There’s this magical box that lives in my “crunchy corner.” In it are wonders ne’er before seen, like unicorns and fairies and men who ask for directions.
Just kidding, men. (You’d never fit in this box.)
Actually, what’s in this box are small baggies full of herbs and roots and flowers and resins. Every so often, when I go to our local natural food store, I’ll pick up an herb that I’ve recently learned about, but never worked with. I bring it home, smell it, touch it, and occasionally just toss it in the box and forget about it. Not for lack of interest, but more for an abundance of distractions.
You know how it goes. There’s always bread to be made, dishes to be washed, friends to be served tea, or cats to be dressed up like German barmaids. Priorities.
About a month ago, as I was planning a few of the plants I’m going to grow in my new rooftop garden, I ran into hyssop seeds. (Isn’t that just about the prettiest word you’ve ever seen? Hyssop. Hyssop. Hyssop.) And while I was familiar with it, I remembered that it was an herb I’d tossed into the box a few months before.
(Along with, by sheer coincidence, nearly everything I need to make homemade root beer – so look for that in the next month or so. I can’t believe I’ve waited this long. WHY DO I FORGET WHAT’S IN MY BOX?)
So, while deciding whether or not hyssop would be included in one of my myriad garden containers, I thought I’d put it on my face.
Right? Because that’s how I make all my decisions.
“Can I put it on my face?” “Yes.” “Okay, I’ll allow it.”
Not only did I love what it did for my face, but the scent alone was enough to send me into the heavens while still feeling firmly attached to the ground. There’s something indescribable about the scent of dried hyssop – it has a distinct earthy, minty, pine-y, floaty, and floral smell to it.
And thus, it becomes a seedling in my guest room, waiting for its rooftop home.
The Quick and Dirty on Hyssop
Hyssop. (I just wanted to type that gorgeous word again.)
We won’t go in depth about hyssop at the moment, because I have other things planned for it as it grows over the summer, and we’ll talk more then.
But here’s a quick overview:
- Hyssop, which has for centuries been considered a “holy herb,” is a flowering evergreen shrub that’s in the mint family.
- You can make tea and tinctures out of it (although refrain from ingesting the essential oil, and avoid it if you’re pregnant or have seizure disorders), the occasional use of which could help with inflammatory issues, coughs and colds, and circulation.
- If you’re plagued by evil spirits, hyssop has been known to banish those meanies forever. It’s been used since the dawn of demons to consecrate and purify holy places, though science may show it had more to do with hyssop’s natural antiseptic ability to prevent diseases and treat chest ailments. Tomato, tomahto.
- When it comes to skin care, hyssop is astringent and antiseptic, making it a perfect natural treatment for problematically pimply skin – and it has superb healing properties (in part due to its ability to rev circulation), so it’s great not only for wrinkles and pimples, but it makes an excellent addition to a poultice for itchy skin ailments and bug bites.
- Oh, it’s also historically known to be an aphrodisiac when mixed with ginger, thyme, and pepper. (Ahem. Men, I didn’t chase you off with that “asking for directions” comment, did I?)
So among all the different possibilities of hyssop, here’s what we’re going to do with it today.
Simple and Gentle Purifying Hyssop Facial Mask
You will want to use this mask if:
- You have issues with oily or acneic skin; or
- You have aging skin; or
- You have skin.
It’s really very gentle, and incredibly simple (only 3 ingredients), and it’s a wonderful way to introduce yourself to hyssop. When you crush or grind the leaves/flowers, stop for a moment and inhale. Take it all in. Breathe the hyssop deep, and consider all the moments, throughout history, men and women have smelled that same smell and have walked away feeling purified, centered, cleansed.
The first time I made this mask, I used water. But upon mixing it up, something seemed like it wasn’t quite as harmonized as it needed to be. Immediately, I knew it needed milk instead, so this is what we’re using.
Nonetheless, you are welcome to use water instead of milk, and you won’t miss out on anything (except some extra enzyme exfoliating and fatty acid nourishing action that milk brings).
First, you find some hyssop. (Where to buy hyssop? Mountain Rose Herbs carries it, Vitacost typically has it, or you can always order the organic hyssop tea bags here, which would be a great way to try this recipe AND try out hyssop as a tea, as well. Otherwise, check your local natural food store in the tea or bulk herb sections.)
