We asked Trisha Shirey, the director of Flora and Fauna at Lake Austin Spa Resort in Texas, to share a bouquet of her favorite herbs for homemade spa treatments. Here are her fragrant picks.
Bay leaves are stimulating and soothing.
Calendula flowers are soothing for dry skin.
Chamomile flowers contain a natural anti-inflammatory ingredient called azulene. It calms and soothes itchy, irritated skin. A good addition for a child’s bath.
Ginger root may be grated using a Microplane grater and added to baths to stimulate skin, increase blood flow, and energize the body. It also can be added to coconut oil for a stimulating and mildly exfoliating skin scrub. Ginger tones and softens the skin.
Horsetail or Equisetum is a mineral-rich astringent. Good for skin toning and improving hair and nails.
Lavender is antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory and healing for the skin. It relaxes you, calms nerves, and aids in getting a good night’s sleep.
Lemon balm is cleansing and sedating.
Marjoram is a decongestant and is invigorating. It aids with muscle pain and strains.
Rosemary is stimulating and refreshing to add to baths and hair rinses. A good choice for baths for sore muscles.
Rose petals from your organically grown roses add a nice fragrance to any bath or body treatment.
Sage is antiseptic and astringent and deeply cleansing for the skin. It is especially good for oily skin.
Spearmint and peppermint are cooling, anti-inflammatory, and very refreshing. They contain menthol, which stimulates blood flow. Peppermint is stimulating and invigorating.
“This is a great syrup for spasmodic coughs or to lift the spirits,” says its creator, Jane Hawley Stevens of Four Elements Organic Herbals, who also warns, “Violets can cause apoplexy, although some use the flower for this reason!” To make your own violet syrup, in a small pan over medium heat, mix 1 cup sugar with 1 cup water. Simmer to dissolve, turn off heat, and immediately add 1 cup fresh-picked violets; let sit for 1 hour to overnight. Strain violets, then bottle, and label and date.
Make-at-Home Recipes, Fresh from the Garden into your Bath
Pick your own herbs right out of your garden, or purchase them at your local co-op or grocery store and start experimenting! There are numerous ways to enjoy the healing power of herbs in your everyday health and beauty rituals. We’ve gathered a handful of easy at-home recipes from the pros to inspire you, beginning with these four wonderful bath recipes created by Trisha Shirey, director of Flora and Fauna at Lake Austin Spa.
Basic Bath Infusion
4 cups fresh herbs, or
2 cups dried herbs of choice
1 quart boiling water
Add herbs to boiling water. Stir, cover, and remove from heat. Allow to steep for 10 minutes, strain, and add to bath.
Sore Muscle Bath Blend
2 cups fresh rosemary
½ cup fresh sage
½ cup fresh eucalyptus leaves
½ cup fresh bay leaves
2 TBL allspice berries
1 cup fresh peppermint
1 cup fresh comfrey, chopped
1 TBL whole cloves
One 4-inch piece of ginger root, cut into quarter-inch slices
Prepare according to Basic Bath Infusion directions. Add 2 cups of Epsom salt, 1 cup cider vinegar, and ½ cup of bentonite clay to the bath water when adding the herb tea. Stir well and soak for at least 20 minutes. Rinse skin with clear water after the bath.
Sample Bath Bag Blend
¼ cup powdered milk
¼ cup Epsom salt
½ cup dried herbs of choice
¼ cup of sugar
10 drops of essential oils of choice
Stir together and place in a muslin bag (four-by-six-inch muslin bath bags are available from Elements Bath and Body, elementsbathandbody.com), or in several layers of cheesecloth secured with a rubber band. Add to the tub, and add hot water to steep the bath tea bag for several minutes before enjoying your bath. Use the softened herb bag to gently exfoliate the body. The entire bag may be added to your compost pile after use. Seal unused bath bags in a glass jar for up to several months, if desired.
Skin Softening Bath Blend
Grind these ingredients in a food processor until coarsely processed:
¼ cup oatmeal (rolled or minute type)
¼ cup milk powder
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup herbs of choice
10–15 drops essential oils of choice
2 TBL honey
2 tsp body oil of choice
Combine and add to a bath bag. Steep for a few minutes, covered in hot water in the tub. Add remaining water to bath and enjoy. Use cold tea bags (green tea or chamomile) over your eyes as you enjoy your bath. (Do not store bath bags if using oils or honey in them.)
Strawberry Seed Body Scrub
This delicious natural scrub comes from Yael Alkalay, creator of Red Flower.
½ cup baking soda
¼ cup distilled water
Stir until blended. Add:
1 cup brown sugar
5 well-mashed strawberries
1/3 cup olive oil.
Stir until smooth. To thicken, add raw oatmeal until texture is rich and firm.