Ordinary bottles—holding Summer Braid Gel (front) and Parsley Mint Toner—are dressed up for gift-giving with raffia braid around the necks and unique cork stoppers.
Natural, Summer Pampering Recipes:
Summer Braid Gel
• Herbal Garden Cologne
• Parsley Mint Toner
• Aloe Vera Lip Gloss
• Rose Hip Mask
• Cooling Peppermint Body Powder
Under the sultry summer sun, being beautiful takes some pampering. This is the season of natural beauty, when we want smooth, healthy, glowing skin, when we want to be cool and carefree, when we want to be outdoors for hours, tending our gardens or off on adventures, always feeling comfortable and looking our best. The reality is that at this time of year, hair gets messy, skin appears oily, lips chap and dry out, and we perspire. It’s easy to wilt in summer’s heat and humidity, no matter how we wish we looked.
Over the years, I’ve developed many recipes for simple beauty products that are easily made from common ingredients, including the fresh herbs and flowers that are in such abundant supply in summer. Here are several recipes that help me look and feel my best, even as the thermometer climbs beyond the comfortable. They’re fun to make and use, and some are so easy they can be put together in a matter of minutes.
Warm weather stimulates oil glands to become more active and makes people perspire more, and because we spend more time outside, we get dirtier than in cooler seasons. Frequent showers help, as does washing our face more often. I love the feel of a good mask to deep-clean facial skin and help it retain moisture. My Rose Hip Mask is well suited to most skin types; I use it about twice a week in the summer. I also use a mildly astringent Parsley and Mint Toner daily. I carry it with me in a small spritzer bottle that’s easy to pull out for a quick and refreshing pick-me-up—a lifesaver on a hot day.
When the heat and humidity increase, stay cool and comfortable by dressing in loose, natural-fiber clothing, and try a dusting of Cooling Peppermint Body Powder. For an indulgent, energizing feeling, use a big, fluffy powder puff to apply the silky powder after bathing.
Keep your hair under control and out of the way with a simple summer do such as the classic French braid. Avoid styling products that contain alcohol, which can further dry out hair that’s already been exposed to sun, wind, salt water, and chlorine. Instead, choose water-based products, or make a natural Summer Braid Gel with flaxseed—it’s perfect for holding hair in place without turning it dry and brittle.
A protective slick of Aloe Vera Lip Gloss soothes, smooths, and keeps lips from drying and cracking. Then splash on a fresh, clean scent with Herbal Garden Cologne. Creating cologne with the fragrances of your garden makes it uniquely your own. Lavender, chamomile, lemon balm, mint, rose, or other favorite flowers and leaves, picked fresh in the cool of the morning when their essential oils are most potent, give this cologne a light, fresh scent that captures the essence of a summer garden. The vodka base is a grain alcohol that is gentle to all skin types.
I use herbs and flowers fresh from my garden as well as stocking up at farmers’ markets and organic grocers, which seem to be overflowing at this time of year. I preserve lots for use all year long, hanging them in small bundles in an airy place for about a week to dry and then storing them in jars with tight-fitting lids in a cool, dry, dark spot. The recipes below can be made with fresh or dried material, substituting half as much dried for the fresh.
Having a stockpile of dried ingredients makes it easy to make these recipes up as gifts. I put the cologne in delicate, old-fashioned bottles that I find at garage sales and flea markets and sometimes add a lacy drape of dried flowers and raffia around the necks. The photographs here show ways to decorate gift bottles. I like fashioning a unique cork stopper by first cutting the cork even with the top of the bottle, then glueing in place an odd rock or attractive seashell to serve as a knob. Friends appreciate anything homemade but especially when it comes from the garden.
Summer is here to enjoy! Take the time to pamper yourself. You’ll feel healthier, happier—maybe even more beautiful.
Janice Cox is author of Natural Beauty at Home and Natural Beauty for All Seasons, both published by Henry Holt. Her books contain more than 400 recipes for body, bath, and hair care products, some of them passed down through three generations of her family. She lives in Medford, Oregon.