Myrna Loy Bath
Cold Comfort Bath
Honey Bath Tablets
English Lavender Bath
Fresh Gingerroot Bath
Geranium Petal Body Scrub
The other day I had one of those nonstop, super-busy days. I’m sure you know the kind — in which every project and family member needs your attention and there just doesn’t seem to be enough time for a moment to yourself. Usually on a day like this I do some weeding in the garden to give myself some personal time and still be productive. But in this particular instance I didn’t even have time for that. So, after tucking my daughters into bed and leaving my husband content watching the nightly business programs, I took some of my own advice: I took a bath! Not the basic get in, get clean and get out type washing, but an indulgent, luxurious, “real” bath. I lit candles, made a pot of herbal tea, read a favorite book and luxuriated in the scented water. My crazy day and all its tensions and decisions went right down the drain with the bathwater. I emerged renewed, calm and collected. In fact, my husband even looked up from the television to see my refreshed expression and asked what had happened. “The power of the bath,” was my reply. A bath, something so simple to do, yet so often overlooked as the stress-relieving rejuvenator that it can be.
In this article you will find some of my favorite botanical bath and shower products inspired by the garden. I have included recipes for bringing a bit of the outdoors into your bath by creating indulgent botanical bath products.
Bath products are simple and fun to create. Floral and herbal bath oils and scrubs are some of the most luxurious types of bath products. They nourish the skin and leave it feeling silky, supple and deliciously scented. They also make wonderful gifts.
Many of these recipes contain dried mixtures that can be stored in clean jars with tight-fitting lids. The bath oils have long shelf lives and also can be stored in clean containers with tight-fitting lids. The recipes containing fresh ingredients should be mixed and enjoyed the same day — the yields are about enough for one bath, and any remains will keep for a few days if refrigerated.
Ahh, the power of the bath…aside from my garden, it is my most creative and enjoyable place to be!
MYRNA LOY BATH
Yield: 4 ounces, enough for one bath
I have always thought of Myrna Loy and Clark Gable as the king and queen of Hollywood. Myrna was known for playing exotic women. In her 1933 hit movie The Barbarian, the star luxuriated in a petal-strewn bath. That bath scene was where I got the idea for this recipe — it will bring out your “inner movie star.”
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1/4 cup mild liquid soap
1/4 cup rosewater
2 to 3 drops gardenia essential oil
Fresh rose petals and gardenia flowers
Stir together oil, soap and rosewater. Add gardenia oil and stir well. Pour into a clean container. To use: Pour under running water as you fill the bath. For a bit of extra indulgence, float fresh rose petals and gardenia flowers on top of your bathwater.
Garden note: Gardenias are good plants to grow in your bathroom since they thrive in warm, humid environments.
COLD COMFORT BATH
Yield: 31/2 ounces
2 tablespoons dried lavender flowers and leaves
2 tablespoons dried rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon dried gingerroot powder
2 tablespoons dried eucalyptus leaves
Fresh eucalyptus leaves, rosemary leaves to float in bathwater (optional)
Mix together dried herbs. Place them inside a square of natural fabric or a metal tea ball. Secure your bundle by tying the ends with a bit of sting. To use: Hang the herb bag under your water tap. Fill the tub with warm (not too hot) water, letting the water flow through the herbs. Get in the bath, squeeze out your herb bag and place it behind your neck as you bathe. You also may use it to scrub your body with a bit of soap.
HONEY BATH TABLETS
Yield: 8 ounces, 6 to 8 bath tablets
(depending on the size of your molds.)
These scented bath tablets dissolve in your warm bath creating a soothing and peaceful environment. Honey is one of my favorite bath additives all by itself. Combined with natural ingredients such as sea salt, clay or dried herbs, it will help restore moisture to the skin. I do not suggest doubling this recipe as the tablets must be molded while the mixture is still warm. I like to make different shapes for holiday gift-giving. I place a few tablets inside a clear cellophane bag and tie it closed with a festive bow. You will need a candy thermometer, as the correct temperature is critical in this recipe, and plastic candy molds or ice cube trays for shaping your bath tablets.
