face oil? on purpose?
i can remember being a teenager and having many negative feelings about my oily face. i bought all the products that claimed to help me become the matte-faced goddess i knew i could be. well, they never worked for me. my t-zone remained greasy as ever.
so WHY, after all those years of torment, would i put oil on my face on purpose?
turns out oil isn't the enemy after all. i was just smashing so many "oil absorbing" "acne busting" things onto my face that i was clogging up my pores and actually causing more breakouts. turns out there are plenty of oils that will keep your skin nourished but aren't likely to clog your pores. some oils are even known to help your skin produce less of its own oil. which seems weird, but it's real.
do some research on which oils have the best properties for your particular skin type, and experiment! for example, i love coconut oil for my body but if i try to use it on my face, i break out. this was a useful discovery for me. i read a bunch and i tried lots of different single oils on my face. i made some herbal oil infusions and tried those too. i finally came up with a combo that makes my skin feel awesome. even when it would normally be cracking from dry winter conditions, my face is ridiculously soft and supple.
if you're into making your own, here's my recipe to get you started:
mix dried horsetail, chamomile, calendula, lavender, and elder flower
mix a lot of grapeseed oil with a little sweet almond oil and a splash of vitamin E
pour the oil mixture over the dried herbs
agitate daily for 4 weeks
transfer to a container of your choice (i like these treatment pumps or any amber glass bottles for storage)
put some on your face!
and here are some resources i found helpful when i was digging into skincare (some scientific, some anecdotal):
lavender rosemary hand salve
whoa. so, night owl apothecary made its inaugural vending appearance earlier this month at Baltimore Witchfest and it was AMAZING. what an incredible event with lovely energy and intentions filling up the space all day. not sure another tabling experience will live up to that, but i'd be happy to find out!
here are all the gorgeous items i brought along to the event: so much fire cider! (some with honey and some with agave for vegan folks who prefer not to consume honey), herbal bug repellent spray and salve, bug bite butter, lavender rosemary hand salve, sweet orange/vetiver/clary sage hand salve, golden milk electuary, soothing tummy tincture, sore throat spray, witch hazel & thyme facial toner, relax tea blend, and a bunch of chakra balancing room & body sprays.
some of these things i took home and some of them sold out! i was so pleasantly surprised to find my lavender rosemary hand salve flying off the table (not literally... it's witchfest so i feel i need to clarify). the thing about this hand salve is that it's not just essential oils added to carrier oils. (not that there's anything wrong with that!) the organic olive oil base was first infused for a month with comfrey, plantain leaf, calendula, rosemary, and lavender to really pack a skin healing punch.
the herbs were strained out and 8oz oil (by volume) was combined with 1oz melted beeswax (by weight before melting) in a double boiler. once everything was all melty and happy, lavender and rosemary essential oils were added, stirred in, and voila! the gorgeous mixture was poured into tins, labeled, and ready to slather on dry hands everywhere.
want a more detailed recipe to make your own? let me know! want to buy some of this amazing salve? well, you'll have to wait a few weeks because a new batch of oil is infusing. but let me know! get ready for the softest hands, elbows, and heels you've ever had.
community energy healing event!
on Saturday 12/22, a bevy of energy healers and other practitioners (acupuncturists! tarot card readers!) will be providing community healing at Baltimore Yoga Village in Hampden.
i still have some time slots left, but there are many amazing practitioners who have spots left as well! come by! give a donation for a great cause and get yourself some much needed relaxation for the holidays.
check out the Facebook event page: Winter Solstice Community Energy Healing and pre-register by donation here: Energy Healing Clinic
bless me father for i have sinned, it's been over a month since my last blog post. i haven't been catholic since the 90s, but that repetition really sticks with ya.
