Using wildcrafted botanicals in natural soap making can be beautiful and incredibly satisfying. Wildcrafting or foraging are the terms used to describe the practice of harvesting plants from the wild (or your back garden!) for food, medicine or in my case soap and natural skincare!
Including wildcrafted flowers and herbs in your soapmaking and natural skincare products adds a stunning point of difference and can add real benefits for the skin. Not to mention adding to the overall design providing colour and texture to your natural soap bars and beautiful warm natural colours to balms and oil infusions.
I love wildcrafting in New Zealand! We have such amazing natural resources nestled amongst the stunning landscape of the North & South Islands. My partner works around the country causing us to live a bit of a gypsy life, one benefit is getting to know the different rivers, beaches, flora & fauna in the latest spot we find ourselves in.
We have just finished a stint in a Hokitika on the West Coast of New Zealand. The beach that this pretty little town runs along can only be described as crazy/beautiful. The ocean only swimmable to brave locals during a few calmer weeks of the year. Huge white waves crash along the shoreline bringing in a different collection of rocks, pebbles, driftwood and seaweed daily - it's a foragers dreamscape!
I have a three year old son who loves the outdoors so we spent most days walking along Hokitika beach, playing in the sand and throwing rocks into the water.
On a particularly rough, windy day I decided to brave the waves and while getting absolutely saturated I scooped a bucket full of seawater from the frothing breakers.
That night I designed the 'Penisula' saltwater soap bar. I aspired to create a natural soap bar that combined elements from both land and sea. I included wildcrafted dried dandelion leaves, picked from a patch of grassed shoreline and dried seaweed foraged from the beach then ground into a powder.
We have amazing resources provided to us from the earth just waiting to be rediscovered as society as a whole starts to move back into a more natural life. Natural wellbeing is becoming important to many of us as we strive to live life with less harsh chemicals and more body loving gifts that this earth naturally provides for us.
Below is a list of my top 5 wildcrafted plants that I commonly use in natural soap making & other skincare products along with the plants skin-loving benefits.
There is nothing like growing a beautiful Calendula plant from seed. Picking the fresh yellow & orange flowers, the petals seemingly glowing in the sunlight to boast the plants healing properties. Carefully drying them & creating a lovely skin healing oil infusion, a soothing body balm or sprinkling the petals through a fresh soap batter.
I personally love using calendula infused oil in skin balms I handcraft for my family. When my son was a baby I didn't want to use the big brand nappy creams, the ingredient lists made me shiver. And I wonder how we got to the stage where we would actually put these creams on our baby's newborn skin, infusing toxins into their bodies from day one!
Because the skin absorbs what is rubbed in so quickly and as babies put anything and everything into their mouths, I didn't want to use anything on my son's skin that he couldn't also safely eat!
I searched the internet for the best natural ingredients to use in a soothing nappy cream, finding Calendula popping up again and again.
Creating my sons Calendula nappy balm was the first step on this exciting journey, using wildcrafted botanicals to create natural soap bars & skincare products.
Key Benefits of Calendula
- It's an amazing anti-inflammatory. It can help to soothe eczema & acne breakouts by helping to stop your body from releasing histamines which contribute to redness, pain, allergies and inflammation.
- It's a skin healer. Calendula can help to increase the blood flow to your skin, providing it with all the good nutrition it needs to be healthy and heal. Calendula has been used for hundreds of years to help the recovery of wounds and scarring.
- It's a superstar moisturising agent. Calendula holds essential fatty acids that can aid in moisturising your skin, allowing your skin to retain water for longer and absorb nutrients.
The above benefits are just a few of many reasons why to create skincare using this beautiful plant. Not only is calendula good for the outside of your body but it can also provide many benefits to internal health when used in a tea or tonic.
And it looks so pretty sprinkled on a soap top!
Lavender is one of my favourite scents! I find the smell to be so nostalgic and comforting. Not only is Lavender the rockstar of aromatherapy and the king of calm, but it also has many lovely healing properties.
Key Benefits of Lavender
- Lavender oil has antifungal properties which can help fend off bacteria. It can unclog pores and is an anti-inflammatory that can help eczema & acne prone skin.
- Lavender oil can help to lighten skin by reducing dark spots, blotchiness and redness
- Lavender oil has pain-relieving qualities and numbing effects which can help to soothe inflammation on the skin.
- Lavender oil can help with the skins healing process
I love using Lavender essential oils in my soapmaking which means I have many Lavender scented soap bars in the collection!
My favourite is the 'Lavender & Sweet Orange' natural soap bar which mixes the calming scent of lavender with the uplifting citrus scent of orange
I use dried lavender buds to decorate the top of my natural soap bars which lend to such a pretty rustic style.
Mint has so many divine uses! I have a large, wild mint plant growing in my garden, I love picking the fresh leaves and making a simple mint tea or drying the leaves and storing for future use. I have a plan to make some seriously minty soap bars in the very near future! I also think it would be great in a beautifully fresh and exfoliating skin scrub.Seaweed
We have a family bach in Takamatua. It's a beautiful quiet bay near Akaroa on the South Island of New Zealand. During springtime when the tides were very low I was able to gather a beautiful bunch of seaweed from the rocks. My son loved helping to pick the seaweed and had so much fun finding crabs and small fish underneath the rocks. I hung the seaweed from the bach and let it dry in the wind then ground the seaweed up into a powder.
Seaweed is not only super nutritious for the inside of your body but also has an array of beautiful skin loving qualities.
Key Beneifts of Seaweed for your skin
- Seaweed is very moisturising being packed full of humectants and has vitamin E, which is a well known skin moisteriser.
- Seaweed includes the vitamins B and C which can help clear skin pigmentation.
- Seaweed has omega, zinc and magnesium which create a barrier to protect skin from drying weather and can help to heal the skin of infection.
- Seaweed is filled with amino acids which can help your skin to plump up and can aid to smooth out fine lines.
My favourite use for the dried seaweed powder has been to create my 'Takamatua Bay' & 'Peninsula' natural soap bars. I also plan to make a face mask with it just as soon as I find the time!
Dandelion I would have to say are the most underrated & abused healer plants in New Zealand. They are so abundant and they offer so many amazing healing qualities for the internal body and the skin! Yet the majority are mowed down and sprayed with horrible toxic weed killers, which amazes me as I also think they look so pretty!
When I was living on the seaside in Hokitika I had Dandelions in mass on our lawn, trying to make the most of them I would pick the whole plant to use both the flower heads and the leaves (the roots also hold a stunning amount of nutrition).
The leaves can be a good green colourant in soap making, I have been brewing up a Dandelion Leaf and Olive oil infusion which has a lovely natural green colour and I'm just dying to use it in my next batch of soap bars.
Wildcrafting is fun, it's beautiful and you end up with some lovely natural skincare products that you will feel safe using on your children and family. So instead of reaching for a jar of chemical loaded, preservative tainted, synthetically fragranced cream at the store why not take a drive into nature and try foraging for your own natural skincare products instead?