Nature knows that summer is going to bring with it a host of skin challenges: bug bites, heat rash, sunburn, mysterious itches, minor scrapes and more. To give us a weapon to deal with these complaints, springtime lays out an array of skin-healing plants.
Now’s the time to act while these plants are present, fresh, and potent.
I make a salve of a selection of the skin-healing herbs that grow wild in my yard, plus other, optional, garden herbs, by first infusing them in oil, straining the oil, then blending it with beeswax to get a soft, spreadable ointment.
It’s pretty effective. We use it for as our everyday, go-to skin solution.
One day my husband remarked, “What’d’ya think of that place on my face?” He was referring to an irregular, raised, mole-like ‘thing’ on his cheek, about the diameter of a pencil eraser, mostly hidden by his beard that he’d gone to the dermatologist about several weeks before because it was periodically bleeding and getting bigger.
I looked at the spot where I thought it was and couldn’t find it.
He’d started putting a tiny bit of the salve on it every day, as an afterthought, and it had gradually disappeared.
I mean completely disappeared. Not a trace of it was left. I was shocked.
Now, the dermatologist had said it wasn’t anything to worry about, or we would have gotten treatment. I’m not promising the salve is a cure for anything, just reporting one anecdote.
Besides this use, we also use it for mosquito bites, minor dermatitis, and little scrapes. It’s very soothing.
To make a similar salve, you may only have to walk around your yard. Some of the ingredients you may need to source elsewhere, or deliberately begin to grow in your garden.
I used the first 4 of these in the salve I made that seemed to have helped my husband, but am adding the last three to my latest salve:
Comfrey leaf and root
St. John’s Wort
Marsh Mallow root
After you pick your herbs, let them wilt on a dry towel or screen for about a day to reduce the overall moisture content.
Chop them up with a knife or in a food processor. Put the chopped herbs into a clean jar or jars. Leave at least an inch head space because the herbs will swell with the oil and the goal is to keep the herb material below the surface level of the oil to prevent spoilage.
Slowly heat up your oil of choice until nice and warm, just enough to cover the herbs. Olive, avocado, apricot kernel oil, hemp seed, and jojoba oil, etc. are all good. Look up individual oil properties and choose one based on your needs and budget.
Remove the oil from the heat and pour into the jars until just above the level of the herbs.
Screw on the caps and place the jars in a sunny window for 2-6 weeks. How long you infuse the oil will depend on your patience, the need for the oil, and how long it seems to take before the color of the oil seems to stabilize. Use your best judgment and gauge when the oil appears to have taken on as much of the constituents of the herbs as is practicable.
Strain with a fine sieve or cheesecloth.
You can use the oil as is, or for more ease of use make a salve using the following recipe:
6-7 oz. infused oil
1 oz. beeswax
Optional: 1/2 tsp. EACH tea tree essential oil and vitamin E oil
- Melt beeswax over a hot water bath.
Pour in the infused oil and stir until the two are completely combined. 6 oz. will yield a medium-soft salve. 7 oz. will yield a softer, creamier consistency.
Stir in the tea tree and vitamin E now if you are using them. Tea tree essential oil has anti-bacterial properties and vitamin E helps as a preservative, but the salve works fine without them.
Pour into clean jars and allow to cool before screwing on the lids.
I like to leave some of the infused oil without the beeswax added to use on the face. Beeswax causes blemishes in some people, myself included. I also prefer hemp seed oil for the face, too, because it’s a non-comedogenic oil.
If this recipe sounds familiar, it’s very similar to my recipe for Plantain-Infused Salve. You can see that recipe with photos of the process here.
For photos of the infused-oil-making process, see this post.