Thursday, 28 July 2011

Herbs and Creams

My quiet blog lately has been the result of me having just taken lots of lovely courses learning about how to make beauty products from natural ingredients.

Having thought long and hard about how to make a living from my gardening exploits, I've decided to take the plunge and have spent the last few months setting up my business plan, doing market research and starting to design my very own range of natural beauty products. Ingredients will of course include a range of cosmetic herbs grown as the understory to our eagerly anticipated forest garden.

Looking around the garden over the last few weeks, I've realised that july is likely to be the beginning of my yearly harvest of cosmetic herbs. This week I've been out collecting lavender and alchemilla (lady's mantle). I'll tell you a bit about what they're good for while it's still fresh in my mind.

Lavender is renowned as having numerous uses for the skin and body as well as around the home. It is antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsive and antidepressant. For cosmetic use, it is said to be an excellent beauty product, especially good for dry and normal skin. It's healing properties also make it good for treating acne and eczema. Lavender is very safe to use, so you can easily take advantage of these properties by adding a few drops of the essential oil to any beauty products you already have. Or you can grow lavender and make products from scratch!

And of course, it's also a great plant to have in the garden and attracts loads of insects - while out gathering mine I came across this lovely grasshopper:

And the bees were thronging around so much they couldn't even resist sipping at lavender nectar from the cut flowers in my basket!

Alchemilla is another great herb. Beautiful in the garden with it's lovely frothy, zesty coloured flowers and soft grey-green leaves.

Traditionally it is said to be wonderful for maintaining youthfulness. One of the ways it does this is by acting to protect newly formed elastin fibres in the skin, keeping it smooth and supple. It also soothes, cleanses and heals dry and sensitive skin. So as you might have guessed, I'll be using this lovely herb in creams for dry and mature skin.

The next stage is for me to dry my herbs out so they'll keep over the next year. Then I'll make them up into herbal infusions (basically a herbal tea) and into macerated oils (herbs soaked in natural oils for around 6 weeks before straining and using). These will then be mixed with other lovely, nourishing ingredients like shea butter and honey extracts and will become face creams, body butters and facial cleansers. Can't wait to get the first batches made up!


  1. Good luck with your new business. I like the sound of the Lady's Mantle cream.

  2. That sounds like such a wonderful venture, and you aeem to be planning for it very well. Best of luck!

  3. I've been following your blog for a long time, but I think this is my first post :D Best of luck with your business, it's never easy setting up on your own, but I'll be supporting you and the alchemilla products sound perfect for me :D

  4. Ooh, thanks guys! I'm rather excited about it all and will definitely keep you updated on how things are going. Test batches due out late summer/early autumn, so there are some lovely smells coming out of our kitchen at the moment while I experiment with my recipes!

  5. I never thought of Alchemilla as a herb. I would love to know more about how to use plants/herbs other than in cooking - where did you go on your courses?

    I think you are on to something. There is someone near us (Evesham)who makes handmade soaps etc and sells them on line. She seems to do OK

  6. I did my courses down in London with a company called Aromantic. But these courses focused more on the technicalities of making a cream/shampoo/lip balm and how best to combine the various oils/waxes and butters that make them up, rather than on the actual herbal aspect it. For that I have many books!

    Fantastic courses though, very interesting and wonderful to see how it all comes together to make your products.

    And I'm amazed at how many common and beautiful plants have these fantastic qualities for looking after skin tone. Means I'm going to get a really pretty understory to my forest garden!

  7. Exciting - I too know someone who wound up giving up his (well paid) job to help his wife out with her hand made soap business, it was going so well she needed the help and financially it made sense. I hope your new venture thrives. Am fascinated that Lady's Mantle is useful as well as beautiful.

  8. Wow, that's brilliant! Gosh wouldn't it be good if my creams take off like that. Will be giving it my best shot!

  9. I am VERY excited Nancy Rose! Samples this-a-way please!

  10. Ha ha! You're on the list! Ingredients arrived in the post today so I'll be cooking up some stuff early next week.



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