Simple Gifts From The Garden

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Take Tender Care Of Skin & Hair

If family and friends complain of winter dry skin, take heart. You can quickly and easily create soothing skin and hair care products that make lovely, welcome gifts for the sufferers. Dry, over-heated air is the usual culprit, especially where heat is provided by forced air. However, those of us who keep gardening despite the weather can also develop chapped faces and hands as well as dry hair. Since our skin is our largest organ and the first line of defense against all manner of environmental challenges, it’s both wise and kind to keep it as healthy as possible.

Fortunately, our gardens and kitchens contain natural ingredients that can ease discomfort and help heal dried out hair and skin. These easily made body care items are pleasant to use and far better for our precious bodies than most commercial products, many of which contain actively harmful elements. (Isn’t that kind of amazing, really?). Package them in squeeze bottles or small canning jar with screw-on tops for ease of use (the tiny quarter- or half-cup ones are great for skin creams and conditioners). These are fun to make with kids as well, and make lovely gifts from a child to a relative or friend.

What’s In That Shampoo and Conditioner?

The distressing truth is that many common ingredients in shampoos and conditioners are genuinely harmful to our health. Since our skin is also our most absorbent organ, whatever we put on our skin and scalp is taken into the body very efficiently. Read a few labels closely (a horrifying experience, sadly) and you’ll quickly see the benefit and value of organic skin and hair care products.

If you still prefer to purchase hair care products rather than make your own, always read the label carefully. Choose products made only with organic ingredients and avoid products that contain known carcinogens such as sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), parabens, formaldehyde, and DEA, MEA or TEA, as well as hazardous materials such as polyethylene glycol.

Healing Kitchen Cupboard Ingredients

The good news is that some of the wholesome, healing ingredients in your pantry work equally well for food and body care. Virgin olive oil is not only anti-inflammatory and cholesterol lowering, it can also do wonders for your skin and hair. After soaking your feet in warm water, massage them with virgin olive oil, then slip on warm socks. Olive oil smoothes rough skin on hands and elbows and makes an enriching conditioner for dry hair.

Rich in antioxidants, virgin coconut oil is similarly healing for skin, melting quickly at body temperature to make a light, easily absorbed oil that can be used on your face and body. Rub some on your hands, then run your fingers through your hair to give it a healthy sheen and combat dryness. Virgin coconut oil can also be used in this paraben-free deodorant that can be lightly scented with essential oils.

Coconut Oil Deodorant

1/2 cup virgin coconut oil (solid)
1/3 cup organic tapioca starch
2 tablespoons baking soda
4-6 drop pure essential oil (optional)

Warm oil in a glass bowl over hot water until it melts, then stir in other ingredients until well blended. Pour into a small jar (I use half-cup canning jars), let cool and cover tightly. To use, lightly massage 1 teaspoonful into each armpit after bathing.

Super Natural Hair Care

Winter dry hair can feel stiff and look dull and brittle. To revitalize it, use this mild, castile-based shampoo and rinse hair well. Wet hair completely before adding shampoo, and rinse for several minutes after shampooing. Gently massage your scalp (fingertips only; no nails) as you wash and rinse your hair. This increases blood circulation and unclogs sebaceous glands, both of which improves hair health and appearance. Gently towel hair dry, then let air dry completely. Use an olive oil conditioner weekly until hair luster is restored, then monthly or as needed.

This super-soft shampoo does wonders for dry hair, eliminating dandruff and itchy scalps. It also adds body to thin hair and is especially helpful during and after chemo treatments.

Lovely Homemade Shampoo

1 cup liquid castile soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s)
1 tablespoon organic cider vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup water

Combine in a bottle with a flip-top or squirt nozzle. Shake gently, apply 1-2 teaspoons to wet hair and work in well; mixture will be rich and very lathery. Rinse thoroughly while massaging scalp. Hair will not be “squeaky clean” because the natural oils will not be stripped out (so you may not need to use conditioner as often). Don’t worry; when toweled dry, hair feels soft and is not at all sticky.

Rosemary & Lavender Shampoo

1/3 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons dried lavender blossoms
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary sprigs
1 cup liquid castile soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s)
1 tablespoon organic cider vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Pour boiling water into a glass bowl with herbs and steep, covered with a plate, until cool. Strain liquid, adding water if needed to make 1/3 cup, and proceed as above.

Olive Oil and Honey Conditioner

2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey

Combine ingredients in a glass bowl and warm gently over hot water, stirring well to blend. Work into through damp hair, gently massaging your scalp. Wrap your head with a hot (old) towel or wear a shower cap  while you relax or take a bath for 20-30 minutes. Wash with gentle shampoo and rinse well.

Olive Oil Conditioner With Lavender and Rosemary

2 tablespoons rosemary, snipped
2 tablespoons lavender (fresh or dried)
1 cup virgin olive oil

In a saucepan, combine rosemary and lavender with 1/2 cup water, bring to a boil, remove from heat and steep for 15-30 minutes. Strain liquid, pressing herbs firmly, combine in a food processor or blender with olive oil and blend well. To use, shake mixture well, then put 1/4 cup of it in a glass bowl over hot water and warm to wrist temperature. Comb through damp hair, wrap head with a hot (old) towel or shower cap and relax for 20-30 minutes. Shampoo hair with gentle shampoo and rinse well.

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