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herbal hand care

Herbal Hand & Foot Care

Keep your hands and feet soft and healthy with these herbal tips and recipes.

What do your hands reveal about you? If you work in an office, you may have frayed cuticles and chipped nails. If you're an avid gardener, you may have fingers that seem permanently soil stained. As an outdoor athlete, you may have wind-chapped or sunburned hands. Or maybe your hands and nails only reveal that you take good care of them! No matter what the state of your hands and nails, herbal care can enhance their health and appearance — making them clean, soft, smooth, and lovely.

Ask the Experts

Q: Is there anything I can put on a cracked or split nail to restore it?

A: You may not be able to completely repair it, but a coat of beeswax will protect the nail and keep it from tearing further. Simply combine 1 part beeswax with 2 parts of your favorite skin care oil (infuse with a favorite healing herb, if you like) and gently melt. Cool and apply to your nail. Allow to harden. Store the extra in a covered container and reapply several times a day, as needed.

Q: My cuticles are always rough, but I don't want to clip them. Any ideas?

A: Carefully rub a mixture of cornstarch and orris root powder on your cuticles. The gently abrasive herbs will smooth out your cuticles without damaging them (as long as you use a light touch).

Rosemary Rose Rinse

dried roses from FrontierThis fragrant rinse will sweetly scent your hands for hours. The amount of herb you need depends on the size of the jar you use, but exact measurements aren't necessary.

dried roses (buds, petals, and/or flowers)
rosemary leaf
white vinegar

Loosely fill a clean glass jar with roses. Add a little rosemary leaf (about a tablespoon for a quart-size jar). Fill jar with white vinegar and cover. Allow to steep in the sun for 2 to 3 days. Strain and store in a clean, covered jar.

To use, place small amount of clean water in your sink, then add about 2 tablespoons of the rose rinse, and splash your clean hands in the sink.

Lavender Hand Cleanser

Garlic smell on your fingers? Hands discolored from gardening? This pleasant dry cleanser will help remove odors and stains while gently cleansing. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Rub a small amount into wet hands for several minutes, then rinse well.

1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon dry milk powder
1 teaspoon lemon juice powder
1 tablespoon lavender flowers

Calendula Care All

dried calendula flowersUse this mixture daily for luxuriously soft hands and feet. It's also great for treating damaged cuticles.

1/2 cup calendula flowers
2 tablespoons cocoa butter
2 tablespoons lanolin
1/4 cup apricot kernel oil

Place calendula flowers in a glass jar. Combine cocoa butter, lanolin, and apricot kernel oil in a bowl or pan. Warm in a double boiler or microwave. Pour over calendula flowers. Steep for 24 hours, then strain. Pour into a clean jar and cover.

Massage liberal amounts of the mixture into hands for a few minutes. Then gently wipe hands with a clean, soft cloth.

To soften feet, massage with oil for a few minutes before bed, then put on soft cotton socks for sleeping.

Henna Nail Hardener/ Buffer

The resin in henna will strengthen and protect your nails and result in a pretty shine after buffing. The dye will tint your nails naturally. To test, try this on your toenails first.

Wash hands well and dry them. (Nails should be polish-free.) In a glass bowl, combine henna powder with enough warm water to make a thick paste. Apply the paste to your nails with a cotton swab. (If your hand isn't steady, you might want to trace a line of non-petroleum jelly around your nail first, to prevent staining of your skin.) Leave on for about 4 to 5 minutes, then rinse well with warm water. Dry and buff with nail buffer or a chamois cloth. Use monthly.

Tips & Tricks

* Make sure your nails are perfectly dry before applying polish, or you'll promote fungus.

* Always dry hands well, to help prevent chapping. Use an herbal lotion after every washing.

* Add a little oil (olive, wheat germ, or jojoba) to your liquid (castile) hand soap for added moisturizing. Infuse healing herbs with the oil first, if you like.

* Skin on the hands wrinkles easily because it has only a thin subcutaneous fat layer. Wear gloves to protect your hands when gardening and doing housework. (Apply an herbal lotion before donning the gloves for added benefit.)

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