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8 forms of capital active hope agroecology agroforestry alder buckthorn Amazon anxiety apples arthritis back yard beans Bec Hellouin beech tree bees beneficial berries biochar biodigester biodiversity blackberries blackthorn book review brain brassica cage budget build building campesino capital card deck Celtic festivals change changes chemical-free chickens christmas circular clay pot cleansers cleansing milks climate change climate emergency climate grief climate solutions climbers climbing cob comfrey community compost compost teas connection consciousness conservation container cooking coppice coppicing cordial cosmology courgettes crafts crisis crop protection Cross Quarter Festival cultural emergence culture cut flowers cycles degraded design diary diversity DIY do it yourself dryland earth care Earth's energy ecoculture economics ecopoetry ecosystem ecosystem restoration camps ecosystems edges edible edible flowers education efficiency elder elderflowers elements elixir energy equinox ethics face mask fair shares Fairtrade farming feedback feminine ferns figs film firewood floristry flower essence flower garden flowers food food forest food garden footbath forage foraging forest garden forest gardening forests fruit fruit leather fruit trees fungi future future care gardening garlic gift economy gin Give Nature a voice Glennie Kindred global poverty glut grapes greenhouse grief groundcover grow grow food grow your own growing guilds habitat habits handcream harvest harvests hawthorn hazel hazelnut healing shrubs healing trees health healthy soil heart health hedgerow hedging herbal herbal remedies herbal teas herbalist herbs holistic holistic planned grazing home homeless homemade wine homestead hope Hugelkultur humanure hummus hungry gap IBC tanks Imbolc incense increase yields Indigenous inexpensive influence inspiration International Womens Day jam keyline kitchen garden lacto-fermentation Lammas land landscape landscapes life lifestyle limeflowers livelihood livestock living labs logs Looby Macnamara lotion low cost low-impact Lush Spring Prize macerations Manda Scott Mangwende Orphan Care Trust market garden market gardening marmalade marshmallow mass heater meadowsweet medicinal microbes microfarm Midwest Permaculture mimic mindset mitigation money Morag Gamble moringa Mother Earth mulch multifunctional mushrooms native plants natural natural building natural fertiliser natural skincare natural swimming pool nature nature connection nitrogen no dig no waste no-dig novel November nutrition nuts observe oca October off-grid oil cleansing orchard orchards organic organic flowers organic gardening outdoor shower oven oxymel oyster pallets pasture-fed patterns people people care peoplecare perennials permaculture permaculture design permaculture magazine award permaculutre permayouth pesto pests philippines pine tree pips pizza oven plant profile plants pollinators pollution polyculture polycultures preserving principles propagating protection pruning prunings psycho-spiritual awareness psychospiritual transformation rainforest rainwater raspberries recipe recipes reduce reed beds regeneration regenerative regenerative agriculture relative location relative matter remedy renewable renewable energy resources restoration reuse revolution rhythms rootstock rootstocks roundhouse roundwood runner beans sage salad salads salve Samhain schools Scotland scotts pine seasonal seasons seeds selfcare Sepp Holzer september septic tanks sewage treatment shade shamanism sheet mulching shrubs skincare sloes slugs small solutions small-scale smallholding social justice soil health solar solutions sowing spiritual spring squash stacking functions stock-free straw straw bale summer sustainable Sweet Bay syntropic systems temperate terraces thistles thrutopia timber timber framing tincture tonic toolkit tools transformation trees upcycle urban urban gardening veg garden vegan veganic vermicomposting vinegar walnuts waste water water cleansing watering weeds wellbeing wetland wild edges wild food wild garlic wildflower wildlife wine recipes wings winter winter greens winter salads wood stove woodburner woodland woodland management woodlands worms yarrow year round year-round food yield young people youth zai pits zone 00 zoning

