Oil Infusions for Skincare


Oil Infusions: After moving to the mountains of Southern California, where the air is much drier than what I was used to, my skin became extremely dry. And turning the furnace on during the winter to keep warm, only exacerbated the dryness.

So, I started making and using infused oils as a stand-alone product, which is when I saw an improvement in the elasticity and smoothness of my skin. Even the scales on my skin disappeared. This herbal remedy is great to include in your natural skincare regime. I’ve continued to use this deep moisturizing homemade product to maintain elasticity and suppleness in my skin, and I’m super happy with the results.

Following a bath or shower, I apply the oil and massage thoroughly into my skin.

With an infused oil, I can make salves, body butters, and creams to use in addition to the oil throughout the day and sometimes before bed.

Tip: It’s best to apply 20 minutes or so before getting into bed to allow for absorption and reduce greasiness on your bedding.

What are Infused Oils and How to Improve Your Skin and Well-being Using Them?

Infused oils are carrier (plant-based) oils with herbal matter macerated (soaked) in them and then after some time, the herbs are removed, and the oil can now be used for a variety of skincare products. Making infused oils is a creative process and there are so many options to choose from. Lavender is a favorite of mine, but Rose, Sage, and Calendula are equally yummy. The choices are limitless.

Each herb steeps in the oil for several weeks, and during this process cell membranes gradually break down allowing the herb’s constituents to be released into the oil. Each of these herbs has specific benefits to the skin and a little bit of magic to the spirit.

Let’s look at a few here that I’ve personally had the pleasure of working with:

Lavender: Clearing and cleansing the body and spirit.

Lavender (from the Latin ‘lavare’ meaning to wash

Smells amazing, and has antiseptic properties, great to use on insect bites and scratches, calms the nervous system (gently massage your temples and earlobes to see what this healing herb can do for you), and is a mild analgesic (I love rubbing it on tense muscles).

Love & Friendship

Rose

Soothing to the skin and is known to be anti-inflammatory and astringent (tightens skin, but Rose isn’t drying). The aroma is heavenly and wonderful to include in any skincare product. Does Rose invoke feelings of love for you? Then you’ll want to make this oil infusion for yourself and your loved ones.

Calendula

An Herb of the Sun

Calendula (an herb of the sun)

Such a happy flower! With its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, it helps with cuts, burns, diaper and other rashes, itchiness, and can even help reduce the appearance of scars (including old scars). Calendula is an emollient, which means it soothes anything it encounters. This all-around fantastic herb has so many benefits, it’s a good one to make and always have readily available.

Ethically Harvested Pine Resin, photo by C.R.Y. Herbals

Pine Resin

Is it any wonder Mother earth has thought of everything? Pine resin is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, increases circulation, helps with wounds, and even helps draw out splinters or toxins from the skin. I think its fragrance is out of this world! I love applying this to my skin with no added fragrance. This sweet darling requires lots of patience as she takes hours to process. Definitely a labor of love for me.

Arnica

Arnica (sweet mountain flower)

Arnica montana 

This happy yellow mountain flower is well-known to help with minor pain, injury, and bruising. It can be used in a variety of ways including as a liniment, compress, creams, and salves. Getting creative with Arnica gives joy and your body will thank you for it.

Note: Please be sure to use cultivated Arnica since this beautiful species is overharvested in North America.

Rose Sage in the Wild, photo by C.R.Y. Herbals

Sage (Salvia, from the Latin salvere “to feel well and healthy, health, heal”)!! 

If you love the aroma of sage, you’ll love having this beautiful herb on hand (pun intended). Anti-inflammatory, astringent, antimicrobial, can help with eczema or skin eruptions, insect bites, and even athlete’s foot. It can also help with mild pain. If you have super dry skin, you may want to avoid Sage.

Recently I discovered on my own skin that the Sage salve I make reduces pores. I wanted to try it because sage is astringent but was reluctant at first because I thought the salve might be too greasy on my face. This wasn’t the case at all. I applied it at night before bed and the following morning noticed the difference! I’m gonna do more of this cuz… well, my pores can get really BIG!! Ick!

Which Carrier Oils Should You Consider in Your Oil Infusion?

There are so many oils to choose from. It’s really a personal choice based on your skin’s condition. Do you have dry, oil, or combination skin? Or skin conditions like acne, eczema, or rosacea?

Find the oil that is best for your skin type. Here are some suggestions from Susan Parker’s Power of the Seed to get you started. I highly recommend her book if you want to make your own infused oils, but it’s easy to get started with any of these listed below. I use a variety of different oils depending on what my goal is. 

