Why spend a fortune on beauty when some of the best pampering treats are growing on your doorstep?
From rose and lavender in your garden to blackberries and nettles in the hedgerows, having access to the bounty of Mother Nature is like having your own personal spa at your disposal – and what’s more, it’s free! “Growing your own beauty products is not only good for your health, but also for your wallet,” says celebrity masseur Amanda Tizard (amandatizard.com), who makes her own massage blends for clients such as Jade Jagger. “Making your own infusions means you know exactly what you are putting on your skin and saves you spending unnecessarily.” Picking your own pampering treats is also a great way to reconnect with nature and tap in to the life force of the earth too. “Our ancestors didn’t have the choice of off-the-shelf beauty buys that are available to us, but I’d argue that there’s no better way to reinforce the idea that we truly are at one with the planet than by using some of these common flowers to make simple beauty products,” says Adele Nozedar, who runs professional foraging courses across the UK (breconbeaconsforaging.com) and is the author of bestselling books The Hedgerow Handbook and The Garden Forager. “We often tend to overlook many of the most common and useful garden plants that are incredibly easy to grow (or scrump from a neighbour).” So why not try our simple, pursefriendly recipes this summer? Give it a go – you’ll feel lovelier than ever.
As the quintessential English garden flower, the graceful rose has anti-inflammatory and rejuvenating properties. Try it in this refreshing tonic to spritz over your skin. “This works best with strongly-scented rose petals, picked on a sunny day,” says Adele. “You need a good couple of handfuls; I like to use rosa rugosa, since they’re often used in municipal planting and hedging so you can gather a decent supply very quickly.” Pack the petals into a jar with a screw-top lid, and cover with bottled (not tap) water. Leave in a sunny place for three days, then strain, preserving the water. Apply to your face using the tips of your fingers or a cotton wool ball. You’ll feel delightfully awake!
This herb grows everywhere in the summer, scenting the air with its heady fragrance. What’s more, it has fantastic skinboosting and nervesoothing properties. For a luxurious DIY spa treatment, throw a handful of lavender flowers into a warm bath along with a couple of cans of coconut milk – a gorgeous treat for your mind, body and soul!
“Rosemary deserves a place in every herb garden for its incredible medicinal uses,” says Amanda. “From its ability to enhance memory and prevent neuro-degeneration to decreasing muscle pain, arthritis and the stress hormone cortisol, it’s one I often gravitate towards.” Chamomile, meanwhile, can reduce inflammation, stimulate circulation and lower anxiety. To make your own pampering massage oil, pick a couple of handfuls of each herb and leave them in the sun to dry out the moisture. Pack them into a jam jar, then fill it to the top with an organic carrier oil such as sweet almond oil and leave for a week or so to infuse.
Fruits and flowers might rule the beauty roost, but don’t overlook the humble weeds either. If you want shiny lustrous locks, stinging nettles make a great strengthening tonic as they are rich in iron, magnesium and potassium. Simply grab a pair of sturdy gardening gloves and pick yourself a few handfuls to steep in hot water for a few minutes. Let it cool down and use it as the final rinse when you wash your hair.
They might be a seasonal staple served with fresh cream, but freshly picked raspberries – or indeed strawberries, blueberries or blackberries – are abundant at this time of year and have loads of beauty benefits. Packed full of radiance-boosting vitamins, they help to strengthen skin and keep wrinkles at bay. If you’re making a raspberry puree, take the seeds left in the sieve and whizz them up in a blender with half a cup of extravirgin olive oil and four cups of granulated sugar. Massage this fruity scrub into your body once a week to exfoliate your skin, leaving it silky soft.
If you have a garden or window box and want to grow veg, the tasty tomato is a great option as it’s a beauty powerhouse! Its cooling and astringent properties soothe sunburn and tighten large pores, while its natural acids regulate oily skin and clear acne. To make a cleansing face mask that will reduce redness and draw out excess oils, crush up a ripe fruit and apply the pulp to your skin. Leave for about 10 to 15 minutes before washing off.
Better known as calendula, this vibrant garden flower is renowned for its wound healing properties but is also great for moisturising and nourishing the skin. “It has been used for centuries as a soothing skin ointment and the petals smell gorgeous, richly fragrant and satisfyingly rounded,” says Adele. Just take a pot or tube of no-frills, organic hand cream and squeeze into a bowl. Add about a quarter of the volume of freshly shredded petals, stir thoroughly, and keep in the fridge to use as and when you need it.
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