Recipe Friday: Skin Salve


You don’t eat this one, although, it wouldn’t make you sick if you did.

I don’t buy skin products any more; I make my own. I make lip balm, skin salve, and deodorant. A few products cover pretty much all I need.

Notes about skin care:

  • If you buy products, read the label carefully. If it’s going on your skin, then it’s going in your body. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and everything on it is processed through your body. This includes makeup and personal care products.
  • Most people don’t need a daily shower. A good dermatologist will tell you that. It’s not healthy to scourge off your body’s natural oils with soaps and chemicals. A washcloth at the sink can take care of face and pits; and disposable personal wipes or a wet paper towel can take care of privates. (Granted, if you work hard and sweat a lot, or if you get grungy, a shower is going to feel pretty good, and folks around you will thank you.)
  • Most of the time, you don’t need soap. A shower with a washcloth can get the job done. If you do use soap, a natural Castile soap is a good option.
  • Just because a commercial tells you a product is nourishing to your face / hair / skin, doesn’t mean it is. Read the label.
  • If your skincare products contain chemicals, those chemicals can alter your hormones, leave toxins in your body, and work your immune system overtime. Your immune system has to deal with the chemicals instead of their usual job of fighting germs.

This recipe is a base for whatever other ingredients you want to add. It can be used for skin salve or lip balm.

A side note: it is really so easy to make these! It’s pretty fast and painless. Once you make one, you’ll feel better about making a lot more of your own products.

Basic Skin Salve (based on Joybilee Farms DIY course):

  • 4 parts carrier oil (or combination of oils)
  • 2 parts medicinal dried herb (or 4 parts medicinal herb, fresh and wilted)
    • and/or use essential oils
  • 1 part beeswax

The oil and beeswax can be adjusted for what you need. For example, you might need more beeswax if you’re making a lip balm and it’s going in your pocket; less beeswax if it’s a salve going into a jar that you want to scoop out and apply easily. The salve, while a solid in a jar, easily melts upon contact with your skin.

Typical carrier oils:

  • Jojoba (absorbs quickly)
  • Olive oil (heavy, doesn’t absorb quickly, good for intense applications)
  • Grapeseed oil (more drying)
  • Coconut oil

Jojoba oil is one I often use.

You’ll need a double boiler, but not a fancy one – you can make it. To make a double boiler: Use a heat-safe container. Place a canning jar ring in the bottom of a pan. Place the heat-proof container on the ring. Fill the pan with enough water to encompass the container but not bubble over into it.


To use dried or fresh herbs, tie them up in cheesecloth and simmer (in a double boiler) in the carrier oil for 30 minutes. Press out the oil from the herbs into the carrier oil. Alternatively, you can use essential oils.

Steps to making a salve:

  • Use your heat-proof container with the herb-oil already in it. (If you are using essential oils instead, put the carrier oil into the heat-proof container in the double boiler.)
  • Add the beeswax and melt gently. Stir.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add essential oils here. [FYI: technically, those “salves” with essential oils are called ointments.]
  • Stir well.
  • Pour the salve into a glass jar or a tin and allow to harden.
    • Note: plastic is not recommended for storing, as the chemicals can leach into the product.
  • After it hardens and cools, put on the lid (don’t put it on before it hardens and cools, as moisture will condense inside the lid).
  • BE SURE to mark your product with the date and what’s in it. I’m sure we all think of course we’ll remember all that. But what a shame it is to have to throw something away that we find in a cupboard and have no idea what it is. I have a dropper bottle of serum I use on a scalp patch. It works, and I use it maybe twice a month. I forgot to label it. I know it works, but I won’t know how to make it again when I run out.

The salve that I most often use contains beeswax, shea butter (sometimes cocoa butter), jojoba oil, and essential oils of myrrh, sandalwood, and tea tree.

Note: if your salve is too stiff or too loose, you can put it back into the double boiler, re-melt, and add either beeswax or oil, whatever it needs. You can also add more essential oil if you think it needs more oomph.

I use my salve for my hands every night. I also use it occasionally for legs after a shower and (can I say this?) for personal lubrication (really, I just can’t use store-bought stuff with chemicals anywhere).

Salves can be made to put over wounds, as many essential oils are antibacterial, antimicrobial, anti-fungal, antiviral, etc. [See my post, Essential Oil Anti-Ick for a list of which oils can be used for varying conditions.] Seriously, these kinds of salves are much better for us to use instead of store-bought antibacterial ointments: essential oils are made from the plants God gave us for healing, they nourish our bodies, and support our immune system.

Adding aloe vera, St. John’s wort, comfrey, or lavender will make a good burn salve.

Adding 1 tablespoon of activated charcoal will make a good drawing salve (good for drawing out bee stingers or slivers). And it turns the salve a cool-looking black.

A salve for bites and stings can contain plantain, lavender, and tea tree.

Comfrey salve is good for pain relief and the healing of old injuries, swellings, and bruises.

Rose, geranium, and myrrh are particularly good for healthy skin.

You can pour the salve into lip balm tubes  or small containers while it’s still warm. Peppermint is nice.