You grow herbs for culinary uses and maybe herbal remedies, but did you know you can use herbs for skincare products you make at home?
Yes, friend, you can!
The herbs you grow on your homestead can be crafted into phenomenal DIY herbal beauty products that are all-natural, inexpensive, and work just as well as store-bought skincare.
You may be growing many of these already, so incorporating herbs in handmade skincare is just one more way to make the most of your herbal harvest (and another step toward self-sufficiency). New to DIY herbal skincare? There are recipes below to help you turn your herb harvest into handmade green beauty products.
If these herbs don’t have a place in your garden yet, you’ll also find tips below on how to grow them. Don’t worry, they’re all easy-care plants and perfect even for beginner herb gardeners.
And these herbs pull triple duty: they can be used in DIY herbal skincare products, can be used in the kitchen for cooking, baking, and teas, and make lovely additions to your landscape.
This cheery orange flower, also called pot marigold, is pure gold when it comes to DIY skincare. In traditional medicine, calendula is used topically for skin irritations, rashes, wounds, and bug bites. Its beneficial properties bear out with modern research as well.
Calendula blooms prolifically from summer until the first frost and looks beautiful in the landscape.
The flower heads, specifically the petals, are the part of the plant that is used therapeutically. Harvest when the blossoms are half-open to fully bloomed, but before they start to wilt or dry on the stalk.
Remove the flower head and lay it on a mesh screen in a well-ventilated area to dry. You could also place the flower heads in a dehydrator.
Once the flower heads are completely dry, pull the petals from the heads and store them in a jar with a lid.
These dried petals can be used whole in bath soaks and bath teas. Finely ground, calendula petals can be added to soap bath bombs, and facial masks, where they give a gorgeous yellow-orange color to your DIY skincare products.
Calendula really shines when infused in oils and incorporated into soothing salves, lip balms, and body butter. Another fun benefit: the petals are edible and look pretty sprinkled in baked goods or on salads.
How to Grow Calendula
As its folk name “pot marigold” suggests, calendula grows well in pots. It also does well in beds or simply scattered in a sunny spot on your property.
Calendula prefers full sun, but it will tolerate some light shade especially in warmer climates.
This herb grows easily from seed. Sow them directly in the soil just after your last frost date. Calendula likes rich soil and regular water.
Although it is grown as an annual, it readily self-seeds so you can have an easy crop pop up every spring if you leave some blooms on the plant to go to seed.
Calendula Facial Oil Recipe
This facial oil is incredibly nourishing and soothing, with the added benefit of being quite simple to make.
Fill a half-pint mason jar approximately 2/3 of the way with fully dried calendula petals. Pour in equal parts rosehip seed oil and evening primrose oil until the jar is completely full and the petals are submerged. Loosely screw on a lid and let infuse in a sunny windowsill for six weeks.
Strain out all pieces of calendula petals and add these to the compost pile. The resulting oil is skincare gold.
To use, massage a small amount over cleansed face, neck, and chest. The oil rapidly absorbs into the skin. Use twice daily. This calendula facial oil has a shelf life of four months.
Chamomile is a lovely little herb that blooms with delicate, daisy-like flowers. Of course, chamomile makes a soothing cup of tea, but it also has incredible benefits when used topically.
Chamomile has skin healing, soothing, and anti-inflammatory properties (2). It can reduce skin irritation and redness, and may help repair the skin’s barrier function (3).
Like calendula, it’s the dainty flowers that are used therapeutically. Harvest chamomile as you would calendula, by pinching off flower heads and drying them.
No need to remove the dry petals from the head, though, as the petals are tiny and the whole process too fiddly. Besides, the entire flower head provides skincare benefits.
Use the flower heads whole in bath teas and bath soaks, or infuse into oil. Ground into a fine powder, chamomile makes a soothing addition to facial masks, body scrubs, and bath bombs.
One important note: If you are allergic to ragweed, chamomile is best avoided in topical products because it belongs to the same family.
How to Grow Chamomile
German chamomile is the species that is most often grown for tea and medicinal purposes, although both German chamomile and Roman chamomile have skincare benefits.
