Plantain is a beneficial green weed that commonly grows in yards and driveways. You can use the leaves to make a fantastic infused oil, that can be incorporated into salves, lotions, creams and soaps. It’s excellent at soothing any type of itchy or inflamed skin condition.
Lavender essential oil adds a light fragrance and some of its own skin-soothing properties. Another option is to add lavender buds to the oil, while infusing plantain, for a faint lavender scent. You could also skip the lavender, and just make an unscented lotion, instead.
I chose sweet almond oil for its nourishing and skin softening properties, but you can use most any type of oil that you wish to, in order to customize this lotion for your preferences and the ingredients you have on hand.
A scale works best for lotion making, so that every batch is consistent and without surprises, but I realize not everyone owns one, so developed this recipe so it can be measured by volume as well.
A quick note, before we get into directions and details:
The links to Mountain Rose Herbs in this article are affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, I’ll earn a small commission for sending a customer their way. This doesn’t cost you anything extra, but does help support my blog and lets me keep doing what I do. Thank you! :)
Emulsifying Wax vs Beeswax
This lotion uses vegetable emulsifying wax NF, instead of the beeswax used in some of my other recipes. Some versions out there are made from petroleum products or have sketchy additives, which is why I like to use only vegetable-derived Emulsifying Wax NF from Mountain Rose Herbs in my lotion recipes. The “NF” means it’s National Formulary approved, and made to a standardized formula, so any type of “NF” emulsifying wax that you find, should work in a comparable way.
If you don’t want to use emulsifying wax, you can still adapt the same idea of substituting plantain infused oil and adding lavender essential oil to an existing beeswax-based cream recipe (like THIS ONE or THIS ONE), but don’t try to directly substitute beeswax for the emulsifying wax in this particular recipe. It won’t work, because beeswax requires a much higher oil to water ratio to prevent separation issues, which is why beeswax-based lotions and creams are richer and heavier.
Plantain Infused Oil
Before you can make this lotion, you’ll need to make some plantain-infused oil. To do so, collect plantain leaves from your yard (make sure they haven’t been sprayed with pesticides) and spread them out in a single layer over clean dishtowels or paper towels. Allow to air dry for a few days. You could also use a dehydrator, set to a very low temperature, if you’re in a bigger hurry. If you don’t have a source for plantain leaves, you can buy some HERE, at Mountain Rose Herbs.
Place the dried herbs in a canning jar, until it’s about half-way filled. Jar size will depend on how much plantain you have available and how much oil you want to infuse. It will vary for each person. I like to make up a big jar at a time though, since the oil can be used in so many great ways! Pour the sweet almond, or your chosen type, of oil over the leaves, until the jar is filled. Stir gently to release air bubbles.
At this point, you can infuse the slower way, by capping the jar and tucking it in a cupboard to steep for at least 4 to 6 weeks. Or, if you’re in a bigger hurry, you can set the uncapped jar down into a saucepan containing an few inches of water. Set the pan over a low heat burner for around two hours, or until your oil is infused to your satisfaction. Keep a close eye to make sure the water doesn’t evaporate out, while the oil is infusing.
Once the oil is infused, strain and pour into a clean, dry jar. If stored in a cool, dark place, your plantain-infused oil should stay fresh for around 9 months to 1 year, for you to use in various projects, as needed.
Lavender Plantain Lotion
- 1.5 tablespoons (16 g) plantain-infused sweet almond oil
- 3 teaspoons (6 g) emulsifying wax NF
- 5.5 tablespoons (75 ml) distilled water
- 2 to 3 drops lavender essential oil
- preservative of choice (see *note)
Weigh the infused oil and emulsifying wax into a half-pint canning jar (or for easier cleanup, an upcycled tin can). Measure the distilled water into a separate small, heatproof jar. Set both containers down into a saucepan containing a small amount of water. Turn the burner to medium-low and heat for 10 minutes. This allows the wax to melt and brings the temperature of the liquid up at the same time. (Some people like to extend this to 20 minutes of heating and holding.)
Remove both containers from heat. Pour the melted wax/oil mixture together with the hot water. I like to pour this back and forth between the containers a few times. As the two liquids meet, the mixture will instantly turn white as the emulsification process begins.
Stir the lotion for around 30 seconds then let it cool for around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. To speed things along, you can set the jar in a bowl with a bit of ice water. Your lotion will thicken further as it cools and as you stir. It might take several hours before it fully sets up. My niece taught me another trick for speed setting lotion – cap the jar (or plastic bottle, for the littles) and hand it to an energetic and exuberant kid to shake-shake-shake!
When the lotion is cooling, but not completely cool, stir in a few drops of lavender essential oil, if using.
Next, I add a nature-derived preservative. I spent the last several months testing several natural preservative options, using microbial test kits to see which ones were really effective, and finally decided that Leucidal Liquid SF will be my go-to preservative for now. (Read my entire article on Natural Preservatives HERE.) Leucidal Liquid SF should be used at a rate of 2 to 4%, which equates to 2 to 4 grams for a 100 gram recipe. This recipe is 97 grams; I round up and add 4 grams of preservative.
If measuring by volume, note that 2 grams of Leucidal Liquid SF = not quite 1 full teaspoon.
If you don’t wish to use any type of preservative, keep your lotion in the refrigerator and use it up within one week.
Spoon your cream into a glass jar and you’re done!
Apply it as needed on hands, face and body. The great thing about homemade lotion is that you don’t need to apply tons of it to be effective.