As the light begins to return and we respond to the gradual unravelling and stretching of nature from winter hibernation, it is tempting to rush into ‘doing’ without pausing and respecting the slow pace around us. Many of us have spent longer periods indoors in artificially heated environments which are both draining and intensely drying, particularly on the skin, our biggest sensory organ. We also tend to drink less water adding to mild dehydration from the inside out. So it is hardly surprising that sensitivity, overall dryness and in extreme cases, splitting or cracking are common complaints for skin health.
Healthy skin acts as a protective barrier against pathogens and bad bacteria, so treating our skin carefully at this time is an important preventative measure. This month, we have a salve which will both effectively moisturise and serve as an anti-fungal and antiseptic antidote to any scratches and scrapes acquired whilst our skin is a little more fragile than normal and perhaps prone to fungal infection. The best prevention will be a slow and mindful changing of gear, but it will be handy to have a pot of salve handy in case of wildcrafting mishaps in our excitement to get back into growth again.
4 tbsp infused almond oil * 1 handful of fresh unseat * 1 tbsp grated beeswax or ½ tbsp candelilla wax pearls * 1 tbsp cocoa butter * 1 tbsp shea butter * 6 drops vitamin e oil 5 drops of lavender and 5 drops of pine
4x 15g containers
Step One – Infusing the dried old man’s beard Usnea spp
There are several ways to dry the usnea – we prefer to place a paper towel on top of a cooling rack and then leave in a well aired, warm and dark space for a few days. Once dried, the usnea can be powdered using a spice or coffee grinder.
This powder should be heated gently with the olive oil in a double boiler until hot to the touch but not boiling. The mix should then be allowed to cool naturally before reheating gently once again. Ideally this process should continue a few times over a couple of days to get the maximum extraction. The usnea infusion should be strained through fine mesh or muslin into a sterilized jar ready for the next step
Step Two – making the base salve
Add the infused oil to the three chosen fats in a double boiler, heat gently and stir until combined.
Step Three – adding essential oils and preservative
Have the containers ready with the lids off. Add the essential oils and vitamin e to the base salve and pour into the containers. Be aware that the volatile oils will evaporate, so it is important to get the lids relatively quickly. Label and leave to cool completely.
Old man’s beard (usneaspp) has antimicrobial antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral properties and is rich in polysaccharides making it a good choice for an all rescue salve.
Almond Oil (prunus dulcis) is used to create a non-penetrating barrier whilst being lubricating and purifying.
Pine (pinus) is added predominantly for the fragrance. The grounding note that greets the olfactory senses is important for this time of gradual awakening in safe surroundings.
Lavender (lavandula angustifolia) instils a sense of peace and calm complimenting the earthy tones from the pine.
Cocoa butter (theobromacacao) moisturizing, moisture retentive and hydrating.
Shea butter (vitellariaparadoxa) absorbs slowly and is intensely moisturizing.