Topics

8 forms of capital active hope agroecology agroforestry alder buckthorn Amazon anxiety apples arthritis back yard beans Bec Hellouin beech tree bees beneficial berries biochar biodigester biodiversity blackberries blackthorn book review brain brassica cage budget build building campesino capital card deck Celtic festivals change changes chemical-free chickens christmas circular clay pot cleansers cleansing milks climate change climate emergency climate grief climate solutions climbers climbing cob comfrey community compost compost teas connection consciousness conservation container cooking coppice coppicing cordial cosmology courgettes crafts crisis crop protection Cross Quarter Festival cultural emergence culture cut flowers cycles degraded design diary diversity DIY do it yourself dryland earth care Earth's energy ecoculture economics ecopoetry ecosystem ecosystem restoration camps ecosystems edges edible edible flowers education efficiency elder elderflowers elements elixir energy equinox ethics face mask fair shares Fairtrade farming feedback feminine ferns figs film firewood floristry flower essence flower garden flowers food food forest food garden footbath forage foraging forest garden forest gardening forests fruit fruit leather fruit trees fungi future future care gardening garlic gift economy gin Give Nature a voice Glennie Kindred global poverty glut grapes greenhouse grief groundcover grow grow food grow your own growing guilds habitat habits handcream harvest harvests hawthorn hazel hazelnut healing shrubs healing trees health healthy soil heart health hedgerow hedging herbal herbal remedies herbal teas herbalist herbs holistic holistic planned grazing home homeless homemade wine homestead hope Hugelkultur humanure hummus hungry gap IBC tanks Imbolc incense increase yields Indigenous inexpensive influence inspiration International Womens Day jam keyline kitchen garden lacto-fermentation Lammas land landscape landscapes life lifestyle limeflowers livelihood livestock living labs logs Looby Macnamara lotion low cost low-impact Lush Spring Prize macerations Manda Scott Mangwende Orphan Care Trust market garden market gardening marmalade marshmallow mass heater meadowsweet medicinal microbes microfarm Midwest Permaculture mimic mindset mitigation money Morag Gamble moringa Mother Earth mulch multifunctional mushrooms native plants natural natural building natural fertiliser natural skincare natural swimming pool nature nature connection nitrogen no dig no waste no-dig novel November nutrition nuts observe oca October off-grid oil cleansing orchard orchards organic organic flowers organic gardening outdoor shower oven oxymel oyster pallets pasture-fed patterns people people care peoplecare perennials permaculture permaculture design permaculture magazine award permaculutre permayouth pesto pests philippines pine tree pips pizza oven plant profile plants pollinators pollution polyculture polycultures preserving principles propagating protection pruning prunings psycho-spiritual awareness psychospiritual transformation rainforest rainwater raspberries recipe recipes reduce reed beds regeneration regenerative regenerative agriculture relative location relative matter remedy renewable renewable energy resources restoration reuse revolution rhythms rootstock rootstocks roundhouse roundwood runner beans sage salad salads salve Samhain schools Scotland scotts pine seasonal seasons seeds selfcare Sepp Holzer september septic tanks sewage treatment shade shamanism sheet mulching shrubs skincare sloes slugs small solutions small-scale smallholding social justice soil health solar solutions sowing spiritual spring squash stacking functions stock-free straw straw bale summer sustainable Sweet Bay syntropic systems temperate terraces thistles thrutopia timber timber framing tincture tonic toolkit tools transformation trees upcycle urban urban gardening veg garden vegan veganic vermicomposting vinegar walnuts waste water water cleansing watering weeds wellbeing wetland wild edges wild food wild garlic wildflower wildlife wine recipes wings winter winter greens winter salads wood stove woodburner woodland woodland management woodlands worms yarrow year round year-round food yield young people youth zai pits zone 00 zoning

Natural Skincare Recipes with Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)

Natural skincare creator, Laura Pardoe shares three natural skincare recipes for using horsetail (Equisetum arvense), and explains how it grows, how to harvest it and its health benefits.

Horsetail (Equisetum arvense also called mare’s tail) has abrasive properties that were used from the Middle Ages until the 18th century for scouring pots and pans, especially pewter. Its massive tap root means it pulls minerals up from deep in the soil. Playing with horsetail, you’ll find it breaks neatly at the stem nodes and stems can be stacked together, giving it the name ‘Lego plant’. 

