Preparing Spices for Use in Cosmetics

Pictured: an extract in the making with hand-picked organic juniper berries.

If you've been hanging around here a while, you are probably already aware I have 'gone roots' and have been formulating with foods and other raw items – much of which has involved making hand-crafted herbal extracts of all types.

It's an educational (and sometimes pricey) experience.

Today, I'm sharing a couple of tips that will hopefully save you pain, heartache, and money. They involve using spices for cosmetics.

I've had to learn this the hard (read: expensive) way – twice.

Wait - You Use Spices As Cosmetics Ingredients? 

Yes indeed. Many spices are a wonderful addition to a cosmetic and bring benefits to both skin and haircare products. Look to Ayurvedic solutions for some fascinating examples that have a long history of use.

Many spices – fresh and dried – can be infused to create an custom extract.

To get the most out of a spice to be used for infusion, it is generally recommend to grind or crush the spice before adding it to the medium. This releases the aromatics and allows for optimal results.

Sometimes, it also results in an expensive lesson learned.

First Lesson: The Clove Incident

As I have always used a dedicated coffee grinder for my cosmetics, I didn't think twice about grabbing it to prepare some cloves for an infusion.

That was a mistake.

Cloves are both tough to grind and rich in aromatics. Read: They need extra grinding time.

On the upside, a coffee grinder really releases the aromatics beautifully.
On the downside, the aromatic oils connect with the coffee grinder in a very dominant and permanent way.

The scent cannot be removed.

Like, ever.

Conclusion: if you want to grind cloves, don't use a grinder you use for anything else unless you forever want the scent of cloves in EVERYTHING you grind.

Second Lesson: Juniper Berries

Although this wasn't quite as serious as 'The Clove Incident',  quality juniper berries have enough aromatic power to LINGER just enough to where you think the scent will fade over time.

Tip: it doesn't.

Alternative Options

There are two alternative options to buying a dedicated grinder for each spice you want to use. One method requires cleanup and the other doesn't.

Guess which is my fave.

The Easy Clean-up Method

  • Place chosen spices in plastic bag suitable for foods
  • Place bag on wooden chopping board
  • Whack spices with rolling pin or other suitable object until sufficiently crushed
  • Remove spices from bag
  • Toss bag
  • Rejoice
Below: plastic bag after being used to whack juniper berries. (It smelled so fabulous I had a hard time tossing it).

Extra bonus: whacking spices can be quite cathartic if you have a few aggravations you want to get out of your system.

The Stone Mortar and Pestle Method

  • Place chosen spices in stone mortar
  • Crush spices with pestle 
  • Remove spices
  • Clean mortar

Do Tell

Do you use spices in your cosmetics? How do you utilize them?


Jade Violet said…
I make many handmade extracts for my natural me the scent sticks to anything.....including a mortar and pestle. I just had a very difficult time getting the scent of musk seeds from my mortar and pestle!
Jade Violet said…
I also use a dedicated coffee grinder. I use the Kitchen Maid that comes sith several attachments (3 bowls with blades for grinding). So I keep one reserved for my very aromatic materials.
Lise M Andersen said…
Hey there Jade Violet- thanks for sharing! I love that you have a dedicated grinder with several attachments!
LZR:// said…
I have used vanilla and it is very easy, but when I used spices I got some very good powder and I put in a lot and then I filtered it.
Lise M Andersen said…
Hey there LZR - It's great using powders! You get the max out of a dried spice that way - the 'fun part' is when it's time to filter :)