self heal

Supporting Healthy Skin with Self-Heal Serum

Our featured herb on during the months of March and April was Self-Heal (Prunella vulgaris). Each year we ask members what herbs they want to learn more about and self-heal was a top favorite. I have to admit that I wasn’t entirely enthused about self-heal. Sure, it’s a pretty little weed, but most modern day herbalists overlook it as something that was once used, but isn’t popular in modern times.

So I started writing the featured herb article and went through lots of herbals that had vague information or none at all.

Self-Heal Scientific Studies

Then I started looking at scientific studies and grew increasingly amazed. While the majority of western herbalists have forgotten self-heal, scientists haven’t! It’s been studied extensively for its ability to stop herpes outbreaks and even has promising studies against cancer. Historically it was widely praised for its ability to address upper respiratory infections and heal wounds. Log on to read the full self-heal article.

One of the studies that I found especially fascinating was an in vitro look at self-heal’s ability to protect skin cells from UV damage. The researchers concluded their findings with: “These results suggest that P. vulgaris and RA [rosmarinic acid], used in skin care cosmetics, may offer protection against UVA-induced oxidative stress and may be beneficial as a supplement in photoprotective dermatological preparations.” 1

There is a growing interest in using herbs to protect the skin from damage and there have been several studies showing the potential of using certain plants externally to reduce photo-aging and the incidence of skin cancer due to sun exposure. 2, 3, 4

While I do my best to wear hats and cover up in the sun, I have gotten my fair share of sun exposure when I was younger and more reckless (like the four months I lived in the Dominican Republic and spent all my spare time on the beach…yikes!). Inspired by self-heal, I created this silky soft oil serum that can be used to protect against sun damage, especially on the face. Before we get to the recipe, let’s take a look at the other ingredients.

The Oils and Rosemary Extract

All of the oils in this recipe are highly prized for their ability to support healthy skin. While self-heal is the herb we are using for its protective effects, these oils are equally medicinal. These oils are expensive. If the cost is prohibitive for you, substitute all the oils with grape seed oil or another light oil.

Jojoba oil is light and silky, which is surprising considering that it is actually a liquid wax and not an oil. It comes from the seeds ofSimmondsia chinensis, which is native to the southwestern U.S. Jojoba is high in many of the nutrients needed for healthy skin, including essential fatty acids. It is highly shelf stable and rarely goes rancid. It mimics our own skin’s sebum and rarely causes an oily buildup or irritation.

Argan oil comes from the fruit kernels of the Moroccan argan tree (Argania spinosa). It is a light oil that penetrates and hydrates the skin well. One study showed that argan oil applied topically helped to restore skin elasticity. 5

Pomegranate oil is heavier than the other oils in this recipe, but is highly prized for its ability to easily absorb into the skin. It has also been shown to protect human skin cells from sun damage in an in vitro study. 6

Rosemary extract contains rosmarinic and carnosic acids, both extensively studied for their antioxidant abilities.7,8 It is often used in cosmetics to increase the shelf life of natural products.

The Essential Oils

I chose the essential oils in this recipe, not only for their amazing scents, but also because of their strong affinity for the skin. All of these essential oils are used for healing the skin and have shown strong antioxidant activity in clinical practice and in vitro studies.9 Neroli and blue chamomile are expensive. If they are cost prohibitive for you, consider using lavender essential oil only. This recipe also smells nice without essential oils, which would be a good approach for people with extremely sensitive skin.

Self-Heal Skin Serum Recipe

This is a luxurious recipe that can potentially protect the skin from sun damage. It has a soft and silky feel to it, without leaving an oily feeling. Use it daily in the morning and night to protect your skin from sun damage. You can also use it to hydrate and rejuvenate your skin.

What you’ll need…

  • 5 ounces of jojoba oil
  • 4 ounces of argan oil
  • 1 ounce of pomegranate oil
  • 15 grams of freshly dried self-heal herb
  • 1 teaspoon of rosemary extract
  • 20 drops of neroli essential oil
  • 7 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 3 drops of blue chamomile essential oil
  1. Measure out the jojoba oil, argan oil and pomegranate oil by volume into a double boiler or a metal bowl that fits over a pan of water.

  1. Add approximately 15 grams (1/2 ounce) of self-heal herb.

  1. Turn on the heat under the double boiler and warm the oil until it is warm to the touch. Turn off the heat and cover with a lid. Throughout the day visit the oil and heat it again slightly, and then let it sit. Take care not to let the oil get too hot. Some people use a modified crock pot for this – just be careful that it doesn’t get too hot or “fry” the herbal material.
  2. After heating the oil for 24-48 hours, place the mixture in a blender. Blend on high until the blender feels warms to the touch.

