I know, we are almost out of the cold weather now that it is officially Spring, however, this is a recipe I use all year round, here in the dry desert. During the winter and cooler months, dry skin is a problem for pretty much everyone out there, but it can be even worse for those working in jobs where they are washing their hands frequently. If you are dealing with dry, cracked skin, then you are likely feeling the pain of trying to heal during the colder months! I have worked in the medical field for twenty years, having to wash my hands frequently all through my shifts, doing the dishes daily, and cleaning our home. All this wear and tear was taking a toll on my hands, so I decided to make a body butter, but I took it a step further and infused it with skin healing herbs to help heal my hands, while deeply moisturizing my skin. It turns out, this herbal infused body butter works so well, I use it for all our skin healing needs now.
Body Butters + Lotions
When your skin is really dry, cracked, and/or scaly, great moisture is needed. I prefer to use body butter over lotions and creams, because body butters are made of butters and oils, but contain no water in them. Water moisturizes to a small degree, but it sinks into the skin quickly. Oil, on the other hand, moisturizes to a much deeper level and takes longer to sink in, adding a layer of topical protection as well. Without any water in body butter, they tend to be on the greasy side, but once the oils have sunken in, your skin will feel a billion times softer than water-based lotions can provide. I usually am prepared for a small amount of time to let the oils sink in, and prefer to apply body butter in the evening before bed. That way I can apply it thickly and wake up in the morning with softened and renewed skin!
Herbs As Medicine
You can make this body butter without the herbal infusion and it will still deeply moisturize your skin, but adding in specific herbs can greatly boost the healing effectiveness of this butter! You can pick any of these herbs to use in your infusion. I like to use four different herbs, one tablespoon each, for this recipe, just to keep things equal, but you may do whatever you wish!
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) Flowers – One of my favorite herbs for skin healing and long been hailed for its ability to gently cleanse and heal wounds of all sorts, calendula is always featured in my healing body butter.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) Flowers – A natural anti-inflammatory, lightly smelling of sweet apples, chamomile is a very gentle herb that also has been known to help reduce scar tissue and heal wounds faster.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Flowers – Naturally analgesic (helps relieve pain) and soothing to the skin, lavender is a great choice for even the most sensitive skin.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) – Lemon Balm (or Melissa) is known for treating all sorts of skin conditions, including herpes, eczema, acne, and more. “There is a rich source of eugenol and tannins in this plant which helps to eliminate bacteria and provide antiviral effects. Topical ointments and creams of Lemon Balm extract speed the healing process of inflamed sores on the skin associated with cold sores, herpes viruses, chickenpox, and shingles.” (Gaby AR)
Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) - Naturally anti-inflammatory, licorice root has been known to help with all sorts of skin conditions including rosacea, psoriasis, and eczema. Licorice root has been known to be very effective at reducing redness and swelling.
Marshmallow Root (Althaea officinalis) - extremely moisturizing and anti-inflammatory, marshmallow root has been known to help soothe and heal everything from dry skin to psoriasis and eczema.
Oatstraw (Avena sativa) - the stem of the oat plant that you are used to eating for breakfast, oatmeal is well known for gently soothing and healing all sorts of rashes and skin conditions. Oatstraw has all the same healing properties and is great to help soften and smooth the skin.
Plantain Leaf (Plantago lanceolata) - A powerful vulnerary that heals wounds, cuts, and scratches, plantain is highly anti-inflammatory and great at keeping infection at bay.
Rose (Rosa damascena) Petals – There's a reason roses have been used throughout the centuries, in all sorts of natural beauty products including skin care. Roses have been hailed for their gentle ability to natural firm and tone the skin. They are naturally antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and contain a ton of antioxidants.
St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforata) – A natural analgesic as well as anti-inflammatory, SJW is also anti-infectious (antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic, antimicrobial) which makes it great at keeping wounds clean and from getting infected.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) – This herb is AMAZING when it comes to bleeding wounds. Used all over the world by native tribes, the Greeks, and even in Traditional Chinese Medicine for bleeding. This herb contains it all; anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, and even analgesic, yarrow is a herb that should not be left out when making your herbal infused body butter.
DIY Winter Herbal Body ButterIngredients:
1/4 cup skin healing herbs of your choice (for this batch, I chose to use 1 T. each: calendula flowers, marshmallow root, lavender buds, and oatstraw)
1/2 cup organic, unrefined Shea Butter
1/2 cup organic, unrefined Mango Butter (or another kind of butter, such as cocoa butter)
1/2 cup organic, raw, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (or another liquid carrier oil of choice)
1/2 cup organic Avocado Oil (or another carrier of choice)
2 Tablespoons organic Arrowroot powder (helps the oils from the body butter to sink into the skin faster, leaving a less greasy feeling. Can be substituted with cornstarch)
1 teaspoon Vitamin E oil (helps to moisturize skin and to keep the oils from going rancid longer)
30 drops Young Living Lavender essential oil
20 drops Young Living Orange essential oil
15 drops Young Living German (or Roman) Chamomile essential oil
In a double boiler (I like to use a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water) combine avocado oil and coconut oil with ¼ cup herbs of your choice. Bring double boiler to a boil, then turn down to a low simmer and let herbs steep for 1-2 hours over the low heat. Combine the butter(s) in the, cleaned out, double boiler and melt. Once melted, remove from heat and pour into a bowl to cool quickly in an ice bath (larger bowl underneath filled with ice and water to help the bowl above it cool quicker).
In a separate smaller container, combine herbal infused oils, Vitamin E, and arrowroot powder. It is easiest to combine the arrowroot powder into the oil with a fork. When it looks like the butter is halfway hardened, (there is still a small pool of liquid on top while the bottom and edges are hardening), pour in the liquid oil/arrowroot powder concoction and take out your electric hand mixer or emulsion blender. I usually use the whisk attachment on my electric hand mixer, and blend until there are no chunks of hardened butter left. This can not be done by hand, fyi. I usually take a spoon and chip away the bottom pieces first to make it easier to blend in the final result. Pour in essential oils and blend for a minute more to mix them in.
Spoon butter into the containers that you plan to store the butter in. I would recommend glass jars with a screw on or latching airtight lid.
**Note: If you added the liquid oils too soon and it is still not solid enough to pour into your containers, put the bowl of body butter mixture back into the ice bath for a minute or two more then blend with it there in the ice bath. The consistency of the butter will be more solidified into its true consistency, overnight.
Dab a small amount onto your fingers and apply generously to your to your whole body. Use as often as needed, wherever your skin needs extra moisture and healing. A little bit goes a LONG way! To deeply moisturize extremely dry hands and/or feet, before bed, slather on a layer of butter and cover hands with gloves and feet with socks. This also makes a wonderful, homemade gift! Enjoy! XO