As winter dampness settles in, the changing season alters the way people take care of their skin. Indoor heat can be drying, as furnaces and heaters take humidity from the air. Indoor air can be stuffy too, and the cold dampness chills to the bone.
Go back to the garden with herbal remedies to help nourish winter skin and chase away winter blues. Gentle homemade products will help heal, hydrate and soothe dry and irritated skin. Warm baths, teas and foot baths will help after a day outside and a cold that you can’t shake off.
What is it about herbs that affects you so positively when you incorporate them into your winter skin rituals? On one level, the subtle essences of the plants grasp your brain functions, producing feelings of relaxation and stimulation of overall wellbeing. On another level, you experience the healing properties of the herbs themselves when they are applied directly to the skin.
Harvesting and using herbs in the winter is different from the peak of summer growing. Outdoors, in the garden, some herbs are still available through colder months of the year. Rosemary is an evergreen herb, and in mild winters, mint and parsley should still be leafy and harvestable.
Indoor windowsill gardens with potted thyme, spearmint, scented rose geraniums and aloe vera will keep a fresh batch of herbs ready to pick all winter long. Additionally, the use of essential oils enhances healing qualities and offers herbs that are not available in the winter garden, such as lavender and eucalyptus.
Try these natural recipes using herbs and essential oils.
When herbs are subjected to heat, they release their essential oils. In that essence are all the aromatic healing qualities you know and love. Imagine the end of a long day, when rainy or cold weather feels like it has settled into every fiber of your body. You want to go home, relax and chase away the chill. These recipes help you create your own steam spa with a soothing cloud of fragrant herbs to surround you.
Indoor Room Sprays
Sometimes, after a bout of illness goes through your household, you want to throw open the doors and windows and refresh everything. Winter weather doesn’t always allow you to do that, so here is a natural remedy to bring herbal fragrances indoors.
Homemade herb sprays not only add cleaning fragrance to the air, but the minuscule scent molecules enter your skin and bloodstream to share the therapeutic qualities of the herb used. Some, like peppermint and rosemary, are energizing; while others, like lavender and roses, calm and soothe.
Mild antibacterial and antiviral properties are also a side note to some oils, like thyme and rosemary, adding a cleansing touch inside the home in winter months. The true essence of herbs is captured in essential oils; most gardeners do not make their essential oils but purchase them from reputable sources.
Use for a mini spa moment after winter weather traps feet inside woolly socks all day.
- 3/4 cup organic cornmeal
- 1 overflowing tablespoon of fresh rosemary leaves
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1/4 cup rosemary-infused water
- 2 to 3 drops of rosemary essential oil (if desired)
Brew rosemary infusion by bringing 1 cup of water to a boil in a glass saucepan. Remove the pan from heat and add a handful of young, tender springs or about 1/4 cup of fresh rosemary leaves. Cover and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Remove and discard the leaves from the water by filtering through cheesecloth.
In a small, nonmetal bowl, add cornmeal and coconut oil. Pour rosemary infusion over the cornmeal mix until it has the texture of a smooth paste. Add fresh rosemary leaves and essential oil. Stir until well mixed.
Cucumber Aloe Vera Poultice
The common vegetable cucumber is a super skin healer. Combined with aloe vera, it becomes an amazing treatment. Use on dry, irritated skin to relieve itching and redness.
- 1 fresh aloe vera leaf
- 1 cucumber, organically grown
Peel skin off the cucumber, split lengthwise and remove seeds. Crush or blend until it becomes thick and pulpy. Split the leaf of an aloe vera and scrape the clear sap out with a spoon. Add the sap to the cucumber mush.
Ginger Rosemary Bath Steam
Thinly slice about 2 tablespoons of fresh ginger, combine with 1 cup of fresh rosemary leaves (stripped from the stems) and place in a muslin bag to hang in the shower or float loose in bathwater.
Easy aromatics for showering. Useful to help clear your head and stuffy sinus’ in cold weather.
- 1 cup baking soda
- 1/3 cup citric acid
- 10 drops peppermint oil
- 10 drops eucalyptus oil
- About 1/2 cup of a dried mix of lavender buds and mint leaves
Combine baking soda, citric acid, and dried herbs until well mixed. Add oil drops and stir until all ingredients are well blended.
Scatter drops of water across the dried mix, starting with 5 at a time. Toss gently until the mixture begins to stick together. Press into molds to shape. You don’t want them sloppy wet; use just enough water to help bind the ingredients together.
Allow the “bombs” to dry overnight. Store in a glass jar.
To use: Toss one of the bombs on the shower floor or a shelf where water will hit it and begin to fizz and release the aroma into the steamy heat.
- 1/2 cup purified water
- 12 drops rosemary essential oil
- 8 drops of lemon essential oil
Goodbye Stuffiness Mist
- 1/2 cup purified water
- 10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
- 8 drops peppermint essential oil
- 6 drops lemon essential oil
Soothing and Relaxing Mist
- 1/2 cup purified water
- 16 drops essential oil of lavender
- 8 drops rose geranium essential oil
In a sterilized glass jar with a mister lid, add water. Carefully drop the oils in and shake to blend. Shake vigorously before use to combine the oils and water.
Keep away from directly spraying in nose and eyes. Use caution around pets, as their nose and eyes can be very sensitive to the fine mists.
Winter Herb Bundles
Bundle 3 fresh-cut rosemary branches (approximately 10 to 12 inches long) and 3 fresh-cut peppermint stems together. Float in bath water or hang on the showerhead.
Disclaimer: The recipes are intended for personal use and not to diagnose a medical condition. All information is researched for safe ingredients and is used for topical preparation only. All herbal information is sourced from reputable research and the author's personal experience and is regarded as safe. Not all claims are approved or advised for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Always use any ingredient — even in its raw, natural state — with caution on sensitive and allergy-prone individuals, babies and those with medical conditions. The recommendations are not intended for use by pregnant or nursing women.