Benefits 

Horsetail contains alkaloids (including nicotine) and various minerals. Its unusual chemistry makes it a unique plant to use in skincare. Rich in silica it helps to keep skin, hair, nails and teeth healthy, preserving the natural elasticity in skin and restoring skin tone (especially after illness). It’s the go-to herb for broken nails and lifeless hair. Horsetail is sometimes known as the ‘hair gloss herb’, such are its conditioning properties. 

Parts to use 

Use the stems either fresh or dried (though it’s more effective fresh).

How to find, grow, harvest 

Horsetail looks like a throw-back to Jurassic times, the basic structure of the plant has changed little since dinosaurs roamed the land. Horsetail is often found in wastelands or along canals or railways, especially on sandy soils where it spreads easily. It is a curious looking plant with segmented stems, from which pine-needle-like leaves radiate. Do not plant in your garden as it’s incredibly invasive. Avoid gathering plants with brown spots as this is a fungal disease. Dry carefully without damaging the stems. When dry it becomes very difficult to cut, so you may prefer to chop your stems when freshly picked to have pre-prepared dried herb ready to use. 

Special care 

An irritant, best combined with demulcent herbs, and restricted to short-term use. 

How to use 

Add a strong decoction to the bath to soothe skin irritations and help heal minor abrasions. It’s good combined with dandelion, fennel and seaweed. 

Horsetail nail bath recipe

3 tsp chopped horsetail
150ml boiling water

Make: Put the horsetail into a bowl or cup and pour over 2/3 cup (158ml) of boiling water. Cover and leave to infuse.

Use: While still warm, put the infusion into a bowl and soak your nails for 10 minutes. Repeat every other day. It is good to alternate this with soaking your nails in warm oil for 5 minutes every other day. (There is an example of an oil nail soak Chapter 11 of the book, Vital Skincare.)

Store: Make up a fresh batch for each use.

Horsetail shampoo 

7 tbsp (105g) grated, dried soapwort
7 tbsp (105g) snipped horsetail stems

Make: Prepare by putting the soapwort to soak overnight and then drain ready for use. Put the herbs into a pan and pour on 2 pints (1.2 litres) of water. Bring to the boil, cover and keep boiling for 15 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for about an hour. When cool, strain into bottles, seal and label. 

Use: You’ll need about a cup (250ml) of the shampoo each time you wash your hair. 

Store: This will keep for about a week in the fridge, but you can make batches of 300ml to freeze in pots or freezer bags. 

Horsetail skin tonic

2 tsp freshly cut horsetail

Make: Put the horsetail into a small pan and pour over ½ cup (118ml) of water. Leave to soak for several hours before bringing to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, then cover and leave for a further 10 minutes before straining and putting into a screw-top jar. 

Use: Apply morning and night after cleansing using cotton wool pads. Smooth it all over the skin and allow to dry. 

Store: Keep in the fridge and make a fresh batch every two to three days. 

This is an extract from Laura Pardoe’s Vital Skincare: Natural Healthy Skin in Just 5 Minutes a Day. Chapters include:

  • Why it is Vital to Look after your Skin
  • Blending Your Own
  • Three determinants that make your skin what it is
  • Cleansing
  • Toners
  • Exfoliating
  • Moisturising
  • Learn to Blend like a Pro 
  • Powerhouse Seed Oils
  • Flower Power 
  • Our Closest Herbs – through the seasons
  • Little Rituals – Reflecting on your Skincare

Further Resources

Watch

Make Your Own Natural Skincare

Books

Vital Skincare
by Laura Pardoe

The Creative Kitchen
by Stephanie Hafferty

Articles

How to Make your own Natural Cleansers

5 Natural Cures for Eczema

Vital Skincare

About the Author

Laura is a plantswoman and natural skincare formulator. Now living in the Cotswolds, her time is shared between family, hedgerows, garden, workshops, desk and lab as she blends traditional and modern approaches to bring the skincare benefits of temperate plants to all.