The skin is the largest organ of the human body. What many people don't think about is that what they spray and slather on their skin is, in fact, absorbed into their bodies. For this reason, I really started reading the labels of my personal care and body products a few years back. There were ingredients in there that I couldn't pronounce and that the European Union's version of the FDA won't allow into products due to their many harmful effects. I started to not only buy handmade, but also all natural and organic products as much as possible. In the past year or so, as I started to make my own household cleaning products, I also started to make some of my own personal care products (deodorant powder, lip balm) as well. I'm taking it a step further with my herbalism studies now.
I recently made a batch of The Queen of Hungary's Water. It has as many uses as it has variations, but my primary intent for this batch is to be used as an astringent (or toner). Astringents are used to remove excess oil, dirt, and cleanser from the skin. They tone the skin and help prepare it for moisturizing. While astringents are especially appropriate for oily skin, all types of skin can benefit from their pore-tightening effects.
Legend has it that Gypsies formulated The Queen of Hungary's Water and touted it as a cure-all using it as a hair rinse, mouthwash, headache remedy, aftershave, footbath, and I'm sure more. Another legend states that Elizabeth, Queen of Hungary originated this as a perfume to either preserve her youth or catch a husband, depending on which version you read.
This is one of the world's finest cosmetic formulas. It combines gentle common herbs in a masterful way, it's easy to make, and it's a versatile formula that serves many purposes. Not only can it be used as an astringent, but it can also be used as a rinse for dark hair; or as an ingredient in deodorants, herbal baths, lotions. The Vinegar of the Four Thieves is a variation of The Queen of Hungary's Water and can be used as a disinfectant.
Here is the formula I used from Rosemary Gladstar.
6 parts lemon balm
4 parts chamomile
4 parts roses
3 parts calendula
3 parts comfrey leaf
1 part lemon peel
1 part rosemary
1 part sage
vinegar to cover (apple cider or wine vinegar)
rose water or witch hazel extract
essential oil of lavender or rose (optional)
1. Place the herbs in a widemouthed jar. Fill the jar with enough vinegar that it rises an inch or two above the herb mixture. Cover tightly and let it sit in a warm spot for 2 to 3 weeks.
2. Strain out the herbs. To each cup of herbal vinegar, add 2/3 to 1 cup of rose water or witch hazel. Add a drop or two of essential oil, if desired. Rebottle. This product does not need to be refrigerated and will keep indefinitely.
After the photo above was taken, I added more vinegar for it to rise the full inch or two above the herbs (the jar was full). You can see in this picture all of the beautiful colors of the herbs. Well, it's been infusing for a little more than a week and you can actually see the vinegar taking on the properties of those herbs. The vinegar is turning a gorgeous deep rose. I'm going to let it work it's magic for the full three weeks. I can't wait to try it.