1/2 cup fine-grained sea salt or table salt
1 tablespoon white clay
1/2 tablespoon dried herb leaves or flower petals (see variations at right)
1/2 cup pure honey
Place salt, clay and herb leaves or flowers in a ceramic bowl or food processor bowl. Heat honey to 300 degrees. This can be done in the microwave, checking the temperature in 1-minute intervals (should take 3 to 4 minutes total); or on the stovetop, stirring honey until temperature reads 300 degrees. Pour hot honey over dry ingredients and stir well. You can do this with a few pulses of your food processor. Spoon the mixture into your candy molds, pressing mixture into molds with the back of your spoon. Let the tablets cool completely. I sometimes place them in the freezer to speed up this part of the process. Unmold your tablets onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Store them in an airtight container. To use: Place one in your bath as you are filling it.
A few variations:
Change the scent and color of your tablets by adding different herbs, spices and essential oils. Here are a few to try:
• Total relaxation: 1 teaspoon each dried lavender flowers, marjoram leaves and chamomile daisies.
•For men only: 1 teaspoon each dried orange peel and dried bay leaves, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
• Pure joy: 1 teaspoon each dried mint and lavender, 2 to 3 drops sweet orange essential oil, 1 to 2 drops peppermint essential oil
• Love potion: 2 teaspoons dried rose petals, 1 small piece vanilla bean, 2 to 3 drops ylang ylang oil
ENGLISH LAVENDER BATH
Yield: 28 ounces, enough for seven baths
There are 28 different species of lavender. English lavender is especially aromatic and one of the most widely planted varieties. This recipe contains lavender to relax, as well as oatmeal and baking soda, to soothe dry, sensitive skin. This is an ideal bath for calming nerves, or soothing sunburns or insect bites. Packaged in a pretty bottle, it makes a wonderful gift from the garden.
1 cup dried English lavender flowers (other species may be used)
2 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup baking soda
Place all the ingredients inside a food processor or blender. Grind until you have a smooth, fine powder. The powder should have the consistency of whole-grain flour. Pour into a clean, airtight container or resealable plastic bag. To use: Pour 1/2 cup into your bath as you fill the tub.
Yield: 8 ounces
2 tablespoons dried chamomile daisies
2 tablespoons dried rosebuds
2 tablespoons dried lavender flowers
2 tablespoons dried hops flowers
Mix together dried flowers. Store in a clean glass jar or resealable plastic bag. To use: Place the dried flowers in the center of a square of cotton fabric. Secure the ends with a rubber band or bit of cotton string. Place in the bath as you fill your tub and allow the scented flowers to steep in the warm water.
Soothing Extra: Prepare a cup of this “tension taming” herbal tea. Mix together one teaspoon finely chopped or minced fresh gingerroot, 1/4 teaspoon finely chopped or minced fresh dandelion root, and 1 teaspoon pure honey in one cup boiling water. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then strain. This tea is especially soothing when enjoyed as you soak in the bath.
Yield: 4 ounces, enough for one bath
1/4 cup shelled, raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup oatmeal
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vitamin E oil
In a coffee grinder or food processor, grind sunflower seeds and oatmeal until you have a smooth powder the consistency of whole-grain flour. Stir in spices and vitamin E oil and mix well. Store mixture in an airtight container. To use: Pour bath soak into a warm tub of water and stir well to mix. Moisturize your skin after bathing with some sunflower oil or a rich cream.
FRESH GINGERROOT BATH
Yield: 8 ounces, enough for one bath
Fresh gingerroot has a sweet, spicy fragrance that is also a mild stimulant. Used in the bath, it promotes circulation and is perfect on a cold day to warm both your body and your senses. Gingerroot easily can be found at the grocery store and you can start your own by planting the root in a pot. Keep your ginger plant in a warm, humid location, and in eight to 12 months it should be ready to harvest. To harvest, cut off the leaf stalks and remove the fibrous roots. Cut as much as you need and replant the rest.
1/2 cup baking soda
2 tablespoons grated gingerroot
1/2 cup water
Mix together all ingredients and pour into a clean container. To use: Pour entire mixture into the bath as you fill the tub, stir well, and soak for 15 to 20 minutes. After bathing, dress warmly, as this bath is super cleansing and really opens up all your pores.
Yield: 16 ounces, enough for four baths
Bath salts are some of my easiest and most popular recipes to make. They are wonderful presents for just about everyone, and you can tailor their scents and colors for each recipient. Besides soothing tired bodies and softening skin, these salts are also easier on the bathtub than many other products. They actually keep your tub clean, and they do not clog the pipes as other bath products can. Bath salts also soften hard water and help keep your water temperature warmer longer. Natural salts are found easily at the grocery store.
