Category: DIY

Making Your Own Herbal Calamine Lotion – Easy Peasy!

Ever been in desperate need for a serious anti-itch cream, or a calamine lotion, and you were about 2,000 miles away from the very thing?

 

About two months ago I was in the Bahamas for a couple of days – I was working there and had to meet a client. I stayed at what was supposed to be a quality resort (not gonna name names here even though I reeeeally want to). The morning after my arrival I’m at a beach and look down at my legs to put on mosquito repellent and see a bunch of little red bumps on my legs. I thought ‘wow that’s weird, I don’t remember getting bit – and it doesn’t sting. Hm, maybe it’s just a slight reaction to the salt air or something.’ I didn’t think about it again and put it out of my mind.

 

The next day I noticed even more red bumps and it was all over my legs up to my knees. Nothing elsewhere. Weird, right? Didn’t itch either. Took the plane and went back home.

 

The NEXT day I started to itch. And itch. And itch some more. Then I started going crazy from the itching and it wouldn’t stop. By the second day I was freaking out. It was all over my legs, front and back, and only up to my knees – what could have happened? I was wracking my brain trying to figure out just what was going on and retraced my steps over the last few days to what I had done. And then it hit me: my nightgown covers my body down to my knees (it has long sleeves – my arms get cold because I always wind up throwing them over my head and then the blood drains and I get cold. Weird, I know). The only place where I could’ve gotten bit with my nightgown on would have been the bed. I had been quite literally attacked by a swarm (is that the right word for it?) of bed bugs in my bed. TWICE. I was there for two nights. So I got attacked the first night… and then went back for more!

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This is it – really not pretty, is it? And GOD the itch!

After I got over my shock and revulsion (which, believe me, took a while) I got myself an appointment with the doctor… who told me basically what I already had learned from Google. Anti-histamines and corticosteroid cream, and basically wait it out. Folks, my legs were covered. I couldn’t sleep for 2 days because it was driving me crazy. The cream wasn’t doing it and the Benadryl knocked me out. Let me reassure you here – as soon as I figured out what had happened, I literally ripped the sheets from our bed, the kids’ bed, everything that was in my suitcase, the clothes on my back… eeeeeeverything went into the wash in the hottest cycle I could put it in, then I basically sprayed down the house in anti-bed bug spray that I got from Home Depot. Twice.

 

So after that I got to work making my own calamine lotion to relieve any future itching I’d ever get – why didn’t I think of it before? Because I was too busy trying not to rip my skin off my legs and make everything worse. But I got to work researching and seeing what was out there. Did you know that calamine lotion’s secret ingredients are zinc oxide and red iron oxide? Which is basically the zinc oxide! (The red oxide is for coloring) Yeah, I didn’t know that either. Calamine’s active ingredients are generally either zinc oxide with red iron oxide or pink kaolin clay. I happen to have white kaolin clay so I’ve used that.

 

Clays are wonderful because they’re drawing. What I mean by that is that they pull dirt and inflammatory agents away from the skin by making them stick to the clay particles. Some clays are more drawing than others. For example, bentonite clay is more drawing than kaolin clay, though both are really excellent overall for skin (especially if you have oily skin).

 

And because I’m such a believer in the power of herbs, I couldn’t resist also adding to my calamine lotion an extra anti-itch and healing element by including an infusion of plantain leaf and St. Johns Wort. Although always useful, this step is not necessary – you can still make a good quality anti-itch cream without herbal agents. In fact, essential oils can really make up for this and add in their own incredible power to your solution.

 

Among its many amazing benefits, plantain leaf is also used as an antivenomous herb and is helpful in drawing out the poison of snake bits, or other insect bites or stings. It also does a good job in easing the pain of poison ivy. If you’ve got some near you, you can simply crush the leaf into your hand and rub it onto the affected area and it will start working right away.  St Johns Wort is also helpful in treating inflammation, first degree burns, bug bites, and nerve pain – among its many other uses as well. So these two I’ve infused into some skin-friendly almond oil.

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Witch hazel is also really terrific at reducing inflammation in the skin. Witch hazel is a natural astringent derived from the bark and leaves of the common North American witch hazel shrub. It’s been used traditionally to treat skin irritations and tumors, but today it’s more widely recognized as a natural skin cleanser and toner.

