By Beth Schreibman Gehring
It’s midwinter, and many of us are stuck inside due to cold weather. To beat the winter blues and celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, why not treat yourself to a homemade herbal spa day? A day spent like this is a perfect opportunity to connect with yourself and bring the beauty of nature inside.
Herbal spa days are an easy and romantic way to soften your dry, parched winter skin using ingredients such as rose petals, essential oils, jasmine, and coconut oil. They can help you create lotions, potions, and body butters that are not only good for your skin, but also have a relaxing and rejuvenating effect on your body, mind, and soul.
To begin, gather all the ingredients you will need for your homemade herbal spa day. I’m including some of my favorite recipes here, or you can find recipes for body butters, lotions, and potions online, and use them to create your own unique blends. Some popular essential oils for skin care include lavender, rose, geranium, and jasmine. You can also add dried flowers, such as rose petals or jasmine blossoms, to your blends for an extra special touch.
I always tell my clients that if you can eat it…you can generally put it on your body. For the most part, this is very safe advice, but always be on the alert for any kind of allergic response to any ingredient you choose.
Here are some of my favorite ingredients for home-crafted body care lotions and potions:
I love to use raw honey, because it’s naturally antibacterial, full of antioxidants, moisturizing, and very soothing. So, it’s great for calming broken out and parched skin, giving your complexion a needed lift. Its inclusion in any recipe really helps create a glow. Combined with ingredients like ghee, avocado, and green clay, raw honey makes a wonderful face and hair masque.
I am never without sterile French green clay, because it’s a wonderful base for any face or body masque; it’s like a mini mud bath you can use at home! I’ll often mix green clay with olive oil and a gentle essential oil, like rose oil, to make a simple face masque that I pat on, leave for 15 minutes, and then wash off.
Himalayan salt is another great ingredient for nourishing my skin–it’s like Epsom salts, only better, when used in a bath. The salt eases everyday aches and pains, and it’s also my favorite salt to use in homemade salt scrubs.
Ghee–or clarified butter–is a terrific moisturizer for skin and hair. In my observation, ghee seems to bring a soft glow to the skin that most other oils don’t. It also doesn’t smell odd when you use it the way that regular butter would, making it a wonderful base ingredient for infusing essential oils and fragrant petals for skin softening treats.
To make my favorite body butter, take one cup of ghee and scoop it into a small bowl. Add six drops of rose essential oil, six drops of jasmine essential oil, and three drops of holy basil essential oil. Beat this together with a fork until incorporated. Use as you would any body butter. I particularly love this blend, because it is so very good for your vitality, mood, AND your skin.
If you are lucky enough to have a blooming jasmine plant, pick the fragrant blossoms and mix them gently into the butter, then place the container in a warm (not hot) place. After a few days, pick them out. You will have what is known as jasmine enfleurage. Enfleurage is the perfumer’s art of creating scent by having fragrant flowers release their oils into fat.
Full of fatty acids, coconut oil is another one of my favorite moisturizers for skin and hair. It can be used to remove makeup, but I think it’s at its best when mixed with some coarse brown sugar and a couple drops of your favorite essential oil to make a luscious sugar scrub. All by itself, coconut oil makes a wonderful massage oil, but when blended with a bit of vanilla essential oil, it becomes a heavenly treat.
So, to begin this blissful day, find a quiet corner in your home where you can create a peaceful and calming atmosphere. Buy yourself some beautiful fresh flowers beforehand. Light some candles, play some soothing music, and get ready to pamper yourself. Our goal for this day is pure connection. Bring nature inside. Begin by taking a few minutes to shut your eyes and meditate or take a few cleansing breaths. I like to keep a journal nearby to write down any thoughts that come up before I start. This is more for emptying and quieting the mind, so that I can fully enjoy the treats I’ve prepared!
Once you have gathered everything you are going to use, start by taking a warm bath or shower to open your pores and prepare your skin for all the pampering it’s about to receive. After your bath, apply your homemade lotions and potions to your skin, focusing on areas that are particularly dry. Take your time to massage the products into your skin, letting the ingredients work their magic.
To finish pampering yourself on Valentine’s Day–or any day–I don’t think there’s anything more glorious than a relaxing foot bath. In this recipe, I’ve used pine essential oil, a fragrance that I love for promoting emotional balance, as well as respiratory support, and rose geranium, an oil that I use to help reduce hot flashes in women of a certain age! To make this foot bath, I use hot water, about a cup of Himalayan salt, many of my favorite smooth rocks and crystals that I’ve brought back from the many rivers and seas I’ve visited, two cups of fresh kombucha of any flavor, which is glorious for gently exfoliating the skin, and fresh catnip and rose geranium leaves, whose scents can promote relaxation and joy. I use three drops of each oil that I wish, but no more than two different oils, and I always add 1/4 teaspoon of olive oil to diffuse the essential oils.
Soak your feet for 15 minutes, drink a relaxing cup of tea, and then dry your feet. Finish by exfoliating with the sugar or salt scrub of your choice, rinse again, and smooth your feet with some of that glorious jasmine body butter. Then, put on a pair of warmed socks and enjoy.
Finally, finish your spa day by wrapping yourself in a soft warm blanket and enjoy the peace and quiet. Take a few deep breaths, and let yourself relax completely and even drift off to sleep for a while. When you awaken, pay close attention, because often the first thoughts upon waking can be the catalysts for important life changes. When you are ready, enjoy another cup of tea or a glass of wine and savor the moment. Don’t forget a delicious piece of chocolate!
A homemade herbal spa day like this one is a wonderful way to celebrate Valentine’s Day and connect with yourself in a way that is normally difficult to do with our busy schedules. It’s a simple and inexpensive way to bring nature inside during this time of the year and help alleviate the midwinter doldrums.
Medicinal Disclaimer: It is the policy of The Herb Society of America, Inc. not to advise or recommend herbs for medicinal or health use. This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered as a recommendation or an endorsement of any particular medical or health treatment. Please consult a health care provider before pursuing any herbal treatments.
Photo Credits: 1) Winter scene (C. Moore); 2) Dried herbs (Canva); 3) Dried rose buds (Victor Wong, Creative Commons); 4) Herbal body butter (Canva); 5) Tea and journal (Canva); 6) Tea (Canva).
Beth Schreibman Gehring is a lover of all things green, delicious, growing, beautiful, magical, and fragrant. She’s also a lifestyle blogger, storyteller, and occasional wedding and party planner who uses an ever-changing seasonal palette of love, life, and food to help her readers and clients fall madly in love with their lives! Beth lives and works with Jim, her husband of 40 years, and is owned by 17 full sets of vintage dishes, hundreds of books, two cats, one dog, a horse, a swarm of wild honeybees, a garden full of herbs, fruit, vegetables, and old rambling roses, too many bottles of vintage perfume and very soon, a flock of heirloom chickens! In 2014 she took a stab at writing a book called Stirring the Senses: How to Fall Madly in Love with Your Life and Make Everyday a Day for Candles & Wine. Available on Amazon! Join her in her gardens at https://bethschreibmangehring.substack.com/, or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org