  1. Strain off the herbs from the oil. I did this through several layers of cheesecloth and then squeezed the herbs really well to get most of the oil out. You can then strain the oil again through more layers of cheesecloth to get any of the fine particles out. You’ll know you have a really potent extraction if the end result is a deep dark green oil. Don’t worry though, this becomes completely clear and invisible on the skin!

  1. Next add the rosemary extract and the essential oils. Stir well.
  2. I put the oil into a 2 ounce bottle with a treatment pump. You could also put it in a traditional tincture bottle with a dropper or any other small decorative bottle that seals well.

To use your self-heal serum, place a small amount on your fingertips and rub into your face. You don’t need to use a lot, two ounces might last an entire sunny season. This recipe makes approximately 8 ounces. Keep in a cool place. It should last a year if not longer.

Consider this a sun-protectant. It’s not a sunscreen, but it can protect your skin from oxidation and UVA damage.

I hope you enjoy this recipe!

  1. Psotova, Jitka, Alena Svobodova, Hana Kolarova, and Daniela Walterova. “Photoprotective Properties of Prunella Vulgaris and Rosmarinic Acid on Human Keratinocytes.” Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology. B, Biology 84, no. 3 (2006): doi:10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2006.02.012.
  2. Saraf, S, and C D Kaur. “Phytoconstituents As Photoprotective Novel Cosmetic Formulations.” Pharmacognosy Reviews 4, no. 7 (2010): doi:10.4103/0973-7847.65319.
  3. Korać, Radava R, and Kapil M Khambholja. “Potential of Herbs in Skin Protection From Ultraviolet Radiation.” Pharmacognosy Reviews 5, no. 10 (2011): doi:10.4103/0973-7847.91114.
  4. Jarzycka, Anna, Agnieszka Lewińska, Roman Gancarz, and Kazimiera A Wilk. “Assessment of Extracts of Helichrysum Arenarium, Crataegus Monogyna, Sambucus Nigra in Photoprotective UVA and UVB; Photostability in Cosmetic Emulsions.” Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology. B, Biology 128 (2013): doi:10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2013.07.029.
  5. Boucetta, Kenza Qiraouani, Zoubida Charrouf, Hassan Aguenaou, Abdelfattah Derouiche, and Yahya Bensouda. “The Effect of Dietary And/or Cosmetic Argan Oil on Postmenopausal Skin Elasticity.” Clinical Interventions in Aging 10 (2015): doi:10.2147/CIA.S71684.
  6. Afaq, Farrukh, Mohammad Abu Zaid, Naghma Khan, Mark Dreher, and Hasan Mukhtar. “Protective Effect of Pomegranate-derived Products on UVB-mediated Damage in Human Reconstituted Skin.” Experimental Dermatology 18, no. 6 (2009): doi:10.1111/j.1600-0625.2008.00829.x.
  7. Sevgi, Kemal, Bektas Tepe, and Cengiz Sarikurkcu. “Antioxidant and DNA Damage Protection Potentials of Selected Phenolic Acids.” Food and Chemical Toxicology: An International Journal published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association 77 (2015): doi:10.1016/j.fct.2014.12.006.
  8. Park, Miyoung, Jiwon Han, Chang Seok Lee, Baek Heung Soo, Kyung-Min Lim, and Hunjoo Ha. “Carnosic Acid, a Phenolic Diterpene From Rosemary, Prevents UV-induced Expression of Matrix Metalloproteinases in Human Skin Fibroblasts and Keratinocytes.” Experimental Dermatology 22, no. 5 (2013): doi:10.1111/exd.12138.
  9. Agatonovic-Kustrin, Snezana, Davoud Babazadeh Ortakand, David W Morton, and Ahmad P Yusof. “Rapid Evaluation and Comparison of Natural Products and Antioxidant Activity in Calendula, Feverfew, and German Chamomile Extracts.” Journal of Chromatography. A 1385 (2015): doi:10.1016/j.chroma.2015.01.067.

  1. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I have all ingredients except the herb and extract. Look forward to trying this. May I ask how you do your labels? Do you make your own with what or have professionally done?
    Thanks kindly,

    • These days I use to make my labels. If you use your own set-up and images then it’s completely free and it works really well.

      • Thanks Rosalee. How do you print your labels?