After you’ve found your hyssop (of the dried variety), you want to find a way to crush it into a (mostly) powder. I used a mortar and pestle because it was handy, but you could also use a spice grinder or a small food processor.
How much hyssop are you using? About 2 tsp.
After you have a fine powder, with some ungrindable petals still hanging around, you want to turn your attention to the whole milk (or water, or almond milk or coconut milk). Heat up your liquid until it’s almost boiling.
Add 2 Tbsp hot liquid to your hyssop powder. We’re now going to create a strong tea with it, to help spread the hyssop goodness throughout your mask.
Stir this mixture very well and then leave it alone for at least 5 minutes – and definitely long enough for the whole thing to cool down completely. The longer you let it steep, the stronger the “tea” mixture will be.
Now, add in approximately 1 tsp french green clay (any cosmetic clay will do, really – bentonite, kaolin, rhassoul, fuller’s earth – but french green is a great all around clay for any skin type). Stir briskly and quickly.
Add enough clay until the mixture is just thick enough to coat the spoon, but the excess will still pour off easily. Like this:
Now you’re ready to put it on!
Apply it to your clean (no makeup) face in a thin layer. Relax and let it dry and work its magic for at least 10 minutes or until the entire mask has hardened. Rinse off with warm water. Gently pat dry and follow with your preferred way to moisturize.
Here’s the recipe, in handy printable fashion:
Purifying Hyssop Facial Mask
- 2 tsp dried hyssop
- 2 tbsp full-fat (preferably lightly pasteurized and non-homogenized) milk (or water, almond milk, or coconut milk)
- Approximately 1 tsp french green clay (or clay of your choice)
Grind the hyssop into a powder using a mortar and pestle, spice grinder, or food processor. Heat the milk until just before it boils, and combine with the hyssop. Steep for at least 5 minutes or more (the longer you steep, the stronger it will be). Quickly stir in the clay until you have a consistency that just coats the spoon, but allows for pouring off otherwise. Apply to clean (no makeup) skin in a thin layer. Allow it to dry for 10 minutes (or until completely dry). Rinse well with warm water. Pat dry. Moisturize. Look alive.
Remember the Box at the Top?
As you can see, in addition to hyssop (and sarsaparilla, sassafras, wild cherry bark, dandelion root, juniper berries, hops, and wintergreen for root beer), I also have eleuthero, gotu kola, passionflower, frankincense tears, menthol crystals, olive leaf, and hops (there’s more – I just don’t want to overwhelm) in there.
Now that I’m reacquainted with my box o’ goodies, I’m going to make my way through it, learning and experimenting. I’ve used much of it before for different things, but some I’m really quite unfamiliar with yet (gotu kola especially – I have no idea what that purchase was about).
Do any of you have any inspired ideas for any of it? Anything you’d like to see me try?
Thanks for sharing wonderful ideas!! Actually i was looking for this. I was having many of doubts. But your ideas clear my all doubts. Now i’m going to apply your ideas. Hope it may also help me too. Thanks
Your article is really helpful. I reckon your tips are really going to do wonder on my skin. Much thanks for sharing this wonder ful article. It’s been a long time since I was searching for a blog like this.
I’ve never heard of this before! I am so excited to try. I will keep you posted 🙂
So glad to have you back! I have random herbs that I purchased for a specific use (or a specific property that they have) but I put mine in jars and sometimes wonder why I bought it. I happen to have Hyssop! This mask sounds great! (I also have some raw milk that I will use!)
Since, I have suffered from the acne problem. I had made this pack and use regularly 10 days on my face and now I get rid of this problem. This for this healthy pack.
I’m not sure if you are upset about Henna Hair Dye, or you are just putting on a good show? I was extremely worried about this matter how much mess you were really in with this Hair Color!
I’m Red Auburn that you can’t find in a bottle! (Like Time)!
It was told to me that Henna was a good Color to use!
I was going to tell you to write a letter to the Company and give them this story! It sounds like it is a joke to you after all! You should be embarrassed to write such a story only to make a fool of yourself in the end!
Did you buy a new Tub, Kitchen Counter?
After seeing the results of your hair color, now you really have to Dye your Hair!
Everyone likes this blog! I find no humor in it at all!
I’m a different woman when it comes to all about me!
