Body Care Extras

Skin and hair aren’t the only pieces of your body care puzzle. Healthy and beautiful lips and nails are every bit as important to appearance, left untended, they can become quite irritated.

Chapped Lips

Rough, cracked lips not only feel uncomfortable but also look unattractive. You can protect your lips from summer’s drying heat {and winter’s wind and cold} with a soothing herbal lip balm. The balm I recommend is a good alternative to petroleum oil-based ointment sticks that can dry out your lips more than moisturize them. Indeed, many people complain that lip balm sold in stick form makes their lips even drier, and they find themselves needing more and more of it.

Herbal lip balm comes in a tasty selection of flavors, including orange, tangerine, lemon, and vanilla. If your lips are very chapped, avoid essential oils that sting, such as peppermint. Plastic lip-balm containers that snap shut can be purchased in stores that sell backpacking supplies.

Honey Lip Balm for Chapped Lips

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 ounce shaved beeswax

1 teaspoon honey

10 drops lemon essential oil or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oil in a pan. Stir in honey and essential oil or flavoring. {Expect a little residue at the bottom of the pan from the extract and honey.} Pour the balm into lip-balm containers while still warm {be sure the mixture is not too hot or it will melt the plastic containers}.

Fungal Infections

Fungal skin and nail infections can be extremely annoying, not only are they unsightly and uncomfortable, they are also difficult to eliminate. Ringworm, which causes athlete’s foot and occurs most often on the feet, scalp, beard, fingernails, and toenails, is one of the best known, but there are many different types of fungal infections. Jewelweed, garlic, yellow dock, pau d’arco, the lichen Usnea and the fresh husk of black walnut all contain compounds that deter fungal growth. {The tincture of jewelweed and usnea are particularly good, but they are also extremely hard to find.} Many herbs high in essential oils are also antifungal, especially tea tree, oregano, lavender, eucalyptus, rose, rose geranium and myrrh. Small amounts of peppermint relieve the itching associated with many fungal infections.

A herbal salve can be used on fungal skin infections, but your best bet is a herbal vinegar and/or a bentonite clay dusting powder to dry out the moist environment in which fungus thrives. Although dabbing a gourmet vinegar on your skin may seem odd, oregano and garlic vinegar’s make excellent remedies. Vinegar itself directly destroys fungal infections, and its effectiveness is increased by adding eight drops of tea tree essential oil per ounce of vinegar.

tea tree oilMy brother found great success using herbs to fight fungal problems. He had a terrible case of athlete’s foot which he thought he had picked up at the gym. He tried various pharmaceutical preparations, but they only brought temporary relief. After a few days, these preparations always made his feet burn and feel worse than the athlete’s foot itself. Because his feet were so raw and because herbal vinegar stung, he used a salve containing tea tree and lavender essential oils. At first, his feet did not look any better, but they certainly felt better, much better, in fact. It took only a few days for the crusty rings to start subsiding. He still needs to use the salve every once in a while when the athlete’s foot flares up again, but he says the attacks are happening less often. Part of the reason for this may be his discovery that it helps to wear shoes that keep the feet well-ventilated and as dry as possible. He also noticed that the fungal infection becomes worse whenever life becomes stressful.

Antifungal Vinegar

4 ounces vinegar {for extra strength, use oregano vinegar}

2 tablespoons tincture of pau d’arco

1/4 teaspoon each tea tree and lavender essential oils

1/8 teaspoon peppermint essential oil

Combine ingredients. Apply a few times daily with cotton balls or swabs or use a compress soaked in vinegar to cover a large area. I use oregano vinegar. You can make this yourself or buy a culinary oregano vinegar.

Antifungal Dusting Powder

1/4 cup bentonite clay

1/8 teaspoon each tea tree and lavender essential oils

Combine clay and essential oils in a plastic bag. Drop in essential oils, tightly close bag and mix well by turning bag over a few times and breaking up any clumps. Let sit three days, then store in an airtight container.

nail care

Nail Care

Your fingernails are subjected to daily assault. Detergents, fingernail polish, glue for artificial fingernails, formaldehyde-based nail hardeners, and household chemicals are just a few of the attackers. You can protect your nails by wearing gloves while washing dishes or hand-washing clothes, and by avoiding contact with gasoline, paint, and other harsh chemicals. Nail polish, lacquers and especially nail polish remover are very drying to nails, often causing them to crack and split. If you use these products, choose formulas without formaldehyde and add half a teaspoon of castor oil to every ounce of an acetone polish remover to moisturize nails and surrounding skin.

Brittle nails that crack easily indicate possible dietary problems. Healthy nails need a sufficient amount of calcium, magnesium, protein and silica. Drinking a tea made of equal parts oat straw, nettle, and horsetail or taking capsules or tinctures of these herbs daily can improve your nails from the inside out since these herbs are high in silica and other minerals important for nail growth. Supplements of GLA in the form of evening primrose, borage or black currant seed oil also help.

How else can you achieve beautiful fingernails?  Soaking them in herbal teas or oils of comfrey, oat straw and horsetail strengthens nails and cuticles, the thickened skin at the base of your fingernails. For fungal problems, first, soak your nails in the Antifungal Vinegar, then follow by rubbing in the Nail Soak Oil.

Antifungal Vinegar

4 ounces vinegar {for extra strength, use oregano vinegar}

2 tablespoons tincture pau d `arco

1/4 teaspoon each tea tree and lavender essential oils

1/8 teaspoon peppermint essential oil

Combine ingredients. Apply a few times daily with cotton balls or swabs or use a compress soaked in vinegar to cover a large area. I use oregano vinegar. You can make this yourself or buy a culinary oregano vinegar.

Nail Soak Oil

2 tablespoons jojoba oil

4 drops each lavender and sandalwood essential oils

Combine ingredients. Soak nails in the mixture for 10 minutes. Buff nails to stimulate circulation and bring out a healthy shine.

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