A month or so ago, when my lavender was blooming like crazy, I cut and dried several bunches. At the time, I thought only about its beautiful scent and color. Preserving it for some yet to be defined use was all that was important, a way of holding onto its beauty a little longer.
Inspiration didn’t take long to follow. On vacation in Vermont, at times I felt surrounded by red clover, healthier and brighter than I ever remember seeing closer to home. I looked it up in an herbal reference I’d packed along, and learned that red clover, as well as lavender, are healing for skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. A natural skin treatment (that also smells heavenly) was certainly worth a try. Picking red clover here and there on walks around Craftsbury, and drying it on a warm window sill, was yet another fun vacation activity.
Olive oil is a nice oil for skin salves, as are almond, jojoba and several others, but I chose apricot kernel oil, because I’ve been using it on my skin for a few years with good results. I learned a long time ago to read labels (or ingredient lists on the internet) of some of those very expensive natural skincare products that never seem practical to buy, or to buy more than once. Some ingredients are commonly available and a lot less expensive than these products. Using a good quality oil, with a few drops of healing essential oils specific to your skin type, costs all of $10 every few months. If something that simple works, why pay $75 or more for a high-end product?
I love apricot kernel oil’s light feel, its very light scent and its healing properties. It is rich in oleic and linoleic acids (two essential fatty acids) and both vitamins A and C. It absorbs easily and quickly. As an added bonus, it calms the inflammation of eczema. Apricot kernel oil is particularly helpful for aging or dried skin and is easily available in health food stores.
Infused oils are so easy to prepare. Just pack jars with dried plant material, in this case lavender and clover. Add oil, filling the jars to the very top and store in a warm place for a few days, preferably at a temperature over 100 degrees F. The inside of my car, for two or three hot days in a row, was the perfect place. Straining, first through a sieve, and then squeezing through cheesecloth, was quick (and smelled great).
Making a skin salve, using infused oil and beeswax, is a simple kitchen process. It would be fine to use the oils directly on the skin, but a salve is more portable, and a little neater to apply. Round metal tins or tiny glass jars are easily available at most healthfood stores. The whole process took less than a half hour.
Red Clover and Lavender Skin Salve
- 1/2 cup infused red clover oil
- 1/2 cup infused lavender oil
- 1 to 2 ounces of beeswax
Warm the oil in a small saucepan over very low heat. Add beeswax, stirring to dissolve. The more beeswax you add, the harder the salve will be when it cools. For my batch of salve, I probably ended up using about 1.75 ounces; it’s best to start with less, test it, and add more if needed. Pour the mixture into tins and cool.
Interestingly, I became the first test subject of this experiment after dribbling a bit while I strained both infused oils. Not wanting to waste the oil, I rubbed it onto my arm and hand, where I had several dry patches, the worst of which I’d just learned were eczema. The patches, which had been there for a few months, are gone now, just one week later.
I look forward to sharing my salve with friends and family who are open to a fragrant, natural treatment for their skin conditions.
What other secrets are the plants all around us waiting to share?