Why buy high-priced toiletries and over-the-counter medications filled with chemicals and preservatives?

Better: Make your own body-care products and healing remedies, often for pennies. Grow herbs yourself or buy them, along with other ingredients, at health-food stores.

1) Problem: Bad breath.

What you need:
  • 1 cup distilled water
  • 2 Tablespoons vodka
  • 2 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 2 drops myrrh essential oil

Rinsing with water after eating can keep bad breath at bay.
Preparation: In a small bowl, mix vodka and oils. Stir in distilled water (which is free of minerals and impurities). With 1 Tablespoon of mixture, rinse mouth, then spit out. Repeat daily.

Good to know: Place remaining mixture in a covered, airtight container. Store away from light (to preserve the oils’ potency) for up to 6 weeks.

2) Problem: Dull hair color.

What you need:
  • 2 cups distilled water
For dark hair:
  • ¼ cup fresh rosemary leaves
For blonde hair:
  • ¼ cup chamomile flower petals

*Preparation: Boil water. Add rosemary or chamomile, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Strain, discarding leaves. Lean head forward and pour infusion over hair, catching run-off in a basin. Repeat twice. Do not rinse off.

*Good to know: The herbs help restore natural highlights. For best effect, use after every shampoo.

3) Problem: Foot odor.

What you need:
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup dried sage leaves

*Preparation: Boil vinegar. Add sage, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Strain, discarding leaves. Fill a basin with 1 gallon of warm water, add infusion and soak feet for 15 minutes. Repeat daily.

*Good to know: If you prefer a different fragrance, substitute dried thyme or fresh rosemary leaves for the sage.

4) Problem: Itchy, flaky or dry skin.

What you need:
  • 1 cup coarsely ground sea salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil

*Preparation: Stir oil into salt. Standing in the shower, massage 2 Tablespoons of mixture into skin (reserving remainder for later). Rinse. Repeat weekly.

*Good to know: For a pleasing scent, add 6 drops of lavender essential oil to the mixture before using. Store remainder in a glass jar in a cool, dark place.

5) Problem: Pimples.

What you need:  
  • 1 cup distilled water 
  • 1 Tablespoon dried thyme leaves 
  • 1 Tablespoon dried calendula blossoms
*Preparation: Boil all ingredients, covered, for 10 minutes. Strain, discarding leaves and blossoms. Cool infusion. Apply 2 Tablespoons to clean skin. Air dry. Repeat twice daily.
*Good to know: Also use this preparation to improve an oily, shiny complexion. Store remainder in a glass bottle in a cool, dry place.

6) Problem: Puffy, tired or irritated eyes.

What you need:
  • 2 chamomile tea bags
  • 1 cup distilled water

*Preparation: Boil distilled water. Add tea bags, and steep until water is lukewarm. Remove bags and squeeze out most of the water. Place bags over closed eyes for 15 minutes.

*Important: If you have ragweed allergies, do not use this preparation.

7) Problem: Sunburn.

What you need:
  • 1 cup distilled water
  • ¼ cup dried or ½ cup fresh peppermint leaves

*Preparation: Boil water. Add peppermint, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Strain, discarding leaves. Fill bathtub with tepid water, and add infusion. Soak 20 minutes. Repeat as needed.

*Good to know: Substitute lemon mint, lavender mint or other types of mint leaves for the peppermint to vary the aroma.

Source: Bottom Line Women's Health, 2008 (Dorie Byers, RN)

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