Thus, the idea to plant a “skin-care garden” was born.
The Burpee Muddled Mocktail Windowsill Herb Kit ($19), which I received as a press gift, turned out to be the perfect starter kit. Though it’s technically meant to be used to grow muddling herbs for cocktails, it was everything I needed to grow plants for my beauty DIY projects. It looks like an ice cube tray, and sits on top of a drainage well to help you avoid mess. It comes with everything you need to grow basil and lemon balm (including soil pellets for each section and seeds for each herb) and can be used over and over again to plant new herbs.
For something slightly more statement-making, opt for the Le Creuset Stoneware Herb Planter ($32). While it’s bigger than the herb kit, the ceramic planter is still small enough to fit on a windowsill. The 5.5-inch pot comes with a separate tray for drainage, and is a great choice if you’re looking for an option that’s visually beautiful and can still meet your needs. What’s more, it comes in six colors—white, navy, hunter green, mustard yellow, gray, and light purple—to match the vibe of any space.
Skin-friendly herbs that grow easily
What’s great about herbs is that they grow quickly and can thrive in almost any environment. As long as they’ve got water and sunlight and are trimmed regularly, they should be able to flourish—it’s honestly pretty hard to kill them. In my experience, I’ve found that the easiest skin-friendly herbs to grow are basil, lemon balm, lavender, mint, and rosemary.
I dedicated my larger, Le Creuset planter to an established English lavender plant, and popped the rest of the seeds into my Burpee Windowsill tray. It didn’t take long for them to grow—I had sprouts within a couple of days (basil and lemon balm came first, followed by mint and rosemary). After three weeks of regular watering, I had plants that were mature enough to begin clipping from.
How to repurpose your herbs into DIY beauty recipes
The good news about these recipes is that they’re fairly difficult to mess up. You can use your judgment to eyeball the ratio of herbs to other ingredients until you find the mix that works best for you—there’s really no wrong way to do it.
1. Rosemary mint scalp bars
I’ve talked to countless hairstylists about how amazing rosemary oil can be for hair growth and scalp health, so it’s no wonder it’s become a key ingredient in my new favorite DIY scalp bar.
“Rosemary is a plant-based ingredient that can help the overall health of your hair and scalp due to its anti-inflammatory properties,” says Annagjid “Kee” Taylor, a Philadelphia-based hairstylist. “It can stimulate new hair growth, thicken your strands from the roots, help increase blood circulation, improve your scalp microbiome, and even help reduce stress thanks to its calming aromatherapy properties.”
Making these scalp bars is easy (I followed the below recipe, which I found on TikTok), and you don’t need a ton of rosemary or mint clippings from your beauty garden to bring them to life. Just a few will do! Simply steep them in water, let the mixture cool, and pour it into an ice mold so you can pop them into the freezer to form (we like this one, which has little massaging bumps to increase blood flow to your scalp). I like to use this treatment once a week, on Sundays, to give my scalp a little reset. I let the ingredients sit on my scalp while I sleep, then wash them out the next day.
Rosemary mint scalp bars
1. Fill a pot of water, add rosemary sprigs and mint leaves, and bring to a boil.
2. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool before pouring it into the molds.
3. Freeze overnight.
2. Lavender body oil
Lavender is known for its zen-inducing properties, which make it a great addition to a body oil. “Lavender has been used for centuries for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties,” Sara Panton, co-founder of essential oil brand Vitruvi, previously told Well+Good. “And in aromatherapy, it’s used to calm and center.”
As I discovered, growing lavender from scratch can be challenging. It requires a lot of sunlight, and would likely do better in an actual garden than on my windowsill. But I was able to grow just enough this spring to make a batch of body oil, though I’ll probably buy an established plant next time.
To create the oil, I followed the below recipe—which requires nothing more than lavender, a carrier oil, and a mason jar. I decided to use jojoba oil as my carrier oil, because it’s moisturizing and I know it works well on my skin, but coconut, rosehip, almond, olive, and hemp oils are also great options. I used 10 pieces of lavender, mixed them with oil in the mason jar, and let it sit to give it a chance to “steep” the same way you would a cup of tea. Then, I strained the mixture through a cheesecloth to remove the lavender sprigs.
I like to add a little bit of this oil to my body lotions, as it helps me use less product and provides deeper nourishment to my skin where I need it the most (which is typically on my legs, which flare with eczema all year round and dry out quickly).
Lavender body oil
Carrier oil of your choice
1. Loosely fill a jar with lavender (either full flower heads or just the buds).
2. Fill the remainder of the jar with the carrier oil of your choice.
3. Seal the jar with a lid and let it sit in a warm, dry place for 2-4 weeks.
4. Strain the flowers, and use the oil all over to lock moisture into your skin.
3. Lemon balm herbal syrup
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I take pride in my evening routine. I luxuriate in each step of my p.m. skin-care regimen, use my Phillips SmartSleep Sleep and Wakeup Light ($180) to cycle through a meditation and some breathing exercises, and sip a cup of tea to calm myself before shutting off the lights. When searching for other ways I could turn my routine into more of a ritual, I found a recipe for an herbal syrup made from lemon balm—which is known to be a sleep aid.
“Lemon balm extracts have been found to produce a sedative effect in mice and a handful of human trials have found calming and anti-anxiety effects,” registered dietitian nutritionist Karen Collins, RDN, previously told Well+Good. “Some studies suggest that lemon balm combined with valerian might help reduce insomnia.”
Now, I simply add a spoonful or two of the stuff to my tea before slipping into a good night’s sleep.
Lemon balm herbal syrup
2 cups lemon balm leaves
5 cups water
1 1/2 cups honey
1. Rinse the lemon balm leaves and remove stems. Place them at the bottom of a pan and add water, ensuring the leaves are fully covered.
2. Over medium heat, bring the water to a boil.
3. Cover the pan partially and bring down the heat. Let the leaves simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Strain the leaves, keeping the herbal water.
5. Return to heat until the herbal water is reduced to about 3 cups.
6. Let the herbal water cool before pouring it over the honey.
7. Pour into a jar and stir until completely combined.
8. Keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
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