You’ve convinced me to try this – especially since I’m a sucker for herby/piney/minty smells like eucalyptus, lavender, cedar, balsam, and rosemary! Also tickled to see a post from you, as I have been a happy, faithful user of your Kokomo Cream for YEARS now.
Hi Betty, I am new to your blog and I absolutely LOVE it. I however,don’t know how to keep finding your updates. I am sooo technically challenged. Lol What I would love to know is how to sign up to receive your blog everyday and once I received it how do I know. ??? I know you are probably shaking your head asking if I am for real and the answer is unfortunately , yes I am. I also would love it if you could tell me (remember I have only dumb questions ) i buy fresh herbs all the time and freeze them but you put them in a box???I figure this dries them but how and what herbs can you do this with?? Also can you make the Hyssop mask in bulk and how long will it last?? I REALLY appreciate your time.
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they will obtain benefit from it I am sure.
Yours is a brand new site for me and I am truly glad I found it! Most of the sites re natural produce and products that I’ve visited are so dry and preachy that I’ve given them a pass. But not yours.
The only thing I’ll have to be careful about with Crunchy Betty is reading too much at once, making too many notes and getting bogged down with all the things I must buy to accomplish too many things at once.. lol
Thanks so much for a site worth reading.. 🙂
I will keep coming back to check for new posts for as long as I live! I pray you are well along with your family and loved ones, I just want to say a big thank you for your posts! They are amazing! I have been reading Crunchy Betty for a couple of years now, and I’ve been incorporating many of your recipes into my overall wealth of knowledge. You added so many precious jewels to my chest, THANK YOU LESLIE 🙂
Mountain Rose is still out of hyssop herbs, but can we use the oil for the mask? I’m guessing you can, and just need a few drops, but want to make sure.
I bought three hyssop plants at a nursery end of season sale because of 1) the smell and 2) the name and 3) their gorgeous little flowers. It is so lovely to know they are useful in other ways, too!!
i have pimple problems in my face so i found out this page that i think is gonna be really helpful about recipes to take the pimples away, i have being all mad cause no one likes to have pimples in their face! so i found a recipe here and i hope it works to take all the pimples away:)
I can’t find hysso anywhere can I use the essential oil instead?
there are some amazing things in that magical box of yours 😛 The hops brings to mind a relaxing bath tea that I love on those restless nights…. a little hops.. a pinch of valerian, some lavender and chamomile….
I’ve read in a natural medicine book that gotu kola is good for cellulite, via its anti inflammatory, diuretic, and collagen stimulating properties; also, olive leaf is great for increasing circulation through dilatiin if blood vessels. Perhaps you could make a concoction with the gotu kola, olive leaf, and clay to slather on before steaming or sauna-ing.
Betty, I am so glad that you are back!!! I too have herbs that I have purchased that sit forgotten in my cupboard, but you have just inspired me (*nudge) to get in there and do something. ^_^ How do you get your cats to cooperate with dressing up? Mine are more like Grumpy cat, “hmmm, play dress up- NO”.
Hey. I can’t wait for you to work with gotu kola (also known as centella asiatica). It is a magical plant, celebrated for its healing properties in Asia. I recently bought some dried leaves to experiment with making a firming lotion. If you’re thinking of using it soon I’d urge you to do it soon–I know I can learn a lot from your experiments.
so happy your back and your happy. no matter what happens i can see u have many fans and always will. your awesome. thanks for all the tips. i hope everything is great for you in your life. thanks once again.
Hi I’ve just discovered you and your awesome blog. (of course I say discovered but for your loyal readers/explorers I am behind the curve. Can’t say I mind being begind since now I have so much info to learn, I’m pumped) I have been reading, and notetaking, and trying new things already and it hasn’t even been a week since I found this wonderful haven. I am going to order some Hyssop tea and try a mask, and heck yes even drink the tea;) I think I may have a little “girl crush” on you lol, I just can’t get enough of your wisdom. I am glad you’re back too, though I didn’t know you were gone;) And that’s good for me since I can imagine the withdrawl your readers went into. I got to skip that part. Anyway as my handle suggest I am Canadian but teaching abroad at the moment so ingredients are not always easy for me to find, though iherb has been a great resource. Since I can’t find the hyssop itself I will buy the tea and tear open the bags. Yay for you, and I am sooooo grateful to find out all about being crunchy and living natural.
