DIY: Herb Infused Oil
I love nourishing my skin with organic oils and especially when those oils are infused with herbs that promote healthy, radiant skin. In this post I’m going to show you how easy it is to create your own herb infused oils. You can use herb infused oils directly on your skin or incorporate them in DIY salves, lip balms, lotions, and creams. With the right herbs and oils, you can also make a luscious massage oil.
In this post I’m going to show you how to make your own herb infused oil using the flowers of Calendula (Calendula officinalis). This sunny, golden flower is one of the most versatile and useful herbs for topical skincare. It is very soothing to irritated, inflamed skin and aids in healing wounds, burns, boils, rashes. It is an excellent topical remedy for most skin conditions and all skin types. It also relieves itching and can reduce the swelling and pain of bee stings. For daily skin care, Calendula helps to soften and smooth skin, reduce pore size, and clear acne. If you don’t have the time (the process takes at least a week) or the DIY inclination, you can also get Calendua infused oil here.
Let’s begin by looking briefly at the choice of oils. When making an infused oil, I most often use organic Olive Oil. It is affordable and stable even without refrigeration, an excellent choice for dry skin, hair, nails, and feet, and it creates a good texture for massage, especially blended with other oils. I also like to use Sweet Almond Oil which is a nutritious, lightweight oil, with little scent. Used topically, it is an effective emollient to soften and soothe the skin making it useful for all skin types. It also provides good slip and slide for massage. There are many other options including Apricot Kernel Oil, Grape Seed Oil, Jojoba Oil, or Sesame Oil, each with their own unique properties. Avoid using oils like Evening Primrose or Borage, which are fragile and damaged when heated. Thought these fragile oils offer important therapeutic benefits for various skin conditions they are best incorporated in your DIY skincare products after you have completed processes that need heat.
I’m using Calendula flowers in this recipe, but you can substitute other herbs with different therapeutic properties in place of the Calendula. I’ve listed other options down below. For other suggestions on herbs for topical skincare, check out last week’s post, Radiant Skin Part 2: Herbs for Topical Skincare. The following recipe should yield at least one cup of Calendula infused oil.
- 2 ounces (by weight) dried Calendula Flowers
- 10 fluid ounces (1-1/4 Cup) Olive Oil (or other fixed oil like Sweet Almond, Grape Seed, Jojoba, or Sesame)
- Coffee grinder, mortal & pestle, etc.
- Jar with a tight-fitting lid
- Measuring Cup
- Fine Mesh Strainer
- Unbleached Cotton Muslin
- Grind dried herb to a powder using a coffee grinder, mortar & pestle, or Vitamix.
- Place the powdered herb in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, add the oil and mix well.
- Allow the mixture to settle. If necessary, add more oil to cover the herb with at least ¼ inch of oil. If the herb floats, add enough oil so there is at least ¼ inch of oil below the herb. Cap the jar tightly. The mixture may absorb more oil in the first day. After 24 hours, add more oil if necessary so there is still ¼ inch of oil on top of the mixture.
- Warm and allow the herb to steep in the oil for 7 – 10 days, shaking or stirring the mixture frequently—several times per day if possible. There are two options for warming.
- Solar Method: Place the closed jar in a thick bag or box and place in a sunny place for 7 – 10 days. Shake or stir the mixture frequently, always returning the jar to the bag or box to keep out direct sunlight.
- Alternative Method: Instead of using the sun to warm the mixture, you can use a hot water bath, a yogurt maker, dehydrator, or other apparatus that allows you to maintain a consistent temperature around 100°F. Keep covered. Shake or stir the mixture several times per day.
- After 7 - 10 days, strain the oil. Place the fine mesh strainer over a bowl and drape a square of unbleached cotton muslin over the strainer. Pour into herb oil mixture and any herb remaining in the jar. Take up the corners of the muslin and twist into a small bundle to express the as much of the medicinal oil as possible.
- Allow the oil to sit covered and undisturbed for several days which will allow any unwanted sediment to settle to the bottom. Pour off the refined oil and filter if desired. Bottle, label, and enjoy or start scheming about what DIY skincare products you’re going to create with your Calendula Oil.
I like to use the finished Calendula oil in salve and lip balm and I have also incorporated it into lotion. Here’s the recipe for making salve and lip balm.
While Calendula makes one of the most versatile infused oils, there are many other options. I’ll list some herbs and blends below to help you get started.
Bumps + Bruises
Other good wound healers (herbal vulneraries) that make effective infused oils include:
Comfrey leaf and root (Symphytum officinalis)
Chickweed (Stellaria media)
Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica)
Plantain (Plantago spp.).
Brightening + Lightening
If you want an infused oil with anti-inflammatory properties, you can infuse many of the same herbs including Calendula, Comfrey leaf and root, Chickweed, and Plantain, as well as Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) and Licorice Root (Gylcyrrhiza glabra), which is also used to lighten dark skin spots.
Cuts + Bites
For infectious skin conditions infuse herbs with anti-microbial properties like Chaparral (Larrea tridentata) Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia), Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), or Oregon Grape Root (Mahonia aquifolium).
Facial Oil Serum
You can even make your own nutrient-dense, antioxidant rich facial serum using this same simple method. Use equal parts Gotu Kola (Centella Asiatica), Green Tea (Camellia sinensis), Horsetail (Equisetum spp.) and Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra), infused in Apricot Kernel Oil.
For a massage oil, consider relaxing herbs like Chamomile, Lavender, and Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis). Rosemary (Rosmarinus officialis) Peppermint (Mentha piperita) are also good choices for sore muscles oils.
The plant world offers so many beautiful choices when it comes to taking care of our skin and bodies–whether from the inside or outside. I hope you have fun making your own infused oils and that you feel more empowered to take care of yourself and your family. Do let me know if you have any questions.
wishing you health and happiness,