 

I also add in some aloe vera into my calamine lotion for its soothing and skin healing properties – because it’s one thing to try to treat the itch, but you also want to soothe the inflammation and get some cooling and healing relief.

 

There are lots of ways to create your own anti-itch lotion, and there are some amazing sources on the web that can teach you how to whip up a quick batch if you want to take a look around.

 

Quick tip: Witch hazel is easy enough to find and if you add in some tea tree oil (which you can find even at Walmart these days) you’ve got something that will definitely help you right away. Add in a bit of lavender essential oil for its all-around anti-inflammatory and pain relieving qualities, and you’re on your way!

 

So here’s my recipe for my herbal calamine lotion. If you like it but don’t have time to make it yourself, I’ll soon be selling it at my little Etsy shop, Pô Naturel, so stay tuned!

 

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Homemade Herbal Calamine Lotion

This lotion is great at fighting off itchy insect bites, rashes, poison ivy, and other itchy skin inflammations. The herbs add in a natural healing touch to not only relieve the itch but also reduce inflammation and soothe the skin. If you don't have the herbs on hand, don't worry - it's still a very effective lotion without them due to the drawing power of the clays and the power of the essential oils in there. Just add in a few extra drops of the essential oils 🙂

Author Marie-Jo

Ingredients

  • 2.5 tbsp Almond oil
  • 2 tbsp Witch hazel
  • 1.5 tbsp Zinc oxide
  • 1 tbsp Aloe vera gel/juice use either gel or juice - just depends on how thick or thin you want your lotion to be
  • 1 tbsp Kaolin clay
  • 1/2 tbsp Bentonite clay
  • 1/10 tsp Red iron oxide This is more for color- so use however much you like. Start small and work your way into the color you want
  • 20 drops Tea tree essential oil
  • 10 drops Thyme essential oil
  • 5 drops Geranium essential oil
  • Water This is at your discretion - I used about 1.5 tbsp

Instructions

  1. Mix your ingredients together and add the water in at the end only. This way, you can adjust the amount according to the texture that you want - if you like it creamier, add less water, or if you want it more like a more spreadable lotion, then add in a bit more.

  2. Since there is water in this lotion, it will last for a few weeks. After that, the water may cause your lotion to mould if you haven't added in a preservative. If you want your lotion to last longer, I suggest adding in a preservative. I use Germall Plus at a rate of 2% of total weight. In this case, it comes out to about 0.1 oz.

  3. And voila! That's it! Enjoy 🙂

This lotion really helped me not only get rid of the itch, but I had no lesions either and my skin is back to normal now, no scars or blemishes or anything.

 

What do you do at home for rashes and itches? If you make your own calamine lotion – what’s your favourite ingredient?

 

The very first thing I ever made for my daughter, Aveline Grace, when she was born was this foaming baby bodywash. I knew she had a serious heart condition (hypoplasia of the right heart (HRHS), tricuspid atresia (TA)) and like I said before, I just wanted to do something for her that would be good for her, that wouldn’t be harmful to her in any way. When she was born the doctors let me hold her for about 15-20 seconds and then they took her right away to the NICU so they could perform her first procedure, which was to close a hole in her heart that was dumping out oxygenated blood instead of pumping it back into her brain and her system. My husband followed her right away (that had been our plan, we knew this was coming) and I stayed behind (where could I go, really) in the birthing room to get fixed up. Mike, my husband, had come up with a bit of a brilliant plan to use his phone to FaceTime me while I had his iPad – this way I could see where he was going and what was happening even if I wasn’t there. There was only so far he could go since he wasn’t allowed into the operating room they took Aveline to but he stayed right outside the door and stayed as long as they let him. 

Aveline Grace

That’s our little Aveline – when she was born and this summer at 2yrs old.

I wanted to create something that would be:

a) all-natural

b) fuss-free, and

c) easy!

So I started researching what was out there. The biggest help I had in that department was Pinterest and the blogging world – I’m a big fan and obsessed dedicated Pinner and love to hear other peoples’ stories. But also the best start on this that I got was from a blog post by My Merry Messy Life (love her!). It was simple, to the point, and flexible. Water, castile soap, some essentials oils, and you’re on your way! And that’s the way I did it at first, too.

