Photos by Georgia Blackie.
This week we escape with Justina, founder of The Herbal. Their beautiful handmade, all natural and high quality evolving line of healing and nourishing products are our favourite to indulge in, especially during the cool winter months when our bodies and skin need lots of TLC. We talk to Justina about her bath tea recipes, why she started The Herbal, and she gives us some essential winter wellness tips!
What is your ideal bath tea?
My ideal bath tea blend is one that is calming, soothing and full of dried florals - because who doesn’t like being immersed in pretty flowers? I usually play around with different blends but my go-to is lavender, chamomile and calendula with a bit of crushed up eucalyptus for an extra healing boost.
Lavender and chamomile have a long history of use as calming, tension relieving herbs, and both are great for skincare having antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties which soothe irritated skin. Calendula soothes minor skin irritations and uplifts the spirits with its pretty yellow petals.
Eucalyptus has long been used by Indigenous Australians as a medicinal herb, most commonly in alleviating cold and flu symptoms. Adding some crushed up leaves to a hot steaming bath releases essential oils from the plant which clear the airways and add a refreshing camphor scent. I also include a healthy dose of salts to get a magnesium hit. Many people are magnesium deficient and for me it’s like I can instantly feel it’s magic working on my muscles to loosen them up.
You can be as creative as you like with a herbal bath blend, tailoring it according to which plant you like best or which health concern you’d like to work on most that day.
I usually take a generous handful of calendula flowers, then about half a handful each of chamomile and lavender flowers. I’d then add half a handful of eucalyptus leaves and mix these all up, letting my mind grow quiet as I do so in preparation for my relaxing soak. About a cup of epsom salts goes into this, then you can either put the mixture into a muslin bag and let it soak in the water, herbal tea style, or just throw the whole lot in and enjoy!
What made you start The Herbal?
More and more people are waking up to the fact that skin care products need not be complicated and full of chemicals. I created The Herbal after starting my studies in herbal medicine, but this has always been an interest of mine. From making oat and chamomile masks to washing my hair with floral tonics, I’ve always played around and had an interest in natural skincare so this just seemed like the perfect thing to do.
My aim with The Herbal is to not only develop simple, nourishing botanical skin care products but also through the online journal to encourage others to play and learn about the powerful healing of plants. Herbal medicine is the people’s medicine and so much of this knowledge is to be shared. I’ve only recently stopped working full time so I can devote more time and energy into creating products and building a community around our shared fascination with plant power. Watch this space…
What drew you to working with natural and organic ingredients?
I work with natural and organic ingredients because there’s really no reason to use anything else. I’ve always been fascinated by the relationship between plants and people; plants have been sustaining human-kind for millennia and we have so much yet to learn from them. There’s nothing as satisfying as working with a plant to heal or nourish or just enjoy the smell or taste. It’s as simple as that. There’s also something special about knowing your ingredients come from a tree by a river in Northern New South Wales as opposed to being created in a lab.
I also incorporate Australian native plants into my formulations as we have so many powerful plants in this beautiful country that are vastly untapped. I believe working with these plants and bringing them into more focus will allow people to have more of an appreciation for Indigenous knowledge as well as encourage more research and protection of some of our unique species.
I try to source organic ingredients where possible, as I’m passionate about our role as custodians of the environment and I don’t believe that harmful chemicals have any place in nature.
What are your top tips to keep warm, healthy and happy this winter?
Prevention is the best cure! So rug up, slow down, drink plenty of ginger and lemon tea and add turmeric to everything. Regular herbal steams utilising eucalyptus are great for clearing sinuses. Elderberry syrup is a go-to of mine as well, the berries increase our white blood cell count which leads to a rock-solid immune system, helping to prevent the onset of cold and flu as well as easing symptoms if you do get sick. I always have a bottle in the fridge in winter just in case, it tastes great and is so easy to make. I have a great recipe over on my blog that you should totally try out.