Herbal hand scrubs & softeners & nail treatments: Trisha Shirey

backyard basics herbal scrubs
Gardening can take its toll on the gardener’s hands. Despite my best intentions to wear gloves when gardening, I pull a weed or two without gloves and before I realize it I am wrist deep in wet soil and have grimy nails and cracked skin. Here are some methods to mend gardener’s hands.

Nail Bleaching
Cut a fresh lemon in half, squeeze the juice and enjoy in tea or your favorite beverage. Dig your nails into the lemon pulp and rind. Squeeze the lemon juice on your hands to help bleach dark spots on the skin. Allow to remain on the skin for up to five minutes. Rinse and apply lotion to your hands. (Lemon juice and the oil from the peel can cause skin to react more quickly to the sun’s rays. Be sure to protect your hands from the sun for several hours after using this technique.)

Hydrogen Peroxide Bleaching
Pour a small amount of peroxide (3% strength, available in drug and grocery stores) in a small bowl and soak nails in the liquid for a minute. Use a cotton tipped applicator dipped in the peroxide to clean under nails and any stained areas on the nails. Rinse hands well and apply lotion.

Herbal Body Scrub
In a spice grinder or food processor, add the following:
½ cup rolled oats, regular or quick cooking
1 tablespoon of your dried herb of choice (lavender buds, lemon verbena, mint, and rosemary are all good choices)

Process until finely ground to a powder-like consistency.

Add 2 or 3 drops of essential oil to the powder if desired. Lavender, frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood and geranium are all good for soothing dry or rough skin.

Place the powder in a tightly covered jar and add enough oil or water to make a paste to scrub hands, face and body. Just a tablespoon of the powder is sufficient for a hand and face scrub.

Coconut and Honey Hand Softening Treatment
Mix together:
2 tablespoons cocoa butter
2 tablespoons honey
3 to 5 drops of essential oil (lavender, rose, sandalwood or lemon are nice for this)

Wash hands and apply a moisturizing lotion. Apply the cocoa butter mix liberally and cover the hands with latex gloves. Relax for at least 15 minutes with the gloves on. (Watch an episode of Central Texas Gardener!) Your body heat will allow the cocoa butter to soften and deeply moisturize the skin inside the gloves. Remove gloves, rinse the hands and apply moisturizer again. Repeat several times a week for severely dry hands. The mixture stores well in a glass container.

Nail Treatment
Rub extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil into cuticles and nails at night before going to bed. This softens cuticles and strengthens dry nails.