Sep 22, 2016

Queen of Hungary Water, facial toner & light fragrance

In this renaissance recipe history and facts are conflicting with myths and legends. There is a noteworthy bibliography for this legendary preparation: each author proposes his/her own version! Queen of Hungary Water is considered to be the wold first alcoholic perfume but also an almost magical tonic, a youth elixir. 

Its name is connected with Queen Elisabeth of Hungary (1305-1381); the 72 year old queen  needed an elixir to cure her rheumatism and to give her back her lost beauty. There is a legend that the elixir was prepared by an alchemist of the royal court and that it was so effective that the 25 year old king of Poland asked her to marry him!!

Citrus (Hesperidia) Essential Oils & their properties

Hercules in the Garden of Hesperides. Red figured hydria from Attica, ca 410 BC, British Museum. 
In his Eleventh Labor, Hercules traveled a lot, he crossed the Ocean and reached the Northern Edge of the World to find the secret Garden of Hesperides.  His mission was to steal the Golden Apples that were kept in there. The Golden Apples belonged to Zeus, king of Gods and were guarded by Hesperides, nymphs, daughters of Night, and by Ladon a scary snake-like, hundred headed dragon.

Nowadays, these Golden Apples of Hesperides (Hesperidia=Citrus fruits) are kept in our kitchen and each one of them has a precious beauty secret: Vitamin C or ascorbic acid.
Vitamin C protects the skin, contributes in the collagen production, it is highly anti- oxidant and fights against free radicals which are responsible for skin aging. Vitamin C promotes skin elasticity and has also whitening properties. It is a real source of youth and beauty! Apart from vitamin C, citrus fruits contain folic acid, one of B vitamins, minerals ans also substances such as flavonoids and carotenoids.

Sep 19, 2016

Herbal balm for dry skin

During the last ten years, consumers are asking more and more for natural cosmetics and natural ingredients for their preparations. Due to the increasing demand there is also an increasing offer of natural vegetable oils deriving from exotic (or not) fruit and herbs. You can choose among melon seed oil, passion fruit oil or papaya seed oil...I don't mean to underestimate the unique beneficial properties of these exotic oils,  I become somehow skeptical with this over-offering.  Is there a real value or it is just marketing? 
Until I find a justified answer I will continue to believe that the best oils are the herbal infusions in vegetable oils such as olive, almond or sunflower. It is the best way to "steal" the soul of the herbs..

For your eyes only! Anti-wrinkle Eye cream.

For my e-friend Eleftheria who asked for an efficient anti-wrinkle and easy to prepare eye cream! 

The key ingredient in this recipe is the Evening Primrose Oil (Oenothera biennis) which is very nourishing due to its high content in essential fatty acids such as gamma-linolenic acid. Essential fatty acids inhibit bacteria growth, fight infections and are anti-inflammatory. Evening primrose oil is ideal for the dry & sensitive skin area around the eyes.

Sep 7, 2016

Chocolate on lips, a yummy lip balm!

chocolate lip balm 
playing with the black witch..

Theobroma cacao, the food of the Gods

According to Mexican legends, QuetzalcóatlGod of the Golden Moon and of Frozen Winds, had provided important gifts to mankind: fire, water, bread and cocoa tree. Our knowledge about cocoa for the period earlier than 600 ad is limited to charming myths. Still, it is confirmed that Mayas were the first who widely cultivated cocoa trees. Recent archaeological findings in the peninsula of Yucatan  proved that Mayas consumed a drink with cocoa since the middle pre-classic Period of their highlight, namely 2,600 years ago.

Coconut dream body cream

Coconut fruit collector,
Indian Watercolor of Unknown Artist, 1785
Victoria and Albert Museum
Cocos nucifera, the Tree of Life of the Tropics 

Even if coconut's origin is subject for speculation, it is believed that its birthplace are the islands of south Pacific and Indian oceans. The coconut was spread throughout the tropical zone due to its ability to float and sail pushed by the ocean currents. Once washed ashore on places with the appropriate climate they were able to spring up 
and colonize the area. It is said that this expansion took place 3.000 years ago, a long period before its systematic cultivation.
Travelers from Polynesia, Malaysia and Arabia contributed to coconut's spreading in the Pacific islands, Asia and East Africa. In 16th century European sailors launched the coconut palm in West Africa, in the Caribbean and the Atlantic coast. Coconut became the dominant fruit of the  tropics.

Sep 5, 2016

A mythic cream: Galen's Cold cream

The first cosmetic cream in history was created by Galen, a Greek physician who was born in Pergamum (Asia Minor), studied in Greece and became the most famous doctor in the Roman Empire. His theories dominated European medicine for more than 1,500 years.
Since Galen was chief physician to the gladiator school in Pergamum, gaining much experience of treating wounds, he invented many therapeutic preparations and among them the famous Galen's cold cream (=ceratum refrigerans) which took this name due to its cooling effect in the skin once the water was evaporated.

