Wee rays of sunshine!! Growing in planters against the south facing wall of my cottage, I love these happy little faces. Calendula has long been used in cosmetics and skincare as it can sooth the skin, and has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. I dry the petals and use them in Zesty Zing soap, finished off with a combination of citrus essential oils for a refreshing bar of sunshine.
Bog myrtle is a aromatic shrub which grows in the wetter areas of my croft, and loves wetlands across the country. Traditionally used as a midge repellent it has always been my go to whilst out hill walking - I take a few of the leaves rub them on my skin to keep the critters at bay! It is also thought to help acne and problematic skin. In past times it was also used as a stew ingredient. I carefully select a few catkins and leaves from each plant, taking care not to take too many. The following year I harvest from a different group of plants. Catkins and leaves are then dried and infused in oil using a traditional method, infused for several weeks prior to being strained and then used in products. Bog Myrtle is used in Heather, Myrtle & Juniper soap, as well as Bog Off Bug Salve.
Well, there is such a lot to say about the wonder plant dandelion, that it would take much more space than I have here! The whole plant is edible, and can be used in so many different ways. Traditionally used for acne and blemishes in skincare, dandelion is naturally rich in vitamins A, C, E & K. I harvest our organic wild dandelions mid morning, when their faces have fully opened to the sunshine, and their oils are at their best. They are carefully dried and then infused in oil for several weeks, prior to my using them in salve, together with sweet orange essential oil.
Scots Pine, so prevalent in our glen. We have a lot of forestry plantations here and every day a walk amongst these stunning trees is part of my daily routine. The sap of the pine tree has been used for centuries to help cure skin ailments, cuts, wounds and burns. The essential oil from the scots pine is a potent respiratory antiseptic. I harvest the pollen and needles from the pine trees. These are infused in oil, then made up into a winter salve, with added menthol and eucalyptus oil
Nettles, one of the most wonderful herbs which I have a abundance of. They are absolutely packed full of antioxidants and have such a huge array of benefits. Once harvested and dried they no longer sting. The can help eczema and psoriasis, ... My nettles are harvested by hand (using gloves), then dried. I use them in both powdered and leaf form. They are added to soaps, salves, shampoo bars, and our face masks.
Gorse, I adore the smell, heavily scented vanilla coconut scent, especially in May when the gorse bushes are covered in fabulous yellow flowers. The flowers can be eaten, and years ago country people placed their washing over the gorse bushes so that it would smell of the gorse once dried. We use the gorse flowers in our extreme scrub bar. Whilst they do not have any skin benefits, they are a nice addition to the soap, and as it is an extreme scrub bar, and gorse is extremely prickly...
The hills on the croft are covered with heather and juniper bushes. These bushes resemble gorse, but are not as prickly, nor do they bear yellow flowers. We harvest the berries in December and January, and dry them until we need to use them in our products. Another fabulous wild herb which can help with inflammation.
Heather, it covers our hills and turns them into a blaze of purple in August and September, luring the bees who come to drink its sweet nectar. The hills smell amazing at this time of the year, irresistible to bees and humans alike. Heather has some amazing properties and is used by Highlanders as a tea, as well as having the reputation to help with coughs and sooth the nerves. Highlanders also us heather to make ointments to treat arthritis and rheumatism. In addition to these attributes, heather can help soothe irritated skin, and has anti-elastase & anti-age properties, so could help with fine lines and wrinkles. We pick heather carefully, taking a few stems from individual plants and then moving onto another plant. The following year we harvest from a different area. We dry the stems and once dried pick off the flowers, storing them until required for our products.
Loved by the birds, and full of Vitamin C, I harvest the rose hips after the first frost. We have an abundance of wild briar around the croft, and the hips are a lovely rosy orange colour. I also make a syrup from the hips, which is great for winter colds. In addition I also use Rosehip Oil in my facial cream, blended with Bakuchoil it is natures alternative to Retinol
Plantain (also known as ribwort), grows among the grasses in the meadows on the croft. This plant is often applied on the form of salves for wounds, bruises, ulcers, shingles and dry, inflamed skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. I use it in a salve, infused with nettles for their anti-inflammatory properties. Plantain needs to be carefully harvested, dried gently in the sun (as the leaves easily burn)
Red Clover grows freely in patches in the meadows, loving the sunshine this is full of sweet nectar, and loved by the bees. Nip off the end of one of the flowers and enjoy the rich taste. Indeed, red clover is particularly concentrated in plant estrogen, also known as isoflavones, which can aid the skin in numerous ways, including by stimulating the skin's natural collagen production system, increasing the skin's thickness, and helping improve the skin's moisture levels.
Our Kelp comes from the cold waters of the atlantic, off the outer Hebrides. These islands are an archipelago lying west of the Scottish mainland. The sea there is extremely clean and clear. A vegetable garden beneath the sea Ancient Greeks spread seaweed for fertilizer, Cretans used it for dye, the Romans for animal feed, and since Roman times in Britain, the Welsh put it in their bread, being Latin for water plant. It had been chewed like tobacco in Iceland, burned to ashes for its extracts in Norway, and distilled to make brandy in Britain. The French enjoy it for dessert and in Japan it is eaten raw, boiled and dried. Kelp is a brown seaweed commonly known as knotted, knobbed or bladder wrack, - is one of many species which form part of the botanical order or algae. Because it is a particularly rich source of minerals, trace elements, and other nutrients, seaweed is an ideal human health food, animal feed supplement, and plant fertilizer. Harvested in unpolluted waters at the most nutritious point in the plant's growth cycle, delivers kelp of the highest quality and value. Kelp benefits for skin - Kelp can act as an effective anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and as a moisturizer. Is perfect for dry and flaky patches of skin, due to its high iodine content. It can calm down irritations, reduce redness, besides which using products with sea kelp as an ingredient may help clear your acne and unclog your pores.
These little blue heads makes me smile every time I see them, growing in the meadows with the clover, daisies, tom thumb, vetch, they make a very pretty picture here in the glen. I harvest the heads when they are in full bloom, on a sunny late summers day. Field scabious is sometimes applied directly to the skin for treating skin conditions such as scabies, eczema, rashes, cracked skin on feet.
High summer and the edges of the field and road have gorgeous wild dog roses. I adore these, the delicate pink and white petals, with the stamens - each one perfect. Nature is fantastic. I harvest the petals, but am very careful only to take a few from each rose and not strip them all away. I dry the petals and use in salves. Dog rose fruit extract is used for its antioxidant properties because it has high phenolic acid content, which is an antioxidant. It is that's why when used on the skin, goes deeply into the skin and may protect the skin from any ongoing damage.