Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Comfrey root extract: Formulating fun!

Comfrey root extract is an awesome inclusion in products intended for damaged skin. I like to use comfrey root extract in foot care products - foot lotion or foot cream or thicker foot cream - and I like to use it in the form of comfrey oil in anhydrous lotion bars (substitute 5% to 10% comfrey oil for another oil in your recipe). Try it in a toner or facial moisturizer for oily skin (or skin that could use a little AHA-like help from the rosmarinic acid).

Comfrey root is known for helping wounds, burns, and bruises by increasing the ability of skin to heal more quickly and for increasing circulation. I found it very helpful when formulating a body butter to help with an injury I incurred in 2008.

Okay, short story - I fell down a flight of metal stairs on a B.C. ferry while en route to plan my wedding. The wedding was postponed until 2009, and I have a bump on my bum that will be there forever. The moral of the story - if you are going to fall down a flight of stairs, break some bones. They mend faster than soft tissue injuries and you'll have a cool cast your friends can sign...

I had a bruise from half way up my thigh to above my waist, and my skin was getting really really dry. So I formulated what I called my "bruise lotion" (not making any claims, it's what just worked for me!) to help moisturize the area, and, I hoped, increase the circulation to help the bruise go away and make me feel better generally. I modified my favourite body butter recipe - click here for some variations - to include ingredients that would help with circulation, inflammation, serious dryness, and generally feeling good on my skin. I included more humectants because it is very humid where I live and I thought it would help with moisturization. I used shea butter because it is healing and feels really moisturizing on my skin, and I like olive oil for the oleic acid, soybean oil for the linoleic acid, and both for the high levels of phytosterols and Vitamin E. And I am using aloe vera for the hydrating, moisturizing, and anti-inflaming properties because I can use all the anti-inflammation I can get in this recipe!

25% aloe vera liquid
22% lavender or chamomile hydrosol
2% hydrolyzed protein
2.5% sodium lactate
3% glycerin

15% shea butter
5% olive oil
5% soybean oil
6% Polawax
3% cetyl alcohol
2% IPM

2% panthenol
2% cyclomethicone
2% dimethicone
0.5% preservative
0.5% comfrey root extract
0.5% chamomile extract
0.5% cinnamon essential oil
0.5% clove essential oil
0.5% camphor essential oil
0.5% ginger essential oil

You'll notice all those essential oils in there. I chose them for the tingling properties they offer to increase circulation. Feel free to leave them out or use other essential oils you like for the same properties.

Join me tomorrow for fun with chrysanthemum or feverfew extract!


Aljonor said...

Hey Susan: Do you know where I can purchase comfrey root extract?


Raven Wildheart said...

Omg! Omg! Omg! I can't believe I haven't found your site before now! I LOVE Comfrey Root to bits!

If you chuck a tablespoon of dried comfrey root in a cup, pour boiling water over it, stir it occasionally and let it sit 'til it cools (it becomes beautifully gelatinous), then dip your fingers in it and massage it over your hands, arms, face, body....well, I won't tell you what it's like, but I think you'll be surprised and delighted.

I also make a 500ml batch a few hours before I wash my hair (or the night before) and then just pour it through freshly washed hair as a 'conditioner' (strained first, of course, but otherwise, just as it is). No need to rinse it out.

Of course it won't keep like that because it's basically just a 'tea' (anyone seen what happens to tea left sitting for a couple days? blech!), so I make it as I need it, then toss the used roots and liquid on the garden.

Haven't had to make a hair conditioner since I started doing this and my hair has never been happier. I also spritz a little of it through the ends of my hair throughout the day and over my face and body - and dear lawd, but what amazing softness and suppleness it gives everything!

I know, I know - it's not an official formulation, but I do like to play around with ingredients in their basic form from time to time :)