Have you ever taken a good look at your legs, feet, or hands lately? For many, your skin has been in hiding under flannel long johns or woolly socks and mittens for several weeks now. And upon close inspection, it’s not pretty.
In winter, your skin is under constant attack. Cold temperatures and icy winds outdoors, and the dry heat indoors can leave it scaly, dry and cracked (hello, snake skin!). But we have the perfect remedy: Olive oil and herbs come together in this soothing salve that you make at home, to lock in moisture, and rejuvenate and heal dry winter skin, that’s gentle enough to use anywhere on your body.
Although you can purchase infused herbal oils online, infusing your own allows you to select a single herb or tailor an herbal combination to suit your skin care needs. Transforming herbal oil into salve delivers a mess free application that you can carry easily in your pocket or purse.
Extra virgin olive oil, our favorite rich green oil derived from pressed ripe Mediterranean olives, is impressive not only for its culinary delights, but has long been revered as a wonderful moisturizer and skin softener. It promotes healthy skin and healing. This thick mineral- and vitamin-rich oil makes great body care products. It makes the perfect carrier oil for infusing herbs and making a beneficial skin salve, but you can use Macadamia nut oil as a substitute for olive oil, or in combination with it, in this infusion.
Herbs for Infusing and Making Skin Salve
These herbs are ideal for incorporating into an oil and soothing skin salve. Choose one or a combination of these:
Calendula flowers – very healing, great for sensitive skin
Chickweed – soothing, especially for irritated skin
Comfrey leaf/root – healing for many skin conditions
Lavender flowers – gentle, soothing, healing, great for various skin conditions and sensitive skin
Nettle leaf – heals various skin conditions
Parsley – soothing, healing for psoriasis and irritable skin conditions
Phase 1 – Infusing Herbs Into Olive Oil Using The Crockpot Method
1 cup of dried herbs (using a single herb or desired combination of herbs from list above)
2 cups of extra virgin olive oil (you can also use Macadamia nut oil, if desired)
Place dried herbs in a crockpot or an electric yogurt maker, and cover with olive oil. Add extra oil if necessary to ensure that the herbs are submerged in the oil. Heat the herbs on the lowest setting for one to five hours, until the oil takes on the scent and color of the herbs.
Turn off heat and allow the mixture to cool. Once cool, strain the herbs from the oil, using a cheesecloth-lined strainer, into a sterilized dark bottle to store.
Phase 2 – Transforming Infused Herbal Oil into Salve
8 ounces herbal infused oil (from Phase 1)
1 ounce beeswax 1
Vitamin E oil capsule
15 drops of fragrant essential oils, optional
Small glass or tin containers with lids
Place herb infused oil and beeswax in a double boiler and warm over low heat to melt the beeswax. Turn off the heat once the beeswax has melted. Open one vitamin E capsule and pour its contents into the pot. Add 15 drops of essential oil, if desired, and stir to combine.
Pour the salve into containers. Allow it to cool and solidify overnight.
To use: For best results apply the salve to damp skin after showering or after washing your hands to help retain moisture.
Notes on storage: Keep salve away from direct heat in a cool place to prevent re-melting.
Deborah Tukua is a natural living, healthy lifestyle writer and author of 7 non-fiction books, including Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. She has been a writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004.