A walk through your garden might also be a stroll among natural beauty ingredients. Many brightly colored fruits and vegetables, delicate flower petals and fragrant herbs can be the ingredients of healthy beauty products. Tending a complexion garden gets you in the sunshine and fresh air and using homegrown ingredients means your creations will be free from preservatives.
Making cosmetics with freshly picked botanicals is so easy even kids can do it. Medford's Janice Cox, author of Natural Beauty from the Garden, says, "I like making products for the fun and convenience. It's a good way to take advantage of fresh ingredients and things that you may have too much of like mint."
Janice Cox, author of Natural Beauty from the Garden, shares three recipes with HomeLife readers.
ATTAR OF ROSES
2 to 3 cups fresh rose petals
1 to 2 tablespoons of kosher or rock salt for an 8-ounce jar
Gently wash and pat dry petals. Place a tightly packed layer inside a clean ceramic crock or dark-colored glass jar and sprinkle with salt. Repeat until full. Cover tightly and store in a cool, dark place for 3 to 6 weeks so the petals release their liquid. Strain carefully through cheesecloth and store in a cool, dark location.
Rose Water: Add one or two drops of attar to one cup of distilled water.
FRESH CARROT MASK
1/4 cup fresh carrot juice
1/4 cup white kaolin clay*
*Kaolin clay or Bentonite or White China Clay. Kaolin Clay can be found at natural food stores, and some grocery stores.
This carrot mask is loaded with skin-enriching vitamins and natural cleansers. Fresh carrot juice can be astringent, so those with very dry skin should add a teaspoon of light oil to the mixture.
COUNTRY RASPBERRY LEAF RINSE
1 cup fresh raspberry leaves, washed
2 cups boiling water
Place leaves in ceramic or glass bowl and cover with boiling water. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then strain and transfer to a bottle. Apply to hair following shampooing; rinse and style as usual.
Pure honey makes a great conditioner. It actually contains two beauty ingredients scientists have not yet been able to re-create. Cox uses clover honey, but orange, blackberry or lavender honey all make rich conditioners. Honey will replace lost moisture, making it a good choice on color-treated hair. Cox says that this conditioner can seem sticky at first, but rinses out easily.
Mints like spearmint (Mentha spicata) or chocolate mint (Mentha piperita cv) grow vigorously in part-shade to full sun. Best kept in big pots or along edges of water features, mints enjoy moist soil. Frequent trimming of the fragrant leaves or mowing low-growing Corsican mint (Menthe requienii) keeps them attractive. Cox blends mint into refreshing foot treatments, facial toners and hair rinses because it removes residue from skin and hair, restores natural balance and imparts an exhilarating scent.
Lavender is one of the most highly regarded herbs, used to heal burns, aid sleep, kill germs and hydrate the skin. Many lavender varieties thrive locally, and most are drought-tolerant. Lisa Chaisson, sales associate at Four Season's Nursery in Central Point says her favorite is English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). After blooming, she suggests giving plants a light shearing so they'll flower again.
Use lavender to make elegant bath salts by combining lavender essential oil with rock or Epsom salts. "Combine rock salt, a few drops of oil and some food coloring and mix it in a zip-close bag. Layer the salt in the jar between sprinklings of fresh herbs. It looks nice and anyone can do it," says Cox. This also works with other flowers like roses.
To extract the fragrance from roses, Cox makes attar of roses and uses a few drops to create rose water. She recommends picking the roses and leaves in the morning, once the dew has dried. Traditionally, damask roses (Rosa damascene) provide deeply fragrant petals for perfumes, oils and cosmetics. 'Autumn Damask' has loose, double, medium pink blooms and grows to 6 feet.
Strawberries, carrots, and tomatoes are a treat for skin. Brightly-colored vegetables are replete with vitamins and alpha-hydroxyl acid, which gently cleans the skin, removes dead skin cells and improves skin tone. Juice or grate fruits and veggies, then using roughly equal parts, combine with moisturizing mayonnaise, sour cream, honey or soothing aloe vera gel and spread on your skin. Leave on for 15 minutes, rinse and pat skin dry and moisturize as normal.
Making your own recipes not only saves money but also gives you hands-on control of what goes on your body. Those with food allergies or sensitivities should do a small skin test first. How fun to plan your garden so you can nourish your body inside and out, with ingredients that provide another way to watch beauty bloom.