Homemade Lavender and Peppermint Salt Scrub

lavender and peppermint epsom salt scrub

Ah, nothing says it’s festive season time quite like peppermint. Except maybe cinnamon. Or that unique smell of pine trees. Or even woodstove fire smell! They’re all pretty awesome too and I guess that means actually a great number of things say that it’s festive time. For today, though, let’s just talk about peppermint. And lavender.

I’ve made scrubs before (oatmeal sugar scrub)  and I’ve used peppermint before (body butter, anyone?), but this is my first foray into a peppermint scrub. I’ve seen a few different scrub recipes out there, and I thought it was a lovely idea to use epsom salts (provided you can find a particle size you like) as the scrub base.

lavender and peppermint epsom salt scrub

For one, salt has antiseptic/antibacterial qualities (salt water rinses for colds and sore throats are a wonderful use of salt), making it great for areas like, say, your bikini line where you want to both exfoliate and keep the area free from infection or other inflammation after a wax (IMMEDIATELY post-wax a salt scrub might sting, though, so perhaps hold off there).

As a second benefit, epsom salts are mineral compounds that contain high levels of magnesium – apparently epsom salt is a combination of magnesium and sulfate. (I’m not shilling for any specific brand, but this website has a nice list of the benefits of epsom salts). Magnesium is great for your body as a muscle relaxer, which is why people use it in baths – magnesium helps alleviate muscle cramps and pain. Epsom salts are also supposed to have detoxification capabilities, helping to draw wastes and flush toxins from the body.

Now, while I recognize that your body won’t take in as many of the benefits of epsom salts from this external, brief use (compared to say, bathing in an epsom salt solution), it’s a nice potential fringe benefit. And of course, another coarse quality sea salt will do too, if that’s what you have in supply.

lavender and peppermint epsom salt scrub

Another benefit? Peppermint and lavender essential oils are stress-relieving and help you avoid the use of chemical or synthetic fragrances, found in so many other conventional skin-care products.

So scrub on! I love using this scrub in the shower. It smells wonderful and the warm water in the shower swirls the peppermint smell around. The lavender buds are optional – they look pretty, but quite frankly they mostly just make a mess in the shower before bee-lining straight down the drain. So, your option.

Happy pepperminting. Let this scrub help you be merry and bright!

Homemade Lavender and Peppermint Salt Scrub

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: gluten-free, depending on your choice of oils and salts; delicious-smelling

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 -1 cup epsom salts, or a mix of coarse and fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup skincare oil, like sweet almond, apricot kernel, jojoba
  • 4-6 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 6-8 drops lavender essential oil

Instructions:

  1. Mix salt and oil together in a small bowl until all salt is well incorporated and appears wet and sand-like.
  2. Add essential oils.
  3. Scoop into your favourite little mason jars or other containers. I like glass jars best – most sanitary and also you can see your scrub through the jar.
  4. NOTE: Unlike with sugar scrubs, I find the oil kind of sinks to the bottom after a while of sitting in the jar. So, after a few uses you might notice you’re able to add a bit more salt to equalize the salt-to-oil ratio.

© Backyard Owl

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Homemade Winter Body Scrub with Sunflower Oil, Oatmeal, and Brown Sugar

brown sugar body scrub.Winter is here. The thermometer climbs up and down (but mostly down) and your skin starts to feel like it is a piece of dehydrated coconut: dried out, tight, maybe a bit itchy or irritated. Exfoliation is always a skin’s best friend, but in the winter the thought of rubbing your skin down with a vigorous scrub might seem as good an idea as walking across jagged glass – that is to say, painful and to be avoided. Winter skin can’t take what summer skin can.

This brown sugar oatmeal scrub is more gentle. It exfoliates like a champ, but brown sugar is slightly less granular and more paste-like, which is helpful on dry, irritated, or sensitive winter skin. The oatmeal provides some additional exfoliatory benefits (yes, I know exfoliatory is not a word) but is also soothing and gentle.

brown sugar body scrub

And the sunflower oil – well, truthfully, you could substitute a host of other oils here, depending on what you have in your pantry/bathroom, like olive oil, jojoba oil, or even melted coconut oil (providing you give the scrub a little time before each use to warm up, or it could be tough to scoop once the oil hardens). If you have it, though, sunflower oil is a great pick. Sunflower oil contains lots of Vitamin E and other antioxidants, and it’s just a great skin moisturizer.

So throw this scrub together and smooth it into your skin during your next shower. You’ll skin will enjoy the moisturizing boost, as well as the gentle exfoliation, and you’ll glow your way through winter.

brown sugar body scrub

Winter Body Scrub with Sunflower Oil, Oatmeal, and Brown Sugar

body scrub.1Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sunflower oil
  • 1/2 rolled oats, whirled in a food processor until finely ground
  • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

  1. Mix brown sugar together with ground oats and cinnamon.
  2. Stir in sunflower oil and vanilla, and smush together with a spatula or other device until brown sugar and oil are well mixed.
  3. Store in your favourite smaller sized mason jars.
  4. Bear in mind that this product contains no preservatives. So use within a few weeks – a scoop or two per shower should do you just fine.

