Summer awaits ….
With May arriving and the days noticeably longer, we can justifiably look forward to summer and put some extra effort into prepping our skin.
Here are tips for your feet, your skin and for making the most of this month’s hedgerow offerings …
Whether you’re a fan of Birkenstocks, Havaianas or simple sandals your feet will love the fresh air they’re about to get. But do you love the state your feet are in?
My recommended product for May is Double Mint Foot Balm. Perfect to get your feet open-toe-ready and also great for keeping you cool as the weather warms up.
This super-minty foot balm combines a spearmint and calendula herbal infusion with softening beeswax and walnut butter. Hardworking rapeseed, thistle, borage, mullein and comfrey oils complete the restorative mix with enough peppermint essential oil to ensure minty freshness to keep your feet sprightly and sweet-smelling all day long.
And you can make it yourself in just ten minutes using a Field Fresh Skincare One-Pot-Kit – order your kit now and find out how easy it is to make.
HERBS THAT WORK
Peppermint is cooling and invigorating, good for aches and tiredness.
Spearmint is a restorative, we learnt about its benefits from the ancient greeks who added it to their bathwater.
OILS THAT SOOTHE
Borage oil penetrates quickly into the skin so no oily feeling is left, just softer skin. Its natural moisture-retaining effect prevents drying of the skin.
Mullein oil also rehydrates and moisturises. The tannin in mullein oil enables an effective barrier cream forming a soothing film on the skin that can soften, soothe and reduce irritation.
Comfrey oil is softening and good for dry skin. It promotes the growth of new skin cells and helps sensitive skin to become more resilient, counteracting dryness and cracking. Comfrey is excellent for rough, damaged skin.
“On May Day wash in the morning dew
And you’ll be bonny the whole year through”
Washing in the May Day dew is a custom I try to uphold. It’s remarkably refreshing but you’ll need to get up early if it’s a sunny day, some years I’ve found it hard to find any dew! If you’re tempted of course avoid anywhere to gather your dew that may have been trodden on. And a special note for men – by tradition you should gather your dew from a hawthorn tree.
Dew has been a much-coveted ingredient in the past, gathered throughout the early summer months from herbs, grass and green corn. It was believed to cure skin ailments and headaches.
It’s hard to imagine a May hedgerow without thinking of mayflower.
Mayflower is the white blossom of the hawthorn. I consider blackthorn and hawthorn to be sisters of the hedgerow: blackthorn will flower earlier giving us blossom before leaves; hawthorn flowers a little later and gives us leaves before blossom. So with hawthorn, first we see the hedgerows almost glowing with vibrant green as all the new leaves spring out, then they’re coated in frothy, sweet-scented white blooms.
A country term for these early leaves and blossom is ‘bread and cheese’ referring to the schoolboy habit of snacking on a sandwich of blossom inside leaves. Both parts are edible. If you want to try the leaves I’d recommend just a few sprinkled into salads as they have quite a strong flavour. The flowers are highly versatile: any culinary delight you can make with elderflower, you can adapt for mayflower too, although mayflower is much less prevalent in skincare recipes.
My favourite hedgerow wine is mayflower wine but you can also make a great mayflower cordial really simply.
Select 15 to 20 heads of mayflower, ideally picked in full sun. Place these a large clean pan with 900g sugar, 2 washed and sliced lemons and 25g tartaric acid. Pour on 2 ½ litres boiling water. Leave it all to infuse in a cool place for 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Strain into sterilized bottles, cap and leave for 2-3 weeks to mature. Untouched bottles will last in a cool, dark place for up to three months. Use as a cordial, diluting with water to taste. Once open, keep in the fridge and use within two days.
The weather lore stating ‘cast not a clout ‘til May is out’ probably refers to the mayflower, not the month of May – typically mayflower is out in bloom long before the month is through but perhaps we’d be wise to keep the saying suitably ambiguous to accommodate the vagaries of our weather – this week certainly hasn’t been one for casting clouts.
But can anyone explain the nursery rhyme ‘Here we go gathering nuts in May’? to the best of my knowledge, I cannot think of any nuts that are ready for gathering in May.
Make your own skincare
Bright yellow dandelion flowers are just giving way to fluffy seedheads but there’s plenty of time still to gather their leaves for multiple uses. You may enjoy pepping up salads with a few (our rabbits are certainly happy to find them in their food bowl) but have you ever used them in a skin tonic?
Here’s a recipe from Josephine Fairley for a tonic you can use as a daily pick-you-up:
Dandelion skin tonic
Gather a generous handful of dandelion leaves along with two heaped tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves, you can include the thyme flowers as well. (If you can’t find fresh thyme, used dried instead but halve the quantity, so just one tablespoon of dried thyme leaves). Put these herbs into 300ml of boiling water and leave to infuse for 20 minutes before straining through a sieve. Finally add a tablespoon of witch hazel and two drops of grapefruit seed extract. Shake well.
Use in the morning as a refreshing wake up for the skin or in the evening to sweep away the last traces of cleanser.