Payne Mountain Farms
Buy dried yellowroot and other wild herbs at Payne Mountain Farms.

Herbal scrubs for the bath and shower

Resorts and day spas usually offer many luxuries including soothing massages, aromatherapy baths, and salt scrubs. Tired skin is rejuvenated and busy minds are calmed during the process. For just a fraction of the cost, many of the same results can be obtained at home.

Herbal scrubs are easy to make and require only a few ingredients. Purchase a pound of natural sea salt, a good cold-pressed vegetable or nut oil, and any favorite essential oil at a natural foods store. Lavender essential oil is always a good choice for any skin preparation. Ylang-ylang, lemon balm, or rose oil would also be excellent additions.

The recipe is simple. Measure about a cup of salt and pour into a wide-mouth jar (or bowl) leaving 2 inches head-space. Pour the oil over salt until covered. Add 5 to 10 drops of essential oil and stir with wooden spoon. Use in the shower with a gentle circular motion. Go easy, you don't want to be left with abrasions. Rinse and towel dry.

Another salt scrub recipe for the shower uses equal measures of sea salt and Epsom salts, almond oil to cover, 6 drops of lavender oil, 6 drops of patchouli oil, and 3 drops of orange oil. Herbal scrubs stimulate circulation and remove dead skin cells. They leave the skin glowing and soft.

A mix of ordinary cooking ingredients can produce a wonderful scrub. Add a quarter cup of powdered ginger root, one-half cup of ordinary table salt, and the juice of two limes to one-half cup of warm olive oil. Use this gritty paste to exfoliate feet, elbows, and other rough places. The ginger root will leave skin tingling and smooth.

Here's a scrub that is suitable for outdoor showers only (there's a possibility of stopping up the drain). Grind 1 cup of oats into a fine powder. Put in a bowl and add one-fourth cup of ground poppy seeds or almonds. Add a cup of fine cosmetic clay. Add one-fourth cup of dried herbs such as lavender, rose petals, calendula, comfrey, or chamomile, in any combination. Mix well and store in a large wide-mouth jar with a tight fitting lid (keeps for up to six months in the refrigerator). Use scrub on face and body with gentle circular motions.

The choice of essential oils in a scrub can be based on scent or skin type. Chamomile, lavender, carrot seed, and ylang-ylang essential oils are good for moisturizing fine wrinkles. Dry skin can benefit from geranium, frankincense, lavender, and sandalwood. Teenage acne calls for lemon grass, lavender, lemon thyme, tea tree, or sage. Sensitive skin will soak up chamomile or rose oil without causing any irritation.

Essential oils have a vast array of scents ranging from intensely floral to sharply antiseptic. Rose, ylang-ylang, jasmine, gardenia, and neroli essential oils have the intoxicating fragrance of exotic flowers. Rosemary, tea tree, eucalyptus, and sage essential oils have a clean, yet almost medicinal smell. If possible, experiment with individual oils before using blends. Each person's system is unique and reactions to different oils can be surprising.

* Always use common sense when preparing herbal beauty products for home use. Discontinue use if irritation develops.