There are plenty of places that sell infused oils for skin and hair remedies, but the day I learned how to infuse my own herbal oils for DIY beauty recipes was the day I became unstoppable. Herbal infusions are basically just large quantities of herbs steeped in water for several months, but it can seem intimidating for DIY beauty beginners.
For one thing, there are tons of herbs and flowers to choose from, all with amazing skin and hair care benefits. The best way to choose is of course, to figure out which herb will be best for your own personal needs. For me, infusing oils allows me to have control over the end product which is important for holistic remedies. Many oils on the shelves are infused with olive oil, but there are times where the specific fixed oil is too heavy for the type of application I want to use or I can't determine the purity of either the herb or fixed oil. That's why I had to start whipping up my own witchy infusions.
Herbal infusions shouldn't be confused with essential oils; infusions are made by using dried herbs with a healthy amount of vegetable oil. There are a few types of ways to infuse herbal oils and the fastest way to is cook herbs and oil together on low heat, but the drawback is heat can remove vitamins and nutrients from both the herb and the oil. If you want results from your herbal infusions, the best method is solar infusion. It's arguably easier than cooking on a stovetop, but they do take months before they are ready to use. IMO, it's totally worth it. This is my foolproof method.
1. Find The Best Herbs
There are some great places to find organic herbs online, or you can have some serious fun picking your own herbs at a garden or perusing
the shelves of your favorite flower and herb store. My method is usually based
on where I am at the time, but I always choose organic herbs to make sure they are free
of pesticides and other unwanted ingredients for my infusions.
2. Dry Your Herbs
If you're lucky enough to stumble upon an organic farm that
lets you pick your own herbs then I highly suggest drying your herbs before you try to infuse them. If you're
a city dweller much like myself, you may find organic, fresh herbs are more
affordable than their dried counterparts. I use a dehydrator for fresh herbs to
speed up my drying process, at most the herbs take a full day to dry as opposed
to the several weeks using cornmeal or sand for
drying herbs can take. If you've pre-bought organic dried herbs, then you are already two steps ahead to making your own infusion.
3. Choose The Best Vegetable Oil
The most popular choices for infusions are extra virgin
olive oil and sunflower oil — and for good reasons. Olive and sunflower oil have a long shelf life
and since infusions take several months, it's best to avoid oils that won't even last through the infusion process. Always check the dates on your oils and mark your
infusions to ensure freshness. The high fatty acids of these oils also make them an ideal choice for absorbing the herbs.
4. Mix The Oil & Herbs
I like to use mason jars for my infusions. Make sure your jar is completely
clean and dry before you get started! Water moisture can lead to mold during infusion. With clean
hands, fill your jar up almost halfway with dried herbs; the more herbs the
more potent your oil will be. Fill the rest of the jar up completely
with vegetable oil. It's best to keep as little air as possible in your
infusion without spilling over the top. Seal your lid tightly and give a nice
5. Let The Sun Infuse Your Oil
My most recent batch of
infused oils began in May, just when the sunny weather came. I let my jars sit
outside in the heat on shelves because they were able to utilize sunlight
without being in direct contact with the blazing heat. If you have a sunny area
in your home, you can put the infusions inside. Some herbalist recommend
keeping the oil in a dark, cool place — this should work as well, but your
infusion may take longer. Either way, be sure to label your infusion with the
date, herb, and oil used, since their appearance will change as the infusion really gets going.
6. Shake Your Stuff
A fellow herbalist gave me a great tip for keeping my
infusions fresh during infusion. Each
day, I give each of my oils a nice shake and check for mold or color change. I
like to let my infusions steep for about three months. Yes, it's a VERY long time
and yes, it is still totally worth it.
7. Transfer Your Infusion
Once your infusions are ready, you'll want to remove the
herbs. Use a mesh strainer over another sealable container to remove leaves,
herbs, and stems.
After transferring oil to a permanent storage container, take the
remnants and place them in a plastic container. Use another container of the
same size and place inside the one holding the oily herbs. Press down hard and
let the oil spill out over a mesh strainer and into your storage container. Discard
the herbs or use them in a body scrub!
8. Use Your Infusions
As I mentioned before, these infusions can be used for a
variety of things. Include them in a DIY body scrub, cream, or use them on
their own for a nourishing oil post-shower.
Once you've done your first infusion, you'll likely want to
start another. Hold that thought: Use and test out your oil to determine
potency, freshness, and consistency before making another batch. Once you've
gotten a method down, you can combine different oils for a some seriously
awesome holistic remedies!
Image: Kristin Collins Jackson (10)