Following are a few of my favorite methods for making bath salts. Start with a basic salt mix of one cup Epsom salts and one cup rock salt (you can use kosher salt, sea salt or rock table salt).
Colored salts: You can color salts successfully with regular food coloring or natural vegetable dyes, such as beet juice. Place salts in a large glass bowl or resealable plastic bag. Add a few drops of color and stir well. Adjust color or salts to reach desired shade. Be careful with making very dark salts; until diluted in your bathwater they may stain light-colored towels and clothing. Once added to your bath they will not stain your skin or tub. My daughters like to make rainbow salts by creating salts in several colors and then layering them like a rainbow inside a pretty jar.
Scented salts: Fragrance easily can be added to your salts, as well. Simply stir or massage scented oils into your salt mixture. Choose pure essential oils. You only need a few drops to scent a batch of salts. You also may combine scented oils to create your own special blends. For example, create bathtime tranquility with a blend of sweet orange oil, vanilla oil and carnation oil.
Foaming salts: Any bath salt recipe can be made to foam in the tub by adding liquid soap to your mixture. To do this, mix your color and/or scent into the liquid soap before stirring it into the salt mixture. I use 1/4 cup liquid soap for every 2 cups of salt. Mix the soap with your salt and then spread the mixture on a clean cookie sheet and allow it to air-dry completely. You also may place the salts in a low temperature oven or food dehydrator. When your salts are completely dry, pour them into an airtight container.
Herbal salts: Adding dried herbs and flower petals to your basic mix gives your salts a different look as well as a wonderfully natural feel. You also will receive many of the benefits that adding herbs to your bath can provide. I like to use 1 or 2 tablespoons of dried herb to every 2 cups of the basic salt mixture. It is important that you use dried ingredients in making these salts. Fresh leaves and petals wilt when they come in contact with salt, releasing unwanted moisture into your mixture.
To use any of these bath salts: Add about 1/2 cup of bath salts to your tub under running water. Store your salts in dry, airtight containers.
Yield: 12 ounces
Blue cornmeal is an ancient food that also makes a rejuvenating full-body treatment. The Hopi Indians of New Mexico have used blue cornmeal for years to improve vitality and make their skin look more youthful. Mixing it with dried herbs, ground oatmeal and a mild soap enhances this age-old cleanser. If you cannot find blue cornmeal at your market, you may substitute white or yellow cornmeal for a different colored, but just as effective, scrub.
1/2 cup ground blue cornmeal
1/2 cup grated castile soap (or other mild bar soap)
1/4 cup oatmeal
1 teaspoon dried calendula flower petals
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers
Place cornmeal and grated soap in a large bowl. Using a spice or coffee grinder, finely grind oatmeal and dried herbs. Add this mixture to cornmeal mixture and stir well. Pour into a clean, airtight container. To use: Apply as you would any cleanser, and massage all over. Rinse well and then moisturize your skin with a natural oil or rich body lotion. If you have very sensitive skin avoid using this cleanser on your face.
GERANIUM PETAL BODY SCRUB
Yield: 10 ounces, enough for
four full-body treatments
This sweet-scented body scrub is perfect for freshening and moisturizing. Body scrubs are helpful because they stimulate circulation. A gentle rubdown can counteract stress, help rid the body of excess fluid, and really energize your whole system. This is a good all-over treatment to use during your morning shower. I like to use raw sugar for its coarse texture and subtle molasses scent. People with oily skin should reduce the amount of walnut oil called for in this recipe — or leave it out completely.
1 cup raw sugar
12 dried geranium flower heads
1/4 cup walnut oil
1/2 teaspoon vitamin E oil
1 to 2 drops geranium essential oil
Mix together all ingredients in a large glass or ceramic bowl. Spoon into a clean jar with a tight-fitting lid. To use: Massage a tablespoon or two all over your body to gently exfoliate and moisturize your skin. Store remaining scrub in a cool, dry location. Stir product between uses.
Adapted with permission from Natural Beauty from the Garden: More than 200 Do-It-Yourself Beauty Recipes and Garden Ideas by Janice Cox.
Janice Cox is a longtime gardener and Herb Companion contributor. Contact her at www.HerbCompanion.com/contributors.