At the heart of Clary Collection and the base to most of our products, is the time honored craft of botanical oil infusion. This gentle tradition dates back to the earliest forms of herbal medicine and is still widely used throughout the world today. Allowing a slow warmth of oil to draw out healing benefits of herbs and flowers is one of the oldest and gentlest ways of transferring those benefits to skin. Ancient Egyptians infused rose hips and bitter orange blossoms (neroli) in Olive Oil to preserve youthfulness and heal scars and Cleopatra is said to have bathed with it regularly. Ayurvedic medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine have practiced the infusion of Marigolds (calendula) in oil to heal skin irritations for centuries. Lavender is mentioned in the Bible as a Holy herb (nerd) and was a common infusion used to treat wounds and ease pain in the ancient Middle East. Ancient Greeks infused Chamomile (greek for “ground apple”) in olive oil and used it to heal rashes. Many Indigenous communities in North America still infuse Plantain as a treatment for bug bites and skin abrasions. Our first oil infusion opened our eyes to a beautiful tradition that we are honored to enjoy and share with others.
We infuse in small batches much like our great grandmothers did. While they didn't have to worry so much about the purity of their ingredients, we take great care in using only USDA certified, 100% organic oils and botanicals. We combine our dried herbs and flowers in jars of pure, cold-pressed, virgin olive oil and warm slowly with a low, controlled heat. No hotter than a comfortable bath, the flowers and leaves are allowed to gently release their therapeutic benefits to the oil, transforming it in color and scent. We strain twice using organic hemp bags and are left with a soothing, all-purpose moisturizer and the base to our balms. Our leftover herbs can be used in multiple ways ranging from bath teas and salt scrubs to beneficial compost in our gardens.
With the explosion of the essential oil market, traditional oil infusion is a less known, but very valuable craft to explore. Essential Oils are extracted by the process of steam distillation - the forcing of steam through densely packed quantities of herbs and flowers. As the steam cooks the plant, it rises and falls through a cooling chamber where it condenses back to liquid form. The essential oils of the plant are extracted with the steam as it passes through the plant matter and as it cools, it separates from the water and is syphoned out and bottled. It takes many pounds of biomass to extract a very small quantity of essential oil and the results are highly potent and used in a wide array of products. Still, there is much confusion surrounding the safety of these powerful compounds and at Clary, it is our goal to create effective blends that are safe for the broadest spectrum of individuals. While we respect the tradition of steam distillation and utilize its benefits occasionally, we focus our Collection on traditional oil infusion as we believe it is the safest, gentlest way to nourish and protect our whole family’s skin.
HOW TO USE CLARY BATH + BODY OIL
We use our oil as an all-purpose moisturizer for our entire family. While the texture may seem foreign if you're used to commercial lotions, our oil contains no water, fillers or drying agents, so it is deeply hydrating as it absorbs slowly and locks moisture in with it. We find that it does a much better job at prolonging hydration without additives like alcohol or diluters like water. We apply several pumps to our damp skin (just like lotion) after bathing and sometimes we add a few pumps to our bath water (adding a cup of natural salt is wonderful too!). We also enjoy using it in massages for ourselves and families and find it to be remarkably soothing for all of us. For babies and young children who don't like being massaged after every bath, we like to combine a few pumps with warm water in a pitcher or large cup and pour it gently over their bodies at the very end of their baths. They will be a little slippery, but a quick wrap in a towel will bring some sweet giggles and lots of good moisture, particularly in drier, colder climates. For babies battling eczema, we have found that consistent moisture is key to repair and prevention. Warm baths with salt are remarkably useful as long as you lock the moisture in at the end. Salt water helps to balance the ph of skin and to detoxify in the process. For young children, add up to 1 cup of natural salt (Himalayan, etc) to a slightly warm bath. A 5-15 minute soak followed by a rinse with warm, clean water and a rinse with oil + water has helped to prevent eczema flare-ups for our kiddos. We avoid soap unless absolutely needed. Saltwater is a remarkable cleanser for sensitive skin!
HOW YO USE CLARY BALM
When you first open a tin of Clary Balm, you will notice the surface is quite firm. Because we use pure beeswax as our emulsifier, it will respond to the heat of your finger tip. We love the feeling of "breaking the seal" on a new balm and because we use it so frequently, we aren't afraid to apply a little pressure and dig into it a bit. Everyone has their own way of doing things, but the important part is that you get it on your skin! We use our balm for our lips, hands, elbows, eye area, cheeks, diaper area (keep a separate tin for this!), scrapes, rashes and burns. Our friends have told us it works wonderfully for their pets too. Every ingredient in Clary Balm is 100% natural, organic and food grade, so there should be little chance of adverse reactions. With that in mind, we ALWAYS suggest a small skin patch test whenever a new product is used on skin - especially very young skin. We aren't professionals, just moms sharing what has worked for us.
Let us know what you think! We'd love to hear your thoughts on oil infusions and how you use them in your homes.