 

© Backyard Owl

Easy Grapefruit Lavender Sugar Scrub for Smooth, Radiant Skin

Easy Grapefruit Lavender ScrubAh, the first golden glimmerings of spring! They’ve been felt at last. The smell of earth, the kind of moist damp feeling in the air, the lightness in your step when you are no longer weighed down by 10 pound boots and a 10 pound jacket. It’s the kind of weather that makes total strangers laugh giddily together as they point and gawk at a faded green patch of grass, because there is something marvellous in remembering that something else really does lie beneath the three feet of dirty snow that has otherwise been part of the landscape for the past four months. Do I exaggerate? Actually no. That really happened to me. Yesterday, in fact. It was glorious.

But more to the point. Not only does this weather put a hop in your step, it is a gentle reminder that soon you will shed your additional layers and be able to show your pale, Vitamin-D starved skin some golden rays (and I am talking about gentle golden rays here, like delicate morning sun). And when you finally show that skin, it would be nice if it were glowing, smooth, and healthy-looking, no?

Sugar ScrubSo here is a recipe for a very simple sugar scrub that you can whip up in short order, slather on in the shower, and feel pretty virtuous about – no bad chemicals, no dubious fragrances – just simple kitchen ingredients. Sugar is great for your skin (topically, that is) – the glycolic acid it contains is a kind of natural alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), which you would normally pay big bucks for at the store. The granules of sugar also make it a fabulous physical exfoliator. So you have the chemical exfoliant, the physical exfoliant, the moisturizing oil – get excited, because it’s all happening. And if that weren’t enough, golden sugar is just really pretty. And lavender smells good.

Easy Grapefruit Lavendar Sugar Scrub

  • 1 cup golden turbinado or demerera sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (or an additional 1/3 cup of the same sugar as above)
  • 2 tbsps grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used sunflower, but you could try olive oil, jojoba, almond, etc.)
  • 5-15 drops lavender essential oil (or vanilla, lime, bergamot, lemon, orange, cinnamon, lemon – or any combination of the above. Go where your nose leads). The amount depends on the odiferous strength of your particular essential oil.

Mix the ingredients together until paste-like. Scoop into glass jars (I like to use oversized jam jars). When showering or bathing, massage firmly into skin and then rinse well.

Easy Grapefruit Lavender Sugar Scrub

Radiant skin is just a scrub away!

Important Notes: the oil may separate from the rest of your mix – not to worry! Just stir it up and continue on your merry way. Also, because this contains oil, use some caution in the shower. I’d hate to see anyone slip and cause injury all in the name of radiant skin.

Also, as I’ve tried to indicate, you can basically add whatever fragrances, juices, zests, oils, or sugar you like. The key is to make a paste that has a bit of heft, so it won’t just fall off your skin immediately. In addition, the more ‘real foods’ you incorporate, the short the shelf-life. Use these scrubs in a month or less, I’d say. If you don’t add any grapefruit juice, I think you can just use the scrub at your leisure.

Scrub it up!

© 2014 Backyard Owl

Pretty Packages: ideas for eco-friendly gift wrapping

Gift tags made from paint colour chips!

Gift tags made from paint colour chips

Images of the holidays often include a bounty of presents under a beautifully decorated Christmas tree. The gifts are tastefully wrapped, with colour-coordinated festive paper and impeccably-tied ribbons and bows. What the images never show, however, is the gift-opening aftermath: piles of ripped paper, discarded bows, and torn packaging, all used once and then sent to the landfill. Not so ho ho ho. For many years, I’ve encouraged my family to wrap my gifts in newspaper, and I’ll be honest – the pleasure of opening a gift that someone has carefully selected for me has not been dimished by the fact that there aren’t dancing santas on the gift wrap. In fact, if anything, I feel even better about the gift, knowing that it hasn’t brought me joy at the expense of the environment.

That said, most of us don’t want to just throw our gifts in burlap bags and call it a day (though if that works for you, go for it!). Plus, wrapping a gift is its own special activity and is about taking time to prepare something special for someone you love. But if you get creative, I think you’ll be surprised at how you can make your gifts fun, festive, AND eco-friendly. A few tips to get you started on your journey:

  1. First of all, reusable generally trumps recyclable. My mom owns a series of lovely holiday boxes that she uses each year for gifts. The boxes come with a fitted lid, so once you pop the gift in, you really don’t even have to do anything else, unless you want to add a bow. Resusable gift bags are great too.
  2. Try wrapping with newspaper. A neatly wrapped gift is a neatly wrapped gift, and newspaper is nice because you can still do your patented folded edges or twisted bonbon shapes. At the end, the parts not covered with tape can be easily tossed into the recycling bin.
  3. After the gift opening ceremony, collect the bows and ribbons and pop them into a bag for next year. With ribbon, so long as you don’t tie too tightly, the ribbon can be undone and rolled up and saved again for next year.
  4. If you are a crafty sort, sew up some fabric bags from leftover fabric you might have. A quick drawstring bag could hold many a gift for many a holiday season and is easily folded and stored.
  5. This is a very neat idea: make gift labels out of paint chip cards you might have. I went through a phase where I was very into collecting paint chips in beautiful colours, for future home decorating plans. A quick trim and I now have beautiful gift tags.
  6. And also for gift tags: save them! If you usually give to the same people each year, why not just collect the tags and use them again?
  7. Other ideas to help you gift wrap:
  • empty toilet paper rolls
  • terracotta plant pots
  • empty boxes (I keep my boxes from well.ca and use those again)
  • paper and tissue from things you might have ordered online
  • blankets
  • tea towels
  • yarn or string
  • clean glass or plastic jars

Happy Wrapping!