I LOVED this bodywash – to the point where I made some for myself. It’s so easy! The one thing I altered right at the beginning was that I wanted it to come out foamy like the hand soap bottles because I wanted to make it as easy as possible to get through bath times since my daughter wasn’t a big fan of baths in the beginning. There would be lots of splashing and some insecurities there, so I would just pump and go! No need for fussy hand towels or even loofahs (do babies even really need those?). So I cleaned out a foaming pump of hand soap I’d finished with and used the new baby bodywash I’d made. Tada!!

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Castile soap is really wonderful because it’s generally a naturally mild soap, emollient, and free of artificial foaming agents, harsh cleansers, petrochemicals, anti-bacterial agents – and it’s biodegradable. It’s essentially a plant-based soap. What’s not to love?!

So what’s so great about this bodywash? Here’s what I’ve discovered.

For one thing, all castile soaps are not made equal. In fact, ‘castile’ is a term that’s been stretched and pulled to the point of deformity these days. Originally, castile soaps were made strictly with olive oil and animal fat (read tallow), but today most are made with a variety of oils, are over processed, and the term has come to basically become synonymous with a basic, all-purpose, all-kinds-of-stuff-within soap.

Now I originally used Dr Bonner’s castile soaps because they’re pretty widely available. There’s a coop in Montreal that has some, or you can order some on Amazon, or in Canada you can also find a bunch of Dr Bonner varieties on well.ca. They have a kind that is “baby mild” and is a great starter if you want to start making your own baby bodywash.

 

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These days I use Voyageur Soap and Candle’s Natural Pure Castile soap because it’s a 100% olive-based castile soap. This kind of soap is great for sensitive skin and baby skin. In this baby bodywash I also use a little bit of sweet almond oil for an extra asking conditioning touch (feel free to use any carrier oil you may prefer), and aloe vera for its lovely skin-healing and hydrating properties. You can use either or both of these two items in your own bodywash, it just depends on your preference. Just offset the difference by doubling the amount if you choose to go with just one of these items. 

With essential oils it gets a little tricky – why? Well, not all essential oils are safe for babies. There are only a few essential oils that are safe for newborns, and they are: chamomile (Roman or German), lavender, frankincense, tea tree, lemon, and orange. Since I like more calming scents for my kids, I chose lavender for this bodywash, but feel free to use whichever combination you like – so long as it does not exceed 3% of the total weight of the recipe. There’s a great guide here on which essential oils are safe to use on newborns and growing kids, although I’d say feel free to buy whichever brand you prefer.

What I also do now is I make a chamomile infusion instead of using plain water to mix in with the liquid castile soap. I use dried chamomile flowers and infuse them into a hot pot of water overnight, letting it cool, then strain it and incorporate it into the soap mixture. An easy (and budget-friendly) way to do this is to go to your local grocery store an get some chamomile tea that you can steep into your own water. Chamomile has wonderful calming properties and is great to help hydrate dry skin, soothe minor skin irritations, and is also a natural cleanser. Good for you inside and out! 

Here’s the whole recipe right here:

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Lavender & Chamomile Baby Bodywash

Ingredients

  • 1.75 oz Chamomile tea (use 1 tea bag and steep for about 30 minutes)
  • 2 oz Liquid castile soap (Dr Bonner's Baby Mild or any other mild liquid castile soap is fine)
  • 1 tbsp aloe vera (optional)
  • 1 tbsp carrier oil (ex: sweet almond, apricot kernel, castor, olive) (optional)
  • 6-12 drops Baby-safe essential oil (ex: lavender, chamomile, orange, or lemon - make your own combination)
  • 1 foam pump bottle

Instructions

  1. Pour your tea (or use simply water!) into a clean foam pump bottle.  Then slowly pour in your liquid castile soap - if you go too fast, it'll foam up. Then add in your aloe vera and/or carrier oil, and the essential oil of your choice. Attach the cap of your pump bottle and voila! An all-natural, safe, sweet-smelling bodywash for baby!

Recipe Notes

I like to swap chamomile tea for water but feel free to use water in your soap, especially if you would like to emphasize other scents through your essential oil blend. 

 

Easy peasy! Bonus – it’s an incredibly affordable soap to make if you have the ingredients to make it. 

But if you don’t have the time or the supplies, feel free to drop by my shop and purchase a bottle of my Splish Splash Lavender & Chamomile Baby Bodywash.

Do you have your own twist on your baby’s bodywash or soap? I’d love to hear about it 🙂

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