Friday, May 28, 2010

Prunella vulgaris (Self Heal)

This low growing weed is commonly found in lawns in the Eastern US but less so in the Western US. It is commonly called Self-Heal and being in the mint family will grow prolifically. It may be more common in Chinese Medicine where it is used for cardiovascular problems than in Western Herbalism. It is not native to North America but has of course become naturalized and grows mainly as a weed, but has its place in my garden. Prunella is antioxidant rich and contains rosmarinic acid. This phenylpropanoid is an antioxidant and has been show to inhibit cancer. Prunella has also been found to have activity against the Herpes virus that causes cold sores as well as antiinflammatory activity, pain relieving activity and wound healing activity; hence its nickname Self Heal. To me this says it has a place in healing balms and I use it in my healing lip balm. You could also use it as a poultice for various wounds or as a tea to relieve mouth pain from various sores.

The small purple flowers of the plant are edible and can be used in salads, soups or in a tea. Use it as a diuretic, liver stimulant,astringent and antispasmodic. Its nutritional value includes vitamin C, K and B1 as well as antioxidants. Its always great to know how important some of our 'weeds' are.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

CrabApple Blossoms

Wordless Wednesday: looks like a wedding, but these are crabapple blossoms blown off the tree, beautiful.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Using Herbs in Skin Care - an Interview

I was recently interviewed by Beth Byrne about using botanicals in soaps for an article in The Saponifier. This is a summary of that interview.

1. Name, location, business name, any other background info.

My name is Cindy Jones. My business name is Sagescript Institute and I've recently started calling my line of products "Colorado Aromatics". We moved to a 9 acre property in Longmont CO (45 min north of Denver) almost 3 years ago after spending several years on a large lot in one of Denver's older suburbs. It was my love of herbs that played a big role in my interest in skin care products. It started off as a hobby making products for friends and family and eventually grew into a business when I realized it really encompassed most of my loves including chemistry and physiology.

2. What are some of the botanicals you use most in soapmaking?
Calendula is my favorite and I use it in soap to give a nice color. I use the petals either whole or ground added at trace. Calendula is a wonderful herb that contains a variety of carotenoids. Calendula has been found to improve wound healing so is great for regenerating epithelial cells of the skin. The calendula soap I make also has oatmeal in it and customers have told me it helps their eczema. It makes a very mild soap. Other herbs I use in soap include mint, rosemary, lavender and rosehips. Actually I also just made a chocolate soap with choke cherry skins in it, sort of a Black Forest Soap! I love thinking of herbs to put in soap.

3. Why do you use them?
The main reason I use herbs is because I love them and love growing them! My business has evolved as an agricultural business and to be part of my local farmers market requires that my products be agricultural and so they all contain herbs that I grow. Since herbs have many beneficial properties for skin this has been easy. Of course the benefits of herbs in a wash off product like soap is not going to be as much as a leave on product. But the idea of herbs in soap is definitely aesthetically pleasing and we all know that is important with skin care. Herbs are high in antioxidant flavonoids which are water soluble and extracted in a tea. Flavonoids are stable in high pH like lye so their benefits should come through in a soap. You can use a tea to replace any or all of the water in your soap. Ground herbs used in soap is slightly exfoliating.

Extracts of herbs can also be used in leave on products where they provide more benefits. I sometimes use tinctures because that way I know any microbials have been destroyed. Green tea and rosemary are two that I use frequently as tinctures. Infused oils and water extracts can also be used. When using herbs in skin care though its important to remember that whatever is good for your skin is also good for bacterial or fungal growth so preservation is important. And of course, you know that microbiology testing is another thing Sagescript does!

