Friday, November 26, 2010

NE Women's Herbal Conference Part II: Kitchen Cosmetics, Herbal Skin Care, and an Herbal Shampoo!

Although this is much delayed continuation about my experience at the New England Women's Herbal Conference, I want to discuss one of the workshops that I attended.

There were many workshops at the New England Women's Herbal Conference that I enjoyed, but one that stood out to me in particular was Kitchen Cosmetics and Herbal Skin Care with Dina Falconi, author of Earthly Bodies & Heavenly Hair: Natural and Healthy Personal Care for Every Body, and founder of Falcon Formulations. At this workshop, we learned how to make body creams, salves, lip balms, facial scrubs, facial mists, deodorant, and more, all using natural ingredients! For example, salves and balms can be made just with oil (such as olive oil) and beeswax, and a basic cream is made with liquid oils, solid oils, beeswax, and water. Recipes for herbal body products are all covered in her book, as well.

I really enjoyed this workshop, and making your own personal care products is actually not hard at all! In addition, just like my food, I like knowing the ingredients that are going into my personal care products, because I will be using on my body. One major point that Falconi emphasized throughout the workshop was that many people today may over-wash. For instance, our bodies sweat for a reason, and we do need to be exposed to germs in order to develop resistance against them.

After attending this workshop, I was inspired to make some of my own herbal body care products. And, for my last weekend of my Herbal Apprenticeship at The Boston School of Herbal Studies in October, we were required to make an herbal product for everyone in the class, which was the perfect opportunity! I ended up making a variation of the basic shampoo recipe from Earthly Bodies & Heavenly Hair for everyone in my herbal class, and it turned out great. My hair has never been better, and there is no way that I will be purchasing commercial shampoo again. I have provided the Falconi's Basic Shampoo Formula below for your convenience, but as for her other recipes, you're just going to have to buy her book, which I highly recommend!

My first herbal shampoo batch

Basic Shampoo Formula(1)

  • 6-8 oz. herbal infusion of choice (for ex., 1 tsp. nettle leaf, 1 tsp comfrey root [cut], & 1 tsp basil infused in 8 oz water)
  • 3 oz. liquid castile soap
  • 1/4 tsp carrier oil of choice (ex. olive oil, almond oil, etc.)
  • Up to 60-70 drops essential oils of choice (ex. tea tree, lavender, rosemary)
  • Make herbal infusion with herbs and water, let steep for 4 hours and strain.
  • Pour strained infusion, liquid castile soap, carrier oil, and essential oils into a jar or squeeze bottle, cap and shake. It is ready for use. Always shake these shampoos before use. Makes about 9-11 oz. of shampoo.
  • If you don't use up the shampoo within a few weeks, refrigerate to prolong shelf life.
  • The amount [and types] of essential oil you will use will depend on the ones you choose and the effect you are trying to obtain. You can omit the carrier oil if your hair is very oily, or add more if your hair is very dry. Additional ingredients, such as aloe, tinctures, etc., may be added to this basic shampoo recipe to adapt it for various hair and scalp needs.
As a heads up, 9-11 oz. will last you a lot longer than a few weeks. And because homemade care products have shorter shelf lives than commercial products, you may consider cutting this recipe in half when you first try it, or plan to share it with others! In addition, tea tree essential oil is great to use in herbal products because it is one of the strongest essential oils in terms of its antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties, so it is a wonderful natural preservative. Finally, different essential oils, carrier oils, and herbs all have different properties, so it is great that this shampoo can be so customizable to address individuals' different hair types.

Speaking of essential oils, now that I have completed my Herbal Apprenticeship with The Boston School of Herbal Studies, I am very much enjoying the Aromatherapy certification course that I am currently taking, which is another course with The Boston School of Herbal Studies. The class meets one Saturday a month from November-February, and I am learning so much more from these hands-on courses through The Boston School of Herbal Studies than I could ever learn from a book or online! If you do want a book to get you started on aromatherapy, however, one recommendation is The Directory of Essential Oils by Wanda Sellar.

I hope that some of you will consider making your own kitchen cosmetics and herbal personal care products, and please ask me if you have any questions!

  1. Falconi, Dina. Earthly Bodies & Heavenly Hair: Natural and Healthy Personal Care for Every Body. Woodstock, New York: Ceres Press, 1998, p. 52.