Warm breezes and sunny days, summer is the time for outdoor activities. But along with the summer fun comes summer skin irritations like sunburn, blisters, insect bites, and the dreaded poison ivy. You can buy over-the-counter products to treat all of these, but you will also be getting the added chemicals and preservatives. Why not take a little time to make your own highly effective, all-natural DIY skin salve?
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All Natural Skin Salve – 4 Ingredients
- Coconut oil
- Lavender essential oil
- Herb-infused oils
Best Herbs for Summer Skin Irritations
These four common plants have traditionally been used to treat skin irritations. You can use any combination of these depending on availability and your preference. If you will be collecting wild herbs, be sure they haven’t been treated with chemicals, and if you are unfamiliar with any of the plants, be sure to use a good plant identification resource – I recommend A Peterson Field Guide to Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs (Peterson Field Guides) .
Plantain – Plantain sp.
Plantain weed, not to be confused with the tropical plantain fruit, is a common weed found throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia.
This is my favorite summer plant for skin irritations, and if you can only use one plant for your summer skin salve, this is the one I recommend!
Insect bites, including spider bites and bee stings, can be painful. Plantain is quite effective at treating bites and stings. Herbalists refer to plantain as a powerful “drawing agent”, and it is used for a variety of purposes, including:
- Drawing venom from snake and spider bites
- Drawing infections from wounds
- Treating bee stings and mosquito bites
Plantain as a remedy is considered cooling and soothing, making it a perfect ingredient to include in our DIY skin salve. The leaves are collected and used fresh or dried, and plantain makes an excellent addition to your DIY herbal first aid kit.
The primary species are Plantago major, and Plantago lanceolate. Both are found plentifully, often growing in lawns, along sidewalks, and other areas of disturbed soil. Be sure to use a good resource for identifying plants before making remedies. You can also purchase dried plantain leaves here.
Calendula – Calendula officinalis
Calendula has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, making it useful for all kinds of skin inflammation. In addition, calendula has antibacterial and antiviral properties, making it valuable for preventing a variety of infections. Studies show calendula helps damaged skin and wounds heal more rapidly. (Reference here.)
Calendula is part of the marigold family and is quite attractive in the garden. Flowers are collected and dried and used to make herb-infused oil. Dried calendula flowers can be purchased here.
Dandelion – Taraxacum officinalis
Dandelion is another prolific weed with many healing properties. Traditionally used topically to treat muscle aches and pains, dandelion flowers are infused in oil and make a nice addition to your summer salve.
Jewelweed – Impatiens capensis
Jewelweed is a lovely little plant that prefers growing in moist areas and is frequently found growing in close proximity to poison ivy. Native Americans believe nature provides the cure, and jewelweed is one of the best natural remedies for the rash associated with poison ivy.
The golden orange blossoms and leaves are traditionally used to make herbal remedies. Identifying jewelweed is easiest once is starts blooming, typically after the hot days of summer arrive (along with the insects and poison ivy!). Again, be sure you properly identify the jewelweed using a good plant guide. .
Making Herbal-Infused Oils
The first part of making a salve requires infusing your herbs in oil.
Step One – gather your herbs. Allow the fresh plant (leaves and flowers) to wilt for a few hours, this helps remove some of the moisture, which can cause your oil to become moldy.
Step Two – crush or cut the plant material into small pieces, then place your leaves in a clean pint-sized jar.
Step Three – cover the leaves with oil – olive or jojoba work nicely. Be sure you have completely covered the leaves with oil to prevent mold from forming. Place the lid.
Step Four – Fill a saucepan ¼ full of water and bring to a gentle boil. Carefully place your jar of herbs in the water and allow to simmer for 2 hours. Allow the oil to cool before straining off the herbs.
Step Five – After the oil has cooled, strain off the herbs and save your oil.
Making Your Skin Salve
Now that you have your herb infused oil, you can make your salve. The addition of beeswax will help protect, soothe, and nourish your skin, and helps keep the salve solid even in the heat of summer. Lavender essential oil has properties that reduce pain and inflammation, as well as promote healing (source here). Coconut oil is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and helps keep the salve from spoiling.
- ½ cup herb-infused oil – use one or several herbal oils, depending on preference and availability
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- ¼ cup beeswax (I prefer the pastilles, they melt easier)
- 10 drops of lavender essential oil (optional)
- Using a double boiler set-up, melt the beeswax.
- Add the herb-infused oil and coconut oil and warm gently until everything is melted.
- Remove from heat and add the lavender essential oil.
- Pour into small jars with lids. Don’t forget to label your jars with the ingredients and date!
How to Use Your DIY Summer Skin Salve
Simply apply a small amount as frequently as needed to treat cuts, scrapes, bites, stings, bruises, aches, and pains.
If you enjoy creating your own herbal remedies, I recommend making this delightful Rose Aloe Cooling Lotion and Spray. It’s super easy and wonderfully effective!
Wishing you much health and happiness,