the sacred art of body oiling
Updated: Jan 13, 2021
awe to preserve the sweetness of the plants, so we can apply it to ourselves over and over again. to be wrapped in the blanket of plant magic. body oiling is an effective way to connect with ourselves and the plants. this practice has been around forever, with roots in many cultures. there is a huge connection to ayurveda, an ancient healing system from india which dates back 3000 years. whatever heritage you may be, i'm sure somewhere along the line, plants and oil played a part. i want to be very clear, these are not essential oils. essential oils are something completely different. nothing about this post has to do with essential oils, and i don't recommend them. i am basically going to share how i make herbal body oils, how i use them, and some tips.
i mostly use fresh plant material, however, sometimes dried is our only option. homegrown or wildcrafted plant material is my first choice. the list of plants really is endless. flowers i like to infuse are roses, rosehips, violets, red clover, dandelion, st johns wort, yarrow, lavender, chamomile, and arnica. i also love the infused oils of comfrey leaf, chickweed, cottonwood bud, cannabis, and all the conifer needles. with each new season, i am constantly experimenting with different plants in my bioregion. feel free to try whatever intrigues you, there is a ton of information available, on plants and their benefits. if you are unsure of which plant to start with, conifers are available year-round, and very forgiving when it comes to infusing.
again there really isn't a right or wrong way to do this. its all about experimenting, and finding what is right for you. make sure to gather your plants on a warm sunny day, in the early afternoon if possible to avoid moisture from dew. and obviously don't harvest on a rainy day. the basic fresh plant material oil infusion goes as follows. fill a jar about 3/4 (1/3rd dried) full with plant material. if you want to weigh the plant material for consistency, that's fine too. you can use just petals or the whole flower head. you can chop the plant material, or not. if it's dried you can even break it up well in a food processor, almost powder it. the important thing to remember when infusing oil is that the jar is clean and super dry. don't wash the plant material. it came from nature, and nothing in nature is "dirty" i will let the plant material sit on the counter for an hour or so, and let the bugs vacate, picking through the plants, and discarding dead leaves, etc. if it happens to be dusty i brush the plants off outside, before infusing. if you wash your plants you will have a big ol mess in your jar. after the plant material is in the jar, i cover it with oil. i leave a little space because the plant material can and will expand. especially the cottonwood buds. i then cut a piece of fabric to cover the top and rubberband it. always always always label with the date and what it is, in fact, its a good idea to have an herbal journal where you can write recipes and tweaks down. you will need to stir your oil daily, for about a week, sometimes longer or shorter depending on the plants used. after that, the plant material settles to the bottom. you don't need to keep stirring after that. you can also put a wax paper between the lid and jar if you like, being sure to shake well, and check often. i prefer the breathable top/stirring often method. i then let these plants sit, cloth-covered for months, out of direct sunlight. heat can damage the oils. 4-6 weeks is a good time frame. however, i have infused oils for much longer. my personal goal with infusing is around two to three months.
let's talk about types of oil. i like avocado oil best for infusing body oils. i also infuse a lot of olive oil for salve making and soap making. jojoba is fabulous but a bit on the expensive side. you should try infusing a few different oils and see what you like. again experiment, and find what works best for your skin. some choices include ~ olive, safflower, jojoba, avocado, coconut, sesame, and animal tallow.
after your desired time of infusing, strain through cheesecloth, and bottle. you can save nice bottles or purchase new bottles. i have found if kept from getting too hot, these body oils will last over a year.
the human body, really is amazing, isn't it? body oiling is a wonderful addition to your self-care routine. or a good place to start if you don't have one. it brings nourishment to the skin and relaxation to the nervous system. it's so important in our modern busy lives, to pause for a moment and connect with ourselves. i call it a daily check-in.
body oiling can aid in dropping down into our parasympathetic nervous system, or the "rest + digest" where real healing can occur. all the while creating a protective layer upon your skin. i generally apply the oil when i get out of the shower or bath. after towel drying, i massage the oil into my skin. starting with my face and moving down to my feet. spending extra time on the lymphatic system areas, which aids in immune function. key lymphatic drainage points of the body are + neck/throat + breast/armpit + groin/ inner thigh/lower belly. especially for women consistent breast/underarm massage keeps things healthy and flowing. there is a lot of information on our lymphatic anatomy, i suggest a little research if you feel inclined. you can oil as often as you like. personally, i body oil as often as i can but sometimes it ends up being just a quick daily moisturizer. some people prefer body oiling before getting into the shower, head-to-toe massage oil in, wait a few minutes, then shower.
we cannot fully give to those we love unless we are full. it's completely up to us. self
care is the greatest gift we can give ourselves + those we love. thanks for stopping by, if you want to stay connected you can follow me on instagram or youtube. i am often sharing all kinds of loveliness. the oils are for purchase right here at simplyjosephine.com each bottle comes with a nice brochure all about body oiling. please feel free to reach out with any questions i am available by email at, firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment. wishing you all a beautiful new year, full of the things that bring you joy, namaste.