Words: Marlene Adelmann
This article was originally featured in Willow and Sage Spring 2019
We needn’t look any further than the tip of our nose or fingers to be astonished by our human bodies — the enormous complexities, beauty, wonder, and mystery. When we care for one part, we care for all of it. From the tops of our heads to the soles of our feet, we are unique human beings who require and deserve the best care. Every single inch provides an opportunity to create health and wellness, and our digits are no exception. Have you ever injured a finger or stubbed a toe? It makes everyday life a real challenge. These injuries serve to remind us how essential each part is and the importance in taking care of ourselves, including our skin.
Skin is our shield from external elements and one of the ways our bodies protect us from infectious invasions. The skin is also a messenger and a receiver. As a messenger, skin is a poor secret keeper. Our heritage, lifestyle, likes, dislikes, and perhaps even how we are feeling is clear for all to see. As a receiver, our skin can absorb information and constituents from that which it directly contacts. This information is then relayed back to operations inside our bodies. Every system, from our lungs to our kidneys, gets in on the action — processing and handling has begun. When herbalists do something beneficial for our skin, we do something positive for our whole body.
Using natural skincare products made from plants can be safe, effective, and inexpensive. These products are nourishing from skin to soul. In my opinion, herbalists are some of the luckiest people on the planet. We work with nature on an intimate level, studying the properties and uses of plants as we become familiar with their distinct personalities and what each has to offer regarding our wellbeing and that of the natural world. We are preservationists and conservationists. In a symbiotic relationship, we care for the plants and they care for us. A wonderful part of what we do is using our knowledge of the plant’s constituents and actions to make healthy products.
The following recipes harness the supportive benefits of plants and make a home manicure and pedicure a delight — a delight in the gathering and preparing of the recipes; in the partaking; in the results; and in the memory of your body, mind, and soul. The recipes are gentle yet powerful enough to use on both hands and feet. I will demonstrate the steps as a pedicure, but they can also be used as a manicure. Remember to express gratitude to your hard-working hands and feet as you work with these recipes and methods. Let those perfectly cared-for hands be creative and supportive, and may they hold others; allow those faithful feet to carry, walk, run, tiptoe, and dance you through life.
– 4 cups water
– 1 TB. fresh/dried lavender buds
– 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, aerial parts
– 1 TB. fresh lemon zest
– 4 drops eucalyptus essential oil
– 1 TB. sweet almond oil
– ¼ cup Epsom salts
– Fresh flowers & sliced citrus
– Fruit (optional)
Heat water in a pot on the stovetop until a low simmer begins, and remove from heat. Add lavender, rosemary, and lemon zest to pot. Cover with a lid and let steep for 10–15 minutes. Strain the herbal-infused water and set aside. Combine the eucalyptus essential oil with the sweet almond oil and mix into the Epsom salts. Add this mixture to the herbal-infused water. Pour the soak into a basin or bathtub. Use fresh flowers and citrus to adorn the basin and make the soak luxurious and decadent.
To soak, find a comfy seat or perch on the bath to soak your feet in the herbal mixture for 10–15 minutes. The warm water and herbs will help soften your feet and nails, making it easier to trim your nails. After soaking, pat your feet dry with a towel, and trim and file your nails following the rounded shape of the nail bed.
– 1 cup Epsom/sea salt
– ½ cup pink Himalayan salt
– Ceramic/Glass bowl: medium
– 2 TB. lavender buds
– 2 TB. rose petals
– 3 drops lavender essential oil
– 3 drops rose essential oil
– ½ cup grapeseed oil
Pour salts into a medium ceramic or glass bowl. Stir in the lavender buds and rose petals. Add the lavender and rose essential oils to the grapeseed oil. Combine the salts and flowers with the oils, and stir to mix. To use, dip your fingers into the foot scrub to extract a dollop of grainy, aromatic scrub. Gently massage each part of your foot, working the scrub into the skin using circular motions. With a silky layer of scrub covering each foot, wrap with a warm, damp towel and leave on for 10 minutes. Allow your feet to absorb the nourishment from minerals, oils, and herbal properties. Rinse your feet with warm water and pat dry.
– ¼ cup organic sweet almond oil
– 2 TB. argan oil
– Glass dropper bottle
– 3 drops geranium essential oil
– 4 drops rose essential oil
– 2 drops lavender essential oil
– Cuticle stick
Using a funnel, add the organic sweet almond oil and argan oil to a glass dropper bottle. Add the essential oils to the carrier oil in the glass bottle. Place the dropper on the bottle and shake to combine. Since clipping cuticles may cause infection, use a cuticle stick to gently push the cuticles back from the face of the nail. Gently rub a drop or two of the nourishing cuticle oil on the cuticles and nail bed.
– ¼ cup shea butter
– ¼ cup coconut oil
– 2 TB. argan oil
– 5 TB. beeswax pastilles/chopped
– Double boiler
– 5 drops peppermint essential oil
– 5 drops lemon essential oil
– 2 drops vitamin E oil
Add shea butter, coconut oil, argan oil, and beeswax to a double boiler or fashion a glass bowl over the top of a pan with approximately 4–5 inches of water. Heat the mixture over medium heat and stir until melted. Set aside and let cool to room temperature. When the mixture has cooled, use a hand-mixer to blend the oils. Add the essential oils and vitamin E oil, and continue to mix until well blended. Use immediately and store the remaining lotion in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to four months. To use, apply the salve to heels and any dry, coarse skin. Be sure to put on a pair of socks or gloves to help the feet and hands soak up all the goodness.
Life is full of choices and making the right ones can be difficult when it might have an impact on our time and wallets. It is a whole lot easier to jump in the car and head to the nearest nail salon, but in doing that we miss out on the adventure and the ritual of caring for ourselves. It is on our way to something else that we always find the unexpected. Explore what you may have growing near you or find a reputable supplier of herbs and oils, and give these recipes a try — your body will thank you!
Marlene Adelmann, herbalist and founder of the Herbal Academy, has brought the wild and wonderful world of herbalism to over 40,000 students across the globe through the school’s online educational programs. Learn more about the courses offered at the Herbal Academy and discover free herbal articles and recipes for your enjoyment by visiting the school’s website at theherbalacademy.com.