  2. Love this recipe!

  3. That does sound wonderful & luxurious!!! Can’t wait to try it! So would this be as needed or everyday use?

    • I’d use it everyday, especially, but not limited to, the times you are getting sun exposure.

  4. Simply fantastic ~ thank you so much for your generous sharing! Many blessings ~

  5. so what are the ingredients for the self-heal hebs?

    • I’m sorry, I don’t understand your question. Could you elaborate?

    • Self Heal is just one herb. It’s botanical name is Prunella vulgaris. Look at the first picture on the very top of this page. That is Self-Heal (Prunella vulgaris). If you search on google for Prunella vulgaris, you’ll be able to learn more about this awesome little weed. Have fun making this serum!

  6. this looks wonderful. one question though, why would you suggest rosemary extract as opposed to rosemary essential oil? where and in what form would i find rosemary extract? thank you.

    • This rosemary extract, which you can find at Mountain Rose Herbs, is high rosmarinic and carnosic acids, both extensively studied for their antioxidant abilities. It is often used in cosmetics to increase the shelf life of natural products.

      • Does rosemary essential oil not have these properties? I have the essential oil, but not the extract, so I’m wondering if I could use that instead.

  7. I can’t wait to try this. Could you clarify Somethin. If this is not to be substituted for sunscreen. Then what do we use this for? So you use it in conjunction with sunscreen? Thanks!

    • This may have mild sunscreen abilities but I haven’t put it to the test yet. I wouldn’t expect it to do a lot of protection if you were sunbathing on a tropical beach. This is specifically for preventing and protecting against sun damage. So, it could be used after a sunburn. Or it could be used daily to protect against mild daily sun exposure.

      • Jojoba oil has an SPF of 4. Using it in this recipe is going to give a small amount of natural sunscreen, as Rosalee stated. If you look on the internet, the SPF’s can be found
        for many of the natural oils you may want to use when making your own skin care products. FYI- carrot seed oil has an SPF of 40! I put it into my homemade lip balm.

  8. thanks for sharing another great recipe–i am going to make it this week–ygg!

  9. This looks wonderful. I am eager to try it. One question–is the neroli phytotoxic? Other orange- based essential oils can be. (Though I realize you did suggest this was not a substitute for sunscreen, so maybe this is not an issue.)

    • As far as I know, neroli is not phytotoxic.

  10. Is the self heal herb, a combination of several healing herbs or is it a specific kind of herb and where can we get it? I think this was Alex’s question. Just went to Mountain Rose and could not find a “self healing herb” Could you please clarify? Thank you.

    • Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris) is a common garden and lawn “weed”. It is most recognizable by the flowering top. Look at the good picture at the beginning of this post of the flowering top, and you will probably remember seeing it while gardening. It probably is not gathered and marketed for sale because it IS such a common “weed”. I checked my herb co-op catalog and it is not in there either. Also, Rosalee did say that self-heal has been pretty much ignored as a wonderful healing plant (thus the name!)

  11. I have a yard full of self-heal and have often wondered how to use it. Thank you for this recipe – do you use it fresh or dired, and can you make teas with it? If so, which part(s)?

    • Lucky you! I like using the freshly dried flower heads. It makes a great tea. We have lots more information about self heal on

  12. Can you tell me how to make the rosemary extract since I have the plant
    Thank you

  13. Is there a good substitute for the Neroli oil…as it is so very costly??!!

    • It is costly. As I mention in the article you could simply leave it out or use lavender essential oil.

  14. Thank you! Beautiful herbal recipe, so kind to share. Signed up for your Webinar! Cant wait

  15. Just wondering how the self heal plant would work without all the other ingredients. Thanks for the recipe.

    • I chose all the ingredients in this recipe because they have been shown to protect against sun damage or because they have significant benefits for the skin. The research study that inspired me to create this recipe simply used an oil extraction of self-heal so my assumption is that it would work.

  16. Can you use this on face or is it only the body? Thanks :)

    • I use this on my face, neck and chest. It could be used on your whole body but it’s fairly pricey to use in large quantities.

  17. I just wild crafted some Self heal yesterday. Are you talking about using flowers and leaves?

    • I use the top aerial portions including the flowers and some leaves.

  18. Would solar infusion work just as well?

    • There are lots of ways to infuse herbs into oil. Go with what works best for you.

  19. I just found out yesterday that my adult onset acne is actually Rosecea. My Dr prescribed 12+ weeks of doxycycline and Metrogel. I really want to stay away from the drugs if I can find an alternative. Do you know if this would help?

