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Homemade beauty: bath soak and body scrub

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@ iStockphoto / Elena Schweitzer

When it comes to bathing and beauty, what could be more satisfying than luxuriating in soaks, melts and scrubs you’ve made yourself? You can use the best natural ingredients and, with the help of a few harvests from the garden, capture the essence of the season too. Clinical aromatherapist and natural perfumer Tanya Moulding, otherwise known as The Perfume Mistress, kicks off a series of her homemade beauty recipes with a rosemary bath soak and body scrub – brilliant for banishing winter blues, easing aches and pains and defeating dry skin. They would make perfect Christmas presents – for others or yourself!

Herbs have a myriad of uses, not only in food but also in natural beauty and wellbeing. One of the most readily available at this time of year is rosemary. It has a pungent, fresh aroma; energising properties to uplift the mind and nervous system and can help to ease muscular tension.

These are two recipes you can create at home for yourself or as a gift.

Herbal Bath Soak

This is a really simple beauty recipe to try at home. The quantities below are for a 250g jar, which you could also divide into smaller containers to give as mini gifts.

You will need

1. A jar (kilner or screw top) – I used a 250g jar

2. Salt (Epsom salts or a good sea salt in a fine/medium grain) – you can find this in good health food shops or online.

3. Two to three rosemary sprigs – fresh or dried (to dry your rosemary, you can put a few sprigs in a paper bag and hang in the airing cupboard for three to seven days)

How to make your bath soak

1. Whether you’re using fresh or dried rosemary, wash and dry the sprigs thoroughly and pick off any damaged or wilting needles.

2. Then strip the rest of the needles from your rosemary sprigs.

3. Pour a layer of salt into your jar and place a few rosemary needles on top.

4. Repeat step 3, layering salt and rosemary needles, until your jar is full. Stir gently to distribute the needles evenly through the salt.

5. The rosemary will infuse the salt over a few days and if it’s made in advance it will make a perfect gift.

6. Label and decorate your jar and write out instructions for use. Luggage labels are stylish and easy to decorate.

You could also add . . .

. . . thyme (dried or fresh) for a truly herbal kick, or if you want a softer note, dried lavender buds would blend very well and look decorative in the salt mix.

You could also add grapefruit essential oil to the mixture at stage 3, which will blend beautifully with the rosemary and create an uplifting and refreshing aroma. Start by adding three drops, then after each salt/rosemary layer, add another three drops and stir well. I would suggest that you don’t exceed twelve drops.

To use

If you decide to use Epsom salts in your blend, these are particularly beneficial for muscular aches, pains, fatigue and general detoxification. To revive and refresh, place one to two cups of your herbal bath soak under running water. Agitate the water to distribute evenly, get in, breathe deeply and relax for 20 minutes.

Herbal Body Scrub

The Herbal Bath Soak is a multi-tasker and we can create a super body exfoliator using the same mixture – with a few adjustments!

You will need

1. A jar – I used a 250g jar

2. Fine/medium grain sea salt. If your skin is sensitive, replace half the salt with caster sugar (or just use caster sugar and granulated sugar)

3. Two to three rosemary sprigs

4. Oil – fine light olive oil, coconut, sweet almond or grapeseed

5. Optional – lavender buds, thyme sprigs, grapefruit or lavender essential oil

How to make your body scrub

1. First, infuse the salt or salt/sugar mixture. Pour some into your jar, then add a sprig of rosemary, cutting it into two if necessary, and cover with more salt or salt/sugar mix. Continue to add layers of rosemary sprigs and salt or salt/sugar until the jar is ¾ full.

2. Leave the mixture to infuse for four to ten days – although you might want to check the strength of the aroma after three days.

3. Once your mixture has reached the desired strength, remove the rosemary sprigs using tweezers or just your fingers.

4. It’s then time to add the oil! I prefer to use sweet almond, but grapeseed or a light, organic olive oil are cheaper options (choose a refined olive oil as it will have little or no odour).

5. Using a jug, fill up to 100ml with your chosen oil and pour it slowly into the jar until the salt or salt/sugar mix is covered – do not fill up the jar yet. At this stage, if you wish, you can add ten drops of grapefruit essential oil or six to eight drops of lavender essential oil.

6. Stir well (but gently) to combine the ingredients.

7. Gradually add more oil and stir it in until you achieve the desired consistency. Too much oil will create a slushy texture; too little will make the scrub too dry – the oil should be just nicely absorbed with a small ‘film’ on top. Sugar mixtures will absorb the oil more quickly, so you may find you need to add more sugar back in at the end to achieve a good final consistency.

To Use

Label the jar and use your scrub as a weekly treat. Apply small handfuls of the exfoliator, using a circular motion, to dry skin, particularly on legs, feet, knees, buttocks and arms/elbows, and then shower off. The combination of oil and salt will remove dead skin cells and once rinsed off, will leave skin softer and smoother. The scrub will have a shelf-life of six to eight months. This scrub is not suitable for the face.

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