Homemade Skin Astringent *(Blackberry)

It Doesn’t Get Easier Than This

I try to find the advantages of aging when I can. If I was not moving into menopause I would have no cause to experiment with things like a “skin astringent”. No one ever warns you or talks about what happens to your body despite all the exercise and healthy foods you eat. Women are especially ignorant about the role that estrogen plays in maintaining the function of so many systems.  If only there were as many support groups, classes, and books on the topic of “the change” as there is for childbirth. It might go easier for women over 50 if there were, and they might feel less invisible in society.

I was prepared for wrinkles and age spots but not hemorrhoids, or varicose and spider veins. I don’t even want to be seen in a bathing suit or engage in certain other activities. I know there are surgeries and hormone replacement therapy but I am not a good candidate for those. Genetics is not on my side either.  So since I prefer plant based solutions, I thought I would try making this astringent. It could be used as a simple facial toner as well.

Blackberry Bushes (Rubus)

This homemade astringent contains a proprietary blend of blackberry leaves and white oak bark extracted into witch hazel (rubbing alcohol and witch hazel bark).

After a few weeks of extraction the plant material can be removed and the liquid bottled for late use. I like to store it in the refrigerator as a spray or soak cotton pads in the astringent and place them in a jar. The cold makes it even more refreshing and effective.

Many people struggle to tell the difference between the blackberry and the raspberry. Blackberries have a black fruit. The stems/canes can have large “thorns” more like a rose, those on a raspberry cane are more like fine brown hairs. If you flip the leaf over on a raspberry it will be white, all of the canes have a blue “bloom” on them. A blackberry will have very long invasive canes with red on them (except first year canes which may be white), the leaves are a darker green. There are also slight botanical changes between the veins, texture, and arrangement of the leaves. You will notice that a raspberry has left a bit of its insides on the plant when it has been picked. It appears hollow when you look inside. A blackberry can be bigger, longer and is very solid. I have both plants growing in my yard. They can often be used interchangeably. I tend to use raspberry for mild teas and blackberry for external preparations or tonics.

Blackberries have been used to treat anemia, fever, gout and cancer. The leaves or berries can be used to resolve diarrhea quickly. Externally the leavers can be used for oily skin, wounds, bug bites and hemorrhoids. They make a great mouthwash for infected gums or a sore throat. Blackberries are a good source of vitamin C and iron. It is rare to find a single plant that contains both of those. This is important because iron is best extracted and absorbed with a source of vitamin C.

Did a health condition inspire you to use plants in a different way than you would have considered before?

Published by blackbirdsbackyard

My backyard botanical pharmacy is located in Boulder Colorado. I began studying herbal medicinewhen I was 12 years old. In college I studied subjects like anthropology, microbiology, anatomy and physiology, After graduation I decided to go to midwifery school. I attended births and had a small practice until I retired early in order to be a mother full time. I have always had an herb garden, gathered plants and made my own healing formulas with plants. Over the last 30 years there have been many teachers and I have attended dozens of workshops. I am one of those people who is always reading, studying and learning. In 2019 I was called to practice as an herbalist professionally, using "plant spirit medicine" and bio-energetic ( 5 element)healing techniques. I feel that there is a big need in the community for my skills and talents. I hope to inspire others to start their own backyard pharmacies as a solution to species extinction and the healthcare crisis in America. Healing has also become a spiritual practice and way for me to feel balanced and connected with nature. I consult with clients in person, teach classes (adults and kids), give tours of my garden and offer apprenticeships. Health, joy, meaning, and support are everyone's birthright.

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