Saturday, April 23, 2016

DIY Herbal Mosquito &Tick Repellents - Part 1

Spring Greetings To Everyone!  If you've been following my blogs, then you know that I live in the beautiful state of Maine . . . and spring - if we have one - doesn't unfurl her pretty face here until sometime in May (after everyone else in the United States is already in full spring swing).

Yesterday, while out puttering in my garden, I noticed something teensy and black hovering and buzzing about my head . . . then, apparently, it decided to weasel its way into the curls at the nape of my neck and settled in for a blood meal - OUCH!  It was our native black fly (jokingly referred to as the Maine State Bird)!  "They're here", I grimaced!  The mosquitoes will follow soon enough, then the fleas and ticks start hatching, and the deer flies, which look like little brown stealth bombers, arrive in June.  Such fun!  With the beauty of each season also comes its darker side . . . yin and yang . . . life always strives to balance . . . lol!

Well . . . lucky for me, I know how to make effective natural, chemical-free bug repellents and use them all season long . . . nary any DEET in sight, and rarely a bite!  And, lucky for you, my latest book, Naturally Bug-Free: 75 Nontoxic Recipes for Repelling Mosquitoes, Ticks, Fleas, Ants, Moths & Other Pesky Insects (Storey Publishing c2016), was recently released.  It contains herbal formulations that really work to keep bugs off your person, your dogs and cats, and out of your home. Mother Nature gave us insects, but she also gave us the means to deal with them.  Using herbs, essential oils, diatomaceous earth, and other natural ingredients, this book shows you how to make insect-repellents sprays and balms, herbal bug repellent sachets, mild pet shampoos and effective flea and tick powders, and aromatically-pleasing insecticides for for your your home.  

Today, I'm going to begin another series of blogs in which I will share a handful of recipes and tips on how to make a variety of bug repellents and insecticides.  In case you're wondering, this book DOES NOT contain recipes for keeping bugs off your house plants or out of your garden.  It is strictly written for repelling bugs from people, pets, and keeping them out of your residence.

This initial recipe, found on page 82 of my book, is one of my more aromatically pungent formulations and it works quite well when the bugs are buzzing and biting at a pretty steady level and the ticks are crawling about looking for their next meal.  It has a heavy-earthy lemony essence that many of you will find quite pleasant - though a bit on the strong side.  Strong, safe, and effective - yet no toxic chemicals.  Isn't that what we are all seeking in a repellent?  If you scroll down to the bottom, I've attached photos of the plants from which the valuable essential oils used in this recipe are extracted.

Regarding the Zika virus . . . no one can claim that their repellent - whether commercial or homemade, chemical-based or natural - will completely prevent bites from mosquitoes carrying this dangerous virus, nor mosquitoes/ticks that carry other blood-borne pathogens.  It is up to you to, if going outside in areas infested with dangerous insects, to use common sense and wear clothing that covers your bare skin. If you wish to use DEET as a secondary protection, then I suggest that you only apply it to your clothing, but that is your call, then apply a strong natural repellent to your bare face, neck and hands.  DEET is toxic - and you need to be aware of that - but I'll get into that matter in another blog. 

Lemony Eucalyptus-Geranium Tick Repellent Spray

When these four essential oils - lemon eucalyptus, geranium, lemongrass, and citronella - are combined, the result is a potent, safe, and pleasingly aromatic tick repellent that works wonderfully well at fending off flying insects, too.

(NOTE:  You can substitute Eucalyptus globulus essential oil, if lemon eucalyptus - Eucalyptus citriodora - is unavailable.  The formula will still be effective, but the earthy-lemon aroma will be slightly lighter.)

Cautionary Note:  DO NOT use this formula on children under 3 years old.


- 20 drops geranium essential oil
- 14 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil
- 7 drops lemongrass essential oil
- 7 drops citronella essential oil
- 1/2 teaspoon liquid castile soap, peppermint or eucalyptus scent 
- 1/2 teaspoon vegetable glycerin
- 1/4 cup purified water
- 1/4 cup unflavored vodka (inexpensive vodka works just fine)
- 1, 4-ounce spray bottle (glass or plastic, though, I prefer glass)

To Make The Repellent:  Add the geranium, lemon eucalyptus, lemongrass, and citronella essential oils directly to the 4-ounce storage bottle, then add the liquid soap, glycerin, water, and vodka.  Screw the top on the bottle and shake vigorously to blend.  Allow the spray to synergize for 1 hour.  Store at room temperature, away from heat and light; use within 1 year.

For Application:  Shake well immediately before use.  Spray liberally onto skin as needed - you may need to reapply every 20 to 30 minutes.  Avoid spraying directly into eyes, nose, and mouth. Note: It may stain light-colored fabrics.