4. Where do you get your botanicals?
The reason we moved to our farm was so that we could grow plenty of herbs. I am working towards growing all my own herbs but am not there yet. It takes a few years to get good growth on many herbs so patience is important. I am also limited by the amount of time and energy I have and trying to fit everything else in. I grow calendula, mint, comfrey, yarrow, lemon balm, clary sage, plantago, parsely, lavender, fennel, feverfew, sage, thyme, oregano, rose, artemisia, raspberry, rosemary, prunella, hops, chamomile, and others I'm sure I've forgotten. I also grow rose geranium but not alot since it is one that has to go in my sunroom/shed/greenhouse during the winter. I also use these herbs to distill. I love to use the aromatic distillates alone or with added herbs as a toner or haircare product, or in a lotion/cream. When I don't have enough of something I first search for someone local who will let me harvest and if that doesn't work I purchase it from a supplier.

Information from this interview (and others) was published in the May/June 2010 issue of The Saponifier in the article "How You Can Use Botanicals in Soap and Cosmetics" by Beth Byrne.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dill Lip Balm and I Won!

I had a new product this weekend at the market; Dill Lip Balm. This balm is not yet on my website but I'll try to get it up asap. Dill has a wonderful fragrance, is good for the skin and improves the mood - where better to use it than on the lips? The lip balm has infused dill oil and dill essential oil. At some point I'll do an entire blog on dill.

Do you ever enter giveaways on blogs? You should. I just won a blog giveaway from Beth Byrne at Soap and Garden. Beth is a writer, herbalist and a soapmaker. I know Beth writes both for The Essential Herbal and for The Saponifier and she probably does alot more that I don't know about. She gave me a Whipped Shea Body Butter and let me choose two soaps. I chose vanilla sandalwood because I love the scent and rarely have it on hand. I also chose the 'Stain Stick' because my son had just gotten an ink stain on his shirt and we are always getting stained up here on the farm. I haven't used it yet though since laundry is a rushed thing for me.

Blog giveaways are great; I'll need to do more blog giveaways myself!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

HSMG Cleans Up Denver

Some entries in the 'Best Looking Soap' Contest

I spent this last weekend with 303 handcrafted soapmakers in Denver Colorado and what a weekend it was. If you are a soapmaker you should certainly consider this even for next year. It was a wonderful, educational, and entertaining weekend.

Living an hour away, I drove in on Friday morning in time to hear keynote speaker, Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun encouraging us to take 'care' and think about how our decisions and actions (both personal and business) influence the world. It was quite an inspiring speech with great thoughts for small business owners and a great way to start the conference. The rest of the day was packed with great talks that made some choices difficult.

One of the talks was mine on "The Nature of Chemistry". I was nervous wondering how many soapmakers would be interested enough to sit through an hour of chemistry, but people actually came! I thought it went well and got some good feedback. It encourages me to get my chemistry class and skin physiology class finished and online. If you were there feel free to let me know what you thought in the comments. On Friday night Debbie May from Wholesale Supplies Plus hosted a party and gave away thousands of dollars of gift certificates as well as shared great business advice.

The next day started with aromatherapist Robert Tisserand. Wish I'd brought my copy of "The Practice of Aromatherapy" for him to sign. Robert has a gift for critical thinking and puts alot of information in perspective. If you don't read his blog you should; After that it was again a day packed with hard choices. I enjoyed the open business advice given by both Debbie May of Wholesale Supply Plus and Kayla Fioravanti of Essential Wholesale in separate talks.

Later that evening was a party thrown by Essential Wholesale that included drinks, dinner, and exceptional entertainment; a very generous gift from Kayla and Dennis Fioravanti! I think Dennis and Kayla agree that being able to laugh hard is probably a very good thing we can all do for our businesses!

Sunday's programs were just as good and included Donna Marie Coles Johnson who talked about using video on your blog, Marie Gale on labeling and Kevin Dunn educating and entertaining us with his scientific soapmaking (and thoughts on white flecks). This was followed by the Awards Dinner which ended the 2010 conference.

Throughout the meeting were raffle drawings (tickets were sold 25 for $20). The prizes went on and on. I won a bag of clays and kelp from Essential Wholesale (any ideas on how to use kelp?) and a kit for a hair mask from I'll enjoy playing with both of these. Sagescript donated a microbiology testing as well. I didn't see who won that so hopefully they will get in touch with me.

Although everything about the conference was good one of the best things was being able to meet people that I have known for years but never meat in person. I look forward to future meetings.


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