German chamomile is an annual, has an upright growth pattern, and can reach about 24 inches in height when it’s happy. It does well in pots and in the landscape alike. German chamomile grows easily from seed and self-seeds freely, so you’ll probably be treated to volunteers each spring.
Roman chamomile has a lower, creeping growth pattern and is best grown as a groundcover. It is a perennial in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9, but in the colder areas it will die back to the roots during the winter and reemerge come spring. Roman chamomile isn’t quite as prolific a bloomer as its German cousin.
Both types of chamomile prefer full sun to light shade and are drought tolerant. Let the soil dry out between watering.
If you’re torn between the two, here’s a possible tiebreaker: German chamomile does better in poor soil and requires less water than does Roman chamomile.
Chamomile Oatmeal Facial Mask Recipe
Chamomile makes a lovely facial mask for all skin types. This mask is gently cleansing and soothing, and will leave your skin looking bright and feeling refreshed.
- 1/2 cup oats, finely ground
- 1 tablespoon powdered milk
- 2 teaspoons dried chamomile, finely ground
Stir together all ingredients until well blended. Store dry mask base in a half pint mason jar.
To use, mix 1 tablespoon chamomile oatmeal mask base with enough water to make a smooth, spreadable paste. For dry skin types, you can mix the mask base with grapeseed or olive oil instead of water.
Massage over face and neck and let set for five to 10 minutes. Rinse well with warm water.
The dry mask base has a shelf life of one year. Prepared mask should be used immediately; discard any leftovers.
What would a skincare garden list be without lavender? Not much of a list, considering the abundant benefits lavender has on the skin.
Lavender is high in antioxidants and helps stimulate skin renewal. It is a remarkable herb, with pain-reducing and anti-inflammatory qualities. Lavender is also antimicrobial and antifungal.
Historically, lavender was used to cleanse and heal the skin. Today, this fragrant herb is used to improve skin issues such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
And you can’t overlook lavender’s long history of relieving stress and soothing an anxious mind.
Harvesting lavender is as simple as cutting of the flowering stalks and hanging them to dry. Once dry the buds, which contain the volatile oils, are easily shook loose for use and storage.
Lavender buds look beautiful in bath teas and soaks, as well as sprinkled into soap. Infused lavender oil lends gentle fragrance and soothing properties to DIY lotions, lip balms, and body butters.
How to Grow Lavender
Lavender is a perennial bush that thrives in dry, sunny conditions. It’s a hardy herb; it prefers lean soil, is drought-tolerant, and doesn’t require much maintenance.
It can be grown down to hardiness zone 5, but in those cold weather areas you should give your lavender some winter protection. Another option is to keep your lavender in a pot and bring it inside to spend the wintertime a sunny window.
The key to growing happy lavender is to provide it with well-drained soil and let it dry between watering. Lavender does not like wet feet.
With chamomile and calendula, you’re rewarded with blooms the first year. Lavender requires a bit more patience. Expect your plant to start flowering at two to three years old. Because it takes some time to get started, and seeds germinate slowly, you’ll get the best result from planting lavender starts rather than sowing seeds.
Lavender Milk Bath Soak Recipe
One of my personal favorite ways to enjoy lavender is in a relaxing bath soak. Bonus: it’s easy to make!
- 1 cup Epsom salts
- 1/2 cup powdered milk
- 2 tablespoons dried lavender buds
- Optional: 30 drops lavender essential oil
Mix together all ingredients until well blended. Store in a pint-sized mason jar or similar. To use, pour approximately 1/2 cup bath soak into running bathwater. Soak for at least 20 minutes.
This bath soak has a long 12-month shelf life.
Lemon balm, also called Melissa mint, has a bright citrus-y fragrance that is worlds away from other mints.
Lemon balm is a popular ingredient in green beauty products not only for its herbaceous lemony scent, but for the powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging qualities it has.
This herb can be safely used by all skin types, but oily skin especially loves it. Lemon balm is astringent and has antimicrobial properties that make it helpful for skin prone to blackheads and breakouts.
In folk medicine, lemon balm is used to relax the muscles and relieve tension so it makes a special relaxing treat when incorporated into DIY bath and body products.