  • Dry – avocado, sweet almond, sesame
  • Oily – meadowfoam, blackberry, raspberry, jojoba
  • Normal – apricot kernel, argan, jojoba, coconut

Another consideration when selecting an oil is shelf life. Will you be using the oil right away? It’s best to prepare only what you need. I typically infuse small amounts of oil because I don’t need a lot for the small custom batches of skincare products I make. My favorite oils to work with are Meadowfoam seed, avocado, jojoba, sea buckthorn, and pomegranate oils.

Meadowfoam seed oil is easily absorbed into the skin. Its shelf life is impressive. Up to five years. Adding it to any formula/recipe will prolong the recipe’s stability. I make a really lovely face and body cream with this oil, as well as a relaxing sleep balm that is infused with a variety of gorgeous herbal allies.

Avocado is excellent as an antiaging oil and is super moisturizing. I’ll often use this oil to make salves and face serums. It can help reduce the size of pores, so sign me up!! Jojoba, Sea Buckthorn, and Pomegranate are my favorites to include in smaller proportions in eye serums alongside Meadowfoam and Avocado.

Are you ready to prepare an oil infusion for yourself? Say YES!! It’s so easy.

Place your dried herbs in a sanitized glass jar that has an air-tight lid. Fill the jar about 1/3 to ½ full. Pour your oil of choice over the herbs completely covering them and bring the oil up to about 1/8 inch from the top of the jar. Leaving that space at the top allows the matter in the jar to move freely when you gently shake it daily. You don’t want to leave too much space because the air can cause the oil to go rancid. Yuck!

Some handcrafters and herbalists like to use ground herbs because you can fit more into the jar which results in a more highly concentrated oil. YOU get to decide. I use both methods depending upon which herb I’m working with.

After adding the oil, use some type of sanitized stirring stick to thoroughly mix it. You want to be sure the herbs are fully saturated. Or you can gently shake the jar after screwing on the air-tight lid. Place your infused oil in a cool dark place. Label the jar, so you’ll remember when to decant (remove the herbs from the oil) it. Every day gently shake it. As the herbs sit in the oil, the cell membranes break down and the constituents of the herbs are released into the oil. That’s where the magic happens.

Add an Intention or Prayer

An optional step that I love to include is adding an intention or prayer. Before I place the lid on the jar, I’ll envision which benefit I’d like the herbal oil to provide. Benefits like *soothing, relaxing, calming, enlivening, moisturizing, invigorating, etc.*. Infusing herbal products with LOVE and other healing intentions only enhances their efficacy. Again, this is an optional step. You get to decide because you are the maker!

At the end of one moon cycle (about 29 days), you can remove the herbs. I like to leave my herbs in the oil for at least 6 weeks, but even as little as two weeks can be enough. It’s okay to be flexible depending on your needs.

Note: there are other methods for infusing oils with herbs, I’ll talk about this in a future post. But in short, herbs that are resinous need to be gently warmed during the maceration period. Herbs like Calendula, Pine Resin, and Cottonwood require the heat method.

Decanting (a fancy word for removing the herbs from the oil) 

When you’re ready to decant, get another container, place a mesh strainer over the top and then line with finely woven cheesecloth or muslin. Both container and strainer should be sanitized. Pour the oil into the strainer, and let it drain thoroughly. I like to let it sit for at least an hour, letting gravity do most of the work. With clean hands or disposable gloves gather the cloth and give it a good squeeze. This way, you’ll get as much oil as possible. It’s important NOT to allow any herbal matter to remain in your oil since over time the living material can spoil the oil, which is why using a liner of cheese or muslin cloth is an excellent step because it will catch everything.

Discard the herbs in your compost if you have one. Otherwise, discard them the same way you would any fruit or vegetable in your kitchen.

Pour the oil into an air-tight sanitized glass for storage. It’s preferable to store your oils in the fridge. It depends on the type of oil, of course, but most have a shelf life of 6 months to 1 year. Proper storage will prevent spoilage.

Be sure to label your jars with the type of herb, oil, and date.

If you’re using an infused oil as a stand-alone product, i.e., massage oil, aromatherapy, pour into the dispenser of your choosing and leave the rest in the fridge. I’ll often use a roller, dropper, or pump bottle.

When you’re ready to make an herbal salve, cream, or lotion, this wonderful healing oil is also ready to be included.

Have fun, experiment. And share your results here. I’d love to hear how it goes.


Disclaimer: The information written in C.R.Y. Herbals’ emails, blog & website is for creative and educational purposes only. This information should not be used as a substitute for medical advice. All questions regarding any health condition should be addressed to your primary care physician or other healthcare providers. We are simply ordinary folk who love experimenting and working with natural herbal products to enhance and support the body’s health and well-being. It is a joy and honor to explore the historical and contemporary practices of herbalism for the purposes of education and personal fulfillment. ?

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