i've never met a person without a skincare regimen. even if it's just "i fall asleep with my makeup on and wash it off 2 days later in the shower", everyone has an answer to the question of how they care for their skin. if you want to know mine (and even if you don't) it's this: nutritive cleanser and face finishing moisturizer by perricone MD in the AM (look, i'm not perfect. truly i have no idea how i even got hooked up with this stuff. i probably found some in the medicine cabinet at an air bnb once and decided it felt luxurious. i'll be honest that i don't even know what kind of "MD" perricone is or whether there is a ton of bullshit in the face cream. nonetheless, it goes on my face and it smells good.) and tea tree face wash in the PM followed by thyme toner and a dose of skin rescue tincture.
the thyme toner and skin rescue tincture are homemade by yours truly. and i know a parent always loves their own kids best, but they really are both amazing.
thyme toner: menstruum is a combination of alcohol-free witch hazel w/ aloe, witch hazel with a bit of 14% alcohol to help with extraction, and rosewater. herbs are thyme, lavender, comfrey, and chammomile.
skin rescue tincture: menstruum is trusty ol vodka (Tito's, i'm open to a sponsorship any time). herbs are dandelion root, burdock root, yellow dock, red clover, and milk thistle.
i find that thyme is so great for blemishes because of the antibacterial properties. and the rest of the liquids and herbs in the toner are calming and, well, toning. most of the herbs in the tincture help to eliminate toxins through the digestive system that might otherwise be trying to get out through your skin and cause breakouts. the red clover has estrogen-like properties* that help with skin elasticity and can reduce inflammation. i've personally had success with both after tens of years of struggling with commercial products and prescriptions.
get in touch if you want me to set any aside for you once they're bottled!
*use caution with red clover if you are at risk for breast cancer or other hormone-sensitive conditions. use caution with the tincture in general if you are taking any medications for your liver or have liver concerns.
so this is part one of two. the second part will be an overall skin health tincture and hand / body salve. so keep an eye out for part two coming soon(ish)!
in part one, we're talking about psoriasis. i've been struggling to write this post because 1) i'm not a dermatologist and 2) this is one of those instances where i am taking my very best instincts, information, and advice from trusted herbalists and throwing it at the wall with my fingers crossed.
i don't suffer from psoriasis, personally. but a relative does. she came over recently and listed a bunch of different things that she's tried. so of course i wanted to add my own remedy to the mix: a psoriasis tincture! you might be thinking "but it's her skin. why would she take something internally to fix something externally?" and that's a great question. one that i'm not medically qualified to answer perfectly but the gist is this: apparently psoriasis, even though it shows up on your skin, is an immune problem that starts inside your body and presents as a buildup of scaly skin cells externally. your skin is an organ. all of your body's organs react, in some way, to what you ingest. and the tissue of your skin is no different. it's busy protecting your insides and secreting toxins and all sorts of cool things. and anything you can do to boost those functions, like taking a rad anti-inflammatory, liver supporting tincture, should help your skin be better at what it does. including, in theory, shedding dead skin cells instead of building them up in scaly patches.
sometimes an herbal medicine is tried and true. and sometimes it's an educated hypothesis using knowledge of a specific client's condition, other illnesses and medications, and an understanding of the herbal actions of my ingredients. this is the latter. if YOU have a tried and true psoriasis remedy, i would love to hear about it in the comments!
psoriasis tincture: pau d'arco, oregon grape root, turmeric, black peppercorn, calendula, burdock root, yellow dock, licorice root, milk thistle, oregano, thyme, and arnica, all extracted in vodka
breathing is important
most people don't think about it much, but there are lots of different kinds of breathing. the shallow kind that happens when we're anxious or stressed. the deep belly breaths that happen when we're being mindful and relaxed. the breath that happens on auto-pilot and helps us heal while we sleep.
and the other kind of breathing. the kind we are almost too aware of. when we struggle to get a deep breath because of tight chest muscles. or seasonal allergies. or asthma. or mucus (i know, i hate it too). or the flu. or inflammation. so many reasons it can become difficult to do this vital thing.