Frequent pinching back keeps your lemon balm healthy. Snip off stems as needed and use fresh steeped in water for an easy facial splash. Dry the leaves to incorporate into facial masks, bath teas, and body scrubs. Lemon-balm-infused oils can be used for DIY body butters and amazingly tasty lip balms.
How to Grow Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is a lovely, easy-to-grow perennial for the herb garden. But unless you have a large space where you don’t mind it taking over, keep lemon balm in a pot. It self-seeds freely, often to the point where it becomes a nuisance.
Like most mints, this herb likes regular water but it doesn’t care to be overly saturated. Plant in well-drained soil to keep it happy.
Lemon balm likes full sun and can thrive in hardiness zones 4 through 9.
Lemon Balm Whipped Body Butter Recipe
This creamy body butter has a frosting-like consistency and is nourishing for dry skin.
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon balm, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup sweet almond oil
- 1/4 cup shea butter
Place lemon balm into a small heat-safe bowl or a pint-sized mason jar. Add sweet almond oil and shea butter. Put the container into a small pan filled half-way with water, to make a bain-marie of sorts.
Warm and hold over low heat for one hour to infuse the oil and shea butter with lemon balm-y goodness. The shea butter should be just melted, but never allow the oils to simmer. Keep an eye on the water level in your pan and add more water as needed.
Carefully strain out the lemon balm leaves (toss this into the compost pile) and allow the oil mixture to cool and partially solidify. With a hand mixer, whip until the mixture is fluffy and stiff peaks form. You’re looking for a whippy, frosting consistency. This will take about five minutes or so. Spoon into a jar with a lid.
To use, massage your lemon balm whipped body butter over all dry areas of the skin. It’s especially effective when used immediately after bathing or showering. It’s also nice to use just before bed to help soothe you to sleep.
This whipped body butter has a shelf life of six to eight months.
Sprightly peppermint is a popular perennial in the herb garden. It’s incredibly easy to grow and will provide a prolific harvest nearly year-round in warmer climates.
While the topical benefits of peppermint aren’t as widely studied as some of the aforementioned herbs, the research that has been done shows it can relieve itching and is mildly antimicrobial. In herbal medicine, peppermint is used topically to cleanse the skin, relieve irritation, and reduce inflammation.
Peppermint also gives a cooling and refreshing feel to all your DIY skincare products.
The frequent cutting back of peppermint stimulates the plant to regrow, so harvest as desired. Dry the leaves and use them in soap, body scrubs, and bath products. Peppermint is especially nice in foot soaks and foot scrubs.
Infused in oil, peppermint is lovely in lip balms and salves. Fresh peppermint leaves can be steeped in water for a refreshing summertime body spray.
How to Grow Peppermint
Peppermint sends out lots of underground runners and can quickly become an invasive nuisance in the garden; it’s best to keep this one corralled in a large pot.
Peppermint likes partial shade. A place where it can get morning sun but protection from hot afternoon sun is ideal. Keep the soil uniformly moist but not soggy.
This is a hardy herb and is tolerant of temperatures down to hardiness zone 3. It will die back to the roots in the winter in cold climates and remerge come springtime.
In very hot climates, you may need to grow this mint as an annual, or look for varieties that can tolerate a bit of heat.
Peppermint Body Polish Recipe
This refreshing peppermint body polish helps remove dead skin cells, leaving your skin silky smooth and soft.
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup olive oil (you can use peppermint-infused olive oil for extra peppermint punch)
- 2 tablespoons dried peppermint
Stir together all ingredients until well blended. If the body polish seems too dry for your liking, add more oil, one tablespoonful at a time, until you get a consistency you’re happy with. Place in a container with a lid for storage.
To use, measure out about 1/4 cup into a shatterproof container (because broken glass in the shower is never good, my friend). In the tub or shower, massage the polish over the entire body. Rinse well. Do take care because the oil can make the floor of your tub slippery.
This scrub will leave your skin feeling incredibly soft and moisturized. It will last four months unrefrigerated.
This little herb is often overlooked in beauty products in favor of its showier compadres, but sage has exquisite skincare benefits for all skin types.
Sage is filled with antioxidants which can help protect the skin from free radicals and, ultimately, keep your skin looking young. In fact, a 2016 study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that sclareol, a chemical constituent of sage, was effective at protecting the skin against photoaging and may help prevent wrinkles. Not bad for a humble herb!
Sage is also healing when used topically and has anti-inflammatory effects.
You can harvest by snipping branches as needed, just never harvest more than one third of the plant at one time.
Dried leaves are wonderful in bath products and facial masks. Dried sage makes an especially nice add-in to handmade soap. Handmade milk soap with sage and sweet orange essential oil is awesome!
Fresh sage can be made into face and body splashes, like the recipe below.
How to Grow Sage
Sage likes full sun to partial shade. It will be equally happy in pots or in the ground, provided it has well-drained soil. Sage likes regular watering but does allow the soil to dry out between.
This hardy perennial grows best in hardiness zones 4 to 11. It doesn’t care for intense summer heat, though, so protect your sage from late afternoon sun if needed.
Sage is a slow grower, so if you want a quick harvest buy older plants. If you’re the patient sort, sage grown from seed will be ready to start harvesting from when it’s two years old.
Sage Facial Splash Recipe
This facial splash is refreshing and toning, with a lovely herbaceous scent.
- 1/8 cup fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoon witch hazel
Place the chopped sage leaves in a heat-safe mug or mason jar. Pour 1/2 cup steaming, but not boiling, water over the herbs. Steep for 30 minutes. Strain out leaves and add them to the compost pile. Let cool completely, then add witch hazel and stir to incorporate.
To use, pour a splash into a small spritz bottle and lightly mist the face, neck, and chest after every cleansing. (You could also apply it to a soft cotton cloth and gently smooth it over the skin.) Follow up with your favorite moisturizer or facial serum.
Your sage facial splash has a short four-day shelf life when left unrefrigerated, but it is so easy to make you can easily whip up a fresh batch as needed. Refrigerating the splash extends the shelf life to 14 days.
Fragrant with dainty leaves and even daintier flowers, thyme is a staple in Mediterranean cooking. The scent permeates the herb garden, especially after a warm summer rain.
This herb has plenty of benefits for the skin when used topically. Thyme is rich in vitamins A and C, both important vitamins in terms of skin health. It’s also high in antioxidants. Studies have shown it to be anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, and healing.
To harvest, cut stems back and hang to dry. Thyme can be utilized in facial splashes and soap. Thyme-infused oils make a good base for DIY balms, butters, and lotions.
How to Grow Thyme
Thyme loves full sun, thrives in hot conditions, and is very drought tolerant. Stick it in the ground and forget it (until you need a few sprigs, that is!)
Thyme doesn’t like to be fussed with too much once it’s planted, and I’ve personally found thyme doesn’t like transplanting. If you’re not putting it directly in the ground, plant thyme in a large pot so that it has plenty of room to grow without the need for frequent transplants.
Thyme Salve Recipe
Given its therapeutic properties, thyme makes a wonderful skin salve. Smooth a bit on dry cuticles, chapped lips, bug bites, and other minor skin irritations.
- 1/4 cup thyme-infused sunflower oil
- 2 tablespoons shea butter
- 2 tablespoons beeswax (for a vegan balm, use a plant wax such as candelilla)
- Optional: 15 drops thyme essential oil
Begin by making an infused oil. In a pint-sized jar, fill 2/3 of the way with sprigs of dried thyme. Fill the jar with sunflower oil and let set in a sunny windowsill for six weeks.
To make the salve add thyme-infused sunflower oil, shea butter, and beeswax to a small heat-safe bowl or a pint-sized mason jar and place in a small pan half-filled with water. Set pan on the stovetop over low heat until beeswax is fully melted. Remove from heat and stir in essential oil, if you’re using it.
Pour melted salve into small wide-mouth containers and let sit undisturbed to cool and firm up. Once the salve is completely cool, affix lids.
To use, massage a small amount of salve into dry or irritated areas. This salve has a long eight- to 12-month shelf life.