Hello wonderful Betty!
I am so glad to see you back, but I am even more glad you are in a good and growing spot. You know all of us were sitting here biting our nails thinking about you, hoping you are well and cheering you on as you did what you needed to do. I love that you took a needed break and that your melt-up produced an exciting new place to be for you. You are amazing, you are cheered back and quite frankly, we just straight up love you to bits (and now every place is going to be sold out of hyssop from your wise experimentations). Congrats on your amazing opportunity and it’s not rocket science to figure out you’re going to be a smash hit.
Hooray for you! (Not like you need my approval, but I do like being a quasi-sidelines cheerleader for those good things coming your way.)
Oooh, I can’t wait to try this!
This was a great face mask I made it without the milk and just used water. It is great to have you back.
ZOMG! So happy you are back and happy to be back. Words can’t express my reaction. Too technically challenged to post a video of my lab chasing balls at the park. Seriously, butt-wagging happy you are happy to be back. I love your style.
You’re back! You’re really back! I didn’t realize just how much I have missed you until I sat here laughing at reason #3 (you have skin).
So glad you’re back! Now I’m wishing I had hyssop around in MY box.
So gad you’re back – missed you! Menthol crystals – one of many ingredients in “Tiger Balm”, which is good for achy joints. Made a homemade version for mom in a beeswax/coconut oil base (they use petroleum jelly – ugh) and she’s still raving about it 🙂
Awesome post. Funnily enough, I bought Blue Hyssop from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. about a month or two ago, to attract bees and other beneficials, and because it’s beautiful! Now I get to put it on my face, too! 😉
I’m so glad your back too! I love everything about your blog – the writing, the recipes, the peek into your creative process, the inspiration it gives me, the knowing that you’re completely human with brilliance, excitement, wonder, insecurity and fear and moving boxes all a part of the crunchy package.
I have itchy skin. How do I use this to make a poultice for itchy skin?
Yay! SO happy you are back 🙂 Excited to try this — one idea for the herbs would be to list them in a Google Doc, and then adding to it each time you buy a new one — and that would let you leave notes, recipes, etc.
So glad you’re back! Looking forward to learning from and with you. Yay!
Gotu Kola would be a great addition to a healing balm. You can eat it or use it for a tea also. It is also said to increase psychic intuition. Cool! So glad you are back Betty. We’ve missed you.
Welcome back!!! You were missed 🙂
Jackie Q. Botto
I have to say, I LOVE your blog. So inventive and informative! I’ve tried many of your concoctions, can’t wait to try this out!
I’ve been patiently hoping you’d take up blogging again. I really enjoy your posts as they are usually full of humor, inspiration, and new insights. Your enthusiasm for “food on your face” is contagious. 🙂
I’m so happy to see you writing again! And I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to hearing about the root beer! That’s something I’ve wanted to try.
Missed you heeeeeaps Betty! So happy you’re back! =)
Well actually words can’t express how good it is to HAVE you back Betty!! So glad to ‘see’ you again.
And you’ve inspired me with hyssop – heard of it but had no idea. It could smell like old socks for all I know about it. So I will take your word it smells lovely and check it out xxx
I’m glad I am not the only one who buys impulsively and then is like ‘now what’.
I saw menthol crystals at my hardware store the other day and was intrigued. I wonder if you could make a foot balm with those? I have used Vicks on my feet overnight, and then a pumice stone the next morning. Do that a couple of times and your feet are summer ready. If I could make the Vicks myself that would be even better….
Hmm! Now I have to go to the store to look for hyssop and menthol.
glad to have you back, Betty!
Yeah, I have a box like that as well. Well, not so much a box as random bags here and there. I really should get around to doing something with that … at some point … I’d be curious about what you could do with passionflower, I’ve been looking at those beautiful plants for ever but never gotten around to actually getting one.
So good to have you back Betty!
Your box of goodies reminds me of my shelf of goodies; I miss experimenting so badly with what I once had. I’ll have to gather me the ingredients to make this, it sounds lovely!
Could this be used in my daily cleansing grains? I currently use ground rolled oats, bentonite clay and ground dried lavender buds mixed with whole coconut milk. Should I add hyssop to the mix or replace the lavender with it?