    • There are lots of natural ways to approach rosacea and topical is just one avenue. Often diet and other internal therapies need to be addressed. If you are interested in avoiding pharmaceuticals I highly recommend working with an experienced clinical herbalist who can help you along the way. That being said, this is a very healing serum and will most likely help.

  20. Self heal ( my favorite herb) makes a lovely tea when you feel out sort . It is also an antibiotic , I make a tincture with it and never travel without it ! I love it in a salve , very useful and I am so happy to hear about new recipe. Thank you for the generosity of your hart

  21. Would it be possible to use a crockpot at the warming heat stead of a saucepan ? Wonderful recipe, thank you !

    • You can, but oftentimes crock pots get too hot, even with their lowest setting, and so they need to be modified to have an even lower setting. I’ve seen herbalists do this, but am not sure how to do it myself.

      • I found a tiny crock pot that has high, low, and keep warm settings. The “keep warm” works just right for infusing.

  22. This is outstanding, I have been wanting to create my own skin protector for awhile now without knowing know to do it. I have tried so called natural sunscreens that have not exactly protected me from the sun and I hope to give this a try while it contributes to nourish the skin, thank you very much for your post.

  23. I have Aura Cacia essential oils – do I need different amounts to add to this?

    • Nope, same amounts. Enjoy!

  24. Is there anywhere you are selling this already made? Hint hint I’d love to buy some :)

    • Thanks for your interest, but sorry, I don’t sell herbal products.

  25. I recently purchased Self Heal herb to grow in my garden from Crimson Sage nursery. Horizon Herbs also sells it as well as Desert Canyon herbs – that is – if it isn’t growing nearby.

    • I bought some self-heal plants from Crimson Sage too! I am looking forward to having this weed in my garden!

  26. Wonderful! I would like to use self-heal infused jojoba in my anti-aging serum. I signed up for the seminar but have a last minute appointment, will it be available afterwards to watch or listen?

  27. This looks great. Is it possible to skip the rosemary? Also, what about Carrot seed oil and coconut oil as sunscreen/protectants?

    • The rosemary extract is important part of the sun damage protection but it can be skipped. I don’t have experience using carrot seed oil or coconut oil as sunscreen/protectant.

  28. Rosalee, can I purchase a bottle of self heal serum from you?

    • I’m sorry, I don’t sell herbal products.

  29. I’m excited about making this recipe, Rosalee, thanks for sharing! I sourced and ordered all the ingredients except for the dried self heal :D I don’t seem to find it. Mountain Rose herbs is out of stock (maybe others were faster in ordering than I). Any other suggestions where I could try?
    Also, Neroli oil is SUPER expensive. I found a pure organic version, but it’s in a carrier oil (sadly doesn’t specify the %-age). Would that work? If so, I probably need to put more of it, as it’s together with some other oil. Do you see this as a problem? Is it better to just not use Neroli at all? Or is there another oil I could substitute? Thanks so much!

    • Neroli is really expensive. You can just leave it out.
      Mountain Rose Herbs has been out of self-heal for awhile and I’m not sure where else to find it (besides your own back yard). Self heal flower essence won’t work in this recipe. Hopefully it will be in stock at Mountain Rose Herbs soon or you could try other herb sellers. jim mcdonald has a nice list of growers here:

  30. …Or I found self-heal flower essence….would that work?

  31. I can’t thank you enough for this information! You are absolutely right that herbalism seems to have forgotten self-heal, which is so intriguingly named. It grows abundantly all over my property and I DO harvest even though I was still searching for its best use. Now I have more reason to keep harvesting!

  32. I read all the comments and I’m still not sure why Rosemary Essential Oil cannot be used in place of the Rosemary Extract? Please explain. Thank you and thank you for sharing.

  33. Hi Rosemary, looking forward to making this beautiful oil, unfortunatly I missed your webinar as I am travelling at the moment and the replay will not connect, is it possible to connect to the replay another way ,

  34. in response to Meredith (may 22)
    Self- heal is great healer! Medecinal: Internal and external use – infusion, tea,tincture,poultice,bath,compress.
    Edible:fresh flowers and leaves in salads

  35. Hi, I was wondering what I could use instead if the essential oils? I have a sensetivity towards essential oils when I apply them to my skin even with using carrier oils.

  36. Thank you so much for another great recipe!!
    We used to be able to print/download recipes.
    How do we do that now with the new site?

  37. Does Rosemary extract increase blood pressure?

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