think in a good way!

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