Tips for making herbal ointments, herbal lotions, and herbal creams at home

Use herbal ointments, creams, and lotions to nourish the skin. Herbal skin products contain vegetable oils like almond oil, fats like cocoa butter, and other beneficial herbs and essential oils that nourish, heal, and protect the skin resulting in a more beautiful complexion.

Homemade herbal cream with kiwi
┬ę Magdalena ┼╗urawska | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Homemade herbal creams help moisturize, heal, and protect the skin.

Making herbal ointments, lotions, and creams

All three can be used to protect, heal, and moisturize the skin and they are easy to make at home. Ointments are used for everything from diaper rash and dry skin to sores and bug bites. Lotions and creams are thinner and contain water. They are used to cool, refresh, tone, and moisturize the skin. Herbal ointments, creams, and lotions are simple to make at home with everyday kitchen equipment. Ointments, lotions, and creams can be used on most parts of the body (except the eyes) depending on ingredients.

Simple herbal ointment recipe:

The best ointments contain beeswax and a good vegetable oil such as almond, grape seed, walnut, safflower, or olive oil. Ointments are easy to make. Take a couple of tablespoons of beeswax, cover with oil -- about 4 liquid ounces, and heat in small glass or stainless pan until wax is melted. Watch carefully and stir often to help wax melt and blend with the oil. Do not let it get so hot that the oil starts to smoke! Heat only until wax is melted. Once hot oil and wax are blended and slightly cooled, add five to ten drops of a favorite essential oil, stir gently, cover, and place in the refrigerator to set. Once cooled, the resulting solid will have the consistency of petroleum jelly. The more wax that is added, the harder the resulting ointment will be.

Larger quantities of ointment can be made in a double boiler. Add wax and oil and stir until blended. Add essential oils once mixture starts to cool.

Add benzoin or tea tree oil to inhibit mold growth.

Other ingredients such as cocoa butter, lanolin, or vitamin E may be added for extra strength. Tinctures may also be added to ointments. Add one drop of tincture of benzoin to guard against mold. Benzoin acts as a natural preservative. You can also add tea tree oil to stop mold from forming. Refrigeration also deters mold growth. All herbal products made with natural ingredients will mold over time due to their lack of chemical preservatives. Never use moldy, rancid, or off smelling products.

Other additions to herbal ointments and creams

When making ointments, lotions, and creams, use appropriate herbs or essential oils depending on condition to be treated. Try adding geranium essential oil , neroli essential oil , and frankincense essential oil to help promote new cell growth. Use lavender essential oil to speed healing in cases of abrasions. Add eucalyptus or tea tree essential oil for making herbal chest rubs to calm coughs and other lung problems. Add peppermint essential oil , eucalyptus essential oil , or wintergreen essential oil for chest congestion. Use ginger and fennel to stimulate circulation. Use rose essential oil for hormonal problems. Try rosemary essential oil and patchouli essential oil for arthritis pain. Try adding carrot oil for spider bites.

Herbal creams and lotions are water based.

Creams and lotions are like ointments but not as thick. They have added water and a thinner consistency since they do not contain wax. Water based mixtures are good for cooling and soothing irritated and inflamed skin. They usually require an emulsifier to help the water blend with the oil or fat. Borax is easy to use and helps to bond fats with water (but extended use of products containing borax will dry out skin). Lecithin is a natural emulsifier made from egg yolks and works well for some creams.

Easy herbal lotion recipe:

One easy recipe for herbal skin lotion includes rosewater, borage juice, witch hazel, and chickweed tincture. Apply with a cotton ball three times a day to improve the look of the skin.

Refrigerate herbal products for longer shelf life.

Homemade ointments, creams, and lotions will last for several weeks on a shelf in the bathroom. To lengthen shelf life, add benzoin tincture (available at most health food stores), tea tree oil, or keep in the refrigerator. All herbal products deteriorate faster than petroleum products whether preservatives are added or not.

Store herbal ointments, creams, and lotions in a tightly sealed container and keep in a cool, dark place.

The refrigerator is best. Discard if any mold appears. Don't let herbal lotions have time to go bad -- go ahead and treat yourself. Slather lotions on sore muscles. Apply to dry feet and elbows. Use after shaving and on wrinkles. Herbal ointments, creams, and lotions have many uses. See astringents and infused oils for more recipes and ways to use herbal products on the skin.

* Ointments, creams, and lotions are for external use only. Do not take internally. Herbs interact with other medicines so always consult with your healthcare provider before using any herbal remedy especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking other medicines. Do not use herbal lotions, creams, or ointments on deep wounds.

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Herb Articles by Janice Boling

"The only way to really learn about herbal medicine is to touch and smell herbs, taste them, use them daily, and grow them if possible. Herbal medicine is a way of life. It is not a quick fix." ... , herbalist, web designer, writer, photographer

"Ointment and Perfume Rejoice the Heart." Proverbs 27:9

Every Green Herb is a place to learn about medicinal herbs and essential oils. Visit my online store to buy wild harvested yellowroot, mullein, bee balm, and other herbal products at Payne Mountain Farms.

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