All Leafyhead ingredients are organic and food-grade when possible. They are home-grown, ethically wildcrafted, or sourced from reputable companies.
Aloe vera (Aloe barbaderis) is soothing, moistening, and healing to the skin. Keep an aloe plant in your house to use on minor burns -- the gooey inside of the leaf reduces pain and speeds healing. We use cold-pressed organic aloe vera gel. It contains a few other ingredients to preserve and thicken it: potassium sorbate, citric acid, and xanthan gum. These gentle, plant-based substances help to preserve the finished cream as well.
Black walnut (Juglans nigra): the hulls of the black walnut are powerfully anti-microbial. They will also stain your hands for weeks, so we've learned to use gloves when processing... and are considering a black walnut henna.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis): The International Herb Society's Herb of the Year in 2008, calendula helps to soothe and heal skin, and is anti-microbial. The calendula flowers used in Leafyhead products are organically home-grown.Some people are allergic to calendula; if you've got ragweed allergies, test products containing calendula on a small area of skin before using them all over your body.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) has a centuries-long history of use, both internally and externally. Clinical trials have shown that chamomile is powerfully anti-inflammatory. Just as a nice mug of chamomile tea can calm and soothe you in the evening, chamomile flowers can soothe the skin externally, reducing inflammation and speeding healing. Some people are allergic to chamomile; if you've got ragweed allergies, test products containing chamomile on a small area of skin before using them all over your body. Almond oil infused with chamomile flowers is the base of many of the Leafyhead products. We grow our chamomile at Common Good City Farm in Washington, DC.
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) was traditionally used to heal broken skin and broken bones -- and is commonly used by horse-owners today for those purposes.
Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) is an Indian herb that is used to heal tissue. (Herbalists call that a "vulnerary.")
Green tea (Camellia sinensis) is high in anti-oxidants, and is gently astringent (drying).
Plantain (Plantago major & Plantago lanceolata), a humble, common weed, is one of our favorite herbs. It is vulnerary and powerfully anti-inflammatory. In fact, if you get a bug bite, chew up a plantain leaf and apply it to the bite to stop the itching.
About Herbal Infusions
An herbal infusion is the technical name for "herbal tea." It is dried herbs soaked in boiling water, so that the water takes on the healing properties of the herbs. When making lotions and creams, including and herbal infusion increases the healing properties of the cream, while at the same time it decreases the shelf life. If you left a glass of water and a glass of tea out on the counter for two weeks, the water would be fine, while the tea would not be very pleasant. This is why infustion-based creams need extra preservatives to improve their shelf life. We use grapefruit seed extract, which also contains glycerine and ascorbic acid. This has been so successful that you no longer need to refrigerate your Leafyhead infusion-based lotions!
The Oils and Butters
Castor oil (Oleum ricini): an intensely moisturizing and healing oil from the castor bean tree (Ricinus communis). Castor oil has been clinically shown to boost the immune system by increasing T-cell counts when used topically.
Cocoa butter (Theobroma cacao): a rich, deeply moisturizing butter that smells like chocolate.
Coconut oil (Cocos nucifera): gentle and moisturizing.
Shea butter (Butyrospermum parkii): rich, decadent, and deeply moisturizing. Shea butter is not recommended for application to the face, as it can clog pores.
About Infused Oils
An infused oil, also known as a fixed oil, is much like an herbal infusion (or tea) - but using oil rather than water. An herb is soaked in the oil and then heated to a low temperature for a number of hours -- sometimes up to three weeks. The gentle heating process transfers the healing properties of the herb into the oil.
The Essential Oils
All Leafyhead Lotions & Potions are scented with pure essential oils, never with synthetic flavor oils or chemicals. Essential oils are the volatile oils found naturally in scented plants, which are steam-distilled out of the plant. It can take many pounds or even tons of fresh plants to produce just an ounce or two of essential oil.
Essential oils are antibacterial, which means that they help to preserve lotions and creams. Some essential oils have specific healing qualities. Simply by smelling them, your body benefits. Lavender essential oil has been clinically proven to relax. Melissa essential oil (lemon balm) is uplifting - herbalist Rosemary Gladstar calls it "the gladdening herb." Rosemary and other members of the mint family have been shown to stimulate nerve growth in the brain.
Beeswax: pure beeswax brings texture to our lotions, creams, and salves.
Sodium borate: a natural mineral substance, our food-grade sodium borate (borax) acts as an emulsifier -- it keeps the lotions and creams from separating. It is also a mild preservative. Since an emulsion is not a naturally occurring situation (oil and water don't mix!), choice of emulsifier can be a controversial decision. This lovely essay/ info sheet by Sharon Kinnier of Botanical Skin Works offers more details, and sums up the reasons we use sodium borate.
h2o: filtered water is whipped with oils, butters, and waxes to create creams and lotions. Products that contain water need emulsifiers and preservatives to extend their life past a week or two. Salves and lip balms contain no water.