The Herbal Bath and Body Book

Create Custom, Natural Products for Your Hair and Skin

dried flowers - 12815When it comes to personal care products such as creams, lotions, shampoos, body wash, and even toothpaste, it can be a dangerous world out there. Some companies in the cosmetics industry use toxic chemicals, many of which are linked to cancer, infertility, or birth defects. It takes a savvy consumer with excellent vision to read the small print on an ingredient list, and a sound knowledge of the chemicals used to recognize when a cosmetic product may potentially damage your health. Phthalates (an endocrine- disrupting chemical), triclosan (a chemical classified as a pesticide), and parabens (an antifungal agent linked to cancer) are just a few of the chemicals that have a bad reputation but are still commonly used in hair and skin products.

You can do right by your body and learn a new skill by making your own bath products. In The Herbal Bath & Body Book: Create Custom Natural Products for Hair and Skin written by Heather Lee Houdek, you’ll find recipes for a bevy of goods including shampoos and conditioners for different hair types (dry, oily, dandruff), face creams, body creams, and salves and balms for cuts, scrapes, and burns. The natural ingredients are readily available and can usually be found at local health-food stores and Whole Foods Market. The recipes are clearly written and easy to create to boot. Once the ingredients are assembled, each recipe takes around ten to fifteen minutes to make (not including time to cool, during which you can be otherwise engaged).
This book is more than just recipes, though. Houdek writes about her top-twenty favorite herbs, describing their benefits. Number one on her list is lavender. Along with its natural antibacterial properties, lavender soothes nerves, helps with headaches, and is excellent for many types of skin problems, she writes. Black walnut hulls are antiviral and antifungal, great in skin, hair, and scalp treatments. Borage flowers and leaves restore moisture and smoothness to dry and damaged skin. Borage is also beneficial as a wound healer and for treating acute skin eruptions and rashes. The dried flowers will tint your bath water purple-blue and make a relaxing soak that’s healing to the skin.
The chapter on essential additives covers types of oils and their benefits, preservatives such as honey, different kinds of salts and clays, alcohols, and essential oils. A helpful sidebar suggests substitutions you can make for expensive or hard-to-find ingredients along with ideas of buying in bulk to save money. Houdek also devotes a few pages to making herbal oils, infusions, and tinctures.
The Herbal Bath & Body Book concludes with ideas for packaging the various products, including gift baskets. One of Houdek’s suggestions is a “Luxurious Locks” gift basket filled with homemade shampoo, dried herbs for an herbal hair rinse along with directions for use, conditioning oil treatment, saltwater hair volumizer, and an optional lemon-coconut hair lightener. You’ll find the recipes for each of the recommended gift-basket products in the book.
“Many people make the mistake of assuming that shampoos, salves, and lotions are too difficult and specialized to create at home,” writes Houdek. “This is not the case!” The author set out to inspire and empower her readers to both try the recipes and to encourage a deeper connection with healing plants. She succeeds.

Emollient Body Butter
This body butter recipe from The Herbal Bath & Body Book is great for extremely dry skin, and can help with conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. You’ll find it to be a boon during the dry winter months.

½ cup cocoa buttersalve - 7814
½ cup coconut oil
pot or saucepan
4 tablespoons aloe vera gel
1 tablespoon shea butter
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1 tablespoon jojoba oil
¼ teaspoon vitamin E liquid in capsule form
25 drops essential oil (try lavender or a citrus oil)
wide-mouth jar with lid

Melt the cocoa butter and coconut oil over very low heat in a clean pot, stirring
occasionally until they’re completely melted.

Stir in the remaining ingredients except the essential oil.

Remove the pot from the heat, add the essential oil, then use an electric mixer or blender to thoroughly combine and emulsify the ingredients.

Transfer the body butter to the jar. It will thicken and solidify in the coming days.

Tip: The body butter works best when used right after a bath or shower on moist skin. It will seal in the moisture.

WRITTEN BY CATRIONA TUDOR ERLER

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