Expert shares how to make skincare products from plants in your garden

Fancy creating your own bath bombs, soaps and other skincare favourites with botanicals from your own garden?

Gardener Tanya Anderson – founder of Lovely Greens and author of A Woman’s Garden: Grow Beautiful Plants And Make Useful Things – has shared some tips to skip the supermarket and make the most of what you might already have in stock.

She says: “We tend to think of botanicals as plant extracts that come pre-packaged, but the truth is that you can transform chamomile, roses, lavender, and even more exotic plants, into high-end skincare in the average kitchen.

“You don’t need a huge amount of space.

“You can grow plants in pots or window boxes, or even forage for plants such as chickweed.”

Anderson says useful plants to consider growing include:

  • Cucumber
  • Echinacea
  • Marsh-mallow
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Violet
  • Peppermint
  • Aloe

She says: “Different plants have different functions for your skin.

“Some promote healing, so if you have eczema or acne, it can help create regenerative tissue. Other plants have properties which make them humectant (which can draw moisture from the air).

“Some plants have natural tannins which help to tighten skin, so you can use them as toners. Witch hazel, for instance, has tannins in it. You use the extract in firming lotions and creams, while lady’s mantle also has tannins which helps to tighten skin as well.

“If you’re a beginner, I’d grow gentle plants which are also edible. Chamomile, for instance, is fantastic for regenerative skincare, as is calendula. They can both be used as edible flowers, in calming tea, or in skincare.”

To make herbal oils, you’ll need a carrier oil suitable for your skin type, Anderson adds.

She said: “My favourite carrier oil is sweet almond oil, which is popular when used in massage. Those on a budget might use extra virgin olive oil, if your skin isn’t too oily.

“Coconut oil is good for your skin but can cause breakouts if you use it on your face – but we all have different skin types, so it’s a matter of trial and error and research.”

Here are four products you can make at home:

How to make herbal oils

“To do this, steep dried plant material in a carrier oil and you’ll end up with a solution that may be coloured or scented, which will contain fat-soluble components from the plant”, Anderson says.

“The oil can be made by filling a jar halfway with dried plant material – such as calendula flowers – and then topping it up with a light carrier oil, such as sweet almond or grapeseed.

“Leave it for two to six weeks in a warm spot out of direct sunlight, strain through a sieve and the finished product can be used to make massage oil, salves, lotions and cleansers”.

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How to make rose petal facial mist

“This is an easy one. To make the rose petal skin toner, you make a glycerite (from vegetable glycerine, which you can buy, and distilled water) and infuse those rose petals into it”, she says.

“Add that to a rose tea infusion, made by putting rose petals into distilled scalding water and then turning off the heat, putting a lid on the pan and allowing them to steep for 20 minutes.

“Shake it all together in a spray bottle. It’s a very light astringent which smells lovely, and the vegetable glycerine helps to promote moisture.

“Use it any time, but make a small amount, because it doesn’t last very long. Keeping it in the fridge will help it last longer.”

How to make herbal bath bombs

“These are among the easiest things to make – and make great gifts”, Anderson says.

“You combine bicarbonate of soda with citric acid and Epsom salts and then meld them together with herb-infused oil with dried herbs in it. It’s very safe and you can make it with the kids.

“The fizzies have infused oil in them. The fizziness is just for fun but the oil will float to the surface of the bath water and when you get out of the bath, that layer of oil will coat your skin and help to condition it afterwards.”

How to make soap

“If you are going to make soap from scratch, it is home chemistry, but you can buy pre-made organic ‘melt and pour’ soap bases, which you can cut into cubes and microwave, and once it’s liquefied then you can add an infused oil and dried herbs afterwards”, she says.

“You have to work quickly, pour it into moulds and it will firm up.”

A Woman’s Garden: Grow Beautiful Plants And Make Useful Things by Tanya Anderson is published by Cool Springs Press, priced £18.99. Available now.

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