Yield:  approximately 4-ounces or 1/2 cup

 Photo of Eucalyptus citriodora

Photo of Rose geranium

Photo of Lemongrass (obviously)

Photo of Citronella (obviously)
NOTE:  Portions of this blog were adapted with permission from the book, "Naturally Bug-Free" by Stephanie Tourles, (Storey Publishing c2016). The information is true and complete to the best of the author's knowledge.  All recommendations are made without guarantee.  The author disclaims any liability in connection with the use of this information.  It is for educational purposes only. 



Friday, April 22, 2016

Creating Herbal Facial Oils: Part 3

Hello Everyone!  Today's blog continues my "Creating Herbal Facial Oils" series and I'll be sharing one of my favorite facial oil blend recipes - ever!  I've used my Repair & Restore Elixir or a variation of it for years and my skin reflects the youthifying benefits (at least I think so) of these particular essential oils/base oils.  The recipe comes from my best-selling Organic Body Care Recipes book -  found on pages 202-203.  If you don't own a copy yet and are interested in learning about how to create your own pure, natural skin/body care products, then definitely pick up one!  The book is truly an educational experience and will take you by the hand, guiding you through the world of natural skin/body care ingredients and "kitchen cosmetology".

 Repair & Restore Elixir

This is a regenerative and anti-inflammatory elixir containing skin-supportive fatty acids that helps repair and pamper environmentally stressed and mature skin, leaving behind a healthy feel, more even tone, and suppleness.  This blend can also be used to help prevent stretch marks, to speed post-operative skin healing and regeneration, and to aid in healing mild, first-degree burns.

I formulated this blend for its skin-restorative properties, not for the unique aroma that develops after it synergizes for 24 hours.  And . . . unique, it is.  Personally, I love it, but you might find it takes some getting used to as it contains some rather strongly-scented ingredients. With consistent use, combined with healthy lifestyle habits/diet, your skin will blossom . . . I promise!

- 7 drops carrot seed essential oil
- 7 drops helichrysum essential oil
- 6 drops calendula essential oil (CO2 extract) ((This is NOT calendula flower infused oil!
     The essential oil is often available diluted in jojoba oil, and that is okay to use.  Try or Simplers Botanicals as a source.))
- 1 teaspoon rose hip seed base oil
- 1 teaspoon calophyllum (aka foraha or tamanu) base oil
- 1 teaspoon macadamia nut base oil (may substitute avocado oil)
- 1 tablespoon apricot kernel base oil (may substitute almond oil)
- Recommended For:  normal, dry, mature, sensitive, sunburned, windburned, or environmentally damaged skin; also for scarred skin tissue

- Use: 2x per day (3x per day for treatment of minor kitchen burns, sunburn, or scar tissue)

- Prep Time: approximately 15 minutes, plus 24 hours to synergize

- Blending Tools: shake storage bottle before each use

- Store In: dark glass bottle with a glass dropper top

- Yield: 2 tablespoons or 1 ounce  

To Make:  Add the essential oils, drop by drop, directly into a 1-ounce, dark glass storage bottle, then add the base oils.   Screw on the dropper top, wrap your hand around the bottle, and shake the formula vigorously for 2 minutes to completely blend all ingredients and gently warm them to body temperature.

Set the bottle in a dark location that's between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours so that the oils can synergize.  No refrigeration is required, but for maximum freshness and potency, please use within 6 months.  This short shelf life is due to the inclusion of rose hip seed oil, which tends to go rancid within 6 months.

To Use:  Morning and evening after cleansing, apply the appropriate toner, astringent, or herbal hydrosol to your facial/neck area.  While skin is still very damp, place 4 to 8 drops of elixir into your palm, rub both palms together, and lightly massage the elixir into skin, beginning with the decollete, throat, then face, using upward, outward, and circular strokes.  Wait five minutes before applying sunscreen, additional moisturizer if desired, or makeup.


- To Help Prevent Stretch Marks & The Resulting Scars:  Apply a combination of 1 teaspoon of rose hip seed base oil and 1 drop of calendula essential oil (CO2) extract directly to the expanding abdomen.  Massage the entire area twice daily.  These are very, very safe oils, but check with your health care provider first if you are concerned.

- To Help Prevent Scar Tissue & Speed Healing:  Please consult with your health care provider prior to usage . . . To help fade scar tissue that already exists, my Repair & Restore Elixir can be applied by the drop 3x daily directly to scars anywhere on the body.  Scars that are less than 2 years old will tend to respond more favorably than older scar tissue.

- To Aid The Healing Process Of Burns: Use on burns that are not too severe and don't require a physician's care, including sunburns, grease burns, and general "kitchen accident" burns.  Immediately pour chilled aloe vera juice onto the area to stop inflammation and cool the tissue.  Follow this with an application of several drops of Repair & Restore Elixir.  Repeat this procedure up to 3x per day.  You should see dramatic improvement and recovery.

 Photo of Calophyllum Tree (also known as - Foraha or Tamanu)

NOTE:  Portions of this blog were adapted from "Organic Body Care Recipes" by Stephanie Tourles, Storey Publishing (c2007).  All materials provided in my blogs, on my website, or through social media are for informational or educational purposes only and not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your healthcare professional or physician.