just so you know, the heart chakra is energetically connected to your lungs (at first i wrote "lunch"... i should grab a snack). if you are struggling with grief, relationship trouble, no time for self care, etc, there is a good chance your body is communicating this to you via chest discomfort. tight muscles, heartburn, difficulty breathing, etc. or vice versa! the physical symptoms may be the very thing causing the chakra blockage. here are a few recommendations! you can see a reiki practitioner to unblock your heart chakra, add some hawthorn berries to your tea for heart support, ask me for a respiratory health tincture (or make your own!)
here are the details:
mullein leaf, turmeric, black peppercorn*, lungwort (seems appropriate), elecampane, echinacea, thyme, oregano, lobelia, peppermint, licorice root (watch this one if you have high blood pressure), valerian (watch this one if you plan on operating heavy machinery), extracted in vodka
* in case you notice this as a theme, i always pair black peppercorn with turmeric because it helps with absorption! now ya know.
i did just deliver a fresh batch of these babies to Farmacy at Heckel Farm in baltimore! if you're in the mood for some lung health goodness once those pollens start flying around, go grab a bottle! if you don't like (or don't drink) alcohol based tinctures, give me a holler and i'll whip you up a glycerin-based batch just for you.
i've never tried to conceive. nor do i wish to, at this juncture in my life. but i can imagine if you are someone who would like to create a new human the "traditional" way (fertilizing an egg with a sperm - [i tried typing this lots of different ways and there was just no way that didn't look clinical...]), and you are having biological setbacks, it must be frustrating at best. i know there are lots of options, some expensive, some time consuming, some painful, etc, and the degree of success varies with each. so i am offering my two cents from my own areas of... well, expertise might be a stretch. but i offer my humble suggestions here:
1. clear your sacral chakra!
the sacral chakra, located around your belly button, is a hotbed of creativity and fertility when it's unblocked and balanced. the sacral chakra is tied, energetically, to your reproductive organs and hormone producing glands. of course i recommend seeing a reiki practitioner to get yourself unblocked and see what other issues may be underlying (come see me if you're in baltimore!), but you can also try this sacral chakra balancing meditation by yourself, at home:
find a comfortable place to sit or lay, undisturbed and un-distracted.
direct your attention up to the navel, wrapping around to the middle of the back. this is your Sacral Chakra. the Svadhisthana. creativity and sexuality and fertility live here. begin to picture this area glowing with orange light. yours may be amber, or coral, or a deep red orange, or anything in between. go deep into it and explore the colors as you feel that band of light and warmth begin to grow. what does it look like to you? explore the visuals and the sensations of your Sacral Chakra as it comes into balance. breathe into this place, sending your breath all the way down. continue to breathe into it, this band of orange light. and feel your creativity, your abundance, your fertility, your virility.
you are rich and fertile soil where things can grow. ideas, joy, abundance, pleasure, and wellness can grow from you. feel yourself moving freely with change, finding new solutions to old problems. feel yourself creating. creating your own emotional identity and space for yourself. you are abundant. lush. fertile. virile.
2. try a fertility tincture!
i have found these to be successful for friends, taken 10-20 drops per day.
if you want some good information on tincture making, i recommend these instructions from starwest botanicals or this page from mountain rose herbs! you can also buy bulk herbs from either one and they are both fantastic, imho. if you're feeling shy about making your own, get in touch! i will gladly make you anything you need, customized just for you. <3
when it snows, go inside
it has been snowing in baltimore for two days. the first two days of spring.
it can be magical and cathartic to play outside when the snow is falling. when it's so quiet and everything is covered in a pristine, sparkly blanket. when you can connect to your inner child and the part of yourself that remembers that nature is scary and beautiful.
but snow days are also great for the cozy indoor stuff. things you might not let yourself do if you weren't "trapped" in the house. extra cups of coffee or tea. finishing a book. staying in comfies. wine with lunch. lighting incense. finishing that blog post...
snow days are a good reminder to slow down and go inside. reflect. feel the full weight of your body in that reclining chair. take a moment to feel truly relaxed. hold onto that relaxation. keep it like a memory in every muscle so you can bring yourself back to that feeling when you are tense. i can't tell you how many times a day i have to remind myself to put my shoulders down. relaxing is a good habit to get into.
i'm going to end this with a brief snow day chakra meditation. ready?
close your eyes and focus on the space between your eyebrows. your third eye chakra. deep contemplation lives here. intuition. self-reflection. a path inward. let yourself explore here, bathed in indigo light. go inside.
move your focus to your chest. your heart chakra. compassion lives here. love for others and for the self. breathe deeply, filling up with green light. or pink light. or both. breathe out any feelings of guilt or fear of selfishness that might be tied to self love and self care. breathe in kindness for yourself. stay there, in a gentle space where you are allowed to take care of you. go inside.
too much thyme on my hands
did you harvest or buy too much fresh thyme? me too. i have a habit of buying those little clamshells of organic herbs even though they always contain far more than i need for whatever i'm making. last week i used half in a roasted garlic and sweet potato recipe, but i didn't have anything planned for the other half. rather than composting or throwing them away, i decided to make a single herb tincture.
because of the alcohol content, tincturing is a great long-term way to preserve herbs without refrigeration. and it can be a very simple process. for a fresh thyme tincture, i gave the leftover herbs a good rinse, cut off any brown leaves or dead ends, put them in a sterilized mason jar, filled it to the top with vodka, and voila!
i like to put a piece of parchment paper between the lid and jar during the extraction process. this prevents the alcohol from corroding the metal lid which could leach into the liquid. i've found that it's a good practice to label my jars with the herb, menstruum (this is the liquid you're extracting in... sounds positively gynecological, doesn't it?), and the date.
i like to extract my herbs for 3-4 weeks, shaking every day or 2, and then strain through cheesecloth into amber bottles, with or without droppers (so specific, i know - but it helps to keep the light out, i swear).
so, i have thyme tincture in a bunch of little bottles, now what? i'm glad you asked. thyme is known for having antiseptic and antifungal properties, among other rad traits. i've added some to a witch hazel toner to help with blemishes, diluted some with water to use as mouthwash, and have mixed it into other single herb or compound tinctures for its amazing medicinal properties. but there are so many other possibilities! if you were so inclined, you could mix some with white vinegar and water as a surface cleaner, or even add some to a vodka cocktail for an herby twist (shout out to my genius wife Andrea for this idea which i will be trying asap).
bottom line, don't let fresh herbs go to waste (unless you like that sort of thing). find a recipe for a candle, a tincture, bath soak, essential oil, etc. or write me a nice note and maybe i'll do it for you! i've got the thyme.
is there anything scarier or more exhilarating than new beginnings? okay, probably. but right now, i can't think of any. all i can think about is this wild idea i had to start selling my tinctures. and, from that one idea seed, a hundred other wild ideas are growing. how about a website? i should start a blog! LLC? 5013c? podcast? try to grow all of my own herbs in a greenhouse in my back yard?! definitely get a second instagram account, at the very least. i need cuter labels. who will design my logo?! i know too many amazing artists (what an excellent problem to have).
i have been making various herbal preparations - tinctures, salves, teas, electuaries, oxymels, and more (sometimes without even realizing what they were) - for years. we can thank my first job, at a health food store in a small hudson valley town, for that. i was lucky, at 16, to be exposed to new kinds of medicine and healing, and to be open enough to let it all in. 18 years later (don't do the math) i have a growing book of reiki clients and 10 different tinctures extracting in a cabinet downstairs. i feel grateful for this light, this thread, which has followed me throughout my life. i'm excited for possibilities. and for sharing. and learning. and community.
let's do this.
Christina is a reiki practitioner, herbalist, and ordained minister living in Baltimore with 1 wife, 1 cat, and 1 day job.