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Herbal Salves

Making your own lip, skin, and hair tonics

Soothing skin balms to soften and heal can be scented with commercial essential oils or your own. The ones you make will not be as strong, but unless you just happen to have a still set up to make bathtub gin, you'll find them a lot easier. (Of course, if you're drinking bathtub gin you probably don't care all that much anyway, do you?)

Mix a cup of dried calendula or chamomile blossoms with two cups olive oil and stir with a wooden chopstick or spoon handle. Cover and place in a brown paper bag. Set on a sunny windowsill for 6 weeks, then strain and use to soothe rough hands.

For lip balm, set a butter melter (or other deep cup-shaped metal container) in a pan of boiling water and add 1/2 ounce beeswax, 1 tablespoon rosemary-infused olive oil, 1 tablespoon wheatgerm oil, and 1/4 teaspoon vitamin E oil. Stir until wax is melted and oils are well blended, then pour into tiny jars or cans.

For a soothing and refreshing facial splash, infuse skin-friendly herbs (such as chamomile) in witch hazel for several weeks, then store in the refrigerator.

Simmer dried rosemary leaves in water for 10 minutes, strain and mix with equal parts of cider vinegar for a hair rinse that will restore the natural pH balance after a shampoo, and leave hair lustrous.