A gardener always has hard-working hands. And when we spend a lot of time outdoors, and with our hands in the dirt, it is easy for our hands to suffer. Taking care of your hands is important. Good hand care can help to prevent chapped and sore hands in cold weather. It can also help to heal minor cuts and abrasions that can be common when we work to grow our own.
Of course, you could simply head out or go online and buy some hand cream, hand care balm or hand lotion. But a more natural and sustainable option is to make your own. Often, you can make your own skin care products using products grown in your polytunnel. While it is likely that you will also have to buy some of the ingredients, there are likely to be at least some ingredients that you can grow or produce in your very own garden.
Making Natural Hand Care Products
Many of the natural hand care recipes that you will find online involve combining a few simple ingredients. Usually, there will be:
A carrier oil (ie – olive oil, almond oil etc..)
Optional: A fat or butter (ie – coconut butter, shea butter)
An emulsifier (ie – beeswax, Candelilla wax etc.)
Natural plant based ingredients and essential oils.
By combining these simple things in a range of different ways, it is possible to make a range of different products to take care of gardeners’ hands.
You can make solid balms, or more liquid lotions that can be rubbed onto your hands. These can be used to prevent them from drying out in the first place. Or to heal or soothe your hands if they are already a little dry and sore.
Here are some useful natural ingredients for hand care that you might be able to grow or produce where you live to add to your hand-care products:
Olives (Olive Oil)
Even if you cannot grow olives successfully outdoors where you live, you might be able to grow a small olive tree inside a polytunnel. If you were feeling ambitious, you could consider trying to press some of your olives to derive your own olive oil, which can be used as an ingredient in a range of different hand care products. Frequently used in soap-making, olive oil can also be used to make a wide range of lotions and balms.
Honey for Hand Care
One natural ingredient frequently used in hand care products is honey. This is, of course, not exactly something you grow. But if you keep bees, it could be a yield you can derive from your property. It could indirectly be a byproduct of the plants you grow if bees forage for nectar in your garden.
Honey helps heal wounds and calm irritation. It is is naturally antibacterial and antimicrobial. Very slightly acidic, it can help to balance skin pH and therefore encourages swift healing and skin regeneration. The sugars in honey act as a natural humectants. This means that it can help increase moisture in the skin and reduce dryness, even after it is washed off. Honey also contains key amino acids, vitamins, enzymes and antioxidants. By delivering these to skin cells it helps to nourish the skin and prevent free-radical damage.
Oats for Hand Care
You might not think to grow grains in a polytunnel. But growing a small quantity of oats in your polytunnel or elsewhere in your garden could be beneficial in a range of different ways. Oats can be useful not only for culinary use, but also for a range of other natural skin care recipes.
Oatmeal has a mild exfoliating action and can also be a great anti-inflammatory for angry or inflamed skin. It can soothe dry or mildly irritated skin and its high protein content means that it leaves a kind of protective barrier on your skin. Oats can be one of the best things to try if you suffer from mild skin allergies. So combining oats with other ingredients to make a lotion for your hands could be a great idea.
This plant is well known for its soothing and skin healing effects. Aloe vera is commonly used in a wide range of cosmetic skin care products. This is another plant that you may well be able to grow in a domestic polytunnel. It is not very cold hardy and so cannot usually be grown outdoors in the UK. But a polytunnel opens up potential to grow this interesting and useful plant.
Aloe vera can be added to other ingredients to make a range of balms, lotions and other natural hand care products.
Lavender is an incredibly useful plant to grow. It is not only known for its delightful fragrance but also for its many applications in a natural home. Add a few drops of lavender essential oil along with a small amount of honey to a base of beeswax and almond oil and you can create a balm that is wonderful for dry or chapped hands or lips.
Lavender has antiseptic properties that make it extremely useful in a wide range of skin care products. And, of course, it will make your hands smell lovely too.
Calendula is another flowering plant that can be a lovely addition to a polytunnel garden. And this plant too can have a wide range of uses around your home. It is anti-inflammatory and antiseptic and can be used to soothe and heal skin.
Of course, there are also a huge range of herbs that you can grow that will yield essential oils which can be useful in hand care products. Other anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial herbs include rosemary, thyme, and sage – to name but a few.
Once you start to experiment with natural, home-grown products, you will soon find that there are plenty of ways to keep your hands healthy and skin supple year round. We gardener’s work our hands hard. But that does not mean they have to suffer. By making the most of what our gardens can provide, we can maintain healthy hands and make sure that we can continue to tend our gardens without any discomfort – no matter what the weather may bring.
How do you take care of your hands? Do you make your own balms and lotions from things you grow? Share your recipes, tips and ideas in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.
To get in touch, visit https://ewspconsultancy.com.