I have been photographing bath and body products for almost 30 years, and more recently making my own simple products while photographing for Willow and Sage magazine. Working on this latest issue of Willow and Sage really hit the inspiration mark for me even more than usual: I love the happy look and calming smell of dried chamomile flowers, and I love quick and easy recipe ideas, and this issue had both. Instead of making one recipe inspired by this issue, I thought a set of recipes would be more fun, useful and giftable. And since the end of summer and the end of flower season is approaching, having bath and body products on hand that bring back the calm and warmth of summertime is essential.
Calming Chamomile Recipes
Fill a dry sterilized 1 oz spray bottle halfway with dried chamomile flowers, then fill bottle with your favorite unscented dry oil and replace cap tightly. Dry oils, which are lower viscosity, absorb very quickly into your skin and work better in spray bottles than oils with higher viscosity. My personal preference is cold-pressed organic sunflower oil. Let bottle sit in a cool dark spot in your pantry, and agitate once a day for a few weeks to allow the chamomile to infuse into the oil. Then spray on your skin and gently massage into your skin anytime you feel dry and tense. Discard and replace recipe if oil turns rancid-smelling or when you run out of oil.
Fill an 8 oz glass jar halfway with dried chamomile flowers, then fill jar to the top with apple cider vinegar and replace lid to make jar airtight. Let jar sit in a cool dark spot in your pantry, and agitate once a day for a few weeks to allow the chamomile to steep into the vinegar. Then pour a few ounces in your hot bath anytime you want a skin-softening and calming bath. The vinegar scent will dissipate quickly, but the chamomile scent will remain.
Chamomile salt scrub/soak:
Fill an 8 oz jar halfway with dried chamomile flowers, then fill jar to the top with Epsom salts and stir well. Add a couple of spoonfuls to your hot bath (with or without your vinegar mixture) to encourage muscle recovery, and maybe also try gently scrubbing any dry rough calloused skin (like hands, feet and elbows) with this mixture while in your bath or during a shower.
Tip: if you have very old and sensitive plumbing, consider adding a fine mesh strainer to your bathtub drain, or try pouring bath mixtures into a cotton drawstring bag before adding to your bath.