Unlike woven potholders, moisturizing and healing skin salves are pretty much universally appreciated handmade presents. They’re useful, they smell great, and in the right packaging, they can be downright pretty. Herbal salves deliver natural medicine to the skin, and they can be used to soothe a variety of maladies. Plus, it’s incredibly easy to whip up a big batch all at once, making it a perfect DIY project. The recipe below is for a simple skin-healing salve that’s great for rashes, scratches, and itches. It’s also extremely nourishing for the patches of cracked, dry skin that lots of us develop during the winter. Prep time is approximately six hours, but most of that is spent waiting for the herbs to infuse; all the ingredients should be available at your local health-food store, or online.
Healing Skin Salve
Makes approximately 12 oz.
4 oz. dried plantain leaf
4 oz. dried comfrey leaf
16 oz. olive oil
1 1/2 oz. beeswax (or candelilla wax as a vegan alternative)
lavender essential oil
geranium essential oil
small tins or jars
Pour the dried herbs and the olive oil into a heavy-bottomed pot, and place in a 200-degree oven for 5 hours. Then strain the oil into a separate heat-safe container, remove all the remaining plant particles from the pot, and add the strained oil back. It should be a vibrant dark green color. Stick the pot on the stovetop, turn the heat to medium, and add the beeswax. Stir occasionally until all the beeswax is melted. Turn off the heat and add equal portions of the essential oils—the strength is entirely up to you, but I like to add about 20 drops of each per batch. Stir, and while the mixture’s still liquid, pour the salve into your containers; wait until it’s solidified, then put the lids on and add labels. Use within one year for best results!
Print out the labels we used at bust.com/downloads
By Rebecca Altman
Resources: beeswax, dickblick.com; tins and jars, specialtybottle.com; ribbons, twine, and bells, mjtrim.com.
Prop Styling by Hannah Jensen
Photographed by Emily Kate Roemer
This article first appeared in our Dec/Jan print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe Now!