Our philosophy is clean and conscious beauty.
Coupled with the fact that interest in green formulas is on the increase, is a great thing.
But how do you get all the goodness nature has to offer into a neat skincare sandwich?
Wait. Don’t panic. the Naked Chemist, with our ethos deeply rooted in transparency in beauty, has you covered.
Herbs in decoctions and infusions
Many plants have skin-beneficial properties such as flavonoids, antioxidants, tannins, mucilage, resins, acids, and volatile oils.
Depending on the plant, these components can originate in the flower’s petals, leaves, bark, roots, and stems.
There are several ways you can extract the healing benefits:
- Infusion: An infusion is when you steep plants in water or oil to harness the beneficial properties. One of the most common infusions is a herbal tea.
- Decoction: This involves boiling a herb or vegetable in water, so the water contains the plant’s soluble constituents.
- Tincture: This is a solution of alcohol, or alcohol and water, along with the plant material, which is used for medicinal benefits. It can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months to fully saturate the liquid with the plant material.
- Maceration: This involves softening by soaking in a liquid. Maceration is generally used for very delicate plants, and the liquid is usually cold. Calendula is one such plant used in this method.
Join us here for tips on how to prepare a herbal infusion.
Advantages of decoctions and infusions
- they are safe and cheap to use, especially if you grow your own herbs
- they allow the herb to be easily absorbed
- many herbs have good nutritional content
- they provide an alternative to tea and coffee
- it’s the best way to harness the herb’s potent properties
Most herbs will release their active properties in water or alcohol; there are two water release techniques, known as an INFUSION or DECOCTION.
Herbs as decoctions
This method involves boiling the roots, seeds, and bark, which helps to release the herb’s active properties.
As a general rule, a decoction usually consists of 30 g chopped and dried woody herbs; ideally, you should be looking to use one part herb to 30 parts water:
- first, crush or bruise the herbs
- next, place them in a saucepan and cover with boiling or cold water
- place a lid on the saucepan and let everything steep overnight
- the following morning, bring the mixture slowly to the boil
- then, let everything simmer for around 20 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced to around 600 mL
- strain the decoction through a fine sieve, or a piece of muslin, and measure. If you have a ratio of less than 1:20, you can pour hot water through the muslin to make it up to the right quantity
How to use herbs as a tincture
Unfortunately, many herbs don’t release their active properties in the water; they only become active in alcohol, which is where a tincture is more useful:
- seal the tincture in a container with a tight lid
- let the tincture stand in a sunny area, where it can get the full benefit from the sun
- steep for around a week, and strain
- after a week, pour off the liquid through a nylon cheesecloth strainer
- you will know when the extract is effective because the alcohol retains the character and smell of the herb
- add 1% Vitamin E to make the herb last longer
Use one ounce of crushed or powdered herbs, diluted in 12 ounces of alcohol and 4 ounces of water.
For more information on how to make a herbal tincture, this article is a good read.
There are a lot of reasons why you’d want to make your own herbal skincare at home. Whatever the reason, learning to use herbs is a valuable and creative skill to have.
Whilst it is enjoyable, we advise against making creations for commercial use as they can be full of contaminants that can cause serious problems when you add them to a watery environment. You don’t want anyone to end up with unhealthy microbes on their skin.