Today, ceratum refrigerans  may seem as a primitive water-in-oil emulsion, still at that time it was a pioneer preparation that remained unchangeable for 15 centuries. 

Aug 25, 2016

Perfume recipe: rose in a jar

or how you can imprison perfume in a box..

This is a really easy and tempting aromatic alchemy! Let's make a solid perfume.
In fact it is about an aromatic balm using jojoba oil as carrier oil and beeswax. The addition of a floral wax will increase the quality of this solid fragrance.
The trickiest part is the preparation of the aromatic blend: Of course, only essential oils will be used. Once the essential oils are mixed, then it will take only a few minutes to prepare your perfume. And don't forget: this kind of perfume is portable, easily used, long-lasting and makes a great gift.
If there is still someone who hesitates to try this recipe, then I'll repeat what Janice Cox mentions in her book "Natural beauty at home": This is the kind of perfume used and loved by NefertitiCleopatra, and Madame de Pompadour  

This recipe was originally published in May, 2007.

Bee honey: recipe for a nutritious & regenerating night cream

Inspired by bee products..

Apis mellifera

I am a big fun of bees and bee products, I consider them as miracles of the nature and I always use them in my homemade cosmetics. This time I used a combination of four fabulous bee products to make a super nutritious and regenerating night facial cream. This recipe was originally published in March 2007, in Greek. some useful links were included. For the English version I selected this super blog which is full of valuable info.

In Greece, since antiquity apiculture (honey production) has played an important role in society, economy and nutrition. Greek beekeepers and mainly the small-scale, local community ones produce honey of high quality. Honey from wild flowers & herbs, the famous thyme honey, honey from pine, fir, chestnut, oak, citrus & heather flowers are the main types of the Greek honey produce.
Many of the Greek smal scale bee keppers are also bloggers with beautiful blogs. Ι select one for you, it's wonderful, it worths a visit.

Back to the recipe now. To make the nutritious and regenerating night facial cream, you will need:
  • beeswax, for the emulsification,
  • honey, for is moisturizing and humectant properties, and because it's packed with minerals and vitamins. 
  • propolis, for its antibacterial, antimicrobialproperties. Propolis stimulates skin regeneration, it  contains vitamins B1, B5, provitamin A & minerals and due to its antibacterial properties it can play the role of a natural preservative.
  • royal jelly, for its precious iconstituents such as amino acids, minerals, B complex vitamins and its anti-aging effect. 

Aug 24, 2016

On your hands, a herbal hand cream recipe

This recipe was originally published in February 2007, the first hand cream recipe I shared. A friend of mine, obsessed with gardening, had asked me to create a protective herbal formula to treat his tired hands. For this formula I used two herbs well known for their healing properties: Calendula officinalis (pot marigold), which was analytically presented in this post and Symphytum officinale (known as comfrey plant) the properties of which are presented below. 

Aug 23, 2016

Calendula honey lip balm recipe

Calendula infused oil sooths and moisturizes the sensitive lip skin. Combined with emolient cocoa butter and protective honey it produces a rich soothing lip balm. It makes also a super gift! Let's go for it.

Calendula cream recipe: you'll love it!

This post was originally published in Greek in August 2007. The reason for this article was the high price of the calendula creams sold by strong brands of natural cosmetics. Since I consider this cream as an all-time classic preparation, ideal for after-sun usage, suitable for all skin types and especially the sensitive ones, I decided to share my all natural calendula cream recipe. The herbal oils and extracts as well as the active ingredients included in this recipe will make a soothing, nourishing & protective cream. There you go!

Aug 22, 2016

Hypericum perforatum (St John's-wort): Herbal properties & infused oil preparation

St John's-wort is one of the most popular and commonly used herbs. Herbalists adore to use its oily extract which has been  traditionally recommended for a wide range of medical conditions, in particular mild-to-moderate depression.

honey lip balm

This recipe has been provided to me by an e-friend of mine. I found it in my mailbox and made it asap. It's very effective, easy to make and  as sweet as my e-friend! Voila:

How to make a herbal balm or salve

Balms & salves are beginners’ favorite preparations. They are easy to make as they consist of only 2 main ingredients: herbal infused oils and beeswax: really difficult to fail!
Herbalists adore these preparations since it is the easiest and more efficient way to receive the benefits of herbs and create homemade natural "remedies". Balms & salves do not contain water, so no worries for fungi and bacteria growth, no need for preservatives.

Still, due to their structure they have two disadvantages: