Skincare with Plant Extracts

So, here’s a tangential topic for this blog: Skincare.

I’m not a dermatologist and I’m not a beauty guru. However, I have had skin issues since I was very young, mainly acne, and the end result is I have gotten very familiar with skincare. Notably, I have been in and out of the dermatologist office and have tried well over thirty different systems for treating my skin. Of course, there are prescribed products, but for me results have been mixed. Many of them really dry your skin. For instance, I’ve been using a ten percent benzoyl peroxide solution on my face for quite some time now. It helps, to a point. And then, because your skin is so dry and damaged all the time, it starts to overcompensate and not help much at all. About two weeks into summer, with my face looking oily and totally gross from heat and humidity, I finally decided I had enough. I had to change what I was doing.

So, I decided to try oil cleansing. I’d been using a cream cleanser for some time and have had encouraging results, but currently, I am poor. Still waiting on my first paycheck from my job. So, I can’t really purchase face cream. This happens sometimes. But my philosophy is, when I the world won’t give me what I need, I make it. For me, this is doable because I tend to have herbal items stockpiled and laying around my house. I’m telling you this now, because I’m also going to give you my recipe, and you’re probably going to wonder how any of this is cheap. It is for me, because I’m constantly crafting and happen to have this stuff just lying around. I make my own lotion, lip balm, bath infusions, all that jazz, so I’ve got a bit of a stash. Many of the ingredients are bought in bulk, so if you have enough for one recipe, you have enough for many. I spent zero dollars making this. For anyone else though, they might have to amass the ingredients. I’d be happy to recommend sellers if anyone is interested.

To make an effective herbal oil cleanser, I used both an oil infusion and essential oils. Oil infusions are made by allowing herbs to steep in oil for four to six weeks. They have all sorts of applications. Depending on the herb used, they can be used directly on the skin or added to all manner of lotions, balms, and salves in order to treat various conditions. Or in some cases, just to make things smell good. If really depends on what you want to do.

Essential oils are a bit different. They are plant extracts obtained by steaming large amounts of plant material. A very large quantity of plants are added to stills and steamed, creating two products, hydrosols and essential oils. (The hydrosols, incidentally, make excellent toners for your skin.) Essential oils are not like vegetable oils. While they both do not dissolve in water, if essential oils are left sitting out, they will evaporate, whereas a vegetable oil will not. This is an important characteristic in determining if you’ve got genuine essential oils. If it sits on paper like vegetable oil, it’s diluted and not a pure extract.

Sometimes, precious essentials, or plant extracts requiring a great deal of plant material, will be diluted in vegetable oil. This is done because typically there isn’t enough plant material to make large quantities of essential oil. Good examples of precious essentials are rose oil or jasmine oil. Sometimes you might see a pure essential oil, but get ready to shell out the big bucks because I promise you it will not be cheap.

I used both an oil infusion and essential oils that I had hanging out around my house to make my cleanser.

I have to say, I am pleasantly surprised. Combined with the dermatologist recommended treatment, my skin is nearly clear (yay!). Crafting doesn’t always work out, but when it does, it’s wonderful! So here is what I put together:

  • A quarter cup of green tea infused almond oil. I infused this a month ago. It’s three tablespoons of sencha tea in 1 cup of oil. Let sit for a month. You can do this with nearly any herb you want. Other good choices would be calendula, chamomile, lavender, or mints. Personally, I’m thinking of adding calendula and chamomile the second time around I do this. They’re both nice anti-inflammatories.
  • About a quarter to a half cup of grapeseed oil. It’s high in linoleic acid, which is pretty good for your skin.
  • And then a slew of essential oils, about ten or so drops of each. Lavender, tea tree, spearmint, and geranium. Geranium in really good for maintaining oil balance in your skin.
  • And then, I’d say I used about a quarter cup of apricot kernel meal. This was added for the exfoliation component. Pros: I’ve got some super good, finely ground stuff from Mountain Rose Herbs, and it’s an excellent exfoliator. Not too harsh. Cons: It kind of made the cleanser smell like bread. I’m not too concerned about it, but I imagine this would be a deal breaker for some. Personally, I let it go because I got such good results. But if scent is a primary concern, maybe pick something else to let sit in the oil.


Incidentally, Grapeseed Oil is what I use as makeup remover as well. 

I wish I’d had the forethought to take before photos. I wasn’t really thinking too hard about it, unfortunately. Mostly, I just needed a face cleanser. And I needed it to be free. If you’re looking to make a cleanser, you could parse down this recipe quite a bit. To make it super cheap, leave out the essential oils, and stick to infusions for your herbal component. Dried and fresh herbs are much cheaper than essential oils.

You could also just pick one. If you buy an essential oil, firstly, make sure it’s a skin safe oil. Some are most certainly not. Off the top of my head, clove, cinnamon, and citrus oils can give you full on chemical burns if you let them sit on your skin. So, do your research. Also, treat these oils like an investment. A lot of plant material goes into making an essential oil. A bottle should last a long time if properly cared for. Finally, always dilute these. Do not ever put an essential oil directly on your skin.

You also don’t need more than one vegetable oil either. For me, I just happened to have the almond oil/green tea infusion laying around. There wasn’t a special reason for it. If acne isn’t an issue for you, you’ve got a whole world of oils just waiting for you. I have a friend who cleans her face using strictly sugar and coconut oil. Her skin looks great. Coconut oil, though, will absolutely clog your pores (I am speaking from experience). Otherwise, do a search for non-comedogenic oils. Then I would cross-check with price. If you can, buy it in bulk. It will save you money.

Altogether, if you’re looking for cheap, one vegetable oil, maybe one essential oil, and one exfoliator will give you a good cleanser, for a relatively good price. If you feel so inclined, you can try it out!


A bit random for a blog topic, I know, but it’s going so well I just had to share. Currently, I am getting settled into my new apartment. I have acquired three new plants and I have already planted a moonflower, which I’ll tell everyone all about in a future post. Hopefully, once the chaos of moving and starting a new job dies down, I will be able to post on a regular schedule. Let me know if there are any plant related topics you’d like me to discuss!


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