Homemade Hand and Foot Care for Gardeners
By Janice Cox
These recipes can help alleviate sore feet and rough hands after a long day in the garden.
I started making my own beauty products at a very young age. My father was a farmer, which meant we lived in the country. Commercial beauty products were hard to buy because they were sold in town, and I was too young to drive. But I loved reading beauty books and magazines for hours in my room. I spent even more hours in our family bathroom mixing up my own potions, lotions, and treatments.
Everyone can grow a natural beauty garden that suits their personal needs and resources, and in addition to the satisfaction you’ll receive from making and using your own products, the savings can’t be beat. Once you’ve made your first skin-care product, I’m convinced that, just like me, you’ll be hooked on whipping up a continually growing variety of them.
Note: The following recipes to soothe tired hands and feet after a long day spent gardening are generally safe and effective. However, it’s not possible to predict an individual person’s reaction to specific ingredients. Unless you’ve had prior experience with the substances in the following recipes, be cautious the first time you use them.
Green Thumb Hand Cream
Green thumbs and rough, dry hands no longer need to be the result of a day spent gardening. Use this rich cream before and after a day spent planting, weeding, and pruning to keep your hands soft and full of moisture. I like to massage it into my skin before putting on my gardening gloves. The dark sesame oil acts as a mild sunscreen, and the scent of lavender is a natural insect repellent.
Yields 4 ounces.
- 3 tablespoons grated beeswax
- 1/2 cup dark sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 tablespoons strong calendula tea
- 2 to 3 drops lavender essential oil
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- Combine all ingredients in a glass, heat-resistant container or double boiler.
- Heat in the microwave or over medium heat on the stove (do not boil) until all the wax and oils are melted, stirring well. Pour the melted mixture into a container or jar with a lid, and set aside to cool completely.
- Stir again when the mixture has cooled, and then cover the container before storing.
Forget to wear your gloves? It’s easy to do. I often find myself reaching down to rid the garden of a few pesky weeds, and before I know it, I have a huge pile for the compost and a pair of dirty, stained hands. Here are two simple tips that involve using fresh lemons or green tomatoes, both of which work well to clean and refresh your hands. Remember to moisturize well afterward, because these methods can be drying to your skin.
Fresh lemons: Lemons are natural astringents and disinfectants that’ll leave your hands clean and fragrant. Cut a lemon in half and rub the fresh juice all over your hands. Leave the juice on your hands for 5 minutes, and then rinse well with warm water.
Green tomatoes: Working around tomato plants can give the skin on your hands a yellow-green tint. Use a green tomato to remove these stains. Cut the fruit in half and rub the fresh juice all over your hands. Leave the juice on your hands for 5 minutes, and then rinse well with warm water.
Garden Boot Bath
Garden boots are notorious for causing calluses and rough spots on feet. To help soothe tired feet and remove rough skin spots, it’s best to soak your feet in a lukewarm bath of baking soda and vinegar. I also like to add a few of my favorite herbs, such as thyme and lavender, both of which are naturally antiseptic and comforting. After soaking for at least 10 minutes, use a natural pumice stone or piece of terra cotta to further smooth and remove calluses caused by stiff boots or shoes. To keep calluses from recurring, wear double socks or cushioned inserts inside your boots, and make sure boots fit properly.
Yields 1 treatment.
- 2 quarts warm water
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1/4 cup herbal vinegar or plain white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lavender flowers and leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- Place warm water in a large plastic pan. Stir in the baking soda, vinegar, and fresh herbs. The water will fizz and bubble when the baking soda and vinegar combine.
- Soak your feet for 15 to 20 minutes. Pat dry, and then massage with a rich natural oil or foot cream.
Herbs for Footbaths
Several fresh herbs make excellent tonic footbaths. Choose from the following list and custom design a bath just for your feet. I suggest using at least 1/2 cup of fresh herbs or 2 tablespoons dried. You can also add some natural Epsom salts or sea salt to soften the water and your feet.
- Horsetail: Excellent for tired feet, and even helps reduce perspiration.
- Lavender: Creates a refreshing instant tonic for tired feet.
- Lovage: A strong natural deodorant.
- Marjoram: Soothing to tired foot muscles.
- Peppermint: Energizing and cooling for hot, tired feet.
- Thyme: Cleansing and refreshing for overworked feet.
Foot Odor Cure
After a day spent in garden boots, your feet probably don’t smell very good. To sweeten your feet or cure an odor problem, try a footbath in natural tea. Soaking your feet in black tea will help reduce foot odor, because tea is naturally astringent. It can help reduce the amount of perspiration your feet produce, too — which can add up to 1/2 cup in a day! The tannic acid in the tea changes your skin’s pH level, making it unfriendly to odor-causing bacteria. Keeping your feet moisturized will also help prevent dry skin and keep bacteria levels down. So, after this footbath, use a rich foot cream or lotion.
Yields 1 treatment.
- 2 black tea bags
- 2 cups boiling water
- 2 quarts cool water
- Make a very strong tea by steeping the tea bags in the boiling water for at least 15 minutes.
- Pour the cool water into a large bowl or plastic basin, and stir in the tea solution. Soak your feet for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Repeat this treatment every day for about a week. You should notice a decrease in foot odor.
Reprinted from Natural Beauty from the Garden by Janice Cox. Published by Ogden Publications, 2018.
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